Touchable, open-ended, modular sounds and music – it’s an appealing idea. I’d be remiss in talking this week about touch apps if I didn’t mention the free/cheap Windows tool Usine, which has recently made the jump to a touchscreen-optimized version. (Big thanks to alby75 in comments on our Kore minisite for the nod.)

Usine is a modular, patchable music and sound app that runs as a portable, USB-key-ready standalone app and VST plug-in. A free version is limited in I/O and track-count, with a pro version EUR50. The 4.0 “stable beta” offers touchscreen features, with management for interfaces, custom layouts, and other features that make it work well with touchscreens. This is generally single-touch at this point, but as hardware evolves, I imagine the software will, as well.

Other highlights of Usine:


  • Sound analysis for reacting to pitch, peaks, and dynamics in your patches
  • Scripting support
  • Custom modules via C++ and an open API
  • OpenSoundControl support
  • Virtual mixing table, modular mixing mode, unlimited internal audio
  • SMPTE, MIDI, MTC, MMC sync and control
  • Patch organization by track and on a timeline, so you can sequence your sounds and presets
  • VST hosting, VST parameter modification, MIDI automation
  • Built-in patches: Auto Pan, Bass Liner, Bit Crusher, Break Beat Maker, Compressor, Expander, Filter Bank, Synchronized Filter, Forward & Reverse, Freezor, Kaos Player, Limiter, Master meter, Metronome, Phaser, Random Delay, Resonnator, Step filter, Stereo enhancer, Midi Clock synchro.
  • Direct-to-disk recording

And that really just scratches the surface. Having recording and audio analysis built in, plus extensive options for easy selection of presets and sequencing presets and sound modulation is really nice, I have to admit. (Developers of other modular environments, you listening?)

I’m embarrassed not to have spent any time with Usine; hope to correct that soon. (I know what you’re saying, because it’s what I’m saying … too … many … tools …)

More on Usine at Sensomusic’s site:

Usine Product Page