Chair Audio quietly launched a new plug-in, and it’s both free and wonderful. EXC!TE CYMBAL is, no exaggeration, realistic enough that you’ll do a double-take knowing this is a physical model and not in any way sampled.

I also want to wholeheartedly endorse the political sentiments of their post, as a fellow German resident.

Technical description:

Our free cymbal plugin features ultra-realistic sound through physical modeling. Use MIDI notes to trigger the in-built exciter and change tip hardness and bell intensity parameters. For added realism the MIDI triggered values can be adjusted with a probability curve. The exciter feeds into a waveguide resonator algorithm which lets you change tuning, decay and damping.


Here is a very, very bad demo just to show you how the model sounds. You’ll also see that MIDI notes are mapped to stick, bell, mallet, or choke – in case you wonder why initially you may or may not get any sound. (Again, not a musical demo – just wanted to get this out there! I am excited to do some musical things with this, though.)

(I promise better demos when I’m not getting over being sick and preparing for two festivals!)

Here’s their longer video:

If you upgrade for 25 EUR, you unlock more timbre controls and (crucially) sidechaining, but there’s a ton to keep you busy in even the free version.

Don’t forget, the folks at CHAIR – The Center for Haptic Audio Interaction Research – have a lot of resources. There’s also a free modeled snare plug-in and some other inexpensive hyper-realistic physical percussion models:

Plus an open source code repository and published research:

If you do have sidechaining hooked up, these work beautifully with piezo mics – meaning I have to try our own piezo preamp, actually; I’ll do that at our next workshop! (They have a simple how-to, as well.)

For something a little more unusual, try also their how-to on building a piezo string interface for performance:

Piezoelectric String Devkit

And hope to see the CHAIR crew at Superbooth this week!