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Review of Go2 Synth (VST/AU/AAX) by Rob Papen — June 12, 2018

Review of Go2 Synth (VST/AU/AAX) by Rob Papen

Introduction
Virtual instrument and effect plug-in developer Rob Papen Soundware is proud to announce availability of Go2 — an appropriately-named, go-to synthesizer, set apart from its award-winning software siblings by virtue of all its controls and features always being in plain sight and always available to access onscreen, so simplifying usage for the average user.

Go2 is available as an AAX (32-/64-bit), AU (32-/64-bit), VST (32-/64-bit) compatible audio software plug-in for Mac OS X (10.6 or higher) and Windows (Vista, 7, 8, and 10). Go2 can be purchased from authorised Rob Papen dealers worldwide or as a download directly from Rob Papen for €49.00 EUR/$49.00 USD (Note that this is a serial/license system with activation while registering the product; a second serial/license for a secondary computer is available after registering the product’s original serial/license.)

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Go2 product
webpage.

Here’s Rob Papen’s revealing Go2 introductory video:

Overview
In the wonderful world of synthesis according to Rob Papen — wonderfully wide-ranging as it is, there was only one type of software synthesizer missing… until now, that is! Indeed, who better to make the formal introductions to Go2, then, than the talented individual to which the company owes both its existence and also its well-known name — renowned sound designer Rob Papen himself: “The Rob Papen brand contains many synthesizers with a different focus and types of synthesis. However, they have one thing in common, which is a vast number of features. A creative synthesizer which has all controls visible, and — in many cases — easier to use out of the box, was still missing. And now it’s here. Welcome to Go2!”

In-Depth Review

What’s impressive is how Rob Papen has included so many features into a single interface. Whilst this is designed to be easy to use, it includes a number of advanced features that take it beyond a basic synthesiser.

Go2 has around 600 presets and a quick look through these shows synths, pads, keys, arps, basses percussion and more. Listening to a few of these reveals that Go2 packs a powerful sound, they haven’t scrimped on sound quality either.

RobPapen_Go2_BigScreen

The GUI is well laid out and easy to navigate.

The top strip contains presets and global settings; the Osc/XY controls are top left; the filter/play/amp controls are top right and the lower section has modulation, arp and effects.

The presets are contained in 16 banks, some by sound type and some by artist. There are quick browse options as well as a preset manager.

The oscillator is the heart of Go2. It uses two different waveforms (from a list of 128 available) and morphs between them using a number of different modes from mixing, morphing to FM and ring modulation. The spread control can be used to turn Go2 into a dual oscillator setup.

There are modulation options using the mod matrix but the XY pad offers further modulation options. This can be used live with a mouse or you can automate / program movement. In effect the position of the XY dot acts as a modulation source for up to 6 parameters positioned around the XY pad. Recording automation is as simple as pressing record and dragging the dot around. There are a large number of controls including playback speed, smoothing sharp transitions, editing points and behaviour when a note is played – i.e. free-running or if the path restarts when you play a note.

The filter section has a main filter (low pass, band pass, notch and comb) and a separate high pass filter connected in series. These have the standard filter controls. The filter envelope has standard and inverted shapes with points that can be dragged to alter ADSR parameters.

The amp has volume envelope controls and also a handy distortion option.

The play mode is very well featured including mono, poly, legato and arpeggiator modes. There’s also a unison mode and portamento settings as well as very cool detune, global tuning and drift controls.

The arpeggiator can be up to 16 steps with a sequencer and a number of controls including a range of play modes and options to tie notes, slide, detune, swing and even a unison option to play chords. There are also really handy latch and lock controls.

Go2 has a free LFO and free envelope that can be used in the modulation matrix. There are 8 slots where you define the source, destination and amount. You can use internal or external sources in the mod matrix.

The effects section contains 3 effects units in series – chorus, flanger or phaser, delay or reverb. These have bypass as well as mix controls. These sound good although if I was being really picky I would have liked to use the delay and reverb together sometimes, however it’e a very minor comment as I tend to use preferred delays and reverbs anyway.

Conclusions
I guess a lot of you will already have asked if you really need another soft synth. Go2 puts itself in the same price bracket as synths such as Carbon Electra and Synthmaster One and if you already have Rob Papen synths such as Blue 2 or others such as Synthmaster, Spire or similar then do you really need it?

Some of those synths are expensive, complex to learn and often time consuming. I think Go2 achieves that difficult balance of excellent sound quality, value for money, ease of use and a number of unique features that you don’t typically find at this price range. If you’re looking for versatility and a synth that is very easy to use then it’s definitely one to consider. The range / diversity of sounds could well make it your go to synth as Rob Papen intended.

I’ve used Go2 extensively to create the album ‘reverence’ embedded at the top of the review section above. This is an electronic album with experimental, ambient, lo-fi and downtempo themes. It highlights the sound quality of Go2 as well as it’s capability to easily produce a range of styles of music. I’ve largely used presets and these include chords, basses, pads, synths and effects. I’ve processed with a number of effects including Blackhole, H949 Dual Harmoniser, H3000 Factory, Octavox, Ultrachannel (Eventide); Fracture XT (Glitchmachines); Frostbite (AudioThing); SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio).

All songs arranged, produced and recorded in MuLab 7, the album was also mastered in MuLab 7 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), ELevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

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Review of ‘Dehumanize yr Self’ album by Amberglow on Triplicate Records — May 31, 2018

Review of ‘Dehumanize yr Self’ album by Amberglow on Triplicate Records

Amberglow is a collaboration between Suncastle Music and SupplyFi and what I love is how the seamless fusing of ambience with edgy, IDM drum / percussion sounds, intricate arps and often edgy synth riffs creates a captivating sound.

It’s really hard to describe in terms of genres but that creates an album that has lots of different elements that merge and weave to create ambiences with edgy percussion, IDM / industrial sounds, evolving basses and great synth leads.

There are superb changes of feel, often subtle and sometimes more pronounced, a build / release of tension and great momentum.

Interrobang

(video by BVSMV Music)

Synth riff and growly bass to open, there’s an industrial feel to the percussion that gives a harsh, edgy feel contrasting with the more laid back synth riffs and ambient pads. Some great background sound effects and nice flow.

Dehumanize yr Self
A brooding opening, a dark ambience contrasting with arp and evolving pad sound. Percussion adds a great momentum and is an excellent contrasting element.

Replicant Village
Excellent background sound effects and momentum from the bass, an edgy, glitchy sound.

Negative Zero
subdued keys, distortion/feedback and kick with sparse percussive elements build tension nicely to an arp that’s a kind of release. Percussion adds a great momentum, great evolution of the song.

Brainscrap
Intricate sounding arp to open, drum pattern adds an edgy contrast. Bass gives momentum, excellent change of feel to acid-type bassline which gives a great contrast with the more ambient elements.

The Hum
Delayed synth riff and processed drums to open, drumming pattern has an edgy uptempo feel contrasting with the synth. The drop with the bass takes on a menacing feel, broody drumming, bass drone and sound fx create a superb atmosphere.

City Slicker in his Sports Car
Processed, drum / percussion sounds and bass riff create an edgy, tense sound. There’s a drone with subtle movement and contrasting arp, great contrast been the edgy feel and ambient elements.

Paper Labyrinth
Swirling synth and processed percussion to open, it’s a woozy type of sound propelled by a processed kick drum. Excellent synth riffs and background sounds. The song is excellently arranged, there’s an ambience but also an edge, it’s disconcerting at times.

Foro-Ford
A great soundscape, background bird type sounds are accompanied by sparse percussion and a drone.

Tzolk’in
Percussive rhythm to open accompanied by an also rhythmic organ-type riff leading into a synth lead with percussive background sounds that releases to an ambience.

Bombsheltered
Distorted chime-type riff to open and sparse percussion, there’s a stripped back feel given momentum by kick drum and percussion. The pad sounds add an excellent ambience. A slow building momentum to a final release.

Loopmasters launch Loopcloud 2.0 – the cloud connected app for streaming / importing samples into your DAW — May 24, 2018

Loopmasters launch Loopcloud 2.0 – the cloud connected app for streaming / importing samples into your DAW

Introduction
Loopcloud, the cloud-connected application for browsing, streaming and importing your samples, loops and sounds effortlessly into your DAW just got better.

It lets you audition the award-winning Loopmasters catalogue in your DAW, in perfect sync with your projects, for free! Now you can preview millions of sounds made by the world’s top artists – whether you own them or not – straight from the cloud. Only pay for what you need when you’re ready to commit and drag directly into your project. The world of music is changing, and so is Loopmasters. Loopcloud 2.0 makes it possible to buy just the individual samples you’ve auditioned, as well as full packs or folders of sounds. You can now preview sounds right inside the app – no need to open a browser or download and unzip.

Pricing and Availability
Loopcloud 2.0 is free software that can be downloaded here and does not require a subscription – individual sounds, folders and packs are purchased with credits. All users will be given 500 free credits to get started. Until August 1st, all users will receive double credits on their first purchase. Packs previously purchased on the Loopmasters website will also appear in your account on Loopcloud 2.0. Credits don’t expire and you are free to purchase individual samples or entire sample packs.

Promo video:

“10 reasons why Loopcloud 2.0 is a game changer” video:

Using Loopcloud 2.0
Download is quick and simple and you can set an option to automatically check for updates. I have about 8 sample packs on my account, on first launching the app it took about an hour and a half to initialise content. The app starts pretty quickly when you subsequently open it. You also need to open the VST in your DAW and Loopcloud will then connect so you can drag and drop samples, match DAW tempo etc.

Library View x2

The GUI is well laid out and easy to navigate. At the top right, you have the option to switch between library and store view as well as options for displaying history, adding credits and setting preferences.

The search section occupies the top quarter of the display, the library or store occupies the middle part of display and the sample player occupies the lower part of the display. A very handy history function can be displayed on the lower right hand side of the display.

There are millions of sounds in the store and the app has intelligent search features such as by instrument, genre, label, key & bpm. It allows you to audition the sound in your project – including processing with effects – before you commit to a purchase. If you enable the auto-key feature then the samples are automatically converted to your chosen key. It also connects seamlessly with your DAW so that when you preview loops they will sync to your existing sounds in your project. There are also play / pause controls and manual controls to change pitch, half or double the bpm and a handy patterns option that can be used for one shots such as hi-hat or snare to easily create a groove. When you click ‘download HQ sample’ this changes to original and processed where the original sample retains the key and bpm whereas the processed sample is bpm sync’d and pitch shifted. You simply drag these into your DAW.

sample_player_options

If you don’t want to time stretch or pitch correct samples then you can alternatively search by specific key / bpm which works really well, much better than in your DAW search, especially for keys that are common letters like A or E.

Store Search x2

You can search by library or store which gives you access to the entire Loopmasters catalogue containing millions of sounds. When you purchase a sample, you get the high quality version in original and processed formats. Purchased samples can be stored in the cloud or downloaded, one of the huge benefits is that Loopcloud 2.0 is cloud connected, saving valuable hard drive space.

Store Front x2.jpg

There are a number of free samples plus 150 free samples added every week into the ‘new inspiration from Loopmasters’ folder so you don’t necessarily need to make a lot of purchases. In fact you get about 1Gb samples when you sign up so you can give it a good test without making a purchase. Although I have 8 sample packs on my account, my library is significantly larger – that explains the long initial setup. A screenshot is shown below – I’d need about 3 of these to fit the whole library in. I’m not saying these are full sample packs but there’s a wealth of free content.

library_screenshot

How does it compare to other services?
The main alternatives are Splice and Noiiz which are both subscription services. All 3 offer features that will suit different users. The best value appears to be Noiiz which has exclusive Samplephonics content but the library is about 10x smaller at about 450 or so sample packs and requires an upfront payment of $99, about £73. This same spend would give about 15000 credits on Loopcloud under the current deal, equivalent to about 5 full packs, 150 – 600 samples depending on cost. The annual Splice membership would cost about the same, £70.80 per year, but there are limits on monthly downloads and the app isn’t as fully featured.

Loopcloud 2.0 can be very good value for money, especially if you buy credits at the current half-price deal or purchase sale packs on their website. Because you can audition and search the entire catalogue of millions of sounds, you can limit your purchases to a handful of samples that you need rather than a whole pack that you probably won’t use. This is where Loopcloud 2.0 comes into its own, it’s a cost effective way of purchasing only those samples you need, especially as there are 150 free samples per week. The fully featured app allows you to sync, change key and apply effects whilst auditioning samples before committing to a purchase. You can mix and match across the whole catalogue very easily by the intelligent search features.

Your monthly subscription at Splice buys download credits that you use to buy samples. Each sample costs 1 credit and there are four subscription options – $7.99 per month (100 download credits); $13.99 per month (300 download credits); $21.99 per month (600 download credits) or $29.99 per month (1000 download credits). There are also midi files (10 credits) and presets for Serum, Massive, Sylenth, and Spire (typically 3 credits).

Splice have over 2 million sounds that are added to each week. These include packs from Loopmasters, Black Octopus, Prime Loops, Sample Magic, W.A. Production and many more.

They also offer rent to own on several vsts and a studio feature where you can use the Splice app to upload, share and collaborate on projects in specified DAWs – Ableton Live, Logic, Garage Band, and FL Studio.

They don’t appear to offer a dedicated plugin with features like drag and drop, tempo matching etc.

Noiiz is a subscription service by Samplephonics and offers exclusively Samplephonics content. There are 3 subscription models. Starter is $9.99 per month for 1Gb downloads, 1 instrument per month and 1 preset pack per month; Unlimited is $99 for a yearly subscription and gives you access to everything with unlimited downloads; Lifetime is a one-off payment of $599. There are about 180,000 sounds that are added to regularly. They also offer presets for Serum, Sylenth and Massive. They have a sampler plus a growing number of instruments including handpan, celesta, grand marimba, Leeds Town Hall Organ and toy percussion.

The Noiiz plugin allows you to browse and audition sounds in tempo / key and drag and drop to your DAW. It has a ‘Noiiz DNA’ feature that searches for similar sounds.

Conclusions
The more I use Loopcloud, the more I like it and am starting to find it very useful. It’s easy and intuitive to use and definitely streamlines the creation process. It connects seamlessly with your DAW and makes it very easy to arrange songs, from the intelligent and well featured search functions to the autokey and time-stretching options. Being able to audition sounds before purchase is an invaluable feature and although they tend to have an ambient noise during the preview, this isn’t generally an issue.

Where Loopcloud really comes into its own is the way that it changes how I approach using samples – and it probably will for you too. The problem with packs is that they can be very expensive to buy – ranging from £15 to about £30. Of course you can pick them up much cheaper in sales, discounts etc. But the problem is that you generally only have one type of sound. Loopcloud enables you to mix and match in ways that wouldn’t be possible without owning a huge number of sample packs. It’s so much more than this though. Manually searching through sample packs is not quick or easy. DAWs will handle time-stretching ok but it’s quite laborious having to pitch correct every single sample. This is what makes Loopcloud so impressive, it works perfectly and easily handles these sort of tasks.

The other point is hard-drive space. The samples are downloaded to your hard-drive and for the album I’ve created the samples occupy 381Mb whereas if I had all of the sample packs this would run into a few Gb.

I’ve created the album embedded at the top of the post entirely using samples from Loopcloud. The samples have subsequently been processed with a variety of Eventide effects – Blackhole, 2016 Stereo Room, Octavox, H3000 Band Delays, H949 Dual Harmoniser and Ultrachannel and SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio). The songs were subsequently mastered with Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio). The album was arranged, recorded and mastered in MuLab 7.

The arrangement for ‘unrequited’ is shown below, this is a fairly simple arrangement but you could of course make your arrangement as simple or complex as you like or use any number of samplers – a few of my favourites are Palindrome, Polygon (Glitchmachines) and Dust (Soundmorph) – or use any number of effects to create a more experimental sound.

unrequited_screenshot

Some of these songs were created using loops from largely from the same pack but on others I’ve mixed up styles and genres, for example using loops from ambient sample packs combined with DnB loops; techno loops combined with underground garage loops etc. This is the beauty of Loopcloud, it offers huge creative potential and increases the usability of sample packs reducing the likelihood of you sounding like someone else who’s used it.

All of the samples were already in my library so cost data is a bit more tricky to calculate. I’ve used a total of 69 loops and I’ve estimated that these would cost 25 credits each. At the basic cost rate, this is £17.25 although with the current offer the cost would be half this at £8.68 and with the 500 credits introductory offer that would reduce the cost to about £4. Subsequent albums may not benefit from the discount but in practice you could use VST synths as well as sample loops, I wanted to create an album using only samples.

For me, subscription services are useful if you regularly use a large number of samples from the same providers. The benefit with Loopcloud is that you are not tied in to a subscription so you can still justify buying sample packs from other providers that aren’t featured in their store and you can limit your spending if you only buy what you need and make use of the extensive free content.

Review of This So Called ‘Spirit’ by Strange Lights — May 13, 2018

Review of This So Called ‘Spirit’ by Strange Lights

This is an excellent album, it has a psych kind of feel at times, excellent grooves backed by atmospheric pads / synths, guitar riffs and excellent vocals. There’s often a contrast between ambient and more urgent elements, I really like the squelchy synth sound effects too.

Shaman Goat Dance
An atmospheric opening with evolving bass and distorted synth develops a solid laid back groove from really well layered elements. The vocals have a floaty feel. Nice change of feel with just bass and the acoustic guitar riff leading into a full groove again.

Spirit Drone
Swirling slightly distorted guitar riff to open, momentum is provided by bass. Vocals are floaty again and contrast with the more urgent sounding guitar. There’s an Eastern feel at times, it’s a hypnotic sound and the song takes on a jam quality when drumming enters. I really like the delayed squelchy synth sound effects too.

Sun Dub (See a Sunrise)
Kick and bass provide a great momentum with an evolving drone, the groove evolves with some excellent background sound effects and lead synth.

Sunken Dub
An urgency to the strings which open the song, it evolves with bass and pad, the strings fade to give a more laid back groove with a pulsing drone and excellent synth sound with an acid quality.

The Black Tortoise of the North
Atmospheric opening with guitar and synth, bass gives a momentum and the heavily processed vocals add a great element. There’s a subtle movement and great ambience and a nice change of feel with the harsher sounding synth leading into delayed sound effects.

Review of Lo Life – LoFi House Loops sample pack by Mode Audio — May 11, 2018

Review of Lo Life – LoFi House Loops sample pack by Mode Audio

Mode Audio has introduced Lo Life – LoFi House Loops, a 414Mb collection of lush, royalty-free House synth loops and drum machine grooves. It is available in Wav, Rex2, Reason and Ableton Live pack formats from Mode Audio (£18 regular price).

This review is for the Wav sample pack which features a total of 380 samples arranged in different folders. These are ‘drum samples’, ‘Lo Life loops’, ‘Lo Life tail samples’ and ‘midi’ folders.

‘drum samples’ contains a total of 83 samples comprising the individual samples from 10 kits. These include 12 kick samples, 13 clap samples, 22 hi hat samples (open and closed) and 36 percussions samples (rims, toms, shakers and bongos). A great range of sounds, all of the these have depth and warmth, there’s a very subtle saturation and a very natural sounding reverb too.

‘Lo Life loops’ contains 23 bass loops, 63 drums and percussion loops, 11 SFX loops, 17 Synth Chords loops and 36 Synths and Instruments loops that are labelled by name, key and tempo.

The bass loops range from 106bpm to 122bpm. There’s a really good variety of sounds from deep and rolling, subby, groovy to acid 303 style. There’s great depth to the sounds and a subtle saturation.

The drums and instruments loops contain a range of superb grooves. These are split into kick and top drums / percussion loops which is excellent because it allows for layering and separate processing. They have a subtle overdrive that gives them an edge, a punchy sound with a great presence.

The SFX loops are noise and vinyl type sounds with rhythmic qualities. These add an excellent element and are ideal for further processing.

The Synth Chords loops have a retro feel, a saturation gives warmth and subtle reverb gives depth. There are some vintage sounding synths, and a subtle movement in these sounds which makes them more interesting.

The Synths and Instruments loops compliment the Synth Chords very well. There are a range of pads, keys, mallets, synths and vocals with the characteristic lo-fi, retro sound from saturation and reverb.

The Lo Fi Tail samples are an addition we’ve seen in other Mode Audio packs. On the face of it they allow you to apply a natural reverb tail to sample loops which is really useful in itself. However, they are also excellent sound sources in their own right that can be manipulated and mangled to add interesting elements to your tracks or could even be used as a starting point for new tracks.

The Midi loops folder is a very welcome addition to the sample pack and contains 104 fully featured midi loops. Typically 4 bar loops, these can be used with your own sounds or edited to create subtle or stark contrast and variations.

Verdict

This is an excellent value sample pack containing an superb variety of loops and drum hits with a retro, lo-fi saturated sound. As with other Mode Audio packs there is potential to mix and match samples to create tracks but you can use also use these loops as a starting point to create something new and original. The sounds layer really well together and give options for a stripped back sound or a fuller sound and everything in between. The tail samples are an excellent addition and the inclusion of midi loops are also very welcomed to give even greater flexibility and potential.

The album embedded at the beginning of the post highlights some of the possibilities and flexibility of this pack. There are lofi house tracks such as track 1 using drum loops and midi files with the new Go2 VST (Rob Papen) processed with Blackhole, H3000 Band Delay, H949 Dual Harmoniser, Ultrachannel (all Eventide);

Tracks 4 & 6 are further examples of a lofi house sound using sample loops processed with Octavox, Blackhole, H3000 Band Delay, Ultrachannel (all Eventide)

There are also the more experimental / ambient tracks 2, 3 & 5 recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 using samples with Palindrome (Glitchmachines) processed with Blackhole, H3000 Band Delay, Ultratap, H949 Dual Harmoniser, Ultrachannel (all Eventide) and all processed with Litote (Inear Display).

All tracks mastered in MuLab 7 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

Review of Blackhole reverb effect (VST/AU/AAX) by Eventide — May 2, 2018

Review of Blackhole reverb effect (VST/AU/AAX) by Eventide

Introduction
Eventide have updated the popular Blackhole reverb plug-in which is part of its H9 Signature Series. The GUI has been updated and it is now NKS-ready — reconfigured to support Native Instruments’ Native Kontrol Standard extended plug-in format for use with MASCHINE and KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboards and software.

Blackhole is available as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+ at a promo price of $69.00 USD until 31 May 2018 (rising thereafter to an MSRP of $199.00 USD) from Eventide dealers and its website. A fully-functional 30-day demo version is available.

Eventide use PACE’s ilok.com licensing system, with or without an iLok hardware dongle, to license their plugin products.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Blackhole webpage.

Overview
Whereas most reverbs are constrained by the physics of the real world, Blackhole creates virtual spaces that could never exist in reality. It can turn a simple drum track into an otherworldly rhythm section. Capable of creating epic soundscapes, space-warping special effects and drones, Blackhole can cover spaces as small as a room and as large as space itself.

Designed for real-time manipulation, Blackhole features The Ribbon, an innovative control that allows anyone to program two settings for any combination of the controls to transition between them. The programmable HOTSWITCH helps push creativity further still by enabling users to instantly jump to an alternative setting at the push of a button. Other controls include PRE DELAY, modulation depth and rate, equalization, feedback and resonance as well as a proprietary GRAVITY parameter that reverses the arrow of time by inverting the reverb’s decay. This combination of controls is intended to make Blackhole as close as possible to the experience of tweaking real hardware.

In-depth Review
As well as making Blackhole nks ready, the update also brings the GUI up to date with their other H9 Signature Series effects – MangledVerb and Ultratap which I’ve previously reviewed. If you’ve used either of these effects then you’ll instantly feel at home.

Blackhole has a clear, well defined interface. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired. There are 2 additional controls which give you further control over your sound. The ribbon allows you to program 2 settings for any controls and morph to any sound between the two. Hotswitch is programmable to instantly change to an alternate sound. This hardware emulation is an excellent feature Eventide have implemented in their H9 effects that Blackhole also handles seamlessly.

BH_Gui_top

The top part of the display contains the menu where you can load / save presets; compare current settings with the last saved or used preset; enable the ‘mixlock’ which locks the mix settings and uses this value for every preset you load and access the user manual.

BH_Gui_mid

The input and output levels are shown on the left and right of the display respectively. Each has a VU meter above and there’s a sticky overload indicator that remains lit when there’s an overload suggesting you need to adjust levels.

The controls are pretty self explanatory;

Mix is the dry/wet setting. This control has a non-linear taper which puts most of the knob travel in the most usable range.

Gravity is Blackhole’s take on decay time. On the right-hand side, the Gravity control sweeps through its forward reverb range from a very dense decay to a very long and smooth decay. On the left hand side, the Gravity control is in its inverse mode and sweeps through a range of reverse reverb-like settings.

Size determines the size of the reverb. This ranges from subtle to massive – on an interstellar scale.

Pre-delay is the amount of delay before the reverb section. With tempo sync off it ranges from 0 – 2000ms, with tempo sync activated it is set in beat divisions of the tempo.

Low / High controls the level of low and high frequencies in the reverb tail using shelving filters with a corner frequency of 350 Hz (low) and 2000Hz (high).

Resonance controls the resonance of the low and filters.

Depth / Rate – controls the modulation depth in the reverb tail that can reduce ringing and add some motion to the sound. The rate control sets the relative speed of modulation.

Feedback Controls the feedback around the entire reverberation structure, for even larger sounds. Turning clockwise to Infinite will allow for infinite reverberation time while still letting incoming signal into the reverberation structure. Turning further clockwise to Freeze sets the reverberation time to infinite and does not allow incoming signal into the reverberation structure. (Mod Depth or Mod Rate must be turned down to 0 in order for infinite reverberation time to be achieved).

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the pre-delay is set in ms. When in sync mode, the amount will sync to your host DAW tempo or you can set it manually as required.

BH_Gui_ribbon

The bottom part of the display contains the performance controls.

The Ribbon is an innovative feature designed to emulate hardware. You can program left and right ranges and morph between them with the ribbon which looks like an electric arc.

It’s as simple as clicking on the white dot at the tip of any knob control and dragging it to the desired setting for the left hand side of the ribbon. This will program the knob and draw a blue arc from the initial knob position to the new, programmed knob position. To adjust the knob position for the right side of the Ribbon, click on the blue dot at the opposite side of the arc and adjust it to the desired position for the right side of the Ribbon. You can adjust the Ribbon programming by grabbing the dots at either end of the arc and adjusting them to the desired position. To delete programming, right click on either of the dots.

Alternatively, press the button on the left or right side of the Ribbon, and then move any knob to its desired Ribbon position for that side. The Ribbon programming can be cleared for all knobs by right clicking the button on either side of the Ribbon.

Additionally, the Ribbon is programmed to follow MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #1 messages so you can for example use the Modulation Wheel on a MIDI device to control the ribbon.

Kill this kills the input to the reverb section allowing you to hear the reverb tail fade out. This can be useful to help dial in the sound, or it can be automated for a more tremolo-like effect. Kill can be toggled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #2 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes
from low (value = 64).

Hotswitch allows you to adjust settings so that you can switch between effects. It’s easy to set up, long-press to enter programming mode and the button starts blinking. Make the required changes and then long-press to exit programming mode. When you press the hotswitch button you toggle between the two settings.

Freeze sets the reverb time to infinite, sets Mod Depth to Freeze (equivalent to Mod Depth at “0”) and mutes the input effectively freezing the audio in the reverb buffer. Making changes to some controls when Freeze is active can allow for interesting sound design. Freeze can be controlled via MIDI Continuous Control (CC) #4 messages. It will toggle when the CC goes from low (value = 64).

Conclusions
Blackhole is simply stunning. It is an awesome reverb that can create dense ambient drones, huge reverbs for impacts or more subtle ambiences for strings. It is the first effect I use, in fact I’ve used it on my last 10 releases, pretty much every single track. If you’re tempted it’s definitely worth purchasing at the heavily discounted introductory promo price.

As well as sounding stunning, it is also easy to use and get to grips with. It comes complete with more than 50 presets, including some by Eventide artists: Richard Devine, Vernon Reid, Flood & Alan Moulder, Jonsi & Alex (Sigur Rós), and John Agnello. They highlight the huge potential of the effect.

I could have chosen any of my recent releases but I’ve recorded ‘tangential memories’ embedded above to highlight some of the sounds that Blackhole can produce.

Tracks 1 & 4 – chord progression created in Scaler (Pluginboutique); Blue 2 (Rob Papen) processed with Blackhole; Blue 2 processed with Incipit (Inear Display) and Blackhole; Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Glitchmachines samples processed with Cryogen (Glitchmachines), H949 Dual Harmoniser (Eventide) and Blackhole.

Track 2 – chord progression created in Scaler (Pluginboutique); Blue 2 (Rob Papen) processed with Blackhole; Blue 2 processed with Incipit (Inear Display) and Blackhole; Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Sample from Urban and Suburban (BOOM Library) processed with Blackhole.

Track 3 – created using RapidComposer; 3 instances of Synthmaster One (one instance processed with Blackhole); Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolution (Spitfire Audio) processed with Blackhole; Palindrome (Glitchmachines) processed with Outer Space (AudioThing) and Blackhole.

All tracks mixed / mastered in MuLab using Ultrachannel (Eventide), Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

Review of Palindrome – a granular morph plotting sampler (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines — April 30, 2018

Review of Palindrome – a granular morph plotting sampler (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines

Introduction
Glitchmachines have introduced Palindrome, a unique and inspirational plugin with four granular samplers, a coordinate plotting grid and complex modulation sources in order to facilitate the creation of morphing sound effects and unusual instrument patches.

It is available in VST and AU formats as 32 & 64 bit versions from Glitchmachine’s website. It is typically priced at $69.

System Requirements
It’s worth noting the system requirements:

  • Broadband connection for download
    VST/AU host: Ableton Live, Logic Pro, etc.
    Mac OS X 10.7+ (PPC not supported)
    Approximately 1.5 GB of hard drive space
    Windows Vista or higher
    Minimum 2 GB RAM
    CPU with SSE2 support
    Minimum CPU: Core 2 Duo, 2GHz
    Minimum screen resolution 1000 X 800

I’ve highlighted the last one because it’s quite a high standard. My laptop has a max resolution of 1366 x 768. However, I can resize the window in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 so it is fine to use in this DAW but when loaded into MuLab 7 there isn’t an option to resize the window and the bottom of the display is missing meaning that I can’t use Palindrome in MuLab.

Download and Installation
This is a straightforward process, the file is quite large at 1.2Gb and the installation takes up about 1.5Gb of space. This is because the download includes a very generous 1.4Gb sample library. Installation is quick with the installer, you just need to manually copy the PALINDROME_SAMPLES folder to an appropriate location on your computer and when you launch Palindrome a pop-up will prompt you for the folder location. There is no registration process.

Basic Overview
Palindrome has 4 granular samplers, each of which is represented by a quadrant on the display. You create a custom path that determines the trajectory of a playhead over time. This playhead travels across the defined path that corresponds with the outputs of the samplers which are smoothly morphed together.

You can apply up to two effects per sample and Palindrome also features 8 user-definable multi-breakpoint envelopes that can be used to modulate sampler and/or effect parameters.

The global section allows you to define the global envelope, pitch and output parameters and there’s a global reverb effect too.

Using Palindrome

I’m delighted to say that I was part of the beta testing team and have designed some of the factory presets.

Palindrome is one of those tools that is easy to start using and you can get some great sounds straight away but it also allows you to learn new techniques and discover new possibilities over time.

The GUI has a very modern look and feel and is easy to navigate. The top section contains the load sample option and waveform display. sampler controls on the left and effect controls on the right. These are the same for all four samplers selectable by the relevant tab.

Because Palindrome is geared towards experimental sound design, the samplers behave differently to other Glitchmachine plugins and have been completely recoded for this plugin. Rather than playing the whole of a sample, they loop a small portion of it. Each sampler has 3 windowing options – rectangular (no edge softening) gives a more raw and aggressive sound where triangular and hann windows applied to the grain soften the edges.

The principle operation of the samplers is to specify the start position (as a percentage of the length of the sample) and size of grain (up to 1000ms) and there are controls for pitch, fine tune, pan and amp. There are also options to reverse the sample and mute the output of the sampler.

To the right of the sample load box are the insert effects. These are processed from left to right, each has two controls which are dynamically applied to the knobs when the effect is selected and there’s also a mix control. There are low pass, high pass and band pass filters; distortion; wave folder; ring mod and delay effects.

top_gui

Any parameters that can be modulated have a small dot and range control, essentially the sampler, effect controls and playback rate.

modulatable

The central part of the display is the grid section where you plot the trajectory of the playhead. The grid is split into 4 zones that corresponds to the output of each sampler – top left = sampler 1; top right = sampler 2; bottom left = sampler 3 and bottom right = sampler 4.

The default starting grid contains one point in the top left corresponding to the maximum output of sampler one. You add points to create a path (shift + click) and you can add up to 16 points that can be repositioned afterwards.

You can specify the speed of the playhead with the rate control (free or sync’d to DAW tempo) and there are 5 modes of playback behaviour – one shot; forward, backward, pendulum and random. There are 8 presets, some of which are complex shapes and a view option that turns off the connecting lines between dots to minimise visual clutter.

path1

path_con

Modulation is when things get creative and start to get very interesting, adding movement unleashes the real potential of Palindrome.

Using envelopes for modulation gives much more flexibility and control than LFOs. There are 8 definable envelopes which can contain up to 16 breakpoints. To view the envelope editor, click the modulation button in the middle that changes colour to green and the selected envelope you are editing will also be highlighted green. You can loop the envelope and sync to DAW tempo or manually set the speed from 20ms to 20,000ms.

To create a modulation assignment you drag and drop the required numbered dot to the desired target parameter’s modulation slot.

The global section contains controls that affect the consolidated output. There are attack and release controls, amplitude and pitch plus size, mix and damp controls for the reverb.

GUI_bottom

The footer section features the preset browser, global menu and randomiser. This is a very cool feature that has been really well thought out, allowing you to isolate single sections or groups of parameters.

random

Conclusions
This is another awesome plugin from the forward thinking Glitchmachines, it’s a unique tool that offers huge scope for sound design and sound creation.

I’ve previously reviewed their other sample based instruments Cataract and Polygon. Cataract is a segment multiplexer that can create complex patterns from percussive articulations to particle sound effects. Polygon is a four slot sampler (normal or granular) but with a completely different architecture feeding into two filters (series or parallel) with Ring Mod, Stutter and Metalliser effects and extensive modulation options with LFOs and envelopes.

Palindrome offers something new and what I love is that there’s so much potential to explore. The included sound library has an excellent quality and range of sounds and offers huge potential and you can of course load your own samples to extend the potential further.

The factory presets give a great example of the sort of sounds that can be produced. I have created a few of these from dark ambient textures of ‘Benign Intentions’ and ‘What Lies Beneath’; unusual glitchy effects of ‘ChatterGlitchBot’ and ‘RoboticBirds’ to sound effects of ‘MetallicRattle’, ‘BrokenEngineTrain’ and ‘PulseShifter’. You can change the character of these sounds simply by turning the sync on, altering the rate setting or changing the playback mode.

The randomiser is also a good place to start to explore some of the possibilities although it’s worth checking parameters – especially if you’ve randomised everything – to adjust any awkward or unwanted settings to fine tune the sound.

Of course you don’t need to use all 4 samplers, you can get some cool sounds using only two, with contrasting samples or the same sample with different filter settings and a complex path you can create anything from one-shot sounds to evolving textures and use some modulation to add interesting movement. The more you use Palindrome, the more you discover such different ways of using it.

I’ve created the album ‘tattarrattat’ embedded above using Palindrome as the only sound source and it is somewhere between dark ambient, noise and drone to highlight some of the possibilities.

All tracks arranged and recorded in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3. Tracks 2, 5 and 6 used five instances of Palindrome processed with SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio), Ultratap, H949 Dual Harmoniser, Blackhole and Octavox (Eventide); Tracks 1, 3 and 4 used three instancs of Palindrome processed with Octavox, Blackhole and H3000 Factory (Eventide) and Blackhole.

I’ve also created the album ‘varosha’ embedded below. This is a dystopian soundtrack inspired by abandoned and / or creepy places. It’s electronic, somewhere between IDM, minimal DnB, dark ambient and soundscape.

It features drum patterns from Breaktweaker (iZotope) processed with Ultrachannel (Eventide); Palindrome (Glitchmachines) processed with H3000 Factory, Blackhole and Ultrachannel (Eventide) and Glitchmachines samples processed with SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio).

Both albums mastered in MuLab 7 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio), EQ65 (Eventide) and VHL-3C (Black Rooster Audio).

Review of ‘Projection of Reality’ album by Earlyguard — April 25, 2018

Review of ‘Projection of Reality’ album by Earlyguard

I’ve been rather slow getting this review published, the album was released in July 2017 and there are a further four releases since this one on Earlyguard’s bandcamp page and I’d recommend checking those out too.

This is a superb album, it has a great ambience with an edge of tension and distortion at times. The sounds are superbly crafted and layered from deep basses, rich strings, vocal types sounds to harsher, metallic sounds. It’s a great soundscape, cinematic at times.

Mimus Vitae
An evolving atmospheric soundscape, there’s a great flow to the song. It has excellent layering with an edge of tension from percussive elements.

Perpetual Motion
An edge of distortion to the opening, piano, synths and vocal sounds add an excellent ambience. It’s got really reflective qualities.

Elektronen Im Querfeld
An edgy sound, a building tension from percussive elements, harsher drones and metallic type sounds. The bass has an ominous presence.

Ecriture Automatique
A similarly edgy opening leading into a more ambient string sound. It’s superbly layered, an evolving tension to a final release.

Illusionen
Deep bass sounds contrasted by a higher pitch drone, there’s great movement in the sound. Percussive elements are subtle, tension builds through layered drones.

Alte Seele
There’s a great contrast between the floaty vocal type sounds and swirling background more edgy sounding bass and drones.

Hypnosis Rex
Piano, strings and drone creating a haunting feel to the opening, the strings soften this somewhat whilst retaining an edge of tension.

Aether
The song sounds like a radio being tuned in with snippets of talking and static against evolving and swirling synth pads.

Review of Scaler – chord detection and creative chord progression creator utility (VST/AU/AAX) by PluginBoutique —

Review of Scaler – chord detection and creative chord progression creator utility (VST/AU/AAX) by PluginBoutique

Introduction
PluginBoutique have introduced Scaler, a unique and inspirational MIDI effect that makes finding chords and progressions intuitive and fun. With note detection, scale selection and chord suggestions, Scaler is a comprehensive but easy-to-use toolbox that will help anyone make better music.

It is available in AAX, VST and AU formats as 32 & 64 bit versions from PluginBoutique’s website. It is typically priced at £39.95

Background
A first of its kind, Scaler can determine what key and scale you’re in and suggest chords that match your music, or it can inspire a tune from scratch by providing a set of initial chords in an unexplored key. With the onboard bank of 1,728 scales and modes including genre and artist presets, there’s more than enough to keep the juices flowing.

Once you’ve determined a scale, Scaler lays out basic diatonic chords for you to audition, and lets you take things further with dozens of chord variations and voicings to try out. Theory buffs can also get an insight into each chord’s harmonic function.

Ready to put together a progression? Simply drag and drop chords into Scaler’s sequencer, change up octaves and inversions, and record or drag the progression into your DAW.

Download and Installation
This is a straightforward process, the file is quite small so download and installation is quick. Registration is similarly straightforward. When you have purchased Scaler it is available to download from the ‘My Products’ section of your account where you will find a keyfile to download. When you lauch Scaler, you register the keyfile and enter your registered email address and you’re good to go.

It’s worth noting that there are two versions, Scaler and ScalerControl. They are essentially the same except ScalerControl is designed for DAWs that use AU plugins that don’t allow you to route midi to other tracks.

It’s also worth checking the website because there are some compatibility issues although these are being fixed as Scaler is updated. In version 1.2 the reported issues are that Maschine 2 and Reason don’t support midi routing.

Using Scaler
Scaler effectively has 3 modes. It can detect chords and identify what key / scale you are playing, you can explore a range of keys and scales and you can create your own chord progressions.

Scaler loads as a midi effect. In Usine Sensomusic Hollyhock 3 you simply need to load Scaler as a patch into a rack and load the VST synth you want to control underneath. You can load the pianoroll between the two to drag and drop the chords / progressions onto.

In MuLab 7 it’s a very similar process, load Scaler into a rack and load the VST synth you want to control underneath. You then drag and drop the progression / chords onto the track for the Scaler rack.

Since I wrote the original review, there have been two updates and the current version is 1.2.1. This brings a number of improvements and bug fixes.

The GUI is clean and well laid out. The top section has the control bar with a display for the input note / chord, help, volume and sound selection, tooltips and embedded guide and global settings. The keyboard underneath acts as an input device and display for notes in a selected scale.

121_top

Beneath this is the option to turn on midi detect and the chord set selector that you can choose between song type, artist or user set. When you choose a song or artist the chords are displayed underneath.

121_chords

The next section shows detected scales including details of the number of matching notes and chords and mood of the particular scale. This can be expanded to include more details.

121_detection

Beneath this is the chord selection and progression builder. When you select a song by style or artist, the chord progression is displayed in the top section of the GUI. The detected scales section shows the most appropriate scale and the chords in that particular scale are displayed at the bottom. The diatonic chords are the ‘basic’ chords and chord variations offers a range of different sounds and the voicings options allows you to play the notes in a different order which gives further variation. The display to the right shows the note, it’s relative position in the chosen scale and a couple of chord substitutions.

121_chordsequence

Often chords will fit more than one scale so if you highlight a different detected scale, the chords that fit are highlighted in blue on the progression shown in the top part of the display and as you scroll down the list and select these different scales you will see that fewer and fewer chords fit into that particular scale.

You can drag chords from the top section into the progression builder as suggested in the chord progression but you can also audition and select alternatives and different voicings from the selection options to fine tune the progression and create interest and variation. You can choose the octave and inversion and then play the progression.

The final stage is to drag the progresssion or individual chords into your DAW.

Conclusions
I think this is a very useful tool for musicians that don’t know music theory but also for those that do. For those with a limited knowledge, it could be useful to identify what chords you are using and help you sound more musical by choosing chords within a particular key or scale. If you know music theory, it could help you identify substitute chords, create new progressions from styles you might not normally use.

Either way it is a tool to provide inspiration and help you find new ways to be creative. There is a focus on modern music styles with a number of artists and progressions that are difficult to find generally so it’s an excellent tool to help you create new styles of music that you may struggle to do on your own.

It’s great that the developers have implemented a number of improvements and have established a user community. A lot of comments that I was going to make have already been addressed in recent updates.

The included scale set has been increased from major, minor, all the modes plus altered, harmonic major / minor and pentatonic major / minor to include 11 new scales – Lydian augmented scale; Acoustic scale; Major locrian scale; Ukrainian dorian scale; Hungarian gipsy scale; Melodic minor scale (asc); Half-diminished scale; Phrygian dominant scale; Persian scale; Neapolitan major scale; Neapolitan minor scale; Other. These contain some more unusual / exotic scales and are a great inclusion to providing a very wide scope for creativity.

There are a couple of other updates that make Scaler more usuable. There is an option to randomise velocities giving chords a more natural sound, the chord progression builder has been increased from 8 to 16 chords and you can now specify the chord length when you export as midi. The length is the same for all chords so if you using a number of different chord lengths it may be easier to export individual chords and edit them rather than the whole progression.

Although Scaler has an excellent set of chord progressions, I’d say that you need to think about how to change these to keep interest and add variation over time, you also need to think about basslines and melodies to create a whole song for example. That’s more of a challenge if you don’t know music theory. A suggestion for future updates would be tools to create such melodies and basslines, especially for some of the modern EDM styles. Maybe this is going above and beyond towards software like RapidComposer which I’ve previously reviewed. This allows you to create an entire song including chords, basslines, melodies, piano lines, strings and you can export these as midi files. There is a much steeper learning curve and it doesn’t have the same depth of modern chord progressions, however.

If you’re looking for a tool that you can pretty much use straightaway, is quick and easy and provides inspiration for many modern music styles then Scaler is a very good option. If you’re looking for more of a compositional tool then Scaler isn’t really suited to this but it can give you a great start.

I’ve used the original version of Scaler several times on ‘oblique coherence’ embedded above.

‘so called progress leaves me cold’ was created using Scaler to create the chord progression, 5 instances of SampleScience Player processed using SphereDelay, Blackhole (Eventide), mini filter V (Arturia), Cryogen (Glitchmachines) and SphereDelay. I’ve also used a sample from Urban and Suburban sample pack from Boom Library.

‘oblique coherence’, ‘bricks’ and ‘posters’ were recorded live in Usine Sensomusic Hollyhock 3. The chord progressions were created in Scaler and I’ve used SampleScience Player with SphereDelay and SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio); Synthmaster 2 (KV331 Audio) with SphereDelay and Blackhole. I’ve recorded quotes from YokoOnoBot on twitter processed in the joggle sampler with SphereDelay and also processed in the Grain MicroLoop sampler (using automation of speed and gain parameters) with SphereDelay. I’ve also used Type A (AudioThing) and Litote (Inear Display) with automation on the master channel.

‘disengage’ was created using 3 instances of SampleScience player processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole. Samples from the biomorph pack by Glitchmanchines were processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole.

‘fractured memories haunt my dreams’ was created using RapidComposer and four instances of SampleScience Player processed with SphereDelay, Blackhole and Octavox. The chord track was duplicated and processed with SpecOps.

‘drawn to the stars’ was created using RapidComposer and five instances of SampleScience Player processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole.

‘old houses’ was created using RapidComposer and six instances of SampleScience Player processed with Blackhole, SphereDelay and Octavox.

‘affirmation’ was created using Scaler for the chord progression, Synthmaster One processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole, three instances of SubBoomBass2, one processed with SphereDelay. A background sample from the Urban and Suburban sample pack by Boom Library.

All songs mastered using Ultrachannel (Eventide), Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

Review of SampleScience Player – a free 200 instrument rompler (VST / AU) — April 20, 2018

Review of SampleScience Player – a free 200 instrument rompler (VST / AU)

Introduction
SampleScience have introduced SampleScience Player, a free 200 instrument rompler from SampleScience available for Windows (VST) and macOS (AU)in 32 and 64 bit versions. It is available from the SampleScience website.

Background
SampleScience Player is the biggest free rompler available today. The sample library has been compressed in FLAC format to limit the size of the plugin which occupies about 4gb of hard drive space.

There are 200 sounds in a number of categories including basic, bass, brass, chips, drums, keys, orchestra, percussion, sound design, strings, synth, vocals, wind and world. There are also bonus mastrcode pads.

All of the included sounds are either public domain, CC 3.0 with attribution or made strictly for music production.

Download and Installation
The download link is embedded on the page above, although it is a free download there is an option to make a donation or you could support SampleScience by purchasing one of their other products.

One point I noticed, the minimum specs are stated as 8Gb of RAM and an i5 or better. My spec is a dual core pentium with 4Gb of RAM and it has run perfectly well so far.

Overview
As well as the 200 sounds, the SampleScience player also has a linear ADSR, Multi-LFO, low/high pass filters, velocity amp range controls and glide in mono voice which give further additional sound shaping options.

The interface is easy to navigate, the top section has the low / high amp ranges and main pan and volume settings. There’s also a central control panel detailing the LFO wave, source and destination, filter type, velocity curve and voice mode. There are also details of the author and licence details.

gui_top

The next section is a picture representing the sound and additional controls for some sounds i.e. drums and chips which is shown below.

gui_chips

The lower section has the ADSR, LFO, Filter Reverb and glide controls and a keyboard.

gui_bottom

Included Sounds
There are a huge number of very usuable sounds available. These sounds are very usable in their own right but the additional controls let you shape them further and you can of course use additional effects to shape and define the sound further.

There are some sounds that I especially like –

‘chips’ – a selection of 8-bit sound effects and lead / bass sounds;

‘basic’ – contains rectangular, saw, sine and square waves from a Doepfer A-110 modular and saw, square and triangular waves from a Yamaha CS-15. These are deep and a bit edgy at times;

‘keys’ – a varied selection of acoustic piano, electric piano and organ sounds with great character;

‘mastrcode pads’ – These are a bonus and are described as ‘a collection of pads sampled as chords for that old school early jungle/techno feel’. I really like these, an excellent range of very atmospheric sounding pads suitable for many different styles of music;

‘sound design’ – This is an excellent inclusion because you’re getting sounds from some superb SampleScience plugins such as Cinematika, Nostromos, Pastoral Tones and Vortex;

‘synths’ – a varied selection including EA-1, Mopho and DX-21 type sounds.

The drums section is also an excellent inclusion, there are acoustic and electronic kits including samples from some unusual or rarer machines than you don’t typically see. These especially lend themselves to further processing / shaping.

Conclusions

It’s a total no-brainer, this is incredible for a free plugin. I would highly recommend considering a donation or supporting SampleScience by purchasing one of their other products.

There’s a huge range of very usable sounds across a number of different sound categories. One point to bear in mind is that some of the sounds have been designed by SampleScience to be used only in music production while other sounds are CC 3.0 with attribution so all sounds are good for music production but you need to check that only the public domain sounds are used for any sound design projects (commercial or not).

The sound quality is generally very good considering a lot of the samples are public domain. It’s a very usable plug-in but clearly is not going to compete with more commercial romplers – some of which are very expensive it has to be said. It’s difficult to say anything negative but there are a couple of points to note. There are reportedly some tuning issues with some of the samples and the release control has a bug that specifically affects MacOS where there is long tail with a very short release setting instead of the expected short release. That said, these are planned to be addressed in a future update.

I’ve used SampleScience Player extensively on ‘oblique coherence’ embedded above.

‘so called progress leaves me cold’ was created using Scaler to create the chord progression, 5 instances of SampleScience Player processed using SphereDelay, Blackhole (Eventide), mini filter V (Arturia), Cryogen (Glitchmachines) and SphereDelay. I’ve also used a sample from Urban and Suburban sample pack from Boom Library.

‘oblique coherence’, ‘bricks’ and ‘posters’ were recorded live in Usine Sensomusic Hollyhock 3. The chord progressions were created in Scaler and I’ve used SampleScience Player with SphereDelay and SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio); Synthmaster 2 (KV331 Audio) with SphereDelay and Blackhole. I’ve recorded quotes from YokoOnoBot on twitter processed in the joggle sampler with SphereDelay and also processed in the Grain MicroLoop sampler (using automation of speed and gain parameters) with SphereDelay. I’ve also used Type A (AudioThing) and Litote (Inear Display) with automation on the master channel.

‘disengage’ was created using 3 instances of SampleScience player processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole. Samples from the biomorph pack by Glitchmanchines were processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole.

‘fractured memories haunt my dreams’ was created using RapidComposer and four instances of SampleScience Player processed with SphereDelay, Blackhole and Octavox. The chord track was duplicated and processed with SpecOps.

‘drawn to the stars’ was created using RapidComposer and five instances of SampleScience Player processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole.

‘old houses’ was created using RapidComposer and six instances of SampleScience Player processed with Blackhole, SphereDelay and Octavox.

‘affirmation’ was created using Scaler for the chord progression, Synthmaster One processed with SphereDelay and Blackhole, three instances of SubBoomBass2, one processed with SphereDelay. A background sample from the Urban and Suburban sample pack by Boom Library.

All songs mastered using Ultrachannel (Eventide), Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).