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Black Rooster Audio – plugins for recording, mixing and mastering (EQ, compressors, tape emulation) — February 28, 2018

Black Rooster Audio – plugins for recording, mixing and mastering (EQ, compressors, tape emulation)

Black Rooster Audio are an audio software company from Germany that produce a range of premium quality mixing and mastering tools in AAX, VST and AU formats. The plugins cover areas such as harmonics, dynamics processing, EQ, amp emulation and special effects. They have a proprietary licensing system which simply requires your email and serial number to be activated online. 14 day trial licences are also available.

Whilst typical prices for individual plugins are outlined below (bundles are available), Black Rooster Audio are having a 7 week spring sale at the time of writing where one plugin will be 50% off for 7 days, discount codes are listed below.

For more information and product videos, visit the Black Rooster Audio website

Overview

I’ve created the above embedded album using a number of different plugins from Black Rooster Audio. I’ve created the album in two different DAWs using 2 very different processes. The first three tracks are melodic techno whereas the last three tracks are experimental techno. I’m very impressed with the ease of use and resulting sound quality in both DAWs. The effects work together very well and their flexibility means that they can be used in effects chains, mixing and mastering.

I found the combination of Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5 worked extremely well for mastering, especially in combination with VHL-3C during mixing. The VHL-3C was very effective at removing low end / high and and the combination of Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5 added depth, presence and warmth.

To summarise the processes and effects used, the album was created using Zenhiser’s Anodyne Techno sample pack. The first three tracks were created in MuLab 7 and the last three created in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3.

I’ve used a number of effects, in MuLab I used DW Drum Enhancer (Audified) on the drums; Blueface SC5 and Fission (Eventide) on the bass; SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio), Subvert (Cryogen) and H3000 Factory, Tverb and Blackhole (Eventide). They were mixed using VHL3C and VEQ-5.

In Hollyhock 3 I’ve used a number of the sampling / granular tools – groove slicer, groove mangler, sample grain player, joggle player and the Seslatero add-on. I’ve used a number of effects – VLA2A, VPRE-73 and VEQ-5; Cryogen (Glitchmachines), VHL3C, Cypress TT-15; H3000 Factory (Eventide). I also used Litote (Inear Display) and Type A (AudioThing) on the master.

All tracks were mastered in MuLab using Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5.

The plugins

I’ve used a lot of Black Rooster Audio plugins on the album but haven’t used all of them, namely VLA-3A and Blackface but will definitely be using them on future projects as they provide a great alternative to their VLA-2A and Blueface counterparts. That’s testament to how good these effects are, I created a sound that I really liked for the production of the album but there is still a lot of scope to create a diffferent sound with the plugins I used, make greater use of other effects on other projects or use different combinations of effects.

Magnetite

Black Rooster Audio’s homage to magnetic tape recorders emulates all the sonic aspects associated with analog tape: Class A recording and playback amplifiers, tape response and saturation, NAB pre- and de-emphasis EQs, the sonic effect of different tape speeds and bias levels, hiss and hum, adjustable wow and flutter feature that emulates frequency modulation (FM) due to motor speed fluctuations.

The GUI has a clean and classic look and feel. The power button is located on the left hand side and allows you to carry out a quick a/b comparison. Next to this are the tape selection options. There are 3 different types – black has the biggest low frequency emphasis, blue has a little more emphasis on high notes and red has the flattest response. Next to this is the noise button which enables or disables 60Hz hum.

The main part of the display is the input recording level and playback level controls and associated VU meters.

On the right hand side of the display are 3 bias settings and two tape speed options. The wow/flutter control adjusts the emulated motor speed fluctuations.

You can also click on the recording head to select the playback mode of the animation.

I love this effect, by not emulating a specific piece of equipment you get all the classic features of tape units which gives great flexibility. It has a superb warmth and solid presence. The different tape types and bias settings are subtle but distinctive and allow you to emphasise bass or high frequencies, for instance. I’ve used this for mastering in combination with Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5.

Typically priced at $89 (50% off from 31/03/18 – 06/04/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW14)

VHL-3C

This effect has 3 controls and an on/off switch. Built around a cascade of two constant-K filters the VHL-3C‘s analog counterpart – a sought-after processor from the early 1950s – comprises an entirely passive design with very musical and interactive pass filters. The VHL-3C allows you to effectively remove rumble, hum or harsh frequencies from your signals. Set both filter knobs to their extreme positions and you‘ll end up with a narrow telephone-line bandpass.

I’ve used this extensively during mixing to tame the low end of drums and basslines and some high end too. I really like how simple it is to use yet produces great quality results. I also used it on an effects chain for tracks 4, 5 and 6. I used the joggle player sampler in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 on a bassline and processed with Cryogen (Glitchmachines). A combination of VHL-3C and Cypress TT produced a very interesting filtering effect that also sat much better in the mix.

Not only is this a very great sounding filter, it’s also free!

VEQ-5

The VEQ-5 is inspired by one of the most famous and renowned equalizers in studio history – focussing on the power range frequencies from 200Hz to 7kHz it is aimed at cleaning up and sweetening vocals.

I didn’t use this on vocals but found that it added presence and depth to synth sounds. I also used it for mastering to add sizzle – that’s the name of a preset that is very aptly named.

Typically priced at $69 (50% off from 03/03/18 – 09/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW10)

VPRE-73

The VPRE-73 is a faithful emulation of a classic studio preamp. A component based circuit simulation approach authentically captures the sound and feel of the analog counterpart in all nuances. Every crucial part of the circuit, including the input and output audio transformers, the discrete preamp circuit, as well as the HF shelving filter band have been faithfully modeled.

I used this as part of an effects chain for a granulated bassline. I used VLA-2A which shaped the bass sound, this effect removed low end rumble and the VEQ-5 added sizzle. Each was quite subtle but overall they removed the bass ‘thump’, added clarity and enabled this sound to sit better in the mix.

Typically priced at $29 (50% off from 24/03/18 – 30/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW13)

Blueface SC5

This is a fixed threshold compressor accurately modeled after the original 70s Blueface version of a classic and sought-after VCA compressor. It’s a very capable effect, it can tighten sounds very well or equally do the opposite – separating and boosting component frequencies. It’s very versatile, it can be quite subtle or much more pronounced.

I’ve used this as an insert effect on ‘encapsulation’ to add presence to a bass sound which I then processed with Fission (Eventide). I’ve also used on the master to add presence and depth.

Typically priced at $89 (50% off from 10/03/18 – 16/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW11)

Blackface SC5

This is the brother to the Blueface SC5, it uses a slightly different compression behaviour, a different harmonic structure paired with a darker sounding audio-path and the option to feed in external sidechain signals.

Typically priced at $99 (50% off from 07/04/18 – 13/04/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW15)

VLA-2A

This is the world‘s finest emulation of THE opto electronic compressor of the late 1960s. Black Rooster Audio have put in many hours of hard work, calculus, engineering skill and heart into designing the most authentic native emulation of this unit to this date. Black Rooster Audio love to use the VLA-2A on drums, but it also performs outstandingly well on bass or vocals and carefully adjusting the compression really helps to make your signals shine and just sit in the mix.

I’ve used this in an effects chain on granulated basslines in tracks 4, 5 and 6. In combination with VPRE-73 and VEQ-5 it shaped the bass allowing the other two effects to remove ‘thump’, add clarity making the sound fit into the mix better.

Typically priced at $129 (50% off from 23/02/18 – 02/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW09)

VLA-3A

The VLA-3A is one of the most authentic native emulations of its analog brother from the 70s. Black Rooster Audio say this is their goto-compressor for vocals, but it also works incredibly well for bringing out the ambience on percussive material and helping to put some glue into your mixes.

Typically priced at $129 (50% off from 17/03/18 – 23/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW12)

Cypress TT-15

This is a guitar amp head emulation meticulously modeled after a very versatile, yet uniquely sounding low wattage amplifier. It has six intuitive controls that can produce clean through crunchy to biting, distorted sounds. It also has a simple 2×12 cabinet simulation that can be bypassed if you prefer other solutions or if you‘re feeding into an external power amp/cabinet stage.

I used the joggle player sampler in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 on a bassline and processed this with Cryogen (Glitchmachines). In combination with VHL-3C this produced a very interesting filtered effect that also sat much better in the mix.

This is a free effect.

The Canary

The Canary was designed to support you in creating the most powerful and convincing drums you have ever recorded or mixed. This plug-in let’s you expand and recover some fundamental aspects of the drum signal that may have been lost during the recording process or which haven‘t been there in the first place. These include tone, attack, sustain and some very basic filtering, which define the natural sound of the shell. You lost attack and impact through your recording? Your drum signals sound dull or not particularly powerful? The Canary is here to help you, synthetically adding those missing features, allowing you to refine and redefine your drums in the mix.

This is a free effect.

Review of DW Drum Enhancer plugin by Audified — February 27, 2018

Review of DW Drum Enhancer plugin by Audified

DW_promo_02

Introduction

Audified have introduced DW Drum Enhancer, an all-in-one drum processing plug-in evolved in close collaboration with DWe (DW Electronics), an acclaimed brand belonging to family-owned American professional drums, pedals, and hardware manufacturer Drum Workshop, Inc. (DW®). It is designed to enable users to significantly speed up their work with wonderful results workable within seconds, thanks to carefully-crafted combinations of parameters provided by a true doyen of DW® content, Chris Denogean.

DW Drum Enhancer is available to purchase as a multi-format plugin – AAX, AU, VST2 and VST3 in both 32 & 64 bit versions. It is available directly from Audified’s online shop typically priced at $199.00 USD. A fully functional 30 day demo is also available.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated DW Drum Enhancer webpage or watch the introductory video

Overview

Arising as a result of a creative combination of Audified’s tried-and-tested technology and acknowledged DW® know-how, DW Drum Enhancer is billed as being the only drum processing tool that anyone would ever need to get the drum sound of their dreams, designed to process the basic drum sound spectrum.

DW Drum Enhancer is not simply one effect, it includes several EQs and compressors. The 12 position selector allows you to choose desired drum settings – snare, kick or toms each with three variations – modern, heavy and vintage. The other positions are for overheads (OH), Bus for mixing and room for processing whole drum kits recorded with 2 microphones.

Each selection automatically applies appropriate settings, such as EQ type, slope, and frequency; Compressor type, attack, release, and knee shape; noise Gate attack and release, and sidechain filter. This makes for a speedy, straightforward workflow while also allowing for further fine-tuning through the use of easily accessible additional controls courtesy of a stunningly-photorealistic GUI (Graphical User Interface) that’s as easy on the eye as it is easy to use.

Verdict

This is a superb effect. I love how results are instant using the presets which you can then fine-tune as required. It can add presence, depth, saturation as well as clean up sounds. It’s also very versatile, you can use it on individual kick / snare / tom tracks or it will just as happily work in a mix or on a master track.

I’ve used it on the first three tracks on the album entanglement embedded above. I used drum loops from Zenhiser’s Anodyne Techno sample pack. The tape crunch and vintage presets were selected and sounded great, adding depth and presence. Initially I didn’t tweak these but as I progressed adding effects and mixing with Black Rooster Audio plugins I removed some of the low end so that the drums sat better in the mix.

It is designed to be preset driven and has intelligent controls adjusting effects for each setting. This means that the available controls are more limited and you usually will need to tweak them so that you don’t overuse or over process.

It’s an ideal effect for very quickly applying drum effects and tweaking them with minimal controls. If you’re looking for highly customisable settings then this isn’t really the effect you’re looking for, you’d be better off with an effects chain with a number of separate units that you can adjust as required. And that’s really the point with this effect, it streamlines the process for when you don’t want or need that level of control but rather want great sounding drums quickly.

One point I would make is the pricing puts this in the realms of those other mixing / mastering tools that give more flexibility and customisation options such as the Elevate / EQuivocate bundle by Newfangled Audio / Eventide ($199); Neutron 2 standard by iZotope (£249); Ultrachannel by Eventide ($249); a combination of EQs, Compressors and vintage levelling amplifiers by Black Rooster Audio or the bx console_E, bx console_N or bx console_G by PluginAlliance (£299). I’ve reviewed most of these on my blog and each of them offers something different and as with any of these plugins, it’s a case of choosing the one which suits your requirements best.

In-Depth Review

The GUI has a very clean minimal feel and is laid out to enable a very quick workflow.

On the left hand side of the display is the level input, gate mode which has hard and soft modes, phase inversion and a threshold control, the 12 position selector switch and compressor with 3 parameters of threshold, mix and make-up gain. The display at the bottom shows which parameter is being changed. The effects are turned on/off by clicking the oval button labelled gate or comp and when selected, the button and associated controls glow red.

The central part of the display is an excellent design feature, it’s the power on/off and has a cool valve look with authentic fade in / out.

The right hand side of the display has a 3 band EQ, filters, 5 tube settings and a saturation control. The VU meters and output control are in the top right and the presets can be accessed at the bottom of this section.

There are a range of presets for each of the different settings – bus, kick, overheads, snare, toms and room. These give really good results in themselves and of course can be fine tuned to your requirements.

Review of SQ4 Sequence Processor plugin by Dialog Audio — February 20, 2018

Review of SQ4 Sequence Processor plugin by Dialog Audio

Introduction

Dialog Audio have introduced SQ4, a software plugin designed for synchronizing and modulating hardware synthesiser parameters within a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). It is available direct from Dialog Audio’s website typically priced at $49 in VST, AU and AAX formats (32/64 bit).

Overview

The SQ4 sequencer offers a number of connection possibilities:

The important point to bear in mind is that this plugin outputs midi or CV rather than audio and so you will need to route the connections appropriately. A basic setup involves adding a track for the SQ4 sequencer, a second track for the target device of external synthesiser or software instrument and creating a virtual midi connection between them. For CV signals additional audio tracks to receive the CV signal and send to a specific DC-coupled audio interface output are required.

Conclusions

This is an excellent sequencer, it can add functionality to hardware and software synthesisers alike. The main advantages I see for controlling software synths is that the SQ4 is fully customisable, you can control any parameter of a software synth or effect once you’ve set up the midi connections which offers lots of creative potential.

Whilst many modern synths contain arpeggiators, step sequencers etc there are a lot that don’t and SQ4 can enhance their functionality considerably. This is especially true for many hardware synths.

I had great fun using SQ4 to control various parameters of the monophonic synth Enkl (Klevgrand) and noise synth Noisetar (NuSofting). I also tried it with Cataract (Glitchmachines) and got great results. I really like how you can use the steps to create a bassline and then add subtle or more extreme movement to filters. Similarly for effects it’s a great way of adding a rhythmic element with a sequence and subtle or more extreme modulation. The resulting album is embedded at the top of this section, it’s a minimal tech house album arranged and recorded in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 as one-take live recordings.

An arrangement was created with SQ4 controlling Enkl and processed with Ultrachannel (Eventide); A drumloop processed with Ultrachannel (Eventide); SQ4 controlling Noisetar (Nusofting); Synthmaster 2 (KV331 Audio) processed with Convex (Glitchmachines) and Octavox (Eventide); Vocals processed with MangledVerb, Ultratap and Ultrachannel (all Eventide) with Type A (AudioThing) used on the master track. Settings and patterns were altered and four variations were recorded, a fifth version swapped the instance of Noisetar with Cataract (Glitchmachines).

The songs were subsequently mastered in MuLab 7 using EQ45 (Eventide), Type A (AudioThing), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

In-Depth Review

There are detailed setup guides for several host applications on the Dialog Audio website. I use a different DAW from those listed, Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3, and I did have some trouble setting up SQ4 but with help from x.iso on the forums and some further experimentation it turns out that it’s extremely straightforward. It’s simply a case of configuring a midi out or a midi bus and assigning a multi midi filter. When you set the filter to control change, you set the filter number to the same cc channel as the sequences in SQ4 and the value out is then the converted midi messages you can use to control VST parameters. This is a ‘nuclear’ option, it covers VSTs that don’t have midi learn but as it’s so straightforward it’s an easy method to implement for any VST, regardless of whether they have midi learn or not.

The SQ4 interface is divided into 3 sections – output settings, sequence controller and the sequence editor.

Output settings allow you to choose midi cc, sysex or audio cv; you can select the external midi device or output to host to control a software synthesiser; select the midi channel and select the rate at which messages are sent to the device.

The control panel has two parts to it, the main controls which are all of the controls for each sequence and the output controls which determine the output options for the sequence.

There are three different types of sequences – curves, steps and slopes. The rate can be set as free, sync to host or ratio. The number of steps can be anything between 1 and 128. The drop down list has options of 1, 8, 16, 32 & 64 but you can manually enter any number. There are play options of forward, backwards, alternating and random. There are also offset, slew and swing controls.

The output settings determine the midi, sysex or CV parameters for each sequence.

The sequence editor is where you create your sequences. The steps are drawn by dragging up and down, the slopes can edited by click and drag on the points. Curves have a number of additional options including presets, copy/paste, load/save and combine steps.

Review of RapidComposer music prototyping software by MusicDevelopments — February 9, 2018

Review of RapidComposer music prototyping software by MusicDevelopments

RapidComposer is a unique, non-destructive, phrase-based music prototyping software designed for composers, song-writers and musicians of all musical styles for both Windows and macOS.

It is available in two versions

  1. Light edition typically priced at $79 +VAT has Core functionality, VSTi and soundfont support, standalone and VST versions (Windows and macOS), all updates until v3.99, more than 200 reusable phrases and product support.
  2. Full version typically priced at $199 +VAT includes all of the light edition features plus 2 Melody Generators, Idea Tool, articulations, phrase morphing, unlimited tempo and signature changes.

Both versions are available direct from the MusicDevelopment website: http://www.musicdevelopments.com/shop.html

This review is for the full license of RapidComposer, version 3.4, the update was released in January 2018.

Overview

The basic idea is that you create your composition style and length, add chords, add basses, add melodies and harmonies on as many tracks as you need. You can load soundfonts or VSTs to hear your composition and then export as audio or drag and drop as midi files to a DAW for further processing. The VST that runs inside a DAW is a smaller version that communicates with the standalone version. You can use RapidComposer to control separate VSTs or a multichannel VST such as Kontakt.

In practice, it has so much more depth and is a very powerful composing tool for any style of music. It’s very flexible because it allows you to create your composition to any length and any format. Although it comes with a number of chord progressions built-in, you are not limited to these and can add your own chords and furthermore there are many phrasing options too as well as options for piano and guitar chords.

There are a large number of scales and modes and a number of generators to create musical phrases which can be used as is or you can edit them to suit your needs.

I found there was a learning curve to get to grips with the workflow but once I mastered this, the process of scoping out a song was pretty quick. I’ve been happy using the standalone version and exporting to midi to import into MuLab 7 DAW to use with a number of VSTs to create audio and then mix and master to create the composition. Although I’ve got to grips with basic use, I feel there’s so much more functionality to learn and experiment with that will really enhance RapidComposer’s usability, for example using the VST version to control virtual instruments would speed up the creative process.

In Use

It took me a while to get the hang of the interface and functionality, it’s worth spending a little time to do this because actually, it’s very straightforward once you get the hang of the terminology and icons.

Starting a new composition creates a 4 bar song with a default I IV V I progression. At this point, you have the basics of your song which you need to customise to your requirements.

The important points to note are the terminology. RapidComposer has a hierarchical structure as shown below.

You can set scale, chord, tempo and signature at the global level and lower levels inherit these by default but you can override them on any level. This is presented as a collapsible list accessed by the structure icon where you can set global properties as well as settings for each separate section, name the composition and composer. You can also choose whether to use absolute chords or chords with scale degrees.

In practice, this terminology is actually quite helpful because you can arrange your song as simple or complex as you like from a simple single section with alternating chords to something more elaborate such as introduction, verse, bridge, chorus, verse, chorus structure.

You can also add new parts or lines or delete them using the icons that appear when you click on a part or a line. This brings up a x2 which duplicates the part / line, a plus above which adds a part or line above and the lower plus adds a line below whilst the ‘no entry’ deletes it. It appears when you add a line or a part it replicates that particular line or part so you may need to edit this to your requirements. The default length also seems to be 4 bars and you cannot change this within this section.

Once created you can return to the main screen and zoom in / out to change the view settings and this is where you can change the length of each line to a different number of bars if required.

You now need to start adding notes to the composition and you do this using phrases which are basically a group of notes. This covers chords, basslines, melodies and many more which you add to your track. A lot of the power of RapidComposer comes in its ability to generate phrases which you can then edit, resize and add variations to.

You start with a chord progression, there are a large number of inbuilt progressions which you can drag and drop to the master track. However, you are certainly not limited by these and I tend to use my own progressions – standard ones may be useful for creating backing tracks for example but sometimes they can sound formulaic or contrived in some circumstances.

There are a couple of ways to do this, I added the IIIm chord and then used the circle of fifths to change it to a minor 11th chord. I then used the phrases icon and chord generator to add the chord to the line. You can drop this on whichever starting note you want. At this point I remembered I wanted this line to be 8 bars long and it’s a simple case of dragging the line length to 8 bars and extending the chord by dragging to also increase this to 8 bars length. I then edited the chord so that it’s 8 bars long. This is a simple case of right click to display the menu, select all notes, join all notes and then click ‘apply changes to phrase in composition’ which helpfully changes all chords. You can also click and drag to select notes which is useful to extend or decrease the length of the chord to allow a reverb tail to finish, for instance.

Returning to the structure inspector, when you click on a line, pressing x2 duplicates the line with any chords and phrases you’ve created. This means that you can very quickly start to create your composition by copying, editing and pasting lines and sections.

I’ve kept the lines deliberately short, they seem easier to manage as shorter separate lines rather than longer sections.

At this point I’d also say that RapidComposer saves your composition on exit but I’d recommend clicking the file menu and ‘save composition as’ to ensure you save the most up to date version. You can then use the keyboard shortcut of ctrl+s to save the composition as you go along. It’s also useful to name the different parts and lines into parts of your composition for easy reference.

Duplicating a section creates an exact copy so a very useful aspect of using relative chords is that if you change a chord type, the phrase automatically updates. This is an excellent way to very quickly scope out your composition. If you create sections of your song with different chord phrasings, you can copy these to give variety.

Once you’ve entered the chords, you add other tracks by right clicking on a track, clicking on settings and then add midi track. You can then change colour, instrument and preset as required. You can then add phrases as required and edit them to suit your requirements. For example, clicking on the phrases icon you can change the length at the top of the menu to the desired number of bars and then drag say bass generator to your bass track. The rules mean that the bass will snap to the appropriate root note of your chord.

It would probably be quicker to create one section and duplicate rather than drag and drop for each section but it’s quite a quick process anyway. I’ve then added extra tracks with piccato strings and a melody generator. You can drag and drop into a DAW but I found the best way is to export to midi, you can export as a file which includes all of the tracks or separate tracks. If you find the composition is too long or too short, it’s easy enough to edit the composition and re-export it. I wasn’t keen on the bass that was generated and you’d definitely benefit from playing around with the generators to add variety and variations to the phrases.

The icon for the file menu is which brings up a list of options for saving, exporting etc.

From the composition I made, I kept all of the original parts and used Xpand!2 for sounds, adding a drum loop and extra background sounds using Polygon. As I didn’t like the bassline I processed this with Cryogen (Glitchmachines) to produce a bit crushed / glitchy sound. I also added a quote from William S Burroughs about the cut-up method. I mixed with H3000 Factory, H949 Dual Harmoniser, Octavox, MangledVerb, Blackhole, Ultratap and Ultrachannel all by Eventide. I’ve also a drum loop and also Polygon (Glitchmachines) and Incipit (Inear Display) for percussive elements. The spoken part is taken from ‘William S Burroughs Lecture on Public Discourse’ which was recorded on 11th August 1980 by the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and is contained within the Naropa Poetics Audio Archive

I also created a second song from scratch rather than editing the first one. The process was much quicker second time around, I followed a similar process and exported the midi to MuLab. I used Olafur Arnalds Chamber Evolutions (Spitfire Audio) and then mixed with Blackhole, Tverb, 2016 Stereo Room, H3000 Factory and Ultrachannel by Eventide.

Both tracks were mastered in MuLab using EQ45 (Eventide), Type A (AudioThing), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Stage (Fiedler Audio).

The bandcamp link is embedded at the start of this section, the songs appear in reverse order to how they were created.

Conclusions

RapidComposer is a very impressive and inspirational tool. If you’ve ever struggled producing melodies or harmonised parts for chords then this can really help your creativity – in minutes. From scoping out whole songs to providing melodies or piano lines, it’s an amazing powerful and flexible composition tool. The structure is flexible enough to allow you to create a composition for any style, and any length. There are a huge number of chords and scales and although there are a large number of phrases, I like how you are not limited by these with the phrase generators and the random nature of these generators is a great way to see what happens. Understanding the basics of music theory does help to get more out of it.

I also like how you can grow with its functionality, there’s a learning curve to understanding how it works but I soon got to grips with the basics and created the compositions above. You can add variety with chord phrasings, variations to phrases such as humanising, adding swing and velocity. You can be as minimal or in depth as you like.

The flexibility allows you to create and export a composition within the standalone version, use the VST version directly within a DAW to control a number of virtual instruments or create a composition that you can export to midi files to import into a DAW separately for fine tuning instrument and effect settings.

Chord generation is very quick, using relative rather than absolute allows you to change key and still keep the same chords / progressions. Whilst you could use RapidComposer to solely create master chord tracks, you’d be missing a lot of the benefits to help produce your composition. I especially like the melody, ostinato and strings staccato generators because I normally struggle to produce melodies like these from scratch.

The ideas tool is also a superb addition to the full version of RapidComposer, this allows you to create a master track from scratch, use an existing melody track or generate a melody and harmonise with this. You can add chords to the master track by using a scale and specifying rules, absolute chords,progressions or random chords.

You generate the master track chords and then add tracks as required, it’s a simple case of dragging phrases, rhythm patterns adding any required variation and then generating the tracks as required.

I’ve created a song using the ideas tool with an E Neapolitan minor scale. I’ve edited the chords and deleted some of the piano parts and added variation into the bassline. It’s taken just a few minutes to complete the whole song. I’ve done it whilst finishing off this review so haven’t even listened to it yet, will export it to my DAW and see what it sounds like with further processing and effects added.