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Review of Bass Master – a 64 bit VST/AU synth dedicated to bass from Loopmasters — June 28, 2018

Review of Bass Master – a 64 bit VST/AU synth dedicated to bass from Loopmasters

BM_Logo_Light@10x_preview

Introduction
Heavy, speaker-shaking tones are just a few clicks away with Bass Master. This synth is totally dedicated to bass, and it’s built on Loopmasters’ award-winning sonic history.

Whether you are making House, Techno, Drum and Bass, Trap, Hip Hop or other electronic music, Bass Master’s huge variety of source sounds provide the inspiration for a weighty, powerful bass tone.

Bass Master is available in 64bit VST/AU versions at the introductory price of £49.95 / €59.00 / $69.00 until 1st August 2018 (standard price: £69.95 / €85.00 / $99.00) from PluginBoutique.

In-Depth Review
In essence Bass Master is a 2 oscillator sample based synth with filter, filter LFO, 3 effects (distortion, reverb, chorus), a frequency booster and 3 parameter mod-wheel macro.

BM Full GUI_preview

The interface is clean and well designed, in fact they’ve designed it so well that you can start using Bass Master straight away without needing to read the manual. Don’t be fooled by this apparent simplicity though because it is incredibly versatile and has excellent sound quality.

gui_preset

The top section contains the preset load / save options. There are an impressive 350+ presets in a number of categories including simple, sub, modulated and percussive. These are an ideal starting point to explore what Bass Master can do and there are lots of great sounding, very usable presets.

GUI top

The sample based oscillators are located in the top left part of the display. The top layer has an ADSR envelope and a handy feature to change the starting point of the sample. There are 217 waveforms sampled from the best modern and vintage bass sources. The second layer is the sub-layer that has an A/R envelope, option to change octave and a direct out option.

The middle section has the mix control. It’s easy to overlook this but it can be used to shape and create some interesting results.

The right hand part of the display has the filter with 13 filter types, a mix of low pass, high pass, band pass and comb. There are the usual filter controls and an excellent pre-drive control. There’s a dedicated ADSR envelope and LFO modulation that has the usual shapes as well as the more unusual random and drift shapes.

gui bottom

The bottom left has play mode – legato or portamento with glide time and mod-wheel macro assignments.

The effects occupy the middle bottom of the display which also has a keyboard display. There are a number of different effect modes –
Distortion – desk, drive, fuzz, crush, dual;
Chorus – gentle, detune, widen, uber;
Reverb – bright, mid, dark.

The bottom right of the display has a cool frequency booster than can be applied to the bottom, mid and top parts of the signal to add crispness, body and bass. This section also has the master volume control.

Conclusion
I love the analogue vibe with a modern feel of Bass Master. Loopmasters have created a very well designed synth that is easy to learn and use but can produce a huge range of great sounds including subs, 80s synths, plucks, modulated sounds and many more. The included 350+ presets mean that you can start using Bass Master straight away and if you want to tweak them it’s a straightforward and very quick process – it takes less than two minutes to create your own patch from scratch.

I’ve created two songs embedded at the start of the review to highlight some of the sounds that Bass Master can produce, they’re somewhere between techno, house and rave. Bass Master is the only sound source apart from the drum and vocal loops.

Educe uses 4 instances of Bass Master, a drum loop and vocal loops processed with Ultrachannel, H3000 Factory, Blackhole, H949 Dual Harmoniser (Eventide); Cryogen (Glitchmachines).

Warp uses 4 instances of Bass Master and a drum loop processed with MuLab step sequencer, Octavox, Ultratap, H3000 Factory, Blackhole and Ultrachannel (Eventide).

Both songs arranged and recorded in MuLab 7; both songs mastered in MuLab 7 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio); Elevate (Newfangled Audio); Stage (Fiedler Audio).

Avatone Pro brings ‘back’ to market much-loved nearfield studio monitoring mainstay with closely-matched CLA-10 — June 26, 2018

Avatone Pro brings ‘back’ to market much-loved nearfield studio monitoring mainstay with closely-matched CLA-10

TALLMAN, NY, USA: affordable high-quality audio products producer Avantone Pro is proud to announce availability of its CLA-10™ classic studio reference monitor — manufactured as a full-range, two-way passive pair for fixed or remote locations while also accurately recreating an iconic studio monitoring mainstay, much loved in the music industry among pop and rock recording engineers to this day as a valuable mixing tool with which to reveal shortcomings in recordings.

Times change, as does technology. That being said, today’s newly developing age of high-definition audio does not necessarily negate recording shortcomings. Studios still primarily use two- or three-way large monitors designed to represent a wide range reference viewpoint at higher listening levels and there is still a need to hear what a mix will sound like when played back over small systems, such as car stereos, clock radios, computer speakers, and televisions. Indeed, it is important to make mixing judgements based on listening to reference monitors that will not impart tonal anomalies caused by crossovers or inferior full-range drivers. Paying particular attention to the critical midrange vocal/guitar/keyboard areas is always advised.

As such, over a year of R&D (Research & Development), comparative listening, and tweaking went into voicing Avantone Pro’s CLA-10™ while working in close collaboration with five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge — hence having his signature grace the finished, familiar-looking cabinet. The result is a very accurate recreation of an iconic studio monitoring mainstay, much loved in the music industry among pop and rock recording engineers to this day (despite discontinuation of the original product in question back in 2001). Much more recently, listening tests in studios show that recording engineers accept the CLA-10™ as a transparent replacement — just ask Chris Lord-Alge, an assuredly talented and incontrovertibly impressed individual, as evidenced by his following flattery: “I put my mixing reputation on these great speakers… I am mixing on them as I write this.”

The CLA-10™ clearly meets its engineering and performance objectives, attributed, in part, to a 10.4-litre sealed design cabinet constructed of non-layered, high-rigidity MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) — chosen for its natural low-resonance characteristics — finished with an outer layer of real wood veneer. Visually and tonally fusing the past with the present, Avantone Pro utilised the latest in FEA (Fine Element Analysis) modelling to achieve its custom-designed 180mm AV10-MLF low-frequency driver based on paper cone construction with ‘old-school’ speaker design artistry, thanks to the finest pulp material that performs as closely as possible to the original by being press formed rather than die cut for tonal consistency. Cloth surround material is made in Japan for added authenticity and has unique damping characteristics, enabling a predictable compliance over the lifespan of the driver. Avantone Pro’s custom-tooled frame supports the driver/cone combo to minimise mechanical transfers while the 35mm AV10-MHF high frequency silk dome-based tweeter is as close a match to the original as can be made, making for both a frequency (60Hz – 20kHz) and voicing match to the classic sound so admired by the likes of Chris Lord-Alge — hardly surprising since those aforesaid AV10-MLF and V10-MHF critical components have been extensively field-tested in top LA and NY studios to universal acclaim as drop-in replacements for both Avantone Pro’s own CLA-10™ and also the iconic studio monitoring mainstay it recreates so accurately.

Anyone seeking a transparent replacement for their much-loved nearfield studio monitoring mainstay as a valuable mixing tool with which to reveal shortcomings in recordings should seriously consider investing in Avantone Pro’s CLA-10™. Clearly its sound should be as familiar as the distinctive looks it also accurately recreates. Indeed, its (381.5mm x 215mm x 197.5mm) cabinet dimensions and (6.3kg) weight will make transitioning to the carefully crafted CLA-10™ when waving goodbye to the ‘dearly departed’ seem seamless. Some studio visitors may even do a double take when told that the same speaker stands or console bridge boast new classic studio reference monitors!

The CLA-10™ arrives at Avantone Pro’s US Dealers in August 2018, priced at $699.00 USD per pair. Worldwide Distributors are listed by country here.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated CLA-10™ website.

Watch five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge’s compelling CLA-10™ introductory video.

About Avantone Pro (www.avantonepro.com)
As a producer of affordable, high-quality microphones, studio monitors, and accessories, Avantone Pro is a different kind of audio company — a creative vehicle, in effect, enabling its core team to bring to market the things viewed as missing in the industry. Indeed, this could be anything as simple as meeting a particular price point to give excellent quality for reasonable pricing to a product that simply does not exist until built by that team. Far from using the shotgun approach to creating a product line, however, each and every product produced has passion and purpose driving it forward. Regardless of whether attracting a two- or four-figure price tag, attention to design is consistent throughout all Avantone Pro products. Performance comes first, of course, but a great deal of design time is spent creating visually attractive products. Put it this way: the company collectively enjoys classic, timeless designs itself; it is convinced, therefore, that others feel the same way! With its microphones and monitors used in studios around the world — whether within home-based project setups or world-renowned multi-million-dollar facilities, Avantone Pro is sensitive to the real-world operating budgets of bigger and smaller studios alike but also appreciates struggling songwriters/artists who are passionate about creating great music yet must adhere to budget limitations based on common sense spending. Since it strives to offer products that anyone would be proud to own and have long-term use of in the quest for creating great music, even those on a budget can comfortably access Avantone Pro’s world-class sound.

© 2018 Avantone Pro

Review of Puzzle – Electronic Loops and Samples by Mode Audio — June 25, 2018

Review of Puzzle – Electronic Loops and Samples by Mode Audio

Mode Audio has introduced Puzzle – Electronic Loops and Samples, a 476Mb collection of ultra-modern Pop and Electronica loops and MIDI. It is available in Wav, Rex2 and Reason refill pack formats from Mode Audio (£18 regular price).

This review is for the Wav sample pack which features a total of 310 samples arranged in different folders. These are ‘Midi’, ‘Puzzle Loops’ and ‘Puzzle Tail Samples’ folders.

‘Puzzle Loops’ contains a number of sub folders – basses, drums, keys, pads and synth loops and all of these samples are either 100 or 120bpm.

There are 30 bass loops including sub-type sounds, grooves and plucked sounds. They have a deep sound with subtle distortion / tape saturation.

There are 42 drum loops containing a range of superb grooves. These comprise a range of drum kits, drum machines and sound effects processed in a variety of ways. They have a predominantly retro / lo-fi vibe and it’s great to hear such a diversity of styles.

There are 28 keys loops that are electric piano / rhodes type sounds with great character. Sultry chords and riffs with subtle distortion and saturation.

There are 30 pads loops with a range of ambient, atmospheric and riff sounds.
These also have great character and warmth from subtle saturation.

There are 29 synth leads loops with a variety of retro and modern sounds with riffs, chords, plucked sounds and laid back leads. Again, these sounds have great character and warmth

Puzzle 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. There are 37 tail samples in the pack, primarily for lead and pad samples.

The Midi loops folder is a very welcome addition to the sample pack and contains 114 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 with a range of retro, lo-fi and modern sounds that can produce a wide range of electronic styles. What I really like with this pack is how there is a much greater potential to mix and match samples based on bpm and key rather than type of sound. Of course DAWs can easily transpose and stretch samples but sometimes the results aren’t perfect resulting in sync issues so sticking to the original bpm is a guaranteed way for samples to layer well together.

The tail samples are an excellent addition and the inclusion of midi loops are also very welcomed to give even greater flexibility and potential.

Although containing a diverse range of sounds and styles, the loops in this pack do layer and mix together very well. I’ve created the album ‘fuse’ embedded at the beginning of the post to highlight the sort of sounds that you can produce with the pack. It’s really hard to describe by style / genre but the album is primarily downtempo electronica with ambient, experimental, lo-fi and hip-hop elements.

Track 1 uses loops processed with Blackhole, Ultrachannel (Eventide) and SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio);

Tracks 2, 4 and 5 uses loops processed with Palindrome (Glitchmachines), Ultratap, H949 Dual Harmoniser, Blackhole, H3000 Factory (Eventide)

Track 3 uses loops processed with SpecOps; Ultratap, Blackhole, Ultrachannel; Fracture XT (Glitchmachines)

Track 6 uses loops processed with Fracture XT; SpecOps; Blackhole, Ultrachannel; Cryogen (Glitchmachines)

Tracks 1, 3 & 6 arranged and recorded in MuLab 7; tracks 2, 4 and 5 recorded live in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3.

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

Review of Apologize for the Past EP by Bitter-Suss on Energostatic Records — June 20, 2018

Review of Apologize for the Past EP by Bitter-Suss on Energostatic Records

Energostatic Records is a net-label based in Kiev, Ukraine. I only heard of the label fairly recently, they have been releasing material since around 2010 although I’m not sure if they’re still active. Their releases are typically ambient / dub techno / deep tech and you can purchase their entire discography of 46 releases for $0.80 which is a proper bargain.

One such release is Apologize for the Past by Bitter-Suss. This is a solid EP, it’s hard to pin down the style which includes ambient, techno, progressive and deep house elements. And that’s a really good thing because it’s an intelligent, very well produced sound with great development of the songs which have subtle movement and an edge of tension at times.

Apologize for the Past
Great use of delay on percussive sounds with a driving 4:4 kick. The ambience of the strings adds a great contrast and the Sax adds a great element. The bassline is deep and gives a solid momentum. Great evolution into a deep house type of sound. I really like the keys that add another great element.

That Day
Driving 4:4 kick rhythm with shaker, pulsing bass and background sound effects, there’s an urgency to the opening and an evolution of the groove with synth and bass adding great elements.

Your Footsteps
Atmospheric opening from pulsing synths, plucked string sound adds a great percussive element. The 4:4 kick and bass give a defined momentum and contrast against the ambience. The arp adds a great element and there’s a nice change in feel.

Review of Chutes and Ladders EP by ahem on Forged Artifacts — June 19, 2018

Review of Chutes and Ladders EP by ahem on Forged Artifacts

Chutes and Ladders will be released on Forged Artifacts on 22nd June on limited edition 100 cassette (with digital download) and digital download.

It’s a high energy, infectious EP full of solid grooves, high tempo riffing and brilliant vocals. There’s a great vibe to this release which has superb spirit and an excellent sound, it’s got that kind of punk attitude that captures the energy and cohesion of ahem without being too polished.

Air Supply
An infectious hook and groove propelled by solid drumming and bass, a more laid back feel to the verse with great vocal harmonies building momentum to the chorus maintaining the high energy to round out the song.

Snow Day
A strummed riff and chords to open creates a simmering tension with great vocals bursting into an uptempo groove propelled by drumming and bass that maintains a great energy with a release and building tension to the end of the song.

Blue Bird
Another great groove propelled by bass and drumming to open, it’s a high energy song with subtle but very effective changes in feel. There’s a solo towards the end of the song that builds tension, releasing to a subdued, strummed chorus before bursting back into a high energy finish.

The Lake
Another solid groove to open with more of a laid back feel, there’s a great momentum maintained throughout with an excellent vibe. Superb vocal harmonies again.

Anybody
Heavy distorted guitar to open, verses have a more stripped back feel building to more distorted riffing for the chorus. An excellent brooding quality to the song with great changes in feel.

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).