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Doepfer dives deeper into industry-standard Eurorack small-format modular system with quirky quintet of polyphonic modules — March 31, 2019

Doepfer dives deeper into industry-standard Eurorack small-format modular system with quirky quintet of polyphonic modules

Having made musical waves during a show-stopping showcase of prototypes closer to home at SUPERBOOTH18 in Berlin, Germany, esteemed electronic musical device designer Doepfer is proud to globally announce availability of its A-111-4 Quad VCO, A-105-4 Quad Poly SSI VCF, A-132-8 Octal Poly VCA, A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR, and A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface — a quirky quintet of polyphonic modules that sees the trailblazing company diving deeper into the now-industry-standard Eurorack small-format modular system standard that it initiated and popularised with its ever-expanding A-100 ANALOG MODULAR SYSTEM

Who better to throw light on the thinking behind this quirky quintet than company CEO Dieter Doepfer himself. “Modular synthesizers are almost exclusively monophonic structures since true polyphonic patches require a lot of modules — at least four VCOs, four VCFs, four VCAs, and eight ADSRs for a ‘classic’ four-voice patch,” he begins. “But even then it’s difficult to control filter resonance or modulation depth of all the filters, for example, or the attack and decay time of all the envelope generators simultaneously. So now it’s possible to integrate these functions into the modular synth world with our polyphonic modules, though the idea is not just to recreate a standard polyphonic synth within the modular system but rather realise new polyphonic structures that go far beyond a standard polyphonic synth and also far beyond the typical monophonic structures of a modular system since they still offer access to all parameters via CV or gate.”

Getting going, then, the A-111-4 Quad VCO module features four precision CEM3340-based — triangle core — VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators), each with its own separate internal +/- power supply (to ensure stability and prevent unwanted VCO synchronisation). Each VCO has the same individual controls, and inputs/outputs, as follows: 1V/Octave CV In (Control Voltage input); +1 / 0 / -1 Octave switch; Tune control, with ~ 2 semitones / ~ 1 octave / ~ 4 octaves range selectable via internal jumpers; Mod. (modulation) CV In (Control Voltage input); Modulation Destination — upper position equals exponential frequency modulation (XM) and lower position equals linear frequency modulation (LM) or pulse-width modulation of the rectangle waveform (PM), selectable via internal jumper; frequency modulation (FM) or pulse-width modulation (PWM) of the rectangle waveform; Mod. Level (modulation intensity); triangle waveform output; sawtooth waveform output; rectangle waveform output — about 50% without external pulse-width modulation; SYC (sync) input — (CEM3340-type) hard or soft sync selectable via internal jumper; and minimum 10 octaves range (with appropriate external control voltage). Continuing further down its familiar (silver-grey) front panel, a Master section for all four VCOs includes the following controls and inputs/outputs: 1V/Octave CV In (Control Voltage input); +1 / 0 / -1 Octave switch; Tune control, with ~ 2 semitones / ~ 1 octave / ~ 4 octaves range selectable via internal jumpers; exponential frequency modulation (XM) CV In (Control Voltage input); triangle waveform sum output; sawtooth waveform sum output; and rectangle waveform sum output. Typical applications include: fat-sounding monophonic VCO with the ability to adjust any intervals; paraphonic patches — when working in combination with the A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface and all four VCOs being processed by one VCF/VCA section; fully polyphonic patches — when working in combination with the A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface and four complete VCF/VCA sections; complex VCO patches with up to four VCOs by means of the — exponential and linear — frequency modulation features and sync functions.

Following in (traditional subtractive synthesis) sequence, the A-105-4 Quad Poly SSI VCF module is Doepfer’s first polyphonic filter, featuring four identical 24dB lowpass (SSM2044-type) filters. The module itself includes the following controls and inputs/outputs: F (frequency); FM (frequency modulation) intensity; Q (resonance); audio input L (level); CVF (control voltage frequency) attenuator; CVFM (control voltage frequency modulation) attenuator; CVQ (control voltage resonance) attenuator; CVL (control voltage level) attenuator; CVF (control voltage frequency) socket; CVFM (control voltage frequency modulation) socket; CVQ (control voltage resonance) socket; CVL (control voltage level) socket; FM (frequency modulation) 1 – 4 sockets; audio In (input) 1 – 4 sockets; and audio Out (output) 1 – 4 sockets, so each filter features a separate FM input as well as an audio input and output. The FM input is typically connected to the output of the associated envelope generator, such as Doepfer’s A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR, while the envelope amount for all four filters is controlled by the FM knob and the CVFM input by four built-in VCAs, which are also controlled by the FM control and CVFM input to also allow voltage control of the envelope amounts. Additionally, it is also possible to apply frequency modulation to all four filters — for example, using an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) patched into the CVF socket and using the associated (CVF) attenuator. The range of the audio input level (L) control also allows clipping/distortion with typical A-100 ANALOG MODULAR SYSTEM audio levels — from, for example, the A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR module — at the filter inputs. This parameter is also voltage controllable, as is the resonance (Q). Applications include polyphonic patches requiring four VCFs with the same parameters.

Perfectly named, the A-132-8 Octal Poly VCA module is an octal VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier), primarily primed for polyphonic applications. As such, it includes four pairs of VCAs — each pair including two daisy-chained VCAs, with one VCA having a linear control scale and the other a linear or exponential control scale, selectable via internal jumpers. Two VCAs are provided for each voice since one VCA is usually required for the loudness envelope and another for velocity (or other functions like individual voltage-controlled loudness of each voice, amplitude modulation, and so on). All VCAs are DC coupled and can be used in specialised applications and also for processing control voltages. The module features two Default Gain controls — GL and GX — that enable opening of the first four VCAs (L) and/or second four VCAs (X), with GL and GX generating two internal (0 – +10V) control voltages which are connected to the switching contacts of the 1L – 4L sockets (controlling GL) and 1X – 4X sockets (controlling GX). If no patch cable is inserted into the socket in question then the internal default (GL or GX) control voltage is used to control the corresponding VCA. This is necessary when the VCA in question is not in use — when no external control voltage is available, for instance, otherwise the VCA would close and there would be no output signal even if the other VCA in the chain is open. On the other hand, as soon as a patch cable is inserted into one of the CV Inputs then the corresponding internal default control voltage — CL or CX knob — is no longer used to control the VCA in question; rather an external control voltage patched to the CV Inputs now controls the level of the VCA in question. The GL and GX controls are also useful for testing polyphonic patches — tuning VCOs, for example.

Again, as implied by name, the A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR module is a quad voltage-controlled envelope generator — again, primarily primed for polyphonic applications. As such, it features four ADSR-type voltage-controlled envelope generators with exponential curve shapes (charge/discharge curves of a capacitor). Common manual controls and CVA, CVD, CVS, and CVR inputs with corresponding polarizers are available for the attack (A), decay (D), sustain (S), and release (R) parameters. All four envelope generators have a gate input (G1 – G4), a control LED, and an envelope output (Out1 – Out4). Applications include polyphonic patches, such as four envelope generators with the same envelope parameters to control four VCFs, VCAs, or other modules.

Last, but by no means least, by providing four voices with a 1V/octave-standard CV Note (pitch control voltage) to control VCOs and a Gate output (to control envelope generators), alongside two additional (CV2 and CV3) control voltages, the appropriately-named A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface module does what it says on the tin. Those two additional control voltage outputs can be controlled by MIDI velocity, volume, modulation, pitch bend, aftertouch, or freely-assignable MIDI controllers. Multiple — four-voice monophonic (to control four monophonic voices by four successive MIDI channels); four-voice polyphonic (to control four monophonic voices by one MIDI channel) with several (rotating/non-rotating) sub-modes; two-voice polyphonic (to control two monophonic voices by one MIDI channel); and unison — modes are selected by switches with the result shown in the LCD. In play mode, for example, the LEDs of the first four switches display the gate states, while certain parameters of each mode can be edited.

Ending on a high note, Dieter Doepfer deduces, “Modular synthesizers will still be predominantly used for monophonic sounds, as I’m well aware, but at least one polyphonic sound appears in many pieces of music and now it’s possible to integrate this into the modular synth world with our polyphonic modules.”

Within Germany, the A-111-4 Quad VCO, A-105-4 Quad Poly SSI VCF, A-132-8 Octal Poly VCA, A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR, and A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface modules can be ordered online from Doepfer or via one of its German dealersfor €400.00 EUR, €200.00 EUR, €160.00 EUR, €160.00 EUR, and €300.00 EUR, respectively.

Outside of Germany, the A-111-4 Quad VCO, A-105-4 Quad Poly SSI VCF, A-132-8 Octal Poly VCA, A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR, and A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface modules can only be ordered from Doepfer dealers in listed territories (Note that residents in countries without representation can, however, order from Doepfer directly.)

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated webpages:

A-111-4 Quad VCO

A-105-4 Quad Poly SSI VCF

A-132-8 Octal Poly VCA

A-141-4 Quad Poly VCADSR

A-190-5 Polyphonic USB/Midi to CV/Gate Interface

About Doepfer (www.doepfer.com)
Doepfer Musikelektronik CEO Dieter Doepfer began building electronic musical devices in 1979 with a voltage-controlled phaser module for the Formant modular synthesizer, a Moog modular system-style DIY kit documented as a series of articles in Elektor magazine; moving onwards and upwards, he then began developing devices under his own name, including the classic MAQ16/3 MIDI ANALOG SEQUENCER (in close collaboration with German techno-pop pioneers Kraftwerk), and subsequently spearheaded an analogue renaissance with the MS-404 MIDI ANALOG SYNTHESIZER in 1995: “It was such a big success, it opened the door to the A-100. We designed a lot of stuff for Kraftwerk, and they wanted everything in silver. So, when we started with the modular system, since we had such a strong relationship at that time with Kraftwerk, and everything was silver, we made it silver!” Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang studio that toured throughout 1998 laden with distinctive silver-grey Doepfer devices like the super-sized SCHALTWERK MIDI TRIGGER SEQUENCER and REGELWERK MIDI FADER CONTROLLER had a lot to answer for! Today, Doepfer’s diverse range of products — also available in black! — encompass USB/MIDI interfaces, master keyboards, sequencers, synthesizers, and more; musically, the Graefelfing-based German company counts such synth luminaries as Hollywood hotshot Hans Zimmer and stadium superstars Depeche Mode amongst its global user base. Better still, the A-100 ANALOG MODULAR SYSTEM remains the most compact, affordable, and flexible such system ever produced with over 125 of those still-silver-grey modules in the range… more are (always) on the cards, including more polyphonic modules. Meanwhile, the so-called Eurorack small-format modular system popularised by Doepfer has mushroomed to industry-standard status with hundreds of third-party manufacturers — both bigger and smaller — making compatible modules.

© 2019 Doepfer Musikelektronik GmbH

Antelope Audio announces availability of Orion 32+ | Gen 3 innovative interface and cutting-edge AD/DA converter —

Antelope Audio announces availability of Orion 32+ | Gen 3 innovative interface and cutting-edge AD/DA converter

Having made momentous musical waves with a show-stopping premiere performance at The 2019 NAMM Show in Southern California, January 24-27, trailblazing pro audio manufacturer Antelope Audio is proud to announce availability of Orion 32+ | Gen 3. Boasting brand-new AD/DA converters capable of achieving up to 129 dB dynamic range alongside Antelope Audio’s next-generation 64-bit AFC (Acoustically Focused Clocking) technology and jitter management algorithm and a rich collection of circuit-level gear emulations running in real-time on an integrated FPGA FX platform, this third-generation improved interface is industry-leading like no other.

Offering low-latency recording and playback of up to 64 simultaneous 24-bit/192kHz audio channels via Thunderbolt™ and up to 32 audio channels over USB, Antelope Audio’s latest addition to its ever-expanding range of innovative interfaces connects seamlessly with any DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) on a Mac or PC. Powerful flexibility for easy workflow integration is all there for the taking, thanks to the colour-coded software routing matrix with four separate mixers, effects chaining, and zero-latency monitoring capabilities all residing within an easy-to-use application for macOS and Windows. With all selections viewable in the centre of the routing matrix when hovering over a connection, colour-challenged users are also well catered for.

Fortunately for all comers, Orion 32+ | Gen 3 comes complete with a complimentary suite of outstanding effects essentials, each running in real-time on an ultra-fast FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) platform. Put it this way: with Antelope Audio having helpfully selected six effects from its incredible library, they collectively cover a wide variety of tracking and mixing uses. Ultimately, each effect brings mastering-grade precision and clarity to the production table — traversing all essential mixing and mastering needs, from the Clear Q linear EQ to the spacious-sounding, advanced AuraVerb. Also included is Master De-Esser, Antelope Audio’s long-anticipated debut de-esser effect plug-in; PowerEX, Antelope Audio’s in-house expander featured in all its interfaces; PowerFFC, a feed-forward compressor — also featured in all Antelope Audio’s interfaces; plus PowerGate, Antelope Audio’s inaugural noise gate tool. That said, additional effects, of course, can be purchased from Antelope Audio’s acclaimed library of FPGA FX

Superlative software integration apart, Antelope Audio also prides itself on its innovative hardware. Here Orion 32+ | Gen 3 far from disappoints. As Antelope Audio itself is renowned as the world’s premier practitioner of audio clocking, it is hardly surprising that this admirable attribute continues to make momentous musical waves with the company’s next-generation AFC technology and jitter management algorithm. A pair of Word Clock outputs (WC OUT) turn the Orion32+ | Gen 3 into a world-class master clock fit for any user’s studio setup, while a 10MHz input (10M IN) allows it to be used with supreme stability using Antelope Audio’s 10MX Rubidium Atomic Clock — itself really representing an epiphany of more than 20 years’ worth of expertise in the digital audio world, making analogue’s clarity, depth, width, and distinctly three-dimensional traits sound so vividly real.

Reality dictates, therefore, that Orion32+ | Gen 3 advances Antelope Audio’s hard-won reputation for pristine conversion quality, thanks to its brand-new AD/DA converters achieving up to 129 dB dynamic range (at the MONITOR output stage). Simply speaking, Orion32+ | Gen 3 allows anyone to hear the true sound of their music with both digital clarity and analogue warmth.

While consummate clocking and conversion are hallowed hallmarks of any Antelope Audio interface, it is the fact that Orion32+ | Gen 3 delivers true sub-millisecond round-trip latency for both AD and DA conversion that also distinguishes it from the (sound of the) crowd. Clearly the trailblazing pro audio manufacturer has some seriously-impressive figures with which to back up this impressive claim — figures that surely speak for themselves with round-trip latency times between line inputs and outputs being measured as low as 0.904ms (64 samples at 192kHz) and line inputs and monitoring outputs as low as 1.155ms (64 samples at 192kHz). Considering AD/DA conversion’s inherent latency and the technical state-of-the-art in the pro audio industry, it is currently impossible to achieve sub-millisecond latency under each and every recording and playback scenario. Saying that, the latency achieved in those quoted measurement examples are low enough as to be practically imperceptible.

Interfacing is — by its very nature — all about connecting to the outside world. Within the confines of its single rack space-occupying rear panel, Orion32+ | Gen 3 packs a lot of connectivity courtesy of 8x DB25 connectors for analogue I/O alongside 2x ADAT, 1x MADI, and 1x S/PDIF digital connections.

Clearly, then, Orion32+ | Gen 3 has what it takes to make momentous musical waves with its extensive connectivity; exemplary AD/DA; flawless clocking; intuitive control — from any computer on the same network, no less; real-time effects; and sub-millisecond latency… literally a fitting tribute to Antelope Audio’s continued commitment to trailblazing technology in the pro audio industry, if ever there was one!

Orion32+ | Gen 3 is now available for purchase — priced at an RRP of $2,595.00 USD — through Antelope Audio’s growing global network of authorised dealers or order online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Orion32+ | Gen 3 webpage that also includes more in-depth information.

Watch Antelope Audio’s audio frontier-expanding Orion32+ | Gen 3 introductory video:

About Antelope Audio (www.antelopeaudio.com);
Antelope Audio is a leading manufacturer of high-end professional audio equipment. Founded in 2004 and reinventing the industry with its flawless master clock technologies and versatile multi-channel interface solutions, the company has been steadily expanding its portfolio over the years under the guidance of visionary engineer and CEO Igor Levin. Antelope Audio’s products offer the best of both analog and digital technologies. Among its most recent innovations are compact interfaces with discrete mic pres, FPGA-based FX plug-ins for all DAWs, and next-generation modeling microphones. These are distributed through Antelope Audio offices in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, and highly acclaimed by users all over the world. The company’s customers include GRAMMY® award-winning sound engineers, top-tier producers, world-class artists, and some of the most renowned, recording, mastering, and post-production facilities around the globe.

© 2019 Antelope Audio

Review of Subvert multi-effects processor (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines — March 29, 2019

Review of Subvert multi-effects processor (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines

Introduction

Glitchmachines have updated Subvert to version 1.2, a multi-channel distortion processor designed to decimate the frequency spectrum.

It is available for Windows and Mac as a 32 bit and 64 bit VST/AU plugin typically priced at $59 available direct from Glitchmachines and selected resellers. The update is free for existing customers.

The version 1.2 update retains the core functionality of Subvert but brings a whole host of improvements –

  • New scalable user interface
  • Revamped modulation system
  • 70 new factory presets
  • Various fixes and internal changes
  • Rewritten user guide

Note that substantial changes to source code mean that Subvert 1.2 is not backwards compatible.

For more information, see the overview video:

Background

Subvert is a three channel multi-effects processor that can be used to process any audio signal, including real time audio or hardware synths or guitars. It has three identical channels each containing 5 signal processor effects – filter, ring modulation, metalizer, distortion and digitizer.  The individual effects as well as the effect channels can be activated or deactivated as required, enabling you to create a huge range of serial or parallel processing combinations. However, the real creative power of Subvert is with the extensive modulations options which is typically seen in Glitchmachines VSTs and a similar modulation system implemented for Convex has also been implemented for Subvert. There are 4 LFOs and 2 envelope followers which can modify virtually all parameters and this modulation is extended beyond LFOs / envelopes because they can have their output inverted or combined using mixers.

What this means is that whilst the effect is primarily a distortion effect, it is capable of so much more from subtle saturation, bit crush type effects, metallic glitches to flat out distortion. What I really love about Subvert is the power / flexibility and the ability to surprise we tend to see in Glitchmachines products. When you think you know what sort of a sound you are going to produce, you often get unexpected results.

In-depth Review

The UI has been completely redesigned which improves the workflow whilst retaining the clean, modern look we typically see from Glitchmachines. It’s split into three sections:

The individual effect channels are located towards the top of the display;

channel_one

The lower middle section contains the modulation parameters;

modulation

The lower section has the master controls;

master

The bottom of the display has the menu, settings. presets, randomiser etc.

menu

Other changes in the new version include:

  • The use of 4 colour coding options for different processes which are fuschia for audio processing, green for modulation source, blue for audio output and light blue for targeted parameters;
  • The interface is resizable by dragging the bottom right of the window.

Although the focus is on distortion, the combination of effects makes for a much more versatile effects processor.

The filter effect has low pass, bandpass, high pass and notch filters with cut-off, resonance and mix controls;

filter

The ringmod’s input is modulated by a high frequency sine oscillator (OSC1) whose frequency is modulated by another sine oscillator (OSC2).  You have controls for carrier wave frequency (OSC1), modulation wave frequency, FM that controls the amount of modulation applied to the carrier and mix; 

ringmod.

The metalizer effect has controls for delay time, feedback and mix;

metalizer

The distortion effect is a reworked version of the now discontinued Gorgon effect by Inear Display.  It has four distortion modes – gorgon, shape, fold and creeper with drive, oversampling and mix controls;

distortion

The digitizer effect combines sample rate reduction and bit depth reduction.  Each of these has their own mix control making it effectively two effects in one.  The bits control emulates the effect of bit-rate reduction and the ratio control is sample rate reduction.  A combination of these two produces some cool sounds;

digitizer

The master controls has input levels, output levels and a bypass switch for each individual channel along with a 3 band master EQ and a master dry/wet and amplitude controls;

master

Subvert has very similar extensive modulation options to those seen previously in Convex that can be combined to create really complex modulation parameters. Each parameter that can be modulated has a modulation source menu and a small crescent knob to the right. The modulated parameter’s current value is used as the floor value for modulation. The modulation depth knob then represents the range in percent that will be used for modulation between the current parameter value and the maximum parameter value.

There are 2 envelope follower modules with sensitivity (gain), attack and release settings.

env

There are 4 LFOs with a wave menu to click and drag to choose the waveform and a rate which can be set in hertz or beat divisions using the sync option. The rate value can also be modulated.

lfo

The modulation mixers can be used in one of two ways, either to get the mean of two signals or to morph between two modulators using a mix control which itself can be modulated.

mix

The inverters do exactly what you’d expect and invert a parameter which is especially useful to modulate 2 parameters in opposite directions using the original and inverted values.

inv

There are also midi learn options, a randomise option and the usual preset options of load and save.

Conclusions

I’m delighted to have been part of the beta testing team for Subvert. The new UI improves the workflow and it’s very easy to start using and creating your own effects. The presets give an excellent range of sound possibilities of Subvert, you can also use randomise settings to create interesting sounds, though often you’ll need to tweak these to get the most out of them. Although it’s primarily a distortion effect, it is capable of so much more, including buffer effects, subtle saturation and bitcrushing effects and the ability to process in serial or parallel really extends your options.  It gets very interesting when you start using modulation and again it’s easy to get to grips with modulation options and you can use them subtly or in more extreme ways.

I’ve used multiple instances of subvert on the EP embedded at the top of this post.  effusion has 4 instances of a processed field recording with 3 instances of subvert, delay and reverb and a drum pattern; cascades uses a processed field recording with bass, chord, arp and drum loops processed with subvert; emanations uses 3 instances of a processed field recording  with delay, reverb and Subvert with mid/side processing.

Review of ‘Finger of God’ album by Azuresands on power_lunch corporation — March 22, 2019

Review of ‘Finger of God’ album by Azuresands on power_lunch corporation

There’s a familiarity to this album, a kind of nostalgia trip but probably not how you thought you’d remembered things.

At times floaty and dreamy, others more uptempo there’s an unsettling quality at times from an edge of distortion, lo-fi feel and the slowed down nature. Some songs you’ll recognise instantly, others take longer whilst some others you can’t quite put your finger on.

Parasomnia

Atmospheric opening from pad and almost dissonant piano, there’s an ethereal sounding trumpet contrasting against a harsher sounding pad. 

Telesueno

An 80’s synthwave feel from arp and chord stabs, strings lead into an upfront vibe with bass and drums, vocals have a slowed down feel. It feels familiar but can’t quite put my finger on it…

StaleMate

Fuzzy memories of an 80s nightclub with a distorted edge, the kind you get from drinking too much.

Fellas is it Mellow

Yes it is, a mellow groove with a pop / funk vibe.

Spectrum

Edgier feel to this one, at times it’s floaty, others more of a groove.

Subliminal Cinema

Appropriate title, it sounds like many films I’ve watched over time. It has the slow intro, build and release.

Moomin Matrix

Reminds me of many a kids TV theme tune, a groove from percussion and riff with a distorted edge although the vocals are a bit unsettling.

Je Suis le Meme

Slowed and distorted, there’s a familiarity as it speeds up yet it retains its elusivity. The vocals have a disembodied feel.

CloudLoft

A more uptempo opening, the occassional glitch / stutter is subtle but effective. 

HoverCruise

Another appropriate title, the soundtrack to a binge of Tom Cruise 80s films. I think the song is Too Many Walls.

Mistaken Identity

A subdued feel, the slowed down nature gives a hazy, ethereal feel. 

Skipping Stones

Another hazy, dreamy feel.

Aeternalis

There’s an unearthly, dreamy quality to this song, as soon as the vocals enter you instantly recognise them. There’s a great contrast with the rhythmic drums / percussion.

Jenseits

Edge of distortion contrasts with the ambience, vocals are rather unsettling. Glitches in the guitar solo also add an edge of tension. 

Amepnkaha

Uptempo opening from drumming, bass has an edgy quality. Once the synth riff kicks in you’ll recognise it straight away and certainly won’t be expecting it. A perfect end to the album. 

Review of Junior Bill s/t EP — March 17, 2019

Review of Junior Bill s/t EP


Formed in 2013, Junior Bill have been through a few incarnations, but the writing talents of Rob Nichols have combined with keyboard & synth player Joel Beswick and bassist Rory Saunders since the bands inception. The five-piece is currently completed by drummer Jim Strickland and newest member Luke Owen on vocals, samples and guitar. Junior Bill’s live show has been highly praised for its enthralling energy and has earned them the reputation of being one of the best new acts in Wales.

The self-titled Junior Bill EP has infectious grooves, sax, great vocals and a really tight-knit sound that gives a superb vibe to this EP, it’s a sound somewhere between ska, dub and reggae.

There’s also a great energy to this EP, the arrangements and production are spot on.

There’s a Wolf in Grangetown

Delayed dub effects to open, tight-knit drumming, bass and guitar create an excellent groove. The vocals are superb with a great passion.

Romas

Recording of children’s voices to open, vocals and synth build to a wicked groove from bass and guitar propelled by drumming. Superb vocals again, the Sax adds a great element to the song. 

The Butetown Rats

Spoken vocals to open, shimmery guitar chords, drums and bass give momentum. Great change in feel and the organ is excellent, it really adds to the feel. There’s more of an edgy feel to this song.

Old Cardiff Winds

Excellent groove to open, stripped back feel when vocals start before drumming and bass enter to give momentum. Great changes in feel, it has a kind of jam quality with some excellent delayed effects / feedback before returning to the groove. 

Keep up with Junior Bill:

website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Review of Sounding Nature – reimagined sounds album by various artists for Cities and Memory — March 12, 2019

Review of Sounding Nature – reimagined sounds album by various artists for Cities and Memory

This is a superb album comprising the best submissions to the Cities and Memory Sounding Nature Project.

The 16 songs cover a range of styles from ambient, noise / drone to glitchy and IDM.  There are excellent soundscapes and great use of field recordings both as background sounds and processed for use as rhythmic elements. 

In the Storm (Iceland) – Richard Watts

Atmospheric opening from a tremelo type effect and rhythmic percussive sound, a contrast between ambience and the more uptempo organ riff and synth riff. Excellent layering and a building tension. 

The Fate of Bees (England)

A slow evolving opening evokes the feeling of a colony of Bees, orchestration and sound effects are used very subtly to create movement. Its a haunting track. 

With Whispering Ambitions (USA) – Jeff Dungfelder

Rain, sound effects and delayed vocals create a soundscape given momentum by a more defined percussive rhythm. I really like how the layering creates movement and fluidity, for example, as the rain intensifies it has a bass or drone kind of feel, similarly a delayed percussive element has bassline qualities at times. 

Broken Dawn (Vietnam) – Matt Chapman Jones

Evolving atmospheric opening from strings, a breathing sound and heartbeat from a kick changes to a much edgier feel as the distortion / noise builds to create a tenser sound ending with feedback. 

Infinite Nightingale (England)

A beautiful opening from piano with delayed Nightingale sounds, strings and bass add movement and a subtle tension at times. It’s a captivating song. 

Meadow (Laos) – Qush Abdul (leholyghost)

An edgy / glitchy opening builds to a more defined rhythm with great interplay between spoken descriptions and synth lead lines, sound effects and feedback. 

Fifty-Nine Degrees North (Finland) – Chris Ray (Enisle)

Ambient opening from sound effects and synth sounds, excellent layering creates a soundscape with bass, sound effects, synth leads and subtle momentum from a percussive rhythm. It’s a superbly ambient track that has an edge of tension. 

The Hour Glass (Senegal) – Nick Jones

An edgy song from spoken words and a wind type of sound. Subtle distortion with delayed and layered vocals add a great tension.

A Secretive Call (Scotland) – Alex Hehir

An ambient glitchy opening from delayed and processed bird sounds that takes on a more menacing feel with the evolving bassline and transforms superbly into an IDM kind of feel with momentum with the drumming pattern and synth chords.

Baboons Dance (Senegal) – Ricky Milano

Atmospheric opening from Baboon calls and synth chords, synth bass enters with intricate percussive rhythm from layered processed baboon calls. It’s very cleverly done, slow evolution of the song into an ambient techno / IDM type of sound releasing to baboon calls to end.

Protect the 62% (Slovenia) 

Atmospheric opening from pad, synth chords and bird calls, there’s a subtle movement given momentum from hi-hat and kick drum leading into a full drum pattern with excellent glitchy elements and a kind of decline / collapse to end.

Wales Tanat Valley Epic Thunder (Wales) – Andy Lyon

OK so this is my entry, I’ve tried to create an ambient / neo-classical piece with subtle orchestration around elements of the storm but feel free to make your own conclusions! 

English Lullaby (England) – Kieran Mahon

Noise / drone with strings and background insects fades as an evolving delayed plucked string riff emerges into a lullaby before fading away leaving the noise / drone, insects and strings. 

Dream (Canada) – Karhide

Delayed percussive sounds lead into metallic synth type sounds, it’s an edgy atmosphere, industrial type of sound. 

The Siren Call (England) – Rob Knight 

Opening strings with evolving background sea sound creates an atmospheric piece with just an edge of tension. There’s a great movement in the sound, the arrangement is superb. 

The Cornfield of Forking Paths (USA) – Marco Colocci

A glitchy opening from insects, rustling and rattling type sounds, it has a tape loop kind of feel evolving with a contrasting ambience from strings. 

Review of eDNA Earth – A synthesiser made of orchestras – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio — March 4, 2019

Review of eDNA Earth – A synthesiser made of orchestras – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio

Introduction

Spitfire Audio is proudly reintroducing eDNA EARTH — enriching its epic collection of synthesised orchestral sounds created from ten years’ worth of widely-used, wide-ranging organic orchestral live recordings with which it has made its notable name as a British music technology company that specialises in sounds, this time warped or morphed into different textures and amazing state-of-the-art electronic soundscapes, served up via an easy-to-use, ultra-controllable GUI giving access to all areas of new sonic experimentation, enhanced with support for Native Instruments’ NKS (Native Kontrol Standard®) extended plug-in format for all virtual instrument developers (delivering seamless software connection to the German giant’s cutting-edge KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE hardware for intuitive interaction).

eDNA EARTH can be purchased and digitally downloaded typically priced at £149.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$149.00 USD/€149.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from Spitfire Audio

For more in-depth information, including some superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated eDNA EARTH webpage

Watch Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson’s ‘traditional’ video walkthrough of eDNA EARTH

Watch fellow Spitfire Audio Directors Christian Henson and Paul Thomson telling the story behind eDNA EARTH

eDNA EARTH needs Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER (5.6.8 or higher) — included in the purchase — to run as a fully NKS (NATIVE KONTROL STANDARD®) supporting plug-in instrument for Mac (OS X 10.10 or later) or Windows (7, 8, or 10 — latest Service Pack, 32/64-bit), while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application allows anyone to buy now and download anytime.

Background

eDNA EARTH is based around a collection of 1,900-plus basic instruments, mangled into over 1,000 custom presets professionally programmed by the talented team at Spitfire Audio during several months. The proprietary eDNA Engine — a sample-synthesiser powerhouse that can combine two sounds and modulate between them with envelopes, filters, and wobbles per sound, as well as a gate sequencer and a selection of go-to effects — driving those hard-won results is, itself, effectively user-driven by a GUI that’s as easy on the eye as it is easy to use, ultimately allowing for a wide range of genres and cinematic settings. Simply select by sound type — Atmos, Bass, Drones and Scapes, Drums and Percussion, FX, Keys, Leads, Pads and Strings, Sequences and Plucks, or Synthetic Orchestra — and play. Put it this way: with such depth of content — from beautifully refined dynamic crossfades to turbo-charged tempo synced, gated, and phased wonders — readily accessible, anyone playing each carefully crafted sound for only 30 seconds would need 15 hours to listen to each and every instrument and patch available! And that’s before tweaking to make more of their own.

On top of that, the eDNA Engine itself is made up of seven so-called ‘cartridges’ — each curated by a different composer or engineer, each focusing on a distinct sonic style; perfectly positioned presets abound — all arranged by sound type, but users can also browse by cartridge, both from within the eDNA EARTH GUI or directly from Native Instruments’ cutting-edge KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE hardware, thanks to that newly-implemented NKS support… no mouse or trackpads (necessarily) needed!

eDNA EARTH cartridges currently comprise: ANALOGUE (digital verses analogue synth battles, made using Spitfire Audio co-founder Christian Henson’s hallowed vintage synthesiser collection of Junos, Jupiters, Moogs, and MS20s, creating a whole new world of sonic opportunities); BROKEN (pseudo-organic atmospheres, crossfades, drones, effects, and pads curated by Harnek Mudhar, a Spitfire Audio engineer with his finger firmly on the pulse, successfully spanning the hinterland between organic orchestral material and raw synth sounds — almost like earthly instruments, but slightly warped); CINEMATIC (modern hybrid synths for the big screen, curated by multi-award-winning composer Christian Henson); DARK (series of chaotic, frenzied, dystopian sounds — from searing leads to super-fat basses and atmospheric, eerie pads, suitable for the grittier end of dance music while also adding edge to hybrid blockbuster and trailer work); RETRO (mainstream zeitgeist synths and patterns by resident Spitfire Audio sonic wizard Stanley Gabriel, adding an extra dimension to pop and dance music); TRANCE (EDM classics and next-generation dance, rhythmic synths, and epic drops, taking users on a journey from quirky 8-bit vintage game console sounds through to ambient techno and minimal house); and WARPED (ever-changing soundscapes — hold down a sound and move the modulation wheel very slowly, since such sounds are programmed to morph beyond all recognition via vibrant shimmering paths).

As an evidently elated Christian Henson himself says: “So we’ve updated eDNA; the sounds are a lot easier to browse, it’s now NKS-compatible, and I’m actually working on a new cartridge at the moment, which I’m quite excited about — always a joy to work with EARTH!”

Working with the enriched encyclopaedia of cinematic synth sounds that is eDNA EARTH is, indeed, a joyful and musically-enthralling experience, one which benefits from fellow Spitfire Audio co-founder Paul Thomson’s thoughtful consideration as to why, exactly, content that is organic at origin yet sounds synthetic mixes better with live or orchestral elements: “It’s about having depth in the sound, as opposed to a slightly two-dimensional sound. Even though you can get a synth sound that appears to have a depth in the soundstage, there’s something about a sound that’s recorded in a space that has a kind of spacial depth. When Quincy Jones worked on Michael Jackson’s albums, a lot of the synths were played out into the room and then re-amped, basically, in order to get a kind of sonic depth to the sound. So I think that what we’ve done — by starting with a sound that was recorded in a 3D space and then kind of imposing synthetic texture on to it — is retain that depth within the sound.”

Wise words there from a sound musical mind. Musically, then, eDNA EARTH has been created with film, TV, and games music in mind, offering endless inspiration to the next generation of media composers, whether wishing to go ‘off world’ — following in the bold footsteps of Greek genius Vangelis, whose inspirational futuristic fusion characterised the timeless score to visionary director Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir science fiction film classic Bladerunner, which, in Christian Henson’s equally wise words, “…was synthetic but approached from an orchestral arrangement POV…” — or keeping their musical feet firmly planted here on earth! Either way, eDNA EARTH should also appeal to dance and pop producers wanting to add cutting-edge, cinematic electronic textures to their music — made even easier by Spitfire Audio coming back to (eDNA) EARTH with an enriched encyclopaedia of cinematic synth sounds!

Conclusions

eDNA Earth uses Spitfire Audio’s heritage to create an incredible sounding instrument that is equally at home producing cinematic synths, soundscapes and drones, cutting edge EDM sounds and so much more.

Don’t be fooled or put off that this is a sample based synthesiser, Spitfire Audio samples are always superb quality and they have used about 1,900 samples to create more than 1,000 presets. The range of sounds is staggering, it is incredibly versatile. The presets are ready to use straightaway and sound excellent, you’ll easily find hundreds that you like – whatever style of music you create. The sheer number of presets is probably more than you’d ever need, you’d get brilliant results just using these. That said, you’ll be missing out because Earth offers extensive tweaking and modulation options for you to fine-tune and/or add your own touch to the sounds.

I’ve used it exclusively on the track embedded at the top of this review that I created for a recent NaviarHaiku challenge. The song was scoped out using Scaler and sounds are processed with a range of Eventide effects.

Using eDNA Earth

The interface is really well designed, it has a modern look and feel.

It’s not like some of the other Spitfire Audio interfaces, it is much more like a synthesiser. Each preset comprises of two samples, A and B that have typical synthesiser controls such as filter, envelope, tune, pan as well as volume, pitch and filter wobble controls. There is scope to sculpt each of these sounds individually and adjust the mix between them. You can set a static mix level or adjust with the mod wheel or LFO for movement.

The optional gate sequencer is an excellent addition.

The ‘easy effects’ can be seen at the bottom of the main screen in the FX dash section. That said, there is a separate page for fx and motor accessed by clicking at the bottom of the screen. This page shows the complexity of the effects section, there are separate insert effects for A and B, a shared set of send fx called AUX fx, motor fx and master fx. The motor fx are really interesting. The motors are two LFOs with two sub_LFO sub-motors. The LFO motor can be a mix of waveforms and used to modulate one or more parameters of one of the FX modules in the Motor FX set. The sub-motor can modulate the frequency and/or the strength of the corresponding primary motor.

You can access each of these effect layers by clicking on the appropriate text. The effects do vary by layer with controls for the selected effect displayed underneath. There’s an excellent selection of effects including a convolution reverb with a number of impulses and the option to use your own.