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Review of Ambient Guitars by Leo Abrahams – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio — September 30, 2019

Review of Ambient Guitars by Leo Abrahams – a virtual instrument for Kontakt (full version or player) by Spitfire Audio


Spitfire Audio is proud to announce availability of AMBIENT GUITARS — creatively combining 2013’s LEO ABRAHAMS – ENIGMA collection of dark, cinematic soundscapes exclusively created and performed by its innovative virtuosic guitarist namesake, and expertly sampled by Spitfire Audio, and its equally popular, previously-released ENIGMA 2 – THE RAPTURE followup forming a more extensive tribute to distortion, now presented in the sound-specialising British music technology company’s exceptional eDNA engine-powered UI (user interface) as an intuitive, instantly-playable collection of inspiring and modern cinematic sounds, textures, and loops ranging from ambient to apocalyptic, including 10GB of brand- new recordings and 160 additional artist presets.

AMBIENT GUITARS can be purchased and digitally downloaded with an RRP of £249.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$299.00 USD/€299.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from Spitfire Audio 

For more in-depth information, including superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated AMBIENT GUITARS webpage 


Available for Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER platform with full NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) support, Spitfire Audio’s aptly-named AMBIENT GUITARS sample library is an instantly-playable, intuitive toolkit designed for any discerning media composer or producer looking for fresh sounds and atmospheric textures with an experimental edge. The road to arriving at AMBIENT GUITARS was a long and winding one, spanning several years. Yet it is one that was well worth waiting for, definitely destined to join its popular predecessors as a firm favourite amongst discerning directors and composers alike.

Time to step back, briefly, in time to 2013. This was the year that saw Spitfire Audio decamping to The Pool, a cool and vibe-ridden recording studio launched as a joint venture between songwriting producer Ben Hillier and the Miloco Studios group in the South London district of Bermondsey. Having hosted luminaries like Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, Noel Gallagher, and many more, there the British music technology company’s sampling specialists set about capturing world- renowned producer and virtuosic guitar innovator Leo Abrahams’ cutting-edge techniques. “There’s such a wide variety of emotions and textures available from different pedals and guitars,” he notes. “I find I hear far too many guitar tones in soundtracks that sound generic and cheesy. I wanted to put the result of my compulsive years of eBay scouring at people’s fingertips.”

Fortunately for all, that wish was realised with the resulting release of LEO ABRAHAMS – ENIGMA, a sample library like no other. Created largely from a Trussart guitar — alongside a 1960s-vintage Gibson 335 and a Danelectro Hornet — plugged into Leo Abrahams’ rare and unparalleled collection of pedals and amps, discerning directors and composers collectively delighted in the discovery of over 400 presets comprising weird- and wonderful-sounding guitars; reverberant pads; dark, distorted plucks; warped pedal effects; and synths. Thereafter, the ENIGMA 2 – THE RAPTURE collaborative followup formed a more extensive tribute to distortion.

Today, though, the Distorted collection of sounds formerly known as ENIGMA 2 – THE RAPTURE join those original 400-plus presets in AMBIENT GUITARS as 18 tight and punchy distorted electric guitar instruments with a wide range of sounds and characters, recorded through three amps and a variety of pedals. Perfect for adding layers of distortion and feedback, or creating walls of sound or devastatingly-haunting, dark, distorted beauty, it sounds clean, but with a vibe-ridden room sound.

Such was the success of LEO ABRAHAMS – ENIGMA and ENIGMA 2 – THE RAPTURE — rapidly becoming go-to collections for creating cinematic soundscapes, inspiring music-makers the world over — that Spitfire Audio allowed itself to record a new collection of sounds with Leo Abrahams. Inspired by its immediately-playable LABS Peel Guitar — gloriously distorted, yet chime-like and full of character (originally sampled by Spitfire Audio co-founder Christian Henson back before the company existed in 2006) — recently released for free, this time the trailblazing guitarist was welcomed into Spitfire Audio’s own London-based studios in 2019 to create a whole new textures collection called Amped Guitar Pads. Professionally crafted by Spitfire Audio founders and award-winning composers Christian Henson and Paul Thomson, this resulted in an additional 160 artist presets being included in AMBIENT GUITARS“If I’m ever asked to make something sound cool, the samples we’ve created with Leo Abrahams are the ‘get out of jail’ card I can always turn to.” So says Christian Henson himself. He should surely know!

Needless to say, these versatile, contemporary-sounding soundscapes are sometimes unrecognisable as guitars — glistening passages to guitars warped beyond recognition, plus ultra-realistic, fast-action picking to add movement and percussive elements are all there for the taking.

Taking AMBIENT GUITARS to a whole new level of inspirational guitar-generated sounds, the Evolutions collection is presented in Spitfire Audio’s advanced 16 x 16 Evo Grid — inspired in no small part by the British-built EMS VCS3, which made musical history upon its introduction in 1969 by being the first commercially portable synthesiser available anywhere in the world, thanks to its innovative modular matrix-based patchboard dispensing with the telephone exchange-like cabling of other (much larger) modular systems in favour of making space-saving connections with (removable) coloured pegs — putting four different amps and patchable signal paths into its user’s hands to add an element of the unexpected to compositions.

Clearly, the organic origins of AMBIENT GUITARS bring honest emotion to any composition that uses it, while the analogue distortion involved imbues an authentic layer of grit and depth that is not achievable with digital distortion. Each and every sound therein will layer into the mix perfectly, adding a timeless experimental edge to a wide range of settings — from inner city scenes to desolate, sweeping vistas — for film and game composers or enlightened electronic and pop producers alike.

As a trailblazing composer, musician, and producer par excellence, Leo Abrahams has recorded and toured with the like of Imogen Heap, Grace Jones, Pulp, and Roxy Music, written for and produced Editors and Florence & The Machine amongst other artists, as well as making his own records, including The Unrest Cure (featuring Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, and KT Tunstall). He has also composed scores for movies such as The Lovely Bones (with Brian Eno) and Hunger (with David Holmes). It is little wonder, therefore, that he worked so well with Spitfire Audio and that the resulting AMBIENT GUITARS works so well!

“When I’m writing, I often build a sound first and let the composition evolve,” explains the innovative virtuosic guitarist who has happily lent his name and talent to Spitfire Audio’s latest library release. Who better, then, to bring the heavily processed proceedings to an appropriate close than Leo Abrahams“I hope that some of the guitar sounds on offer here will inspire other people to do the same, and that some of the ambient sounds are helpful when what’s needed is neither a synth pad nor an actual ‘part’, but just a bit of atmosphere. I hoped we could capture a sense of danger and abandon.” AMBIENT GUITARS does that admirably… and a whole lot more! 


Ambient Guitars uses Spitfire Audio’s rich heritage and continued innovation to create a stunning range of guitar based sounds. You’d expect a range of mic’d up clean and distorted guitar sounds with a variety of muted and plucked sounds and these are certainly in there but it’s so much more, there’s a whole range of pads, ambiences, ethereal soundscapes, rhythmic sounds and effects. These are complex, detailed and difficult to describe, blurring the boundaries between processed guitar and synthesised sounds. They sound stunning and provide instant inspiration.

If you’re familiar with other Spitfire audio products you’ll feel at home with the interfaces including the Evo grid and eDNA engine. The presets are excellent yet still offer lots of scope to customise and tweak them through effects, microphone placement, dynamics and expression. Construction kits are also included which are an excellent collection of starter patches.

I’ve used it exclusively on the album embedded at the top of this review. The songs were scoped out using Rapid Composer and sounds are processed with a range of Eventide effects and Reels by AudioThing.

Using Ambient Guitars

There are 10 folders plus an advanced folder that contains construction kits, factory sounds and individual signals. The interfaces will be familiar if you’ve used some other Spitfire Audio libraries.

Inspiration sounds are exactly that, a collection of pads and ambiences. These are presented using the eDNA interface giving you a huge amount of control to tweak and fine tune the sounds.

Distorted sounds contains a wealth of distorted guitar sounds. There are 18 guitar setups including a Gibson SG and Danelectro Hornet processed with a range of pedals and amps. This provides a huge variety of plucks. strums, power chords, slides and harmonics with great control over the dynamics. The interface looks simple but contains a huge range of controls to shape your sound including mic placement and amp settings. You have a room sound (R), a clean Showman amp (C1), Selmer amp (A1), Bassman amp (A2), Swart amp (A3), post pedal DI and you can blend between these as required.

Inspiration distorted sounds are similar to the inspiration sounds but processed with the heavily distorted sounds outlined above. As you’d expect these are an excellent collection of ambiences and pads.

Enigmatic pads contain beautifully expansive sounds, they’re atmospheric and great inspiration.

The feedback evo grid is built from a variety of techniques for producing feedback with each line of pegs relates to one specific sound recorded across the keyboard. Each line of pegs has a totally different type of feedback. The pegs are colour coded and clicking on the dice at the top shows the different feedback types – soft distortion, heavier distortion and chaos and allows extensive randomisation. This is a great starting point for new patches. The evo grid also gives you the three amps plus the room setting and a range of effects to further define and shape your sound.

Arps and chords have a very natural sound. They were recorded as multinote sounds with a clean sound and fully amped sound and you can mix between them.

One of my favourite folders is Odd Loopers, these were recorded with a guitar looper and have some excellent effects and rhythmic sounds. There’s some subtle tape stop and stretching effects.

Atonal sounds has a collection of deep and crunchy sounds and a great range of effects.

The artist presets folder is also another gem, it contains a range of sounds created by Paul and Christian at Spitfire Audio and contains a range of brilliant sounds.

Review of Trimdon Grange Explosion s/t album on Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records — September 26, 2019

Review of Trimdon Grange Explosion s/t album on Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records

Trimdon Grange Explosion are a psych folk ensemble from North-East London Comprising Alison Cotton (viola/vocals), Ben Phillipson (guitar/vocals), Mark Nicholas (bass) and Karl Sabino (drums). The quartet formed in the aftermath of the split of acclaimed folk-rock outfit THE EIGHTEENTH DAY OF MAY of whom all four were members.

In 2010 a 7” emerged on The Great Pop Supplement – a cover of Judy Henske & Jerry Yester’s ‘Raider’ b/w ‘The Trimdon Grange Explosion’ – and then after a further seven year gap, their debut album release saw the light of day, initially as a limited-edition CD-R box package on the Borley Rectory label in Spring of 2017.

Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records released a 500 pressing vinyl version in late 2018. Unsurprisingly these have sold out on their respective websites, however, the digital version is available direct from Trimdon Grange Explosion’s Bandcamp site and is embedded above, the page also has links for the black vinyl and CD-R versions.

This is an excellent album, it’s full of surprises. The sound is somewhere between indie rock, pscyhedelic folk and alt-country for want of a better term. There’s a great variety of styles with nice changes in feel / tension. The vocals are superb with great harmonies. The bass and drumming are subtle but provide a solid momentum, the viola adds an excellent element too. 

24 hours

Slightly distorted guitar lead, jangly chords and bass to open, there’s a kind of brooding quality to the song. The vocals are excellent, they add to the lonesome kind of feel. It’s a slow start given momentum by drumming and the viola adds an excellent element. I really like the building tension to a final release. 

Poor Wayfaring Stranger

Shimmery guitar chords and bass to open, there’s a kind of western feel. The female vocals are superb, great harmonies. The viola adds to the lonesome feel. 


A huge sound to the opening guitar, Big expansive atmospheric sound. 

The Bonnie Banks of Fordie

Drumming to open with bass and strummed chords, superb vocal harmonies. There’s a kind of folk feel, it’s an excellent story. It has a kind of jam feel too with guitar and viola solos and great changes of feel and building / release of tension. 

Christian’s Silver Hell

An uptempo opening from drumming, bass and guitar. It’s a great sound, sort of indie rock with a 60s vibe. 

Weeping and Wailing

Shimmery trem guitar, bass and viola to open, the song has a slow sad feel accentuated by the superb vocals. The drums enter to give more of a defined momentum. 

Heading for a fall

Jangly riff and bass to open, quite a lonesome, western feel. Superb vocals with harmonies, viola adds a great element.  Really nice building to a solo with release and final solo to end. 

Another 24 Hours

Atmospheric opening from distorted guitar and viola that creates a great contrast. Bass is subtle and a great element. Some subtle dub delay effects too. 

Glass and Sand

Jangly guitar and bass to open, slow drumming / percussion gives a subtle momentum. The vocals have a kind of floaty feel and the viola really adds to the sound. Excellent changes in feel to the solo sections which have a great jam quality. 

Spinning Wheel

Bass and jangly riff to open, drumming gives a slow groove. Vocals are sublime. There’s an edge of tension and sadness which gives a brilliant sound. 

Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) announce Hydrasynth wave morphing synthesizer with Polytouch™ polyphonic aftertouch — September 22, 2019

Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) announce Hydrasynth wave morphing synthesizer with Polytouch™ polyphonic aftertouch

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA/HONG KONG: newly-formed music hardware company Ashun Sound Machines (ASM) is proud to announce (upcoming) availability of Hydrasynth — a wave morphing synthesizer representing its inaugural hardware product, produced as a keyboard version (featuring an ASM Polytouch™ 49-note polyphonic aftertouch keyboard and a user-assignable ribbon controller) and desktop version (with 24 velocity- and polyphonic aftertouch-sensitive pads, plus an included 19-inch rack-mount kit).

Hydrasynth itself is an eight-voice, three-oscillator synthesizer anchored around a unique wave morphing synthesis engine. OSC 1OSC 2, and OSC 3 can all make use of any one of the 219 single-cycle waveforms available, while Wave Scan mode (for OSC 1 and OSC 2 only) flexibly facilitates defining eight waveforms into a list and then morphing from one to the next using modulation sources.Said synthesis engine also features four mutators, allowing for further tonal modification. MUTANT 1MUTANT 2MUTANT 3, and MUTANT 4 have an ability to perform complex FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis; each include three different types of pulse width modifiers, hard sync, harmonic sweep, and a Wavestack™ function that generates five detuned copies of the incoming waves for super-dense sounds. Furthermore, flexible routings within the mutators make available (almost) unlimited options for tweaking, twisting, and turning sounds inside out.

On top of that, the synthesis engine also contains two filters that can be configured in parallel or series. FILTER 1 features 11 filter models spanning new and classic filter modes, while FILTER 2 is a continuously-variable multimode affair.

As modulation sources add much-needed movement into a synthesized sound, Hydrasynth far from disappoints in that regard with five envelope generators — ENV 1ENV 2ENV 3ENV 4, and ENV 5 — capable of looping as well as tempo synchronisation and five LFOs (low frequency oscillators) — LFO 1LFO 2LFO 3LFO 4, and LFO 5 — capable of acting as step sequencers or one-shots. The modulation matrix — MOD MATRIX — offers 32 modulation slots with which to route sources to destinations. Such sources and destinations can also be received or sent via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) CC (continuous controller) messages or front panel-accessible CV (control voltage) INPUTS and OUTPUTS.

Of course, connectivity to the wider world is as far reaching as it comes, courtesy of that full-blown MIDI implementation (via the usual connection compliment of MIDI INMIDI OUT, and MIDI THRU on five-pin DIN as well as USB) alongside CV/GATE connections (for playing nicely with the likes of today’s ever-widening world of Eurorack modular gear, vintage synthesizers, and more).

Hydrasynth has brought back one of the most requested features in synthesizers and controllers — namely, polyphonic aftertouch. As such, its unique polyphonic aftertouch keyboard breathes life and dynamics into otherwise static sounds, so users can create expressive musical passages using a standard-sized traditional keyboard. It is not necessary to learn a new keyboard technique to be able to play and perform with the Polytouch™ keyboard.

Alternatively, a desktop version of Hydrasynth — dispensing with that Polytouch™ keyboard and the user-assignable ribbon controller in favour of 24 velocity- and polyphonic aftertouch-sensitive pads — is available to those not needing to add another keyboard to their studio or stage setups; saying that, all other performance attributes are still at hand, including an adaptable ARPEGGIATOR and dedicated FILTER CONTROLS, with crisp OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays duly providing welcomed visual feedback across the easy-to-follow front panels of both versions of ASM’s inaugural hardware product… when it comes to working with a sensational synthesis engine, the choice is out there!

Expected to ship in November 2019, Hydrasynth will be available through ASM’s growing global network of authorized retailers at an MSRP of $1,599.00 USD ($1,299.00 USD MAP) for the keyboard version and at an MSRP of $999.00 USD ($799.00 USD MAP) for the desktop version.

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

Review of Ritual Music album by Simon Irvine on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd — September 12, 2019

Review of Ritual Music album by Simon Irvine on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd

This is an excellent album, atmospheric tracks with great layering of superb synth sounds, drumming patterns and pads. The songs often have contrasting elements that give an edge of tension and add to the vibe. There’s a great range of uptempo, more laid back and darker sounding songs. 

Incantation 1

An evolving soundscape with synth drone, background sound effects and a subtle kind of voice, the arp and drums give momentum. It has a trance feel at times, the vocoder gives a great syncopated rhythmic effect. 

Incantation 2

Atmospheric opening from pad and synth lead, drumming enters to give momentum. Great use of vocoder again. Really like the chilled vibe. 

Watching (Featuring Rusty Keys)

Superbly atmospheric opening from pad and keys, vocoder vocals add a great element.  I like how the subtle drumming pattern changes to a more upfront style. A song with reflective qualities. 

Make it so (An Ode to Picard)

A pulsing type synth sound, drum pattern and soft, delicate lead is accompanied by a more upfront synth lead. The arp adds a great element. 

Incantation 3

Opens with a speech from a film leading into an idm sounding drum pattern. Metallic sounds compliment really well, a riff adds momentum and is accompanied by excellent synth. Kick adds a sense of urgency, it’s an atmospheric and edgy track. 

You and You Only

Synth with vocal qualities saying the title of the song to open, drumming patterns adds momentum. Nice change of feel with the synth lead, there’s a mystery / anticipation to the song. 

Thump (interlude)

A solid vibe from percussive rhythm, pad and disconcerting synth lead that adds an edge of tension. 

Wasted (Featuring Colleen Peterson)

Atmospheric pad, kick and shaker are accompanied by lovely vocals with a haunting quality. 

Late Night (Interlude)

A chilled, atmospheric track with subtle movement in the pad and synth sounds that contrasts against the percussive rhythm. 

Incantation 4

A glitchy percussive rhythm with a tribal, looping quality contrasts against a subtle background pad. An excellent soundscape. 

Bells in the Manor (Simon Irvine and Bufinjer)

Synth lead and solid drumming pattern to open, it’s a solid synth vibe with an edge of tension from vocal effects. Nice changes of feel with the different synth leads. 

Incantation 2 (Screamershocked)

Quite a subtle remix, has a more uptempo vibe.  I really like the delayed vocals, adds a rhythmic element.

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘old music’ and ‘new music’. Here’s why. — September 6, 2019

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘old music’ and ‘new music’. Here’s why.

I originally posted this on Steemit a while ago, thought I’d update and repost it on my blog. 

I read a tweet from Doom Trip Records saying there’s no such thing as old music, just music you’ve heard and music you haven’t. 

This really resonated with me and got me thinking.  From a conventional perspective of time, of course there is such a thing as old music. Classical music is around 400 hundred years old (more if you include medieval and renaissance periods); Big band is around 90 years old, rock and roll around 60 years old and rave is pushing 40.

The first point to consider is what is music? I’ve previously written about ‘real’ music vs the music industry on my blog and to be fair it’s one of the hardest things to explain concisely and without ambiguity. 

Stanley Kubrick once said ‘The feel of the experience is the important thing, not the ability to verbalize or analyze it.’  Presumably he was talking about film but the principle is the same for music.  It’s about making a connection with the listener, evoking some sort of emotional response. 

So this means that we can rule out a lot of popular music.  I’m not saying all popular music but the sort that gets played on the most commercial of radios, the sort that you are supposed to listen to and buy now, the sort of music that if you don’t listen to it now, you are not on trend and what you are listening to – although the listeners of this type of music won’t care  – is most likely rubbish because they haven’t heard of it.  If you listen to this music in six months, that won’t count because it’s out of date.  This is more of a product than music and one with a very short shelf life to be bought and consumed at a specific moment in time.  

Another factor is the changing landscape of the music consumer.  Even in the relatively short period of about 20 years, there’s been a huge shift from physical only media of tapes, CDs, and vinyl to digital and streaming services, both paid for and free internet radio.  Interestingly we are now seeing a resurgence in physical media such as vinyl and tape. 

Incidentally I’d say tape has had a much bigger renaissance, probably because it’s cheaper, easier to produce and you can do limited runs of whatever number and colour you want.  It’s the ultimate in DIY media. A lot of commentators completely miss the point about cassette releases though.  It’s not really about sound quality or massive distribution, rather the process of producing them and having your music as a physical thing. The fact they are produced on such a small scale is part of the appeal.  In this pristine digital era there is something really alluring about producing a run of tapes that all sound slightly different and have imperfections introduced as part of their production. 

This change to social and streaming has necessarily been accompanied by a rise in technology with another consequence that making and releasing music has become much easier and cheaper.  There has been a huge increase in the number of releases partly driven by the fact it is now a relatively easy process for artists to produce pro-quality sounding music, self-release and promote themselves and their work on social media.  The downside is because anyone can do it, everyone is doing it making it very difficult to get your music heard.

As a music blogger I receive a huge number of review requests, far more than I can answer let alone review. Even if I could run the blog full-time I wouldn’t have enough time to keep up – and that’s from a handful of labels, PR companies and direct submissions.

As a music producer and having released over 70 albums, I know that despite a lot of self-promotion, the market for my music remains rather limited.  Attempts to reach a bigger audience on Spotify do not appear to be gaining much ground, listens on Bandcamp appear to be tailing off.  As much as I try not to be obsessed by stats, it’s hard not to keep a watching eye on them but I know that a handful of enthusiastic listeners is worth a lot more than big numbers.  People could discover my catalogue at any time and the same is true for anybody else in the same situation, in fact I often discover new artists and labels, many of which have a similar discography to me.    

And this is exactly why we need to think differently about music and stop applying timescales because they are irrelevant.  There is so much being released it is impossible to keep up to date with every release, even if you’re only listening to a specific style.  Thinking about music in terms of music you’ve heard and music that you haven’t is a much more appropriate way to approach it.  

There’s so much great music out there to be discovered.  Some may well have been recorded a number of years ago but if you’ve never heard it before, it’s new to you and that makes it new music.  Similarly if it takes a while to get round to listening to a release, it doesn’t matter because it will be new to you whenever you listen to it – despite its release date.

Antelope Audio announces availability of three new Synergy Core effects for recently-released audio interface namesakes — September 4, 2019

Antelope Audio announces availability of three new Synergy Core effects for recently-released audio interface namesakes

Trailblazing pro audio manufacturer Antelope Audio is proud to announce availability of Opto-2A (compressor) alongside the self-explanatory Space Flanger and Vari-Speed Tremolo — three new Synergy Core effects for the cutting-edge company’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces including its premier real-time effects processing platform anchored around two DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip, respectively handling up to four effects channel strips with eight effects slots each for a maximum of 32 effects instances at any sample rate and eight effects channel strips with eight slots each for a maximum of 64 effects instances at any sample rate, respectively equalling four and eight times the processing power of their (non-Synergy Core-equipped) predecessors, freeing up host computers from running Antelope Audio’s acclaimed real-time effects.

As an authentic-sounding Synergy Core effect, Antelope Audio’s Opto-2A carefully captures all the subtleties and nuances of an iconic Sixties-vintage electro- optical compressor that needs no introduction. Its continued use in broadcast and recording studios worldwide over half a century after its inception is testament to its audio engineering excellence. Exceptionally warm sound and gentle compression character have endeared it to generations of artists and producers, possibly gracing more hit records than any other outboard unit in hardware history. Having said that, key to its unique personality is the T4 optical attenuator, the outcome of time spent developing optical sensors for the US military. Its sonic signature is the two-stage release, greatly contributing to its smooth and musical compression. Clearly, Opto-2A is exceedingly simple to dial in, with only GAIN and PEAK REDUCTION knobs needed to tweak the resultant sound as the user sees fit; flick a switch on Opto-2A and the compressor becomes a limiter — just like the historic hardware from which it draws its inspiration. Infinitely versatile though it is — in spite of those (misleadingly) minimal controls, Opto-2A works especially well when applied to vocals due to its incredibly pleasant response to the human voice — try talking or singing through it to hear its incredible impact on any performance! Talking specifics, the compression ratio varies, depending on the source signal; the average attack time is fixed at 10 milliseconds; the initial release time is around 60 milliseconds for 50% of the release, with the remainder occurring gradually over one to 15 seconds before the signal returns to 100%; the release timing responds to the length and strength of the incoming signal — slower when under prolonged heavy compression or above threshold signal level, faster if below threshold signal level. Thanks to the authentic-sounding Synergy Core effect that is Opto-2A, a new generation of ITB (in the box) artists and producers — recording audio and processing/ mixing in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) — will be equally endeared with Antelope Audio’s realistic recreation of an exceptional warm sound and gentle compression character that has stood the test of time.

It has been quite some time since recording innovator Les Paul — one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar — and The Beatles — regarded as the most influential band of all time, integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form as well as pioneering recording techniques — first experimented with flanging in the Fifties and Sixties, respectively. Though the effect itself has not changed much throughout the years, brilliant minds have come up with dozens of different approaches. Antelope Audio’s gives it a distinctly modern twist. Taking advantage of the Synergy Core platform’s unparalleled computational capabilities, Space Flanger is capable of producing phases, sweeps, and swooshes that sound truly out of this world! With Space Flanger, vocalists and instrumentalists can prepare to blast-off by setting the following controls for the heart of the sound: GAIN — adjust input volume (-12dB to +12dB); WAVE — choose between triangle and sine wave modulation;FEEDBACK — adjust the amount of output signal being fed back into the input (produces resonance); DELAY — adjust the offset between the source and delayed signal (in milliseconds); RATE — adjust the frequency of the modulating wave (perceived as a change in modulation speed); DEPTH — adjust the amplitude of the modulating wave (perceived as volume change); and MIX — blend between the DRY (unaffected) and WET (processed) signal.

Tremolo… the modulation effect that started it all! Anterior to the first tremolo units being built into vintage amplifiers, nobody knew what guitar effects were. While it may be a simple concept — creating a change in volume, tremolo went on to define the iconic sound of surf guitar, spurring a wave of innovation among musical equipment builders. But Antelope Audio’s Synergy Core-powered Vari-Speed Tremolo presents a fresh and versatile take on vintage tremolos with its five-position WAVE selector and the addition of a VARI-SPEED RATE knob. Needless to say, by adjusting how quickly the frequency of the modulating wave varies, Vari-Speed Tremolo users can spice up their tremolo effects with a welcome touch of unpredictability. Users can quickly set sounds, though, thanks to the following controls: WAVE selector — turn clockwise to choose between sine, triangle, square, sawtooth, and inverted sawtooth modulating waves; RATE — adjust the modulation speed; VARI-SPEED RATE — adjust how quickly the frequency of the modulating wave varies; DEPTH — adjust the amount of amplitude (volume) modulation; and MIX — blend between the DRY (unaffected) and WET (processed) signal.

So, with the timely introduction of Opto-2ASpace Flanger, and Vari-Speed Tremolo, the range and scope of real-time effects available to owners of Antelope Audio’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces just became better, thanks to that premier processing platform anchored around two DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip. But better still, those three new Synergy Core effects will be becoming available for Antelope Audio’s recently-announced Orion Studio Synergy Core, advancing its acclaimed audio interface series’ workhorse with ‘hot-rodded’ hardware from the ground up to include six ARM-based DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with two proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips combining to produce phenomenal onboard processing power, freeing up host computers from running Antelope Audio’s acclaimed real-time effects as a well-oiled machine like no other audio interface in its class! 

Initially available for Antelope Audio’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces, Opto-2A is priced at $75.00 USD/€75.00 EUR while Space Flanger and Vari-Speed Tremolo can be bought together for $55.00 USD/€55.00 EUR directly from here

Opto-2A and the Space Flanger plus Vari-Speed Tremolo pairing will subsequently be made available at the same pricing for Antelope Audio’s recently-announced Orion Studio Synergy Core audio interface — when it is released — directly from here

Review of Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams sample pack by 5Pin Media — September 3, 2019

Review of Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams sample pack by 5Pin Media

Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams is a 1.2Gb collection of royalty free techno sounds and loops. It is available as a 24 bit download in Apple Loops, Ableton Live 10+ pack and wav formats from Loopmasters typically priced at £27.95 for all full versions and £22.95 for loops only versions.

Drawing inspiration from seminal artists such as Bicep, Bearcubs, Daniel Avery, Jon Hopkins, Deepchord and Four Tet, Ambient Techno & Electronic Dreams gives you a robust set of loops and one-shots for creating the perfect Ambient Techno or Leftfield Electronic Soul track. No element has been forgone in creating the complex layers that define this deceptive style, which is often more about feel, than an exacting formula.

Expect a hefty 420 loops (WAV or Apple formats), 220 one-shots, 40 Musical Starter Kits and 1 Live 10 Project on offer.

This review is for the main zip file that is arranged in 4 folders. There’s an info folder that contains the licensing agreement; musical kits folder; Ableton project folder and a loops folder.

I really like the organisation of the kits and loop folders, these have sub-folders labelled by tempo (90, 110, 120 & 130) and the samples are also labelled by key making searching for tempo and/or key matched sounds much easier. Of course DAWs and software like Loopcloud can automatically stretch the loops to the tempo or key that you are using so you are not limited to using loops with the same key and tempo.

The kits folder contains 11 kits for tempos of 90 and 110 and 9 kits for tempos of 120 and 130. These kits typically contain 2 or 3 loops comprised of bass, synth and chords and are excellent for kickstarting inspiration.

The main loops folder contains a number of sub-folders – atmospheres, bass, chord and motif, drum, fx, pad, percussion, synth, texture, vox that are also organised by tempo.


A range of pad, percussive and delayed effects that have a warm and saturated sound.


An excellent range of deep, subby and reso bass sounds that are sometimes subtle other times much upfront and aggressive sounding.

Chord and Motif

A collection of atmospheric keys, synths and arps with subtle reverb and saturation.


What’s great about the drum loops is that they have been broken down to offer a mix and match approach that can also be used to add variation to your drum patterns. As well as the full drum loop, there are hi hat, percussion, stripped and top loops. There are 6 sets for 90bpm and 8 sets for each of the other tempos. I really like the diversity of these drum loops, a great variety of rhythms that are interesting and sometimes intricate.


A range of delayed risers, impacts and percussive sounds.


A collection of shimmery keys and synth based pads with subtle movement and evolution and a warm saturated sound.


A collection of natural sounding percussive loops to add an extra element either individually or in combination with the drum loops.


These have a range of sparse, subtle and more upfront sounds to give an excellent variety of leads.


These are like a combination of percussive and pad sounds that can be used to give another layer of interest.


These are provided for 90 and 120 bpm, typically vocal snippets that are delayed and have percussive qualities.


This is an excellent sample pack, it offers a huge range of potential for the more ambient side of techno, including a downtempo or more leftfield sound. The loops are excellent quality and have a warm, saturated sound that really lend themselves to this style of music but they also have an edge at times too giving a great diverse range of sounds.

They are excellent in their own right and can be used out of the box but creative use of effects and samplers can greatly extend the range of sounds and styles that this pack can be used for.

I’ve used the pack to create the mix embedded at the top of the post. It was created entirely from the sample pack in a single project in Mulab 8. The samples were mixed with SP 2016 Reverb, Ultrachannel, H3000 Factory (Eventide) and Outlaw (W A Production) and mastered in MuLab 8 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Youlean Loudness Meter. 

Spitfire Audio announces collaborative calling with London launch of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Barbican Centre keynote — September 1, 2019

Spitfire Audio announces collaborative calling with London launch of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Barbican Centre keynote

LONDON, UK: having teased with the telltale This is London calling... video, intriguing in advance of its biggest release to date, the wait is finally over for all as Spitfire Audio is proud to announce (upcoming) availability of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA — launched during a captivating keynote at London’s legendary Barbican Centre as a world-class orchestra within the sound-specialising British music technology company’s award- winning standalone plug-in, providing a solid foundation for any composer’s toolkit and workflow within a single sample library like no other; the expansive result of an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind venture created in partnership with BBC Studios, the British television production and distribution company that is the commercial arm of the oldest entertainment organisation in the world, and in collaboration with the world-renowned BBC Symphony Orchestra to which it obviously owes its notable name.

BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is a universal starting point for orchestral sample libraries, letting everyone talk the same language. It is so much more than a product release; rather it is the start of a movement. After all, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a worldwide, trusted institution of huge cultural significance, and, much like Spitfire Audio, its core values are rooted in both accessible learning and innovation. Indeed, as a world-class, cohesive concert orchestra known for its standard in playing and commitment to innovative education work, the BBC Symphony Orchestra has been at the heart of British musical culture since its creation, coming up to its 90th year. Yet the BBC has happily put its name — and its principal broadcast orchestra — behind BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. Is it little wonder, then, that this represents Spitfire Audio’s most expansive and ambitious project to date? Duly it is worthy of being launched with such collective company pride during a captivating keynote at London’s legendary Barbican Centre, a world-class arts and learning facility famed for pushing the boundaries of all major art forms, including dance, film, music, theatre, and visual arts — This is London calling... indeed!

Innovatively recorded to trusted superlative standards by Spitfire Audio at London’s legendary Maida Vale Studios — a complex of seven BBC Sound studios sited in one of the BBC’s earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and the centre of the BBC News operation during World War II, before being used to record thousands of classical music, popular music, and drama sessions for BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 6 Music from 1946 to the present — and performed by an orchestra renowned for its remarkably homogenous performances, honed from playing some of the best and most challenging works together for years and selling out concert halls the world over, the comparatively youthful sound-specialising British music technology company has pulled out all the stops with BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, creating a future-proof classic comprising the finest strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

Put it this way: with BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Spitfire Audio has succeeded in creating a comprehensive, professional product made up of 99 players, 55 different instruments, 418 techniques (180 String, 110 Woodwind, 84 Brass, 44 Percussion), 33 legatos, and a staggering 20 signals — two mixes, five spill signals, 11 mic positions, and two atmos (front/rear) — for ultimate creative control. It is the definitive symphony orchestra made accessible to all through the cutting-edge technology of Spitfire Audio’s award-winning standalone plug-in, providing a solid foundation for any composer’s toolkit and workflow within a single sample library like no other. As a collaborative platform that is perfectly positioned to take orchestral music into the future, sampling has truly arrived and the possibilities are endless. This is just the beginning.

BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA can currently be preordered from Spitfire Audio as an AAX-, AU-, and VST-compatible plug-in that loads directly into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for a time-limited introductory promo price of £679.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$749.00 USD/€749.00 EUR (inc. VAT) until November 14, 2019 — rising thereafter to an RRP of £899.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$899.00 USD/€899.00 EUR (inc. VAT)
Spitfire Audio recommends that customers purchase BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA on its SSD (Solid State Drive), which will come with custom packaging specifically for the product with an RRP of £199.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$199.00 USD/€199.00 EUR (inc. VAT); please note that the last day this can be ordered to be delivered by the release date is October 14, 2019.

About Spitfire Audio (
Spitfire Audio is a British music technology company that specialises in sounds — sample libraries, virtual instruments, and other useful software devices. It collaborates with the best composers, artists, and engineers in the world to build musical tools that sound great and are exciting to use.

© 2019 Spitfire Audio Holdings Limited

Review of Level One compilation by Various Artists on Arcade Audio —

Review of Level One compilation by Various Artists on Arcade Audio

I’m delighted to be a part of this compilation, it highlights the talents of a number of members of the Arcade Collective.  If you like any of the artists I’d highly recommend checking out their other material and also the Arcade Collective itself for more information and how to join in. 

It’s a superb compilation that covers a range of styles from synth pop, ambient soundscapes, trance vibes to glitch idm sounds. 

Androgyne – Ain’t Nobody

A superb slice of synth pop, it’s a very catchy song with singalong qualities. I love the range of synth sounds, everything from string chords, sparkling leads, twinkly sound effects to arpeggio basslines backed by excellent vocals. 

Digital Horizons – Wild Life

This is an excellent soundscape, an evolving ambience with plucked chords, pads and synth leads, it’s multi-textured with a slow growing tension with a final release. 

A J Hellenbach – Forbidden Pleasure

Plucked synth and evolving basslines propelled by drumming, its an uptempo synth sound with a trance vibe. Excellent layering of sounds to build and release tension, the vocals add a great element. 

Digital Horizons – Silver Slipper

Atmospheric swirling sound to open is complimented by a delayed synth lead line, complex rhythms from delayed elements weave around a synth pad. Drumming gives a more defined momentum. 

One Vista – We Just Got it Wrong

Slow synth groove from synth, bass and drums with dreamy vocals. A solid upbeat pop vibe, piano adds a superb element. 

Andrulian – Reflecting on the Passing Days

This is mine so I’ll let you leave your own comments! 

Dallok – Perpetual State

Sound effects and sparse riff to open builds tension to a bassline groove propelled by drumming and percussive sounds. Distorted riff adds a great element. Riffs and bassline compliment each other really well, building tension to a final release. 

Blume – Odyssey Two Movements 3 & 4

Contrasting ambience with plucked string riff and excellent subtle reversed background sounds, the song has an excellent building momentum with contrasting slower parts, an excellent soundscape. 

Bispatial – Lifeline (Poptronik Mix)

A solid synth pop groove from synth, bass and drums, the vocals are smooth and have a laid back vibe. There’s just an edge of angst that contrasts really well with the more upbeat elements. 

Muesk – On Second Thought

Superbly atmospheric opening, contrasts really well with the glitchy / idm vibe from lead and percussive sounds. It’s superbly arranged, great contrast between ambient and the harsher / glitchier sounds. 

Jupiter Jaxon – Voices

Sparse drumming pattern with pad leads to into a solid 80s R&B / pop / soul vibe, funky bassline, superb synths, keys and excellent vocals. 

Bleepeater – White 2

Superb glitchy rhythms, its a bit bonkers and sounds all the better for it. Extremely well produced, its bleepy, glitchy and harsh at times. If a dial up modem took speed and acid, this is probably what it would sound like.