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Review of Scaler 2 – chord detection and creative chord progression creator utility (VST/AU/AAX) by PluginBoutique — June 27, 2020

Review of Scaler 2 – chord detection and creative chord progression creator utility (VST/AU/AAX) by PluginBoutique

PluginBoutique have released Scaler 2, a new and updated version of the hugely popular compositional software.

Scaler is an inspirational and powerful music theory workstation that gives you access to a world of new ideas, expressions and melodies. With powerful detection of MIDI and audio, Scaler can determine what key and scale you’re in and suggest chords that match your music. The plugin helps you discover the perfect melody with performance expressions, and can even suggest ways to change from one key to another.

Scaler makes finding chords and progressions intuitive and fun! It’s a comprehensive but easy to use toolbox that will help anyone make better music.

It is available in AAX, VST and AU formats as 64 bit versions from PluginBoutique’s website. It is typically priced at £49.96 with an introductory price of £39.95 until the 30th June 2020.  Upgrade and bundle deals are available.

Using Scaler
Scaler 2 allows you to discover your music’s key and explore alternative scales and chord sets or you can create your own progressions from scratch or explore over 200 chord sets by artists or genre / mood.

The GUI is clean and well laid out. The header has the Scaler logo giving access to help, registration and version number. There’s a status bar giving live access to midi and audio input and a live settings panel giving access to playback parameters of enable / disable chord performances, key locking, voice grouping and humanization (timing, velocity or both).

The instrument panel below allows you to visualize notes, chords and scales on a keyboard or a fretboard. The icons to the left allow you to switch between keyboard and guitar layout, the sound selector is located underneath these icons. The buttons below allow you to change between detection, scale and chordset.

When you select a scale or chordset the display changes to display the notes in that particular scale. For example this is an EDM chordset with the chords displayed below.

And this is the same chordset with the fretboard display:

You can hear the chords with a variety of instruments, Scaler 2 has an extended range of instruments including pianos, synths, guitars and orchestras.

The middle part of the display changes whether you are in detect mode, scale mode or chordset mode.

Scale mode lets you explore a huge range of scales. You can explore these using all notes and scales and/or specific notes and scales. There are a huge range of scales including common major, minor, harmonic major, harmonic minor, pentatonic as well as more unusual Neapolitan and Persian.

When you select a scale, the corresponding chords in that scale are displayed below.

You have access to a huge range of chord variations from standard triads to extended chords, different voicings, chord variations and a very cool modulation option that allows you to modulate to a second scale, borrow chords from a relative mode or use mediants which modulates in minor or major thirds. The chords that fit with the chosen scale are highlighted blue. This allows you to fine tune your progression by auditioning a range of chords to add colour to your sound, add variation or unexpected changes for example.

As well as chord length, chord voicing and humanise options there are also a huge range of performance options including arpeggios, strumming and expressions that are further split into a number of performances, phrases and rhythms that can be used for creating melodies and basslines for example. You can also lock keys to your chords so that you always play in key and set voice groupings to particular octaves.

You can play live and record or create your own progressions in the progression builder at the bottom of the display, this allows you to create a pattern of up to 8 chords with up to 7 patterns in total.

You simply drag and drop chords into the progression builder. There are further options available with a right click, you can edit the chord, substitute, generate parallel harmony or extract voicing. Once you’ve finished you drag and drop the progression to your DAW and a handy feature is that you can drag and drop individual chords as well.

Using chordsets is very similar, in some ways it’s a short cut to producing a progression. You can of course still change the progression to suit using all of the features outlined above and drag the progression or individual chords to your DAW.

I was very impressed with the original version of Scaler, it is a tool that I’ve used on a large number of my songs and Scaler 2 is a big improvement with lots of new features and functionality. It is very useful whether or not you understand music theory and can provide inspiration and help you find new ways to be creative. There is a focus on modern music styles with a number of artists and progressions that are difficult to find generally so it’s an excellent tool to help you create new styles of music that you may struggle to do on your own.

Version 2 brings a number of welcomed improvements. The increased number of instruments really helps you hear how your song will sound and there are over 200 new chord sets and hundreds of new scales. The performance mode offers over 200 styles to easily allow you to create melodies and rhythms.

The chordsets are a great starting point, they can be used as is but it’s very easy to tweak these to suit the sound you want by editing chords, using extended chords or substituting chords.

By experimenting with scales, it’s very easy to create your own progressions and songs very quickly. It’s a very inspiring plugin, you will never be stuck in a creative rut again with Scaler 2.

Waldorf Music makes more waves by bringing flagship’s futuristic functionality and advanced tonality to desktop with Iridium Synthesizer — June 21, 2020

Waldorf Music makes more waves by bringing flagship’s futuristic functionality and advanced tonality to desktop with Iridium Synthesizer

Having opened eyes and ears when introducing its forward-looking flagship Quantum Synthesizer keyboard to widespread critical acclaim in 2018, Waldorf Music is proud to introduce its Iridium Synthesizer ‘sibling’ — sharing futuristic functionality and advanced tonality and applying those traits with welcomed added extras to a compact desktop form factor living up to the high-quality synthesizer developer’s demanding design standards.

Following in the Quantum Synthesizer’s trailblazing footsteps, the Iridium Synthesizer features a generous high-resolution multitouch display working — with haptic help — in perfect harmony with an adroitly arranged control panel positioning all functions for speedy operation. Noticeably new to the demonstrably different Iridium Synthesizer is its integrated 4 x 4 pad matrix, used to call up sequences, chords, scales, and arpeggios. A quick glance under the hood, however, reveals that the Iridium Synthesizer still shares the same selectable sound generation processes per oscillator (OSC 1OSC 2, and OSC 3). As such, it can convincingly and comprehensively reproduce the sound spectra of the following five synthesis types: WavetableWaveformParticleResonator, and Kernels.

As a direct descendant of the legendary PPG Wave hybrid digital/analogue synthesizer series that made their mark throughout the Eighties by bringing the distinctive sound of wavetable synthesis to the musical masses, the well-known Waldorf Music marque is synonymous with top-tier wavetable sounds. Subsequently refining and expanding this sound generation process’ potential, the sound of Waldorf wavetable oscillators span subtlety to brutality — animated, digital, and diverse, yet easy to control. Classic wavetables from well-known wavetable synthesizers hailing from the PPG and Waldorf stables, spectral analysis, speech synthesis, wavetable generation from audio material, and more besides are all available to Iridium Synthesizer users when selecting Wavetable.

With early wavetable synthesizers, even, typical waveforms familiar from analogue synthesizers were always available at the end of a wavetable. Waveform selection on the Iridium Synthesizer goes far beyond this, though, by offering up to eight simultaneously selectable waveforms per oscillator, enabling infinitely dense, fat analogue-sounding tones, with detuned modes, tuneable noise, and hard sync.

2GB internal sample flash memory is available to the Iridium Synthesizer’s Particle oscillator, opening up exciting new possibilities of traditional stereo sampling with granular synthesis functionality — also available when processing a live input signal — for extensive manipulation of sample-based sounds. So the Iridium Synthesizer comes complete with 2GB sample content, while sample material can be reloaded or backed up by the user via USB drives or MicroSD Card connections.

Creativity abounds further still when selecting the Resonator sound generation process to manipulate multi-samples from the internal sample flash memory or noise via an exciter and various modulate-able spectral parameters — perfect for generating awe-inspiring animated sounds and drones, which can, for example, easily be integrated into a Eurorack modular synthesizer environment via the Iridium Synthesizer’s integrated control voltage connections (CV In1CV In2CV In3, and CV In4)… another added extra that should surely be welcomed in this day and age of anything goes!

Get this, though: thanks to its innovative implementation of six Kernal operators, the Iridium Synthesizer can capably generate familiar FM (Frequency Modulation) tones of the type that revolutionised the entire synthesizer market in the early Eighties, as well as spectacularly different-sounding ones — and all without the notorious complexity associated with those once-revolutionary early-Eighties efforts ending up so overused on numerous hit records of the time. Thankfully, the Iridium Synthesizer’s deftly-designed multitouch display supports the processing and visualisation of sonic relationships of its Kernels, considerably easing the process of creating spectacularly different-sounding tones with more than a touch of originality thrown in for good measure!

But better still, OSC 1OSC 2, and OSC 3 can each play one of those sound generators, so spectacular-sounding sound design can come quickly to Iridium Synthesizer users of all levels — before being balanced by the OSC MIX (mixer). Thereafter, the signal from the three oscillators makes its way to the DUAL FILTER section where fully stereo multi-mode filters convincingly cover all conceivable classic filter variants. Various filter modes are additionally offered by the Digital Former, such as Comb, classic Waldorf high- and band-pass, and notch filters from Waldorf Music’s Largo and Nave software synthesizers, plus PPG models, alongside signal enhancer effects, such as Drive and Bit Crusher, and more.

Moreover, an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) section with no fewer than six LFOs works with six loop-able ENVELOPES, all of which can be linked and smoothly operated within the 40-slot modulation matrix, thanks to the Iridium Synthesizer’s integrated high-resolution multitouch display.

With up to 16-voice polyphony in full stereo and an ability to overlay two sounds or play them simultaneously via the split function, the functional desktop design of Waldorf Music’s Iridium Synthesizer allows for sound design opportunities that are often out of this world with up to 7,000 patches internally saveable. Speaking of which, since Iridium Synthesizer patches are compatible with Waldorf Music’s flagship Quantum Synthesizer (running recently-released version 2.0 firmware), they can be transferred to and from the Quantum Synthesizer. Such cross-compatibility means that the Iridium Synthesizer comes complete with an extremely extensive sound set from the get-go… get going with inspirational sounds programmed by some of the best sound designers in the world, or work with the inspirational Iridium Synthesizer’s fanciful features to sound highly original, off the cuff or otherwise.

On the face of it, then, Waldorf Music has named its Iridium Synthesizer appropriately. After all, iridium dates back to the early 19th Century and the chemical element of atomic number 77 — named from the modern Latin word for rainbow (irid), since it forms compounds of various colours. Clearly, the range of sound colours available to Iridium Synthesizer users are almost limitless. Letting rip with that generous high-resolution multitouch display working — with haptic help — in perfect harmony with an adroitly arranged control panel positioning all functions for speedy operation is a joy to behold… both for eyes and ears!

The Iridium Synthesizer is available through Waldorf Music’s growing global network of distributors at an SRP (Suggested Reseller Price) of €1,960.00 EUR (excluding tax).

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Iridium Synthesizer webpage

Antelope Audio banishes buyer’s remorse with wallet-warming The All-In-One Production Suite summer sizzler —

Antelope Audio banishes buyer’s remorse with wallet-warming The All-In-One Production Suite summer sizzler

Leading high-end professional audio equipment manufacturer Antelope Audio has warm- heartedly set its sights on banishing buyer’s remorse with The All-In-One Production Suite offer — comprising a quality quartet of summer sizzlers set to warm hearts and wallets while taking recording journeys to the next level by including a full version of Berlin-based Bitwig’s namesake Bitwig Studio DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) alongside Antelope Audio’s cutting-edge Edge Solo high-quality single-capsule large-diaphragm condenser modeling microphone for free with every purchase of one of its innovative Synergy Core audio interfaces.

The All-In-One Production Suite is a smart and speedy way of plunging headlong into pro audio, fuelling creative fires for a guaranteed sizzling summer — and all without breaking the bank. Better still, since it has been assembled to compliment the unique features of Antelope Audio’s acclaimed Synergy Core audio interfaces, it is a surefire winner when it comes to helping produce album-quality recordings at home, in the studio, or on the go.

Berlin-based Bitwig’s truly cross-platform — Linux-, macOS-, and Windows-compatible — Bitwig Studio surely plays its part in The All-In-One Production Suite’s creativity-charged proceedings as an innovative music production and performance software title that takes musical ideas through each stage of production. Put it this way: when paired up with one of Antelope Audio’s Synergy Core audio interfaces, it can capably send and receive CV (control voltage) signals using the audio interface in question’s DC-coupled line outputs to create a (suitably-equipped) synthesizer-friendly experience. Enjoying intuitive sequencing and streamlined workflows with an array of advanced editing options for the studio world and beyond by tapping into Bitwig Studio’s nonlinear clip launcher and arranger alongside 90-plus included virtual instruments, audio effects, and sound design tools takes on a whole new musical meaning when also accessing Synergy Core effects for crafting signals into sound, thanks to The All-In-One Production Suite’s complimentary quartet of summer sizzlers on offer.

Digging deeper, the perfectly portable, perfectly formed Zen Tour Synergy Core is aimed at musicians and producers, both when working in a desk-bound capacity or, obviously, on the go. Its impressive specification highlights palpably belie its diminutive — 255 mm / 10.0” (w) x 62 mm / 2.4” (h) x 168 mm / 6.6” (d) — dimensions: ThunderboltTM 3 and USB 2.0 (Mac and Windows) connectivity; 8 | 14 channels of analog I/O; 4x Combo + 4x TRS (Discrete Ultra-Linear) preamps; 124dB A/D and 130dB D/A (monitors) conversion; 4x DSP (Digital Signal Processing) + 2x FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) Synergy Core effects processing; 36 included effects; 32 effects channel strips, each with four slots for up to 128 effects; flexible signal routing options — works like a digital patch bay (with dedicated routing for DAW, effects, and mixers); re-amp outputs; and touchscreen. Equally as at home on a desk top as it is on the go — albeit a little easier on the wallet without compromising on quality, Discrete 4 Synergy Core comparatively offers ThunderboltTM 2 and USB 2.0 (Mac and Windows) connectivity; 4 | 10 channels of analog I/O; 4x Combo (Discrete 6-transistor) preamps; 121dB A/D and 121dB D/A (monitors) conversion; 2x DSP + 1x FPGA Synergy Core effects processing; 36 included effects; and four effects channel strips, each with eight slots for up to 32 effects. Aimed at being the heart of production and commercial studio workflow, the rack-mountable Discrete 8 Synergy Core expands upon its Discrete 4 Synergy Core ‘little brother’ — both size- and specification-wise — with ThunderboltTM 2 and USB 2.0 (Mac and Windows) connectivity; 8 | 14 channels of analog I/O; 8x Combo (Discrete 6-transistor) preamps; 121dB A/D and 130dB D/A (monitors) conversion; 2x DSP + 1x FPGA Synergy Core effects processing; 36 included effects; and eight effects channel strips, each with eight slots for up to 64 effects. Ending on a high-spec high note, the rack-mountable Orion Studio Synergy Core capably lives up to its name with ThunderboltTM 3 and USB 2.0 (Mac and Windows) connectivity; 14 | 24 channels of analog I/O; 12x Combo (Discrete Ultra-Linear) preamps; 128dB A/D and 130dB D/A (monitors) conversion; 6x DSP + 2x FPGA Synergy Core effects processing; 50 included effects; 32 effects channel strips, each with eight slots for up to 256 effects; flexible signal routing options; re-amp outputs; and hardware inserts.

Innovation knows no bounds as Antelope Audio’s advanced Synergy Core platform that lends its name to The All-In-One Production Suite’s quality quartet of audio interfaces is in a league of its own, thanks to the built-in acceleration for emulations of studio gear — providing a creative balance between popular designs and rarer European designs — and allowing for monitoring and recording without latency, as well as mixing and mastering without adding CPU (Central Processing Unit) load to a DAW host computer. Controlling and recalling effects settings is perfectly possible using Antelope Audio’s AFX2DAW native plug-in for Mac/ThunderboltTM, while users can easily expand the effects library supplied with their chosen audio interface, starting at $55.00 USD per effect from here:

Sealing the deal when it comes to The All-In-One Production Suite-induced sizzling summer is Edge SoloAntelope Audio’s high-quality single-capsule large- diaphragm condenser microphone — presently priced at $499.00 USD/€499.00 EUR individually — included for free. Flexibility abounds as it not only delivers superlative sound straight out of the box, with a fixed cardioid pickup pattern feeding a single mono XLR input channel on the Synergy Core audio interface in question, but also adds creative tools for the whole production process. Thanks to Antelope Audio’s cutting-edge modeling technology, users can currently emulate over 20 of the world’s most iconic vintage microphones with uncanny accuracy. As such, vocal recording really is as simple as choosing a classic mic emulation and starting to track in real-time. Recording clean alternatively allows freedom to choose later from the modeling options during the mixing stage.

Saying all that, then, anyone taking advantage of The All-In-One Production Suite is literally buying in to an all-in-one production suite set to take their recording journey to the next level with a full package of quality products, priced like never before. Banish buyer’s remorse by plunging headlong into pro audio, fuelling creative fires for a guaranteed sizzling summer — and all without breaking the bank. 

For more in-depth information about The All-In-One Production Suite offer — valid through to July 31, 2020, please visit its dedicated webpage

Priced at $1,995.00 USD/€1,995.00 EUR, a Zen Tour Synergy Core audio interface purchased as part of The All-In-One Production Suite offer comes complete with a free full version of Bitwig Studio alongside a free Edge Solo modeling microphone, and can be ordered online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Zen Tour Synergy Core webpage which also includes more in-depth info.

Presently priced at $999.00 USD/€999.00 EUR, a Discrete 4 Synergy Core audio interface purchased as part of The All-In-One Production Suite offer comes complete with a free full version of Bitwig Studio alongside a free Edge Solo modeling microphone, and can be ordered online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Discrete 4 Synergy Core webpage which also includes more in-depth info.

Presently priced at $1,495.00 USD/€1,495.00 EUR, a Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interface purchased as part of The All-In-One Production Suite offer comes complete with a free full version of Bitwig Studio alongside a free Edge Solo modeling microphone, and can be ordered online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Discrete 8 Synergy Core webpage which also includes more in-depth info.

Presently priced at $2,495.00 USD/€2,495.00 EUR, an Orion Studio Synergy Core audio interface purchased as part of The All-In-One Production Suite offer comes complete with a free full version of Bitwig Studio alongside a free Edge Solo modeling microphone, and can be ordered online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Orion Studio Synergy Core webpage which also includes more in-depth info. 

Antelope Audio steps back in time to bring two classic EQ emulations to next-generation Synergy Core effects processing platform — June 16, 2020

Antelope Audio steps back in time to bring two classic EQ emulations to next-generation Synergy Core effects processing platform

Trailblazing pro audio manufacturer Antelope Audio is proud to announce availability of Blonder Tongue Audio Baton and Filtek Mk3 — two new hardware-based software effects emulating EQ classics capable of running in real-time using Antelope Audio’s aptly-named Discrete 4 Synergy CoreDiscrete 8 Synergy CoreOrion Studio Synergy Core, and Zen Tour Synergy Core audio interfaces and Edge Go bus-powered modeling microphone, all of which, when processing proprietary effects with their inbuilt Synergy Core DSP (Digital Signal Processing) acceleration engines, enable monitoring and recording without latency and mixing and mastering without adding CPU (Central Processing Unit) load to a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) host computer.

Effectively entering a music technology time machine to take a trip back to 1959, Antelope Audio proudly presents an authentic emulation of the Blonder- Tongue Audio Baton. An all-tube graphic equalizer so rare and special that it has an actual album named after it, now it is immortalised as an authentic- sounding hardware-based software effect by Antelope Audio. Time-appropriate looks aside, the original Audio Baton boasts seven separate amplifiers tuned to distinct frequencies, followed by high- and low-pass filters running in parallel with their outputs routed to separate level controls. Choices for frequencies correspond to actual notes and octaves on a piano keyboard — hence the graphical representation of one above the nine white vertical stripes with an eye- catching red markers. More meaningfully, those markers move up and down the white vertical stripes when turning the associated rotary controls to assists with visualizing boosts and cuts over nine frequency bands with a 28dB control range per band. Better still, the resultant frequency response curve is graphically overlaid on top of four horizontal stripes where each frequency region is distinctly colored. Clearly technically proficient for its time, the Audio Baton was actually an inexpensive unit that found its way into audiophile homes and recording studios alike. As such, AUDIO magazine qualified it as “…indispensable to anyone interested in dubbing from old records…” while strongly recommending it “…to anyone who does much recording…” when covering it in February 1959. “Rolloff of either lows or highs due to poor microphones or narrow-range amplifiers or recorders can be corrected easily, and response peaks can be smoothed out as desired,” it also noted. Needless to say, Antelope Audio’s talented team of DSP and electrical engineers recreated the Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton in its entirety, exclusively for the Synergy Core real-time effects processing platform. Providing further visual feedback as a purely cosmetic enhancement entirely in keeping with this unique equalizer’s late-Fifties aesthetic, Antelope Audio added a Magic Eye peak meter to Blonder Tongue Audio Baton. Both the vintage original and contemporary recreation compare favorably to other great equalizers of the time — think Altec 9073A ‘Motown’ graphic equalizer curiosity crossed with pre-eminent Pultec tube-amplified make-up gain stage… Synergy Core has gained another must-have hardware-based software EQ effects emulation. End users can look forward to running it in real-time on the Synergy Core effects module built into Antelope Audio’s aptly-named Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces and Edge Go, the world’s first bus-powered modeling microphone, where it can correct frequency response errors, such as excessive bass or shrill high-end, as well as improving the clarity of instruments, vocals, and speech.

Fast-forwarding back to a highly-successful Seventies-vintage design, Antelope Audio’s emulation of the FILTEK MK3 is a versatile three-band equalizer with modeled transformer-based input and output sections that works in real-time with zero latency — just like using the notable namesake original hardware. Having said that, the FILTEK MK3 was originally built to the rigorous standards demanded by the IRT (Institut für Rundfunktechnik) — the research centre of the German broadcasters ARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), and DLR (Deutschlandradio), Austrian national public service broadcaster ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk), and Swiss public broadcasting association SRG/SSR (Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft/Société suisse de radiodiffusion et télévision, Società svizzera di radiotelevisione, and Societad Svizra da Radio e Televisiun) — as a broadcasting module, so its initial cost meant that it remained within reach of only the most reputable radio stations. Saying that, though, it eventually ended up in receptive recording studios around the world when racked accordingly. As a versatile equalizer that sounds clear and precise — unusually modern for the time, it handles both broad sweeps and surgically-precise applications with equal aplomb. Indeed, its switch and knob combinations encourage experimentation — extreme settings at broad bandwidths turn the high and low bands into respectable shelving filters, for example. Efficient design, employing the best engineering practices and high-quality parts, produced first-class corrective capabilities and also enhancement-friendly frequency ranges. Results worth highlighting include boosting the high end without introducing harshness and a unique signal path allowing for parallel equalization by mixing the boosted/attenuated signal with unprocessed audio. This time, Antelope Audio’s talented team of DSP and electrical engineers meticulously modeled the three-band design with high- and low-pass filters — perhaps the most recognizable and arguably most flexible of the FILTER MK3’s many incarnations. In this case, each band offers a choice of 12 frequencies with boosts and cuts of up to 16dB. The three-way bandwidth (Q) switches for each band allow for bypassing specific bands when in mid-position. Put it this way: with FILTEK MK3, users can expect something special — clean and transparent, but packing plenty of punch and character when pushed. It is certainly an amazing-sounding addition to the frequency adjustment toolbox!

Owners of Antelope Audio’s Blonder Tongue Audio Baton and Filtek Mk3 should simply insert them into their effects chain. Click and turn the rotary controls to correct their specific frequencies while using the bottom-left knob to switch the equalizer itself IN or OUT and the bottom-right knob to adjust the output VOLUME when using the former. Feel free to push the input signal — within reasonable limits — to obtain meticulously-modeled transformer saturation with the latter. So step back in time with Antelope Audio and take time to treasure two classic EQ emulations brought back to the future, thanks to the next-generation Synergy Core effects processing platform. 

Blonder Tongue Audio Baton 
is available for Antelope Audio’s acclaimed Discrete 4 Synergy Core, Discrete 8 Synergy Core, Orion Studio Synergy Core, and Zen Tour Synergy Core audio interfaces and Edge Go bus-powered modeling microphone, priced at $195.00 USD/€195.00 EUR directly from here:

Filtek Mk3 is available for Antelope Audio’s acclaimed acclaimed Discrete 4 Synergy Core, Discrete 8 Synergy Core, Orion Studio Synergy Core, and Zen Tour Synergy Core audio interfaces and Edge Go bus-powered modeling microphone, priced at $195.00 USD/€195.00 EUR directly from here:

Avantone Pro brings back bygone classic as aptly-named sub-frequency kick drum microphone must-have —

Avantone Pro brings back bygone classic as aptly-named sub-frequency kick drum microphone must-have

TALLMAN, NY, USA: Avantone Pro is proud to announce availability of Kick — an aptly-named sub-frequency kick drum microphone that effectively brings back to life a well-known extinct example by utilising the affordable high-quality audio products producer’s own reproduction ‘white cone’ low-frequency driver to capture lower frequencies than a standard dynamic microphone, giving kick drum sounds that still-sought-after subsonic signature.

While using a speaker as a low-frequency capture microphone is nothing new — after all, The Beatles used this technique on their chart-topping ‘Paperback Writer’ way back in May 1966, watching people dangling a speaker from a makeshift stand, rewiring a monitor driver, or hot-wiring a combo amp to try and capture those lows is far from a pretty experience with results not necessarily assured, Kick ably addresses this by bringing the boom from appropriate instruments out to the forefront, making large-sounding sources sound massive. Moreover, it neatly does so with a sub-frequency microphone that utilises its well-known reproduction ‘white cone’ low-frequency driver — not just any driver, though… the driver!

Avantone Pro’s AV-10 MLF low-frequency replacement driver used in its CLA-10 recreation of an iconic studio reference monitoring mainstay — and compatible with the Japanese original — is also at the beating heart of Kick. Indeed, it has a single continuous press-formed cone to match that classic sound and allows a much higher level of quality control and consistency during the manufacturing process as well as delivering strong bass reproduction. In Kick’s case, the AV-10 MLF’s distinctive 18cm cone acts as a microphone element. The microphone itself is of a moving coil dynamic type, with a 50Hz to 2kHz frequency response, 6.3 Ω output impedance, and figure-eight pattern, plus a male XLR connector. All are housed in a birch plywood drum shell with a 10-inch mesh drum head.

Having said all that, to then mount Kick on a standard mic stand simply would not do the job justice — which is exactly why Avantone Pro provides a stage- ready, double-braced drum stand. Studio-bound or on the road, the comprehensive Kick package is really ready to deliver! 

Kick is available at Avantone Pro’s US Dealers with a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) of $349.00 USD.

European SSP (Suggested Selling Price) is €399.00 EUR, including VAT, with worldwide Distributors listed by country

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

Conrad Ashton feature – includes latest single ‘Time’ —

Conrad Ashton feature – includes latest single ‘Time’

Conrad Ashton is an artist from the North-East of England who has just released his latest single ‘Time’. The video is embedded above and you can also stream on all major platforms.

It’s an uptempo rock song with great drive, passion and energy, a rallying call against procrastination and not to let time pass you by.

Get to know Conrad Ashton
Conrad Ashton shares modern rock music that is firmly rooted in the classic pop sound. Conrad has a no-nonsense approach to music making and performance – he is simply himself.

A constant student of music, Conrad keeps a steady focus on designing eloquent lyrics that remain humble and relatable for every song he writes.

Ashton is inspired by the likes of The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles & Elvis.

Genre: classic meets modern rock

Conrad, what inspires you?
“Life to be honest – literally that’s it and my experiences. I just tell the truth, it is what it is.”

What’s your songwriting process?
“I get a few words in my head and take it from there. Sometimes I hear the song playing in my head also and I write it down and get the guitar out. But, aye, words first with a little melody to them and then just stick some chords owa the top tbf nowt daft straight forward non of this picking notes out on the piano and what not I write now as I did aged 12 when I first tried properly.”

What’s your relationship with live performance?
“I’m the most nervous man on the planet beforehand – I can’t speak, barely eat and don’t want to drink, but when I hit that stage everything melts away. All the anxiety or the constant war that’s going on in my head disappears. Though to be fair usually my leg is still spasming well into the opening number, but I don’t feel any nerves anymore, only adrenaline. It’s like my body knows what to do and it feels kinda liberating, and if people
clap, that’s always nice.

Music is my life and it’s everything to me. I used to do open mics but branched out when I got my degree at Leeds College of Music and played nationwide and literally anywhere that’ll have me!”

What’s next?

Unfortunately due to the current Covid-19 restrictions forthcoming gigs are cancelled, however a four track EP ‘No Post on Sundays’ is due for release in August.

Says Conrad – “For the first time ever I am releasing a full acoustic set of songs, I have never released a single that is acoustic so thought why not do an EP!

Push the boat out and see what happens, the songs are really from my life experiences and I chucked in an acoustic version of ‘Time’ for good measure. My plans are to ideally release it in August to keep the momentum of this single going.”

For more information please see Conrad’s website.

Cities and Memory launch Smithsonian Treasures project – an online sound exhibition inspired by the works of the most famous museum network in the world — June 9, 2020

Cities and Memory launch Smithsonian Treasures project – an online sound exhibition inspired by the works of the most famous museum network in the world

Cities and Memory are proud to unveil their latest project – which they’ve been working on since way before the world turned itself upside-down… and they really hope you enjoy it!

Smithsonian Treasures is an online sound exhibition inspired by the works of the most famous museum network in the world.

Artists all over the world took inspiration from paintings, photographs, scientific specimens, works of literature and even war machines from museum as diverse as the Hirshhorn, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Air and Space Museum.

The result is a beautiful, diverse exhibition of fascinating sound works from all over the world.

There are some incredible sound pieces in the project – here are just a few examples:

Artworks by HopperRodin and Eakins reimagined as new sonic compositions;

Pieces inspired by musicians as diverse as Billie HolidayLouis ArmstrongRakim and Charlie Parker;

Sound stories based on historical figures like Thomas EdisonBenjamin FranklinCleopatra and Muhammad Ali

Stars of the silver screen like Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino transformed into sound;

A “lit EDM banger” inspired by a portrait of Abraham Lincoln;

Items covering the full range of history from 221BC to 2014 AD.

Selected highlights from the project are available on the free album embedded at the top of the post.

I really enjoy taking part in Cities and Memory projects. This is the image I worked with:

For me there’s an element of mystery to the picture. It appears to be set in the mountains with a picture of Mount Fuji in the top left. There isn’t really a background, this adds to the mystery as does the serious expression on the lady’s face and the fact she’s looking behind her. I’ve tried to capture the mood and various rhythms, there’s rhythms in the flow of the water and in the washing process for example and I’ve used a variety of orchestration sounds with a variety of movement.

You can listen to my submission and all the others at Smithsonian Treasures

Review of Type B vintage exciter plugin (64bit VST/AU/AAX) from AudioThing — June 8, 2020

Review of Type B vintage exciter plugin (64bit VST/AU/AAX) from AudioThing


AudioThing have introduced Type B, a plugin inspired by a vintage exciter effect.

Type B is available from AudioThing in VST, AU and AAX versions – 64bit only – typically priced at 59 Euros.


Type B is a plugin inspired by a famous vintage exciter effect.

The original unit was designed to add presence and brightness to vocal or instrument tracks. It was often used to enhance dull recordings where the high frequency content was missing due to tape overdubs.

The original aural exciter algorithm was developed in the mid-1970s by Aphex Systems. At first, it was only available to recording studios to hire. It was incredibly expensive for the time – a cost of $30 per minute of finished recording time in 1975. Eventually, its popularity led to the release of commercially available models like the Type B and Type C.

Type B lets you control more aspects of the exciter circuit emulation than the original, giving you access to the internal filter, the harmonic generator and more.

Exciters work by generating high-frequency content that is not part of the original signal using a combination of filtering and distortion (harmonic generator). The input signal goes into a filter – usually highpass, but you can also choose bandpass with Type B – before feeding it into the harmonic generator. You have controls over the generated harmonics using the color parameter and the signal is then mixed back with the dry signal.


This is another excellent effect from Audiothing. It can add presence or air, increase clarity, produce lo-fi degraded sounds and reduce the bass or ‘boom’ of a sound.

It can be quite subtle or more pronounced. often a number of subtle changes makes a big improvement to your overall sound.

Whilst the presets give a good idea of the type of sounds it can produce, they are better off being used as a starting point. That’s because it’s very easy to learn to use Type B and it gives you a great degree of control. This allows you to easily fine tune your sound to provide the exact amount of effect required. As you start to learn to use Type B, you find lots of subtleties and nuances to greatly improve your sound.

In-Depth Review

The interface combines the best of a vintage analogue look and feel with a modern design.

Type B has a resizable interface with 3 window sizes – small, medium and big. The opening interface has preset load / save and a very handy randomisation option in the middle at the top with menu settings, notification and bypass to the right hand side.

The main controls are below with the exciter on the left and master controls on the right.

The exciter has controls for Drive – input level to the harmonic generator;
Tune – cutoff of the filter pre/post drive; Color – the color of distortion in the harmonic generator.

The master controls are Input – amount of input signal processed; Mix – balance between dry and wet signal; Output and Soft Clip switch to enable or disable a soft clip to the output signal.

There are further controls accessed by clicking the arrow in the bottom left corner.

This gives access to the filter settings. Mode – sets the position of the filter to pre or post harmonic generator; Type – sets filter mode to High Pass or Band Pass; Slope – sets the filter slope to 12dB or 24dB; Emphasis – sets the amount of resonance.

Options gives you further controls. Direct – enables or disables the direct (dry) signal that is then summed with the excited signal; Wet Boost – adds a +12dB boost to the wet signal; Env – enables/disables the envelope to activate the noise only when an input signal is passing through; Noise – controls the volume of the background noise.

The presets give a good idea of the kind of effects Type B can produce, everything from treble boost, adding air, increasing mid-range, creating a lo-fi sound, emulating a cheap speaker.

It works very well on vocals, adding subtle or more intense brightness. It can do a similar thing with field recordings taken on your phone, I find these are generally ok quality but prone to being bass heavy or boomy, this can reduce this type of sound or hiss and improve the sound considerably.

On drum loops it can add air, presence or create a degraded lo-fi sound. Similarly it can tame the boom from a bass line, tighten it or give a degraded, lo-fi sound.

This is an example of processing a synth loop, using Pro-Q 3 to show how Type B affects the signal. The original doesn’t sound too bad by itself:

Whilst the processed version has less bottom end and is brighter with more presence.

I really like how you can fine tune the exciter to your exact sound too, this second example removes virtually all of the low end and sounds much brighter, it sits much better in a mix with kick and bass because it’s not adding muddiness to the bottom end.

Review of Saturn 2 multiband distortion and saturation plugin (VST / AU / AAX) by Fabfilter — June 4, 2020

Review of Saturn 2 multiband distortion and saturation plugin (VST / AU / AAX) by Fabfilter


FabFilter is proud to announce immediate availability of FabFilter Saturn 2, a major update to their award-winning multiband distortion and saturation plug-in. Saturn 2 sees a top-to-bottom redesign of the Saturn interface for even greater ease of use and visualization, as well as a host of new features and improvements, including 12 new distortion styles, a radically overhauled and expanded modulation system, enhanced envelopes, linear phase processing, and a pristine new ‘Superb’ High Quality mode.

FabFilter Saturn 2 is now available for EUR 129, USD 154 or GBP 114, supporting both Windows and macOS in VST and VST 3, Audio Units, AAX, and AudioSuite plug-in formats. Bundles with FabFilter Saturn 2 and other FabFilter plug-ins are also available at:

Existing FabFilter customers can purchase or upgrade to FabFilter Saturn 2 with very attractive discounts by logging into their online user account:

System requirements are either Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP (32-bit and 64-bit) and a VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools, or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher (64-bit only) with Intel processor, and an Audio Units host, VST 2/3 host, or Pro Tools.

To make self-quarantine just a little bit easier during the COVID-19 pandemic, FabFilter offers free 30-day evaluation extensions for all their plug-ins, including Saturn 2.


Saturn 2 looks better and flows faster than ever. The darker color scheme makes the plug-in easier to look at for extended sessions, and four interface size options and a stunning full-screen mode enable adaptation to any workspace. Modulation is now comprehensively visualized at both source and target, too, with color-coded collars and tracks on knobs and sliders animating in response to modulation input, the source flow area giving an eye-catching overview of all mod signals, and indicators on controls and bands showing which parameters are being modulated at a glance.

More distortion types
Saturn 2 almost doubles the number of distortion styles on board from 16 to 28. ‘Subtle’ versions of the Tape, Tube, and Saturation styles provide low-intensity warming, while four new British (Rock, Pop) and American (Tweed, Plexi) Amp styles perfectly model well-known guitar amplifiers, three Transformer styles (Subtle, Gentle, Warm) open up abrasive new possibilities, and the Foldback and Breakdown FX styles reshape and mutate sounds beyond recognition, the latter combining down-pitching with heavy distortion.

Big modulation changes
With virtually no limit placed on the combination of 16-step XLFOs, Envelope Generators, Envelope Followers, XY Controllers, and MIDI sources that can be used in a preset, Saturn has always been serious about creative modulation, and Saturn 2 takes the whole system to the next level. Curve the Envelope Generator’s Attack, Decay, and Release stages for a smoother or more aggressive response, activate the Envelope Follower’s new Transient detection mode to tightly track drums and percussion, and route discrete band inputs to both Envelope sources as triggering signals — pulverize hi-hats to the rhythm of the kick drum, for example. The XY Controller’s new Slider mode, meanwhile, slims it down to vertical-only operation, and the XLFO benefits from legato MIDI triggering and targeting of the Frequency Offset and Balance parameters for modulation. And with custom naming of individual mod sources now possible, users can customize their Saturn 2 presets for effortless navigation.

Mastering grade saturation
The new ‘Subtle’ saturation types make Saturn 2 the mastering engineer’s secret weapon, bringing enlivening presence and fizz to final mixes. In order to meet the exacting demands of such mission- critical application, the band crossovers now offer a choice of 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48 dB/octave roll-off slopes, the new ‘Superb’ High Quality mode switches the plug-in to 32x oversampling for almost total elimination of aliasing, and the Linear Phase option ensures maximum coherence for the crossovers and High Quality modes.

Key features:

  • 28 diverse distortion styles, from warming tube and tape saturation to screaming American and British guitar amps, Transformers, bit crushing, smearing, rectification, and more
  • Up to six separate processing bands, with variable crossover slopes: 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48 dB/octave
  • Independent Drive, Mix, Feedback, Dynamics, Tone, and Level controls for every band
  • Two High Quality modes for 8x and 32x oversampling
  • Regular stereo and mid/side processing
  • Intuitive interactive multiband display
  • Powerful, flexible modulation system: drag and drop as many 16-step XLFOs, XY Controllers, Envelope Generators, Envelope Followers, Sliders, and MIDI Sources as required
  • Full visual feedback of modulation via parameter animation and ‘source flow’
  • Linear phase mode for mastering applications
  • Four interface size options and full-screen mode
  • Carefully curated factory preset library for amp modeling, coloration, lo-fi degradation, and FX
  • All the usual FabFilter features users have come to expect: perfectly fine-tuned knobs and controllers, interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo and A/B switch, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, an extensive help file with interactive help hints, sample accurate automation, SSE optimization, and more.


Saturn 2 is incredibly easy to use. The interface is clean, very well laid out and fully resizable.

The opening screen shows the interface which has menu controls at the top; midi learn, linear phase, high quality mode and output options – including some very cool settings to switch into mid/side mode and enable unrestricted feedback so Saturn 2 can self-oscillate – at the bottom.

The presets are located in the menu at the top and include a wide range of sounds that are very usable in their own right and/or make excellent starting points that you can adjust to your particular sound.

The main part of the screen shows the floating control panel which has a number of controls – mix, feedback / feedback frequency, dynamics, drive, 4 band EQ, level and the 28 saturation / distortion types.

The other aspect of the display is that when you feed a signal into Saturn 2, it displays the frequency a bit like the interface of Pro-Q 2 and any adjustments you make to levels or EQ will be visible on screen.

Making Saturn 2 multiband is as easy as clicking on the ‘+’ at the top of the screen, you can have up to 6 bands and align these to different parts of the frequency spectrum by simply clicking and dragging left and right. You can also set the level, cross-over shape and saturation / distortion type for each band as well as solo/mute individual bands. The images above and below use the same input loop, it’s clear to see how Saturn 2 is changing the sound.

The multiband approach enables you to apply many different effect types, from subtle saturation and colouring for drums, add warmth to the bottom end, grit or sizzle to the top end. You can also create some interesting effects for vocals, the ‘breakdown’ effect is like an octaver that can create some unusual harmony type effects.

With all this, Saturn 2 is an excellent effect, but there’s even more processing power from modulation. There are a number of modulation options:

You add a modulation source by simply clicking the add source ‘+’ button towards the bottom of the screen. Each of these is colour coded and well featured, for example the XLFO allows you to add steps using shapes – linear, sine, sqr, sqrt with a glide function that determines the glide amount between steps. You can create complex shapes, have them free-running or beat sync’d and there are also trigger and legato modes.

The envelope generator is a typical ADSR shape but with an additional hold control.


This is an absolutely superb effect, despite it’s complexities it’s very easy to learn how to use it. The interface is clean and very well designed, hiding the complexities very well, allowing you to quickly create your own effects. Saturn 2 has a huge range of uses from simple saturation and distortion to more complex multiband effects with modulation.

I can see a wide range of uses on future projects from improving drum sounds, adding warmth, adding sizzle, creative effects for vocals as well as subtle or more pronounced saturation for mastering.