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Review of Type A vintage tape encoder VST by AudioThing — January 18, 2018

Review of Type A vintage tape encoder VST by AudioThing


AudioThing have introduced Type A, a plugin inspired by a vintage tape encoder in VST / AU / AAX formats in both 32 and 64 bit versions typically priced at 49 Euros. A demo version is also available.

I’ve said in previous reviews that I’m a big fan of AudioThing because they produce a range of different and interesting effects with a great sound quality that are very reasonably priced. This review follows previous reviews of Wave Box (dynamic dual waveshaper); Fog Convolver (Convolution Reverb); Outer Space (Vintage Tape Echo); Space Strip (Multi-Effect plugin); The Orb (Formant filter effect) and Frostbite (Ring mod / feedback / freeze effect).

Type A is a plugin that emulates the encode stage of a famous vintage tape encoder designed to be a noise reduction system for tape recording (encode stage) and playback (decode stage).

This was was often misused as an enhancer, dynamically increasing the top end of a signal without introducing artefacts or altering the harmonic content. The results are similar to a dynamic EQ which adds presence and air to any track in a natural way.


Type A has a cool retro look, is very easy to use and most importantly it sounds superb. It’s a versatile effect and can add warmth, presence, depth and air as well as subtle or more extreme compression. There’s also a very handy randomise option which can provide some inspiration for some unusual effects. It can easy handle being used on individual tracks or equally can be used on the master.

For a long time I’ve used Ferric TDS (tape saturation) and Density MkIII (bus compressor) on the master channel as a ‘pre-master’ because they vastly improve dynamics and add great depth. I’ve not found anything that sounds as good, until now. Type A operates in a very similar way and from testing so far I think it sounds better and is far more versatile. Density MkIII does have a mid/side mode which can be useful but this isn’t a feature you’d expect to see on vintage gear.

To highlight the versatility and excellent sound of Type A, I’ve created a 3 track EP recorded live in Usine Sensomusic Hollyhock 3. I’ve used Carbon Electra (PluginBoutique) as the synth, Ephemere (Inear Display) for percussion and sounds from my ‘Kalipheno’ sample pack with various Hollyhock Samplers – Joggle Player, Grain Cloud Player and UDrone. I’ve kept effects to a minimum, only using Blackhole (Eventide) with UDrone and H949 Dual Harmoniser (Eventide) on vocals on almost lost in the twilight.

I’ve deliberately kept effects to a minimum to use Type A as an insert effect on each of these and also on the master. Only uploading the finalised tracks wouldn’t let you hear what Type A is doing so I’ve uploaded an excerpt of out of the darkness with all instances of Type A bypassed and the pre-finalised version with Type A enabled so you can hear the effects that Type A can produce.

The songs were finished in MuLab using bx_console E (Brainworx) and Stage (Fiedler Audio). This also highlights the sound quality of Type A because the finalisation is quite subtle.

How does it work?

To limit the amount of noise generated by tape recording, early noise reduction systems used what’s called a multi-band compander (compressor/expander). The unit dynamically emphasises the high frequencies during the encoding stage (recording to tape), so that during the decoding stage (playback from tape) the signal is attenuated, along with the typical tape noise. Type A emulates the encode stage only.

The input signal is split into 4 bands (with the highest bands overlapping), dynamically compressed and then summed back with the direct signal. The amount of compression on each band is inversely proportional to the volume of the band. Quieter sounds get brighter while louder sounds remain almost unchanged. This adds brightness and air without generating any new harmonic content or distortion, resulting in a more pleasant and natural enhancer compared to a typical exciter.

Bands were chosen for level content and effectiveness in eliminating tape hiss in the record / playback process as follows:

Band 1 – low pass filter around 80Hz

Band 2 – Input signal minus bands 1 and 2, effectively a band pass filter from 80Hz to 3kHz

Band 3 – high pass filter around 3kHz

Band 4 – high pass filter around 9kHz

GUI and controls

As with other AudioThing plugins, the GUI is well designed and clearly laid out. There are two panels which you switch between using the cog in the top right corner next to the bypass button.

There’s a cool retro feel to the look and use of Type A, including the detail of the buttons which emulate the use of bulbs in the days before LEDs and the aged look to the text simulating how it can rub off in places through age and frequent use.

The top section has presets, save, delete and randomise options. The more button opens a menu where you can specify window size, copy/paste presets, enable limiter and enable oversampling.

On the left of the display is the VU meter, the buttons comprise ‘NR in-out’ which enables or disables the plugin and is the same as bypass. The ‘direct’ button enables or disables the direct ‘dry’ signal that is summed with the four bands. As outlined above, a portion of the input is passed direct to the output so the wet signal contains the dry ‘direct’ signal regardless of the mix control. This button enables or disables the direct signal. The difference between the Direct signal and the Dry signal (which you can dial in with the Mix control) is that Direct is also affected by the Input control, while the Dry signal is passed unchanged.

The next four buttons enable or disable each band.

On the right of the display are the input, mix and output controls.

The second panel is displayed by clicking on the cog in the top right corner.

This allows you to switch between displaying the input or output on the VU meter, a noise control, attack and release settings for all band compressors and volume controls for each band.

Review of 4ms PEG add-on for Softube Modular — January 16, 2018

Review of 4ms PEG add-on for Softube Modular



The 4ms PEG is an add-on for Softube Modular virtual synth. It is not a standalone VST and requires a modular licence to run. Typically priced at $29, the 4ms PEG is available from Softube and a 20 day demo is also available. It is fully licensed and endorsed by 4ms, manufacturers of the original hardware.

I have previously reviewed Modular which you can read here, it’s an excellent software version of a modular system which is very easy to use and has superb sound quality.


The 4ms PEG is a brilliant addition to Modular, it is a faithful recreation of the original hardware unit. The potential is huge, you can go far beyond conventional envelopes to create complex patterns, quantised beats, self-oscillation and much more. It’s brilliant fun to play around with, it encourages experimentation to see what happens and that’s when you find some very cool and unexpected sounds.


The 4ms PEG is a dual envelope generator whose envelope lengths are set by the time between clock pulses or “pings”. The PEG has full CV control of envelope shape, skew, and ping (clock) division/multiplication, as well as a plethora of triggering and cycling options (AD, AR, quantization, cycle, cycle toggle), and a tap tempo button for each channel.

The basic setup is a ping, a trigger source and an output.


The ping can be provided by tapping the white button next to the red or blue ping inputs at the top of the display or an external source can be fed into the jack.


You press the cycle button to start to the trigger which subsequently changes colour to yellow and the LED above the ENV jack also starts flashing. You can also run manual triggers into the QNT (Quantised) or ASYNC (Asynchronous) jacks. Feeding a gate into the ‘T’ jack toggles the state of the cycle from off to on or vice versa. This means you can toggle between the two channels or switch them on/off at the same time.


The scale knob provides your output, the bi-polar switch focusses the output around 0v. There are two outputs, ENV is scaled whereas ‘+5V ENV’ is unscaled,

Once the basic setup is completed, you can start to change envelope parameters. That’s when things start to get very interesting.


The ping div/mult knob is an integer multiple or division of the original tempo in steps from parity to +/- 8 times. This can be modulated using the DIV CV jack at the bottom.


The curve knob sets the envelope shape. The curve knob has asymmetrical curves at the extremes and symmetrical curves in the middle. These are formed by combinations of exponential, linear and logarithmic waveforms and there are 17 in total. You can modulate these parameters using the Skew and Curve CV jacks located at the bottom of the display.

The skew knob controls the ratio between the rise and fall times. The envelope length is held constant whilst the skew is changed allowing you to change between ramp-up, ramp-down and triangle – and everything in-between – without affecting the timing. Because the change is instantaneous, you can get some interesting outputs.


Each channel also has two gate outputs, End-of-Rise (EOR) and End-of-Fall (EOF).

EOR outputs a gate that goes high when the fall segment begins, and goes low when the envelope completes. It is low during a sustain segment. It will stay low when the envelope is not running.

EOF outputs a gate that goes high when the fall segment ends and goes low when a rise segment ends. It is low during a sustain segment. It will stay high when the envelope is not running.

The OR output acts like a mix control, outputting the highest value from either of the red or blue channels.

The 4ms PEG in use

There are many ways to use the 4ms PEG, I was very keen to use it with the Buchla 259e add-on (included in the aforementioned Modular review) because it produces a huge range of incredible sounds.

I found a video on YouTube which shows details of modules and patching connections that I’ve used as a basis to get me started and is shown below. I created this basic setup in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 and created a demo track with no external effects which is called ‘meridians – origin’.

I then thought I’d take a minimalist approach using this as the only sound source, add 4 send/return effects and AudioThing’s Type A as a pre-master to see if I could create a full sound and also a variety of sounds. I used an iterative process where I changed effects / effect settings and also changed settings on the Buchla 259e and 4ms PEG and then re-recorded. Recording in Hollyhock 3 is direct to disk so all of the tracks were recorded live and subsequently mastered in MuLab with Elevate and Stage.

The send effects used for the intro track were Amalgame, RP Verb 2, Ultratap and SpecOps. I’ve used combinations of various Eventide effects on other tracks – Ultratap, Blackhole, Fission, H3000, Quadravox, H949 and Octavox. On the last four tracks I also used the UDrone sampler in Hollyhock 3 with combinations of Ultratap, SpecOps and Blackhole.

The album is embedded at the start of the review and as you can see, I got a bit carried away. That’s partly due to how good Modular and the Buchla259e / 4ms PEG add-ons are and also the creativity offered by Eventide effects and some of my other favourite effects. The 4ms PEG just encourages you to tweak settings and see what happens and then you want to adjust the Buchla 259e settings, then tweak the PEG a bit more and what happens if I turn this all the way up or down? – it’s addictive. I’ve produced a whole range of sounds covering drones, ambiences, rhythmic glitches, harsh metallic sounds to more extreme experimentation.

Eventide announces availability of Anthology XI as ‘everything’ bundle – a phenomenal collection of 23 plugins — January 8, 2018

Eventide announces availability of Anthology XI as ‘everything’ bundle – a phenomenal collection of 23 plugins

LITTLE FERRY, NJ, USA: recording technology trailblazer Eventide is proud to announce availability of its ‘everything’ plug-in bundle.

Anthology XI includes all 17 plug-ins from Eventide’s acclaimed Anthology X bundle, but brings six of its latest and greatest hits to the creative collection. With the welcome addition of Blackhole, Fission, Tverb, UltraTap, MangledVerb, and 2016 Stereo Room, that’s 23 timeless tools that inspire, running the gamut from groundbreaking innovations like the TEC Award-nominated Fission — the first product to feature Eventide’s seminal STRUCTURAL EFFECTS method to split sound into its transient and tonal parts — to emulations of the trailblazing company’s legendary rack-mount effects. Everything.

Anthology XI’s 23 plug-ins — available as AAX/AU/VST formats for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+ (with no iLok dongle required) — represent a combined value of over $3,500.00 USD if purchased individually. The bundle can be purchased at an introductory price of $899.00 USD. Upgrades from Anthology X and from individual Eventide plug-ins are also available. Sale ends January 11, 2018. MSRP thereafter is $1,799.00 USD. For more in-depth info, upgrade pricing, and a fully-functional 30-day demo version, please visit the Anthology XI webpage

Watch Eventide’s enticing Anthology XI video playlist

Anthology XI comes complete with more than 2,900 presets across the 23 plug-ins, many created by acclaimed artists and engineers like Dave Pensado, George Massenburg, Tony Visconti, Vernon Reid, Richard Devine, Joe Chiccarelli, Roy Hendrickson, Alessandro Cortini, Andrew Scheps, Erin Tonkin, Jonathan Schenke, Robin Finck, Chuck Zwicky, and Suzanne Ciani.

Concludes Eventide Director of Marketing Communications Nalia Sanchez: “For over 45 years, audio pros have turned to Eventide for professional tools that inspire. Now everything — all of our effects — are in one big bundle that includes our latest and greatest hits. For example, there’s an authentic emulation of our H910, pro audio’s first digital effects box whose unique sound inspired all sorts of mischief. We meticulously modeled the analog subtleties, and the plug-in sounds like the original. And, while we’re committed to the authentic recreation of our legendary hardware, we’ll always strive to break new ground. Fission is the latest case in point. It’s nominated for a TEC Award, and, to quote one reviewer, Eventide wants to change how you think about processing audio…’ True enough. Always have, always will.”

Anthology XI accesses all areas of Eventide’s evolution and is a phenomenal collection of effects and studio tools. I have been trying to get the review published in good time whilst the sale is still on but unfortunately there’s only a couple of days left. This is partly because I wanted to do justice to the collection and partly because the further into the review I’ve got, the more I’m realising that this is so much more than an outstanding collection of plugins, it feels like you’re in possession of a slice of history. They range from software versions of the very first ever hardware effects unit to the latest ultra modern effects which retain Eventide’s unique and innovative approach. A good example is the range of reverb effects, there’s a software version of a hardware model from 1981, a highly configurable conventional reverb and three very creative reverb effects. All of which are superb and offer a huge range of creative potential.

There’s such a wealth of effects and accordingly a lot to learn and the presets are definitely a very good way to get an idea of what each effect is capable of. You can explore so much functionality through the thousands of presets and that’s before you start to explore and create your own sounds and patches.

It’s testament to Eventide’s quality and design that the software versions of hardware effects from 40 years ago are still relevant today. When I say this is a slice of history, these are in no way museum pieces, the H910 and H949 still sound awesome and inspire creativity in exactly the same way as more recent effects such as Fission.


  • Fission

A unique and innovative effect that splits the incoming signal into its transient and tonal parts allowing you to apply individual effects to each. Fission uses an algorithm based on the sound source type to obtain the best split and you can focus (rather than mix) between the two effects. You can apply delay, tap delay, dynamics, phaser, reverb and gate + EQ to the transients and delay, compression, pitch, chorus, reverb, tremelo and EQ to the tonal.

It is incredibly versatile and can do a whole range of tasks from cleaning up drum loops and adding more punch and bite, modulation effects and harmony type effects. It can produce subtle or more extreme effects, for example you can add rhythmic and/or melodic elements, add texture and rhythm or create something glitchy or psychedelic. It will happily process any sound source you feed it – drums, guitar, bass, vocals – and is a very creative and inspiring effect.

  • UltraTap

I’ve previously reviewed Ultratap which you can read here, it is a superb multi-tap delay effect capable of everything from rhythmic delays, glitchy delays and swells. It has a few cool features – ‘slurm’ reduces attack and definition giving a ‘smeared’ sound; ‘chop’ allows you to add a chopping tremelo for swells and gated effects, it also has an auto-volume setting. You can assign multiple parameter settings to the ribbon which is the blue ‘lightning streak’ towards the bottom of the display and as you move this left and right you can adjust them in real time like a hardware controller. The hotswitch function allows you to switch between two different presets. .

  • H3000 Factory

If there is a Holy Grail of effects, this is it. Ever since I heard Joe Satriani use one on ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’ I was in awe and wanted one, although quickly realised I could never afford a hardware unit. The software unit is a faithful replication of the hardware unit containing the same reverb, delay, pitch and modulation effects. It comes loaded with hundreds of presets, including some of the hardware originals.

The presets are definitely a good way to get to hear what this can do. It’s incredible. From lush reverbs and delays, to harmonising to lo-fi and glitchy effects it’s superb. You can create your own programs by patching effects and assigning modulation and there are function and expert tabs that allow you full control over effect settings and ranges. You can also assign parameters to the four soft keys and change the values dynamically using the large control knob.

Considering this unit is about 30 years, the effects still sound brilliant today. Some of the vocal delays and pitch shift effects sound phenomenal. The patching towards the bottom of the display wasn’t part of the original hardware unit but certainly adds great usability.

  • H3000 Band Delays

This is a delay effect that splits the signal into 8 frequency bands and allows you to apply filter settings and delay effects to each individual band. The effect is based on some of the algorithms in the H3000 unit so the GUI has a similar look and feel including the same expert and function tabs for precise control of effect settings.

The 8 bands are shown in the bottom left, when you click on a band the current filter and delay settings are shown. The beat grid visualises delay times allowing you to create interesting and complex rhythms and there’s a 3d display to the right.

The global parameters above allow you to control parameters with modulation although you can also use the softkeys and dial or use midi.

It’s a brilliant, very creative delay effect producing an excellent range of sounds from ambiences, sweeps and modulations from subtle to much more extreme.

  • Octavox

The Octavox is an 8 voice pitch shifter with individual level, pan, delay and pitch controls for each voice. The notation grid is a very useful visual way of setting the pitch value by moving the note up and down and the delay setting by moving the note left and right.

Octavox intelligently harmonises notes according to the chosen key and scale so you need to make sure you set these for your chosen sound or vocals. You can choose up to 8 voices enabling you to harmonise specific chords as required. The delay function enables you to create a natural sounding vocal harmony or create complex, rhythmic patterns from a simple bassline. It also has a loop function so that you can repeat patterns.

What I love about this effect is that it’s capable of producing complex sounds but it is incredibly easy to use. It’s brilliant for vocals, can make interesting rhythmic patterns from a couple of notes and can also make a mono synth note sound orchestrally massive.

  • Quadravox

An identical effect to the Octavox but has four voices for lower CPU usage.


  • Blackhole

This is a superb reverb effect that is quite unusual and produces stunning results. Whilst having the typical mix, size, pre-delay, low, high, tempo sync and modulation parameters, it also has a gravity control which is a different take on decay time. This control produces a range from dense decays to long and smooth decays with an inverse mode to produce reverse delays.

The modulation depth and rate of the reverb tail can be used to produce subtle effects. Feedback is for the entire reverberation sound and can produce massive sounds. You can also control the resonance of the low and high filters.

Blackhole also has the ribbon control for changing parameter values like a hardware controller and also the hotswitch function to switch between two presets. There’s also a handy freeze function to freeze the reverb sound and you can adjust parameters. The kill switch stops the incoming signal.

It’s ideal for live performance and dynamically changing sounds during a recording. I find it especially useful for creating dense ambient drones and huge reverbs for impacts.

  • Tverb

TVerb is a very interesting reverb effect which isn’t trying to emulate a specific hardware model, it’s more about the process than trying to recreate the sound of a certain space. It is based on the method used by Tony Visconti for recording vocals for the David Bowie song ‘Heroes’.

You place three microphones in the virtual room and select the type of microphone and use a high or low cut if required. The first microphone is the main one and microphones 2 and 3 are linked by using noise gates so that they start recording when the volume increases. You can mix levels between the microphones, adjust gate settings, mute and adjust room effects.

It sounds superb with a great range of sounds from subtle ambiences to small spaces, drum rooms to larger halls. Because it is more about the recording process, it also allows you to create gated effects, big, dark spaces and unusual reverb effects such as replicate the effect of sounds recorded in another room.

  • MangledVerb

I’ve previously reviewed Mangledverb which you can read here, it is an excellent reverb effect with a twist, It’s a reverb and distortion effect that can produce a huge range of reverb effects from subtle ambience, huge ambience, large spaces, distortions, metallic sounding, subtle movement to more swirling effects. It has the same ribbon and hotswitch features as Ultratap and is part of the same H9 signature series of effects. .

  • 2016 Stereo Room

Eventide introduced the SP2016 effects processor unit in 1981 and this effect is based on the original effect ROM. It has up to a massive 30 second decay time and a unique position control which adjusts the position of the listener from front to rear. This remodels the complex delay network to simulate movement and is the reason the hardware unit is still revered and used by some producers today.

The software version sounds great and has low CPU usage.

  • UltraReverb

Unlike Tverb, MangledVerb and Blackhole, this is more of a conventional reverb with 4 effects – reverb, EQ (for reverb, pre- and post- EQ and delay), delay (pre- or post-) and compressor (pre- or post-). It is highly configurable and sounds brilliant.

Clockworks Legacy:

  • H910 — original Harmonizer® and first digital effects processor

The H910 was the first ever digital effects processor introduced in 1975. It was so revolutionary because it wasn’t possible to produce these effects before it was released. You can tell how awesome its introduction must have been by the fact that producers such as Tony Visconti and Shelly Yakus used it on records by artists such as John Lennon, Patti Smith Group, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Suzanne Vega, AC/DC and many, many more.

When you start using this effect you see exactly why it was so revered. It can thicken and double any input source such as vocals, synths and guitars as well as adding ambience and a subtle delay. Things get more interesting when you use some of the pitch shifting, you can microshift up and down in cents which is brilliant for fine tuning as well as using note intervals such as 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and fifths both up and down. I have to say that using the ‘min7 down’ preset on a drumloop is a revelation. Throw in some modulation and things can get crazy – wobbles, glitches, risers and drops there are some very psychedelic effects possible when you dynamically alter the pitch, envelope and feedback settings.

  • H910 Dual

Studios would often use two H910s in parallel and the H910 Dual replicates this configuration to give even more creative possibilities.

  • H949

Built on the legacy of the H910, the H949 introduced de-glitching, micropitch, reverse and random delays and reverse pitch shifting. This is an excellent evolution, it does everything the H910 can do plus a lot more, the reverse sweeps, random delay and flange create some very cool and interesting effects. It has a kind of sample and hold function where you can change settings ready for when you release and dynamically changing controls gives some amazing time mangling effects.

  • H949 Dual

As with the H910, these were often used in parallel in studios and the dual version replicates this configuration and similarly offers even more creativity.

  • Omnipressor

This compressor / expander / gate was introduced in the early 1970s. It’s a very versatile effect, capable of subtle compression, expansion and gating. However, it can also be brutal, squeezing the life out of drums, producing glitchy and lo-fi sounds as well as acting as a dynamic reverse gate and also producing very loud sounds.

  • Instant Phaser

This was the world’s first studio phaser and it sounds excellent. It can handle subtle, slow to more intense sounds.

  • Instant Flanger

The first faithful simulation of a tape flanger, this can handle slow, subtle and more intense flange effects and again sounds superb. Using it in conjunction with the H910 ‘min 7 down’ preset on a dub drum loop produces a very cool trippy effect.

  • Utilities:

  • UltraChannel

This is a very capable and excellent sounding channel strip effect comprising a gate, compressor, o-pressor (which is a sort of junior version of the omnipressor), 5 band EQ, micro pitch shift and delay.

It can handle many tasks such as cleaning and tightening up drums, adding body and presence as well as widening effects by using the microshift effect.

It has 8 modules – input, gate, compressor, o-pressor, 5 band EQ, micro pitch shift, delay and output. You can rearrange the order of the gate, compressor, o-pressor and EQ for increased flexibility although the position of the micro pitch shift and delay are fixed in the effect chain.

There are some cool signal routing possibilities, for instance if you don’t use the EQ in the main effects you can send the feedback from the delay to the EQ.

  • EChannel

This is a stripped down version of ultrachannel containing the gate, compressor and 5 band EQ.

  • Precision Time Align

This is a very handy utility for multitracking a single instrument and compensation for phasing issues when using multiple microphones. You can adjust timing to microsecond accuracy.

  • EQ45

This is a 48 bit double precision, 4 band parametric EQ. It’s a great sounding EQ that can easily handle mastering tasks, quickly and easily allowing you to sculpt your sound.

  • EQ65

This is a 48 bit double precision vintage filter set with low filter EQ, a peak / notch filter for low frequencies and one for mid / high frequencies and a high frequency cut-off. It is a brilliant at removing unwanted frequencies with surgical precision.

Touch Innovations wows with stunning see-through, all-glass, multi-touch control display exuding ‘XG’ factor — January 4, 2018

Touch Innovations wows with stunning see-through, all-glass, multi-touch control display exuding ‘XG’ factor



MIAMI, FL, USA: physical hardware touch technology and cutting-edge software specialist Touch Innovations is proud to announce availability of XG — a stunning see-through, all-glass design demonstrating its most luxurious touch screen system yet.

Wowing wherever with a seamless bezel-free design, an all-glass body, and a 39-inch see-through PCAP (Projective Capacitive) touch display supporting 10 simultaneous touch points, XG is quite unlike anything anyone has ever seen (or touched), truly exuding that special ’XG’ factor! For this unique combination of function and finesse makes it a perfect fit for impressing clients and audiences alike in almost any fixed location scenario, performance-based or otherwise — on stage, including high-end clubs’ DJ booths, and elsewhere, from hotel lobbies to mall kiosks and museums to showrooms, with much in-between and beyond, such as gaming events and even upmarket restaurants. Realigning performance and infotainment control possibilities are almost endless.

Entertainment-ready, the Windows-compatible XG is available as two distinct versions — XG PRO (with an onboard high-power Intel PC with 500 GB storage for easy installation and preferred software usage) or XG LITE (without an onboard PC). Allowing for the most luxurious display, all components are conveniently sited inside the base unit, avoiding unsightly cable clutter. The projected 39-inch display is brighter than any other touch screen system, increasing both visual attractiveness as well as legibility. Little wonder, then, that it is guaranteed to command attention in almost any environment.

Every XG system ships bundled with Emulator 2, Touch Innovations’ critically-acclaimed customisable multi-touch controller flagship software for any MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) application. As such, Emulator 2 really represents a license to dream, making it perfectly possible for users to create their dream controller by bringing about a multi-touch experience with everything and anything available at their fingertips. For Emulator 2 includes all standard objects like sliders, knobs, modulation pads, encoders, buttons, and much more besides. But best of all, as each and every component is fully customisable, creativity is effectively only limited by the user’s imagination… and, of course, the software being controlled. It’s a killer combination!

Concludes Touch Innovations COO Cody Myer: “XG offers our most elegant setup to date, bridging us into the digital signage world while retaining high-end performance for all user scenarios. As we continue to develop hybrid hardware/software solutions for creative artists, products like our ELITE series — a DJ’s dreamlike mobile marriage of road-ready, cutting-edge multi-touch technology with a massive see-through screen — and, now, our new XG models are becoming a bigger part of our business.”

XG PRO and XG LITE are available for online ordering directly from Touch Innovations at $6,895.00 USD ($180.00 USD/month) and $5,999.00 USD ($165.00 USD/month) respectively.

Review of Carbon Electra – a 4 oscillator subtractive VST synth from PluginBoutique —

Review of Carbon Electra – a 4 oscillator subtractive VST synth from PluginBoutique


Carbon Electra is available from PluginBoutique in AU / VST versions (32 & 64 bit) typically priced at £59. It is currently on sale for half price (£28.96) as part of PluginBoutique’s 12 days of Christmas sale until January 15th 2018.


Carbon Electra was designed by producers, for producers and was developed as an advanced learning tool whilst also being a powerful and easy to use synth.

It’s a 4 oscillator subtractive virtual analog synth with a filter, modulation envelopes, assignable LFO modulators, in-built effects and a step envelope feature which offers lots of creative potential.

Because it has been built as a learning tool, the GUI has been designed so that all features fit onto one page. It is aimed at dance / EDM sounds and features presets from some famous names such as Carl Cox, Freemasons and Mike Huckerby.


This synth is one of those that could be overlooked, in fact I bought it some time ago as part of a similar discounted deal with an expansion pack and haven’t used it as much as I should have. Recently I’ve been playing and experimenting with it some more which has prompted me to write this rather overdue review.

To sum up Carbon Electra in a nutshell, I’d say it is fun, easy and intuitive to use and produces amazing sounds from lush, warm chords to edgy, aggressive leads / basses and excellent sequences too.

The fact that it’s another 4 oscillator virtual analog synth may not be appealing, but you need to look deeper because you’ll find a synth that is very capable of producing a much wider range of sounds than those limited to dance / EDM.

Carbon Electra is not trying to copy any particular synth and has its own distinctive sound. Whilst it may not have some of the advanced features of synths like Synthmaster 2, Dune or Spire this works to its advantage, making it easy to get to grips with and achieves the dual aims of being a teaching tool and a powerful synth. Whilst Carbon Electra has limited oscillator waveforms, a single filter and no modulation matrix compared to these synths, that for me is part of the appeal. You can get to grips with Carbon Electra very quickly producing excellent sounds, that’s definitely the role of a teaching synth rather than baffling you with multiple screens and complex signal routing.

It is also very reasonably priced, especially if you purchase during a sale or offer such as the current half-price deal until January 15th.

The biggest problem I’ve found is that if you adjust a preset sound and save your project, when you next open the project your changes won’t have been saved. This happened a couple of times and I thought I was losing the plot but it is a known bug. I have been a bit lazy like that and relied on saving the project to save the latest settings rather than saving presets, I now save everything as I go along which is a much better way of working anyway.

Another option I’d like to see is a randomisation button, I use this a lot for synths and effects where available but it’s a minor point really.


I really like the look of the GUI, it’s very intuitive to use and helpfully everything is included on the one screen. It mirrors the signal flow starting with the oscillators, envelopes, a mixer / filter section and the 3 modulation LFOs on the right. Underneath this are the effects – which look like a rack unit effect – comprising chorus, delay, phaser, distortion and EQ. At the bottom of the screen you have the step sequencer and master controls.


When trying a new synth I’ll usually look at the presets to see what it sounds like. There are over 600 arranged into categories such as bass, chords, sequences, keys, pads and effects and include presets by some famous names such as Carl Cox, Freemasons and Mike Huckerby. A number of expansion packs are also available.

This is the first indication that there’s more to this synth than meets the eye. It has a fantastic range of sounds producing deep basses, lush sounding chords and some cool effects amongst many others too.


There are four oscillators, Oscillator one has pitch, FM and width controls and can be sync’d with Oscillator two. Oscillator two, three and four have pitch, width and tune controls and oscillators three and four can also be sync’d. The available waveforms of pulse, square, triangle, sine and noise may seem limited but are capable of producing a huge range of waveforms.


This has a volume control for each oscillator, an additional noise generator and a +12dB boost to overload the filter. The visual display is an excellent addition, you can easily see the waveform and how it changes as you adjust the parameters and level of each oscillator,


Carbon Electra has a single filter. That said, it’s an excellent sounding one. It has 5 settings – low pass, high pass, band pass, band reject and vocal. There’s the usual cutoff and resonance settings, a keytrack control, bipolar filter envelope control and a saturation setting.

The filter also has a very handy display underneath the mixer so you can visualise what the filter is doing.


Carbon Electra has two envelopes, an amplifier envelope and filter modulation envelope. These have the standard controls and I really like how they are also presented visually.


There are 3 LFOs provided for modulation. Each of the LFOs have rate, delay, width and phase controls and have the same waveform shapes as the oscillators. They can sync to your DAW tempo or you can manually set the frequency. There are also trigger and mono settings and they can be used with a modwheel assignment control.

These LFO modulate different parameters and have additional controls based on what they are modulating. LFO one can be applied to individual oscillator pitch and amplitude; LFO two can modulate the FM of oscillator one, the pulse-width of oscillators two and three, LFO one amount and filter resonance; LFO three can modulate the mix setting of each individual oscillator and filter cutoff.


The effects rack contains a good range of effects which sound very good for inbuilt effects. The immediately notable absence is a reverb but I suspect the developers were thinking that most users would be using a separate reverb effect and you can of course use any separate effects if you prefer.

The layout reminds me of guitar effects rack unit and I like the linear look and feel.

Step Envelope

This sets Carbon Electra apart from many other virtual analog synths. It is an excellent addition and although you might think this is complex feature, it is incredibly easy to use.

Essentially it is up to 16 steps, auto syncs to your DAW tempo and you can set the rate from a 2nd to a 32nd T . You can control the amp (volume), filter cut-off and the pitch of oscillators two and four. There is also a note switch that enables you to change the pitch of all oscillators. The wave select box is used to select one of the many wave shapes – ramp, ramp reverse, triangle, cosine, cosine-reverse, sine, level, pulse, pulse-reverse, exp, exp-reverse, exp x2, exp x2-reverse, exp x3, exp x3-reverse, exp x4 and exp x4 reverse,

You can apply a different wave shape to each step and there’s also a very cool edit feature which allows you to change the shape of each selected wave type giving virtually unlimited possibilities, You can produce gated effects, reverse effects, shimmery / tremelo effects and switching the note mode on allows you to use the level wave like a step sequencer.

Master Controls

This section has the expected volume and tune controls but there are also a number of other controls including polyphony and unison controls for voices, tune and stereo. These are very useful controls to further define your sound.

100% Fleisch & Ritual by John Der Kreativreaktor on LowHop Records — December 14, 2017

100% Fleisch & Ritual by John Der Kreativreaktor on LowHop Records

There’s an excellent vibe to this album, it has a lo-fi hip hop feel with looping samples, solid beats and an experimental feel at times which gives a great edge. I really like the use of film quotes and the atmosphere created by bassline and background sounds.

A1 Welcome Digger
An eclectic opening song which is a great intro to the album.

A2 Holy Mountain Dew
A lo-fi hip hop groove with an experimental vibe and great changes in feel.

A3 Promise, Major Label
A quote with a groove. Short and to the point.

A4 Fuck You All
There’s a brooding quality to the song with vinyl crackle, drone, drum groove and guitar riff.

A5 Tribute to Santo_S
Another Lo fi hip hop groove, bit of an old school sampler / rave feel with great use of opening quote.

B1 Circle of Circus
Another solid groove, the bass has a dark quality.

B2 Forcefield
Dirty bassline and swirling background sounds create a great opening, an edgy sound with a great groove.

B3 My Choice
Another atmospheric groove with great use of film quotes.

B4 Church of Blood
Great opening with a film quote, an atmospheric song with a solid groove.

Review of Population album by Crown Larks on Already Dead Tapes and Records (AD249) — December 12, 2017

Review of Population album by Crown Larks on Already Dead Tapes and Records (AD249)

Crown Larks are a four piece band from Chicago comprising Lorraine Bailey – vocals, keys, alto saxophone, flute, synth bass; Jack Bouboushian – vocals, guitar, organ, microphone; Bill Miller – drum kit, percussion and Matt Puhr – bass.

Population is available as a cassette, digital download, and deluxe black vinyl from Already Dead Tapes and Records and also available as a blood red vinyl, deluxe black vinyl, cassette and CD from Crown Lark’s bandcamp page.

There’s a great vibe to this album, it has elements of indie, psych and jazz amongst others and a great jam quality at times. Not being bound by any particular genre gives Crown Larks a great free sound giving each song its own style. The vocals are excellent, ranging from laid back to more intense. The bass and drumming provide a great momentum and there’s excellent use of organ and sax / trumpet at times too.

A great jam quality to this song which is propelled by solid drumming / bass and keys. The guitar lead and vocals have an improv feel and provide a great contrast.

Circus Luvv
Another opening jam with drumming and bass providing momentum against the more uptempo keys, the song develops a laid back groove with similarly laid back vocals and some excellent feedback / scrape effects. A great improv quality again.


I really like the opening bass and drums, vocals enter to add an edge of tension. There’s a brooding quality to the song with a superb psychedelic vibe and a slow building tempo leading into two solo sections with a great release of tension to end.

TFZ Interlude
A slow Latin / bluesy / jazzy feel to the opening with keys, guitar lead, bass and drumming. The drumming changes to a more defined momentum. Vocals are excellent and the song has a laid back groove throughout.

Lithops Life
The opening has an uptempo, urgent feel from guitar riff, bass and drumming. Vocals have a great laid back quality with a kind of call and response feel against the vocals and trumpet. Great change of feel when the keys enter and the processed vocals add a great element.

Swoon (For Fred Hampton)
Keys to open the song have a reflective quality, distorted guitar effects, vocals and trumpet add a great edge. The song has experimental qualities at times.

Burn it Down
Uptempo feel to the opening from drumming, strummed riff leading into organ chords and vocals. Another great jam feel with development and variation in sound, the sax adds a great element.

“Watchful, Spellbound”
Atmospheric opening from delayed guitar and laid back vocals, there’s an ambience which slowly evolves a more uptempo sound with the introduction of percussion and feedback / distortion. The song takes on a more urgent, uptempo feel with a crescendo to a final release.

A drone type sound to open with organ riff and chords, there’s an evolving quality leading into laid back vocals which contrast really well against emerging distorted guitar which builds, releasing to a solid groove building tension to a final release.

Stranger (Unce down to the new store)
Opens with spoken vocals leading into uptempo synth bass riff and drumming and guitar lead. Vocals are excellent again, there’s a brooding quality to the song, an evolving tension to a final release.

Review of MangledVerb H9 Signature Series reverb effect by Eventide — December 11, 2017

Review of MangledVerb H9 Signature Series reverb effect by Eventide

Eventide have released MangledVerb reverb plug-in as the newest in its H9 Signature Series.

MangledVerb is available as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+ at an MSRP of $79.00 USD from Eventide dealers and its website. A fully-functional 30-day demo version is available; MangledVerb is also available as part of Eventide’s Ensemble Subscription bundle.

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

MangledVerb combines reverb and distortion, providing power to create unique spaces full of beauty or drenched in mayhem, with complete control over all the elements. Eventide has repurposed MangledVerb for anyone working ‘in the box’ by following in the footsteps of the first H9 Signature Series plug-in, UltraTap, drawing from some of the most popular and powerful algorithms from its award-winning H9 Harmonizer® Effects Processor stompbox. Similarly, MangledVerb makes a signature effect first popularized in its rack mount Eclipse Harmonizer® Effects Processor available as a namesake new plug-in.

Designed for real-time manipulation, MangledVerb features The Ribbon, an innovative control that allows anyone to program two settings for any combination of the controls to transition between them. The programmable HOTSWITCH helps push creativity further still by enabling users to instantly jump to an alternative setting at the push of a button. Other controls include PRE DELAY, reverb DECAY time and enclosure SIZE, OVERDRIVE, and pre- distortion (post-reverb) equalization, as well as a proprietary WOBBLE parameter. This combination of controls is intended to make MangledVerb as close as possible to the experience of tweaking real hardware.

In-depth Review
I was delighted when I heard about the release of MangledVerb, it follows hot on the heels of the recently released Ultratap.


The GUI has a very similar look and feel to Ultratap, so if you’ve used that effect you’ll instantly feel at home.

MangledVerb is a superb sounding reverb effect which is easy to use and get to grips with. It comes complete with over 180 presets from acclaimed artists including Christian Cassan, Richard Devine, and Vernon Reid which give an indication of what this effect can do.

It can produce a huge range of reverb effects from subtle ambience, huge ambience, large spaces, distortions, metallic sounding, subtle movement to more swirling effects. Using the ribbon to change various parameters emulates hardware and offers great flexibility and usability.

I’ve really enjoyed using MangledVerb and have created a demo album which is embedded at the top of the post. I’ve created this in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 using a variety of samplers and MangledVerb as the only effect. I’ve subsequently mastered it in MuLab 7 using Elevate and Stage.

MangledVerb has a clear, well defined interface although it isn’t resizable. The control knobs are large and allow easy adjustment of the controls to shape your sound as desired. There are 2 additional controls which give you further control over your sound. The ribbon allows you to program 2 settings for any controls and morph to any sound between the two. Hotswitch is programmable to instantly change to an alternate sound. This hardware emulation is an excellent feature that MangledVerb handles seamlessly.

The input level is on the left hand side with a meter above and the output level is on the right hand side also with a meter above.

The signal flow is essentially input -> pre-delay -> reverb -> EQ -> distortion -> out.

The controls are pretty self explanatory.

Mix is the dry/wet setting. This control has a non-linear taper which puts most of the knob travel in the most usable range.

Decay is the length of reverb decay scaled from 1 – 100. Higher values give a traditional reverb tail whereas lower values can result in reverse reverb with more build up.

Size determines the size of the reverb. Low settings (<15)enable use as a distortion effect.

Pre-delay is the amount of delay before the reverb section.

Lows / Highs are controls to boost/cut the low or high frequencies before distortion.

Softclip is a dual control with the first half of travel determining the softclip gain level from 1 – 100. When you pass 100 the distortion changes to overdrive and the second half of travel controls distortion gain from 1 -100.

Level – controls the output level of the distortion section from -18dB to +6dB. It is used to compensate for changes in level when using softclip or overdrive.

Wobble controls depth and rate of reverb modulation. Increasing the value can create some interesting detuning effects.

Freq sets the centre frequency (300Hz – 2kHz) for the mid-range EQ before the distortion section.

Mids boosts or cuts mid-range frequencies before the distortion section.

Tempo sync has 3 settings. When off, the tap button adjusts the pre-delay. You can also choose sync to sync to your host DAW tempo or manual to set times as required.

The Ribbon is an innovative feature designed to emulate hardware. You can program left and right ranges and morph between them with the ribbon which looks like an electric arc.


It’s as simple as clicking on the white dot in the arc which shows the position of the knob dial in the range of travel and dragging it to the left hand side of the ribbon. You then click the blue dot on the opposite side of the arc and drag it to where you want the right side of the ribbon to represent. You can then adjust the range of ribbon settings by moving the dots or right click to delete them.

Active turns the effect on and off.

Hotswitch allows you to adjust settings so that you can switch between effects. It’s easy to set up, long-press to enter programming mode, make the required changes and then long-press to exit programming mode. When you press the hotswitch button you toggle between the two settings.

Review of Elevate mastering limiter / maximiser plugin by Newfangled Audio / Eventide — December 7, 2017

Review of Elevate mastering limiter / maximiser plugin by Newfangled Audio / Eventide


Newfangled Audio have partnered with Eventide to produce Elevate — a pioneering plug-in that elevates mastering technology using intelligent, adaptive technology that responds in real time to music. Elevate is exclusively available through Eventide (as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+) bundled with Newfangled Audio’s EQuivocate EQ plug-in with an MSRP of $199.00 USD.

For more in-depth information, including a free demo download, please visit the dedicated product webpage ;

Watch Newfangled Audio founder Dan Gillespie’s enlightening Elevate overview video;

See and hear how producer and recording artist Matt Lange has been using Elevate here.


Elevate is the most advanced mastering plug-in ever created. This unique multi-band limiter, human ear EQ, and powerful audio maximizer will increase the loudness of a mix while maintaining or improving its dynamic perception. It uses intelligent, adaptive technology that responds in real time to music, creating not only the loudest but also the best-sounding master.

Developed by Newfangled Audio, Elevate maintains subtle dynamics and improves the tonal balance of a mix. The adaptive limiter analyzes 26 frequency bands and alters the gain, speed, and transients for each band in real time. This results in a transparent, natural sound — no matter how hard it is pushed.

Elevate utilizes 26 critical filter bands modeled on the human ear. Each of the bands are spaced to give maximum control over how sound hits the eardrum. Draw curves, solo bands, and manipulate the transient attack for each individual band to bring out instruments such as kick or snare drums.

Elevate uses artificial intelligence algorithms to make it easy to get the best sounds, but users can still get under the hood to access as much precise control as deemed necessary. This includes control over tonal balance and transients inside the final limiting stage. Adaptive algorithms reduce audible artifacts while additional controls provide maximum flexibility with professional results.

Elevate in use

As with the EQuivocate plugin, the GUI has a clean modern look and is easy to use and navigate. Incidentally, if you want to learn more about EQuivocate, you can read my review.

The top section has presets, load/save options and a drop down offering colour schemes. Underneath is an ‘active’ button which switches the effect on and off. There’s also a very handy ‘gain lock’ option, useful when switching presets so you don’t get large volume or value changes. The match level is also useful to boost the dry signal when the plugin is inactive to compare the processed and unprocessed sound with the same amount of gain.

If you’re familiar with EQuivocate, the display will look very similar with the input vu meter on the left and output vu meter on the right of the display, both showing peak and rms levels. On the output is an ‘auto’ button. This option automatically compensates for any volume changes and it is sometimes useful to switch into manual mode so you can hear the changes to your audio.

The three options at the top – input/output, gain reduction and filter bank determine what is shown in the main display. The lower part of the display contains controls for the main parameters and associated sub-modules.

Selecting ‘main parameters’ displays the filter bank, limiter, transient and spectral clipper options. The limiter can use up to 26 bands. These are based on the ‘Mel’ scale which are the critical hearing bands. The gain control lets you set the amount of gain and the speed control acts as a sort of combined attack/release control. These both have adaptive options which means the limiter will act on each individual band. The value for adaptive gain determines how far (in dB) bands can differ from each other. The value for adaptive speed will adapt the setting for each filter band individually reducing artifacts. The ceiling control is the maximum output.

For more control over how the limiter works, there are filter bank, limiter/EQ and transient sub modules. The number of bands chosen for the limiter will determine the number of EQ bands in the filter bank sub-module. When you choose the number of bands, Elevate automatically places them on the Mel scale between the minimum and maximum values. Although they are fixed in terms of frequency, you have a lot of flexibility because you can skew the weighting of the centre frequency, solo individual bands and add or remove bands. Any changes you make triggers the custom mode and if you change the number of bands the limiter setting will be automatically updated.

The limiter/EQ sub-module allows you to adjust the gain for each frequency band and see the relative gain reduction being applied. You can adjust individual bands or draw EQ curves. This will be familiar if you’ve used the EQuivocate EQ plugin.

The transient emphasis can be adjusted from 0% to 100% and the adaptive control enables the transient shaper to work on each individual band. Clicking on the transient sub-module enables greater manual control over each band.

The spectral clipper is designed to clip the fast transients which pass through the transient emphasis section but also allows you to add up to 12dB of distortion based gain. Elevate applies this according to the shape curve shown on the clipper sub-module.

Elevate comes with 55 presets to get you started. Some of these are excellent in their own right but are more useful as a starting point to tweak to your own requirements or you can start from scratch.

Elevate is a fantastic plugin, it has an extremely impressive sound and despite the internal complexities is easy to get to grips with. When I started using Elevate I wasn’t sure if it would suit my ambient / downtempo style of music because some of the presets produced a very loud resulting sound. This just highlights why you can’t rely on presets, spending a little time to get to grips with Elevate, I quickly found a more suitable preset that I tweaked to meet my requirements. I have used Elevate to master my latest two albums, 259e and veirteiliger satz. I’m very impressed with the results, I can see that I will be using Elevate on a lot of future albums and songs.

Review of EQuivocate auditory graphic EQ by Newfangled Audio / Eventide —

Review of EQuivocate auditory graphic EQ by Newfangled Audio / Eventide


Newfangled Audio have partnered with Eventide to produce an EQ based on the critical bands of the human ear. EQuivocate is exclusively available through Eventide (as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+) for an MSRP of $99.00 USD. It is also available as part of the Elevate mastering bundle (it is integrated into the Elevate mastering limiter and maximiser plugin) for $199 USD.

Visit the EQuivocate webpage for more information.


EQuivocate is the ideal EQ for naturally changing the tone of any sound, so it is perfect for mixing and mastering applications. As EQuivocate uses filters that are modelled on the human ear, each of its 26 bands tickles a different part of the inner ear, making any combination of settings sound as natural as ‘humanly’ possible. Combining this with a linear-phase filter shape that reduces pre-echo makes EQuivocate an EQ with a difference that can clearly be heard.

Use EQuivocate’s Match EQ feature to make the sound of your track match or complement the audio signal streamed to its sidechain. You can also use it to make a final master match the tone of a reference track, or help fit a sound into a dense mix. Unlike other match EQ plug-ins, EQuivocate provides a transparent match without trying to model imperceptible differences which can cause a match EQ to sound unnatural. Feed your favorite song or individual track into it and instantly morph your tone to match.

EQuivocate in use

The GUI has a clean modern look and is easy to use and navigate.

The top section has presets, load/save options and a drop down offering 3 different colour schemes. Underneath is an ‘active’ button which switches the effect on and off.

The input vu meter is on the left and output vu meter on the right of the display, both showing peak and rms levels. On the output is an ‘auto’ button. This option automatically compensates for any volume changes caused by any boosts or cuts to eq meaning no changes to volume level.

The main part of the display highlights how this plugin works differently to many other EQs because it is based on the ‘Mel’ scale which are preset values based on the critical bands of human hearing. Although they are fixed in terms of frequency, you have a lot of flexibility because you can skew the weighting of the centre frequency, use any number from 1 up to 26 bands and solo individual bands. Any changes you make triggers the custom mode which enables you to add and remove bands and draw EQ curves. The display shows the chosen number of bands at the bottom with EQ cuts and boosts above. You can select to show input and/or output monitoring for a visual representation of the changes you have made.

The match EQ is a cool feature, you load an audio file into the side chain and EQuivocate listens to the source and matches levels. There’s a scaling option which also features negative values that allow you to invert an EQ profile.

EQuivocate comes with 69 presets to get you started. These are excellent in their own right and can of course be tweaked to meet your requirements or you can start from scratch. I’m really impressed by how easy and flexible EQuivocate is to use. It handles mixing tasks such as taming low end, adding guitar presence, adding a bass presence or more extreme filtering; equally it can handle mastering tasks such as tightening and brightening. I really like how you can use EQuivocate quite subtly on individual tracks which adds up to a big change to the overall sound or use it for specific filtering effects such as producing a lo-fi sound.

EQuivocate compliments Elevate really well. Both plugins have been developed with the same principles of operation. EQuivocate can easily handle your EQ tasks and Elevate will definitely improve the quality of you finished song / mix. If you want to learn more about Elevate you can read my review.