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Xvive V1 Classic Rock

Written by Site Update on November 23rd, 2014

Read more about Xvive V1 Classic Rock at MusicRadar.com


This US-designed, Chinese-built stomper from Xvive isn’t quite what you’d expect – while you probably associate classic rock with bucketloads of mids, the CR scoops them out.

“There’s a smooth distorted tone at mid-gain settings, up to huge, sustaining solos at higher levels”

Nevertheless, it delivers a smooth distorted tone at mid-gain settings, up to huge, sustaining solos at higher levels.

For us, it sounded better with bridge-humbucker beef than single-coil spank, but either way, you’ll need to keep the tone control low: it adjusts only the extreme highs in the signal, so gets abrasive very quickly.

Read more about Xvive V1 Classic Rock at MusicRadar.com







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Rhythmic Robot releases Crank for Kontakt – Hybrid Electro-acoustic Synth

Written by Site Update on November 23rd, 2014

Rhythmic Robot Audio has released Crank, a hybrid synthesiser for Kontakt melding acoustic and electronic sources in a 4-oscillator architecture. Crank takes over six hundred samples of an Eastern [Read More]
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Smooth your sound with Brainworx Refinement

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

Refinement is essentially a mastering tool for smoothing over any harshness in mixes, by adding tube like saturation and EQ to soften any frequencies that are particularly standing out and painful to the ears! And of course, being a Brainworx plug, it has mid/side capabilities. If you’re not sure about mid/side techniques – this article is great for starters:

The GUI is the usual Brainworx sexy black affair – although this time there is a flickering image of a tube filament in the middle, which lets you know with it’s flickering whenever it’s in action.

Damping

A large knob on the left hand side of the GUI is in charge of damping those pesky frequencies. It seems that the frequencies in question are in the upper mids, and the damping knob is essentially a fixed frequency EQ, centered around the areas that tend to cause the harsh sound. How they decided where to center that comes down to the years and years of combined experience, but it sounds like the 2-4 Khz. There are two character types of filtering – soft and hard, or second order and fourth order, which I think might be like the shape of the EQ bell (kind of like the difference between a 6DB filter and 24DB filter). Either way, it affects the way the damping interacts with the source material, and gives you a couple of options. There is a handy solo button just below it, which gives you the exact audio information that you’re filtering out, when pressed.

The damping can be offset by saturation and presence. They’re not really character-type effects, but more just adding smooth highs, and analog type warmth to offset any dullness caused by the damping. They are both excellent sounding, and really bring life to the mix

The damping can also be modulated, with a dynamic range section that limits the damping to peak levels, with options to control the amount of damping, and the speed at which the dynamic reduction kicks in.

As is essential with Brainworx plugs, there is a Mid/Side button, which enables you to choose whether to affect the sound just in the Mid channel, or to use it on both. For the refinement process it seems that the majority of the time, you’re going to want to remove those harsh frequencies across the stereo space.

There’s also a mix knob, which gives you more control over how much you want Refinement to affect the entire mix.

Oscillator

This is the one section of the plugin that I couldn’t really understand the point of – it has a “what else can we add to this plugin” feel to it. It is possible to use it as a subtle creative effect, like a tremolo vibe. However, for use as a side-chain pumping type effect, I would want more control over how it pumps, to get it flowing better rhythmically. It seems that it’s only a sine wave shape that’s available for the oscillation, which compared to other ‘side chain’ style lfo plugins just doesn’t cut it. There needs to be more options.

The Sound

I found refinement to be a useful tool. I found that it worked best on Drum Buss, Synth Buss and 2 Buss. It does what it says on the tin, gently dulling down the digital edginess of some audio, while at the same time lifting the air and life back out of the sound with the saturation and presence knobs. It’s definitely a subtle operator, and the ‘less is more’ adage works best with this effect.

here’s a great video demoing the plugin:

Conclusion

There is no doubt that refinement is excellent at what it’s designed for. I think it’s most useful at the mastering end of the chain, and can subtly but powerfully change the mix for the better. It strikes me as a sort of ‘Waves One Knob’-esque sort of plugin. I think it would be possible do everything that Refinement does, with a lot more in-depth control, with 5 separate plugins. Refinement shines because it’s all there in one plugin. If you have an irritating harshness to a mix or a track, it could really save a lot of time over opening an EQ, then a saturation, then an exciter, then a compressor, etc. I would heartily recommend this plugin as a massive time-saver over being anything groundbreaking and fresh.

Refinement shines because it’s all there in one plugin

Price
$ 199

Product page

PROS

  • Few tweaks really can smooth the sound
  • Simple and quick workflow

LOVE IT OR HATE IT

  • This is quite a specific plugin. Unless you’re looking for something that can quickly smooth out harsh sounds in tracks, you’re unlikely to really need it. Having said that, there’s nothing else quite like it out there

CONS

  • Not much depth to parameter control

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Kramer Baretta Vintage

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

Read more about Kramer Baretta Vintage at MusicRadar.com


Those of you under 30 probably won’t remember Kramer in its heyday. If you grew up in the mid-80s, however, their guitars were the stuff of dreams for anyone listening to Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and the like.

This reviewer recalls regularly visiting his local music shop just to drool over the Kramer Nightswan they had on display in a glass cabinet. Unfortunately, you had to look as if you owned £2,000 before the shop would even contemplate taking it out of its see-through home.

“Glam rock has seen a resurgence of late, so creeping out of the closet of yesteryear we have this Kramer Baretta”

Kramer’s emergence in the market was influenced by its first major endorsee, a Mr Edward Van Halen, whose work developing his signature model apparently resulted in the creation of the Baretta.

By the early-90s, however, pointy rock guitars became the scourge of rock music. A pair of elephantine balls was required for you to even consider playing a solo back then, and flashy guitars like Kramer’s were soon consigned to history.

However, thanks to the likes of Steel Panther, glam rock has seen a resurgence of late, so creeping out of the closet of yesteryear we have this Kramer Baretta, at a reasonable £519.

The Baretta doesn’t feel particularly light (no doubt thanks to its maple body), but strapped on, it feels comfortable.

The neck is a very rounded C shape and not the wafer-thin profile sometimes associated with shred guitars, and the fairly flat 356mm (14-inch) radius permits the hugest of bends without fear of fretting out.

But while the stark look of a one-pickup guitar doesn’t inspire much hope of sonic versatility, the least you would expect is a great rock tone – and this doesn’t disappoint.

The maple body, in conjunction with the mid-rich Seymour Duncan JB, delivers a scything tone that would cut through any mix. Often, we’d reach for the tone control to tame the highs, only to remember there isn’t one!

Tone adjustments must be made using your amp, although the sonic palette can be broadened by rolling off the volume or simply altering where you pick the strings.

And by activating the coil-tap, you also have some very usable single coil-type tones – although again, you may find yourself reaching for that missing tone knob.

There is a lot of competition for rock guitars at this price point, and a number of other shred-friendly brands have emerged while Kramer lay dormant.

In comparison to those, the vintage-correct features on the Kramer, such as the 80s-style Floyd Rose, may look ancient (note: these early Floyd Rose units are still very much admired – check out Vai and Satriani’s live guitars for confirmation), but they’re still as relevant in today’s guitar climate as they ever were.

Read more about Kramer Baretta Vintage at MusicRadar.com







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Kaivo review: modular granular resonation

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

Kaivo1.1
We reviewed the brilliant Aalto by Madrona labs a couple years ago.

Their latest synth offering Kaivo blends the two fairly unusual synthesis techniques of physical modeling and granular synthesis together, and plops them in the semi modular structure that Aalto fans will be familiar with. This places the synth squarely in the no-competitors realm: I can’t think of a synth that combines these synthesis techniques into one package. Izotope’s Iris, and Camel Audio’s Alchemy come fairly close, perhaps.

If you’ve ever experienced Aalto, you’ll recognise the layout of Kaivo immediately. Semi modular fun with all those colorful patch chords. Kaivo has a vector based UI – so you can resize the interface to whatever fits your screen. It’s quite a busy interface, so the larger you can get it, the better!

The three modules along the bottom of the window are the main sound creating modules.

Granulating

The granulator module acts as the ‘oscillator’, or agitator of the sound being created. Granulation is the manipulation of samples into varying amounts of frequencies that can be time stretched and compressed. In the case of Kaivo, the granulator is a sample table, of up to 4 samples, (there are preset samples, but with update 1.1 it is now possible to load your own) that are most usefully accessed via the ‘2D lfo’. The XY placing of the LFO will affect where the loaded sounds are sampled, depending on how you cable it. It’s not just a regular LFO either – there are 7 shapes or waves available to modulate the samples. Of course, there are other ways to access the sample table, via the other modulation options: more of which later.

Resonating

The next two modules, the resonator and the body, are the two physical modeling elements of Kaivo. The resonator is modeling the various physical elements of an instrument that vibrate, and begin the sound – strings, bells, and springs. You can add as little or as much of the resonant qualities of these models as you’d like using the wet control.

The BODY module is the resonating space that contains the sound. An organic reverb of sorts. As of this review, there are 4 resonant models – two boxes, a metal plate and a drum. Again, the amount can be added to the sound with the use of the wet knob.

Subtle uses of these two resonant modules can really give lovely organic harmonic overtones to whatever sound you run through it. There are options to raise and lower the tone and brightness of the resonances, alter the sustain and pan also. I would love to see these two modules further developed in terms of available models. I think more are promised for free in future updates.

Modulating

Kaivo would be an interesting synth if you left it there, but of course there are the modulation options along the top third of the synth that give you infinitely more sound mangling routes. The modules along the bottom all have parameters that are linkable to the modulation modules via a virtual patch cabling window that occupies the middle third of the GUI. It’s very intuitive, so I won’t explain the system in much detail: Drag your cable from the modulation source to the parameter you wish to modulate. decide how much modulation you wish to provide by altering the level knob that is present alongside most of the patch points. Listen to crazy sounds. The modulation options are extremely similar to Aalto: A 16 step sequencer per voice, the aforementioned 2d LFO with 7 different ‘waveforms’, a noise module, and 2 envelopes. I wish that the filter module of Aalto was in Kaivo, but I guess there’s a limited amount of space. You can change the brightness of the resonant models, and there is an EQ tilt knob, but there were times when I was just wanting for something to knock a band of frequencies down a bit. There is a speaker-saving limiter for when certain frequencies get resonated to screeching levels. USE the limiter when experimenting!

Here’s a demo of pad sounds – the types of sounds I had the most fun creating in Kaivo!

Conclusion
Kaivo is by far the most CPU intensive synth I own. U-he’s Diva previously held that title, but has been swept off it’s feet by this hungry monster. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my old Mac Pro needs replacing – this synth being the latest in a list that the old beast just can’t really cope with. Many of the presets had the CPU monitor driven past 100% on the press of one note. On my brand new Macbook air it fared a lot better, but was still power hungry. However, don’t let that put you off. As with all modular type synths – this warrants time tinkering with. If you put in the time, delight will be guaranteed with the sounds you get out of it. The presets are ok – but from the time I spent delving deep into the modulation options, and playing with the samples I loaded up, I was richly rewarded with unusual, lovely organic and harmonically rich sounds. I imagine if you had this synced up to the creators beautiful hardware creation – Soundplane, or similar instrument, you could really get the most out of Kaivo.

Price
$ 129

…This places the synth squarely in the no-competitors realm: I can’t think of a synth that combines these synthesis techniques into one package…

Product page

PROS

  • Beautiful and unusual sounds and timbres
  • Modular fun!

LOVE IT OR HATE IT

  • If you’re looking for something to create classic synth leads, pads etc, this is not the synth that you’re going to want. However, if you’re a bit of a synth aficionado, soft or hard, this synth stands proudly in a corner almost by itself. It’s unusual yet beautiful, and makes some really distinct and deep sounds.

CONS

    • Fairly tricky to learn well
    • Wow where’s my CPU gone?

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Alchemy libraries pt.3 – More sound delights

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

We have covered Camel Audio Alchemy and its sound libraries a few times in the past (see pt.1 and pt.2 ). This time we are focusing on Iceland, Water and Dream Voices. Each library features 150 presets (and 1200 variations), and if you haven’t got the full version of Alchemy, each sound-pack comes with the Alchemy Player, included for free.
If you are familiar with Alchemy’s libraries, you’ll know that when trying a new one you’re in for a treat – and these three products are no exception. As usual, while they all share a great attention to details and a certain ‘soundscape attitude’, each of them boasts its own personality.

Among the ones I’ve tested this time, Iceland was probably my favorite. Created by Biomechanoid and Deru, it offers 550MB of exclusive sample content recorded around Iceland, including streams, glaciers, caves and an Icelandic girls’ choir. As often happens with Alchemy’s libraries, synths, soundscapes and pads are the main content. The demo provided on Camel Audio’s product page is quite extensive and can give you an idea of the quality and variety of the presets. What I’ve really appreciated is the organic quality of the sound-design and at the same time the fact that they seem to be working well in a mix, unlike what often happens with very rich-sounding sound libraries. There’s definitely a certain ‘nordic vibe’ in these sounds, and thanks to the 8 remix pads possibilities are, as usual with Camel Audio libraries, almost endless. Browsing Iceland presets, it’s easy to go from very beautifully soothing sounds to spooky ones and everything in between.
It’s not just about soundscapes though. Simpler sounds like percussions, bass and keys are included as well, making Iceland a complete library. Definitely recommended, and not just for sound-design purposes.

Dream Voices is probably the most creative product of this trio. Featuring nearly 1.3GB of vocal samples, it shows off the individual character and style of four solo female vocalists (Anna-Lynne Williams, Anneke Kampman, Chantal Acda and Elly May Irving). The samples have been carefully treated by a large group of sound designers (biomechanoid, Martin Walker, Nick Moritz, Ian Boddy, Patchen, Simon Stockhausen, Ole Jeppesen, Andre Ettema, Christian Kjeldsen, Corin Neff, Tasmodia, Himalaya), and while in general I tend to lean towards libraries created by a smaller number of sound designers, Dream Voices is definitely a well focused and solid product.
Needless to say, the human voice is the queen of the show here, but in many cases that’s just a starting point for the creativity of the designers; expect granular-spectral treatments brought to the extreme, making the original samples often completely unrecognisable.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m a sucker for female voices, choirs and such things. If you’re like me (and/or you’re into heavily processed samples), Dream Voices is definitely a worthwhile addition to your Alchemy library.

Water is – not surprisingly – a water-themed library that collects the work of sound designers like Nick Moritz, biomechanoid, patchen preston, Ian Boddy, Chris Sciurba, Himalaya, Martin Walker, bManic, Luftrum, Corin Neff, Bryan Lee and Ole Jeppesen. Approx. 500 Mb of samples, for a wide range of presets that (like in Iceland) cover mostly soundscapes, pads, fx and synths, but offer also percussive elements, bass and harps (including also a Waterphone clone). A pristine recording and a truly creative manipulation of the samples makes this library a must for those musicians and sound-designers looking for a water-inspired sound experience (and not willing to risk their precious microphones under or near the water!).

Personally, (and this is a very subjective thing) while I appreciate the quality behind Water, I find it slightly less appealing than the other two libraries mentioned above. It could be due to the fact that one of my first keyboards was a Korg M1, and after awhile I couldn’t stand that first preset anymore (Universe, with its water-like tail, remember?), who knows?
Again, listen to the demos or check out the helpful YouTube video. I’m sure you’ll be able to tell if this library is your cup of tea or not.

Last but not least, if you have an iPad and you are still wondering (like I was) what the best controller for Alchemy is, I would recommend getting the free Alchemy app and buying the Pro Upgrade ($ 14.99/€13.99). While the free app is a little gem of its own, the Pro Upgrade enables some must-have features like (among many) the possibility to download a mobile version of any desktop Sound Libraries you own for free, and most importantly, allows your iPad to become a remote, wireless controller for the desktop version of Alchemy (be it the plug-in or the Alchemy Player), with all the advantages of having a touch screen to control those remix pads and other parameters. Absolutely recommended!

Conclusion
Another wunder-trio from Camel Audio, for those looking to expand Alchemy’s palette. Couple them with the iPad app for a more dynamic performance, and you’re in sound-design heaven!

Price
$ 59/€49/£39 each

Product page

PROS

  • Creative and varied, perfect to spice up your sound-design options
  • Almost endless possibilities, thanks to the sound controls

LOVE IT OR HATE IT

  • Oh well, you may get lost in sound

CONS

  • None, really

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Arturia iProphet

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

Read more about Arturia iProphet at MusicRadar.com


Arturia’s third iPad synth is an emulation of Sequential Circuits’ 80s classic, the Prophet VS.

The first synthesiser to employ vector synthesis, the VS featured a joystick for mixing between its four wavetable oscillators – a core architectural element that’s fully replicated on iProphet, along with an ‘Envelope Mixer’ for automating its movement.

The 95 waveforms available to each oscillator constitute a great range of base textures from which to construct the sorts of edgy, elaborate pads, leads and bass sounds that made the original so sought-after, while the multimode filter brings a touch of analogue refinement to an otherwise decidedly digital vocabulary.

“An intuitive pin-style modulation matrix makes assigning mod sources and destinations easy”

Handily, the filter and amp envelopes can be expanded to an interactive graphical view, and each of the synth’s eight voices can be panned independently.

An intuitive pin-style modulation matrix makes assigning mod sources and destinations easy, the former comprising the aforementioned envelopes, two LFOs, velocity and mod wheel, and the iPad accelerometer (X and Y axes), and the latter including all four oscillator frequencies, and oscillator A/C and B/D mix.

Of course, Core MIDI, IAA and Audiobus are all supported, as is Tabletop (developed by Retronyms, who also had a hand in iProphet itself), making iProphet as versatile and controllable as an iOS synth can currently be. It can also exchange patches with Arturia’s Prophet V on Mac or PC.

We have a few criticisms, though: the joystick would be better placed on the edge of the Main GUI, where it could be more easily reached with the thumb when used handheld rather than on a table; and we’d love to be able to modulate the waveform selection for each oscillator, and adjust mod depths per assignment rather than per source.

Other than that, this is a brilliant virtualisation of a timeless synth at a silly price.

Read more about Arturia iProphet at MusicRadar.com







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feelyoursound.com updates “Sundog Scale Studio” MIDI composition software to 1.4.0

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

feelyoursound.com has updated the MIDI composition software Sundog Scale Studio to version 1.4.0. New in version 1.4.0: Work as MIDI Clock slave. Sequencer: Up to 24 notes up or down instead [Read More]
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112dB updates Effect Plug-ins -Adds AAX support

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

112dB has updated Redline Reverb, Redline Monitor, Redline Equalizer, Redline Preamp, Big Blue Limiter & Big Blue Compressor. These updates include AAX support and several stability fixes. [Read More]
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Audiority releases The Abuser – Distortion Plugin

Written by Site Update on November 22nd, 2014

Audiority has released The Abuser, an aggressive distortion effect designed to provide a unique sound to guitars, bass, synthesizers, drums and more. System Requirements PC: Windows XP SP2 or [Read More]
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