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Acustica Audio releases Nebula 3.7

Written by Site Update on April 19th, 2014

Acustica Audio has announced that Nebula 3.7 is now available. Changes: Optimized global loading time. Optimized preset loading time. Minimized audio dropouts during preset loading and bypass processi [Read More]
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Auganizer updated to v1.1

Written by Site Update on April 19th, 2014

A major update for Auganizer has been released, bringing it to version 1.1. It adds numerous new features and addresses all known issues. The Auganizer team said “This release is all about adding comp [Read More]
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Drumdrops releases “Mapex Heavy Rock Kit” – Kontakt 5 pack, Multi-Velocity Pack, Single Hits Pack, Drum Replacement Pack and All Samples Pack

Written by Site Update on April 19th, 2014

Drumdrops has released the Mapex Heavy Rock Kit. Available to buy as five separate packs, this kit is based on the Mapex Saturn Kit which is a favourite for many rock drummers. This is a great soundin [Read More]
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Planet-H releases G-Stomper Rhythm, a new free Drum Machine/Groovebox for Android

Written by Site Update on April 19th, 2014

Planet-H has just released G-Stomper Rhythm, a new free beat making app for Android. G-Stomper Rhythm, the little brother of G-Stomper Studio, is a versatile Tool for Musicians and Beat Producers, d [Read More]
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Bremmers Audio Design updates MultitrackStudio for iPad to v1.3 – Supports Audiobus

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

Bremmers Audio Design has updated MultitrackStudio for iPad to v1.3. The update adds Audiobus support. MultitrackStudio acts as output in the Audiobus app, so other apps can be recorded using Audiobus [Read More]
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BLUE II – a classic re-booted

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

Rob Papen is something of a legend in the sound design world. His softsynths have become a stable source of inspiration for artists worldwide, including Armin Van Burren, Junkie XL, Teddy Riley, and film and VG composers Jeff Rona, and Rod Abernathy, amongst many many others.

Blue II is a long-awaited re-boot to the champion Blue synthesizer, and takes the solid foundations created and loved by many, and adds some excellent new parameters and well-thought through elements.

Blue is based on a foundation of 6 oscillators, with a massive amount of wave choice, from analogue emulation, additive, spectral, percussive, vocal and instrumental wave samples. Each oscillator also has feedback, pwm, symmetry, spread, drift and velocity parameters to further shape. If this isn’t enough, there is a Phase distortion and waveshaping module that enables you to draw in a wave by hand that by some mysterious algorithm affects the shape of the original waveform. This is definitely more art than science on the surface here, and depending on the shapes you draw, you get some warm husky overtone harmonics to disgusting nasty distortion.

There are 2 analogue modelled filters, set out in a variety of frequency passes, from 6 to 36DB, and comb and formant filtering. Then there’s an effects unit – with a ridiculous amount of effect types. Take a breath… delay, comb, reverb, chorus, ensemble, flanger, phaser, ringmod, distortion, lo-fi, waveshaper, amp-sim, autoPan, tremolo, stereo-widener, gator, compressor, noise-gate, fx filter, EQ, bass enhancer, Wah/delay, and auto wah.

For me, one of the strengths of this synth is in the complex routing options available. For starters, you can send any of the 6 oscillators either direct to audio, or send them through a variety of destinations, either through filter or effects, or combinations. Beyond that, the options grow further and deeper

The bottom of the synth GUI is where it gets really interesting. The window contains a variety of modulation options, that enable you to throw the synth sonics into complete chaos. There’s a modulation matrix with 32 modulation options, that enable you to use the oscillators as audio, or to modulate the other oscillators directly. If you want to go deeper, you can send a precise percentage of each oscillator to different directions, with a matrix display. There are 14 LFO’s, 4 multipoint envelopes, and 3 mod sequencers, that have plenty of destination options within the matrix, to allow for some pretty complex evolving textures.

XY Madness

The XY effect window is taken from previous Papen releases, such as Blade. It’s absolutely phenomenal. You can control up to 16 separate elements of the entire synth, by assigning them to control points around the XY window. depending on where the blue dot is in the XY window is how much modulation is occurring from each source. One excellent feature of the XY pad is that you can record your movements, and thereafter, every time you play a note, the movement of the blue dot is repeated along the same lines. The recorded path can be saved as part of the preset, so you don’t have to re-record it each time.

Cherries

On top of all this, there’s a step sequencer, an arpeggiator, all of which go far beyond the basics, but contain too much information to discuss here. If you want to watch and listen to some of the lovely elements of Blue II, discussed by the creator himself, you wanna check out his video tutorial. You should definitely take a listen to the incredible sounds Blue II can create.

Library time

Wow. We’re talking a preset library of somewhere between 3500 and 4000 presets. I spent a good hour playing my way through them, and I honestly didn’t find a filler preset – they’re deep, and tend to utilize the performance modulation options really well. The sounds are based on some lovely waveforms, and the richness and quality of sounds are all high quality. There are 35 banks of presets running up to 128 presets per bank, divided into instruments, and genres. So with not much effort you’re finding the general area of sound that you’re looking for. There’s a button at the top of the GUI that opens up the full bank across the whole window, and you can quickly scroll across using keyboard arrows, page up and down for preset banks. In my opinion the presets are bread and butter sounds for a wide variety of electronic genres, but also there’s a lot of scope there for composers. The built in effects are used well throughout. I particularly liked the tape delay and flange, and the stereo widening effects. They added a lovely richness to many of the sounds, removing some of the sterile digital sound that can be pervasive in some synths. All the while, I couldn’t find much that caused a jump in CPU – and it seemed very friendly by all accounts.

Conclusion

It’s a big challenge to create a synth that balances the strengths of sounding fantastic, providing a lot of room for creativity, yet having intuitive layout and instant accessibility, all in a compact package that doesn’t drain your CPU. I would say that there isn’t a synth out there that has this balance as well as BLUE II. Other synths have immense strengths in a particular area or two, yet crumble slightly in others. I couldn’t really fault Blue II. It’s a workhorse, that covers a lot of genre real-estate. The only gripes I could find (and they’re mild) is that I didn’t find it very pretty to look at. There are much better looking softwares out there in my opinion. The other is that it doesn’t have much in the way of trad analogue synth emulation in the preset bank, other than some 70′s sounding keyboard sounds. Like I said, fairly minor gripes. While not actually modular, the routing options are nevertheless plentiful and you could easily waste hours and hours tweaking and fiddling! The combination of oscillators, complex routing options, strong arpeggiator and step sequencer make this a must-have for electronic musicians, while the other elements such as multi point envelopes and absolutely massive preset bank make this extremely useful for composers needing quick access to a large bank of sounds, yet with great modulation options. Highly recommended!

Price
$ 179, or upgrade from original for only $ 49

Product page

PROS

  • The presets are unbelievably useful – not much filler there.
  • Jam packed with useful features.
  • Very flexible, and very easy to find your way around.

Buy or walk on by

  • If you’re looking for a synth that’s intuitive yet very flexible, contains a supply of excellent presets that you’ll probably never get through, yet having a lot of depth to create even more; I reckon this could become the workhorse of your synth stable. The only reason to walk on by is if you’re dead broke.

CONS

  • The only thing I could think of was that I don’t really like the GUI. There’s a lot prettier stuff out there. Obviously that doesn’t matter sonically!
  • by Andy Dollerson

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IK releases AmpliTube Orange for iOS

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

IK Multimedia has announced that AmpliTube Orange for iPad and for iPhone/iPhone Touch is now available in the iTunes App Store. Officially licensed and developed in close partnership with Orange Am [Read More]
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Yamaha CP4 Stage Piano

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

Read more about Yamaha CP4 Stage Piano at MusicRadar.com


The last Yamaha Stage Piano this writer reviewed was their flagship CP1 back in 2010 and though it had great pianos and EPs onboard, it lacked in a few key areas. It was expensive (almost £4,000) it had no pedal on/off resonance, only two-part multi-timbrality and it was damn heavy too!

Happily, Yamaha has addressed most of these shortcomings with the new CP4, though there’s still no pedal on/off resonance as on the Nord Piano 2. Thankfully, the price is much lower (£1,700 street) and there are now three parts available for each sound (Main, Layer and Split).

Also, the weight is now a manageable 38lbs which makes it liftable for one person when uncased, compared to the CP1 which weighed in at a hefty 60lbs uncased.

A touch of class

The CP4 follows the understated styling of the CP1 and it looks classy/functional with a nod to electric pianos of yesterday. Build quality is sturdy but as the CP4 is slimmer than the CP1 you can’t stand anything else on top (except an iPad!), so you’ll need a dual-tier stand if you want to use a second board.

“Action-wise the CP4′s keybed is amongst the best we’ve played on a stage piano”

Action-wise the CP4′s keybed is amongst the best we’ve played on a stage piano. The wooden keys (white keys only) feel better than any plastic-keyed equivalent and the action begs to be played. It’s nicely balanced and fast to play accurately, with just the right amount of weight to give you the control needed for bringing out the nuances in acoustic and electric piano sounds.

In use the CP4 is simple enough to navigate and the blue backlit display conveys parameters and functions smartly. The CP1 was slightly faster to work with due to its under-screen rotaries but it’s easy enough using the CP4′s cursors and jog wheel instead.

There’s also a pitch wheel and assignable mod wheel that can be assigned to various key effect parameters and sound modifying functions including pitch mod for the synth, rotary speaker speed, depth/ speed of auto-panning and more.

Selecting sounds is done by hitting the desired instrument category button and then scrolling through the voices within each category. Setting up and balancing splits, layers and effects is easy with the three ‘part’ sliders, and multi-sound set-ups can be saved as Performances (128 user slots) which include filter/envelope settings plus MIDI zones (up to four) and you can MIDI-up a second board to control any layer within a Performance. To layer a sound, press two category select buttons together, then dial in the sounds onscreen. To set up a split, press Split and dial in the sound. Easy!

Quality sounds

“The new CFX pianos are inspiring to play solo or as part of an ensemble”

Sound-wise the CP4 is impressive. The new CFX pianos are inspiring to play solo or as part of an ensemble, the CF pianos from the CP1 still sound great and the S6 samples, though thinner sounding, add another distinctive flavour. There are stereo and mono varieties too and all the samples sound great dry.

The modelled EP sounds onboard (reed and tine) are also very authentic and each model comes with its own corresponding modelled preamp, plus you can also tweak the strike position of the virtual tines/reeds!

There are plenty of other ways to tweak the sounds too, including using the high-quality five-band EQ, or the many great sounding effects onboard. Each Voice has two insert-effect parts, a chorus block, reverb block and master compressor/EQ too.

Highlights include some lush reverbs, deep choruses, smooth auto-panning, some great vintage style compressors and nice crunchy/warm tube amp simulators. There’s also a wide range of versatile Motif-derived sounds available including strings, organs, synth pads, clavs, leads, basses, percussion, brass and more.

With around 433 sounds onboard, there’s everything you’ll need for most playing scenarios and the quality is high throughout. The only real downside is you can’t load your own samples like the Nord Piano 2. Highly recommended.

Read more about Yamaha CP4 Stage Piano at MusicRadar.com







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Red Witch Synthotron

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

Read more about Red Witch Synthotron at MusicRadar.com


The Synthotron from New Zealand firm Red Witch has two different functions that can be used independently or together, each with its own footswitch.

“The envelope filter is really cool for auto-wah and Mu-Tron-esque stuff”

The first is a twin-voice analogue synth, and the second an envelope filter that’s really cool for auto-wah and Mu-Tron-esque stuff, but can also function as a sample-and-hold generator.

The synth (oscillator triggered by signal to voltage conversion) offers two channels, each with level, decay and a choice of octaves (unison, or one octave up and one or two octaves down).

It’s monophonic, and tracks best further up the neck (anything below the 9th fret can be glitchy): it’s probably best used mixed with some dry sound for solidity. You can also apply tremolo with variable speed. Synth and filter together is a recipe for sonic madness.

Not everyone wants analogue synth sounds from their guitar, but the Synthotron offers it in a small footprint with bonus funky-filter action.

Read more about Red Witch Synthotron at MusicRadar.com







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AER Domino 2.A

Written by Site Update on April 18th, 2014

Read more about AER Domino 2.A at MusicRadar.com


Germany’s AER takes a highly technological approach to design and manufacturing, albeit fired by a core belief that the ultimate goal is to make tools for musicians to just get on with playing. One of its most popular models, the Domino, has been recently updated, so let’s take a look at the revamped amp…

Build

The Domino 2.A houses two eight-inch, twin-cone speakers running off two parallel DMOS, monolithic IC power amplifiers for a total of 100 watts. It also features a separate neodymium tweeter.

So far so good, but as ever with wattage and guitar amps, the numbers rarely give any meaningful indication of volume. What’s interesting in AER’s case, proven over many versions of its amps, is that its dynamic power amp control, using a complex system of filters and limiting, puts those watts over in an incredibly efficient manner, sounding super clean and clear all the way: the Domino 2.A will fill far bigger stages than its size suggests, or act as complete guitar-and-vocals sound reinforcement for pub shows.

Underneath the very modern looking, tough black acrylic coating, the cabinet is actually birch ply, not particleboard. While being a better choice for sound in AER’s opinion, it also helps keep the weight of the amp down; just under 13kg.

Another big plus in any one-box amplification solution are in-built effects. Thus the Domino 2.A has 16 effects on offer; a wide selection of reverbs, delays and choruses, each channel with its own level control so you can have more or less effect (or indeed none) in each separate channel.

Shall We Plug In?

“The Domino 2.A has four channels. So, two mics and two guitars for a duo? Yes you can”

The Domino 2.A is pretty straightforward in terms of what to plug in where – guitar in channel one for the most part, mic into channel two. The repeats this almost exactly, with channels three and four to do the same again… albeit with shared EQ. So, two mics and two guitars for a duo? Yes you can, albeit with some tonal compromise in channels three and four.

Every input has a corresponding gain control to set your ideal input levels and the various bass, treble and mid pots do exactly what you’d expect. Less obvious is the ‘colour’ button that appears in channels one, two and four. It changes the midrange response considerably which can be useful depending on what kind of instrument/pickup you’re using, and indeed to suit different playing styles that either need to cut through, or sit back in a mix.

There are no parametric EQ controls, it’s interesting to note, so if you do have a very specific troublesome feedback frequency, it’ll need to be dealt with elsewhere. That said, we took the amp on a variety of bigger- and smaller-room gigs and found the onboard EQ more than capable of dialling in the sound we wanted, without any significant feedback problems when using a variety of common under-saddle and soundhole pickups.

The amp has XLR inputs/channels in addition to the expected 6.3mm jack. Optimised for mics or line-level sources, it means you can plug in pretty much anything, including microphones, preamps, DIs or what have you, for full-range sound reproduction. Phantom power at +48 volts (switchable via the front panel) is also supplied if you want to use a condenser/capacitor mic for singing or instruments. It’s also worth mentioning that the jack inputs (channels one, three and four) can be supplied with phantom power if your guitar can take it. A qualified tech needs to switch this on inside the amp.

The Domino operates in mono although it will do a stereo emulation via a switch on the top panel, but only via the associated left and right jack outputs. It has no effect on the amp itself, but if you’re feeding a couple of powered PA cabs as part of a bigger system, the stereo simulation gives the sound a wider feel, especially when using effects. Helpfully, the amp’s ‘pre master’ pot gives you independent control of your direct-out signal volume.

It’s worth noting that the DI out happens before the effects sections (so there are no effects in your DI). If you want effects included in your direct output, use the line out jack socket. It sounds more complicated than it is; the more important point is that it’s great to have plenty of options, depending on what the out-front engineer wants.

Finally, there are direct outputs for a tuner, headphones (main speaker is muted), a send and return loop for outboard effects, plus stereo phono inputs for a CD/mp3 player and stereo phono ‘record’ outs.

Feel & Sounds

Plugging in a couple of electro-acoustics – one with a Fishman under-saddle system and the other with Taylor ES1 – the first impression is of a modern, hi-fidelity presentation. The onboard EQs are powerful as overall shaping devices, but you get the feeling that the AER amps aren’t designed to ‘colour’ the sound in the way that an electric guitar amp would do. This amp is presenting what it ‘hears’ from the guitar in as clean and natural way as possible.

That’s a double-edged sword, of course, because if you have a rudimentary pickup system that sounds harsh and unnatural, there’s not a great deal the AER will do to ‘save’ it. Conversely, the level of dynamic range and sheer frequency response does give high quality pickup systems the best chance possible of sounding natural; if you put up a high quality condenser mic, for example – sing through it or play your guitar – you’ll hear the AER’s inherent quality, loud and crystal clear. Don’t be scared of that high end, either. When playing in a band, or using the amp as a small PA, those are the frequencies that will get you heard clearly and with high fidelity.

“Engaging the colour control ushers in a dollop of lower-mids that can add plenty of girth to fingerstyle playing”

Engaging the colour control ushers in a dollop of lower-mids that can add plenty of girth to fingerstyle playing, and serves to lessen the impression of the crystalline high end. You might find that it’s a step too far with certain soundhole pickups, but a real boon for thinner- sounding piezos. Being totally reductive, you might even say it sounds more ‘vintage’.

The Domino 2.A presents a significant soundstage: get it raised up – shame there’s no pole mount in the bottom – and it comfortably fills a small pub with guitars and vocals, despite being only 16 inches across. For guitar only, it’d be a formidable monitor/backline on stage.

Effects add a very welcome ambience to proceedings, underlining the ‘modern’ nature of the sound with generally lush, deep reverbs that flatter vocals as much as they do solo guitar. You might bemoan the lack of editability, but we’d say AER has struck an ideal balance of simple usability and sound quality. If you want something more specific, there’s always the effects loop.

The Domino 2.A offers loads of input and output options, and enough power to essentially give you a mini PA in a laughably small box that can cope with small pub/club gigs effortlessly.

Read more about AER Domino 2.A at MusicRadar.com







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