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Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

circuit hands on 6

Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power.

We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.

First, Novation’s video shows off the idea:

I first saw Circuit on a visit to Novation’s London office in August — the place where they’re cooking up a lot of their ideas for attracting more people to music. (iOS apps were getting sketched there, too.)

And there, Circuit was immediately all about getting you going with music ideas quickly. (I suspect anyone working for a music technology company, finding their own leisure time severely restricted, appreciates personally the import of getting things started — and of course, that was the topic of the teaser campaign for this hardware.)

So, it starts with an 8×4 grid interface and encoders. Those are velocity-sensitive pads, and the feel of them and the entire build makes this clearly the sibling to the Launchpad Pro controller. The difference here is, you can untether from the computer and use this box on its own. (You can get an idea of what standalone hardware Novation likes in the teaser video, which features a Dave Smith synth, a 303, and an Elektron.)

From there, what do you get?

It’s a modeled synth. There’s a two-part analog-modeled synthesizer in there, which Novation describes as “Nova-heritage.” It certainly has that edgy, modern, somehow English Novation sound.

It’s a drum machine. You get four parts here — simple, but tweakable.

You can play chords. There’s 6-voice polyphony onboard, so you aren’t limited to mono synth lines. And there’s actually a very clever chord mode, which I’ll talk about more when we do the full review.

It’s tweakable — albeit blind. At first blush, this may seem like a preset machine and a bit of a toy. But those eight encoders are paired with a whole lot of parameters for changing the sound. You can switch oscillator types and wavetables, not just twist the filter (though that’s there, too, of course). And all of those encoder adjustments can be recorded and played back in real-time, if you choose.

circuit hands on 4

It’s a step sequencer and pattern recorder. You can play in live, or adjust one step at a time, or a combination (navigating between those modes is atypically easy, in fact). You get up to 128 steps, so you aren’t limited to the 1 bar-patterns you hear in the first demos. Also, if you’re not a fantastic musician on the pads, things do auto-quantize and can be restricted by key — handy for low-pressure live performance. You also get 32 sequence slots for playing live, making this a bit like the Poor Boy’s Octatrack.

It does effects, mixing. Delay, reverb for effects, each fully tweakable, and live mixing plus side-chain capability.

It works with your other gear. USB for the computer, MIDI for external devices. True to form, there’s still a copy of Ableton Live Lite in the box — a bit odd as the main draw here is getting away from your computer. On the other hand, Live (or something like it) is likely to be how you finish whatever you start on the Circuit.

The MIDI support for me keeps this from being overly limited or turning into a toy. You can receive and send MIDI notes and controls, and automatically sync to received MIDI clock (plus forwarding it to the Out jack). More details on that in our review.

It’s ultra-portable and works standalone. You can run on 12V DC power via an adapter, or 6x AA batteries. (I do sort of wish manufacturers would start using rechargeable batteries, though you could invest in rechargeable AA’s if you aren’t already buying AA in bulk for your music gizmos.) But with a decently loud (if tinny) built-in speaker, and a headphone jack, you can go to the park with this one. (Or, as our UK-based friends say, “to the bus” — yes, London will offer long Night Bus trips to start and finish songs.)

And incredibly, the whole package is US$ 329.99 (£249.99 UK or 349€ including VAT in Europe).

So, how does it feel?

circuit hands on 2

I was actually impressed: this doesn’t feel like a do-everything $ 300 box. The pads are nicely velocity sensitive and everything feels solid. There’s a blue anti-slip, grippy surface to the bottom. It’s an incredible dirt magnet, but it holds everything in place.

It’s terrifically portable — it’s tough to say just how easy this is to toss in a bag.

Also, it’s clear that Novation has learned a lot from the Launchpad about workflow. You get all of that ready access, minus the computer. You can quickly add patterns, clear, duplicate, nudge, and change pattern length, plus easily get at effects and synth/drum sound parameters.

The oddest part about using the Circuit is perhaps that while all of the usability controls are well-labeled, you often don’t really know what twisting an encoder will do. Only the brightness of the LED underneath tells you the level, and you just have to learn what the assignments are. On the other hand, Circuit really feels like it’s about intuition, experimentation, and happy accidents, so the absence of a display doesn’t really kill the fun.

Let us know if you have questions about this, and what you think, in advance of our full review. Here are some unboxing pics in the meantime. (And yes, it does include the MIDI minijack connections that are fast becoming an accidental standard, plus breakouts and power and USB all in the box for you.)

circuit hands on 1

circuit hands on 9

circuit hands on 3

circuit hands on 5

By the way, this is a 13″ MacBook Pro — it really is small, the Circuit.

circuit hands on 7

The post Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Oxe FM Synth updated to v1.3.1 – Native Linux VST version released

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Oxe Software has updated the free and Open Source Oxe FM Synth to v1.3.1, which sees the release of a native Linux VST version along with a stability bug-fix for Windows. The Linux version was [Read More]
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What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware

Friday, September 18th, 2015

meeblip_albino

The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though — and it’s time.

In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths — most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right away, just like a lot of other instruments on the market.

But unlike those other instruments, the MeeBlip is open source hardware. Not just the firmware code, but the electronics design that makes it work are all available online and freely-licensed. We became, to my knowledge, the first ready-to-play musical hardware to be available in that form in any significant numbers.

That’s not to brag — we should actually consider whether we’re innovative, or whether we’re just plain crazy. Being end user open source hardware isn’t just unusual in music. It’s still a tough sell in hardware in general.

When we embraced the idea in 2010, we frankly didn’t know whether it would work. Now, I think we can have some new confidence — not just for us, but for anyone interested in the concept. So let’s talk about how open hardware works, why we think it will continue to work for the MeeBlip, and how people interested in making hardware can make it work for them.

There is a definition for open source hardware

The 2010 launch year for MeeBlip also saw the release of the Open Source Hardware Definition and the first big annual summit on the topic. I was lucky to get to know the two women who spear-headed making these things happen — Ayah Bdeir (founder of littleBits) and Alicia Gibb. You can read our interview with them from the time, which covers a lot of history.

The final definition is here:
http://www.oshwa.org/definition/

And in fact, the Open Source Hardware Association has its annual summit tomorrow in Philadelphia. James is heads-down in Calgary, and me in Berlin, so we can’t make it — hope we can see a European satellite event soon:
http://2015.oshwa.org/

There were a lot of significant folks contributing to that definition. Creative Commons, littleBits, MakerBot, SparkFun, Wired, Make, Arduino, Adafruit, the MIT Media Lab, NYU ITP, and Parallax are all onboard — and I see a lot of old NYC friends, the kinds of people (some of them now more famous, like Bre Pettis and Limor Fried). Like a lot of ideas, it helps to be in a scene; it made a big difference to me to get to know these people and talk to them about it.

What they did in the end was to closely follow a software definition, the Open Source Definition for Open Source Software built by Bruce Perens and the Debian.

anodeinnards

MeeBlip has to do some work to be open source hardware

It’s been great to see the for-sale music technology field get more open. We’ve seen makers publishing schematics, releasing open source firmware, and more. But to be really open hardware, the standards are tougher.

Manufacturers who want to call themselves open source hardware have some work to do. The OSHW definition is a really tough definition, but we have done our best to understand and follow it. You should definitely read the whole definition if you’re interested, but here are the big points:
1. The design is public.
2. The source and documentation are public, and in a way that lets you modify it, using an all open source toolchain.
3. You can learn from that design, modify it, make the hardware yourself, and make and sell your own derivatives.
4. A license guarantees your rights to use the tool, without discriminating against how you use it or what you use it with. (That doesn’t come without obligations to the user, though; see below.)

We meet all those manufacturer obligations with the open source components of the MeeBlip, including the front panel. Enclosures are a separate problem, because you design an enclosure specific to the equipment used to manufacture it — yes, even a 3D printer doesn’t really solve that. (Think of it this way: you can’t make a recipe for cake without specifying what kind of cake.) So our enclosure is proprietary, as it’s specific to our manufacturer, but I’d actually love to see people make and share custom, fully open enclosure designs in the future.

There are two aspects to this. The one you probably know best is the license — for the MeeBlip, that includes the GPL v3 (for code) and Creative Commons BY-SA (for hardware designs and look). But the job of the manufacturer is to provide both the design/documentation and the license.

Think of it like building a public park: you need the actual park first, and then maybe a sign that explains to people how they are allowed to use it. As with that sign, just posting rules isn’t enough to make them magically happen. And as with a park, odds are other park-goers, not the police, will be the ones who are most effective at keeping each other to the rules.

meeblipkeyboard

Sharing is generous — but it has obligations, too

“Open source” is not a free-for-all, not an invitation to give away your work — not with software, and not with hardware. It’s a system that works when all the participants understand and act on their obligations.

For most people, this isn’t an issue. The whole point for us is to make the MeeBlip as accessible as possible. We hope you’ll poke around the code, even if you’re not a programmer. We hope you’ll look around the circuits and learn them.

Where your obligations come in are if you want to share something you’ve made.

The first and most important requirement is attribution. If you make something based on the MeeBlip, you have to tell people you’ve done so. And that should be a standard for anything we make, even before we get into licenses or legal obligations — this is what’s ethical. Folk singers will often introduce a song by saying who wrote it, or who taught it to them. In synthesis, we’re very often proud to be connected to those who came before.

The second obligation is to contribute to the open source process. This means that if you share something you’ve made with others, you need to make sure the license goes along with it. That way, derivative products give people the same freedoms the original does.

The licenses actually require you to do this, too. We use “copyleft” licenses for our code and our designs. This means that any derivative works have to have the same license. It doesn’t mean you can’t combine the MeeBlip with proprietary tools — the open source hardware definition actually says you’re free to use whatever you like! But if you make a new synth based on the MeeBlip, you need to share what you’ve changed. An easy way to do this is to simply “fork” the GitHub repository, as that also lets people see your changes versus the original, and makes it easy to link between versions.

We know a lot of this can be complicated. So, the easiest thing to do if you’re thinking of making something is simply to get in touch. We’d really enjoy the chance to talk to you about it, and we can probably help you through what might otherwise be a tricky process.

We will certainly enforce these rules. That doesn’t mean stopping anyone from making hardware — on the contrary, we want to help people make any derivatives correctly.

We recently encountered a synth builder who had made a copy of the MeeBlip anode hardware; the internal electronics had only minor modifications and the firmware and use were identical. In this case, we did point out that James’ engineering work wasn’t attributed, and we made ourselves available to help that builder follow the rules and follow these licensing requirements. That builder seems to have decided not to pursue that project, but we’re still available to them and anyone else who wants to do this. We are literally volunteering our time to help you do it, so it’s the very opposite of trying to stop anyone from modifying or producing derivatives of the MeeBlip.

meeblipfamily

How are we doin’?

I’m proud of the first five years of MeeBlip, but we’re only getting started exploring its open aspect. What we have seen is some immediate advantages to open source synthesizer hardware.

People are learning from the project. We’ve had many MeeBlip customers poke around in the code and schematics. We’ve been able to use those to answer questions, for the more technically minded. And people have used this exhaustive documentation to make some of their own projects.

People do fabricate their own synths. There are markets where we simply can’t afford to sell the MeeBlip. In those corners of the world, it can be cheaper and more efficient for people to make their own. Because the MeeBlip uses all standard parts and nothing unusual or proprietary, they’re free to do that, and a handful have. And meanwhile, in the rest of the world, we can usually provide a better value proposition than the DIY method — so this freedom doesn’t put us out of business.

Open source is peace of mind. In an age when so much is relegated to sales cycles and doomed to wind up in landfills, having open source hardware means you know a product becomes obsolete far less easily.

Openness can lead to modifications. We’ve even seen some firmware suggestions from users. We’ve people build their own, very often amazing, enclosures. Just having schematics available makes this easier.

But look beyond the box. Now, there’s a whole lot more to do. Giving musicians the freedom to modify their instruments is more than just providing documentation and licensing. They have to have the know-how to do this.

This has probably been our biggest failing, but also our greatest opportunity. The next stage is really applying that openness as a way of helping people learn more about electronics, code, and synthesis. Now that we’re smarter about the product side, I hope our next five years are more about the experience side — from the end user just learning to make sounds for the first time to those delving deeper into engineering and invention.

And don’t be afraid. Fear has I think been the greatest obstacle to open source hardware. It’s clearly not the right paradigm for every project. On the other hand, I think fears about clones and theft may overestimate the dangers — at least when it comes to music.

Ultimately, what allows an open project to be effective is a respect for sharing and originality. And that’s where I think the music community has something special. Provided we keep our brand clear, I’ve been struck by how willing musicians are to invest in buying direct from the maker, and recognizing designs that are original.

The reality is, no one is stopping clones with or without special licenses. Even many mid-sized manufacturers can’t afford intellectual property litigation; most can’t afford patent registration in the first place, which these days is often a vanity project.

But what we can do is build a community of people who care about music, about musical instrument design, and about sharing what they do. Those are the people who will value originality. They’re the ones who challenge us makers to be better.

The history of electronic musical instruments is rooted in sharing. Theremin’s designs inspired Bob Moog. How-to-build-your-own-Theremin articles inspired future synth builders — and engineers in many other fields, not just music. Learning from a filter design or a sound routing architecture became a 20th century analog to details of woodworking and drum heads in acoustic instruments from years before. Sharing how we make musical instruments is part of what makes culture.

You can get an anode right now. The limited edition white MeeBlip anode is still available — but there are only about 50 left.

Get yours from us direct:
Get MeeBlip anode Limited Edition

For a limited time, shipping is free (US/Canada) or reduced (US$ 9.95 worldwide with tracking info — customs may apply).

The post What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Oxe FM Synth updated to v1.3.0 and goes Open Source

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Oxe Software has announced that the Oxe FM Synth is now an open source project, licensed under GNU GPL v3, for anyone who wants to study the code and contribute to turn it better or even start [Read More]
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Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

ns1_1

Synths: they’re fun to tweak and play. Modulars: they’re fun to patch. Arduinos: they’re fun to hack. Small things: they’re fun to carry around.

Now, what if you got all of those things at the same time?

That’s the thought behind the NS1nanosynth analog synthesizer. It’s either vying for the prize of tiniest modular synth ever, or most hackable tiny synth ever.

If you saw one from across the room, you might just assume this was just another little project synth. And lately, that category, while generating lots of decent oddities, hasn’t had something that could stick as a hit. But creator Davide Mancini of soundmachines really has a nifty idea with this one, and I do want to try it.

First, there’s the synth itself. Davide shows his Eurorack background with an analog synth with some decent specs. The components are all analog. There’s a VCO (saw core, thermally stabilized), 12 dB lowpass and bandpass filter, two LFOs, one loopable ADSR envelope, and a standard VCA, too. That means it’s already a decent synth to begin with.

ns1_2

ns1_4

It’s playable, too: there’s an onboard ribbon controller and loads of knobs.

And from there, you get an impressive number of modules crammed onto the board. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this is the equivalent of a starter Eurorack. (Hmmm, we’re squeezing modulars everywhere. Earlier this week, you got it as $ 200 software that takes up no physical space; now you get similarly inexpensive modular hardware in the size of one 5U panel.)

ns1_5

ns1_6

ns1_modular

There’s mixing, multiplying, adding, logic (AND / OR / NAND / NOT), analog division. There’s a sample and hold block. You’re not plugging jack cables into this, obviously: instead, you patch with jumper wires and header. With these, though, you have a very flexible modular synth rig with lots of sound design possibilities.

I’d be sold at that point, but Davide also put an Arduino Leonardo-compatible control board on here, too. The Leonardo, a higher-end Arduino variant, delivers USB connectivity, with features like HID (for emulating devices like keyboards, mice, and joysticks), and, via an additional software library, MIDI over USB. So while there aren’t MIDI jacks on this, you can use it with MIDI provided you’ve got a USB host.

NS1 Italy

ns1_3

And then you can do anything an Arduino can: you can do digital sound generation and processing, connect to other bits and bobs via wireless or wired connections, and so on.

Basically, you get analog synthesis combined with Arduino-compatible digital interfacing. And soundmachines promises more modules of their own to extend the system.

It’s all really cool. We’ll get to see more when we get our own unit in for testing. Pricing and availability TBA.

More videos:

More wonderful and wacky stuff from this inventor:

http://sound-machines.it/

The post Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

Monday, September 7th, 2015

miniatmegatron

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code.

You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

The miniATMEGATRON from Soulsby Synthesizers is especially appealing. It uses the same grungy, nicely lo-fi sound engine of the Atmegatron, but it’s in kit form. It’s a pretty easy kit to put together — I watched folks assembling them in Brno earlier this summer, and they’ll be accessible to anyone with some soldering experience (or some supervision).

Just built as-is, the miniATMEGATRON is fun, but not terribly useful — it just plays back some sequences. Where it gets interesting is if you either write your own code or, more likely, add the MIDI “hack.” This involves adding a MIDI port to the Arduino. Once you do that, this is a playable MIDI synth, complete with clock sync. And then there are some fun features — 16 PWM waveforms, an LFO with 16 waveforms of its own, modulation extras, and a digital filter with 15 algorithms. There’s also a “wavecrusher” and phaser and distortion effects. Basically, you get a lot of grungy digital fun in one package.

The code is open source, though this isn’t strictly speaking open source hardware (only the firmware is open).

If you want a ready-to-play instrument, the original Atmegatron is really your best bet, and comes in a beautiful case. It’s also still possible to modify using the friendly Arduino development environment. But the miniATMEGATRON is a steal for DIYers, and I suspect for them, the soldering and hacking will in fact be a selling point.

Soulsby miniATMEGATRON

arduino-piggyback-synthesizer-e1441564347957-640x333

Tasty Chips, who made the analog Sawbench before, are back with an Arduino Piggyback Synthesizer. The concept as far as Arduino is the same as Soulsby’s: you use this board as an add-on to Arduino, and then use Arduino coding to hack your own custom functions. But the Tasty Chips route is analog, like the Sawbench. You get a fully-analog oscillator, an analog VCA, and low-pass resonant filter.

You can also do frequency modulation with sine or saw, controlled via mod wheel or MIDI. That’s a good thing, as otherwise I find a single oscillator setup can get a bit bland — analog or not.

What Tasty Chip have done that frankly I wish Soulsby had is add MIDI right on the board. In fact, you get both in and thru built in. As with the Soulsby, MIDI functionality leans on the Arduino. It’s 59€ without the Arduino, or bundled for 79€.

Arduino Piggyback Synthesizer A Hackable Analog Synth

Both boards also rely on USB power, but with a proper adapter, you can plug into a wall socket, so these will stand on their own.

What I’m interested to see is if users find clever uses for the Arduino hacking aspect. You could certainly build novel applications into firmware by modifying the code. On the other hand, these shields block the ports on the Arduino, which means you can’t easily take advantage of Arduino’s ability to hook up knobs and switches and drive motors and the like. (Here, too, there’s an edge to Tasty Chip — they’ve added header to the top, and they haven’t used up all the connections on the Arduino, so if you keep the boards side by side, you can still, for instance, add your own knob.)

That said, at these prices, both boards provide some great musical fun and some easy hackability.

And both makers could provide some added stimulation with promised tutorials.

I’m curious what readers think and what you do with them if you pick them up. Do let us know.

Full disclosure: we of course make the MeeBlip, which means we’re thinking about these very questions a lot. (The MeeBlip isn’t Arduino-based, but it is hackable and open and built on the AVR platform with our own Assembly code, as you can check out on GitHub.)

The post Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Oxe Software updates Oxe FM Synth – Now with Automation

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Oxe Software has updated Oxe FM Synth to version 1.3.0. The new version includes full automation support and some features to improve usability. Changes: New feature: full automation (on channel [Read More]
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Alchemy synth is now a part of Logic Pro X; here’s what’s new

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

alchemy

Logic Pro has a new flagship synth instrument. And that synth is no basic pack-in — it’s one of the deepest software instruments on the market.

It’s also no stranger. As expected following Cupertino’s acquisition, Alchemy, a deep “sample manipulation” synth, has made its way into Apple’s product line. It’s now everywhere on the Mac desktop. Even in GarageBand, you can access Alchemy-based presets. In Logic Pro X, and even MainStage, you can access the full instrument. (That means the $ 49 MainStage is now also a heck of a steal if you just want the synth.)

(I do say desktop — there’s no sign of Alchemy on iOS at this time. On the other hand, if those “iPad Pro” rumors are true… well, I’ll let you fantasize about that; Apple of course won’t tell me anything.)

If you’re just looking for a sound quickly, you can mess about with transform controls and pull up a wide range of presets. If you want to go deeper, you have an instrument that does additive, spectral, formant, granular, sampling, and virtual analog synthesis. In fact, I can’t think of another single instrument that does quite as much all via one interface.

Logic Pro X 10.2, available as a free App Store upgrade or for instant purchase, includes a raft of other improvements. And Alchemy itself hasn’t just been shoved into Logic’s interface — there are some significant additions there, as well. Let’s have a look:

A new Alchemy

It’s not just Alchemy inside Logic Pro X 10.2. This is officially Alchemy 2.0, a major update. For those of you familiar with the instrument, here’s some of what’s new:

Better morphing. Advanced cross-synthesis now improves audio morphing, incorporating all the details of the sound (additive, spectral, formant, pitch, envelope). You also get more options in the interface.

More precise additive resynthesis, spectral resynthesis. These are really a big part of what sets Alchemy apart, and they’re vastly expanded. There are more additive effects (Pulse/Saw, Harmonic, Beating, Stretch, Shift, Magnet, Spread, Auto Pan). And you get more precise control of both additive and spectral resynthesis — the algorithms themselves have been sonically improved, we’re told. And there’s a new partial tracker, you have more editing options, and you can see everything you’re doing via real-time spectrogram. Spectral resynthesis also works in stereo now, as well, and supports masking.

Powerful formant and granular modes. Loads of depth here, too, including elaborate controls for formant resynthesis (with multiple filter shapes), and multi-tap granular controls you can space out across a stereo field.

Added pitch correction. Correct pitch to unison, octave, fifth, a combination of fifth/octave, or chromatically, with adjustments for amount and speed.

Use the sampler with EXS24. You can now import Logic’s EXS24 sampler instruments directly into the Alchemy sampler, meaning access to Logic’s own library and lots of third-party content. The Sampler module itself is also more powerful, with a reverse mode, automatic keymapping, and new keymap editor and group editor.

Bring the noise. The virtual analog side of things is expanded, too — sync, anti-aliased PWM, waveform shape display, and a noise section with 13 noise types (not just white and pink).

New filters. These are all-new, with both enhanced comb filters, and redesigned analog filter emulations, plus added “Bee,” FM, Compressor, LP10 and HP10 modes.

Modulation and arpeggiators that are kind of insane. Alchemy adds per-source arpeggiators and reorganized editors for source controls and the arpeggiator. And you can modulate all kinds of things. You can switch patterns with modulation (yipes, one-note presets, anyone?), modulate the rate knob, modulate keyswitches, and see visual feedback in real-time.

Envelopes with more power. You get graphical AHDSR with tempo sync. And there are envelope followers at eight points in the signal chain.

More samples and easier browsing. Alchemy now has 3100 presets plus 300 Logic patches, and a 14 GB sample library. (Fortunately, that sample library is an optional download from the store, just like other extended Logic content.) To navigate all of the included content or manage your own sounds, there’s a redesigned browser with expanded drag-and-drop support.

Dial-in controls if you want to improvise / don’t want to get too deep. Alchemy’s X/Y pads and transforms already resembled Apple’s own work on making Smart Controls. The idea: give people a few knobs to dial up variations on much deeper sound engines. So, little surprise here: Alchemy will be fully integrated in the Logic interface, which means access from those Smart Controls and the accompanying iPad app remote.

But it’s more efficient. Apple says they’ve reduced CPU usage.

All in all, this is pretty huge — the biggest synth news to come to Logic in years. And while Apple could have just dropped Alchemy in Logic and called it a day, it’s nice to see a vastly expanded release.

And yes, this means one more big update from Apple that can cater to the explosive market for young EDM producers, particularly in the USA but worldwide, as well.

Nice how a musical genre suddenly created a demand for massively-complex synthesizer modulation.

A more connected Logic

The other news is, Logic Pro X does more than before when connected to the internet.

From Apple, there’s expected Apple Music Connect support, which lets you publish directly to Apple Music from inside the app. (Previously, this was available only in GarageBand.)

But more interestingly, there’s also built-in support for Gobbler. Once you sign up for a free subscription with Gobbler, you can back up, share, and collaborate directly from within Logic. That’s a big deal for both Apple and Gobbler — there’s never been cloud integration like this in a major DAW.

Our friends at Gobbler have a video of that, above.

And lots of other pro improvements…

10.2, as is typical of Apple’s recent pro music update cycle, adds a lot of functionality and fixes, too.

There’s Force Touch trackpad support for the latest Apple laptops — a reminder that Apple is the one DAW maker that’s also in the computer business.

There’s expanded MIDI functionality, including expanded clock options.

You can non-destructively reverse audio regions. (Ah, I love this, as a reverse-addicted person.)

You can globally nudge by key command to note values. (I like that, too.)

And there are lots of editing improvements, including finally showing fades correctly on regions that have been ‘flexed,’ better editing options for different Cycle settings, and some nice features for locators and markers.

There are many more tiny details, fixing minuscule quality issues and making editing easier. This is the sort of attention to detail that we desperately need in our aging stable of big DAWs, and we don’t always get it. So I’m eager to try it out and see how it’s feeling in practice.

I’ll say this: Logic may not be your favorite DAW. Heck, you might even actively dislike it. But what I can’t get from using it is any sense that the pro music team at Apple is uninterested in serious users. If you transported someone from fifteen years ago and sat them in front of what you told them was Emagic Logic Pro X alongside some of its competition, they’d be none the wiser. (They might wonder where their Windows version was, but apart from that.)

Of course, as always, many of these enhancements also carry over to GarageBand and MainStage.

The post Alchemy synth is now a part of Logic Pro X; here’s what’s new appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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