Phew, what a scorcher – we’re in the middle of a sunshine overload so what better than to slink off to the studio under the stairs and get chewing on some cool new things. We get terribly retro with sounds from the Adlib PC soundcard. Emulator 2 arrives and is instantly annoying. Berhinger tease a new synth that could be awesome. Waves pop out a cool Rhodes piano. Sonic Function make Ableton Live look great with Tricky Traps. Learn how to unhinge your recording process with Sylvia Massy. Steinberg drop 32 bit plug-in support. Audient release a cool little interface. With Sensel Morph you can print your own controller. Is Native Instruments about to release Komplete 11?
Here’s the video version, text carries on below.
But first the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is upon us – what should we do? Well, hiding in a bunker is not going to do us any good. When we signed onto Windows 10 we told Microsoft that we’re happy for them to continue updating and improving our software provided they didn’t screw everything up. The reality of that is that there’s a huge update coming and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. We’ve traditionally had this irrational fear of updates because it’s possible that something might change and cause a problem in our highly balanced audio computers. This so rarely happens that I wonder if it’s a fear that’s been imported from Apple. It seems that after every full OSX update most audio software, interfaces or plug-ins cease to function until they’ve all been updated. I’ve not really seem this on Windows. But as we can’t refuse updates on Windows 10 we’re going to have to get over it and embrace the change. What we’ve found so far is that with every update along the way things have improved – performance, compatibility, interface tweaks – it’s all been good. So I have every confidence that we will all be the better for it.
Is there anything in there for musicians? Not as such – cool ink thing if you have a pen and/or touch screen – better Cortana that i never use – better Windows Hello that i can’t stand and Xbox play anywhere – yay!
It’s supposed to happen on the 2nd August or there abouts. If you’re scared then go and make a backup of your system right now. RIGHT NOW. Otherwise, bring it on.
Right – back in the bad old days of beige PC’s that took up your entire desk with a 14″ screen they had a speaker that could make a beep. In 1990, Just before Creative Labs owned all PC sound with their SoundBlaster card the Adlib card arrived from Canada. It had a synth on board and gave the PC 9 channels of 2 oscillator audio via FM and additive synthesis. Check this out. It was revoluitionary and enabled the IBM PC to become a proper gaming machine like the Commodore 64 and other home computers before it. This was way before samples or MP3’s were ever used in gaming – it was all awesomely terrible synth sounds. Well those sounds have been unearthed, sampled and offered to you for 13 quid from Sound Science. Oh yes – you can relive those sounds and forever be a peace in a chiptune world.
Touch Innovations Emulator 2
Been waiting for this forever. You know i’m a big fan of Smithson Martins Emulator Pro multi-touch software – and how much i moan about the slow development. Well I was delighted to hear that they’ve become Touch Innovations and Emulator 2 has been released yay! This should be awesome but the reality has been somewhat frustrating. First they say that it’s a brand new, completely redone product and so anyone who bought Emulator Pro with “lifetime updates” is shit out of luck. Then they changed the pricing model to a monthly subscription which is double what i pay for Pro Tools and Adobe Photoshop. There are no videos here’s some screen shots I got out of them but there’s nothing to tell us what it does and how it’s different. There is now a demo version but you have to sign up for the full product to get your first 10 days free… Which sounds a little dangerous to me. I’ve spoken to Touch Innovations about it and they’re really nice and into their thing and have a load of new products coming out. But basically the launch of Emulator 2 is a bit of a misfire. However, i’m hoping to get into the demo version very soon and then I can make some kind of video so that people can have some idea of what it can do.
Behringer have been teasing a brand new analogue synth. This is good news because Behringer make mostly great gear at a very reasonable price and so you’re likely to get a lot for your money. From what I can see it looks fabulous and is obviously being enjoyed by those lucky ones allowed to look. I reckon it could be awesome. From what i can see it looks a lot like a Roland Juno synth – it has the same fader style controls and digitally controlled oscillators. Should be fun.
Waves Electric 88
Unexpected to find a sample based instrument from Waves – they are kings of effects plug-ins. Anyway they’ve spent a lot of time and money pain stakingly sampling so old Rhodes piano they found and the Electric 88 is the result. Looks great, comes with a bunch of cool effects built in and currently it’s only $39 – that’s a bargain. I love a good Rhodes – but i dont like the demonstration in the video – terrible choice of music.
Tricky Traps Creative Contraptions
I’ve always wanted to get into Max For Live – it looks like such an exciting place but then i end up not having a clue what’s going on or what i’m trying to achieve. However, when something like Tricky Traps Creative Contraptions come along I feel re-inspired by the awesome potential of Max 4 Live – even more so if i dont actually have to do any development myself – just sit back and play with the toys. Tricky Traps looks fabulous! I mean Ableton Live is so dull, it’s the dullest of dull interfaces and something like this brings it alive and makes it appear as if anything is possible – you could actually pull off some kind of live set without feeling like an idiot. It has devices for sequencing and messing about with midi notes, a bunch of instruments and effects – what’s not to like about that for $59 for Alive Suite 9.6 and Max 4 Live 7.
Recording Unhinged – Sylvia Massy
Being really cool and in the industry for many years I’m very familiar with the work of Sylvia Massy – Nah, i’ve not heard of her either but then i’ve not heard of lots of people, particularly producers, and it’s not stopped me talking about stuff. Anyway, she’s worked with lots of interesting people like Chilli Peppers, Prince, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty etc and she’s released a book of fabulous tales of music production awesomeness where they break all the rules, have a load of fun and come up with creative and wonderfully expressive music. The book is a massive breath of fresh air blowing a raspberry at all the overly pompous and all too professional types who like to tell us how things are done. Get the book, love the illustrations and make cool music in an experimentally cool way inspired by an awesomely cool lady.
Steinberg Drop 32bit support
Steinberg have announced that they are no longer going to support all this 32bit nonsense. There will be no 32 bit version of the next Cubase or Nuendo. 64bit Windows has been mainstream since Windows 7 and there’s very little reason to be running 32bit Windows anymore unless you have some terrible old software. 32bit Windows also has a memory limit of 4GB which is rubbish in these days of huge sample libraries and where your phone probably has more ram than that. So 64 bit it is from now on. The main reason why it’s news is because they are also discontinuing their VST Bridge technology which lets 32bit plug-ins run in 64bit Cubase. If this is a problem because you have some terrible old plug-ins then something like jBridge will do the job instead. I think it’s a great idea. Old 32plugs tend to make things unstable. You end up with two folders of plug-ins and they all get messed about by different DAWs. I just want 64bit software and 64bit plug-ins – thank you Steinberg.
Audient tend to make really posh stuff and so when they release something a bit more budget end it might actually be quite good. The iD4 is a simple 2 in/out USB audio interface with that nice big knob on the front. I like the desktop style form factor and that knob will control whatever you have your mouse over which is pretty neat. Their iD22 and iD14 were well received but are the drivers any good? Hard to tell but for £119 it’s not a bad bit of kit.
Pretty sure i’ve talked about this before – the Sensel Morph. It’s a touch sensitive control surface that responds to pressure. This means you can put on a flexible overlay to turn it into whatever you want it to be. It’s pretty cool just like that. But what makes it really very cool indeed is that you can design your own overlays and they will 3D print it out for you for like 20 quid. How that works in terms of software and designing how to controls stuff i dont know but it could be pretty exciting for controlling stuff in a slightly more tactile and controllable way than a touch screen….. Maybe
Native Instrument’s Komplete 11
There was an image knocking around on Twitter of a promotional shot of Native Instruments new Komplete Ultimate 11. It’s probably real. Currently version 10 is on sale until the end of the month on their website so you can expect an announcement on the 1st August. As usual it’s a great deal and contains pretty much everything they do. Hopefully it means version 6 of Kontakt, but it will certainly include version 6 of Reaktor and Reaktor Blocks. They have a very annoying upgrade policy where whatever version you have it costs the same to upgrade to the new version. You’d think if you had version 10 it would be cheaper to upgrade than if you were running version 5 – no, it’s the same. This has annoyed me so much that i don’t get every upgrade on purpose. I’m running version 9 and i’m danged if i’m going to pay £289 to upgrade to 10 Ultimate when I can wait and pay the same to upgrade to 11. There’s some logic there somewhere. So the point is don’t buy Komplete 10 on the current deal because the upgrade price to 11 will still cost you more than buying 11 on its own. But anyway, i’ve waited ages on version 9 and so i’m really looking forward to a refreshed version of Native everything most of which i hardly ever use.
Chime Sharp has just been released! Chime back in 2010 was my favourite all time puzzle game. It combined fabulous music with awesome gameplay which remixed and evolved the music as you played. It’s sort of like a Tetris based sequencer. The new version features 15 new tracks from all sorts of artists and is the perfect way to relax after making music in your studio. It’s on Steam, it’s a tenner – go and get yourself a copy.
I’m putting a lot of energy into video making and reviews at the moment. I’m going to be doing a video of running Reaktor on the Surface Pro 4 and how you connect it up to other gear – you might have seen my noodle of running Reaktor and the Novation Circuit video – if not go check it out. And i’m just finished my Tracktion 7 review which i started 6 months ago. Lot’s more goodies to come including a round up of some cool multi-touch software. And check out my review of Reason 9 in the next issue (i think) of Sound On Sound magazine.
That’s it, until next time – go make some tunes.