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Same Day Music

30 September 2005

Virus TI Totally Integrated Synthesizer

Filed under: Hardware at 3:54 pm (1 comment)
virus-ti-polar

Access Music are about to release their very interesting new hardware/software combo, the Virus TI Totally Integrated Synthesizer. The Virus TI hardware is a synth, keyboard, control surface and audio interface all in one. Nothing revolutionary there. The interesting part happens when you install the VirusControl VST/Apple Audio Unit plug-in. This acts just like a regular plug-in, except behind the scenes it uses the hardware to generate sounds. This allows some neat features. For example, the connection is delay-compensated automatically, which normally can’t be done with a hardware synth.

The website describes the concept and the products in exhaustive detail. Here’s an informative extract: From inside a host application, the plug-in enables the new VIRUS hardware to appear as a multi-channel VST/AU soft-synth with up to 4 sub-mixes (or 2 stereo). Access’ proprietary driver technology makes VIRUS TI the world’s first hardware synthesizer with sample-accuracy timing and a delay-compensated audio/MIDI connection.

Seamless interconnectivity also provides a real benefit in the software sequencer environment. All multi-timbral sounds and settings used for a project are stored within it with the plug-in, for snapshot total recall plus editor and librarian functions with no SysEx or 3rd party software hassles.

The new VIRUS hardware is also well-equipped to capitalize on the power of Total Integration. With 24-bit 192KHz balanced analog, S/PDIF I/O and MIDI in and out ports, the new VIRUS is well-suited for use as the main audio and MIDI I/O center for your entire rig. These functions are especially practical for the laptop studio, offering an unmatched range of features and capabilities from one product.

Additionally, a new Remote Mode allows the VIRUS hardware to become a control surface for any MIDI-capable device or software, mapping each of the 33 knobs to a specific MIDI message. TI ships with a great selection of templates and includes 32-user memories for custom controller maps. It’s a powerful addition that greatly increases the value of the synth’s studio footprint.

ManyGuitar VST instrument

Filed under: Music software at 3:32 pm (1 comment)
manyguitar

Manytone Music, makers of the ManyStation sample-based VST instrument, are shortly going to release ManyGuitar. A good guitar synth is a wonderful thing, so it will be good to hear ManyGuitar when it comes out. There are no details yet on the Manytone website, but an unofficial press release was posted on the busy KVR forums. Here are the details — ManyGuitar is due out next month, so that could mean tomorrow.

Manytone says: ManyGuitar is a Bass and Guitar Sample Synthesizer with an included library of approximately 1GB of 24 Bit Guitar and Bass Samples. ManyGuitar was built with Dash Signature and uses the Dash Eve One Engine with a custom designed and built amplifier and speaker cabinet emulator built exclusively for Manytone. This takes the already incredible Manytone Guitars to new levels. The amp section also has a deep amp mode that is perfectly suited to Manytone’s Bass and other low toned Guitars.

This will load all WusikSnd Samplesets as well as Dash Samplesets and you can create your own Samplesets to load as well.

The included Sound Library includes all of the current ManyStation Guitar and Bass samplesets as well as over 300-400MB of new material, including an extensively sampled Telecaster. It includes a few chord sets, and also some great new lead guitar styles and more.

E-Mu Xboard 49 review — Computer Music

Filed under: Hardware at 12:35 am (14 comments)
xboard-49

Computer Music reviews the Xboard 49 keyboard controller from E-MU. The most important part of any keyboard — in this case, the most important 49 parts — are the keys. The reviewers are impressed with the Xboard in this respect: “They offer a good compromise for those people who want some of the weight of a piano but the speed of a synth.”

They also like the rotary controls, which they describe as “pleasantly tactile”. They say the controls operate smoothly, but they are too close together — as they point out, the control layout on the Xboard 49 is the same as that of the Xboard 25, which is understandably a bit cramped. On the other hand, the momentary buttons, used for editing, are dismissed as being flimsy. This is not too bad, since they are used for editing rather than performing, but it’s still not ideal.

They single out the Xboard’s “Latch mode” for special mention. This allows keys to act as switches — hit once to turn on a note, hit again to turn it off. They point out that this would be useful these days to trigger loops in a live performance.

The Xboard 49 scores a decent 7 out of 10: “The Xboard 49 has a great set of keys and some genuinely useful features.” The layout and sturdiness of the control knobs could be improved, but “the Xboard is a respectable, well-featured controller keyboard nonetheless.”

28 September 2005

M-Audio Trigger Finger

Filed under: Hardware at 11:45 pm (no comments)
trigger-finger

M-Audio make the Trigger Finger, a very nice USB MIDI control surface. It’s garnered some rave reviews, so a summary of the official M-Audio information is in order. The Trigger Finger is primarily a pad controller, but also provides faders and knobs as extra control options. Even though many keyboard controllers have pads and other controls built in, it might be better having a dedicated unit like this one.

The website has exhaustive technical details, but here’s an executive summary to give you an idea of what the Trigger Finger is.

Sixteen pads give you immediate access to plenty of drum sounds or other events you wish to trigger. You’ll find the pad size provides just the right balance of compact space and perfect touch. Speaking of perfect touch, Trigger Finger’s pads are both velocity- and pressure-sensitive — and, unlike many control surfaces, you can map the pressure sensitivity to any MIDI parameter you desire for that extra measure of expressive control. Its 8 knobs and 4 faders are also fully assignable to any MIDI parameter you want. With Trigger Finger, you’re in control.

Trigger Finger features 16 presets for storing your setups right on board. Your purchase also gets you a free copy of M-Audio’s Enigma librarian software for PC and Mac for virtually unlimited storage that works with your other M-Audio and Evolution gear as well. You also get pre-programmed maps for Live, Reason, GM Drum, XG Drum, iDrum, and more for instant control over most popular software.

This product comes with a special version of Ableton Live Lite 4, a powerful and unique DAW application. Live Lite 4 brings you much of the audio and MIDI functionality of the multi-award winning Ableton Live, recognized for revolutionizing the DAW experience. In this version you get four audio tracks, four MIDI tracks, incredible looping, VST and Audio Unit support, software instruments, effects, and much more. Live Lite 4 turns your interface and your computer into a complete composition and recording solution.

SampleRobot review — Computer Music

Filed under: Music software at 8:31 pm (no comments)
samplerobot

SampleRobot is a sampler designed to automatically sample MIDI instruments. It effectively lets you copy your hardware instruments onto your computer, which will save space if nothing else. Computer Music magazine reviews this program and says, “SampleRobot is like the second engineer you always wished you had. We’ve seen other programs that work along similar lines, but none of them are as complete as this one.” They like its ease of use — you connect everything up, select parameters for which notes and patches you want to sample, then “a tap of the record button sets the app to work. It tells your outboard gear which patches and notes to sound and records the results.”

So SampleRobot not only reocrds the notes like an other sampler, it actually plays them too — that’s the “Robot” part. It even works on non-MIDI hardware too, such as older analogue synths and even acoustic instruments. In this case, SampleRobot can’t play the notes for you, but it tells you when and what to play, even providing a countdown to ensure accuracy. As the review says, “very useful indeed.”

Once everything is sampled, SampleRobot can also automatically create loop points and crossfade them. They say this automatic detection is not perfect but is a good starting point for manual tweaking.

SampleRobot scores a solid 8 out of 10. “If sampling is a crucial part of your work, you’ll consider it a bargain.”

Sibelius 4 review — Computer Music

Filed under: Music software at 7:21 pm (no comments)
sibelius-4

Sibelius 4, the latest version of the industry-standard scoring application, is heavily praised in the latest Computer Music magazine. They give it their Editor’s Choice award and say good things about its power and ease of use: “For composers and arrangers, Sibelius works beautifully as a musical word processor. … There’s a shortcut for almost anything you might want to do, and it’s in this area that Sibelius scores (ahem) over its rivals.”

Sibelius is aimed at the musically literate amongst us, with its emphasis on scoring. However, it has very good playback features too, using Kontakt Player Silver to turn your score into an orchestra. You can even burn a CD of your composition.

The Dynamic Parts feature, new in this version, scores (ha ha) very highly. Sibelius 4 automatically treats every score as a collection of parts, cutting down on manual part extraction. They say this is an excellent feature for arrangers — indeed, it sounds like the sort of thing you would expect a computer to do for you.

They also discuss the new scoring for video features, and describe them as “very intuitive”. You can attach video to a score and synchronise them — it even comes with a sample video in case you’ve got no money left for a camera after buying Sibelius.

The last couple of Sibelius updates have had dozens, if not scores (chuckle) of improvements, as they point out: “There are so many useful additions in the most recent versions — including the Kontakt Player Silver synth — that it’s well worth taking the plunge.”

The final score (stop it, you’re killing me) is a perfect 10 out of 10, with an extra award for Performance to go with the Editor’s Choice. They say Sibelius 4 is a very good arranging tool, excellent for teachers too, great for video scoring, and produces fantastic sheet music. “If you’re just a ‘latest thing junkie’, you can buy Sibelius 4 with our blessing. It’s still the best scoring application there is, and you won’t be disappointed.”

27 September 2005

M-Audio Trigger Finger review — Computer Music

Filed under: Hardware at 10:11 pm (no comments)
trigger-finger

Trigger Finger, M-Audio’s MIDI pad controller, gets a great review in Computer Music magazine. They point out that this is more than just a drum pad controller — the eight rotary controls and four faders raise it up a notch or two in the MIDI controller stakes. The pads themselves are pressure-sensitive as well as velocity-sensitive, and the pressure values can be mapped to any MIDI parameter; they are impressed with this and say that it offers “massive creative potential.”

The unit itself is “sturdy and rigid”, which is a good quality in something that will spend a lot of time being tapped, stroked, knocked, and occasionally thumped in the pursuit of the perfect beat. And the pads are “sensitive and responsive, making the controller productive and rewarding to use.”

The pads, faders and dials can be mapped to your chosen application, and the Trigger Finger comes with pre-programmed maps for Ableton Live, Reason and other programs. Speaking of Live, Ableton Live Lite 4 is included with the Trigger Finger — sounds good, but the MIDI assign function is disabled in this version, which they say “seriously negates its usefulness”! You’ll just have to buy Live 5 separately then.

Overall, they love this controller. They say it’s responsive and easy to use and give it 9 out of 10. “Well designed and very playable, the Trigger Finger sets a whole new standard for ppad-based controllers.”

Numark PT01 turntable review — Create Digital Music

Filed under: Hardware at 6:23 pm (no comments)
pt01

The always-good Create Digital Music website reviewed Numark’s PT01 turntable. In fact, they didn’t just review it, they took it out into the desert and played a gig with it. “Using the PT01s in the desert was a dream. The dust covers kept them clean while packed away in my tent and they were easy to grab, setup and spin due to their light weight. The sound was great, the pitch control was super-useful and the built-in cartridges saved me from near disaster when I completely forgot to bring a set.” Hmm, built-in cartridges on a DJ deck? Well, it is meant to be a cheap portable.

I don’t know if I would take it out into the desert (if I ever go to one), but they do come up with a much more practical use for the PT01: record shopping. “If you live for climbing through stacks of vinyl at used record stores or garage sales, it takes nothing to bring along a PT01 to preview a record before you buy it via in the built-in speaker.” Forget the iPod Nano — how much cooler to sit in a coffee shop listening to 12″s on a turntable?

Their verdict: “If you’re looking for a portable turntable to try-before-you-buy or to breathe new life into your long-forgotten vinyl collection, then the Numark PT01 is for you.” I think that means it’s for me.

Cameleon 5000 1.6 released

Filed under: Music software at 10:36 am (no comments)
cameleon-5000-1

Camel Audio have released version 1.6 of Cameleon 5000, their additive synthesizer which specialises in pads and evolving textures. The update adds an improved noise generator with key tracking for brighter, crisper sounds, an improved reverb, key tracking on the filter, improved editing abilities as well as other feature enhancements and bug fixes.

Cameleon’s main interface element is very unusual — it’s the morph square which Camel say “allows you to morph between four different instruments at once. You can also use the morph timeline to create rhythmic loops, evolving soundscapes and pads. Uniquely, Cameleon comes with a range of preset morph timelines, to make creating new sounds even easier.” Like other software instruments Atmogen and MetaSynth, Cameleon can turn images into sounds — you can import a picture into Cameleon and it will use the image data to create a sound.

Cameleon has many interesting features: “It breaks sounds down into both a harmonic and noise component resulting in much higher quality, and greater flexibility. No other additive synth is able to perform multi-sampling resynthesis, which results in much more realistic and expressive sounds.”

As for the Cameleon 1.6 update, the website says that it comes with an extra 200 presets, for a total of 800, as well as new harmonic and noise profiles. There are also a couple of new Cameleon sound banks. The update and new sound banks are all free to registered users; here’s a full list of new features.

  • improved noise generator for brighter, crisper sounds (select LQ for old noise compatibility)
  • key tracking for noise generator (KT above noise on easy page)
  • key tracking for filter (KT above cutoff)
  • improved reverb
  • 200 extra presets included (now over 800, with over 1000 more available from the website)
  • new and improved harmonic and noise profiles, extra images
  • easier harmonic editing (log scale)
  • copy/paste harmonic and noise profiles between voices and presets
  • easy partial detune reset (click on central bar for zero detune)
  • easier to select points
  • bug fixes — soft cut fixed, copy button correctly labeled (Mac), Digital Performer issues solved
  • new demo presets, demo restrictions reduced — 15 minute timeout removed, longer between silences

26 September 2005

Synful Orchestra review — Computer Music

Filed under: Music software at 11:59 pm (no comments)
synful-orchestra

Computer Music magazine reviews the Synful Orchestra plugin. They give it full credit for its new approach to orchestral synthesis, and say the sounds you can get from it are very good — “You can come up with realistic results in Orchestra within mninutes of firing it up.” The user interface is simple and the various parameters are preset appropriately, so “it really is very easy to use.”

They recommend Synful Orchestra to anyone who needs a simple and quick way of creating convincing orchestral music, but they do have some reservations. Editing program names seems a bit retro — only 13 characters of the name is shown, and you can’t always tell which 13 will appear! This can make deleting programs a hit-or-miss procedure. Unfortunately, they found the manual not very helpful on sorting this out.

Because of these idiosyncrasies, they rate Synful Orchestra as 7 out of 10. They do give it a special award for Innovation however, and say that the program is easy to get started with, and most importantly, it “sounds great.”