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23 July 2005

Studio to Go! 1.5 review — Sound on Sound

Filed under: Music software at 6:15 pm Comments Off on Studio to Go! 1.5 review — Sound on Sound

Sound on Sound review the Studio to Go! 1.5 music suite bootable CD. They like the simplicity of setup and the fact that technical support is included, and the range of software is pretty good. They warn that you need a fast PC for it run smoothly, and there can be some hardware incompatibilities that mean you’ll be using that tech support.

They write: “Ultimately, the portability advantages of Studio To Go will be constrained by the quality and Linux-compatibility of the PC hardware that you have access to. The price-to-storage ratio of USB memory sticks tends to make the combination of Studio To Go and one of these more suitable for MIDI work than lengthy multitrack audio sessions, and I suspect most people who want to use the software seriously will take the step of installing it permanently to a hard disk. However, running Studio To Go from the CD-ROM is a quick, easy and reasonably priced way of taking a look at Linux music software, or testing the suitability of your PC for running it.”

22 July 2005

Studio to Go! 1.5

Filed under: Music software at 4:24 pm (1 comment)

Fervent Software has released version 1.50 of their music creation suite Studio to Go! This software is a bit unusual: it runs off a bootable CD, so you can carry the CD around and use it anywhere, without installing it. It only runs on Windows PCs, but it actually boots into Linux, and all the software (I think) is open source.

A lot of software is included on the CD; the website has the full list. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Rosegarden 1.2 (Fervent build) audio and MIDI sequencer and score editor, including audio multitracking
  • LilyPond score typesetter for creating notation output
  • JACK Audio infrastructure
  • Mixers: QAMix, HDSPMixer, envy24control
  • Audacity audio editor (Fervent build with JACK support)
  • Rezound audio file editor
  • Sweep (plus jackasyn for JACK support)
  • Ardour hard disk recorder
  • JACK Time Machine
  • K3b CD/DVD burning
  • KAudioCreator
  • Effects boxes – Creox, JACK Rack, FreqTweak, QMidiArp
  • Softsynths, FluidSynth-DSSI, QSynth, TiMidity++
  • Hydrogen — drum machine
  • Hexter DX7 Modeling Synth
  • Sound drivers
  • Lots of effects
  • Hundreds of plugins

I knew there is a lot of decent music software in the Linux world. Interesting how this package brings this software to the PC world. I haven’t really used much of this software (except Audacity), so it would be interesting to try it out.

20 July 2005

Ableton Live 5 — beta released

Filed under: Music software at 10:03 pm Comments Off on Ableton Live 5 — beta released

Ableton Live version 5 will be out very soon. They have a public beta testing program running, so you can have a look at the new Live and try out some of the new features.

The beta version has a few limitations:

  • The system language cannot be set to Japanese.
  • The skin can only be set to the default.
  • Only a limited set of presets, samples, Live Sets and lessons is included.
  • Beta versions cannot be used after a certain date (depends on the beta version)

The website says that no manual is included, but actually there is a PDF manual in the package. Clearly, the lack of Japanese won’t be a problem if you’re reading this website, and you can probably live without a funky skin. The smaller number of presets, etc., won’t stop you from getting a good feel for the program though. Best to jump in and try out the new features now, before the beta program ends.

18 July 2005

Kontakt Experience

Filed under: Music software at 10:43 pm Comments Off on Kontakt Experience

Native Instruments have released Kontakt Experience, a sample collection specifically designed for their Kontakt 2 workstation software. It’s actually more like an expansion pack than a simple library, as it includes scripts as well, which act as mini-plugins.

The Native Instruments website says: Kontakt Experience is the perfect complement to Kontakt 2. This essential expansion pack is far more than just an arbitrary collection of samples. Using the new features of Kontakt 2, like scripting, convolution, surround, its new filters as well as beat-, tone- and time-machine, Kontakt Experience reveals a world of creativity that fully exploits the potential within this immensely powerful sampler. This exquisite sample library reproduces the characteristics of some of the most popular contemporary hardware synthesizers and offers a wide range of new scripts, loops, sounds and drum kits.

Kontakt Experience includes a total of 128 unique instruments divided into ten categories. All instruments have been expertly crafted by renowned artists and professional sound designers covering a wide range of musical styles. The instruments are structured so that they are all highly intuitive and easy to use. New Kontakt scripts such as the loop designer and the drum computer afford incredible flexibility and inject new life into standard instruments. Specialized vocal sounds, animated drum kits, arpeggiated and modern lead synths as well as intricate construction kits form an inspirational collection of new sounds.

Top Features

  • Next generation sample library
  • 128 highly versatile KONTAKT 2 instruments
  • Sophisticated sound design utilizing brand new Kontakt 2 features such as script processing, convolution, new filters and other sound shaping features
  • 10 different instrument categories
  • 10 new scripts for the Kontakt Script Processor
  • Over 1.3 GB of content
  • Quick Edit controller assignment on every instrument
  • Sounds created by professional sound designers and artists

Ableton Live 5

Filed under: Music software at 4:39 pm (1 comment)

Ableton Live 5 will be released later this month. That was quick — didn’t Live 4 only come out a little while ago? Anyway, version 5 has many nifty new tricks. MP3 support, tempo matching, better sampler, and plugin delay compensation are some of the more notable ones. There are also some new effects. It all sounds good and should make a great program even better.

The Ableton website has the proud new announcement: Ableton is proud to announce the release of Live 5, the team’s biggest development effort since the initial release of Live in 2001. The version 5 feature set extends each aspect of Live — from creation to production to performance — while making the program easier and even more fun to use.

DAW Features. Live 5 includes advanced and creative DAW features to satisfy any audio professional. Read more about clip Freeze, plug-in delay compensation, launchable Arrangement locators and Mackie Control support

Remix Features. Get ready to remix! Live 5 includes a host of new remix-minded features, assuring instant remix and mash-up gratification. MP3 support, automatic tempo-matching, Complex Warp Mode and the new clip transport make remixing a breeze.

Organizational Tools. Never lose ideas again! Live 5 features simple tools for saving, previewing and accessing any idea on your hard drive. Explore the new “Live Clip” file format, better browsing, new preset management, Device Groups and the new library.

Instruments and Effects. Live 5 introduces a selection of innovative new devices, bringing even more creative possibilities. Check out Beat Repeat, Phaser, Flanger, Auto Pan, Saturator, Arpeggiator and the updated Simpler.

Live 5 also brings countless improvements to existing features; for instance, you can change the properties of multiple clips at once, resize and minimize the width of tracks in the Session View, use right-click context menus for most functions and use a count-in for recording. Version 5 is even easier to learn thanks to a new set of lessons and an improved lesson reader.

Digital Performer 4.6

Filed under: Music software at 4:26 pm Comments Off on Digital Performer 4.6

Digital Performer 4.6 is now available as a free download to users of version 4.5. This upgrade’s big new whiz-bang feature is Pitch Automation. DP detects the pitch of your audio track, and lets you simply draw in pitch correction (with or without formant shifting), drag sections to change notes, transpose, convert audio to MIDI, and various other pitch tricks. On their website they say, “this allows you to manipulate pitch non-destructively in real time using Digital Performer’s standard track-based automation features. From simple pitch correction using the pencil tool, to individual note transposition, to wholesale transposing of an entire audio track, you have unprecedented control over the pitch of your audio tracks.”

There are many other features, too. The Pattern Gate Plug-in is like a drum programming environment for programming complex, rhythmc gates. (And it looks nice too.) There are improvements to the way instruments and effects are managed, and lots of new features relating to film scoring. And there are many other little tweks. My favourite is the Audio Click feature: you can now use any sound you like for the click track (metronome), rather than having the standard boring click. This could really get out of hand — when the click track gets complicated enough, you can probably dispense with the actual music and just program click tracks.

Or maybe I’m just being silly.

Wusicstation version 2

Filed under: Music software at 3:30 pm Comments Off on Wusicstation version 2

The Wusikstation V2 VSTi is a hybrid synth and sampler VST plugin. It uses ordinary subtractive synthesis, but you can use any sample as the waveform instead of the usual sine wave, sawtooth, etc. Reviews of the first version have been generally very favourable, and Wusik have now released version 2.

Wusik say that Wusikstation comes with a 400 MB set of general synth sounds called “Famous Keys”, and 512 ready-to-use presets. The sounds included come from classic instruments like: ARP, Chroma Polaris, Elka, EML, Juno, Roland Modular, Matrix 12, Oscar, Waldorf, Roland 202, Hammond B3, Casio CZ, Alesis D4, JP6, Mellotron, Micro XT, MiniKorg, Moog Basses, Moog Source, Oberheim, Odyssey, Arp Omni (3 sounds), 3 Piano sounds, Polaris Ominous, Pro 52 Saws, 2 Rhodes and many more… Very 80’s Digital.

Version 2 has many new features, as you would probably expect. From the Wusikstation web page:

  • Better File/Preset dialog browser. Now you can organize your files the way you want to. This is a BIG change, as now you can organize very LARGE libraries using any number of level-down sub-directories. This covers SoundSets, Sounds and Presets.
  • Categorization of Presets now possible, thanks to the new File dialog above.
  • Comes with the DigiOne SoundSet for an extra 114 HQ presets.
  • MicroTuning support via Scala .TUN files
  • MouseWheel and Keyboard support for all hosts. Copy and Paste of Layers.
  • File-Search for when a SoundSet/Sound is not found.

Be careful though — some users have reported problems with this new version. Keep an eye on the support forums on the website for more information and updates.

Remix Nine Inch Nails

Filed under: Making music at 11:33 am Comments Off on Remix Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have released their upcoming single Only in several remix-friendly formats. The previous single The Hand That Feeds came with a GarageBand project, but you can download Only in four formats: GarageBand, Ableton Live, Acid, and even Pro Tools. The Pro Tools session has extra tracks containing alternative takes.

It’s a shame they didn’t release The Hand That Feeds in more formats — that track really needed some work. Only is one of my favourite tracks from the album; in fact, I am listening to it as I write this. My copy of Acid is playing up these days, so I may have a go with the Ableton Live version.

Reason 3 — minor update 3.0.3

Filed under: Music software at 11:27 am (2 comments)

Propellerheads have released a minor update of Reason, version 3.0.3, available for download on their website. This maintenance release has many bug fixes (about 20), some performance improvements, and more support for remote controllers.

They’re releasing upgrades and I haven’t even started playing with Reason 3 yet. Maybe it’s the interface that I find daunting — they have done a fantastic job of making Reason look like a real music rack — but aren’t computers supposed to make things simpler? Anyway, I’d better have a look at it before Reason 4 comes out.

The website has a full description of all the bug fixes and enhancements. Here’s what they say about the new features: This is a maintenance update for Reason 3.0 users that brings enhanced performance and stability and a few new additions.

Additions in Reason 3.0.3

  • Added Remote support for the Frontier Design Group TranzPort wireless controller
  • Added Remote support for the M-Audio Ozonic
  • Track mute and solo for selected track now controllable from Remote

USB Phono Plus — plug in your turntable

Filed under: Hardware at 11:05 am Comments Off on USB Phono Plus — plug in your turntable

The USB Phono Plus is a USB audio interface with a standalone Phono preamplifier. This looks really useful for plugging your turntable into your computer, and since it’s also a regular audio interface it will have more general use too. I need one of these so I can finally do something digital with my small but perfectly formed 12″ vinyl collection.

The press release from ART (Applied Research and Technology) says: The USB Phono Plus, (Formerly named the “USB Micro•PRE”) acts as an interface between your computer and a wide variety of analog and digital sources. The analog inputs are switchable between Phono and Line level signals and a low cut filter removes rumble and wind noise while leaving the audio pristine. The front gain trim control and signal/clip LED allow you to optimize the A/D for a wide range of input sources. The front panel USB monitor/headphone jack and the optical output on the rear panel can monitor audio output from your computer. The built-in low noise Phono preamp circuit is highly accurate and precisely conforms to the RIAA standard. The Line Output jacks are always connected to the input preamps signal for source monitoring.

Housed in an all aluminum black anodized case, the USB Phono Plus can be powered by either an external power source or directly off the USB port so remote recording is a snap. Optical TOSLINK inputs and outputs as well as S/PDIF inputs let you use the USB Phono Plus as a digital audio to USB interface as well. The USB Phono Plus is fully compliant with the USB 1.1 specification and uses USB adaptive mode for playback and USB asynchronous mode for record. It will work with the USB audio device drivers built into Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP or Macs with native USB support OS9.1 or greater or OSX. No special drivers are needed.

Upgrade your portable or desktop audio interface in one quick and easy step. The MSRP on the USB Phono Plus is $119.00 and will be available at music specialty stores Worldwide in August 2005.