Laptop Studio — Music software reviews, news and info for computer music

Same Day Music

10 October 2005

Stylus RMX 1.5 released

Filed under: Music software at 11:31 pm Comments Off on Stylus RMX 1.5 released

Spectrasonics Stylus RMX has been updated — Stylus RMX 1.5 is now available. It’s the same price as previous versions, or free to registered users of the previous version. Major new features include a completely redesigned and expanded patch library, support for many more hardware controllers, and a Chaos Designer “Buzz” feature. The “Buzz” allows many interesting effects including “unusual tonal buzzing noises” to add that little bit of glitchy fun to your next laptop gig.

The website lists the new features — here is a summary of the highlights.

The 1.5 update offers a completely new factory patch library, including 500 new Multi Grooves and 250 new Kits created by the acclaimed Spectrasonics sound design team, which take advantage of all the new features and effects that have been added since the original release of Stylus RMX. The complete patch library is now also organized by mood and genre. The expanded Groove Elements sound directory adds new “Tonal Elements” and “4×4 Kicks” suites geared for European dance club styles. The Core Library update also includes new Example Groove Menus in various genres — such as Drum ‘n’ Bass, Electronica, Urban, Percussion, Film Action/Suspense/Chase, etc.

The unique new Chaos Designer “Buzz” feature allows real-time stutter edits, “bouncing-ball” and unusual tonal buzzing noises to be instantly applied to any groove, sound menu and Edit Group. The user can control the time between the repeats to get different pitches of buzzing, as well as controlling the acceleration speed and direction of the repeat FX. Chaos can be applied to the probability of how often the buzz effect is heard, as well as chaotically varying the range of acceleration and the range of time and pitch change. Buzz is a wild effect that’s perfect for creative electronic music remixing in real-time.

With the performance improvements in v1.5, Stylus RMX now has doubled the number of active Edit Groups to 16. This brings the total number of RMX parameters to over 20,000 in a single instance!

A selection of custom MIDI Learn templates for some of the most popular hardware controllers on the market including the Korg microKontrol, Kontrol 49, Behringer BCR/BCF-2000, M-Audio Trigger Finger, O2, Ozonic and others. Full documentation and detailed tutorials are also provided for users to create and share their own hardware controller RMX templates for any MIDI device.

Other new features include:

  • Comprehensive Integrated Documentation
  • Over 4.5 Hours of New Video Tutorials Included
  • Windows RTAS Support
  • Conversion Support for more Groove Control Libraries
  • Batch Conversion of REX Files and Libraries
  • Browse Core Library by Genre & Category
  • New MIDI Learn Features
  • Expanded LFO Sync Capabilities
  • Enhanced Browser Display Mode
  • Show Author
  • New Edit Group Functions in Groove Menu Mode
  • New Confirmation Dialogs

Purity software workstation

Filed under: Music software at 2:30 pm Comments Off on Purity software workstation

Purity, from Korean outfit Luxonix (“for Youth, Ambition, and Love of Music”), is an all-in-one music workstation in software. It runs as a standalone synth, or as a VST or AU plug-in. It’s a 16-part multi-instrument with 24 built-in effects, and an integrated mixer and sequencer. There’s also a patch editor and preset browser, Luxonix are the makers of the Ravity software ROMpler, so if you liked that then Purity looks to be worth considering.

Their website talks a lot about the technology behind Purity, but the actual specs are more interesting reading. Here is a summary: “Purity provides rich sound sources to create professional music of any kind and any purpose. Purity is based on well-sampled PCM wave data include a lot of sound of hardware workstations, sound modules, drum machines, vintage analog synths and even modern digital synths. Moreover, Purity comes with over 1000 ready-to-use sound presets that are most popular in each era of the electronic music. The integrated sequencer and the sequenced patches inspire your musical potential.”

3 October 2005

CHRONOStream timestretching application

Filed under: Music software at 5:41 pm (1 comment)

CHRONOStream is a timestretching and pitch correction application from Japanese software house PSoft. Its interface allows you to independently vary the pitch and tempo of a track while it is playing. You can also shift the formant of a vocal track to change the character of a voice — for example, male to female.

The selling point seems to be their algorithms, which they say are faster and better than other techniques. Their website has more details on this, and also seems to demonstrate the current state of machine translation technology. They say: “CHRONOStream is the software which has outstanding quality of time-stretching and pitch-shifting. It makes it possible to scale time and pitch of audio data without any incompatibility. It means that the software allows you to shifting pitch without time lengths changes, and to controlling time lengths without sound files edits.

CHRONOStream is well designed to be used by every user. Even professional musicians, for example, may need CHRONOStream to get high quality results with it. Moreover, there may be some use it to edit instrumental performances, and some use it to arrange mastering data.”

The demo is certainly fun to play with, though I’m not sure how easy it would be to integrate it with other sound tools. It does sound pretty good though. Apart from music use, they suggest you could use it for a meeting. “Record the workshop or conference scene by voice recorder, and play the recorded sound by CHRONOStream on your PC. Fast-forward if you like. You can change the speech of blue streak to speaker in a slow way.” I couln’t have said it better myself.

1 October 2005

Applied Acoustics String Studio review — Keyboard

Filed under: Music software at 11:48 am Comments Off on Applied Acoustics String Studio review — Keyboard

Keyboard magazine reviews the String Studio VST instrument from Applied Acoustics Systems. This is a physical modelling (or modeling, if you prefer) synth that lets you customize and tweak sounds to a great level of detail. They say it’s a bit on the esoteric side, and not exactly cheap, but on the other had it can take you to the “land of magical weirdness” so it’s got to be worth investigating.

The interface is dedicated to letting you control every parameter of the string model, which gives you a lot of power and a lot of room to mess up. This is probably a good thing if you’re looking for unusual sounds. “While the string parameters are the focus of the program, AAS doesn’t stop there. Parameters can be controlled via MIDI or your host automation, which adds another layer of expressiveness. The Arpeggiator isn’t earth-shattering; there are only four choices of note orders and 16 steps. But arpeggiators seem particularly enamored of short, percussive sounds, and String Studio delivers those in spades.”

They say that AAS have succeeded in their aim of producing “a synthesizer capable of realistic emulation of individual string instruments but also a creative tool for unusual textures and sounds from other-worldly instruments.”

In the end they say that String Studio is not for everyone, but if you can handle it there’s nothing else like it: “This is no program for newbies, and is clearly more for pros and sound designers. As such, the cost may not be a problem for those in quest of new sounds — it’s worth it. … Being able to create the kind of unique sounds String Studio produces will more than justify the bucks to people who like the sonic equivalent of white-water rafting. I give a lot of points to software capable of creating sounds that cause heads to turn.”

30 September 2005

ManyGuitar VST instrument

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

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.

28 September 2005

SampleRobot review — Computer Music

Filed under: Music software at 8:31 pm Comments Off on SampleRobot review — Computer Music

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 Comments Off on Sibelius 4 review — Computer Music

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

Cameleon 5000 1.6 released

Filed under: Music software at 10:36 am Comments Off on Cameleon 5000 1.6 released

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 Comments Off on Synful Orchestra review — Computer Music

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.”

25 September 2005

Steinberg Virtual Bassist review — Computer Music

Filed under: Music software at 11:50 pm Comments Off on Steinberg Virtual Bassist review — Computer Music

Steinberg’s Virtual Bassist VST instrument gets a review in Computer Music magazine, who give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. First impressions count for a lot, and they call the Virtual Bassist user interface well-designed and clearly laid out; “The controls all hang together well, and allow you to sculpt an impressively broad range of tones.”

They mention a few of the little features of Virtual Bassist that allow even a simple one-finger keyboard player to generate a rich, live-sounding bass line. Note mode allows easy playing of chords, and the latch function has the program continue playing even when you stop. This enables Virtual Bassist to just keep playing, and you need only “nudge” it every so often to inject a bit of variation.

You can select various tones and types of bass, and styles ranging from ’60s soul to nu-metal and most points in between. There are also several virtual effects pedals, with the Wah in particular scoring high marks.

Numerically, Virtual Bassist scores a very good 9 out of 10. They sum up by saying, “this is an accomplished piece of software capable of creating credible and high quality basslines and sounds that would be at home in both bedroom and professional productions.” Or even professional bedroom productions, I suppose. In the end they say that this is the best so far of Steinberg’s virtual instruments — “Virtual Bassist is a whole lot of software goodness that’s well worth the asking price.”