Free Eventide UltraChannel plug-in (until July 8th)

When the words free and quality happen to meet, ANR is always here to share the good news with you. This time it's REALLY great news, since we're talking of Eventide, since 30 years a top name in the audio industry. They just announced a special promotion, running until July 8th 2014, for their new native channel strip plug-in, UltraChannel. Available for AU, VST, and AAX64 for Mac and PC, featuring micro pitch functionality from Eventide's flagship H8000, stereo delays with variable feedback paths, plus two stages of compression, gating, and five bands of parametric EQ.
UltraChannel is available as a free download through midnight July 8, 2014, after which it will cost $249.

To get UltraChannel visit this special promotional page and use the following access code: 06E3F20B

Note: You DON'T need an iLok, you'll just need to download (if you are not using it already) the iLok License Manager free application. Further instructions on the Eventide page. Enjoy! :-)

Spitfire Audio BML Bones Vol 1 review





Spitfire audio is a UK company established in 2008 by a couple of film composers looking for good sample material they could use for their projects. Encouraged to commercialize their work, they are now are a benchmark for orchestral sample libraries the world over.

The British Modular Library is a massive collection of all the separate orchestral sections, unfinished as of yet, so far the library consists of symphonic and chamber strings, horns, flute and low brass. Bones Vol. 1 is the latest addition.

Using the firmly established king of the soft samplers; Kontakt (full version required), Bones Vol 1 is 40GB (uncompressed) samples of Tenor and Bass trombones played by some of the best instrumentalists in London, recorded with several mic positions in AIR studios - home of some of the biggest soundtrack recordings, such as Gladiator, James Bond, and Harry Potter to name a few.

2 players per section - the future volumes will have soloists - but this one is recordings of two tenors and two bass trombonists.

The GUI has been scripted with ease of access to all the various elements and performance parameters. All the basic articulations are covered - laid out on a stanza, with each note representing the particular articulation. Very easy to access. I really like that the articulations are all there for really simple switching. If you want to go template crazy, there is also an option to load up separate articulations as their own instrument. But the simplicity of this layout seems to make it unnecessary to me.



Legato
Longs (regal)
Longs cuivre - a more edgy tone
Marcato
tenuto
Shorts staccatissimo
Multi tongue (double triple and quadruple blimey!)
Rips and Falls
FX Glissandi


Mic Positions

There are four main positions (Close, Tree, Ambient, Outriggers) 3 other secondary positions, which as of this review are being released imminently (Stereo Mic, Gallery mics, Close Ribbons) and 3 set positions created by Spitfire's chief engineer Jake Jackson for more economic setups (Broad cinematic symphonic mix, Medium - more intimate but very classy version of the mix and Fine - a more detailed and immediate sound with less hall)

The different mic positions are lovely. The Dry mic truly is dry, which is refreshing. A lot of the 'dry' mics on other libraries still have enough room in the sample to not be able to take away from the symphonic hall feeling. This dry mix gives you the opportunity to get that tenor trombone in your electro track without it sounding like it's been recorded on a different planet. Combined with the rips and falls, and other fx, this is definitely the closest library yet for trombone that I could forsee being used in genres other than massive film scores.

I also like the way that you can save mic positions as presets - you find the position and amounts of mics that you want, and you can transfer that preset to another instance you load up, or presumably also different BML modules.

Expression controls

The expected expression controls are to the right of the panel, each with set #CC. But alongside Dynamics and expression, there are some more exotic but extremely useful parameters to control - a nice Vibrato control, a speed control that enables you to change the speed of the legato between notes - very useful from slow to quick note movement. Another - tightness, is an excellent control parameter: The amount of times I’ve been frustrated with fast ostinato passages, because the sample is recorded from the beginning of the sound, and one of the round robin attacks is very slow, which creates weird sloppy timing. Tightness removes that problem.

Ostinato Panel

You can really have fun with this element of the library. You can play in the notes you'd like to feature in the ostinato, and either have them play as chords, or separately. You then select the rhythm you'd like the pattern to play (you can save 8 per instrument in the drop down menu), hit the notes, and off you go. From marches to crazy arpeggios made with a few simple clicks.

The death of Keyswitching

As sample libraries have expanded, and taken over more of the keyboard range, the traditional keyswitches for changing articulations have been pushed out to the extreme ends of the keyboard. Cue multiple button pressing to get to the keyswitches, which are in different places per instrument library anyway, and you end up just automating them in later, with no small amounts of grumbling.

Enter the UACC - Universal Articulation Controller Channel. This is a solid move by Spitfire to unify articulation switching across the entire range of their virtual sample instruments. When you lock the articulations to UACC you lock all the articulations to 1 Midi #CC (number 32 by default), using all the midi data points (127) for the different standard articulations (listed on Spitfire's website)

This is made in mind of the now standard switch controller, or iPad app to switch between all these points. You could use automation data on ONE track to ensure that the articulation you select for that particular section of the music will always be to the right selection. I really hope that this works out, as it seems to be a very succinct solution to a growing frustration, and could have a profound affect on the speed at which articulations are automated, especially if they're used across the whole of Spitfires range (and further...)

If that’s not enough, there’s also some alternative ideas some of which I think are very clever. By control clicking on the articulation button, an option menu pops up, giving you quite a large amount of options of how to switch to that current articulation. The standards (Keyswitch, velocity range) are there, but there’s also CC range, Midi channel, and my favorite - ‘By speed of playing’. The computer measures how fast you are playing notes, and by ranges you define, the articulation can switch between smooth long legatos to marcato, to staccato, just by speeding up!

The sound

The sound is incredible. The legato is smooth, the different articulations are gorgeous sounding, and clear. One of the intentions of the creators of the Spitfire sound was to have a natural sounding library - complete with little quirks and tweaks of the players, (such as small lip buzzes, or slight bends in the tuning) with the understanding that as part of a larger whole the little artifacts add to the realism of the full sound. In fact, I found some of it a little too much - especially the louder samples which I felt over emphasized the natural flattening that occurs once full volume is reached. But one of the great things about this library script set-up, is that if you’re not wanting the quirks and the squeaks you can punch in each and every round robin, tweaking various elements such as tuning, volume, release, or you can remove that note from the sequence. Brilliant!

You can see a really in depth walkthrough of Bones Vol 1 on a great video posted by spitfire themselves:




Conclusion
Spitfire audio are really challenging the market for fantastic sounding orchestral sample libraries. The Bones module is no different, with a full coverage of the various tones and timbres the orchestral trombone player would be expected to perform. The sound, it goes without saying, is excellent, and out of the box you can create great Trombone lines. However, like a luxury sedan, it has all the mod cons - you want to change or tweak it to fit your style/template/demands, it can do it, all in a cleverly laid out script. The constant clicking through menus and buttons to get the sound you are looking for has been minimized, which for speed of writing, is essential.

Price
279 GBP (Roughly $470)

...The sound is incredible. The legato is smooth, the different articulations are gorgeous sounding, and clear....


Product page

PROS
  • Excellent, authentic sound
  • Fantastic attention to detail
  • Real promise with a new version of keyswitching.
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
  • For Symphonic Trombones, this is brilliant, and even for pop brass, this library would fit. For an addition to a full orchestral library, it’s unbeatable. If you’re a beginner orchestrator on a budget, I would look for full orchestral packages.
CONS
  • Tuning slightly flat on very loud full notes (although you can change that)


Written by ANDY DOLLERSON

Cableguys Filtershaper 3: Make Your Music Wobble

We reviewed Cableguys impressive Curve 2 synth a couple of years ago, and were very impressed with the huge feature set and great sound of the synth. Their unusual cloud style preset design has created a great user community, and attracted some great synthesists and artists who contribute in various ways. So it goes without saying that we were excited to receive the latest plugin from the guys in Germany.

Filtershaper3 is the next installment of Cableguys effects plugin. No prizes for guessing the main reason for Filtershaper’s existence. However, with a bit of diving about, it seems Filtershaper3 has more under the hood than just plain old filters.

Slotting right in to the current product line, the refined color palette of orange, grey and black is the new look for Filtershaper 3.

The GUI is dominated by the cutoff knobs for the two filters. A click on the Menu list above the knobs gives you a massive choice of filter types, from clean non-resonant 6DB through to a new addition of the classic Sallen-Key emulation filters. Each filter has a resonance, drive and resonance distortion, adding nice grit and grime to the filtered sound. There’s a mix knob which allows the user to choose how much of each filter to have. You can choose to have the filters run serially or in parallel to each other.

The filters sound good. They hold their own against other digital filters available. But they're not really the selling point of the plugin, to me. Filtershaper3 really stands on its own with the modulation section at the bottom of the plugin GUI.

Most of the main controls of the filtershaper plugin are modifiable by two LFO’s, and a very simple envelope follower for each parameter. Clicking on a small button to the top right of the appropriate knob will open up two windows displaying any current or recent audio played, overlaid with bright orange LFO waveshapes. LFO wave shapes can be chosen from the basic starting points (sine, triangle etc), and edited from there, adding soft curves and hard angles with various mouse clicks. The LFO’s can be tempo synced to host, or free, and you can choose how intensely the oscillator affects the control it is pointed at. The synced tempo speed goes up to 1/128 - enabling some pretty crazy gritty sounds! Creating your own waveshapes gives you the opportunity to use Filtershaper as an effect to create subtle movement within the sound, or as heavy duty mix controls - such as creating a pumping side chain effect for example.

One thing I really loved about the LFO windows are the magnification elements. You can fill the screen with one LFO window, giving you really good detail to work the Waveform around - if you wanted to have the waveform at a certain position at a certain point in the sound, it’s easy to find. Once you’ve created a waveform you like, you can save them, enabling pasting to other LFO's

Interestingly, the modulators can themselves be modulated - the intensity control, or the depth of the LFO can be modified in the same way - giving another level of modulation.

As with all Cableguys plugins, the user community directly affects your preset library. Thousands of presets present themselves once you link up with the Cableguys cloud system. There are several ways to search for plugins; by name, type, star rating, etc. The presets you create can be saved and kept private to your computer, or shared with the community when you next sync up with the cloud database.

There are definite pros and cons to this - you are opening up your system to gather presets from anyone and everyone. The benefits of this is that you literally download thousands of presets created by whoever decided to upload their creations to the web. While I’m not by any means a preset snob - I wonder if perhaps the filtering system of the presets could be a little more deft - allowing for different levels of experience, or more obvious ‘Cableguys Official’ preset creators. I don’t want to bash it too much, however, as it is a very adventurous step in preset library curation. I think the potential here is a lot greater than the closed off in-box system of most other plugins.

Here’s a great tutorial by Myagi on Youtube:




Conclusion
Filtershaper3 is a really fun plugin. I love the obvious thought put into the ergonomics of the plugin, and I think they’ve come up trumps with the balance of intuitive utility to potential sonic mayhem. While the filters don’t necessarily stand out as world beaters, they still sound great, and the real weapon of the plugin is it’s modulation capabilities. I guess Filtershaper sounds better than Elefohper.

Price
$89

...the real weapon of the plugin is it’s modulation capabilities...


Product page

PROS
  • Simple to use
  • Great waveform magnification for detailed sound sculpting
  • Deep Modulation options
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
  • If you’re just wanting great sounding filters for your music, I’d skip software altogether, and look at hardware. For creating movement in sound, this plugin’s got loads of tricks
CONS
  • None really at the price


Written by Andy Dollerson

iPad Music Making Apps: Classics For a Reason - pt. 2



Samplr is a creative performance looping sampler that can take 6 separate channels of sounds that you either load in, or record directly in to the app, enabling the user to creatively manipulate the sounds to come up with some fantastic ideas and gestural performances that can be extremely useful for idea making, and even to a small extent live use if you're feeling brave.

Marcos Alonso - the creator of Samplr, was part of the Reactable team - the music table made famous by Bjork (review on the Reactable iPad app to come!) He’s now bogged off to Apple.



Samplr is a very good looking app - some would say inspired by the simple lines of Teenage engineering’s OP-1 synth. Bright colors on a dark background, filling the iPad window, but not feeling cluttered. Upon opening the app - there’s a simple and useful tutorial that points out all the elements of the app, and how to use them.

There are 8 different ways of interacting with the samples, which you can switch between by simply selecting from the bank:

Slicer
Looper
E-bow
Tape
Scratch
Keyboard
Loop Player
arpeggiator.

Here's a video of the different play modes in Samplr




They’re all very intuitive and self explanatory; All providing slightly different ways of interacting with the samples. For example Slicer splits the samples into slices, and by tapping on any slice you can play it. Looper plays fragments of the sample between two placed fingers. E bow will play small elements of the sample around your fingers as you place them. And so on. In terms of utilizing the multimode capabilities of the iPad - for sound manipulation, this one’s hard to beat. The characteristics of each method reflect very differently on different samples, and you can get really beautiful sounds with not much effort.

Once you’ve got some sweet samples loaded up, it’s easy to set anchor points for each sample, loop them - record yourself playing the samples, by using any of the playback methods and loop that performance, quantize and tune your actions etc. As mentioned before, there are 6 tracks to really build song ideas on.

This would be enough for a really good scratch pad for your song ideas. But it goes further:

There are 6 effects on each track, and a master effects window. Reverb, comp, delay, distortion, all the usual suspects. All good quality, and in an X/Y window that affects 2 parameters per effect (delay time and feedback for example) One wish I would have is that you could record your movements on the effects window. That would add more dimension to the effects in samplr.

Integration

In terms of audio integration, Samplr is simple and useful. You can record directly through the microphone input, Audiobus integration means tight connections with other instruments on the iPad. There’s dropbox support for up and downloading samples. And you can do it the old way of adding samples to the iTunes app on the computer and syncing.


Conclusion
This is my goto tool for inspiration when I'm traveling. I either load up prerecorded sounds that I've already saved in the software, or record them live using the inbuilt mic access, or audio copying from another app such as DM1 or Animoog. The immediate satisfaction of this program is unparalleled in my opinion on iOS. There isn't anything else out there that can compete with Samplr for creative idea making. The GUI is beautiful and clearly laid out with thin, colorful idents that show exactly what's going on all the time. The only downside I could find is that it’s not really solid in terms of midi sync. Slaving to an external clock causes a few minor issues. I would hesitate to use this in live settings that are any more than fun times. The only other comment I would add to my wishlist for this app would be the ability to record effects with gestures, to create a bit of movement within the effects themselves. But as a scratchpad, for coming up with ideas on the road - this is definitely my number one app in terms of solid creative potential.

Price
$10

...This is my goto tool for inspiration when I'm traveling...


Product page

PROS
  • Very very intuitive. The immediacy is very welcoming An absolute dream to create really fun music on.
CONS
  • Support for app seems to be dwindling
  • Midi sync issues




Borderlands

Borderlands granular is an award winning sample playback app, that focuses on granular sampling. It’s a simpler app than Samplr to find your way around - more of a one trick pony. Yet what a beautiful pony it is. I think this, alongside Samplr is the best looking music app out in the iOSphere at this point in time. It’s a wonder to look at.

Most of the Ipad screen is your canvas, Thin ghostlike resizeable waveforms drop on as you load them. A double tap of your fingers and you start creating beautiful grain cloud musical ambience. If you’re into ambient electronica, I’d say this app should be an essential element of your recording setup.



Borderlands comes with 4 sounds as standard, and it’s possible through adding sounds to the app on iTunes and syncing, to upload your own sounds. However, it's a bit of a pain in the arse, and there has been plenty of grumbling, and confusion about this in the user group.

Upon double tapping anywhere on the resizable audio waveforms the cloud point is created. Another double tap, and you can tweak various parameters of that point, such as number of grains, duration of grains, lfo modulation etc. As you play the sounds, you can record your performance, and upload to soundcloud.

Here’s a video of borderlands in action, as played by its creator, Chris Carlson.




Conclusion
This is a very simple app - you can’t really make much more than soundscapes with it, but within that narrow field, you can really create beautiful ambient textures. Borderlands is an exceptional app. There’s promises of a large update coming, but the creator Chris Carlson seems like a very busy chap, and this promised update has already been over a year coming. Hopefully the update will address the one area that the app falls down - the connectivity with the outside world. There’s no audio bus support, and the method of getting audio files into the app is annoying at best. Dropbox support would enable a lot faster import and export of files. More options than soundcloud would be welcomed too. But, the sounds you can create! The immediacy of interacting with audio waveforms, and picking out the area you want to sample directly with your finger is just so inspiring! I really hope the next update is soon in coming - because it could really turn this app into a killer music creation machine.

Price
$4

...The immediacy of interacting with audio waveforms, and picking out the area you want to sample directly with your finger is just so inspiring!...


Product page

PROS
  • Beautiful sound. Again, very engaging, simple and intuitive
CONS
  • Outside connectivity very very limited, but huge improvements promised with upcoming update
Written by Andy Dollerson