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LOGIC PRO X 2016 THE IN-DEPTH GUIDE FOR THE CREATIVE MUSICIAN

LOGIC PRO X 2016


THE IN-DEPTH GUIDE FOR THE CREATIVE MUSICIAN

THE ULTIMATE
GUIDE TO
LOGIC PRO X

1.1GB

SAMPLES
+ 2.5 HRS VIDEO

Logic Pro X
2016
8.99

Compiled by the Logic Pro Xperts from MusicTech


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ISBN 978-1-909590-38-0

9 781909 590380

www.musictech.net

43 pages of workshops turn into a Logic power user!


Freeware 50! The best free software for your Logic setup
Great gear for your Logic studio revealed and rated
Packed DVD! 1.1GB copyright-free samples & 2.5hrs of video
20 EQ & MIDI tips + THE guide to mastering

Welcome MTF

Welcome

to Logic Pro X 2016, a special MusicTech Focus


dedicated to Apples finest music production DAW.
In this issue youll find everything you need to
make better music with Logic, from turning
scratch-pad melodies into full productions, to
in-depth workshops on some of Logics greatest
features. Kicking things off, theres a huge feature
on mixing
which should
have you
polishing up any looped ideas that you have sat on your hard
drive. There are also masterclasses on some of the
instruments that come bundled with Logic including the ever
faithful EXS sampler and the all-new Alchemy synth. We also
look at some of the best new tech that you can buy for your
Logic set-up including all the latest hardware and software.
We even round up the best six items in various studio
categories, hopefully taking the hard work out of your buying decisions. But its not just about
parting with cash because we also reveal the best free plug-ins that run with Logic on p24.
All in all, we should have you working better, faster and more productively with Logic and you can
now bolster your set up with the best freebies going. Not bad for one, albeit very special issue of
MusicTech. Enjoy the mag and keep those studio images (see page 38) coming!
Andy Jones Senior Editor, MusicTech & MusicTech.net
Email: andy.jones@anthem-publishing.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/MusicTechMag
Twitter @AndyJonesMT
Instagram: musictech_official
Tumblr: musictechofficial.tumblr.com

We should have you


working better, faster
and more productively
with Logic

Contributors
Mark Cousins, Keith Gemmell, Alex Holmes,
Hollin Jones, Huw Price
MUSICTECH FOCUS MAGAZINE
www.musictech.net
Anthem Publishing Ltd
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Art Editor Debra Barber
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Digital Editor Andy Price
andy.price@anthem-publishing.com
Multimedia Editor Alex Holmes
alex.holmes@anthem-publishing.com
Business Dev. Manager Di Marsh
di.marsh@anthem-publishing.com

Art Director Jenny Cook


jenny.cook@anthem-publishing.com

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2014 and 2015, all rights reserved. While we
make every effort to ensure that the factual
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cannot take any responsibility nor be held
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Please make every effort to check quoted


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Licensing enquiries Jon Bickley


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FOCUS Ableton Live 8 Volume 2

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MTF Contents

Issue 41

Logic Pro X 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO
LOGIC PRO X
POWER!

Do you want to produce the perfect mix, or arrange tunes like a pro? Ever
wondered what mastering is all about, or why the Alchemy synth in Logic
is so highly regarded? How about complete guides to the EXS sampler
and other Logic plug-ins? Or, better still, a guide to the best plug-ins that
you can get COMPLETELY FREE. Its all here in this very special issue
MTF Workshops

Start here

Whats new in Logic 10.2? p6

Logic in
p42-p78
depth
Get the best from Logic as we

take an in-depth look at the EXS


sampler, Alchemy and many more
of the softwares finest features
4 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41.contents.indd 4

Mix!

Mixing ideas in Logic p8

Arrange!

Produce complete songs p18

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17/11/2015 14:29

Contents MTF

MTF41 Logic 2016 Full listings

MTF Feature

Freeware!

Revealed: the best free music


software that runs on Logic p24

WORKSHOPS & TUTORIALS:


008 | Mixing in Logic
Mixing ideas into productions
018 | Arranging into Logic
Turning ideas into tunes
042 | Cinematic synth bass
046 | VA synthesis with Alchemy
050 | Vintage Keys in depth
054 | EXS24 sample mapping
074 | Drum Kit Designer
078 | Alchemy granular synthesis
034 | 20 EQ Tips
090 | 20 Mobile Music Making Tips
FEATURES

MTF Feature

Mastering:
The Guide

Give your music a pro sound p58

024 | Freeware for Logic!


The best free plug-ins you can get
038 | Show Off Your Studio
058 | Mastering: The Guide
All you need to sound professional
070 | Bluffers Guideto MIDI
082 | Interview: Aisling Brouwer
Scoring hit TV shows
086 | 6 Ways To get inspired
BUYERS GUIDES: 6 OF THE BEST
040 | Headphones

20 Top Tips to

EQ and
mobile
music
making
p34 & p90

068 | Real plug-ins


088 | Preamps
128 | Hardware emulations
SUBSCRIBE!
094 | MT & MTF offers here
MTF REVIEWS
096 | PB Carbon Electra synth
098 | Heavyocity Gravity library
100 | Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
102 | Best Service Era II library
104| Toontack Hip Hop EZX library
105| Sonokinetic Tutti Vox choir
106 | SBD Music I/O plug-in
107 | SL Cinematic Guitars plug-in

MTF 6 Of The Best

The best headphones,


plug-ins, preamps and
emulations revealed
p40, p68, p88 & p108

108 | Korg iM1 classic synth app


110 | Siren Audio G& F plug-ins
111 | U-He Hive synth
112 | NI Emotive Strings library
113 | Project Sam Swing! library
114 | Zero-G Haunted Ground
116 | MunroSonic Egg 100 monitors
116 | Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
120-127 | Mini Reviews
130 | On your MTF DVD
FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

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MT Studio

APPLES FREE SYNTH

ITS A KIND OF MAGIC

In case you missed it, Apple updated Logic to v10.2! Heres our
preview. Essentially, Apple is giving away a free synth and a
damn good one at that to all registered Logic owners

pple likes to drop updates to Logic on us without


warning, but at least they are usually significant
ones. So v10.2 might seem like only a small update,
but theres magic in that there decimal point.
Logic 10.2 is available now and free to registered users.
While the ability to upload your tracks to Apple Music
Connect (account needed) was expected, and the additional
Apple Loops (1000), update to Mainstage (3.2) and Force
Trackpad additions are welcome, its Alchemy that has been
tempting people to upgrade or even crossgrade. Alchemy is a
huge sample manipulation synth with multiple engines,
3,000 presets, multiple effects, arpeggiator and advanced
morphing features. Its a not totally-unexpected update to
a synth originally made by Camel Audio, a company acquired
by Apple at the start of the year. But this is a much-updated
Alchemy, and it is cleaner, bigger and very much fits into the
Pro X environment.
It has several synth engines: additive, spectral, granular
synthesis and resynthesis, sampling and virtual analogue,

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Alchemy is a free
synth that gives users
of other DAWs a
compelling reason to
give Logic a try

and allows you to import samples and manipulate them with


these engines, or create your own instruments as you would
in a sampler, as there are facilities to map, loop and group.
There are even some on the MT team who wish this could be
the replacement for the EXS24 sampler weve been waiting
for. MT Logic expert Alex Holmes says: It does everything
that EXS does and more, with better filters, envelopes, etc.
But it might be overkill for certain tasks arguably a bit like
how Ableton has got Simpler and Sampler.

Sources times four


Each sound within Alchemy uses up to four sources, utilising
one or more of those engines. These are all-important, as its
what you can do with them and how they interact that sets
Alchemy apart. Mix them, morph them, modulate them, add
effects or arpeggiate each. The Alchemy signal flow takes
each of your four sources through three filters (in series or
parallel), and the sources are then combined to go through
(or bypass) a further two filters to an effects section.
You can switch to one of three main UI views. Advanced
has options A, B, C or D for more detail on each of your sound
sources. Switch to the Sampler tab and you can start the
important business of importing your audio. Within the
Global tab, you are in a mixer area, where you can blend the

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13/11/2015 15:40

Advance MT

sources together. The main effects area is at the bottom of


the GUI. The modulation section is as fully featured as you
could ask for, with plentiful sources and destinations.
Other options in Alchemy include an arpeggiator,
offering easy access to patterns aplenty and hands-on
access to parameters including Swing, Octaves, Rate and
Latch, and theres a Perform tab with eight quick variations of
the selected sound. Alchemy very much follows the one
synth fits all philosophy of recent releases such as Blue II.
You get just about every preset you could want within just
about every electronic genre, and one listen to the demos
might make you feel this is the only synth youll need for
electronic music. Theres movement, lots of bass,
soundscapes and textures. There are 300 Logic patches
and more than 3,000 presets, and an optional and rather
large 14GB download.
Alchemy will bring much needed audio power to EXS
users they will be pleased that it allows EXS instruments to
be loaded in, so all of Alchemys processing can be brought to
the EXS party. Original Alchemy fans will love that it still
exists and has compatibility with their creations.
With the entire Logic package still costing just 150
which is less than Alchemy used to cost on its own maybe

Is Alchemy good
enough for other DAW
users to use Logic just
as a synth? Possibly

that raises the rather unusual prospect of some of the Logic


haters out there buying the software just for Alchemy, and
using it almost like a separate synth alongside another DAW.
OK, maybe not, but either way, if you are a registered Logic
user, Apple is giving you Alchemy for free, so download it now.
If youre a user of any other DAW, Apple just gave you another
magical reason to give it a go, even if its mainly just for a
bloody great synth. MTF

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MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X MusicTech Focus 2016 Workshops

Level Beginner

Produce a track:
Mixing in Logic Pro X
Got lots of looped ideas on your hard drive? You need to mix them into a tune. In the first of
two MusicTech Focus tutorials, we tell you how to prepare and produce a professional mix in
Logic Pro X. In the next tutorial well turn them into a finished arrangement

ike pretty much every DAW/sequencer out there


Logic is a very good piece of software to help you get
your musical ideas down. If you have a catchy
melody rolling around in your head you can input it
via keyboard or mouse and have it trigger one of
Logics many bundled instruments and eventually settle on a
sound you like. At this stage youll probably want to add some
drums or bass and its easy to have it looping around two, four
or eight bars as you do this. Eventually youll build this looping
section up to an amazing set of interacting melody parts
possibly even enough parts to fill out a song and then
well, what exactly?
Its the point that many of us get to: lots of ideas over the
space of just a few bars and its all looping along nicely, but
where do we go from here? In truth this may not be the way
you compose at all you may write a complete song
arrangement from the start but the looping stage (as we
shall now call it) is the starting point for many sequencer
users. And why not? The software lends itself to looping
ideas. Its either easy to get ideas down this way or, lets be
honest, trigger accidental ideas with your MIDI melody part
triggering a completely different sound to
that which you intended it to at the start
of the process! Theres nothing wrong with
that its one of the glorious side effects

of DAW composition and those happy accidents have


undoubtedly gone on to appear on countless hit singles and
albums the world over.
So this tutorial is concerned with taking those ideas
within that 2, 4, or 8-bar loop, and turning them into a
finished song by preparing and creating a good mix.

Its the point that many of us get


to: lots of ideas over the space of
just a few bars but where do we
go to from here?
Well be looking at all sorts of aspects of mixing including
panning, EQ and adding effects. Some producers prefer to
get all of their mixing done right at the start and make the
original loop full of ideas sound as great as possible. Some
prefer to leap right into arranging before any of the levels

FOCUS ON GENRES V MIXING


We focus very much on a typical band piece of
music in this tutorial with drums, bass, two guitars,
vocals and backing vocals, and show how you can
mix, EQ and add effects to make the most of the
space that a stereo mix gives you. With other genres
you will have to mix differently. With pop music, for
example, vocals tend to be a lot more important and
as the catchy hook are mixed a bit louder than youd
find in, say, a rock track. With dance (right), the
focus is very much on getting the solid beat and
bass sorted so a lot of the mixing will make sure
that the kick and bassline work together and are the
backbone of the dance track. However whatever
genre you use, many of the principles we discuss
here are applicable. For example, you should always
try and fill your stereo mix or at least make the most
of the space it affords, and you should always be
subtle with everything you try. Mix cautiously and
you wont create mayhem down the line. And
remember, always mix at sensible levels: louder
doesnt mean better.

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Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Setting up your mix

Red

Well assume you have some great ideas as loops that you want to
mix and arrange. If not load ours up (MTF41 Mix & arrange) and
youll see it comprises bass, beats, drum loop, guitars, and a piano.

01

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue

Indigo

Violet

First up, you might want to consider colour coding each part
maybe matching the colours of the rainbow versus your
frequency spectrum so the R.O.Y.G.B.I.V combo above corresponds to

02

Keys (piano) -------->


Vocals --------------------->
Electric guitar ------------->

higher
strings

Bass guitar---------------->
Kick
& sub
bass

Other
percussion-----------------------> snare cymbal

Frequency in Hz
20
100
200

500

1000

2k

5k

10k

20k

The instruments are shown roughly where they sit across the
frequency spectrum. Simply match that position to the colour so
your bassiest sounds will be the reddest. You neednt follow this rule

Or you could just use the first letter rule, so bass (=blue), piano
(pink), guitar (green), cymbals (cyan) that weve used. But do use
some kind of system it will help later. Use Opt>C to open the colours.

Weve used different shades to represent the same instrument so


dark green = bass guitar, light = lead guitar. Weve also rearranged
beats and bass to be at the bottom of the arrangement and vocals at
the top. Again, no rules here but we like the bass at the bottom.

Next you can quite easily bolster your basic loop by adding a few
extras here and there which will come to help add variety to your
arrangement down the line. Weve added an extra guitar part, for
example, to add a little rhythm.

03

05

are truly mixed with balance, EQ and levels. Neither way is


wrong or right. In truth we prefer to mix as we go, finding a
decent preliminary mix will get our initial ideas sounding
good enough to then arrange, but as ideas are added as
they usually are as we arrange then these are blended in
as we go. However this approach will not make a great
tutorial! It will be all over the place as we veer between one

04

06

process and the other, so for simplicitys sake were going to


start by mixing our ideas and then arranging them in the
next tutorial. Well also keep the tune fairly basic: some
sampled beats, a couple of guitar parts, bass, drums and
keys. Nothing special were not writing a hit song, just
demoing some techniques. Before we begin we should
stress that we are pitching this tutorial at beginners to
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MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

mixing, although if you have a bunch of ideas stuck in loops


on your hard drive, you could use some of the tips and
techniques shown here to convert them into finished mixes,
whatever your experience in music production.

full of ideas like this that have never gone beyond this stage!
But before we begin its worth getting a few housekeeping things in order. Colouring tracks according to their
type is a great idea and not just a fancy way of making your
songs look flash. If you order and colour tracks in a logical
way, it will make both the mixing and arranging processes
faster and more intuitive.
There are few hard and fast rules with track colouring

1. Setting up your mix


Well assume you have a set of loops that you want to turn
into a song. Like many producers you might have hard drives

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Setting up your mix (contd)

We often find that adding an extra kick track at this stage might
help later in the arrangement, so weve done that and imported a
different kick sound in to help bolster the one we have.

Weve done the same with the snare only this time we like the
one we have so weve highlighted it within the main loop, ready to
copy it over to a new track.

Create a new track with the same parameters you have (Cmnd>D).
Then Cmnd>C to copy the snare region you have highlighted and
Cmnd>V to paste it to your new track. Or use Opt>click>drag.

Once you are happy with the number of extras you have added,
clear all unwanted tracks in your main window simply by deleting
them. You should also correctly order your MIDI and audio tracks.

Its a good idea at this stage to have a selection of typical effects


selected for each instrument so here we have highlighted some
typical guitar effects including Logics Pedalboard.

Finally check your region names are what you want them to be.
We like them to simply match our track names so Cntrl>Click
each one and select Rename Region to change them if you need to.

07

09

11

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08

10

12

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Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

you should simply choose a method and stick to it. Some


use the colours of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) and match them
with the frequency spectrum of the sounds that make up a
song, so red would equal the bassiest sub part and violet the
most trebly hats. Others choose the colours based on first
letters so green = guitars, blue = bass, pink = percussion,
violet = vocals. Logical? Doesnt matter which, but stick to it!
Weve chosen this method and split parts of the same

instrument by shade (lead guitar = bright green, bass = dark).


Next up you can easily bolster the number of parts you
have by adding a few flourishes and extras at this stage. We
added a rhythm guitar type sound to our track and some
extra kick sounds to boost the beats for later. We also
isolated the snare and gave that a track of its own in case we
want to add more of that later as well.
Once you have enough parts to start either your mixing,

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Levels and panning

Drums
Keys (piano)

Electric
guitar 1

Bass guitar

Vocals

Electric guitar 2

Think of your mix as a band on a stage


Setting levels is an ongoing business but for now simply make
sure that nothing is clipping in the red. We want to be mixing for
extended periods at lower levels.

Picture your mix as on stage and spread your parts accordingly.


This obviously works best if you are working on band-like music
but whatever music you make, use the space and spread.

Good job we made a separate kick drum as well start by keeping


that locked to the centre of the pan position as it will be the
backbone of the track.

The bass too stays in the central position. This might conflict
with the kick drum as they both occupy similar frequencies but
dont worry, well separate the two of them later in the process.

Now look at your imaginary stage on which your mix is playing


and note the guitarists on either side of your drums. So place your
first guitar to the right not too far or theyll fall off the stage!

Now place your second guitar about the same distance left
weve gone for +22 left and +30 right but feel free to
experiment. Note the position change in your mix as you do it.

01

03

05

02

04

06

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MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Levels and panning (contd)

Panning keyboard sounds such as the piano is a little more suck


it and see. Weve chosen to pan slightly right as our piano sits
pretty well with the guitar in our mix.

With the backing vocals we are making room for a couple


pretend you have two singers on stage backing your main
vocalist. So create another track with duplicate settings: Cmnd>D.

Either load in your own vocal or copy the backing vocal we had
onto the new track using Cntrl>C and Cntrl>V, or try
Opt>click>drag to copy the part onto the new track.

Were simulating two vocalists standing to the side of the main


singer by panning them left at positions +17 and +28. Were using
the same vocal take but it works better with two different ones.

You should as with all of your panning experiment with the


backing vox position. In our example, it also works well placing
them on either side of the lead vocal.

Bringing your lead vocalist in now, keep them central and lower
the levels of the backing vocals so that they sit behind the main
vocal as shown (the lead vocal is far left).

07

09

11

delete any extraneous channels, keeping just a couple of


spare MIDI and audio tracks for adding ideas as you go. Also
try to make the MIDI channels and audio channels run from
least to most, top to bottom and in order within your
arrangement, simply so they run left to right in your mixer.

2. Levels and panning


Well start with the basics of mixing: levels and panning.

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08

10

12

Theres every chance that you have already set the levels
within your looping section so that you can hear each part
and its impact. Within the tune in our example we did this as
the section came together but do consider it as an ongoing
process. For the moment keep your levels so that they
arent clipping in the red, actually a couple of dB below this.
You dont want to be mixing for any period of time at
excessive levels.

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Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 3. Using EQ

Now were going to turn our attention to the EQ within our mix and
see how some subtle changes to a channels EQ can help make a
more favourable mix. Well highlight the piano part first.

It sounds fine in isolation but it gets a little lost in the mix. You
could, of course, adjust its level to give it more presence in the
mix but the danger here is that youll easily push it into the red.

Add an instance of the Channel EQ to the piano channel and


adjust the level. Drag a pointer at maximum across as shown and
you will hear a flanging effect well save that for the guitars!

For now pull the EQ up by 3-5dB at 300Hz and 3kHz to hear a lift
which doesnt push the level into the red. This is because weve
identified some areas in the mix that were empty and filled them.

However now this piano is now slightly overwhelming the guitar


which is sitting in a similar pan position in the mix. We could pan
the guitar to a new place but, better still, lets EQ it out of harms way!
Add a channel EQ to the guitar part.

In order to make this guitar part distinct from the piano, boost it
in a different frequency to those we just boosted on the guitar
(300Hz and 3kHz) , this time 1.8kHz. Now both piano and guitar should
be distinct even though they occupy the same pan position.

01

03

05

Well now look at panning (with the caveat that well be


constantly return to levels as we go). The music we are
mixing is a basic band track with some very typical
elements: guitar, bass, beats and vocals. Every mixing
scenario is different but this is probably the most typical.
Load the file on the DVD and youll see our couple of bars
looping, all coloured up.

02

04

06

Now try to picture your mix as a band on stage. Youll


have drums in the middle, guitars on either side, the bass
player standing to the side of the drums, vocalist front and
centre, keyboards maybe off to one side. This is also how
you can picture your mix. Obviously if you are doing a dance
track with this is harder to do as there will be less real
instruments to picture, but the important thing to consider
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MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

is to spread your instruments across your mix panning wise,


as you would see them spread on stage.
So basics first: your bass guitar and your kick drum can
sit in the middle of your mix. Its an easy one to start with.
You may think that they clash by both sitting there and, in
many cases, they will, but dont worry as well sort this later
with some EQ-ing. Part of the reason for adding a separate
kick earlier was that we could keep that central and add a

touch of effects to the rest of the percussion to give it some


width again well come to this.
Then we move on to the guitars and well pan these left
and right. As ever with panning dont be too extreme, just
experiment with gentle panning first of all.
Onto the keys and well also pan the piano a little to the
right although this will be spread further later. The backing
vocals are doubled and placed a little to the left again

MTF Step-by-Step 3. Using EQ (contd)

Now turn to the bass and kick. With both of a similar frequency
and occupying the same pan position they clash, especially
where they coincide at the end of the loop as highlighted (yellow).

Well start with the kick and well try and increase parts of its
frequency and decrease the same parts of the bass frequency in
a few steps time so they dont clash any more.

You can go crazy and experiment here to demonstrate that the


bass drum doesnt just include bass frequencies. Lifting it
dramatically like this drastically changes the sound

However, now you should rein in the EQ at around 120Hz (where


we found it to work best) and only nudge it up by 4-5dB as shown.
This gives the kick a little extra clout.

Now turn to the picked bass and load a Channel EQ onto its
channel and pull its frequency down by 4dB in the 100-150Hz
area. By pulling it away from the kick you give the kick room to breathe.

We found that a side effect of all of this was that the bass area
worked better but the guitars were more prominent so we reined
them in by reducing their levels.

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Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

3. Using EQ

picture that there are a couple of backing vocalists standing


to the left of the main vocalist. For our example we are
doubling up one sample to show this but different samples
would make a realer world example.
Finally the lead vocal sits in the middle, a little louder
than the backing vocals which you can now pull back a little
bit. You should hear that everything sits a bit better in much
of the stereo space provided.

OK were going to stretch that band on stage analogy a bit


more now. Think of your mix, as that band in three
dimensions. Youve sorted out the panning i.e. how the band
are playing left to right. You could also consider those volume
levels of each as how close they are standing to you. Now you
should consider the EQ, maybe as the last of the three
dimensions, up and down. OK, we admit were stretching the

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing

Well start adding more effects from the bottom and work our way
up, so select the kick drum. Weve already EQd it and are quite
happy with it but for the sake of this tutorial, well add compression.

Logic comes with a whole raft of effects, and youll find the
compressor under the Dynamics menu (second one in). Its big,
red and clear whats going on.

Key in the following: threshold -10dB; attack 5ms; release 300ms;


and ratio 6:1. It is very subtle but makes the kick very slightly
more punchy. Use the Compare button, top left, to hear it.

While you have the compressor open, experiment with the other
settings to see how far you can go. More extreme settings are
shown with the Distortion on for a harder-edged dance sound.

Next the bass and the Plucked Bass Apple preset is preloaded
with a compressor with these settings: threshold -10dB; attack
10ms; release 20 to 200ms; and ratio 2 to 3:1. Solo and loop it.

As Apple has done the hard work for us, lets push the settings a
little to: threshold -20dB; attack 15ms; release 150ms; and ratio
7:1. Youll hear it become a little more nasal and less tight.

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MTF Technique Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing (contd)

Now we look at one of the guitar parts: the Guitar Sound. Again,
as an Apple preset, this comes preloaded with effects on the
Pedalboard plug in: the Double Dragon Overdrive as shown.

Remember when we experimented with EQ on the Guitar Sound


part, we got a rather cool flanging sound by dramatically
sweeping it. Load in the Flange Factory for a similar effect.

It sounds cool in isolation but less so in the mix. Try it on the Hard
Rock guitar instead as it blends much better in the mix. We can
also lessen the pan on each guitar here, a case of mix trial and error!

Now we turn to the piano part and think it could do with a touch
of reverb. Not too much, though, so solo it and load up an
instance of the Platinum Reverb. You can try some of the presets.

In fact were going to use one: Big Room. However well reduce its
size to 11m and increase the Mix parameter to 64% to give it
more of a lift but still keep it subtle.

Now bring in a combination of compressor and reverb in on the


sampled beat loop that we have used. Weve used the Live Club
preset, imagining that band on stage again

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analogy but the EQ of your mix should be considered as just


as important a dimension as the panning and the levels, as
with EQ you can reduce and lift sections of your mix just as
dramatically.
On a basic level EQ increases or decreases bass, treble
and mid frequencies. In our mix we look at how a small
amount of EQ can be used on a track to give it more lift
without pushing its level into the red. We do this by lifting

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specific parts of its EQ spectrum that perhaps arent so


prominent elsewhere in the mix. Were giving it energy by
making it occupy parts of the mix that are empty. We show
this by lifting the piano part in two specific frequency areas.
We then home in on the guitar part that is sitting in a
similar pan position to the piano, and then boost it at a
different frequency, 1.8kHz, to separate it from the piano. In
this way were using EQ to create a third dimension in which

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Producing a track: Mixing in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 4. Using effects in mixing (contd)

Compression is also used with settings: threshold -20dB; attack


10ms; release 150ms; and ratio 3:1 which again is subtle but feel
free to experiment with these and the sampled beat loop.

13

to place parts of our mix to give each one a distinction.


So thats using increased EQ to raise the impact of parts
of our mix. Now were going to lower EQ on certain parts to
help other parts breathe a little. Once we do this the
individual parts may sound weaker in isolation, something
that may go against the grain when producing music. But
you have to consider them as part of the mix which is most
important look at the whole, not the part.
So lets return to the bass and kick clash that we
introduced earlier, to give it some separation and give both
parts some space and room to breathe, even though they
occupy the same pan position and, initially anyway, a similar
EQ position. By lowering the bass in a specific EQ, the kick
becomes more prominent, a great production tip, especially
for dance music where less is quite definitely more.

4. Using effects in mixing


And so to the last part of this tutorial: adding affects to a mix.
Here we are talking about adding subtle effects to beef up
sounds, like compression on beats and bass. Were also
talking about the not so subtle effects like guitar flanging and
distortion. Reverb might also make an appearance on certain
elements just to make them shine a little.
Weve left the process of adding effects until last as we
think that, in general, most of your main mixing can be done
with the three previous parts of this tutorial levels, panning,
and EQ. Using other effects can radically change a mix and
can very easily take it to a point beyond what you intended.
Its good practice, then, to be satisfied with your mix before
you go too crazy with effects, and keep a safe copy of it
somewhere now before you potentially mess it up.
You could write a book on how to use effects effectively
and creatively in mixing indeed many people have. But
there are some rules that you should take away from this,
arguably the main one being less is more. If youve been
making music for as long as we have you might return to
mixes you made when you first discovered effects (think
reverb!) and wonder why you ladled so much of it on, so be
subtle, be careful drizzle, dont pour!
We look at some effects specific to Logic including the
rather great Pedalboard guitar effects we have two guitar
parts and they are preloaded with one part so use them! We

Finally you can experiment with some of the effects designed to


go on the whole mix like the stereo-widening one as shown but
we think this might be best left for a mastering tutorial

14

also have a separate kick and snare so we can use some


subtle compression here and maybe a touch of reverb on the
main percussion loops to give it some width. We wont touch
on delays as these are probably the effects to be most careful
with as you can quickly overfill a mix with out of control
delays flying here, there and everywhere.
Well finish by looking at some of the broader effects that
you can apply to a complete mix, although wed urge you to
consider anything too broad as stepping into the mastering
territory. (Mastering is the process which includes using EQ,
compression and limiting that you generally apply to the
complete finished stereo mix of a track to give it very much a

Depending on how creative you


get when adding effects you may
need to return to the mixing and
EQ processes to re-tweak any
changes you have made
professional sheen and it really requires a completely
separate tutorial.)
Adding effects can be a very creative process and you
might find that some the things we discuss particularly
adding guitar effects might make you reconsider the angle
or the point of the song you are producing, perhaps even the
style or the genre. It might be worth saving several versions
then as you progress but dont let it get too out of hand so
that you lose the point of your original idea. Either way, you
might have to return to the mixing process particularly the
second tutorial on these pages if it gets too creative and
readdress anything you add as levels and EQ might need
retweaking, but rest assured, thats all part of the fun of
music production!
In a future tutorial well look at how to create a finished
tune from this mix as we cover the arrangement. MTF
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MTF Technique Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X MusicTech Focus 2016 Workshops

Level Beginner

How to
produce a track:
Arranging in Logic
Now weve mixed the elements within your song ideas and loops, it is time to start arranging
them. In this tutorial we use some of Logics specific features to arrange song ideas and
reveal a couple of short cuts to easily add variation to any arrangement

n a previous tutorial Produce a track: Mixing in Logic, we


took several looping parts of a song and balanced them
together with some basic and not so basic mixing
techniques. Now were ready to arrange them.
In case you didnt read that tutorial, to sum up: we
mixed levels, panned, EQd and added effects and were now
happy with the loop. It is a very typical band-type track with
two guitars, bass, vocals and piano, plus some spare tracks
for beats.
The idea is that both that tutorial and this one will help
you progress any ideas that you have maybe those that
have been kicking around for a while and perhaps youve not
done much with. We will help you take these ideas and mix
and arrange them. In truth those are both processes that
you might typically do at the same time in music production
arranging and mixing as you go along. But weve decided
to put them in separate tutorials to keep the message clear,
so do bear in mind that as you read this one you might
need to adjust levels here or tweak effects there to make
the parts work in your new arrangement and finished song.
For many, this author included, the arranging part of
music production can often be the trickiest, possibly a
stumbling block. This is strange as sequencers and modern
production technology make the process easy. Maybe the
problem is that DAWs/sequencers make the initial looping
process so very easy, that it is hard to get in a mind-set to
move beyond it.

1. Basic arranging
If you are having trouble moving beyond your 2, 4 or 8-bar
loop, theres one sure fire way to quickly get yourself out of
the rut and thats to select all (Cmnd>A) and repeat
(Cmnd>R)! Specify how many copies you want and hit ok.
Some may see this as too easy a solution, but its a great

The arranging part of music


production can often be the
trickiest and a stumbling
block for many
way to get yourself an instant arrangement, or at least an
arrangement that covers the right duration of the song that
you are producing. For dance music its also a very quick
way of building up tunes which by the genres very
definition and nature are quite

FOCUS ON GENRES
We focus very much on a typical rock/pop piece of music here, with the
elements of a band song drums, bass, two guitars, and so on and how
you would typically arrange them over an intro, verse and chorus. This, of
course, varies depending on the genre of music (and can even vary within
a genre). With dance music, for example, the focus might be, arguably
should be, to just start the beats straight away so a DJ can mix your track
into a set without having to worry about mixing the melody you have
chosen. Then you can bring in the musical elements, followed typically by
a big breakdown where the beats are dropped in favour of synths and
pads and then the whole lot comes crashing back in for a huge dance
climax. Arrangements can therefore be the vital ingredient within the
genre you are working in.

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Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging

Well use the same looping idea now nicely mixed from the
previous tutorial on mixing. It has a couple of guitars, bass, piano
and beats. Select all using Cmnd>A.

You can click Alt and then drag just a single copy as shown which
doubles the length and is useful if you just want to add a couple
of bars at this stage.

Far easier after you select all (Cmnd>A) is to Repeat (Cmnd>R)


and type in the specific number of repeats of your 2-bar loop. We
start with 15 but then double this to make 32 in total, thats 64 bars.

Now select Logic Pro Xs Arrangement tab by clicking the blue


icon at the top of the track list to the right which reveals
Arrangement, Marker, Signature and Tempo tracks.

Press the + button on the Arrangement track and sections


automatically appear, in this case every eight bars. Name each
section (Intro, Verse, Chorus etc) using the drop down menu on each or
simply click the title to name it whatever you want.

Weve now copied enough of our original loop to cover 64 bars


and have eight sections in our arrangement including Intro,
Chorus, Bridge and Outro as shown.

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repetitive. For rock music this is less the case so well look
at how to enhance an arrangement making it less repetitive.
Adding to this, what you might call classic way of
fleshing out an arrangement, is Logic Pros Arrangement
feature that allows you to segment your song into typical
and very recognisable sections.
When looking at a typical song structure think of it in

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terms of these sections: intro, verse, chorus, bridge and


outro. Typically you will start with an intro, go into a verse,
maybe two, then a chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, outro. For
our song we want the intro to feature just the bass guitar
and beats, the chorus everything, and the outro just the
piano and beats. You can define each section however you
want. We simply create Marker points for each section and
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MTF Technique Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X

just strip out the parts we dont want from all of the
repeated sections we made earlier. We can then audition
these by pressing the Option button while clicking each
Marker section in the Edit Window its a great way to try
out new arrangements without changing anything.
We then use these Marker Points and sections to create
a completely new arrangement by simply clicking and
dragging the top of each Arrangement Part which should

take everything below to a new point in the song. Copy and


paste the verse section, move it to later, swap the intro and
outro its easy to create the new arrangement you want by
copying these big chunks at a time.

2. Variation and automation


In the last tutorial we use some tricks to bolster up our
arrangement and make it less repetitive, including returning

MTF Step-by-Step 1. Basic arranging (contd)

Now its time to introduce some Markers to your arrangement. For


simplicitys sake we are going to make them match our song
sections in name and length. Press the + icon on the Marker track.

Open up the List Editor (icon to right of Metronome) and click the
Marker tab listing the Markers you are creating. You can define
the length here which weve set at 8 bars for each of the 8 sections.

Name your Markers. Again for simplicitys sake were just naming
them after the song sections. A short cut is to simply use the
Marker drop-down and Create from Arrangement Markers as shown.

Now start selecting how you want each part to sound. Weve
thinned the Intro down to just the bass and beats in ours, for
example. Weve also got the Chorus padded out with everything.

Once you have defined what parts play in each of your Marker
sections like this you can audition each part by hitting the Option
key while playing and then click the Marker as shown.

Now to build an arrangement up from your sections, simply click


and drag the Arrangement section at the top and everything
below will go with it. You can also copy sections like this.

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Producing a track: Arranging in Logic Pro X Technique MTF

to the beats that we looked at in the Mixing tutorial and


using a similar technique to isolate certain elements to add
a bit of variation. Well look at some specific processes
common to all DAWs but especially accessible in Logic
where you can beef up an arrangement with automation.
Here you can add variation to looped sections by
changing certain parameters over time. The brilliant thing
about automation is that you can return to it and edit it at

any time so small tweaks can be made easily and mistakes


corrected. In our example we show how to fade the drum
track in as the intro of the song but you can automate and
add effects, pan positions and a lot of other parameters to
easily add changes in a mix.
These are just some of the very quick ways to create
arrangements within Logic and add a little variation while
you are at it. Well look at others in a future workshop. MTF

MTF Step-by-Step 2. Variation and automation

Our track has repeated beats all the way through by way of a
sampled drum loop. We can add our first change by highlighting a
beat, in this case the snare, and cutting it using the scissors tool.

Either copy and paste it (Cntrl>C, Cntrl>V) on to a newly created


snare track (Cmnd>D) or Option>Click>Drag to copy it to the new
track. You can now move it around.

Move the new snare to a different point in the loop and even copy
other beats. Weve copied the kick so that this loop now opens
with two kicks. Its an easy way to add variation to existing loops.

Now its time to use basic automation to add variation. Click A to


Show Automation on the Sampled Rock Beats track. Clicking on
the Volume icon shows parameters that can be edited here.

Click Shift>Cntrl>Cmnd>1 or use the drop-down Mix menu to see


a line that represents the parameter selected (volume). Recording
fader (volume) movements will change this or simply click and drag it.

Click the first part and drag to zero and a second part to the top.
Now the drums fade in automatically. Use this on many
parameters within each track to add variation throughout a mix.

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MusicTech.indd 1

11.11.2015 15:53:03

MUSIC IS OUR PASSION

MusicTech.indd 2

11.11.2015 15:53:07

MTF Feature Freeware!

MTF Feature

THE TOP

freeware plug-ins
Fancy making music for nothing? For no outlay whatsoever? Its time for
MusicTech to round up the best freeware out there in all sorts of musicmaking categories, so sit back and enjoy the best free software available.
FREEWARE Synths

Most freeware synths, it has to be said, follow the virtual analogue model,
but weve tried to select as many different ones as possible
LINPLUG
FREE ALPHA
Virtual
analogue
LinPlug is one of the best plug-in
developers out there, with big-name
users including Paul Hartnoll, Pet Shop
Boys, Vince Clarke and Boris Blank. The
company also makes MT favourite
Spectral, but this is a cut-down version
of its Alpha synthesiser, which has been
around for a while but is still a good VA
synth capable of great sonic results,
down largely to an architecture that
comprises dual-waveform oscillators, a
multimode filter and a great modulation
matrix. The free version is fully
functional, but ships with only a few
presets. Its still a worthy download,
even after 15 years of doing the rounds.
W: http://www.linplug.com/alpha.
html
Platform: Mac, PC

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GREEN OAK
CRYSTAL
Semi modular
synth
Crystal is still surprisingly all present
and correct, and still going strong in the
all-new Logic 10.2, after what seems
like forever on both Mac and PC
platforms. Its a semi-modular synth
with both subtractive and FM synthesis.
You build, or indeed breed, sounds
using parent waveshapes from
categories such as Vintage, Atmospheres
and Temp Syncd, and the results stand
up pretty well. OK, the GUI isnt that
pretty, but she aint bad for an old un,
and theres certainly enough control and
options to wrestle some decent sounds
out of it, with abundant modulation
control and more than 90 parameters.
Also available for iOS for $4.99.
W: www.greenoak.com
Platform: Mac, PC

STEINBERG
MODEL-E
Classic
virtual
analogue
One of the first VST instruments
released, Model-E is a classic soft synth
in its own right, and four years ago
Steinberg decided to release it for free.
You can still download it, and the last
still unsupported versions came out in
2011, so could well run on the latest
systems. You get a quality synth with
three oscillators and a noise generator,
two envelope generators, a couple of
filters, a stereo spread and a not
inconsiderable 64 voices of polyphony,
eight outputs and 128 memories. All
things considered, its not totally unlike
a MiniMoog in nature
W: www.steinberg.net/en/support/
unsupported_products/vst_classics_
vol_1.html
Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:02

Freeware! Feature MTF

U-HE
ZEBRALETTE
Virtual
analogue
synth

SYNTH1
Virtual Nord Lead
Synth1 is a freeware synth classic, and
has managed to survive and jump from
system to system. Its worth including
on any best-of list, as it stands up
sonically. Synth1 is modelled on a Nord
Lead 2, one of the best hardware
modelling synths. Its not red nor pretty
like a Nord, but has 128 presets, derived
from a two-oscillator, FM and ring
modulation engine with four types of
filters, distortion, two LFOs, arpeggiator
and 16 notes of polyphony.
W: www.geocities.jp/daichi1969/
softsynth
Platform: Mac, PC

Some freeware is clearly designed to


plug the paid-for version, and some
does that but is usable in its own right;
this fits that category. U-he admits that
the idea is to use Zebralette to
demonstrate the virtues of Zebra2s
oscillators to everybody out there, and
perhaps even convince some of them
that upgrading to Zebra2 might be a
good idea, but in producing Zebralette,
the company has delivered a charming
plug-in that has lots to admire. On top
of that single oscillator are two LFOs, a
multi-stage envelope and three onboard
effects (chorus, EQ and delay). Some
really great sounds can be produced,
simple as that!
W: www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette
Platform: Mac, PC

DEXED
Yamaha DX7 emulator
Lets face it, Dexed isnt going to win
any come hither and play with me
awards, as it doesnt have what could be
described as an enticing fascia. But nor
did the Yamaha DX7 on which this is
based. That was is a complex FM
synth, and Dexed makes a very good
stab at emulating its strings, its pads,
its pianos and percussive sounds, and
theres plenty too much to edit, just
like on the original. What you might
well do, as (whisper) we did, is just
dwell on the sound of the synth; and
with 32 pre-loaded sounds you might
stay there and dream for a while. They
are superb and sum up happy memories
of the original. Dexed is a great synth
and, again, works well with the latest
version of Logic.
W: http://asb2m10.github.io/dexed
Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Effect!

TAL SOFTWARE ELEK7RO


Virtual analogue
TALs Bass line was one of the best,
emulating the Roland SH-101. Elek7ro is
just as simple, and also available for
Mac and PC the former only 32-bit,
but it stands up well against some of
the big boys. It snarls, squelches and
burps with two main oscillators and a
sub giving extra growl and is well
worth racking up with some of the more
atmospheric offerings here.
W: http://tal-software.com/products/
tal-elek7ro
Platform: Mac/PC

U-HE ZEBRALETTE
Virtual analogue synth

BLUE CAT
FREEWARE
PACK II

Some freeware is clearly designed to


plug the paid-for version, and some
does that but is usable in its own right;
this fits that category. U-he admits that
the idea is to use Zebralette to
demonstrate the virtues of Zebra2s
oscillators to everybody out there, and
perhaps even convince some of them
that upgrading to Zebra2 might be a
good idea, but in producing Zebralette,
the company has delivered a charming
plug-in that has lots to admire. On top
of that single oscillator are two LFOs, a
multi-stage envelope and three onboard
effects (chorus, EQ and delay). Some
really great sounds can be produced,
simple as that!
W: www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette
Platform: Mac, PC

Blue Cat Audio makes a fantastic range


of processing and analysis plug-ins, but
finds time to give a few away for free,
too. The second revision of the Freeware
Pack contains some excellent mixing
tools. The chorus is a vintage effect with
variable delay, the flanger sounds great
on everything from guitars and drums
to vocals, and the phaser completes the
round-up of modulation effects. Gain
Suite contains a series of gain utilities
that let you use MIDI automation to
control the volume of several channels
at the same time. FreqAnalyst is an
excellent spectral analyser.
W: www.bluecataudio.comProducts/
Bundle_FreewarePack
Platform: Mac, PC

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MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Synthscond

DAT SOUNDS
OBXD
Classic synth
emulator
The website claims its not a direct copy,
but OBXD does have enough of the
original Oberheim OB-Xs features to
make this one of the finest freeware
synths out there. We downloaded the
Mac version and had no problems
getting it up and running within the
latest version of Logic. We were treated
to a great analogue synth with a couple
of oscillators (plus noise source) and
some fantastic soaring Oberheim leads.
There are a couple of banks of presets
to download, including a factory set of
34, which include lots of very typical OB
sounds a bit of brass, loads of the
aforementioned leads and the odd
modular movement but theres plenty
of hands-on control and modulation to
easily create your own.
W: obxd.wordpress.com
Platform: Mac, PC

U-HE TRIPLE
CHEESE
Comb filter
synth

U-He loves a good synth, and a good


freeware Mac one at that, with Triple
Cheese not being the only U-He entry in
our freeware chart by any means. Triple
Cheese has been a firm freeware
favourite for many years now, perhaps
down to the fact that it is not doing the
analogue thing, like so many other
synths out there. Instead, it uses comb
filtering and three cheese modules to
get a variety of sounds, including pads
and plucked sounds. There are many
banks 13 on download produced by
various people and including a bank of
different cheese types (were partial to
a bit of Gouda), which all goes towards
making this one of the most distinctive
freeware synths on the planet, and one
of the pieces of freeware you will keep.
W: www.u-he.com/cms/triple-cheese
Platform: Mac, PC

BRAIN
CONTROL
TUNEFISH4
Virtual
analogue
Tunefish is an interesting freeware
synth. Its analogue (OK, virtual
analogue) in many ways and utilises a
noise generator plus standard
waveforms and less standard pulse
waves for the oscillator section. Filters,
plus a couple of envelopes and LFOs,
make up a fairly robust feature set. Its
not the prettiest synth, but is capable of
some varied sounds. Its good to hear
the developer being honest about its
history and plans, and to see how
dramatically the synth has developed
over the years. It runs well on newer
systems, too.
W: www.tunefish-synth.
com/?action=download
Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Real instruments

The best free plug-ins that emulate real or


acoustic instruments
UVI
WORKSTATION
Multitimbral
instrument
host

UVI makes some excellent sound


libraries, and these are hosted inside its
UVI Workstation, available as a plug-in
or standalone application. The app is
free and comes with a few free demo
instruments, including electric piano,
analogue strings, jazz drums, Spanish
guitar and synth bass. It also has some
built-in effects and an onboard
arpeggiator and mixer. If you choose to
add paid instruments, they introduce
extra features, but the demo version is
unrestricted. As it can run in standalone
mode its also good for live performance.
W: www.uvi.net
Platform: Mac, PC

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KONTAKT
PLAYER FREE
Multitimbral
VI host
Native Instruments Kontakt is arguably
the worlds most popular software for
hosting sampled virtual instruments. It
also comes in a free Player version. You
can also download the Kontakt Factory
Selection for free. At 650MB, its a
generous free sound set, split into five
sections. Band contains 13 instruments.
World has six exotic instruments, and
Synth has synthesised leads, pads,
basses and drum kits. Vintage contains
classic analogue synths and keyboards,
while Urban Beats has five drum loop
production kits.
W: www.native-instruments.com
Platform: Mac, PC

BIGTICK
TICKY CLAV
Hohner
Clavinet
emulator

If youve ever heard a funk record or


some 70s disco, youve almost certainly
heard the sound of the Hohner Clavinet.
The real thing is a massive wooden
beast of a keyboard, so it makes sense
to recreate it in software. Ticky Clav
uses a synth engine based on a physical
modeling algorithm, that reproduces the
string vibration and the two pickups of
the Clavinet Model C. The click part
comes from the key click that was such
a big part of the sound of the original.
Theres a built-in wah effect and
selectable manual or auto wah.
W: www.bigtickaudio.com
Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:03

SEEING RED
Freeware! Feature MTF

When we see red we are far from angry.


In fact we are over the moon with both
The Phoenix HG15 and The Culture Vulture super 15
receiving awards. We must be doing something right!

MDRUMMER SMALL
Sampled drum instrument
Melda makes a huge range of effect and
instrument plug-ins, and even gives
some of them away for free. A smaller
version of the paid version, MDrummer
Small still comes with 500MB of
samples, multisamples and rhythms.
Its available in all formats, and is also
standalone on Windows (though not on
the Mac). You get over 30 drum kits
made up of more than 400 drum
components, over 200 samples, 50
multisamples, 60 rhythms and more
than 2,500 loops. It has a built-in
sequencer for creating patterns and
technology to help you humanise your
beats. A demo version of MDrummer
Large is also included, so you can check
out whether or not you want to upgrade
to get extra features.
W: www.meldaproduction.com
Platform: Mac, PC

THE PHOENIX HG15


A super-sounding mic amp and compressor with
some eq thrown in, so effectively a channel strip with the
unique Phoenix sound. 48v supplied, Air, Presence and HPF eqs.
Side chain bass cut switch. Two can be coupled for stereo

THE CULTURE VULTURE super 15


All valve pro stereo distortion/enhancer.
Can just warm a sound or Destroy it.
Loads more tonal variations on this model plus new eqs.
Can now be ordered with balanced inputs AND outputs (XLRs)

and now for something with a little


Attitude . . .

COMBO
MODEL F
Virtual combo
organ
Combo organs from the 60s have
remained popular, finding fans more
recently in guitar-based bands. Since
the originals are rare, expensive and
hard to maintain, software is the way
forward. Combo Model F is easy on the
eye and has a four-octave keyboard with
a harmonic range of six polyphonic
octaves. There are four footage tabs and
three treble voice tabs, plus a multi tone
booster and knee level control, as well
as a bass voice, playable from the grey
keys. A vibrato pedal adds modulation
to the signal, and theres adjustable
tuning per-note, a reverb unit, speaker
cab simulation and velocity sensitivity.
The whole thing works on modeling
rather than sampling so its especially
flexible.
W: http://www.martinic.com/combof
Platform: Mac, PC

THE LITTLE RED BUSTARD


16 input all valve summing mixer.
She may be smaller than her big Fat brother, but shes feisty and
will fully drive your DAW! Clean yet warm until the Attitude
is boosted and musical 2nd harmonics are added.
The eyes may glow red when the output is high.
The Air control adds a nice silky sheen to the mix.
Channels are switched in pairs. 13-16 may be sent to centre.

A terrific summing mixer bringing


NATURALITY to a mix.

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16/11/2015 09:05

MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Creative effects

Freeware effects that you use for more creative


purposes when mixing your music
A1 AUDIO
A1TRIGGERGATE
Sequenced
rhythmic gate
processor

SINEVIBES
ZAP
Audiocontrolled
synthesiser

ACON
DIGITAL
MULTIPLY
Phase
randomising
chorus

Disillusioned with a lack of suitable


plug-ins, developer Alex Hilton started
to build his own. A1 TriggerGate is a
rhythmic gate audio processor that can
be used to get the popular effects heard
in dubstep, house and other electronic
music. Theres a variable onboard step
sequencer, where each beat consists of
four steps, or three in triplet mode, and
each step has a volume fader. There are
integrated effects, too: low-pass filter,
drive/distortion and echo/delay to keep
things interesting. These dont have tons
of controls, but sound great. Although
highly programmable, the effect also
has a randomiser for punching in new
settings instantly.
W: www.alexhilton.net
Platform: Mac, PC

This unusual plug-in for the Mac is a


mini synth that is controlled by audio
that you route into it. Beginning with an
envelope follower that tracks the peaks
of the signal, it applies this to the
frequency of a monophonic oscillator.
There are three oscillator waveform
modes (pure sine, ring mod sine and
phase mod sine), and Zap turns any
sound source into dynamically
generated basses, bleeps, blips, sweeps
or glitches. In a similar way that VJ
software makes graphics respond to the
characteristics of incoming audio, so
Zap does it with synthesised sound. Its
a quick way to beef up beats with
auto-generated synth elements.
W: www.sinevib.es/zap/
Platform: Mac

This chorus effect has a phase


randomising filter that avoids
unwanted comb filter effects. The
plug-in can simulate up to six
additional voices, and the pitch and
loudness can be tweaked. You also get
an EQ and a pre-delay section. Theres
good workflow, and you get undo and
redo capabilities, A/B of setups and a
preset manager. It comes in VST or AAX
formats for Windows and VST, AAX or
AU on the Mac, in 32- or 64-bit versions,
with support for 96kHz sample rates
and mono or stereo processing. Audio
examples are available on the website.
W: http://acondigital.com/products/
multiply/TubeOhm/ALPHA-RAY-PIC.
html
Platform: Mac, PC

TAL
CHORUS LX
Juno-60
chorus
module

CAMEL AUDIO
CAMELCRUSHER
Colouring
multi-effect

This is about as simple as effects get,


but still sounds great. Taken from the
chorus section of a larger virtual
instrument, it has the characteristics of
the chorus section of the classic Roland
Juno 60 synth. With two different
modes, you also get a dry/wet control, a
volume knob and a stereo width control
to change the amount of separation the
effect introduces. AAX format is
supported on Mac and Windows, as well
as VST on both and AU on the Mac.
Chorus isnt just the cheesy effect heard
on synths in the 70s and 80s, but can
also subtly add warmth and colouration
to everything from drums to vocals.
W: http://tal-software.com/products/
tal-chorus-lx
Platform: Mac, PC

Although Camel Audio has been bought


by Apple, some of its free plug-ins are
still available to download online.
CamelCrusher takes some of the
processing technology from the
companys other multi-effects and puts
it into a simple free effect. You get two
distortion types: a warm, analogue
modeled resonant low-pass filter, a very
easy to use compressor with a phat
mode and a MIDI learn function, as well
as a bunch of presets and a randomiser
for instant inspiration. CamelCrusher is
perfect for fattening up drums, vocals,
synths and practically anything else,
with its distinctive beefy sound.
W: www.audiopluginsforfree.com/
camelcrusher
Platform: Mac, PC

SINEVIBES
ATOM
Temposynced
modulating
filter
Atom is a filter, but one focused on
dynamic, tempo-syncd modulation.
With five different resonant filter types,
each with three slope settings, you also
get two modulators with multiple
waveforms that run at rates from 1/128
note to 16 bars. Theres a chaos function
that randomises the amplitude of each
modulator cycle and a lag switch to
smooth out the waveform curves. It also
has an unusual interface, with simple
graphics, rather than the kind of GUI
you might be used to. With an advanced
transport sync algorithm and support
for tempo and time signature
automation, its a great way to get
rhythmic filtering into your music.
W: www.sinevib.es/atom/
Platform: iOS

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FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:05

Focal

Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Drums & drum machines

Get your beats for free with our round-up of the best
MINISPILLAGE
Drum synth
module
Minispillage comes
from developer
Audiospillage, and is a free, pro-quality
drum synth plug-in with 64-bit DSP
processing. It features three fully
editable drum pads that can create a
range of drum and percussion sounds:
Bass Drum, Wood Drum and Electro
Hi-Hat. The Bass Drum module uses a
single oscillator with pitch sweep,
internal FM and harmonic controls. The
Wood Drum synthesises natural and
synthetic timbres from log drums to
toms, and the Hi Hat module is a
six-oscillator closed and open hat
generator with noise source and dual
resonant filters. Its more advanced
than you might expect. W: http://www.
audiospillage.com/minispillage.html
Platform: Mac AU

HAHAHA
DS-01 Drum
synthesiser
Electronic drum machines were always
more flexible than sample-based ones
because their sounds were generated
using synthesis rather than sampling,
and therefore much more open to
manipulation. The curiously-named
hahaha DS-01 isnt particularly
hilarious, but it is a straightforward
drum synth that the developer claims
would have existed in 1983 if it had
been a real product. The look is sparse,
and you get eight synth sections, one for
each drum type, from kick and snare to
hi-hats and toms. The results are as you
would expect: thoroughly 80s. Each
sound can be extensively tweaked and
has panning and volume controls.
W: http://www.pethu.se/music/
instruments.html
Platform: Mac, PC

TERAGON
AUDIO
KICKMAKER
kick synth
Some drum instruments are dedicated
to making a single kind of drum sound.
In EDM, kick sounds are very important,
and Teragon Audios KickMaker is
designed for creating kick drum sounds.
It has four independent oscillators and
a variety of effects. Each oscillator has
its own ADSR curve for shaping the
sound, and theres a further ADSR
section for the summed output of the
oscillators. You load this instrument
onto its own MIDI track and program
the kick parts separately from your
other beats, or use it to bolster existing
drum parts by introducing heavier kick
parts underneath existing patterns.
W: http://teragonaudio.com/
KickMaker.html
Platform: Mac

Focal Alpha

For the producer inside you.

Whether youre an, engineer, producer, writer or DJ, the most important gear in your studio
is your monitors. But the good ones are usually so expensive! Introducing the new Alpha
50, 65 & 80. Designed with brand new, Focal-manufactured drivers: aluminium inverted
dome tweeter c/w new 5, 6.5 & 8 polyglass woofers, all powered by dual Class AB amps.
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Focal
Alpha Series Ad MusicTech

29

16/11/2015 13:48
09:06
05/11/2015

MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE Mixing Effects

These will affect your mix rather than your sound


ideal for balancing levels and all free
TDR
KOTELNIKOV
Dynamics
processor
TDR Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics
processor, combining high-fidelity
dynamic range control with musical
flexibility. As a descendant of the TDR
Feedback Compressor product family,
Kotelnikov has inherited several unique
features, such as a proven control
scheme, individual release control for
peak and RMS content, an intuitive user
interface and powerful, state-of-the-art,
high-precision algorithms. With 64-bit
floating point processing, it offers a
fast, natural-sounding compression, a
sidechain high-pass filter and advanced
stereo linking options for the stereo bus.
Its simple to use, yet also powerful and
has won acclaim for its great sound and
clever interface.
W: www.tokyodawn.net/tdrkotelnikov
Platform: Mac, PC

MIDI FX
FREEZE
MIDI effect
converter
MIDI modifiers are
particularly useful
when programming. Things such as
chorders, arpeggiators and other tools
that interpret your input to create more
complex parts are all cool. But they
remain virtual until you render them to
audio, where you lose editability. This
plug-in does it differently, by turning
live-generated MIDI parts into editable
regions on a MIDI track. From there, you
can work with the parts directly, since
they are no longer virtual. You insert the
plug-in at the end of the MIDI effects
plug-in chain and then use it to freeze
the MIDI part, whereupon it is rendered
down to a MIDI event on the target
track. If you work with arpeggiators and
the like a lot, its a lifesaver.
W: www.audiocr.com/midi-fx-freeze
Platform: Mac

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LKJB LUFTIKUS
Analogue EQ module
Its not entirely clear how to pronounce
it, but Luftikus is a digital adaptation of
an analogue EQ with fixed half-octave
bands and additional high-frequency
boost. It has bands at 10, 40, 160 and
640Hz, as well as a 2.5k shelf and
mastering and analogue modes,
depending on how you are using it. As
an addition to the hardware, it allows
deeper cuts and supports a keep-gain
mode to avoid dramatic changes to
overall gain while you are changing EQ
settings. Sometimes, you want your EQs
to be simple, and thats what you get
here. Nevertheless, it sounds great and
can be a nice alternative to your
bundled EQs that may have come with
your DAW.
W: www.kvraudio.com/product/
luftikus-by-lkjbinstruments.html
Platform: Mac, PC

MINIMAL
SYSTEM
INSTRUMENTS
FILTER BANK
Multimode filter
Filter Bank is a fantastic multimode
filter for both producers and DJs.
Combining five different filter types
and LFOs with pure analogue-modelled
dirt, this filter brings a cool-sounding
effect to your productions. You get low
and high pass, band pass, notch and
peaking filters and an analogue knob, as
well as LFOs and in and out controls.
The developer also claims very low CPU
usage, which is a bonus, and although
its a 32-bit effect it should also work on
64-bit systems that use a bridge for
backwards compatibility. A good trick is
to automate the filters using your DAW
or DJ software, perhaps while linked to
a hardware controller, to create more
organic filter movements.
W: http://minimalsystem.com
Platform: Mac, PC

FLUX
BITTERSWEET 3
Audio transient
manager
Flux makes some pretty nifty apps, and
also gives away a couple for free.
BitterSweet 3 is a transient designer
that can help to tame the transients in
your audio material. Simply turn the
large dial in the centre to either
decrease or amplify the transients in
the signal. Transient shaping is used to
add attack to sounds; or when used in
the opposite manner, to smooth them
out and deaden the sound a little. Its
particularly handy for drums and
emphasising or softening hi-hat cymbal
parts, depending on what is required.
Like all of Fluxs plug-ins, you get 64-bit
support and up to eight channels of
audio at 384kHz.
W: www.fluxhome.com/products/
freewares/bittersweet-v3
Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO STEREO TOUCH


Mid/ side stereo enhancer
Stereo width can be an issue with some
recordings. This effect transforms a
monophonic track into a wider
stereophonic track by using mid/side
coding to alter it. It takes the mono
signal and uses it to generate a stereo
output signal, even supporting
multichannel input and routing that to
stereo too. Its designed to work on
mono sounds without very sharp
transients, such as acoustic and
overdriven guitars, synthetic pad
sounds and vocals. The idea is you can
take flat-sounding mono sources and
widen them out without having to use a
double-track recording technique. Try it
on mono micd guitars and vocals.
W: www.voxengo.com/product/
stereotouch Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:07

Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Mastering effects

FREEWARE DAW

A round-up of free plug-ins used to make your


mixes sound professional

Complete DAWs, free?


Yes, there are some
available here are the
best

A1STEREO
CONTROL
Stereo
expansion and
control
processor
Stereo expansion is often used in
moderation during the mastering stage,
though it can also be employed on
individual tracks when mixing. The idea
is to give your tracks more width and
make them sound more expansive. One
problem can be widening the bass end,
as bass should remain centred to retain
focus and power. The A1StereoControl
has a solution for this in the Safe Bass
algorithm, that centres all bass signal
below a user-configurable threshold.
Different pan laws and curves are
supported, as well as a classic balance
mode and dual panning. Use it to add
scope to your mixes and masters.
W: www.alexhilton.net/A1AUDIO/
index.php/a1stereocontrol
Platform: Mac, PC

KLANGHELM IVGI
Saturation and
distortion
processor
One of the perils of
producing music in the
digital domain is everything can sound
too clean and clinical. The imperfections
that came with recording to tape were
often what gave the sound character.
Some people try to reintroduce this
warmth by adding saturation at the
mixing or mastering stage. IVGI reacts
dynamically to the input signal and can
produce subtle saturation when applied
to a master signal. It can also be used to
distort tracks. The Controlled
Randomness feature introduces drift
and variance, and lets you alter the
frequency dependency of the saturation
with the response control.
W: http:///www.klanghelm.com/IVGI.
php
Platform: Mac, PC

VLADG
SOUND
LIMITER NO.6
Multiband
limiter

LVC AUDIO
CLIPSHIFTER
2
Waveshaping
audio plug-in

Limiting generally comes at the end of


your mastering chain, and is the last
stage in processing a track. Although
your DAW may come with a limiter, it
could be pretty basic, and Sound
Limiter no.6 offers more options all
for free. There are five modules: an RMS
compressor, peak limiter, highfrequency limiter, clipper and a true
peak limiter. Brickwall and soft limiting
are supported, and use different timing
settings depending on the effect you
want. Mid/side is supported, and theres
a multiband mode for more precise
control over the limiting of different
frequency bands. 4x oversampling is
available, and you get retro level meters,
and a choice of two GUIs.
W: https://vladgsound.wordpress.com
Platform: Mac, PC

ClipShifter is a waveshaping audio


plugin that functions like a clippingstyle limiter, and can be used at all
mixing stages, from distorting basses
and drums to maximising mix buses
and warming up mixes. The sonic
characteristics of the clipping
distortion can go from hard, brickwallstyle clipping to softer saturation with
compression. It can be used in static or
dynamic mode, and theres an
independent left/right or mid/side
threshold control, as well as the ability
to change the clip shape and adjust the
harmonic content. This functionality is
free, though theres the option to pay to
unlock more.
W: lvcaudio.com/plugins/clipshifter
Platform: Mac, PC

MULAB
Cross-platform music
production studio
Believe it or not, some DAWs are free.
MuLab works on Mac or PC and has a
remarkable feature set. As good, in fact,
as some entry-level paid DAWs. You get
audio and MIDI multitracking,
automation support, modular
architecture and multicore CPU support.
Theres support for REX files, slicing
sampled drum loops, a streamlined
mixer and a selection of synths,
samplers and effects and various
sample players. Native MUX modules
can be mixed with VST plug-ins and
theres ReWire, a browser, drag and
drop and multi-monitor support.
W: www.mutools.com
Platform: Mac, PC

STUDIO ONE
PRIME Free
version of
popular DAW
Presonuss Studio One is an increasingly
popular DAW for Mac and PC and
though theres a demo version, theres
also a free version in the form of Studio
One Prime. This has some of the core
features of the full version. It features
an elegant single-window environment
with drag and drop and multitouch
support, unlimited audio tracks, as well
as MIDI tracks, buss tracks and effects
channels. You get the free Presence XT
expandable sampler with a sound
library, as well as nine audio effects
including Ampire, Beat Delay, chorus,
reverb and more. Check it out for a
flavour of what it can do.
W: www.presonus.com
Platform: Mac, PC

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MTF Feature Freeware!

FREEWARE DAWcond

ARDOUR
Recording and
mixing
environment
As it offers the user
unlimited channels,
Ardour allows overlapping layered
regions, non-overlapping regions
or true destructive (single-file)
regions. Tracks may be mono, stereo
or multichannel. Flexible plug-in
panner architecture allows sensible
panning of multichannel tracks into
buses. Theres much more, including
extensive video support that is better
than in many paid DAWs and supports
extracting audio from video and modular
support for using multiple machines.
Theres full plug-in support, plus batch
track export, non-destructive editing and
comprehensive mixing and routing
available. Its particularly elegant for a
free DAW, and can even give a fair few
paid alternatives a run for their money.
W: www.ardour.org Platform: Mac

OHM STUDIO
Online collaborative DAW
Ohm Studio is a very clever system that
mixes a freely downloadable app for
your Mac or PC with a cloud system that
enables online real-time, multi-user
collaboration on projects. It comes
complete with a collection of plug-ins
from Ohm Force, and also supports your
local VST collection. When you share a
project to the cloud, the software freezes
the tracks, making the audio available to
your collaborators. The company makes
some free instruments and effects that
can be downloaded, and also produces
some commercial ones that you can
purchase for a fairly modest price if you
wish. The DAW itself is beautifully
designed and slick, complete with the
core tools that you need to record and
mix your music.
W: www.ohmforce.com
Platform: Mac, PC

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FREEWARE DJ

There are plenty of free plug-ins out there aimed


at the DJ. Heres a round-up
VIRTUALDJ
Crossplatform DJ
software
Despite some introductory spiel on its
website about why anyone might want
to use a digital DJ program instead of
lugging around a big sack of vinyl,
VirtualDJ is still a very widely
downloaded and free app for Mac and
PC. As well as being able to play video
tracks, it has a good core set of DJ
features, including effects such as
flanging, echo, beat slicers, loopers and
more. On the video side, it also has live
video effects and transitions, and you
can hook it up to a projector for live
performance. It has plug and play
compatibility with many DJ controller
hardware units and a bunch of
user-created scripts for download to
add compatibility and mapping for even
more controllers.
W: www.virtualdj.com
Platform: Mac, PC

SERATO DJ
INTRO
Scratching and beat
matching DJ app
Serato DJ Intro is a cut-down version of
the companys industry-leading Serato
DJ software, and is available for free on
both Mac and PC. It supports various
hardware controllers, including the
Denon DJ MC4000 and Pioneer
DDJ-SB2, as well as four-deck mixing.
You can beat match and scratch digital
music files from your computer and use
cue and loop points to jump around
within a track. Sample slots alow you
to drop samples into a live performance,
and basic effects are available if you
want to spice things up a little. Seratos
pedigree is excellent, so its worth
looking into this.
W: http://serato.com/dj-intro
Platform: Mac, PC

CROSSDJ
FREE
DJ
performance
software
CrossDJ comes in three versions, but
the free edition is still surprisingly
capable. It gives you two decks and
three effects, two fully-featured video
decks with 35 video transitions, camera
integration and a titler, plus three video
effects. You can record video output,
though it will be watermarked in the
free version. Theres iTunes support,
and also iOS remote support. If you
choose to step up to the main version
at a cost of $49 you get quite a lot of
extra stuff, or to the pro version for $89
you get a bunch of video extras.
Mixvibes also makes CrossDJ for iOS,
so that can be an inexpensive way of
getting into the software if you own an
iPad or iPhone.
W: www.mixvibes.com
Platform: Mac, PC

MIXXX
Advanced DJ
mixing software
Mixxx is surprisingly adept for a free
app, and has features you might expect
to be restricted to paid software. You get
two decks with time stretching and
vinyl emulation support, as well as beat
looping, hot cues and pitch bend.
Multiple audio formats are supported,
and theres a crossfader and EQ. Four
sampler decks let you drop in samples.
The software can be skinned, and you
can record your mixes to your computer
and broadcast them over Shoutcast with
gain normalisation, using the mic input
for talking to your audience. MIDI
controllers are supported for more
hands-on control, and theres support
for timecoded vinyl.
W: www.mixxx.org
Platform: Mac, PC

FOCUS

16/11/2015 09:07

Freeware! Feature MTF

FREEWARE Guitar

The guitar gets a section to itself. Heres a list of


the best six-string free software
VB-1
Virtual bass
instrument
Although technically
discontinued, Steinberg
still makes its classic
VB-1 available for download. It has
made it free, too. It was a staple of early
Cubase VST systems, and although a
little basic its fun and can bring a
proper electric bass sound to your
tracks. Its four-voice polyphonic, which
is fine for bass, which is usually
monotimbral, and has damper, pickup
position, pick position and wave morph
controls as well as a ramdomiser. In
a world of mega-sample libraries, its
a refreshing 4.3MB. W: http://www.
steinberg.net/en/support/
unsupported_products/vst_classics_
vol_1.html Platform: Mac, PC

KEOLAB SPICY
Acoustic guitar synth
Acoustic guitars are pretty difficult
instruments to recreate the sound of.
You either use lots of samples, or as
Keolab has done, model using synthesis
to recreate the guitar tones. There are
nine types of guitar here: four folk, two
classical, one flamenco, one jumbo and
one gypsy, as well as a choice of nylon
or steel strings. It works like Kontakt in
that you have MIDI keys for playing
notes and then control keys for the
playing articulations, such as legato,
palm mute, harmonics, sustain or chord
detection. There are different chord
types and a strumming engine to
recreate the action of playing.
W: www.spicyguitar.com
Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO TUBE AMP


Virtual tube amplifier
Tube Amp is an AU and VST plug-in that
applies asymmetric tube triode
overdrive usually found in single-tube
microphone pre-amp boxes. The sound
this plugin produces varies from a mild
warm overdrive to a fuzzy distortion.
It also includes a -6dB/oct low-pass
filter thats built into the plugins tube/
valve modeling equation, and can
imitate a lower-quality tube triode.
Theres a switchable output saturation
stage, which can be used to overdrive
the output signal and all the standard
Voxengo plugin features, such as full
multi-channel operation, channel
routing and built-in oversampling. Its
great for guitars and for dirtying up
sounds such as vocals, drums or synths.
W: www.voxengo.com
Platform: Mac, PC

FREEWARE Other

Its just freeware that we could find no category


for, but its still worthy of inclusion

MULTIINSPECTOR FREE
Audio analysis tool
A simpler version of the more advanced
MultiInspector, this free plug-in
visualises up to four audio signals in
real time in one window, and helps you
identify overlapping frequencies. Its a
31-band spectral analyser with
multitrack functionality, though its
limited to a sample rate of 44.1kHz. For
more features, you can upgrade to the
full version. Audio analysis is a vital
part of the production process; by
analysing your signal properly you can
see where problematic areas occur in
the mix and use EQ to fix them.
Analysing with software is often more
accurate because its not affected by
things such as the room. W: www.
vertexdsp.com Platform: Mac, PC

VOXENGO
SPAN
FFT
analyser
Span is a real-time FFT audio spectrum
analyser that can be inserted on any
track in your DAW to give you an
accurate visual readout of whats going
on in the frequency and amplitude of
the audio. Its highly configurable,
letting you specify FFT block sizes and
visual slope, and supports multichannel
analysis or displaying spectrums from
two different channels or groups at the
same time for comparison. You also get
output metering with adjustable
ballistics and metering time, headroom
estimation and clipping detection, as
well as correlation metering. Its a really
advanced plug-in, and not one youd
normally expect to get for free.
W: www.voxengo.com/product/span/
Platform: Mac, PC

GRUNGELIZER
Vinyl
simulation
This one lives on Steinbergs
discontinued area of the product
download website, but its still available
for free. Grungelizer used to be a part of
Cubase, and was much loved by many
people, hence the decision to keep it
around, if unsupported. Its deceptively
simple, but sounds great and can be
used to add variable amounts of vinyl
sound to your tracks: anywhere from
subtle trip-hop warmth right through to
1920s gramophone filth. You can even
add simulated electrical hum to the
signal. Although basic, its tremendous
fun to use and actually comes in pretty
handy for many tasks. If youre lucky, it
should still work on your Mac or PC.
Get vinylising your tracks today!
W: www.steinberg.net
Platform: Mac, PC MTF

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MTF 20 Pro Tips EQ

EQ tips
The EQ stage of mixing is vital in finding space for each instrument, making important
moments punch through and eliminating clutter. Heres our guide to getting it right
WATCH THE VERY TOP
A common procedure when editing or mixing audio is to
try to get rid of hiss on recorded audio tracks. These very high
frequencies can often be found between 5kHz and 20kHz in
the frequency range, depending on the material, so applying
a high-cut filter with a narrow Q value should enable you to
knock out the hiss while leaving other high frequencies that
you want to keep intact. As ever, this is a matter of careful
experimentation. Systems such as Dolby Noise Reduction
used to get rid of hiss, but also usually made the whole track
sound dull as a side effect. Since digital files dont suffer from
the same physical problems as tape, you can be fairly sure
that if you get your top end sounding clean, it should be
reproduced as such whatever its played back on.

01

01

Vocals need to cut through a


mix, or at least be prominent and
audible, and EQ is key to this
CONTROL YOUR BODY
More than any other tool, EQ is able to control the body
of a sound. Compression can play around with levels and
presence, but to control the weight of a sound its usually to
EQ that you will turn. For some parts, this means reducing
bottom end and lower mids to reduce clutter in the mix,
and for others its about adding weight by increasing those
same frequencies.

02

ADD BASS WEIGHT


To add weight to a track, try looking around the bottom
end of the spectrum, gently boosting with an amount of
around 10dB as you move around, until you find a point that
seems to add the most body. Then find a frequency either
double or half that value so if it was 110Hz, go to 55Hz
and add a dB or two of boost there as well.

03

ITS THE ENSEMBLE THAT MATTERS


In a dense or complex arrangement, you may well find
that two or more elements of a track are fighting to occupy
the same frequency space. It might be impossible to EQ them
to sound the same as they originally did and still make
enough space for both of them. One trick is to EQ them in
slightly different directions while keeping them sounding
good in the context of a track. This doesnt necessarily have to
be extreme; for example, you could make one guitar part more
bass-heavy and one more top-heavy. Solod up, they might
sound odd, but the main thing is that they sit well in the
context of the track. If there are parts of a track where a

04

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EQ 20 Pro Tips MTF

sound plays solo or with less accompaniment, you can


always automate the EQ to behave differently at those
points, or duplicate the track and treat it separately.
UNDERSTAND VOCAL REQUIREMENTS
Vocals almost always need to cut through a mix, or at
the very least be prominent and audible, and EQ is key to this
along with compression, of course. There are some good
rules of thumb to observe. A lot of male vocals will, prior to
treatment, have too much bass end on it to sit well in a mix,
so rolling off some of this is usually a good tactic. A vocal that
is too nasal or top-heavy, on the other hand, might benefit
from the addition of some lower mids, and perhaps even
bass. As vocals can sometimes vary over a large part of the
frequency spectrum through the course of a song, you need
to pay particular attention to their EQ. Multiband
compression can also help to control unexpected peaks if
a single band compressor isnt quite doing it.

05

05

06
ORDER MATTERS
As with any effect used as an insert, the point at which
you apply EQ can have an effect on the end results. Imagine
you applied an EQ that cut out a lot of bottom end, and then in
the next insert slot applied a compressor. That would cause
the compressor to behave in a specific way because it would
be compressing a signal without much bass end. If the EQ
was applied after the compressor, the EQ would be working
on the compressed sound the full frequency spectrum
rather than the compressor working on the EQd sound. The
differences can be subtle or more noticeable, depending on
the plug-ins you are using. If you are using EQ in your DAWs
mixer, rather than as a plug-in, be aware of what path the
signal is taking on its journey from timeline to speakers.

07

COMPARE AND CONTRAST


When it comes to getting a production right, youll do a
lot of tweaking. Many EQ modules give you the ability to A/B
between two presets, and sometimes as many as four. With
almost any effect used during music production, this can be
a really helpful thing to do, as it lets you non-destructively
audition different treatments and flip between them. After
extensive periods of listening, your ears get used to the way
something sounds, and so sometimes a fresh perspective
can be helpful. Consider, also, muting the EQ from time to
time to remember exactly what you are adding or taking away
from a part. EQ presets, whether in the form of plug-in or
track presets in your DAWs mixer, are also a good way to try
different treatments while being able to roll back easily.

08

Consider muting the EQ from


time to time to remember what
you are adding or taking away
PRE-TREAT CERTAIN SOUNDS
When you are recording certain sounds, particularly
vocals, it can be advisable to do a little EQing on the
channel into which the vocal is going to be recorded.
Close-up vocals, in particular, can sound boomy in the
singers headphones and lead to them not performing to
their full potential. Knocking some bottom end off will help
their vocal sit better in the headphone mix. Remember,
however, the difference between doing this using a software
channel strip where the EQ is not part of the take, and thus
can be changed afterwards, and on your mic pre or interface,
where the changes are a permanent part of the recording.
Its usually wise to record relatively clean and then EQ
afterwards, but if a sound is particularly problematic at
the low or high end, for example, it doesnt hurt to mitigate
this prior to recording.

06

Use an EQ like this to


accurately remove
high frequencies
(far left)
Different vocals
have different EQ
requirements;
male vocals might
need the bass
reduced (above)
Similarly knocking
the bottom end off
a vocal might help
it sit better in
headphones
(top right)

GET UP CLOSE
Between about 4 and 6kHz, you will find frequencies
that control the clarity and up-front quality of a track, so
boosting in this range can make the music seem closer to the
listener. At the very top end, from 6 to 16kHz, you get the air
that can be used to add sparkle to tracks. Pushing the very
top end too hard can result in sibilance on vocals, or too
much hiss, so be careful. Some EQ plug-ins even have an
add air preset.

09

INVESTIGATE CHANNEL STRIPS


All major DAWs feature EQ of some description on
channels, often in the form of a channel strip. These usually
contain some handy presets that you can dial in quickly to
see how something will sound. One good use for this is to pull
up a telephone line or old radio-style EQ setup to quickly
alter the sound, rather than having to spend time working out
for yourself how such a curve might be set up. You can flip
through presets to quickly audition different treatments; of
course, every vocal is different so its unlikely a preset will be
perfect from the get-go, but its usually a great starting point.

10

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MTF 20 Pro Tips EQ

10

you need to be specific and try to isolate a certain frequency


that can be found only by using a 30-band model, but more
often than not, around six might be a good number to use.
This stops you from over-complicating what need only be
a fairly simple task. Sometimes, you might only need to use
a high or low shelf, which involves just one EQ point, for the
purposes of rolling off top or bottom end. When you start
getting into 30-band territory, it can be overkill.

Some third-party plug-ins


take the form of channel
strips, notably Izotopes
Alloy and various models
from Waves.

GET IN THE Q
Many EQ modules,
particularly parametric
models, have a Q control for
EQ points, and this is just as
important in tailoring the
character of the EQ as
setting the frequency. Q
controls the width of the EQ
curve, and hence how much
of the area around the
frequency point is affected.
With a narrow Q, one
example of which would be
a notch filter, only a very
specific frequency is
affected and this makes it
good for trying to pinpoint
individual sounds within an
audio signal. A wider Q
value, on the other hand,
affects more of the the
frequencies around the
main EQ point, often tailing
off gently. This is better for
pulling a broader frequency
range up or down. Narrow Q
values are often used for
more surgical EQ, whereas gentler Q values
are used commonly in mastering.

11

LESS CAN BE MORE


Different EQ modules and plug-ins have different
numbers of bands, and when they do you can often switch
different bands on or off. Normally, you might find anything
from two to 30 bands available to you. There are cases where

12

11

13

STRIP IT BACK
When EQing a whole track during mastering, some
people like to start by knocking off the bottom end so that
they can hear the middle and top in isolation. They adjust the
lower and upper mids to get the sound good and firm, and
the top so that it is bright but controlled. Then, bringing the
bottom end back in will bolster the overall sound and you can
EQ it accordingly. This stops you focusing too much on the
bass end all the way through the EQ process. Of course, the
end goal is a perfectly balanced sound, and how you go about
it is less important than achieving it. Remember not to use
EQ to compensate for volume that should be done with
compression, or multiband compression if necessary.

13

Channel strips are


worth using for their
presets (top left)
Pinpoint specific
frequencies with a
narrow Q (below)
For mastering you
may want to drop the
bottom end to hear
the rest (above)

MAKE SPACE FOR COMPETING SOUNDS


When EQing during mixing, there are tricks to make
elements in a similar frequency range sit together. The kick
drum and the bass are two things that often get in each
others way, so you could try cutting one at a specific
frequency and boosting another at exactly the same
frequency. You need to try to avoid situations where you have
two EQ modules boosting at the exact same frequency.
Ideally, you should create a space for each instrument to live
in within the mix. Sidechained compression can also be used
effectively here.

14

GET DEEP DOWN


Sub bass lives between around 16 and 60Hz, and these
sounds are often felt more than heard. Too much emphasis
on them can make a track seem muddy and confused, so if
this is happening, try using EQ to roll them off. Regular bass
is somewhere between 60 and 250Hz, so playing around with
these frequencies can add weight to the track or thin it out
a little if it is sounding too boomy.

15

KEEP IT SIMPLE
A lot of virtual instruments have EQ controls on them,
and its important to remember that any presets you use may
already have EQ applied. The same goes for presets on other
effects plug-ins that you may have called up on other tracks.
Try to EQ in as few places as possible, as this keeps the
signal path a little simpler, and if you are troubleshooting it
means fewer places to look to find a culprit.

16

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EQ 20 Pro Tips MTF

16

CHOOSE AN EQ TYPE
Parametric EQ is the kind that may come as part of your
DAW, and offers a number of bands and usually the ability to
draw in EQ points with the mouse and make Q settings.
Graphic EQ is more often though not exclusively found in
hardware form, and features a large number of physical
sliders that can be used to control the shape of the sound.
Linear Phase EQ is found only in software form, and allows
EQing without colouration of the sound.

18

18

Some EQ modules let you set


the shape of the EQ curves
applied at different frequencies
UNDERSTAND CURVE SHAPES
Some EQ modules, such as Fabfilters Pro-Q, let you set
the shape of the EQ curves applied at different frequencies.
These let you quickly dial in EQ characteristics without
having to play around with lots of dials. The most common
types of curves are bell, high and low shelf and high and low
cut. By mixing and matching curve types on different
frequencies within a single EQ module, you can more
precisely control the character of the sound.

17

Know your EQ types


(above right)
Some instruments
have very usable
EQs built in
(above)
Getting hands on
with an EQ controller
is beneficial (below)

MASTER THE MIDS


A lot of information in music exists in the mid range and
its important to understand the difference between lower
and upper mids. Simple EQs sometimes have a single mid
control, but having two or even three for different parts of the
mid range is much more flexible. You can generally set the
crossover points of these sections on a more flexible EQ unit
to tailor the boundaries to the material you are working with.

19

USE HANDS-ON CONTROLS


Some EQ plug-ins can be made to learn from MIDI
input, and where this is available you can connect a MIDI
control surface and assign knobs to the EQ dials. While
playing back, this would allow you to tweak EQ points and
curves by hand, which can feel much more natural and
intuitive than using the mouse. Some control surfaces are
designed specifically for tasks such as this. MTF

20

20

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MTF Show off your Logic studio

Show off
your Logic
studio

John Seput boasts an incredible


amount of tech and guitars, plus
that most important of studio
items: a random toy (car in this
case). Inset: a rack of gear with
the ubiquItous blue strip lights
we love it

We have some of your amazing Logic


studios under the spotlight (or blue
striplight). Go to the MusicTech
Facebook to show yours off

John Seput
Contact: jseput@yahoo.com
Key components: Focal Twin Be 6 &
Yamaha HS50 monitors; Speck
X-Sum mixer; Drawmer 1968 ME
tube compressor; API A2D &
PreSonus ADL 600 preamps; SPL2
monitor controller; 2x Speck ASC-T
EQs; Lynx Aurora 8 & AES16e; Korg
Triton ProX + various cards; Roland
V-Synth XT & XV-5080; Yamaha
Motif ES Rack; E-mu Orbit; Access
Virus A; Korg MS2000R; Kurzweil
K2VX; NI Maschine MK1; Arturia
KeyLab 49 & SparkLE; many guitars!
Which DAW and why? I have most
of them: DP8, Logic X, Ableton, PT11,
HarrisonMixBuss. I started with
Performer 1.0 when it was MIDI, and
even used to use Opcode Studio
Vision. I mainly now use Logic for
composing and Pro Tools for tracking
and editing. Im trying to get my
head around Ableton and would like
to start composing in that.
Favourite gear? I have two special
pieces of gear: the WashBurn Boogie
Street Southern Cross replica, that
I got as a birthday present from my

38 | Logic Pro X 2016

MTF41 SOYS.indd 38

wife, and a tube mono power amp


that my father built many years ago.
How do you use your studio?
I work with select projects when
I can. The studio is in a bedroom in
my house, so when I record bands,
the whole house gets taken over for
isolation. Last year, I recorded a
young band called Slow Hollows that
are doing really well. We had the
drums in the living room, the guitar
amps in another bedroom, bass
direct, etc. Ive done some composing
and sound design for games, some
industrials, an album for my last
band Division Six, and I do some
keyboard tracks for another project.
What annoys you about it? Well, I
wish I had more space. The room can
get cramped, and I think having more
depth would help with my mixing.
What is next on your shopping list?
I want to check out the Roland
JD-XA, or the Prophet 6 (I used to
have a VS and Prophet 10). My
current setup is mostly in the box,

and Im missing having a keyboard


I can truly interact with. The other
piece of gear that interests me is the
Allen & Heath GSR24 console. Before
I went in the box, I had a GS3000-32
console, and I really miss that sound.
Dream gear? I had a lot of vintage
synths in the past Yamaha DX1,
CS-70M, Sequential Prophet 10 and
VS, Roland MKS-80, 70, JD-800,
JD-990, etc, Oberheim OB-X, Matrix
6, OB-MX, Minimoog D, Waldorf
Microwave I wish I had them all
still, but space was an issue. I always
wanted the Oberheim Matrix 12 or
Expander. I was lucky enough to use
both in college, and I always thought
they were amazing synths (I do have
the Arturia Matrix 12 version).
Any advice? Get the best monitors
and headphones you can afford, and
make sure your room is set up
correctly. Gear acquisition
syndrome is real make sure you
have a balance of being a tech vs a
composer or player.A lot of time can
be spent with software updates.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:38

Show off your Logic studio MTF

Gareth Orme

LTL Records

Contact: garethorme@icloud.com

Interviewee: Bobbi Styles


Contact: bobbi.l.style@ltlrecords.com

We like a person in shot


now and again

Love those mics and table

Key components in your studio?


Mac Pro; Logic Pro; Waves
Mastering; JJP Analog; SSL4000
Bundle; Spectrasonics Omnisphere;
NI Komplete 9 and Maschine 2;
DSP-Quatro; BFD 2; too many sample
libraries. Hardware: Dynaudio M2s;
Apogee Digital Symphony; Avalon
VT-737SM; UA LA-610 MKll; SSL
Nucleus; NI Maschine 2; various
analogue synths; JD-8000; Korg
Triton; M-Audio AIR & Axiom 49
keyboards; PreSonus Monitor
Station; and several electric guitars/
basses and classic mics.
Which DAW do you use and why?
I started on Cubase on an Atari 520
STF way back when, but since
switching to Logic (2.5) many years
ago its been my DAW of choice and
now its Logic Pro X. I love the work
flow and creative ease of use the
best solution for the way I work. I
have Pro Tools if a client asks, but
have not used it for two years.
Favourite piece of gear? A tough
one: My Dynaudio M2s. Theyve gone
into every studio Ive built or used in
the last decade or more and Ive
relied on their amazing honesty of
sound for over 15 years.
Perfect or room for improvement?
Theres an argument going on
between Logic, M-Audio and the SSL
Nucleus over whos the main
controller
How do you use your studio? I use
my studio mainly for LTL Records
and other labels artists, but I do
work woth other artists and bands

not on any label, too, but the studio


is not a hire-by-the-day studio. Its
an artist/label project studio, either
for my productions of others on
other labels. Saying that, I do find
that I am mixing for bands and
artists from around the world most
of the time now.
What is you dream piece of gear?
Excuse me while I take 10 years to
decide. Either an SSL Duality or
Neve Genesys, either one
64-channel, primarily for their
quality, and also for their DAW
compatibility.
Next on your shopping list? An SSL
Sigma I really want to have an SSL
analogue summing box and also
Neves 5059 summing box. That
way I can switch between the two
classic-sounding analogue busses
within my work flow
One piece of advice? Get good
speakers/monitors, one decent pre/
comp box and treat your space with
whatever you can to kill bad audio
reflections. Good speakers are
essential, but a bad setup or bad
room can kill any chance of a good
mix. Dont chase the loudness, gain
stage correctly and go for mix
quality not loudness. Also, stop
watching the clock! Dont write
your song in the studio while
paying for a studio by the hour.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse before
you go into the studio. The studio
services are free, its my sarcastic
British humour youre paying for
No, your girlfriend, her pics or
videos are not acceptable currency.

Main components? UAD Apollo Twin


Duo; Dynaudio BM5a MK2 monitors;
UAD, Slate, Waves, Soundtoys & NI
plug-ins; Apogee Duet 2; MOTU 8
Pre; Focusrite Platinum Octopre LE,
TrakMaster and Voice Master;
Frontier AlphaTrack; M-Audio Axiom
Air 32; Akai LPK25; Presonus HP4.
Which DAW? Logic Pro X. The choice
when at university was either Logic
Pro or Pro Tools. At the time, Logic
had better features and was better
value for money, whereas Pro Tools
did not feature 64-bit architecture.
Favourite gear? UA Apollo Twin Duo
a great little box of tricks. Unison
technology is fantastic, and yields
good results when it comes to
preamp emulation. It also gives me
access to the UAD plugin library,
which I couldnt work without.
How do you use the studio? I record
bands, but mostly its editing, mixing
and mastering. We use it to record
the MNFM unsigned podcast show.
Next buy? Im torn between a
Neumann TLM103 mic and the
Kemper Profiling Amp. The TLM will
probably win it was my mic of
choice at uni I really like its sound.
Dream piece of kit? A Neve Genesys
Black Hybrid 8. It would be a dream
to work on a console that has eight
channel strips with 1073 mic pres
and four-band 88RS EQs, alongside
full DAW control and motorised
faders. It would be a lot of fun and
make my workflow much easier.
Advice? The most important studio
component is the room. Spend time
to understand acoustics, learn how
to make your own treatment to save
money and aim to get the flattest
room response that you can. MTF
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MTF Buyers Guide Six of the best

Six of the best


Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Details
Price 229
Contact AIAIAI
+45 35 34 63 54
Web aiaiai.dk

Accessories

Welcome to the MusicTech Focus Buyers Guide, where we


round up some of the best products reviewed in MusicTech.
This time, we look at some of the recent and not so recent
headphones weve tested

BEST All-rounders

Audio Technica AT-M70

Details

ang for buck, it was hard to


beat our previous reference
phones, the Audio Technica
AT-M50s, but then along came
the AT-M70s. At 299, they are not the
cheapest on offer here but probably the
best all-rounders. Reviewer Andy Jones
said: Because of the extra frequency
response on the M70s, I expected
more bass, but actually the opposite is
true. If anything, there is now a
noticeable clarity of the bass on
the 70s compared to the 50s. Its
not muddy, but more defined,
perhaps more accurate on
dance music, and flatter. The
M70s are accurate and great
for long sessions not a
common combination so perfect
for mixing. The best just got better.

Price 299
Contact
Audio Technica
0113 277 1441
Web
eu.audiotechnica.com/en

BEST Marmite

Telefunken
EA THP-29

ou will either absolutely love the


look and feel of these or you will,
like some in our office, not. But
theres no denying the sound
and comfort of Telefunkens latest and
who cares what they look like when you
are wearing them? Reviewer Andy Jones
said: I have no difficulty recommending
them. Sure, I have reservations about
the plastic band but its flexibility
probably helps the isolation and some

40 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.6OTB.indd 40

Details
Price 129.60
Contact
Unity Audio
01799 520786
Web
www.telefunkenelektroakustik.com

BEST DIY

AIAIAI
TMA-2
Modular

gnore the Modular bit. The big


draw with these phones is the fact
that you can choose your bits and
construct them yourself (and be
tempted by combos that certain
producers use). But your best bet is to
choose the Studio ones that we tested,
and which sound great, rather than risk
making your own. Reviewer Andy Jones
said: As much as we like the concept
of building and choosing your own
components, for studio use that
concept gets in the way of what are a
great set of phones. Just go Studio
and youll be fine

may not agree with me about the Art


Deco design, but if Im wearing them,
theyre comfortable and, more
importantly, they sound great, then
theyre winners to my ears. For the cash,
then, theres little to beat them. Plastik
Fantastik! Like monitors, you need two
pairs of phones for mixing: one for
comfort and long sessions, and one for
accuracy. There are few headphones
that do the first job better than these.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:43

Six of the best Buyers Guide MTF

BEST Flatness

Audeze EL-8

t the best part of 600, these


are among the most
expensive headphones
around, but like good
monitors they sound as flat as a
pancake. Almost too flat, as reviewer
Andy Jones said: What this means is
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listening sessions; sound-quality wise,


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comfort v sound factor which is right up
there with the best. Good value, good
sound and isolation, plus great
comfort. A very solid set of reference
phones for various mixing situations.
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MTF Technique Creating cinematic synth bass

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Technique Logic in depth

Requirements

Creating cinematic
synth bass
Following Mark Cousins demonstrates how to add
some powerful synth bass to your scoring to get an
incredible cimematic low end to your music

henever you think of driving cinematic


scores you may well take a close look at
how drums can be used to provide the
energy behind an action cue. However,
there is one key instrument that also
helps with modern scoring the synthesiser in providing
the harmonic pulse to the music. Look at a range of
contemporary film scores from Hans Zimmers Dark
Knight trilogy to Brian Tylers work with the Marvel films
and youll see how a pulsing synth bass forms an integral

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

The use of a consistent accent


across multiple parts really helps
to define the energy of the cue
part of the score. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly,
synth bass can form an important harmonic foundation
(often going deeper than the low end of the real orchestra),
and secondly, its relentless, mechanical precision really
helps drive the cue along.

your drum sequence. The use of a consistent accent across


multiple parts really helps to define the energy of your cue,
especially when you start to use some clever off-beat
syncopation. The accent can be defined in two ways: either
using velocity (as youd expect) or by the use of octave
switching, so that the bass part uses notes an octave
higher to define accent points.

Push the envelope


As well as using your own programmed MIDI sequences,
you can also look at exploring features within the virtual
instrument plug-ins themselves. One notable solution is
the use of complex, rate-level envelope generators, which
can be put to distinctive use on synths such as Massive,
Omnisphere and Absynth (to name but a few). The
envelopes can be routed through to a number of different
parameters (filter cutoff, the amplifier, oscillator pitch and
so on) to create a range of interesting pulsing effects,
all triggered from a single MIDI note. An alternative
approach is to use an arpeggiator, either on the instrument
itself or as a MIDI plug-in, as a means of creating a
16th-note sequence.
Beyond the basic

First steps
To create your own pulsing synth bass, there are a number
of creative options you can explore both in respect of the
means of creating the pulse and how to process and layer
the sounds. Arguably the simplest solution is to program
the sequence from scratch, usually using the step time
input in your piano roll editor, or simply drawing in a series
of 16th-note divisions.
One key concept to pin down at this stage is whether
you intend to use some form of accenting. While a
relentless swathe of 16th notes can work well, its often
useful to mirror the accent pattern that youve built up in

ARPEGGIATORS
Arpeggiators can be a good source of pulse effects, especially if you exploit their full
creative potential. Experimenting with the note order (up, down, random, and so on), as
well as octave range, can bring some interesting serendipitous results. However, for a
more predictable output, consider using its in-built step sequencer track lane, which is an
integral feature of both Logic Pro Xs arpeggiator and the arpeggiator included in
Omnisphere. Use the step sequencer track lane to define preset accent patterns, which
can be mapped through to filter cutoff or amplifier level. If youre feeling really
adventurous, try setting a number of steps thats deliberately wrong (15, for example) and
then hear a unique syncopation effect that changes by 1/16th every bar!

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Creating cinematic synth bass Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Synth bass

Working from a drum session see files on the DVD create a


simple bass sequence using 16th notes. The sequence can
either follow your chord progression (if youre working with one) or
stay fixed on the root note.

All the drum parts feature an accent pattern (four groups of


three and two groups of two) that needs to be replicated in the
synth part. To create the accents, weve used a combination of higher
velocities and an octave shift.

Create an instance of Retro Synth for the bass part. Were using
a combination of sawtooth and square waves between the two
oscillators, and plenty of Voice Detune under the Global controls to
give the sound some fatness.

To give the sound some percussive bite, create a sharp filter


envelope setting: Attack 0ms, Decay 590ms, Sus 0 and Release
270ms. Youll need to lower the cutoff and adjust the Env Depth
control to get the desired amount of movement.

To create the accent, we can use two routes. Firstly, the Vel slider
(found in the Filter Env section) can adjust the amount of
Envelope Depth added by harder velocities. Also, look at the Velocity
to Filter Cutoff option under the Settings tab.

Add a composite layer using another synth working with the


same pattern. In this case, weve used Razor but added some
cutoff modulation (via an automation track lane) to create more
movement and interest in the additional layer.

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sequence, think about how you can layer further instances,


as well as using signal processing plug-ins. When it comes
to effects, two of the best options are distortion and a
tempo-synced delay. The distortion works wonders when
you want to increase the amount of aggression in the cue
maybe starting from a subtle filtered synth bass to one that
has a dense collection of harmonics that cut through the
track. Likewise, a tempo-synced delay can increase the
rhythmic interest, especially in situations when youve
added some form of accent to the pattern.

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Finger on the pulse


The use of layering both as a means of developing the cue
over time and defining the top-to-bottom use of frequency
space often makes a big difference to the cues musical
effectiveness. Think about carving a unique sound space for
each part by varying a few key parameters. A harmonicallyrich synth pulse sound, for example, could have a clipped
envelope with a short decay, allowing the sound to cut
through, but not dominate the mix. Likewise, low-pass,
band-pass and high-pass filters all have their part to play
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MTF Technique Creating cinematic synth bass

defining a unique part of the frequency spectrum. As you


add parts, therefore, consider using different filter modes
so that each has its own space.
Although weve covered the key points here, theres really
a whole world of options for you to explore, particularly with
the release of new software instruments that are either
dedicated to the task of synth pulses or particularly adept
in that area. One perfect example of this is Outputs Signal,
which includes a specifically designed Pulse Engine that

embeds many of the techniques described here into the


front-end of the instrument. Ultimately, its the perfect way
to embed the power of a synthesiser into a cutting-edge
score, and a great way to give your music the energy and
drive it deserves. MTF
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, online and
now in LA, Point Blank is the Global Music School. You can study sound to
picture on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors.
More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step Synth bass

Heres another means of creating a pulsing synth layer using


Omnisphere. Were starting from an initialised patch, using the
SawSquare Fat waveform. Add a basic 12dB low-pass filter, increase
the filters sustain and reduce its Velo setting to 0.

Press the Envelope Zoom magnifying glass. Click on the


drop-down menu and select one of the Rhythmic Envelopes.
Ensure both Loop and Sync are active, so that the pattern repeats and
stays in time with your DAWs tempo.

Return to the main Edit page to tweak the results. Set the amount
of Env Depth to establish how much effect the envelope has.
Also, tweak the Cutoff setting to establish the base level for the
envelope movement.

Adding some effects can really improve the overall sound. Move
over to the FX page and insert the Tape Slammer and BMP Delay.
As the delay is synced with the envelope movements, it adds a
pleasing extra rhythmic dimension.

An Omnisphere patch has two layers (A and B, accessed via the


tabs at the top of the Edit page), so try adding a sample-based
layer on Layer B. You can use the Mix and Pan controls to balance the
amounts of each layer.

Rather than modulating the filter, this time try using the
Rhythmic Envelope feature to modulate the amplifier, which
creates a form of key gating effect. You can either use the same
envelope setting, or pick a different pattern for a syncopated effect.

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MTF Technique VA Synthesis with Alchemy

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Technique Logic in depth

VA Synthesis
with Alchemy
Alchemy is a tremendously versatile synth, but its VA engine is the real star of the show.
Mark Cousins explore some classic subtractive sounds

ith Granular, Additive and Formant-based


synthesis modes, Alchemy is a complex
and vast synthesizer that can take years to
truly master. At its heart, however, Alchemy
has a surprisingly easy-to-use virtual
analogue (VA) synthesis engine, capable of producing many
of the distinctive synthesizer sounds were used to hearing
on a Moog, ARP or classic Roland synthesizer. While it
might not be as immediate an instrument as Retro Synth,
the sheer dexterity and sonic power of Alchemys VA engine
is well worth closer inspection.

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

VA Basics
Thanks to a clear and intuitive interface, the basic
principles of VA synthesis on Alchemy are easy to
understand. We start with four Sources (in Alchemy-speak)

The sheer dexterity and sonic


power of Alchemys VA engine is
well worth closer inspection
that form our four oscillators A, B, C and D. In VA mode,
the four sources can each be assigned a variety of starting
waveshapes, including the classic Sawtooth, Pulse and
Square as well as a variety of more esoteric, harmonicallycomplex waveshapes. The output of the oscillators is then
passed on to two multimode filters, which can work in
either parallel or serial configuration, before being passed
to the amplifier.
What seems an initially straightforward set of synthesis
controls reveals additional depths and sonic powers as you
move deeper into the architecture. Click on the source tabs
on the top left-hand side of Alchemys interface and youll
see an expanded set of controls for each Oscillator. One of
these expanded controls found at the far right-hand side

are the Unison controls that double-up the oscillators


with up to 16 additional voices. Add copious amounts of
detune, and from just a single oscillator you can produce a
sound of eight or more analogue synthesizers stacked on
top of one another.

Filter fun
For Logic Pro X users that are accustomed to working with
the ES2, the serial/parallel filters should be easy to
understand. Like the ES2, Alchemy has two filters that can
either be used one after another (so that the output of the
first filter feeds into the next), or in parallel where the two
filters run concurrently. You can also route the four
oscillators so that they address either Filter 1 or 2, making
it possible to create some unique hybrid effects. In the
walkthrough (starting opposite), well take a look at one
example that creates a hybrid pad sound routing a single
oscillator to two filters running in low-pass and band-pass
modes respectively.
Modulation, of course, is the point at which any
synthesizer starts to get interesting mapping a variety of
modulation sources (like envelopes and LFOs) through to
any number of controls within the synthesizer. What makes
Alchemy an exciting proposition is both the wealth of
modulation sources available including a Multi-stage
Envelope Generator (MSEG) and Step Sequencer among all
the usual Envelopes and LFOs and the fact that they can
be routed to any parameter within the synth.

Mod heaven
To keep its operation intuitive, Alchemys modulation
routing system works on a last control touched principle.
Adjust the filter cutoff, for example, and youll see Filter 1
Cutoff appear as a target in the modulation section. Simply
click on the drop-down menu and you can select a
modulation source from the comprehensive list.
Whats particularly

VA ELEMENT CONTROLS
The VA Element Control (found as part of the expanded Source options) has a number of detailed but
important controls that relate specifically to the task of VA synthesis. When you load a Square or
Pulse wave, for example, the Symmetry control acts as a Pulse Width control, which can be
modulated to create the classical PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) effect. Sync creates a form of
pitch-based distortion, whereby the wavecycles of two oscillators are locked together. Raising Sync
increases the waveform distortion, and sounds really effective when controlled from an Envelope
generator for the classic sync sweep sound. As well as a Unison option, you can also activate a noise
source, which is great for synth percussion effects, or adding a touch of grit into fast-moving
sequencer lines.

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VA Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis

Load an instance of Alchemy and start by initializing a blank


patch using the Alchemy menu item File > Clear. You should now
have a vanilla Sawtooth patch. Now, move over to the Advanced tab
to begin refining the sound.

Under the Advanced tab we can see a global overview of the


current patch, moving between the four oscillators (A, B, C and D)
at the top, through to the filter and amplifier. Click on the waveform
name to select a new VA waveform.

Activate the second oscillator by clicking on the small B icon.


Change the waveform assignment to Square Arp and use the
Tune control to shift the oscillator down 12 semitones from Oscillator
A. This forms the sound of the sub oscillator.

Each oscillator has an expanded selection of controls, which you


can see by clicking off the Global tab (in the top left-hand
corner) and selecting A, B, C or D. Over the right-hand side we can
increase the unison (Uni) voices and the amount of detune.

Once weve established the starting timbre it then gets passed


through the filter. Using the drop-down menu you can select your
filter type, which can include low-pass, band-pass and high-pass
operation as well as various filter types like notch and formant.

Were working with the 4-pole, Low-pass LP4 MG filter. Try


reducing the cutoff and increasing the resonance to hear its
sound. For a real Moog-like sound, try increasing the drive to add
extra body and grit to the filters operation.

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useful is the orange banding that wraps around the


selected parameter, which gives you an idea of the amount
of modulation being applied. Reduce the depth control, for
example, and the band shrinks, having less of an impact on
the destination parameter. Handily, this also provides a
visual indication of how the depth interacts with the
base-level, often reminding you to lower a parameter so it
can be modulated correctly.
The programmable modulation sources (including the

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LFOs, AHDSR, MSEG and Step Sequencer) can all be


accessed using tabs in the modulation area. If youre using
more than one LFO, AHDSR, MSEG and Step Sequencer
note the Current number parameter, which lets you step
between the different iterations (like LFO1 and LFO2, for
example). As evident on many of the presets, the Step
Sequencer is a great way of adding movement and
animation into your Alchemy patches, especially when you
combine multiple track lanes and clever parameter routing.
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MTF Technique VA Synthesis with Alchemy

Going further

In keeping with the flexibility across the rest of the


synth, Alchemy provides a total of five effect buses (A, B, C,
D and Main) each of which can be assigned its own chain of
effects. In theory, you can route individual oscillators
directly to the effects section (bypassing the filters) or in
the same way, route individual filter outs directly to their
own effect bus. Combined with the flexibility filter routing,
it means that you really exploit hybrid sounds, layering
different filters and effects as part of the same patch.

If youre thinking that the omission of Alchemys Granular,


Additive, Formant and Sample-based synthesis leaves a
gaping hole in your understanding of Alchemy, you need not
worry. Understanding the architecture of Alchemy via the
familiarity of VA synthesis is a great first step in a more
comprehensive understanding of the synth. In truth, the
more esoteric and unusual Source modules tap into this
same architecture, so that what once seemed like an

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis (contd)

Adding filter modulation is easy. First make a few movements to


cutoff and notice how the Modulation routing window (just
beneath the oscillators) updates to include Filter 1 Cutoff as the
Target. From the drop-down menu select AHDSR Env > New AHDSR.

With our routing established, the modulation area should have


updated to display AHDSR 2. Set sustain to zero and program a
fast decay and release. Notice the orange banding to illustrate the
filter movements, which can be reduced using the depth control.

Now lets add some vibrato via LFO1. Go to the expanded view of
Oscillator A and wiggle the Fine-tuning control. As with filter, the
Modulation routing window updates to show Tune Fine A as the target.
Select LFO1 as the source.

Now adjust the LFO setting to fine tune the vibrato. Take the
Sync control off and adjust the rate to your taste. You can also
try experimenting with the Shape selection. There are some useful
chaotic waveshapes like Disrupted Cycle.

To demonstrate the parallel filters, lets create a basic PWM pad


sound. From a reset patch setting, select the Pulse 50 Arp
waveform for Oscillator 1. Modulate the Sym control using LFO1, with
rate around 12 oclock and depth at 2 oclock.

Setup a soft LP4 MG setting on the filter. Modulate filter cutoff


so that it tracks the keyboard, using Note Property > Key Follow
as the modulation source. As you move up the keyboard note how the
filter also opens up.

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VA Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

oscillator has miraculously transformed a granular synth


engine. Although the source module changes, the route
through the synth including the filters, FX routing and
modulation routing remains the same.
In a future workshop, therefore, well take a look at
some of the more advanced features of Alchemy and how
they can be used to produce highly contemporary sounds,
rather than the old-school analogue patches weve
explored this time. As youll see, Alchemy is a deep and

complex musical instrument, but one that really rewards


time spent with it, thanks to an intuitive interface and an
almost limitless set of possibilities to explore. Look out for
more in a future tutorial. MTF
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank Music School, which specialises in
courses onproduction, sound engineering, the music business, singing, radio
production, DJ skills and film production, all run by top British music
producers and media professionals, with regular visits from legends in music
and media. www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy VA Synthesis (contd)

Make sure the F1/F2 control is at 12 oclock on Oscillator A.


Activate the second filter and select the BP4 MG mode. Move
the cutoff control and hear its sweep in addition to the low-pass filter.
The two filters are working in parallel.

Now add some modulation of Filter 2 Cutoff using LFO2 (as LFO1
is currently being used to modulate waveform symmetry). Set
the depth to a relatively shallow amount, and adjust the speed so that
the movement is a slow undulation.

By default, AHDSR1 is automatically routed through to the


amplifier. Select the AHDSR tab, therefore, and increase the
attack and release to create a more pad-like volume envelope. You
might also want to lower sustain slightly and increase the decay.

Theres a wealth of modulation potential in Alchemy, including a


fantastic step sequencer. Setup a new modulation routing for
Filter 2 Cutoff (in addition to the existing KeyFollow routing) using
Sequencer1 as the source.

Open the Sequencer tab and adjust each of the 16 preset steps.
Create a different value for each step so that you create a
repeating sample-and-hold type pattern. This can have a subtle or
extreme effect on the filter by varying the depth.

Alchemy has its own four-bus effects engine, which can be


individual addressed by the two filters. Change the filter output
setting from FX Main to FX A and B respectively. Effects are
instantiated at the bottom of the interface.

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MTF Technique Getting the best from Vintage Keys

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Technique Logic in depth

Getting the best


from Vintage Keys

Logic Pro Xs Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage Clav are some of the finest keyboard
emulations available. Mark Cousins goes retro.

long with the Vintage B3, the Vintage Electric


Piano and Vintage Clav form the trio of vintage
keyboard instruments included with Logic Pro
X. The appeal of these vintage keyboard
emulations is easy to see. Firstly, they provide
an instant splash of retro charm to any music they grace
whether its a rusty old fender Rhodes in a trip-hop
inspired composition, or a more funkalicious Clavinet
adding a distinctive 70s vibe. Secondly, they respond and
play like musical instruments, with unique sonic quirks
and a sound that responds to the dynamics and shape of
your playing.
Rather than being based on samples of an existing
instrument, Logic Pro Xs Vintage Electric Piano and Vintage
Clav are both examples of modelled instruments. Rather
than simply recording an old Rhodes, software engineers

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

They provide an instant splash


of retro charm to any music they
grace from trip hop to funk
looked at how these instruments behave the sonic traits
of its basic sound, and how its timbre changes in response
to the players performance and the controls found on the
instrument. Although much harder to code, modelled
instruments are often highly responsive to your playing and
as another bonus, editable in ways that sample-based
instrument can never compete with.

Like the real thing


Pleasingly, both Vintage Clav and Vintage Electric Piano
sound on the money right from the moment you load the
default setting, which is testament to the detail on the
modelling. One parameter that you might want to
immediately explore, though, is the choice of model, found
in the top left-hand corner. In effect, the model selects a

completely different instrument, so that, in the example of


the Vintage Electric Piano, you might move between the
sound of a Fender Rhodes and that of a classic 200A
Wurlitzer (the quintessential Supertramp keyboard sound,
in other words). Youll also find different model numbers,
Stage and Suitcase models, as well as clean and
distressed versions.
To keep their operation intuitive and as close to the
originals and possible, both the main pages on the Vintage
Clav and Vintage Electric Piano feature a simplified control
set similar to what youd find on the original instrument. In
the case of the Vintage Electric Piano, the original controls
were relatively limited (just Bass Boost and volume)
although some units would feature tremolo controls,
replicated in the bottom right-hand corner of the interface.
Instead, the main controls of the Vintage Electric Piano
focus on the additional effects that many players use
chorus and phasing as well as some basic colouristic
tweaking in the form of drive and EQ.

Vintage Clav up close


Compared to the Vintage Electric Piano, the Vintage Clav
controls are slightly more esoteric and less intuitive to the
newcomer, thanks to six elusive rocker switches covering
the filter and pickup operation. To modify the tone of the
Clavinet, the original D6 had a series of rocker switches
(Brilliant, Treble, Medium And Soft) that operated as a
series of band-pass filters running in parallel. In theory, the
rocker switch is active when its set towards the player. As
such, the original unit produced no sound when all the
rocker switches were away from you a behaviour that
(perhaps thankfully) hasnt been modelled on Logics
Vintage Clav.
Creating your chosen timbre on the Vintage Clav,
therefore, either means using just a single rocker
switch to plant the

CHANGING PICKUP POSITION


One of the more intriguing aspects of the Vintage Clav modelling controls is the ability to reposition
the pickups. To understand how this works its best to start with just one pickup (rocker position C)
and move the pickup to hear the different sounds. Positioned horizontally at the middle of the string,
the sound is at its strongest, throughout the entire keyboard range. As you move the pickup upwards
or downwards the sound becomes thinner, and if the pickup is angled slightly, the sound becomes
thinner towards the top and bottom of the keyboard. Add a second pickup, with or without phase
reversal and a degree of pickup-based stereo width, and you can achieve some pleasing hybrid tones
that balance the thinner and fatter sounds of the instrument.

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Getting the best from Vintage Keys Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys

The drop-down menu in the top left-hand corner of the Vintage


Electric Piano lets you select the various models on offer. As well
as the Rhodes models (like Suitcase Mark I), there are also models of
various Hohner and Wurlitzer pianos.

The tremolo effect is synonymous with Electric Piano, providing


a characteristic wobbling effect. Raise the Intensity control
(also controlled via the Mod Wheel) to hear more of the tremolo effect
from a light shimmering, to a noticeable amplitude modulation.

As well as intensity, the rate of the tremolo effect is another


important control. For example, you could use a slow undulating
tremolo that syncs to the tempo of the track, or use a faster vibratolike rate that runs out-of-sync with the track.

Stereo is easy to overlook, but its role is just as vital. At 180, the
tremolo wobbles between the two speakers, alternating left then
right. At 0 the tremolo is amplitude modulation, where the volume of
the piano is pulsed up and down accordingly.

Adding a small amount of drive is a great way of beefing-up the


bell-like sound of an Electric Piano. Use small amounts of Type I
for a little extra body, or more extreme amounts of Type II for a heavier
distortion on lead lines.

For a more ballad-like tone to your Electric Piano, try using the
Chorus and Phaser modules. Of the two effects, Chorus has a
softer sound, especially on lower Intensity setting, while the Phaser
has a more pronounced and noticeable sweeping effect.

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Clavinets timbre in a distinct part of the frequency


spectrum, or a more full sound that uses a combination of
the rocker switches, or indeed all the switches in tandem.
The other rocker switches govern the pickup selection,
much like the pickup selection on an electric guitar. With C
active, the A/B switch moves between the Neck and Bridge
pickup, with A having a warmer sound to B. With D active,
both pickups are used, but this time the A/B rocker switch

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controls phase, again result in the B sound being thinner


than A.
Both the original Clavinet and Fender Rhodes were
examples of an electro mechanical musical instrument
that used a combination of physical components (tines in
the case of the Fender Rhodes and steel strings in the case
of the Clavinet) and electromagnetic pickups to amplify the
sound. As such, theres a distinct similarity between the
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MTF Technique Getting the best from Vintage Keys

sound of an electric guitar and that of the Vintage Electric


Piano and Vintage Clav. Indeed, given the need to play
through an amplifier to be heard in a rehearsal, most
players would play their instrument through an available
guitar amp like the Fender Twin Reverb, or even use
guitarists footpedals, like chorus and phasers, to liven-up
the sound.
Given these similarities, it makes great sense to pair

both instruments with instances of Pedalboard and Amp


Designer, with Pedalboards output flowing into Amp
Designer. The use of Amp Designer adds distinctive
mid-range colouration, and if you use a touch of drive, an
added layer of distortion, these can help define the
instruments place in the mix. The use of Pedalboard also
increases the possibility of using effects, giving a greater
variety of chorus and wah-wah options (in addition to those

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys

For an authentic low-fi sound, consider playing the Vintage


Electric Piano through an instance of Amp Designer, as players
would have done in the 60s and 70s. Youll want to lower the drive on
the instrument itself, so start by exploring the cleaner amp tones.

This patch takes the amplifier concept one stage further, adding
an instance of Pedalboard before Amp Designer. A combination
of Tape Delay and Phase Tripper produce a suitably psychedelic
sound, with both the delay and phaser being coloured by the amp.

Heres a contrasting setting, using the Transparent Preamp and


just a touch of colouration from the speaker cabinet and ribbon
mic. Placing an instance of Space Designer after Amp Designer places
the speaker in a natural-sounding virtual room.

Like the Vintage Electric Piano, the Vintage Clav includes a range
of different models, some more realistic than others. The Classic
I and II models are closest to the original Clavinet sound, with Vintage
I and II offering a more aged sound.

The filter rocker switches can be a bit confusing. With the rocker
switch towards you, the accompanying filter band is active. In
essence, these are four band-pass filters (Brilliant, Treble, Medium
and Soft), each progressively lower in the audio spectrum.

If you want the Clavinet to sit in a narrow part of the frequency


spectrum, use just a single filter band setting, with Brilliant
being the shrillest. For a fuller setting, consider using two, three or
four of the bands in tandem.

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Getting the best from Vintage Keys Technique MTF

found on the instrument themselves) as well as the


addition of effects like delay that arent found on
either instrument.

damper noise, for example, or the stiffness of the string,


you might find that the input of the Details page over the
broad sound of the instrument to be relatively negligible.
Ultimately, the fun of these plug-ins is to use them like
the real instrument in other words, they should be played
by hand and subject to copious amounts of abuse thanks
to an array of footpedals and an amplifier turned (of
course) up to 11! MTF

More depth
Going deeper still, both instruments offer a Details page
that lets you mod the instrument with incredible levels of
detail. Although its nice to have control over aspects like

MTF Step-by-Step Vintage Keys


As with the filters,
the pickup selection
might not be that intuitive
at first. With the C button
engaged, the A and B
rocker switches move
between the neck and
bridge pickups, much like
the pickups (and tone) on
an electric guitar.

Pickup position D
uses both Neck and
Bridge pickups together,
with the A/B rocker now
working a phase inversion
switch. As before, the
sonic principles are
similar to that of an
electric guitar, with the
out-of-phase option
sounding thinner.

The original Clavinet had a mono output, but the Vintage Clav
has two options for creating stereo width. The Pickup mode only
works when you use two pickups (rocker switch D), while the Key
mode simply pans according to keyboard position.

The Effects tab offers some in-built effects options that would
have been originally paired with the Clavinet. The wah effect can
be set to track your playing by raising the envelope control. The
addition of a phaser brings a pleasing 70s vibe.

If you want to control the wah independently, and not have it


track your playing, consider changing the default MIDI controller
assignment from a foot controller to the modulation wheel. The
current controller setup can be found under the Details tab.

Like Electric Piano, Vintage Clav pairs well with an instance of


Pedalboard and Amp Designer. Pedalboard can increase the
effect options including a variety of phasing, wah and delay effects
while Amp Designer adds pleasing mid-range colouration.

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MTF Technique EXS24 Sample Mapping

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Technique Logic in depth

EXS24 Sample
Mapping
Creating your own EXS24 instruments can be a quick and intuitive process, opening a
wealth of creative potential. Mark Cousins gets mapping.

hile the EXS24 might not be the most


elegant part of the Logic Pro X experience,
it is certainly a superbly functional
instrument and an essential part of the
overall Logic workflow. Turning a collection
of samples either taken from our cover DVD, or recorded
by your own hands into a fully-fledge sampled based
instrument neednt take more than just a few mouse clicks.
Once saved, these newly created instruments can become
an essential part of your sound palette, accessible across
the entirety of your Logic projects.

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

Mapping success
One key component that can confuse new users is the
difference between the EXS24 instrument plug-in, which
you instantiate into your track list or mixer, and the

Turning samples into a fullyfledged instrument neednt take


more than a few mouse clicks
so-called EXS24 Instrument Editor. In essence, the EXS24
Instrument plug-in is the front-end of the sampler,
complete with a set of synthesizer-like controls that can be
used to modify the sample playback using envelope
generators, for example, to shape the amplitude over time,
or the filter to gauge-out harmonic information. The
EXS24 Editor, which sits behind the EXS24 plug-in, mainly
deals with the mapping of samples, although as well
see, there are also some other creative sound
manipulation techniques up its sleeve that are well worth
closer inspection!
Creating a new instrument from scratch begins with an
empty instance of the EXS24. To open the editor press the
small Edit button in the top right-hand corner of the EXS24
plug-in. The editor window works as a graphic

representation of your instruments mapping, with a


keyboard across the bottom of the window. From here we
can see a list of the samples used in our instrument,
along with their relative position on the keyboard, the
number of keys that they span across, as well as how they
respond to velocity.

Zone out
Technically speaking, an EXS24 instrument is comprised of
a series of zones, with each zone containing a sample of
your choice. To make sample mapping quick-and-easy, the
EXS24 supports dragging-and-dropping directly onto the
editor, which is arguably easiest to achieve using Logics
built-in file browser. The importing process works
intelligently so that, for example, you can drag just one
sample over a single note and have it mapped accordingly,
or drag a collection of samples and have them auto
mapped across a series of consecutive keys.
Once imported, youll note that each zone has its own
set of parameters. Basic controls like volume and pan let
you mix the samples maybe panning some drum samples
across the stereo image, for example, or sitting a
reverberated snare sample behind a dry snare. Tuning
controls can either be used correctively (re-tuning a
sampled bass note with poor intonation, for example) or
creatively, particularly in the example of re-tuning drum
samples. Other creative options include the option to
reverse the sample playback, which is well worth using in
conjunction with the in-built sample editor (accessible via
a drop-down menu in the Audio File column) to adjust the
start and end points.
To keep your EXS24 instrument organized its possible
to make use of the Groups feature. The groups are listed
down the left-hand side of the editor window, and work
much the same as playlists in iTunes - simply select your
required zones and drag them across into the
Groups list. Once

DATA MANAGEMENT
Remember to store all your sample data in a clear, organized way, arguably making some
optimization in respect to the speed of the hard drive (which will affect how many voices you can
stream). An external drive, connected via a fast connection protocol like FireWire 800 or USB 3, or an
additional internal drive, should be considered essential, reserved solely for the task of sample
streaming. The Instruments themselves, which only contain the mapping data, are relatively small
and are best stored as part of your library, under Music > Audio Music Apps > Sampler Instruments.
Instruments in this folder will appear at the root level of the EXS24s instrument list and can be
accessed from any of your Logic projects.

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EXS24 Sample Mapping Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step EXS24 in depth

Create an empty instance of EXS24 and then press the Edit


button in the top right-hand corner to open the EXS24 editor.
Resize the editor window and then open the All Files media browser in
Logics main window. Locate your samples using the browser.

Samples in the browser can be dragged-and-dropped into the


EXS24 editor. In this case, weve dragged each sound group
across separately, using the Contiguous zones starting at the key the
file was dropped option to auto-map the samples accordingly.

Each zone (which contains the sample weve imported) has its
own tuning, pan and level controls. This is useful with our drum
samples, letting us pan the hi-hat samples hard left and right, for
example, or attenuate the level of the Hi-Q zones.

One particularly creative option is the ability to reverse a zone.


Try this on one of the snares. Open the sample editor (using the
drop-down menu in the Audio File column) so that you can change the
end marker, which is currently the start point.

For complicated EXS24 instruments its useful to organize zones


into groups. As we performed an incremental import, Logic has
created an accompanying Group, which we re-name. Alternatively,
select the zones and use the local menu option Group > New Group.

Once youre happy with the instrument using the local menu
Instrument > Save As to permanently store your creation. Logic
defaults to the Sampler Instruments folder in your Library, which will
mean all song can access the same instrument.

01

03

05

set, Groups can be used as a selective zone display tool,


which is useful for large multisampling instruments, or as
means of accessing some of the EXS24s advanced
mapping features, such as Release Triggering.

Front panel controls


Moving back to the EXS24 instrument plug-in we can now
see how it works as the front-end to the instrument weve
created. In effect, the controls here including filters,

02

04

06

envelopes, LFOs, a modulation matrix and tuning functions


are applied globally across all the zones making it a
quick-and-easy way of changing the sound of the
instrument en-masse. If you want to keep the panel
settings with the instrument, remember to use EXS24s
Option menu to select Save Settings To Instrument,
otherwise the panel simply returns to its default setting
each time you load the instrument.
Once youve mastered the key principles of sample
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MTF Technique EXS24 Sample Mapping

mapping with the EXS24 you can soon start to apply it in all
your production work.
Even with Native instruments Kontakt residing in our
plug-in folder, the EXS24 remains our first choice for DIY
sampling, largely because of the speedy and efficient way
it can integrate into our day-to-day workflow with Logic Pro
X. Ultimately, the quicker you can map the samples, the
less interruption there is to your creative process, giving

you more time to explore the creative potential of sampling


in your music. MTF
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank Music School, which specialises in
courses onproduction, sound engineering, the music business, singing, radio
production, DJ skills and film production, all run by top British music
producers and media professionals, with regular visits from legends in music
and media.
For more information go to www.pointblanklondon.com

MTF Step-by-Step EXS24 in depth (contd)

While the Instrument Editor deals with mapping the samples,


the front-panel of the EXS24 handles a number of important
parameters. For example, with a drum instrument we might want to
reduce the velocity scaling using the bottom half of the Level slider.

Env 2 controls the amplitude envelope of the sample. Try


reducing sustain to 0 and then gradually lower the decay to
produce a more clipped envelope. This is also interesting with either a
raised or lowered tuning using the Tune control.

Move over to the C Saw patch on Instrument 2 to understand the


filter. To make the filter active switch the Off button to on. Adjust
the cutoff, resonance and drive to taste, using the tabs to move
between high-pass, low-pass and band-pass operation.

Now lets add some filter modulation using LFO 2. All the LFOs
have the advantage of being MIDI-syncable, moving the rate
control to the left of the zero point on a 1/16 setting. Set the
waveshape to the sawtooth option.

The EXS24s modulation matrix is much the same as that of the


ES2. First select a destination (in this case, filter cutoff) and then
pick LFO2 as the source. Set the amount of modulation using the
slider on the right-hand side of the routing path.

Settings on the front panel are temporary unless written to the


mapping data created in the EXS24 Editor. To do this, use the
EXS24 Option menu and select Save Settings To Instrument so that
your panel settings are stored with the mapping data.

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FIRST WITH REVIEWS


FIRST WITH NEWS
HAVE YOU CLICKED?
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17/11/2015 10:31

MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

Mastering:
The Guide
MTF Feature Mastering

Mastering is your final chance to make your song shine and sit
comfortably alongside the other tracks on an EP or album.
Mike Hillier explains everything you need to know

ixing and mastering require two very


different mindsets. In the mix, your
focus should be jumping constantly
from the minutiae to the big picture
and back again. Does the attack on the
kick drum compressor let enough through? Is the
release letting go before the next hit? Does this extra
compression on the kick mean it is now masking the
bass guitar? You have hundreds, perhaps thousands of
parameters at your control, each capable of making
tiny changes that could cascade down to
fundamentally change the whole mix. However, if you
want to make a change to any one channel you can
jump quickly into the mix and alter that one sound.
If the vocal needs something more to help it punch
through, you can quickly grab a saturation tool, a
parallel compressor, a delay or even an EQ. Any of
these different tools could be the right one to help the
vocal punch through.
However, in mastering your focus is almost always
on the big picture; you should be thinking not only
about this one song, but how this song sits next to
other songs, both on the album it is being released on,
and also others by artists in a similar genre. Your tools
are broader in spectrum. Any compressor you add will
be applied to the whole mix; there are ways of
narrowing the focus, mid-side or multiband
techniques; but should you want the vocal to punch
through, the tools you have are likely to impact on
considerably more of the mix than were you to make a
similar change in the mix. For this reason, it can be
very difficult to master your own mixes. If you think the

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vocal needs to punch through more, that decision


should have been made in the mix. Any attempt to
decide what in your own mix needs to change begs the
question, was the mix really finished? Getting another
perspective on your mix is the one reason we
recommend you find an accomplished mastering
engineer whose work you enjoy, to build a relationship
with. Alternatively, why not find a friend to share
mastering duties with? You can master their mixes,
while they master yours. If you hope to one day
become a seasoned pro at mastering, this is a great
way to get your first few masters under your belt.

Listen, listen, listen


When you receive a new song to master, it can be very
tempting to simply revert to a sort of mastering by
numbers approach. Boosting the low-end and the top
in a basic smile curve, adding width to the top-end,
and mono-ing the subs, adding your favourite stereo
compressor and colour tools and then bashing on a
mastering limiter at the end maybe even a multiband
limiter with a mastering preset in place. This primitive
approach to mastering has become all too common,
and not only among inexperienced producers
mastering their own tracks, but also among a few
seasoned pros who ought to know better. But
mastering a track will require far more consideration
of the specifics of the individual mix than any presets
or even rough go-to selections could possibly allow.
The golden rule of mastering is to do no harm. The
goal is to bring the most out of the mix, not to change
it, nor to impose your own mark on it, simply because

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Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

The golden rule of mastering is to


do no harm. The goal is to bring the
most out of the mix, not change it
you can. You dont need to push the mix through all of
your most expensive processors, as tempting as that
can be. The best mastering engineers in the world
know when to throw the kitchen sink at a mix, and
when to do nothing at all.
So before you reach for even a single processor,
take the time to listen to the mix several times. Listen
closely and determine what needs to be done, then set
about doing that, and only that. Ask yourself what you
do and do not like about the mix. Is there anything in
the mix that pulls your attention out of the song?
A click, a sibilant vocal, or piercing cymbals for
example. Are any frequencies too present? Are any
frequencies lacking? Are these problems constant, or
things that occur only at certain moments? If theyre
constant, you should be thinking about which EQ to
use to change that, and if theyre only at certain
Quiztones
Another excellent tool for improving your critical
listening is Quiztones from Audiofile Engineering.
This application lets you test your ability to hear
frequencies (both using sine waves, or EQ applied to
music) and gain differences. Quiztones is available for
Mac, iOS and Android: http://quiztones.com.

DDPi
The final process in mastering is often to supply the
necessary files for the replication in whatever formats
are required. For digital distribution, this may only
be 24-bit .WAV files, but for CDs a special DDPi file is
required. Some DAWs can export DDPi files natively,
while others may require a dedicated DDPi plugin,
such as the HOFA DDP Generator see http://hofaplugins.de/en.

moments, do you automate the EQ, or use a dynamic


EQ, or a multiband compressor? Do all the elements of
the mix sit together well? Or could it use a little extra
glue from a compressor. Compare the mix to other
similar songs, most importantly the other songs on the
album or EP your are mastering, if that is applicable,
but also to other songs in the genre. Compared to
these songs, how does the frequency content in this
one compare? How wide does this song sound
compared to the others? Does the vocal sit above the
instrumental bed by a similar amount? How loud does
this mix sound compared to the others?
Once you have answers to all of these questions,
you are ready to start processing the song.
With this in mind, you may find that 90 per cent of your
masters still end up using the same chain. You may
even find that you use the same settings within this
chain a lot of the time, but you will be doing it for the
right reasons; and you will also know, most
importantly, when not to use these tools, and when to
break out some other tools that you may use
infrequently. What will make you stand out from a
machine, or a poor mastering engineer, is your ability
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MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

MTF Walkthrough A beginners guide to critical listening

02

In the EQ, engage the low-pass filter, and set it to play back only
the sub-region.

Load your reference


track into a new channel
in the mix, then add an
instance of a clean EQ, such as
FabFilter Pro-Q 2.

Copy the EQ and its


settings onto the track you
want to master, and switch back
and forth using the X-OR Solo
mode, listening to the impact of
the sub-frequencies in your
track compared to the reference.

01

03

Move the filter in both channels up, to allow more of the bass end,
and add a high-pass filter to remove the sub-frequencies. Again,
compare the two tracks.

04

Continue moving the two filters up in tandem, or use a wide


band-pass filter, to compare each of the important sections
in each mix.

05

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Finally, remove the low-pass filter, and leave only the high-pass
filter to listen to the high-end only. This is the hardest bit to get
right, as you may struggle to hear some of these frequencies entirely.

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Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

Mastering reverb
Reverb is not a process that is used often in
mastering, and while many all-in-one mastering
applications will include a reverb, it should be
reserved for the rare occasions when you are fixing
a bad mix, or trying to match two disparate mixes
recorded in different locations.

to critically analyse a track and bring only what is


needed to improve on the mix.

Plan your actions


In this tutorial well be using audio on the DVD (or at
www.musictech.net) a mix of Anchor by HART, and will
focus on it as we pass it through the mastering stage.
The song was mixed by Mario Leal, who did an
excellent job, not only getting the mix right, but
focusing just enough attention on the master buss to
make the master a fairly easy job. Alongside the mix,
Mario provided a couple of Coldplay tracks as
references Up In Flames, from Mylo Xyloto, and
Magic, from Ghost Stories. So we loaded copies of
these into our session alongside the final mix. It is a
good rule to always open up a good line of
communication with the artist, the mixer, producer
and anyone else who might have a say in the finished
master at this stage, as this will help you to get an idea
of what they each feel needs to be brought out in the
master. It can also be helpful to provide some mix
feedback, especially if the mixer is inexperienced; this
may even give you an opportunity to have the mixer
correct any issues you might have spotted in the mix
and send a new mix, preventing you from having to find
a way to fix it in mastering a task (and phrase) that
should always be avoided, where possible.
With Anchor, our first thoughts are that a little more
excitement could be brought in with a little more
top-end, especially if were to try to match the tonality
of the reference tracks, while the bass needs a little
more energy but not so much as to become
overbearing. In the low midrange, we want to bring
separation between the kick and bass, while a little
higher we need to try to bring power to the guitars and
vocals. This frequency range can be troublesome. Too
much energy and you risk the mix sounding muddy, too
little and it will sound thin. Getting everything just
right, then, is the key to a great master.
Using an M/S matrix, we can listen to the sides (the
difference portion of the matrix), to hear only those
parts of the mix that are panned out from the centre.
The sides of Anchor are mostly reverbs and delays,
with an electric piano-type sound fairly prominently
mixed wide. There is also a little guitar, some violin and
BVs. So, any compression or EQ we add to the sides is
going to affect only these elements. The primary bass
elements, the kick and bass are mono, although a
small amount of both of these is feeding a stereo
reverb. However, there is still a fair amount of
sub-frequency energy in the sides, which wed prefer
to see sitting more squarely in the centre of the mix.
With so much of the mix in the centre, bringing up the
sides is mostly going to add reverb to the mix, which is
often also a consequence of bringing up the levels; so
for now at least, we probably dont need to be bringing
any additional width. But we can safely EQ the mid (or

mono sum) portion of the signal to alter the beat, bass


and vocal without too much effect on the sides.
The reference tracks are both quite loud masters,
so we know were going to have to try to get some extra
level out of the mix. Some of this perceived extra level
will come from the added brightness a trick
frequently overused by mastering engineers, but one
that does need some care, as too much can spoil the
mix. The rest of the extra level has to come from
dynamics processing. With all this decided before
weve added a single plugin, we now have a road map
for the track. This means any plugins we add, at least
initially, should be ones that will help us approach
directly the issues weve already discovered; so, as one
would expect, we are going to reach for an EQ, a
mid-side EQ, a compressor and a limiter.

The first pass


We like to make any M/S alterations early in the signal
chain, and so we have opted to add the Brainworx
bx-digital V2 plugin first in our chain (we actually add it
in Insert position two, for reasons that will become
apparent). This EQ is a clear favourite of ours for this
task, as it not only has five bands on each channel,
plus high- and low-pass filters, but also clear controls
over the M/S matrix, including a stereo width knob, L/R
balance, and separate M and S pan controls. Placing
the M/S EQ before the first dynamics module in our
chain enables us to control how the dynamics module
will respond to the width elements of our track.
In the next position, we add an instance of the UBK
Clariphonic DSP. This is a parallel EQ, with two
high-frequency shelves (and so can be used only to
add level, not as a subtractive EQ). The controls on the
Clariphonic are a little esoteric, but in short the Focus
engine adds midrange, while the Clarity engine adds
high-end with shelves as high as 37kHz. Again, we
want to place this before the first dynamics module;
this is to improve our signal-to-noise ratio when using
a compressor, and to compensate for any loss of
high-end that the compressor may introduce.
The final EQ were going to add is the UAD Manley
Massive Passive Mastering Edition. This EQ has four
parametric bands, in addition to high- and low-pass
filters, and is to our ears one of the sweetest-sounding
EQs weve worked with. It isnt great at detailed
precision EQing, but it can transform a track with only
a few boosts or cuts, and its control over the midrange
is among the best weve ever heard. Unlike the
previous two effects, the Massive Passive is going to
be positioned after any dynamics processing, so we
generally leave a few spaces clear for adding
additional compressors, expanders, de-essers,
ISRC
In addition to the audio, metadata can be stored in
some file formats. The most important of these is the
ISRC code. ISRC codes are the International Standard
Recording Codes, used to uniquely identify songs,
similar to ISBN codes on books. Each code should be
12 characters long, and will help royalty collection
agencies to identify recordings in order to make
payments. You can buy them and get more info from
the PPL: www.ppluk.com/I-Make-Music/Why-ShouldI-Become-A-Member/What-is-an-ISRC.

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MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

MTF Walkthrough Comparing compressors

Duplicate the track onto


another channel, and copy
the pre-compression EQ, then
add the next compressor. If
youre using outboard hardware
before the compressor, or DSP
processing using a processor,
such as a UAD, and running out
of processing, you can buss one
track to multiple auxes with EQ
on the original and compression
on the aux channels.

03

With the
pre-compression
EQ already in place,
add the first
compressor you want
to try; here, were using
the FabFilter Pro-C.

01

04

Set the parameters of the first compressor to provide the best-sounding


compression you can achieve for the track you are working on. Let the
compressor guide you, and experiment with any built-in interesting features.
Pro-C, for instance, can model three different compression types.

02

Now add your next compressor. Dont be tempted to listen back, or to try to replicate the first compressor
sound let the new compressor guide your sound towards what that compressor is best at.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for as
many compressors as you
want to try. Dont go overboard
here, though, more than three or
four options will take quite a
while to set up, and you may find
it difficult to decide between
them.

05

Finally, level match each of


the newly compressed
channels, and using X-OR solo
mode, switch between each to
decide on your favourite. If you
have a friend close to hand, get
them to do the switching while
you keep your eyes closed, so as
not to bias yourself in favour of
any one unit.

06

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Mastering: The Guide Feature MTF

multiband processors, etc even when we think we


know we want to use only one of these.
For the compressor, were going to use the
much-venerated UAD Shadow Hills Mastering
Compressor. But not before passing the mix through
a variety of alternatives to see which brings out the
right character in the mix. Determining this is tough,
and over time we have developed an intuition that has
helped us to move quickly towards the right
compressor for the job; but we still find ourselves
duplicating the track over several channels in our DAW
and testing it with a selection of compressors. In this
example, were also testing the UAD Neve 33609, and
our own hardware quad VCA compressor a clone of
the classic SSL 4000 G buss compressor, with
additional side-chain options and improved stereo
Daniel Pattison, aka HART
Like last month, we have again chosen to look at
Anchor by HART in this article (www.facebook.com/
hart.musica). The track was recorded by Ben Walker
(www.bensroom.co.uk) with additional recordings
by Mario Leal and George Murphy and string
arrangements by Nico Muhly. The track was mixed by
Mario Leal (www.mario-leal.com).

handling. It is important not to get caught up in a


hardware versus software debate, or any initial
preferences for certain GUIs here, and blind A/B
testing yourself after a short break can often result in
an unexpected conclusion as here where we might
have been tempted to go with the hardware out of
preference for breaking out of the box.
When comparing compressors like this, it can be
tempting to try to match the effect of the first with all
subsequent models, but this will give an inherent
advantage to the first, which is allowed to do the best
it can, while all others are simply cloning it. Instead,
we like to ignore all previous settings and simply try to
set the compressor to work its magic the best it can
each time, comparing the occasionally quite
different results to determine our preference.
Finally, we have added a brick-wall limiter; this is
going to serve a dual purpose to add a small amount
of level to the track if necessary, and secondly to
ensure peaks are controlled. As with the compressor, it
can be useful to set up two or more limiters to see
which works best for the track in question, especially
if you have several high-quality ones. In this instance,
were using the UAD Precision Limiter, which has been
a staple of our mastering chain for some while, beating
all our own alternatives every time.

Further changes
With these tools in place, we can start to make all the
changes we feel are necessary to bring our mix to
sounding more like a finished master. During this
process, you will undoubtedly find new changes you
want to make: a boost in the low-end, intended to add
weight to the kick, might reveal additional energy in
the bass, which will in turn spoil the kick. These almost
circular problems can sometimes be adjusted with
slight alterations to the EQ curves, and at other times
can require additional processing to be added. Its not
uncommon for our final master to gain and lose two or

Using outboard
If you really want to make it as a mastering engineer,
sooner or later youre going to need to invest in some
outboard analogue hardware. Mastering versions
of many compressors and EQs are available, but
frequently at much-inflated prices compared to
the standard versions. This is because instead of
potentiometers, mastering editions usually have
switches with dedicated stereo-matched resistors
to ensure far superior stereo accuracy and improved
recall, often within 0.1dB.

three processors as we settle on the final sound of the


track. Sometimes, a high-end boost can bring just the
right polish to most of the track, while revealing a
problem with the hi-hat or cymbals, which may be
fixed with a multiband compressor or de-esser.
Compression can reveal a muddiness in the reverb,
which is tough to fix in mastering, but there are tools,
such as iZotope RX, UAD Precision K-Stereo and
Zynaptiq Unveil, as well as M/S processing, if the sides
dont contain too much other information.
It is important to constantly be comparing your
initial unmastered mix with the master in its current
state, as well as each individual change. To this end, it
is useful to have a system set up to quickly bypass all
your processors. The simplest method is to duplicate
the track in your DAW, one with the processors, and
one without, and switch between each one using solos.
You can adjust for any gain changes by adjusting the
level of the louder (usually, but not always the master)
down, so that any comparison is being done at
relatively similar levels. We prefer to use Meterplugs
Perception to achieve this with a single channel. Youll
note that earlier we left the first Insert slot free; this
was so we can place an instance of Perception Source,
with Perception Control added at the end of our
Master channel fader. Perception handles not only
switching from pre- to post-processing, but also level
matching and sample-accurate sync.
With Anchor, after our first pass with the
processing, we still arent happy with whats
happening in the low-end. Were using more EQ than
we would like to try to shape the bottom-end, and
while were getting enough weight on the kick, things
are starting to sound a little murky between each beat
of the kick drum. To compensate for this, were going to
add an instance of UAD Precision Multiband and
engage the LF band, leaving all the other bands off.
Then we set this band to the Gate mode with a very low
ratio (1.1:1), and tune the frequency and envelope to
pull out some low-end between each beat of the kick.
This will give us the freedom to add in as much weight
to the kick as we want, without also adding mud
between kicks; in fact, on the contrary, between kicks
the sub-frequencies will be pulled back, giving the
bass elements more room to shine.
By this point, the mix is beginning to take on the
sound we were hoping for; however, with so many
synthetic elements in the track, and having opted for
in-the-box processors at every stage, well also add
a little extra warmth with the UAD ATR-102 tape
simulator. This also gives us a little bit more level, both
through subtle compression, and additional harmonics
as well as softening off any harsh transients, which
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MTF Feature Mastering: The Guide

are done at the original sample rate and bit depth of


the mix, which should be at least 44.1kHz/24-bit. We
then produce a dithered 44.1kHz/16-bit CD quality
version, as well as any other files the artist wants.
The exact signal chain weve used here on Anchor is
something that will almost certainly not work on any
other track, but the process by which we came to the
decision to apply that processing is something that
can easily be applied to any song. While each time it
may produce a different signal chain, you can be
confident that the signal chain it results in is one that
has been specifically engineered for that one track.
When working with albums or EPs, you will need to
reference all of the other tracks on the EP/album as
you work through, trying to give each a sense of being
part of the whole work. It is often useful to employ
similar signal chains; however, this does not mean that
each has to be identical, simply that as each processor
has its own colour, you can quickly get a similar colour
on another track by using a similar processor. We
often use the same compressor, limiter and at least
one EQ on every track, but will also allow ourselves
freedom to apply other processing as necessary, as
well as to remove any of these processors as they are
no longer required.
Check www.musictech.net for audio exmples to go with
this feature. MTF

Monitoring
Nearfield monitors are the de facto standard in
mixing, and many mastering engineers also rely on
them, but a good pair of full-range speakers can be
just as useful in mastering situations. ATC and PMC
are the most common names to be found in the bigbudget mastering houses, but Unity Audio, Genelec
and Barefoot all make slightly more affordable fullrange monitors.

means we dont have to push the final brick-wall


limiter so hard to get the track as loud as we want it.
Finally, all our processing has brought the stereo
image in a little. This is a common consequence of
compression and limiting on the master buss, as well
as with cutting frequencies on the sides with an M/S
EQ, so we return to the Brainworx bx_digital V2 and
dialled the stereo width knob up a little. This
essentially turns up the difference channel in the
matrix before it is all summed back together.
In the previous part of this feature, we looked at
creating a number of different versions of the mix.
With the master of the basic mix done, we now import
these additional mixes to different playlists within our
DAW, and pass each one through the same processing.
This takes very little time, and means the versions will
all have the same polish as the final mix. All bounces

MTF Walkthrough Setting a multiband compressor

Turn the solo band off to


hear the whole mix. Be
sure to use linear-phase
crossovers. Engage that mode,
as this will produce the least
phase distortion in your mix,
although it will also produce the
greatest amount of latency.

03

Add a multiband
compressor to the
mastering chain we place it
just before our full-band
compressor, if were using one.

01

Here, were using the UAD Precision Multiband. Weve used the
solo band function to solo only the lowest-frequency band, and
weve scrubbed through the range to find the cut-off frequency that is
just the sub-frequencies of the kick. You dont need to use every band,
usually one or two is more than enough.

02

Use a very low ratio, a moderate attack and a closely timed


release, and dial down the threshold until gain reduction starts to
bring the compressor into action.

04

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Set the compressor to act


heavily while you focus on
attack and release settings. Dial
the threshold and ratio down.

05

Bypass and compare the


processed signal with the
unprocessed to be sure that you
have made an improvement.

06

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:01

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11.11.2015 15:51:34

MTF Buyers Guide Six of the best

Six of the best


Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

Welcome to another MusicTech Buyers Guide where we round


up some of the best products recently reviewed at MusicTech.
This time its the best software that emulates real instruments.
Who needs to learn the real thing these days?

BEST Grand piano

Garritan CFX
Concert Grand
Details
Price 199
Contact
Time + Space
01837 55200
Web
www.garritan.com

arritan Abbey Road Studios


CFX Concert Grand to give it
its full name is a recreation
of Yamahas nine-foot,
hand-built grand piano. It requires
122GB of free hard drive space, but
theres also a compact version that only
requires 24.5GB. Reviewer Keith
Gemmell said: Tonally, the hand-built
CFX piano is superb, rich and powerful,
but also capable of great elegance, all
of which has been beautifully captured
by the Abbey Road engineers. It is one
of the finest virtual pianos available
simply beautiful. He concluded: A fine
virtual grand piano with a beautifully
rich tone, a no-nonsense GUI and
essential controls. It is up there with
the best.

BEST Horns

NI Session Horns Pro

his is an expanded version of


Session Horns, this time with a
30GB sound library, plus the
inclusion of articulations and
solo instruments. Where the original
provides many of the features required
for fast but small-size horn section
writing, especially for musicians with
limited arranging experience, Session
Horns PRO expands the principle
further. We said: If you produce music
where funky horns, both vintage and
modern, are an important ingredient,
Session Horns PRO ought to be on your
hard drive.

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Details
Price 249
Contact NI
0845 5272006
Web
www.nativeinstruments.com

Details
Price 80
Contact
Time & Space
01837 552100
Web
www.zero-g.co.uk

BEST Live flutes

Perpetuo
Live Flute
Phrases

ero-Gs flute instrument might


be an oldie but its a goody.
Perpetuo Live Flute Phrases is
an 8GB collection of thousands
of live, recorded phrases compressed
down to 4.6GB using Kontakts lossless
compression technology. The library
features mainly arpeggios, runs and
rhythm types, which are available as
slurred and staccato patterns. All were
played live by a flautist from the
Liverpool Philharmonic and built from
three-bar loops for natural variation.
Reviewer Keith Gemmell said: All in all,
this is a very flexible pre-recorded
phrase and pattern library that works
great on its own and, importantly,
blends well with other orchestral
libraries. An excellent tool for creating
rhythmic patterns for upfront flute
ensembles and for subtle background
work in cinematic-style productions.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:30

Six of the best Buyers Guide MTF

BEST Modeled flutes

Samplemodeling The Flutes

here Perpetuo Live Flute


Phrases (see previous
page) does virtual flutes
by way of high quality
samples, Samplemodelings approach
is by way of, and the clue is in the name,
modeling. The company employs
Synchronus Wavelength Acoustic
Modeling (SWAM) which uses samples
and physical modeling for an ultra
realistic result. Keith Gemmell said:
The instruments load quickly and are
instantly playable. Theyre remarkably

pliable and very responsive straight out


of the box with an excellent centre
display that shows exactly which
real-time articulations and controllers
are being triggered. He concluded:
Samplemodeings The Flutes
provides a highly malleable playing
experience and a great alternative to
the traditional sample library flutes,
which can be difficult to play in real
time. Only slightly let down by a
less-than-vibrant tone for classical
styles, but great for jazz!

Details
Price 228
Contact via website
Web
www.
samplemodeling.com

BEST Emulator

EZkeys Mellotoon

kay, this is not an emulation


of a real instrument, exactly,
more of a recreation of a real
instrument emulator (if you
see what we mean). But as the
Mellotron has become a classic in its
own right we thought this software

Details
Price 103
Contact
Time + Space
T: 01837 55200
Web www.
toontrack.com

A very flexible phrase


and pattern library that works great on
its own and blends well with other libraries
Details

BEST Grand variety

E-Instruments
Session Keys Grand

version worthy of inclusion. Reviewer


Keith Gemmell said: Top-notch 1960s
Mellotron recreation the strings in
particular. Add a MIDI library and the
songwriting and educational tools to
the equation and we have a superb
value-for-money package.

ession Keys Grand S and Y are


two acoustic grands, recorded
in great detail, that aim to put
concert-ready sounds at your
fingertips. At just under 5GB apiece
they run in the free or full version of the
Kontakt player. Reviewer Hollin Jones
said: These are excellent performers
that will help you to incorporate almost

Price 99 each 159


for the bundle
Contact E-Instrument
via website
Web
www.e-instruments.
com

any kind of grand piano sound you like


into your tracks, and theyre excellent
for solo performance as well. Opens up
complex musical figures even to those
without advanced keyboard skills. And
concluded: A great-sounding and
playable piano with excellent
sound-shaping controls and
innovative generators.
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MTF Feature A bluffers guide to MIDI

MTF Feature Music Technology

A BLUFFERS
GUIDE TO MIDI
Get your head round MIDI and youve got your head round music
production. Rob Boffard explains the ins and outs

IDI can be one of the most mystifying parts of music production.


Although its basic purpose can be intuitive with a little bit of
practice, unlocking its hidden depths often takes a lot of time,
especially if youve never encountered it before. But it is crucially
important to know how it works, especially if you want to
produce anything involving software instruments.
Thats because all manufacturers of DAWs from Apple to Avid to Ableton to
Propellerheads rely on it. Its the Rosetta Stone of music production; a common
language that enables any device and any software program to talk to each other.
If you can master MIDI, if you can work out how it functions and make it part of
your toolkit, then your production will become much faster, and the results will
be as slick as they come.

MIDI Magic
Musical Instrument Digital Interface: thats what MIDI stands for. We dont
really want to go in-depth into its history (theres plenty online if youd like to
find out more) this is a Bluffers Guide, after all but what you need to know is
that it came to fruition in the early 1980s as part of a collaboration between
engineers Dave Smith and Chet Wood, and several synthesiser companies such as
Korg, Moog and Roland. Smith and Wood initiated this, because the market had
just got far too complicated. There were too many protocols, and too many
devices, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to talk to each other.
MIDI was the solution.

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FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35

A bluffers guide to MIDI Feature MTF

By having your software


instruments respond to
properties of your MIDI notes,
you can put together
interesting effects.

But forget the


history. The best way to
understand MIDI is to
talk about what it is
now. Well get to the
complicated information
that a MIDI sequence can
contain in a minute. For
now, were just going to
talk about the basics.
The easiest way to
understand this is to
pull up your favoured
A single MIDI note. This one is perfectly in time, locked in place on the grid.
DAW, and load up a
software instrument. Ill
use Reason, but you can use any one you like. Once youve queued up your
Tech terms
instrument, youll need to go into the sequencer, where youll see a virtual
NOTE: a single
keyboard (or equivalent) running vertically. Running horizontally along from that
piece of MIDI data,
keyboard should be a line-up of rigid blocks.
usually expressed as
a slim rectangle and
Find the pencil tool, which is usually located in the toolbar, and click one of
displayed on a grid.
those blocks. Youll notice it will fill in. There: youve just drawn a MIDI note.
Instructs an instrument
Now, if you press play, your software instrument will play a sound when the
to play audio.
marker reaches the note. You can play these back at any tempo you like, and they
VELOCITY: a method
will stay in time.
of simulating the
At its most basic, a MIDI note is an indication for an instrument to play a
perceived loudness
note. A much-used analogy is that of an orchestra. If the instruments are the
of a given MIDI note.
violins, horns, woodwinds and the like, then the MIDI notes are the sheet music.
Measured in units
They tell the orchestra what to play. By arranging MIDI notes in sequence,
from 0 to 127.
running up and down the chords on the keyboard, you can create complex
QUANTISATION: the
melodies. This is why MIDI notes are so popular in electronic music production.
process where MIDI
Its worth remembering that MIDI notes, beyond just being sheet music, are a
notes are snapped to
way the different instruments are able to communicate with each other. It
their nearest spot on
enables you to play a note on a physical keyboard (called a MIDI controller) and
the grid in order
to compensate for
have it appear as MIDI data on your screen. Thats important, by the way: MIDI is
human playing, and
not sound. By itself, it cant do a damn thing. If you draw a MIDI note without an
retain timing.
instrument connected to it, nothing will play. Its just data, and it relies on the
context its being used in for the outcome.

Up a level
But of course, MIDI programming is a lot more complex than simple instructions
for an instrument to play a note.
Lets start with one of the most common ways of treating a MIDI note:
velocity. If you hit a piano key hard, the sound it plays will be much louder than
if you just pushed it down gently. MIDI has the same principle encoded in it. The
higher the velocity, the louder the note. The advantage of this is that you can
tweak the volumes of individual notes on a particular track, instead of having to
automate the track fader.
Velocity gives you a hugely versatile way of controlling your sound. You could,
for example, set your instrument to only trigger certain effects at certain
velocities. Try doing this with a filter that has the MIDI velocity as its source,
and get it to activate only when the velocity crosses a certain threshold. Velocity
is usually measured from 0 to 127, so its easy to set an exact value for it. This
particular trick has endless applications. One we really like is setting different
samples to trigger at different velocities, which can really bring some life to a
track. At this point, we need to stress that not all techniques will be available on
all instruments, and its crucial that you spend time getting to know your
favoured software instruments before playing around with this.
There are other ways of controlling the character of a MIDI note, but they are
largely restricted to the software instruments themselves. You can apply
envelopes to the notes, changing their attack, decay, sustain and release settings.
You can apply filters to them. Some DAWs even let you adjust the fine pitch of

CONTROLLER: a
device thats used to
input and sequence
MIDI notes. Usually
this is a keyboard, or
set of pads.

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MTF Feature A bluffers guide to MIDI

the MIDI notes, adding a human element to your


compositions. But really, once you understand how
MIDI notes and their velocities work, youll find it
extremely easy to start composing.
And since weve got onto composing, there is an
additional concept its worth giving your head
around: quantisation. Essentially, all MIDI notes are
displayed on a grid but when theyre being
recorded, particularly if youre using a MIDI
controller, perfect timing is often elusive. By
switching on quantisation, you essentially lock
each note to its closest segment in the grid, resulting
in perfect time, every time. Quantisation is always
desirable (it can sound a little robotic if applied too
heavily) but its a real boon when youre recording.

Fine tuning
There are a few advanced applications of MIDI that
you can use once youve got the hang of things. Were
going to go into a few of them now, although were

You can layer your MIDI notes to create complex chords.

Once you understand how


MIDI notes work, youll find it
easy to start composing
not going to spend too much time on the individual
steps to pull them off. This is because theyre largely
dependent on individual DAWs.
One of the most fun ways of employing this is
using the MIDI notes to trigger external
instruments, not just software ones. In this way, you
can use the data to get a MIDI controller, like a set
of pads, talking to another instrument like a
hardware synth, and using one to play the other. It
takes a little bit of work to set up, but if you find
yourself with a lot of different instruments and one
preferred control method, then this is a neat way to
streamline your work.

Here, we are adjusting the notes velocity. This will control its perceived loudness.

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MT148.Bluffers Guide.indd 72

As we mentioned earlier, you can also use MIDI


data like velocity and note on/note off to trigger
certain aspects of the software instrument. This
gives you very fine grained control, and allows you to
come up with some seriously wild effects. Also,
because you can draw multiple MIDI notes into one
track, including on top of one another at different
octaves, its easy to create complex chords and
layered effects.
One of the lesser-known ways of creating MIDI is
to extract it from audio information. DAWs such as
Ableton are known for enabling users to do this.
Essentially, it means that you can input a piece of
recorded audio and extract pitches and note
locations from it. This is a great way to create
accompanying parts to a recording.
In addition, one of the big pluses of MIDI
composition is that it is highly portable. What we
mean by this is that because the notes are simply
bits of data, and contain no actual audio information
themselves, its really easy to port them over to
another computer and continue working on it there.
As long as youre using the same DAW, and using the
same instruments and effects, you will easily be able
to move back and forth between the two.
In fairness, this is less important these days now
that even the smallest flash drive has multiple
gigabytes of space, but its a useful tool to illustrate
what MIDI is and how it works. Its data, and
nothing more.
Every DAW will treat MIDI slightly differently,
display it differently, and enable you to do more with
it. So experiment, and switch between them until
youve found one you like. MTF
This feature is endorsed by SSR which has been
providing professional education training in the
audio engineering industry for over 30 years. With
campuses in London, Manchester, Jakarta and
Singapore, SSR has gained a healthy reputation
within the music industry for producing well
trained, professional graduates across the globe.

MAGAZINEFOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35

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MTF Technique Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Mixing drums with


Drum Kit Designer
Exploiting Drum Kit Designers Multi Output functionality can create some stunningly
realistic acoustic drum tracks. Mark Cousins takes a closer look.

hether you program drum patterns from


scratch or use Drummer to create
complete rhythm tracks in seconds, the
sonic dexterity of Drum Kit Designer forms
the backbone of realistic acoustic drums in
Logic Pro X. Indeed, its easy to get distracted by the
options in Drummer including the different genres,
drummer identities and performance qualities and forget
the possibilities offered by Drum Kit Designer. In this
workshop, therefore, we are going to take a closer look at
Drum Kit Designer, seeing how you can assemble and mix
the kit to create your perfect drum sound.

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

Drum kit basics


In essence, Drum Kit Designer works as Logics own version
of a virtual drummer plug-in, designed to work in

In essence Drum Kit Designer


works as Logics own version of a
virtual drummer plug-in
conjunction with a Drummer track, which provides the
all-important MIDI grooves. While its possible to use the
two elements together (a Drummer track and the Drum Kit
Designer instrument) its also possible to use them
separately, using Drum Kit Designer with a collection of
third-party imported MIDI grooves, for example, or as a
sound source for your own rhythm programming.
On the surface, Drum Kit Designer seems like a
relatively straightforward instrument plug-in, although
once you factor-in some of the multi output options (more
on this in a minute) and the wealth of audio plug-ins in
Logic, the sonic possibilities become almost limitless. The
Designer element, of course, lets you build a customized
kit using a variety of mutlisampled components kicks,
snares, toms and cymbals that can be selected from
drop-down kit piece menus on the left-hand side. To gain
complete access to Logics full range of kit elements,
ensure youve downloaded the Multi-Output Kits as well as
the Producer Patches.
Once youve loaded a kit element you can then tweak a
number of editable parameters on a per kit-piece basis.
Easily the most important parameter is Tune, which lets
you raise or lower the pitch of the drum accordingly
making a snare crisper with a higher tuning, for example, or

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a kick drum flabbier with lower tuning. In addition to Tune,


youll also find a Dampening control, which rolls-off some
of the high-end as well as reducing the sustain, as well as
a basic Gain control for level adjustment.

Multiple personalities
The real power behind Drum Kit Designer comes when its
run in Multi Output mode. You can select this mode when
you first load up the instrument, rather than picking the
CPU and RAM-light Stereo mode (which is what a new
Drummer track defaults to).
In Multi Output mode you get significantly more drum
kit elements to play with and, more importantly, access to
individual faders for each part of the kit and the allimportant room mics. Youll also notice some extra
parameters in Drum Kit Designers edit pane, including the
option of adding leak between mics, as well as switching
the kit elements between two different room mics.
To access the extra channels, youll need to press on
the small + icon in the mixer area, with a total of 16
outputs all being accessible. In Multi Output mode,
triggering the snare will play back samples across multiple
channels, including snare top and bottom mics, the
overheads, room mics
and the bleed

PRODUCER KITS
The Producer Kits, which are
available via the Channel Strip
Library, are Multi Output
versions of the Stereo Kits,
complete with all the mix
settings (including
compression, EQ and reverbs)
for each channel. If you dont
want to mix the drum kit from
scratch, The Producer Kits are
a quick-and-easy solution to a
great sound, with the ability to
expand the kit and adjust
individual elements, like the
kick drum EQ, if you need to.
For anyone learning music
production, the Producer Kits
are also a great insight into
how a professional might
approach mixing a drum kit,
seeing compression and
equalization settings for each
kit element.

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Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer

Assuming that youve downloaded the Multi Output versions of


Drum Kit Designer (Logic Pro X > Download Additional Content),
instantiate Drum Kit Designer, ensuring that you pick the MultiOutput option, rather than the standard stereo version.

As the title suggests, Drum Kit Designer lets you assemble a


custom kit from a variety of kit components. Try swapping the
various kit pieces using the information box (activated from the small
i icon) to give you some indication as to its sound.

On the right-hand side of Drum Kit Designers interface youll


find a series of options that let you tweak each kit element.
Working with the Classic Chrome snare, which has a prominent tone,
try increasing the tune parameter to raise the pitch of the snare.

Click on the small + next to the Drum Kit Designer (in the mixer
area) to gain full access to the separate mic channels. Each
successive click adds a further output to the mixer, culminating in the
hand clap as the last channel.

With the drum loop playing, turn down the active faders so that
you can build the mix from scratch. The first channel is now
effectively the overhead mics, followed by the spot mics for kick,
snare, and so on, and then the room mics.

Lets start our drum mix with the two kick drum mics: Kick In and
Kick Out. Using the EQ we can accentuate the key
characteristics, like the beater hit around 2kHz on the Kick In channel,
and the low-end power around 80Hz on the Kick Out channel.

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as the snare spills onto other mics on the kit. As a result,


mixing with Drum Kit Designer is much the same as mixing
a real kit creating a close miced 70s sound with an
emphasis on the spot mics, or something more ambient
and roomy with a bias towards the room mics.

Processing Kit
Of course, the real benefit of the Multi Output kit is the

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ability to apply unique processing to each part of the kit.


Compression and EQ are important tools in this application
using EQ to change to tonal colour of each kit element
while compression is used to control the dynamics and add
body to the kit.
In that respect, its well worth playing with the different
models found on Logics compressor and contrasting those
with different parts of the kit. Use the VCA modes for
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MTF Technique Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer

lighter compression, while the Vintage FET compressor


works well on channels where you want to add a more
characterful compression sound, particularly on the snare
or room mics.
In addition to compression and EQ, youll also want to
look at using bus sends from the individual channels,
either to add ambience effects, like delay and reverb, or
treatments like parallel compression. Rather than applying

reverb wholesale (as you would in Stereo mode), the use of


reverb can be directed either adding a touch more room
to the overheads, for example, or following a 80s production
ethic and applying a lot of reverb to just the snare. Likewise,
parallel compression can be feed just from the kick and
snare channels, which is a great way of adding power and
body to the kit with sacrificing transient detail or the sound
of the cymbals.

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer (contd)

Adding compression to the two kick channels adds body and


dynamic control to the sound. Weve used the Studio VCA model
to keep the sonic footprint input of the compressor discrete, using a
ratio of 3:1 and a slow attack to preserve transient detail.

The Snare Top channel contains most of the key ingredients in


our snare sound. Starting with EQ, weve cut the low-end below
80Hz, added some body around 138Hz, a mid range dip at 730Hz and
some presence above 5kHz.

By contrast to the kick channels, our snare compression is much


more heavy-handed, hence the choice of the Studio FET model.
Weve used a relatively fast attack and release 3:1 ratio and adjusted
the threshold so that you can hear the compressors movements.

Solo the overhead mics on the first channel. With an acoustic kit,
its often the case that youll apply EQ to attenuate the kick from
the overheads. Using Drum Kit Designer, though, we can simply select
the kick and move the overheads slider to Off.

The combination of EQ and compression helps sit the overheads


in the mix, with a top-end lift around 7.7kHz and the Vintage VCA
compressor. Use a low ratio (1.4:1) and low threshold so that the
compressor glues the sound of the kit together.

The room mics add natural ambience, but also work surprisingly
well when theyre heavily compressed. Again, weve used the
Studio FET model for its heavier style of compression. Experiment
with the release time to get a pleasing pumping sound over the kit.

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Mixing drums with Drum Kit Designer Technique MTF

Virtual drummer

extra choice when it comes to kit pieces, theres little doubt


that the combination of a Multi Output Drum Kit Designer
and Logics audio plug-ins actually exceeds what can be
delivered on rival solutions. MTF
This tutorial is endorsed by Point Blank. With courses in London, online and
now in LA, Point Blank is the Global Music School. You can study sound to
picture on their Music Production Diploma courses, with pro industry tutors.
More info here: www.pointblanklondon.com.

While other virtual drumming solutions pack a lot into a


single plug-in, the elegance of Drum Kit Designer means
that it can fully integrate the instrument into your working
environment with the minimum of fuss, moving between
the immediacy of a Stereo instance for basic programming
activities, to a fully-fledged Multi Output kit when it comes
to mixing. While some third-party solutions might offer

MTF Step-by-Step Mixing with Drum Kit Designer (contd)

In situations where youre compressing the whole kit its often


the case that the kick drum can have too much affect on gain
reduction. Use the compressors side chain, therefore, to filter out the
kick, using the HP mode set around 130Hz.

Drum Kit Designer offers two different room mics, with Room B
having a monaural sound. Try moving the snare out of Room A
and placing it in Room B, maybe contrasting different EQ and
compression treatment between the rooms.

The Leak channel captures the bleed between the various mics
and can be pulled into the mix for a more naturalistic sound.
Leak also works well as a lo-fi channel, in this case being sent through
some Pedalboard distortion before being sat (quietly) in the mix.

Even with the room mics you might want to add more ambience
to the kit, particularly where you need a bigger ambience. Create
bus sends from the kit elements you want to process, with the
overheads and spot mics often being a good choice.

Select the desired ambience using an instance of Space


Designer placed across the insert path. Use the aux fader level
to set the amount of reverb in the mix, or increase send levels on the
respective spot mics if you want more reverb.

To keep your mixer tidy, select all the drum channels and then
use the menu option Track > Create Track Stack. Pick the
summing option and youll be able to pack away all the channels but
still have a master bus of the combined result.

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MTF Technique Granular Synthesis with Alchemy

Powered by

Technique Logic in depth

Granular synthesis
with Alchemy
Delving deep into Alchemys granular synthesis engine can
yield some unique-sounding textures. Mark Cousins
unlocks the power of the grain.

rogramming your own sounds on Alchemy is a


rewarding process, with a wealth of source
options, modulation routings, filter types, FX
modules and so on, all to be explored. Some of
Alchemys more unique sonic traits are born
from its ability to work with sample-based sources, using
tools like additive, spectral and granular synthesis. For
those that havent explored these sound design
techniques, it can be little overwhelming to know where to
begin, both from a creative standpoint, but also in relation

On the disc
Accompanying
project file included
on the DVD

Well explore the basics of


granular synthesis and the
applications of the technology
to the range of new parameters like Grain Density, RTime
and so on that youll start to encounter.
In this workshop, therefore, we are going to take a closer
look at one of Alchemys advanced sound design engines
the Granular module. As well as understanding the
basics of granular synthesis, well also explore some
practical applications of the technology, as well as how it
integrates with Alchemys more traditional synthesis tools,
like filters, step sequencers and LFOs.

selection, either loading WAV files from Alchemys own


sound library (many of which are designed to suit granular
applications) or from a source of your own choosing, simply
by dragging-and-dropping audio files into the Drop Zone.
Before you import the sample, though, you need to
choose which Analysis mode you intend to work with,
which, in turn, relates to your choice of sound engine. In the
case of granular synthesis, we can either pick the Sampler
or Granular Analysis Mode (found in the bottom left-hand
corner of the interface) before we press the Import button.
In effect, the two modes are interchangeable, so that we
can freely move between conventional sample-based
playback and that of granular synthesis.
The reasons for choosing either the Granular engine or
conventional sample-based playback are apparent when
you move between the two modes. With sample-based
playback, the pitch and the duration of the sample are
interlinked in other words, as we raise the pitch, the
duration becomes shorter and vice versa. Granular, on the
other hand, uses a series of sound grains (short looped
portions of the audio file, in other words) to build the
output, ultimately leading to pitch and duration of the
sound being completely independent of one another.
Two of the most important parameters for a Granular
source are Position and Speed. Speed, of course, can
be freely changed

Grain store
As with the Additive, Spectral and Formant modules,
Alchemys Granular engine is designed to work with
sample-based sources. To begin a granular patch in
Alchemy, therefore, youll need to import an audio file into
the corresponding Source (A, B, C or D). You can access the
browser via the drop-down menu under the Source

EXS24 IMPORT
For those that feel restricted by the synthesis possibilities offered by the EXS24,
its reassuring to note that Alchemy features an EXS24 import option. You can
access the EXS24 import in the same way that you import conventional audio
files. Simply browse the corresponding EXS24 instrument, and press the Import
button. As with audio files, youll want to select the correct analysis method,
either using the Sampler option; if you largely interested in combing the samples
with VA waveforms and filters, or the Granular, Additive or Spectral modules; if
you want you want to be more sonically creative. Note that the importing process
isnt 100% accurate to the original instrument, as Alchemy needs to consolidate
velocity layers and so on. For simple instruments, though, you should find the
import faithful to original mapping.

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Granular Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis

Start from an initialized patch (File>Clear, from Alchemys own


internal menu). Go to the Advanced tab and pick Import Audio
from the drop-down menu that accompanies the Source selection,
which will currently be in its default Saw setting.

You can important a range of sample material into Alchemy,


including its a diverse collection of sample data. Were pulling
the Filter Sweep C3 (in our Logic project) file over to the Dropzone,
selecting Sample as the Analysis Mode and pressing Import.

The filter sweep has been imported as a conventional sample,


with just a Reverse control and Volume parameter. Playing the
sample up and down the keyboard results in the playback being
shorted and lengthened accordingly, as well as changing in pitch.

Now move over to the Granular tab and activate the Granular
mode. With Granular active, Alchemy plays the audio file as a
series of Grains. Notice now that the duration of the filter sweep is the
same wherever you play on the keyboard.

With the sweep held in its Granular form, we gain new flexibility
over the playback of the sample data. Reducing speed slows the
progression through the sweep, stepping through the grains slower
without affecting the pitch of the playback.

Taking the granular concept to an extreme, we can reduce Speed


to zero, creating an effect similar to freezing time. With the
Speed at zero, try moving the Position control to hear the sound slowly
sweep through the harmonic spectrum.

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without any affect on pitch, even going to an extreme where


the sound appears frozen in time. In the case of Speed
being at its slowest setting, Position then becomes a means
of stepping through the sample data, much in the same way
you might step through a wavetable. Add modulation to the
Position control either in the form of an LFO, envelope
generator or step sequencer and the wavetable-like
qualities are complete, creating shimmering granular pads,
for example, or radical timbral changes with an LFO set to a
sample-and-hold waveshape.

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To better understand the sound of granular synthesis,


its well worth adjusting some of the grain parameters to
hear the process in action. For example, Density and Grain
Size are two fundamentally important parameters in the
overall granular effect. To hear a single grain, reduce the
Density to its lowest setting and then adjust the Size
parameter. With settings around 140-230ms, youll hear an
effect similar to an audio gate being opened and closed,
playing back short snippets of audio based on the Speed
and Position parameters. As you move through the audio
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MTF Technique Granular Synthesis with Alchemy

file, therefore, the grain window changes, almost like a


series of sonic snapshots.
Rather than using just a single grain, most granular
sounds use a number of simultaneous grains to produce a
smooth and continuous output. Even so, youll want to
trade-off the Grain Density and Size to get the results youre
after. A more textural application of granular synthesis
(maybe using a noisy, almost percussive sound source)
might favour low-density settings and a relatively large

grain size. If youre interested in smooth granular pads where the sounds morphs between different harmonic
states then youll want to increase the grain density and
adjust the size to taste.
Once you understand the mechanics behind granular
synthesis, the musical applications soon start to become
apparent. Ideally, the best audio files for granular synthesis
involve a sound that clearly changes over time, rather than
sounding relatively static. As one of the examples illustrates

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis (contd)

The Density and Size of the grains can have a big effect on the
sonic output of Alchemy. Try reducing Density to zero to hear
just a single grain, which can be varied, using the Size parameter,
from 2 to 230ms.

Coarse Size and Density settings can be effective (especially on


textural sample data), but if youre seeking a smoother overall
sound youll want to use a larger amount of grains, via the Density
setting, and grain sizes greater than 140ms.

The RTime control adds small time variables between each


grain. Try reducing RTime to its lowest setting to see how sterile
the granular engine can sound without these variations. On the whole,
3% seems a good default.

As the name suggests, RPan introduces random panning


artefacts into the grain distribution, and are a great way of
adding stereo information to a mono source. Hear the effect in action
using a low density/large size setting.

Having understood the basics, lets take a look at two granular


treatments a granular pad sound and then a granular
sequence effect. Initialize the sound and import the Granular Piano
C3 sample thats residing in our Logic project.

Rather than stepping through the sound in a conventional


fashion, route the LFO through to the Position parameters and
set speed to 0. Reduce to the depth so that the sound shimmers
around a portion of the piano sample.

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Granular Synthesis with Alchemy Technique MTF

in the walkthrough, you can achieve some interesting


results using synth sweeps, creating granular twists on
many classic subtractive sounds. You can also get some
great results using music phrases as granular sources,
especially ethnic instruments, which can have erratic or
unusual timbral changes over their duration.
Once youve set up the basics of your granular
texture, its then a case of using traditional subtractive
tools to enhance the effect youre trying to achieve

whether its adding animation to the grain movement


using LFOs and Envelopes, or using signal processing
tools like filters to accentuate the timbral colour youre
after. For example, if you want a warmer grain sound
with some of the edges smoothed off, pick a low-pass
filter, or if you want to accentuate the texture of the
grains, try using a high-pass filter. Ultimately, the more
you play with granular synthesis, the more youll
appreciate the extra set of tonal colours it delivers. MTF

MTF Step-by-Step Alchemy granular synthesis (contd)

To add some warmth and further interest to the pad sound,


weve used a second LFO to subtly modulate the tuning (Fine).
You could also edit the amplifiers AHDSR to have a more graduated
attack and decay so that its more pad-like.

To complete the patch (which sounds best an octave above its


original pitch), try adding a 2-pole low-pass filter and a touch of
delay. Also experiment with high-pass filtering, which is useful where
you want the results to have more texture.

Open up another instance of Alchemy (importing the same


sample) to explore another sound. Were using the step
sequencer to modulate position, rather than the LFO. The result is a
sound that appears to jump between different portions of the audio.

To exaggerate the movement, weve also routed the sequencer


through to the LP2 MG filter, with a medium amount of release
and small amount of drive for extra body. As the filter mirrors the
granular shifts, it helps define the timbral movement.

Routing LFO1 through to the main Volume control lets us shape


the amplitude for each step of the sequence. Use the Ramp
Down shape options and set its Rate to 1/16ths (assuming you have
the Sync option enabled).

Its worth remembering that the FX section can also be


modulated. Rather than reverb and delay being static effects,
therefore, weve used the same step sequencer to modulate the FX
mix, so that the higher valued steps have more effect.

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MTF Industry Guru Aisling Brouwer

MTF Feature Interview

INDUSTRY GURU
AISLING BROUWER
If you have ever wanted your music to score major TV and film productions,
you could do worse than taking advice from someone who has been there
and done that. MusicTech talks to Aisling Brouwer about how to succeed
in the world of media music composition

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Aisling Brouwer Industry Guru MTF

he chances are youve realised that


writing pop music is only for the brave
and that getting music syncs for TV and
film is where your creative focus could
and possibly should lie. In fact, this has
become one of the prime outlets for todays music
producers output, because there are more TV
shows, video games and films produced than ever
before, all requiring soundtracks of one kind or
another. But it can be a difficult area to break in to.
Aisling Brouwer has scored major TV shows such as
The Apprentice, The Calling and The Taste. Her
set-up has already appeared in MusicTechs Show
Off Your Studio feature, but we were so impressed
with her musical CV that we had to get her in for a
MusicTech guru grilling

Aisling Brouwer has built an


impressive CV of TV and film
soundtrack work since moving
to the UK

MusicTech Focus: How did you get into music


production and working on TV and film
composition?
Aisling Brouwer: I have been writing and producing
music ever since I was a kid, but initially started as
a singer/songwriter. After moving to the UK to study
songwriting, I decided to change my course to music
and film composition with an aim to focus on
writing music for the screen. I spent my second year
studying in Los Angeles as an exchange student
and, encouraged by my tutors, I started approaching
the film, animation and theatre departments to

I am struck by how accessible


music technology has become to
people with less experience
instigate collaborations. These projects confirmed
this was the path I wanted to go down, and during
my MA in composition for film and TV, I started
working as a freelance composer for several
London-based companies. I met Dru Masters and
was given the opportunity to pitch for one of the
series he was scoring for the BBC (The Big Allotment
Challenge). Luckily, he liked it and I started several
more projects with Workhouse Music. Once the ball
was rolling, I started getting in other projects and I
moved to London to pursue the career full-time.
MTF: What was your original goal?
AB: It was to be able to sustain myself from music
alone, and write music for film in particular. The
problem with film is that unless you are working on
big projects, the budgets are often derived from
personal funds and therefore TV and production
music can be a more lucrative starting point. I fell
into writing for TV and documentary series, and try
to balance that with film, trailer, production music,
and personal creative projects. I have achieved the
goal of writing music for a living for now, but I dont
believe in chasing one isolated goal in my career
my objective is to challenge myself, push my work
further, and be creatively innovative.

MTF: What have been your most successful


projects?
AB: Id like to think my most recent projects are
always more successful than the last few, and I
always treat every new project like its the best
thing Ive worked on. I dont think my career has
spanned long enough yet to pick one out of the hat
thats peaked my career, but I guess the one that
jumps out on my CV the most is the 10th series of
The Apprentice. Working with Workhouse Music,
I got the chance to work on some great TV series for
BBC, Channel 4 and TLC but in terms of my best
musical work I am proud of some of the tracks Ive
written for production music, film music and even
personal projects that sent me down new
compositional paths.
MTF: What do you think about the way music
production technology has progressed? How has
this been good or bad for the media composer?
AB: A decade ago, I had just bought my first DAW
and was recording mostly in other peoples studios
with more experienced engineers and producers, so
I am mostly struck by how accessible music
technology has become to people with less
experience. The interfaces have become much more
intuitive, and it is no longer necessary to own a vast
amount of hardware equipment and expensive gear
in order to produce good music.
Given that I spent the past seven years moving
cities nearly every year, and was back and forth
between the US, the UK and The Netherlands,
I could transport a fair amount of my studio without
too much effort; this had considerable advantages.
On the other hand, one could argue that because
music technology has become so widely available,
and much more affordable, it tends to make the
competition tougher. Distinguishing your sound
from the masses, and competing with a much larger
pool of composers, producers and artists can be a
complicated process and keeping up with new
developments equally challenging. There is a
rawness and authenticity to production that is lost
when everything is so easily perfected digitally, and
demos no longer suffice if they are actually demos
when pitching against so many people they should
more or less be the final product for the project.
MTF: What happens with a typical commission?
AB: Depending on whether Im working directly with
the series producer/director/creative or through an
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MTF Industry Guru Aisling Brouwer

agency/music production company this varies


hugely. If Im involved from the beginning, there are
usually several meetings, coffees, and spotting
sessions to talk through the overall aims of the
project, and in what ways the music can serve to
achieve this. More often than not, a temp track and/
or reference music has been added during the edit.
Rarely, the composition comes before the edit. If
this is the case, or if the track is production/library
music, I write the track according to the stylistic
brief but not directly to picture.
Most of the time, however, the music is the last
thing to be added, and thus the deadlines can be
exceedingly tight. Once Ive established the musical
palette, I start by tempo mapping and marking the
various hits, builds, fades, transitions and so on.
I then get cracking on establishing the main
compositional elements and try to do most of my
mixing and processing along the way to avoid
changing the sound too much at the end. If the
project isnt under a tight deadline, the composition
usually goes back and forth between the composer
and the client a few times to make room for
adjustments, tweaks and variations before the final
version is delivered and the project concluded.
MTF: You must get asked about music production
and breaking in to the industry all the time. What
do you get asked about the most?
AB: I think because Ive written for orchestral
ensembles quite a lot, I often get asked about my
arrangement and production techniques concerning

As well as being versatile, try to


figure out where your strengths
lie and build on those
the amalgamation of classical and commercial
music. Most of the emails I get, however, are more
inquisitive about how to break into the industry,
which companies to approach, which sound
libraries or plugins I use, or just general advice on
making money from composition. I think its useful
for any composer to have a basic knowledge on
orchestration and arrangement (The Study of
Orchestration, by Adler, is great), as you will never
get the full potential out of ensemble instruments if
youre pitching them in the wrong register or
layering them inefficiently. Never pan orchestral
patches that have been recorded in their original
layout, or the whole ensemble will sound
incoherent. I tend to try to find natural-sounding
patches so that some light reverb, compression and
creative EQ are sufficient to create an authentic
sound. Waves MV2 is wonderful for getting the best
out of a sound.
MTF: Are there any particular production
processes that trouble you on scoring projects?
AB: One that I am completely guilty of myself is

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Forever changes
MT: What is the future of music production in less
than 100 words?
AB: Unfortunately, I suspect the large increase in use
of production and library music will continue to
surge, and therefore composers and music
companies will have to find new ways in which to
work around and alongside this. Large conventions
such as NAMM and Musikmesse constantly exhibit
exciting new turns in music production technology
that will continue to shape and innovate music
production worldwide; and given how much has
changed in the last decade, it is difficult to imagine
what the next 10 years will bring, but also exciting!

overwriting a piece. It is so easy to get carried away


and to keep adding layers to an arrangement, but
I usually end up stripping off half of it at the end of
the process. The advice passed on to me back then
was be confident with the sounds you use, let them
cut through and remember that in most cases, less
is more.
MTF: What advice would you give anyone entering
the world of music production with the view to
making a living from it?
AB: It sounds dull, but networking really does make
all the difference. Approach as many people as you
can and listen to what they have to say or any advice
they can give you. Aside from getting to know
directors, producers, and liaising with agencies,
it can also be valuable to develop relationships with
other composers, because often work is delegated
between them if they are unable to complete
projects on their own.
Be confident in your own abilities, but never stop
learning from others. I often send mixes off to
friends who are producers/engineers/composers,
and no matter how finished I think a track is, there
is always something a fresh pair of ears will pick up
on, that you may have missed.
Be disciplined enough to keep yourself
constructively busy, even if you have a period of less
work. Most importantly, be open to new
opportunities and dont get too hung up on only
working on certain projects, or achieving a certain
goal immediately its the jobs you do in-between
that define you and build your skill set. As well as
being versatile, try to figure out where your
strengths lie and build on these. Just because you
want to be versatile, doesnt mean you have to be
able to create every single genre of music, so pick
your battles and develop a style of your own that
people can identify you by.
MTF: Finally, what are you working on now, and
where can people find out more about you and
your work?
AB: I am currently in development with some
exciting new projects, and I try to update my
website: www.aislingbrouwer.com and soundcloud:
www.soundcloud.com/aisling-brouwer as
frequently as possible. The documentary series
Extraordinary Pregnancies has just started on TLC
Discovery Networks International, and I hope to
release an EP later this year of my personal projects
as well so keep an ear out! MTF

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:02

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MTF Feature 6 Ways ToGet Inspired


01

MTF Feature 6 Ways To

6 WAYS TO
GET INSPIRED
W

Inspiration is essential to musicians, but it can be an elusive and


fickle beast. Rob Boffard brings you his six tips to make sure your
creative well doesnt run dry

riters often talk about their muses.


Stephen Kings muse, according to him, is
an old guy who sits around all day,
smoking cigars and doling out nuggets of
genius for King to make into stories
(judging by Kings track record, this must happen quite
a lot). While its not often put as explicitly as that,
musicians have muses as well. We might not have a
personified imaginary friend, but we do have places
from where we get inspiration except when it refuses
to come. Inspiration is a very fickle thing, and its easy
to find yourself without any at a crucial moment. Here
are six ways to get that inspiration back.
01

Listen to something else

Seriously, anything. At all. As long as its not the genre


you actually create music in. If you spend your time
creating drum n bass, then turn off your regular
playlist and bump some hip-hop instead. Or rock.
Or classical. Doesnt matter as long as its something
different to what you normally bump. The science
behind this is that your brain needs to switch off to
make the right connections. Harvard scientist Dr Shelley
Carson calls this divergent thinking, and its about the

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mind defocusing from the current project and being


allowed to just drift, letting it make the connections it
needs to. And on that note
02

Capture it

You dont get to control when inspiration strikes. It can


happen in the shower, at the shops, as youre falling
asleep; and if you forget the details, youll have lost it
forever. So you need absolutely need something to
capture it on. Since the inspiration is musical, that
means something that can record sound. With
smartphones and their assorted apps, there have never
been more ways to jot down an idea. There are dozens
available, most of sufficient quality to put down a quick
idea, even if its a hummed melody or beatboxed beat.
We like Apples Garageband (free on iOS), Propellerhead
Figure (also free) and FL Studio (paid, on Android). They
arent as fully-featured as most DAWs, but theyre
fantastic for putting down bare-bones ideas.
03

Get out

Following on from that: sometimes, you need a change


of scenery. It sounds so obvious and thats the
problem, because its a trick that can often be

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:06

6 Ways To Get Inspired Feature MTF

02

overlooked. Do whatever you have to do: go for a walk, go


for a run, go watch a movie, go play an XBox, go kick
around a football. As long as it takes you out of the
studio for a bit. It gives you distance from the material,
lets your mind wander a little and gives those
overworked neurons a break. If youre really clever, youll
find a way to make your brain perform different creative
tasks. Video games are perfect the benefits of playing
them have been well documented, and as much as it
might not look it, taking down a tricky boss or beating a
particular area is a creative act. Yes, were giving you
permission to go gaming. Its work. Totally.
04

Show up

Inspiration doesnt always appear from nowhere like


magic. Sometimes, it can come simply because your
brain is primed to give it to you. If you can train your

03

02

Do whatever you have to do: go


for a walk, watch a movie, play an
XBox, kick around a football
brain to be in a regular creative space, then youll find
that inspiration comes that much more easily. A simple
way to do this is simply to work on music production at
the same time each day difficult if you have a day job/
significant other/children, but still very possible. And by
doing this, youll very quickly find that solving difficult
problems or getting that much-needed inspiration
becomes easy. Your brain actually has a process known
as neuroplasticity, referring to the ability to form new
connections between neurons and if you make a habit
of taking the time and space to form those connections,
youll be sorted.
05

05

06

06

There are no bad ideas

Weve all been there. You start a session bursting with


creative energy, and within an hour you have something
that sounds like a cat being put through a combine
harvester. You hate both it and yourself, and you close
without saving, wanting to expunge the thing from your
brain. Next time that happens, hold up. Save it. Put it
somewhere hell, put it in a file called Terrible Ideas.
When youre stuck for inspiration, months or years down
the track, dig into that folder. Youll still probably go
God, what was I thinking? but youll have the benefit of
distance, and youll be able to see what made you make
those production decisions in the first place.

Collaborate

You know what makes inspiration happen? Other people.


Even if youre a total introverted loner, getting together
with someone for a pint or on-line can spark ideas
especially if that someone is a fellow producer-friend.
Better yet: get together in-studio, and work on
a track together. This comes back to the Terrible Ideas
folder forget how it sounds, just enjoy the back-andforth. Youd be surprised at the great ideas that can come
out of sessions like this, and it works even better if there
are more than two of you. Another mind can take you in
directions youd never have gone in by yourself. MTF
FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

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| 87

13/11/2015 14:06

MTF Buyers Guide Six of the best

Six of the best


Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

Its the MTF Buyers Guide where we round up some of


the best products reviewed in recent months here at MusicTech.
This time we have a selection of mic preamps, one of the most
important elements in your signal chain

Details
Price 2,749
Contact
AMS/Neve
01282 457011
Web
www.ams-neve.
com

BEST Transparancy

LEV Solutions
Integrity 2

h Integrity 2 is one of a small


number of pre amps that has
been designed from the ground
up, making no claims to
emulate equipment from the past, and
MT reviewer John Pickford admired this
refreshing approach. The unit thrives
on being devoid of obvious character,
preferring to be faithful to the character
of the microphones used with it. He
went on to conclude: the quality of

sound is excellent, with plenty of gain


and a vanishingly low noise floor. It is a
thoroughly modern and original design
that does not rely on vintage
credentials, focusing on precise
amplification that remains faithful to
the source material. Those who desire
controls or want a rose-tinted sound
presentation should look elsewhere,
but if transparency and truth are
important to you, go for it.

Thermionic Culture
The Rooster 2

lso featuring an EQ, Rooster 2


is an update of Thermionics
award-winning Rooster
preamp. MT reviewer John
Pickford said: this is a first-rate
tracking device that, with the delicious
EQ and Attitude, can breathe life into
the dullest sounds. It is a superb
sounding preamplifier with a rock n roll
heart. He then concluded that:
nothing compares to a top-quality
valve preamp, especially when
recording digitally, and the Rooster 2 is
up there with the very best.

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BEST Tones

BEST Its a 1073!


Details
Price 1,499
Contact
KMR Audio
Tel: 020 8445 2446
Web
www.levsolutions.
com

Neve
1073
DPX

T
Details
Price 1,845 + VAT
Contact
Thermionic Culture
01279 414770
Web
www.
thermionicculture.
com

he original 1073 has been the


mic pre of choice for engineers
across the globe for four
decades, and has inspired
countless other designs. Indeed Neve
itself has produced several variations,
this being the latest and incorporating
the companys legendary three-band
equaliser. Reviewer John Pickford said:
Other boutique designs that major on
transparency might like to think of
themselves as the Rolls Royce of
microphone pres, but this one is the
Aston Martin the one that we all really
want to own. The 1073 DPX is a
world-class product, built to last and
provide years of sterling service.
Imitations do not come with pride
of ownership.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:49

Six of the best Buyers Guide MTF

BEST Beatles

Chandler TG2-500

handler is the only hardware


company that has any kind of
license to rebuild or
re-engineer any of the classic
hardware that was a part of EMIs suite
of studios in the 60s and 70s
including, of course, the mighty Abbey
Road. (Check out MT146 for more.) The
TG2-500 then, you wont be surprised to
hear, is based on the TG12428 preamp
featured in EMIs TG series of consoles
that were used to record many classic
albums, such as The Beatles Abbey

Road (1969) and Pink Floyds The Dark


Side of the Moon (1973). Reviewer John
Pickford said when reviewing it back in
MT139: The TG2-500 is a lovely
sounding microphone pre-amplifier
with a bright, full-range sound. Its a
no-nonsense unit that gets on with its
job of amplifying microphones and
line-level sources without the addition
of tone controls, filters or metering.
The refined 1970s Abbey Road Studio
sound is unmistakable solid-state
has never sounded better.

Details
Price 659
Contact 01799 520786
Web
www.chandlerlimited.com

BEST Flexibility

RND 511

e reviewed the RND511


alongside the 517 but
found it to be ever so
slightly more flexible.
Reviewer Mike Hillier said: Both are
great preamps, easily worthy of finding

themselves in the best studios in the


world. Were we to equip a studio with
just these preamps not a terrible
proposition wed prefer to have a bank
of 511s. Its an incredible sounding
preamp, a worthy addition to any rig.

Details
Price 520
Contact
Sonic Distribution,
0845 500 2 500
Web
www.rupertneve.com

The Abbey Road sound is


unmistakeable. Solid state has
never sounded better
BEST Vintage

Great River MP-500NV

reat River doesnt claim to


clone any particular preamp,
but has worked-up a design
with a distinctive vintage
sound of much-loved consoles. And
its clear theres a touch of Neve 1073
here, albeit with top-drawer
components to bring that classic 70s
vibe into the 21st century. John
Pickford said: It certainly lives up to
its vintage credentials with a
full-range, expansive sound that

doesnt stifle the signal in a way that


the inputs of budget analogue mixers
can. Rather, it seems to enhance the
basic character of microphones with a
nature that is very appealing. Anyone
looking to inject some proper
old-school mojo into their recordings
should audition one, and concluded:
the preamp has a euphonic nature
that flatters most sources in a similar
way to the legendary Neve 1073s. It is
highly recommended.

Details
Price 838
Contact Unity Audio,
01799 520786
Web
www.greweb.com
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13/11/2015 11:50

MTF 20 Pro Tips Mobile music-making tips

Mobile musicmaking tips


Creating professional-sounding musical projects on iOS devices is becoming easier all the
time, with dedicated equipment for phones and tablets. Heres our essential guide
KEEP IT TIDY
You will need to practise good housekeeping and
resource management on your iOS device, just like you do on
your computer perhaps even more so. Whereas computers
can be upgraded with more RAM, faster hard drives and
sometimes even new CPUs, iOS devices cant, and so the
amount of power available to you is determined by the
particular device you have. Very broadly speaking, an iPad 3 or
newer and an iPhone 5 or newer are the baselines for decent
performance and the newer the better. There are some
good rules of thumb to remember; make sure you have a
decent amount of storage space free. Force quit apps youre
not using and restart prior to any serious audio work. Switch
on Do Not Disturb so you dont get calls, texts and other
notifications in the middle of trying to record.

conventional MIDI gear to your iOS device. Windows and Mac


users can also use networked MIDI over wi-fi to iOS, though
latency can be an issue.

01

GET A MIDI INPUT DEVICE


Touchscreens are great, but a dedicated MIDI input
device will make your life much easier if you work on the
move a lot. IK Multimedia makes lots of these: the iRig Pads,
Keys and Blueboard in different versions. The company also
makes the iRig MIDI, which can be used to connect

The importance of getting


decent headphones cannot be
overestimated. Dont skimp

02

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GET A GOOD SET OF HEADPHONES


The importance of getting some decent headphones
cannot be overestimated. Aim for closed-back, over-ear
models, as these will stop sound leakage if youre working in
a public space. They should be comfortable, too, for long
periods of listening, and preferably pretty lightweight if youre
carrying them around. Dont skimp on these, since a good pair
will serve you well.

03

A MIDI input device


such as the iRig
Keys, below, is a very
good idea

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:42

Mobile music-making tips 20 Pro Tips MTF

USE A CONTROLLER APP


iOS controller apps are sometimes bound to a specific
desktop application, and at other times are assignable to
control anything that can receive MIDI. Setting up a controller
app means you can perform live, or join a jam session.
Ableton Live and Traktor are particularly well catered for
when it comes to iOS controller apps.

06

WORK REMOTELY
Steinbergs VST Connect allows users in different parts
of the world to video chat and record audio and MIDI directly
into Cubase in high quality. The free Studio Pass app lets
someone broadcast a mix live to your phone as well as video
chatting with you. So you can let people audition mixes and
sessions without them having to be present.

07

MASTER YOUR MUSIC


Its even possible to master your tracks on an iPad.
Probably the best app for this is Positive Grids Final Touch,
which is amazingly powerful considering it runs on a mobile
device. Theres also an app called Audio Mastering, which is
a little more technical but similarly priced.

08

SEND AUDIO BETWEEN APPS


As music-making on iOS has become more of a serious
proposition, Apple has beefed up the core technologies of the
system to help you out. One of the most useful capabilities in
iOS is Inter-App Audio, which allows you to send audio
between different apps, despite them not being on screen at
the same time. So, for example, you could load a standalone
synth and then route it into a mobile DAW, using virtual MIDI
to trigger it, and then record the results all inside the iPad.
Its also how new solutions such as the Music IO app work:
you just need an app that acts as a hub for the audio streams.
Theres also Audiobus, which is actually a third-party app, but
enables a similar thing, with a little more flexibility for routing
audio internally.

09

BUY AN AMP/EFFECTS SIM


Guitar effects have been one of the most popular uses
for iOS devices, and theyre better than ever. Tools such as
BIAS FX, AmpliTube and JamUp provide great functionality
for guitarists. Add an interface, even one as simple as the
iRig, and you can monitor and play with minimum fuss.

04

PLUG IN A MIC
There are an increasing number of microphones coming
onto the market that plug directly into your iOS device,
typically using a Lightning connector, because the older
30-pin version was discontinued some time ago. The benefits
of this are pretty clear in that such a model would allow you
to plug in wherever you happened to be with no extra
interfaces or cabling required and record a performance.
Admittedly, only with a single mic, but this is enough for
simpler recording tasks. They range in form and price,
depending on whether you want something more
conventional and hand-held or more ambient and
omnidirectional. Theres Blue Mics Mikey Digital, Apogees
MiC 96K, Zooms iQ6, IKs iRig Mic and HD, Blues Spark
Digital, Samsons C01U and several more. Some are better
suited to the studio and some to field recording.

05

(Above) Amp
simulators such as
BIAS FX, AmpliTube
and JamUp come
with dozens of
effects, too
(Below right) When
your projects start
to get serious, youre
going to need some
external storage
(Below left) More
and more mics that
plug in to your iOs
device are available.

GET SOME EXTERNAL STORAGE


iOS devices have never had expandable storage and
probably never will. The base 16GB configuration of iPhones
and iPads is not really enough to do lots of recording on, or
hold more than a few high-quality DAWs and instruments
which can easily run to 1GB each. So you might find yourself
constantly struggling for space, but there is a workaround.
Not everyone knows about the existence of wireless hard
drives. These are fairly affordable standard hard drives that
have Wi-Fi built in, and usually a companion iOS app as well.
They can be used independently of a computer or an internet
connection to transfer files to and from your iOS device.
Theyre maybe not suitable for recording directly to because
of latency, but you can use them to manage your data without
having to lug a laptop around. Especially useful for saving
and loading projects on the move.

10

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MTF 20 Pro Tips Mobile music-making tips

TRANSFER BETWEEN DESKTOP AND DEVICE


Increasingly, larger developers have started to bring
together their mobile and desktop offerings, though its still
the case that not every DAW has a mobile equivalent. If you
are looking to get started, or happen to already have a
desktop DAW and want to combine it with a mobile
equivalent, you can sort something out that will let you start
a project on the move and then transfer it back to the
desktop for more heavyweight work, either via the cloud or
via iTunes file sharing. Some of the more prominent systems
that do this include NIs iMaschine and Maschine desktop,
Steinbergs Cubasis and Cubase, GarageBand for iOS and
GarageBand or Logic Pro on the desktop, FL Studio Mobile
HD and FL Studio for PC and in a slightly different way,
Propellerheads Take, Figure and Reason combo.

14

USE THE CLOUD


Take advantage of cloud services to transfer projects
between your iOS device and computer, or to upload your
finished tracks directly to streaming services. Some of the
most commonly implemented cloud sharing options in iOS
apps are Apples iCloud, Dropbox, Box, SoundCloud and
Facebook. You get a standard storage allowance with most
services, thats adequate for many users, though you can of
course pay to expand this. Even if you dont use the cloud to
transfer or share material with others, it can be useful simply
as a backup technique to ensure you always have a saved
copy of a project stored somewhere other than the device
itself. Bear in mind, also, that if you are uploading data over
a cellular connection, a DAW project with a few WAV audio
tracks can quickly burn through several hundred MB of your
data allowance.

15

LINK UP TO YOUR DESKTOP


Historically, iOS and the desktop have been two
separate worlds, and getting data from one to the other has
meant exporting to iTunes or uploading it to the cloud first,
then re-importing into your computer. The system called
Music IO (www.musicioapp.com) does away with this. It uses
a server app for the Mac (with Windows support planned) and
an app on your iOS device, plus a VST/AU plug-in to
seamlessly incorporate both systems, using only the regular
USB cable you already utilise to charge the device. Four
tracks of stereo audio can be sent bi-directionally between
iOS and OS X, and MIDI can be sent too. This means you can
record audio from iOS synths into your DAW, trigger iOS
instruments from your Mac and even use iOS effects apps,
such as guitar processors.

11

(Above) Music IO is
invaluable for linking
your iOS and
desktop projects
(Below right) An iPad
dock could be a good
alternative to buying
a second MIDI or
audio interface.

iTrack Pocket is a stand for


your phone with an integrated
high-quality microphone

GET A DOCK FOR YOUR DEVICE


If you already have a desktop audio and MIDI interface,
you may not want to buy another one simply to add proper
I/O to your iPad. In this case, you could consider an iPad
Dock, such as the Alesis IO Dock or the Focusrite iTrack Dock.
These are designed to physically hold an iPad, and can often
be connected to a phone as well, even if its not held securely
in place. Be sure to choose a dock that suits your iPad model,
since there is some variation in whats compatible. They add
phantom power, XLR audio, hardware MIDI and USB
connectivity in various configurations; and if you plan on
using your iPad for music a lot, can even replace a computer
setup. Smaller accessories are available, too many from IK
Multimedia, such as the iRig MIDI 2, iRig HD and iRig Mic to
name but a few. Each of these brings a specific kind of I/O to
your device, and usually at a lower price point.

16

RECORD WITH ITRACK POCKET


You can record audio and video of yourself from an
iPhone at the same time, but in higher fidelity than the
built-in mic allows. Focusrites iTrack Pocket is a clever
device that is a stand for your phone with an integrated

17

PACK SOME CABLES


Always carry a couple of cables if youre planning to
record anything on your travels. A simple mini-jack-to-minijack, a small-to-big adaptor and a mini-jack-to-phono cable
will allow you to record from almost any instrument or audio
device into your iOS device. Theres no need to carry
interfaces, though of course if you do, you will benefit from
better audio fidelity.

12

MAKE SOME FIELD RECORDINGS


iOS devices make surprisingly good field recorders,
though you are better off not simply relying on their built-in
microphones to do the job. The addition of a dedicated field
mic, such as IKs iRig Mic Field, or a Blue Microphones model,
will greatly enhance the clarity of any recordings you make.
Radio producers and interviewers often use an iPhone with
a specialised mic attached, and you can too.

13

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FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:42

Mobile music-making tips 20 Pro Tips MTF

It might sound obvious, but if


youre making music on the move
youll need a proper mobile DAW
(Above) An interface
that can connect to
both desktop and
mobile devices will
save you time
(Left) Focusrites
iTrack Pocket will
improve the quality
of your recordings
(Below) Mobile
DAWs are highly
capable and not as
expensive as you
might expect.

INVEST IN A MOBILE DAW


It might sound obvious, but if youre making music on
the move you will need a proper mobile DAW. These are now
amazingly capable and dwarf the simple four-track recorders
that were standard when iOS first allowed third-party apps.
At the very affordable end, theres GarageBand; and for a little
more, FL Studio Mobile HD, NanoStudio and Cubasis. All of
these work differently, but support virtual effects and
instruments, audio and MIDI recording and editing, and even
mastering. Some, such as Tabletop and Auria, are even more
advanced and allow adding modules. If youre going to spend
a few quid on a decent mobile DAW (and theyre still much
cheaper than desktop versions), youll want to add some kind
of audio and MIDI I/O device, as theres no point spending on
one part of the system and skimping on the other. MTF

20

high-quality microphone and also a guitar line in with amp


simulation. Record audio and video, apply the mastering
effects and upload to YouTube.
DONT RUN OUT OF BATTERIES
If youre making music on the go, always carry a battery
pack to avoid running out of juice at crucial moments.
Compact ones can cost more, but if you dont mind a big
brick, you can charge for hours without going near the mains.
Remember that charging will tie up your Lightning port.

18

GO MULTI-FUNCTIONAL
Getting audio and MIDI into and out of your iOS device is
key to leveraging its power as a music-making platform. You
have a number of options, but an increasingly popular one is
to choose an audio and MIDI interface that has both desktop
and iOS compatibility. Thanks to Apples CoreMIDI and
CoreAudio frameworks, developers are able to design
interfaces that can be plugged into a Mac, PC or iPad or
iPhone and work right away. The benefits are obvious: you get
pro-quality inputs and outputs in a device that can be used
both on the move and back in your studio. Check that an
interface does specifically have iOS support, because not all
do. However, more and more are becoming compatible:
smaller models from Steinberg, Apogee and Focusrite to
name but a few.

19

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Launchpad, but smaller!
The Launchpad Mini Mk2
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MTF Reviews Plugin Boutique Carbon Electra

Value

$
PLUGIN BOUTIQUE

Carbon Electra
In a world where we seem to be going hardware synth mad, do we need
another dance-based subtractive soft synth? Andy Jones plugs in to
Carbon Electra
Details
Price $99/59
Contact Plugin
Boutique
Web
www.pluginboutique.
com

he world has gone, it must be


said, a little hardware nuts.
While at one time we all
thought that everything
studio-wise was heading into our
laptops, we now find that there is

Whatever the reason, hardware is


most definitely back, especially
hardware synths. So youd have to have
a pretty good story to launch a soft
synth now. Yet with VirtualCZ, Plugin
Boutique had just that when I reviewed

Nothing on the synth is as


garish or sleazy as the name
implies, or is it just me that thinks
it sounds like a synth porn star?
Key Features
4 analoguestyle syncable
oscillators
600 artist and
factory presets
Six filter types
Effective
effects section
Step envelope
for editing
volume, filter
and pitch
Compressed
hot output

a huge and somewhat unexplained


appetite for hardware. Its almost as if
people dont realise that you can do
music production pretty well all on
a laptop. Or that they do realise it and,
well, they simply dont want to. Or
theres the theory that is growing in
popularity that music production has
simply become more of a hobby that
looks amazing; the cool aesthetic of the
environment being as important as the
process and end result (and in some
cases, a little more so).

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it a few months back: a great emulation


of a classic synth series that few had
attempted. But do we really need
another soft synth with an analogue
bent and a subtractive heart? And do
we need another synth hard or soft
with dance music as its focus?

Carbon copy
I first approached Carbon Electra
slightly blind, I have to say. Reviewing it
on holiday without internet access,
I had no preliminary information, no

hype, nothing. This probably turned out


to be a good thing, because looking at
the synths spec cold, you could be
forgiven for muttering nothing to see
here and moving on; just another
subtractive soft synth with a bunch of
oscillators and relatively cool add-ons.
Good job I didnt judge it by its cover
At Carbon Electras heart lie four
sync-able oscillators with adjustable
pulse widths, FM and selectable
waveshapes. Theres a filter section
with six filter types; a fairly simple
effects section (that includes chorus,
distortion, delay and EQ); and a flexible
(if again quite simple) LFO section.
Nothing to get too excited about so far,
although I do already like the fact that it
is simple, with everything within reach
all in front of you, no hidden menus,
so its easy to get your head around.
I also like the sound of the step
editor, which can be assigned to pitch,
volume and cut-off. Then theres the
fact that the synth has a top range of
current and not-so-current producers
drafted in to bulk out its presets, so you
have everyone from Carl Cox to Faze
Action contributing sounds.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:49

Plugin Boutique Carbon Electra Reviews MTF

Even with these big names, however,


Carbon Electra is not quite as coollooking as its name suggests. But then,
how could it be? Like me, you might
have been expecting neon flashes of
brilliance with each tweak, maybe
lightning bolts on each preset change,
or maybe a fluorescent blue backdrop
(so in vogue at the moment with our
Show Off Your Studio entrants).
Sure, there are graphical displays for
the filter, mixer and step editor, but
nothing jumps out nor is as garish and
sleazy as the name implies or is it just
me that thinks it sounds like a synth
porn star? [Yes. It is Ed]. However, as

shines through perhaps down to what


PB describe as the synths ability to run
the amp section too hot creating
a modern hyper-compressed sound.
The end results are therefore
surprisingly good, well beyond even the
wider electronic dance boundaries Ive
set. Were also talking some great
FM-like percussive sounds not beats
you understand, just more shimmering
and melodic, fast-attack real sounds.
So Carbon Electras not just dance;
it has plenty of added bells and
whistles. This is perhaps down mostly
to the additional features Ive touched
upon. They might not sound too

Im a little embarrassed at how


good these happy accidents
sound I did program the original
notes though, OK?
a VirtualCZ fan, I should really have
expected more than looks, and 10
minutes after booting the synth up
I was sucked into the Carbon Electra
world, but possibly not for the reasons
that I should have been

Carbon footprint
If Carbon Electra has a market, it is
clearly dance. One look down the list of
producers and youll realise that, and
if not Factory preset names that
reference Prodigy (synth and band) and
90s jungle, plus a whole host of other
genres, will certainly bring home the
point. But, actually, the remit is a lot
wider its a broader sweep of
electronic music that this synth covers,
so there are all sorts of arpeggiations,
basses and leads across the factory
presets that, yes, hark back and forth
between dance old and new, but also
straddle more traditional genres of
electronic music theres plenty of
ambient, soundscape, scoring and
electronica in there, too.
But it was when I threw it at a bunch
of old 8-bar loop ideas that I had the
most fun. These snippets of songs have
never gone beyond initial loops bits
and pieces Ive had around for ages,
many of which I never thought Id rescue
from my hard drive.
However, some of Electras sounds
really did breathe new life into them
not necessarily the dance life that
was perhaps intended, but energy
nonetheless. Theres a great movement
in many of them, and the sound quality

dramatic, but they do broaden the


synths sonic footprint. The Step
Envelope section, for example, proves to
be a lot more flexible in practice than its
spec implies as do the effects. Again,
this is down very much to the fact that
everything is displayed in front of you,
so you are drawn in to edit and tweak
which the synths programmers and
named producers have clearly been
busy doing.

Weve run out of carbon puns


I wont go through all of the whopping
600 factory and artist presets you will
find a good selection of bass, lead, pad,
key, chord, arpeggiator and effect
sounds across generations of dance
music and genres. Instead, Ill try to sum
up what the extras bring and theres
a definite sense of movement. Just play
with the Step Envelope section for
maximum impact with minimum fuss.
Its so easy to adjust the pitch, filter
cutoff and volume of the notes played,
and the rate at which they are played
all defined by 18 different waveshapes
and get something completely
different but at the same time very
usable, very quickly.
Going back to that boast about
running the output amp too hot and,
after my auditions, Im starting to
believe it the synths sounds definitely
cut through the mixes I tried it on,
especially those old looping ideas.
Basses really bring the bottom end of
mixes to life, and some of the leads and
incidental effects add angles to tracks

Alternatives
For some great dance sounds, I looked at
LinPlugs Spectral ($149) synth about a year
ago. Its a great synth and has four oscillators,
in common with Electra, but does boast a lot
more in terms of control and movement and
is pretty easy to use, too (although maybe not
quite as easy as CE). Rob Papens Blue-II
($179) also springs to mind, not so much based
on architecture but on some of the sounds you
get mind you, that synth does seem to cover
everything, with an extraordinary number of
onboard presets.

I can only dream of. In fact, Im a little


embarrassed at how good some of
these happy accidental preset
inclusions sound (I did program the
original notes so they are all mine, OK?!).

Are friends Electra? (Sorry)


So, it turns out that Carbon Electra is
one synth that is not as easy to lazily
pigeon-hole as Id originally anticipated.
Yes, its aimed at dance producers, but
work (not too hard) with it and youll get
a lot more out. Its easy, fun and packed
full of potential, and Ill be resurrecting
a few lost causes with it over the next
few weeks. If we could have lightning
flashes and luminous blue controls for
v2, though, that would be the
fluorescent icing on the cake MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Good and varied sound that cuts
through mixes
+ Very easy to use, and its all there
in front of you
+ Surprisingly wide sonics
+ Simple but very effective Step
Envelope and effects sections
+ Good producer presets
+ Inexpensive
- Not as cool looking as it could be
- Some controls a bit bland
- Lacks immediate appeal which
could be a good thing!
Dont judge a synth by its look nor
indeed its name. The Carbon
Electra sounds great, and is very
easy to get more from. It also has
a sound that will not only act as the
backbone to many a dance track,
but one that could bring a lot to
a variety of other genres, and bring
old ideas back to life.

8/10

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13/11/2015 12:49

MTF Reviews Heavyocity Gravity

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
HEAVYOCITY

Gravity

Libraries for soundtrack composers are at something of a peak in popularity.


Andy Jones loads up Heavyocitys latest, which uses vast swathes of hands-on
control and customisation in an attempt to lift it well above the rest

Details
Price $449
Contact
sales@heavyocity.
com
Web
www.heavyocity.com

Key features
12GB library
2,200 sound
sources; 815
snapshots; 325
motion presets;
780 pads; 390
stings; 19 riser
menus; 9
hit menus
AU, VST, DXi,
AAX, RTAS,
Standalone
Requires
Kontakt 5 player

t would be easy to think that todays


media composer that is a
soundtrack producer for film, TV and
video games has it too easy. With
libraries comprising gigabytes of data
becoming 10 a penny (almost) and
sample collections available every
month with magazines such as
MusicTech [you mean there are others?
Ed] the soundtrack artist has never
had it so good. Or have they?
Yes and no. With so many collections
of samples, loops and instruments
available, the bar to entry is now so low
that pretty much anyone can attempt to
have a go at scoring film. Like music
production before it, everyone having
the tools to do so is not necessarily
a good thing. So, while there might
seem to be more collections than ever
being reviewed in MusicTech, each one
is fighting for a unique position, or is
as Stella Artois used to claim
reassuringly expensive, to filter out
some of the unwashed masses

Rising above
Heavyocitys Gravity is a bit of both. With
a price tag of $449, it is by no means the
cheapest collection out there. And with
more hands-on tweaking and
customising tools available than your
average collection, it is more of an
active instrument than a passive library.

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So while the aims and audience of the


collection will quickly become obvious
think tension-building scores to back
high-drama, horror, sci-fi, or anything
needing atmosphere, basically
there is hopefully enough going on in
the manipulation department to make
Gravity more about being inspired
than copying; its more about being

and the Aggressive, Ethereal,


Experimental and Unnerving categories
are as descriptive as it gets. Each pad
comprises three layers, which you can
tweak individually, in terms of volume,
ADSR envelope, pitch and panning.
Each layer can be modulated with
several parameters and shaped with an
EQ page that has a three-band EQ and

Gravity is about being inspired


more about being the
sheep dog than the sheep
the sheep dog than the sheep.
Hopefully, anyway

The only way is


Installation is via the Continuata
installer, itself a small download and
one that you paste your code into,
select your destination and let the
12GB download do its thing. Gravity
opens within Kontakt as an instrument,
as normal, and you are immediately
presented with some filmic sonic
options: pads, hits, stings and risers;
as each has a set of unique parameters,
I should look at them in turn. The Gravity
pads comprise four descriptive types

five filter types (with the cut-off able to


be modulated by four parameters). This
is just the opening salvo in Gravitys
hands-on control arsenal, offering
familiar analogue-style sound
synthesis over what we will see and
hear are very non-analogue sound
sources (despite many actually being
created on modular systems).
The second section has 48 hits, and
you get four parts: Sub, Impact, Whoosh
(swell) and Tail with which to create
them, as well as a Hit Designer to
combine them. Theres also a Random
button that is great fun for some fast
creativity. Again, the individual parts

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:05

Heavyocity Gravity Reviews MTF

GRAVITY: PADS SCREEN


Within the Pads section, you can adjust the levels of
the three parts (centre), effects (left) and ADSR (right).

MOTION: THE PARTS


Gravity has a very neat Motion section, which
especially for pads provides a great way to alter a
sounds pitch, pan or volume over time.

can each be EQd on a separate page.


The third section is for stings, and
contains more than 450 atonal, tonal,
reverse, sweep and metallic effects.
They are set out in tuned menus for
easy audition, and can again be EQd
(and filtered) and have envelopes
edited. The final section comprises 72
hybrid risers and 45 orchestral risers,
which are tempo synced with three
layers: Hybrid/Organic, Synthetic and
Effects. The hands-on editing features
here are similar to the pads section,
with volume, panning, EQ, etc, plus a
designer page for the three layers. So
this all sounds great in theory; how
about in practice?

All rise
The Pads section is the most musical,
and those descriptions really do nail it.
Everything is here for ethereal and
atmosphere, but also for fear and
tension. The front panel makes

GRAVITY: EQ
All sections have EQ and filter options. Here are
those for the Pads, allowing access to the three parts.

MOTION: DRAWING IN THE CHANGES


Each of the three parts can be edited over time
simply by drawing in changes. Here, all three will rise to the
end of the cycle, and that cycle length can also be edited.

dramatic sound shaping truly present


and correct, and youll find yourself
drawn into it and making changes as
you really should do. The Hits section,
too, is a bit of a success story. Im not
sure about some of the categorization,
as to me they all add a lot of impact, but
you can combine and tweak away to get
some great results. Stings, too, is an
area where you can get some fine detail
and incidental hits and elements for
any genre, not just film music.
Adventurous dance musicians, for
example, could take Gravity and
incorporate a lot of the elements here
into deep and sparse house tracks. Only
the Riser section didnt really
excite me as much as the
rest. This isnt really a fault
of the section itself, more of
a tiredness of the riser
effect its been overused
a little, but thats just
my opinion!

Alternatives
There are stacks of libraries to help you score just about anything, so as always
check out sample collections from the big sample companies such as Loopmasters,
Samplephonics et al. Of the instruments and collections Ive looked at of late, Orbit
springs to mind as a film scoring tool that very much offers a fantastical set of sounds
with hands-on creativity. Its a bit more about the ambience and textures, as opposed to
the hits and rises, but the two do complement each other well. Surprisingly in some ways,
Zero-Gs Haunted Ground (reviewed in this issue) also springs to mind, as it has some
terrifying moments which Gravity also excels at. See the review on p90 for more.

GRAVITY: PUNISH & TWIST


Two massive controls allow you to sweep
through a bunch of parameters with one big dial.

MOTION: CHAINING
Edit each of the parts and save up to eight
versions. Chain them together for maximum effect
over time. Here, I have chained together eight parts.

I have only one other criticism, and


that is that the controls look a bit
lacklustre and can get lost against the
background. Its a shame they couldnt
be more colourful or textured like the
massive controls for Punish and Twist.
That aside and its a small gripe
Gravity is a superb collection, made
even better by the extra control. You
might have to invest more money, but
put the time in and, with Gravity on your
side, you could be streets ahead of or
(sorry) above the competition. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Amazing collection of sounds
+ Pads especially brilliant
+ Incredible recordings
+ Great array of hits
+ Design sections very handy
+ Hands-on control takes it above
most other collections
- While the risers are good, they do
by their nature get a bit samey
- Relatively expensive could be a
bonus, as only the serious will buy
Gravity is a great library in its own
right, but there are enough
hands-on features to take the
sounds into new dimensions. Its
both inspirational and creative.
Be the sheep dog!

9/10

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MTF Reviews Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

SPECTRASONICS

Excellence

Omnisphere 2

10/10

With a wealth of new features, Omnisphere finally reaches v2


seven years after its initial release. Mark Cousins goes
stratospheric with the most eagerly-awaited release of the year
Details
Manufacturer
Spectrasonics
Price 285
Contact www.
spectrasonics.net

ince its release in 2008,


Omnisphere has proved itself
to be one of the most
consistently useful and
versatile software instruments. Its
success is testament to both the wealth
of included sound content that youd
expect from a Spectrasonics product,
and also the surprising amount of raw
synthesis power packaged into
Omnispheres sound engine. From its
Granular Synthesis modes through to
the complex rate-level envelope
generators, theres plenty to keep the
avid knob-twiddler happy. Yet despite
this apparent complexity, Omnisphere
is an immediate and easy-to-use
instrument packed full of greatsounding patches!

New generation
Key Features
Over 12,000
inspiring sounds
Audio Import
Over 400 new
DSP waveforms
Wavetable
synthesis
58 FX units

Now Spectrasonics has taken a long


hard look at Omnisphere and developed
the next generation of its cutting-edge
synthesiser and neatly called it
Omnisphere 2. Pleasingly, the ethos and
overall appearance of Omnisphere
remains largely the same, so despite a
slightly widened interface (now
incorporating a slimmed-down browser
window) existing users will feel

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immediately at home. Look under the


bonnet, though, and youll soon see how
far-reaching the improvements are in
Omnisphere 2, with a list of new
features almost as long as a fullyfledged DAW upgrade
Although Omnisphere 2 is available
as a product in its own right, most
existing Omnisphere users will be keen
to take advantage of the $249 upgrade.
As youd expect, this upgrade is
available to buy from Spectrasonics
web store, necessitating a 20GB
download for the new Soundsource
content included with the instrument.
The install merges with and replaces
your existing Omnisphere, updating the
STEAM folder and upgrading the
instrument plug-in to version 2. All
existing projects will now load in
Omnisphere 2, with the original
Omnisphere becoming nothing but a
distant memory.

DIY Omnisphere
Arguably one of the most exciting new
features is the ability to import your
own audio files into Omnisphere 2s
sound engine, which can then be
modified using everything from
vowel-based filters to granular

synthesisers and a new Innerspace


effects unit (more on this later). The
audio import is navigated through the
Soundsource Browser using a new tab
called User Audio. You can import single
audio files up to 24-bit 192kHz
resolution, which are then written into
the STEAM folder so that they can be
recalled at any point in the future.
Coupled with the excellent Granular
Synthesis module, the Audio Import
works best creating ambient
soundscapes, where an original
musical phrase is stretched, looped and
mangled far beyond its original form.
Theres also plenty of fun to be had
swapping existing Soundsources in the
current patch for your own samplebased material, which can create plenty
of interesting serendipitous results.
Obviously, the Audio Import feature
doesnt seek to replicate the multisampled dexterity of a fully-fledged
software sampler, but it does offer an
excellent route into the unique sonic
world of Omnisphere 2 that many
comparable instruments dont offer.
Those who like to build patches
using the in-built DSP oscillators will be
pleased to note some significant
improvements in that department.

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13/11/2015 14:03

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 Reviews MTF

Whereas the original Omnisphere had


just four DSP waveforms, there are now
more than 400 to choose from, all
configured as morphing wavetables,
much like the waveforms in Native
Instruments Massive. Add eight new
filter types into the equation (including
some great vowel-based effects), a new
Unison Drift model and an increased
FM Depth/Ring Mod, and you can see
where many of the new patches get
their hard-edged electronic sound.

Casual browsing
While many musicians will enjoy the
added sonic depths possible from
programming your own sounds, theres
little doubt that a large number of
Omnisphere 2 users will be content
simply exploring the list of over 12,000
sounds included with the instrument.
New Soundsource content, which
accounts for most of the 20GB
download, includes extra
Psychoacoustic samples, Circuit Bent
Soundsources and a wealth of melodic
phrases that are perfect fodder for the
Granular engine. In addition to the new
patches in the familiar Omnisphere

tweaked, with improved sound


organisation and a great new Sound
Match feature that enables you to find
similar sounds quickly and easily.
One of the more intriguing and
creative developments in the Patch
Browser has to be the Sound Lock
feature. Sound Lock works by
preserving an aspect of a patch such
as the Arpeggiator, Envelopes or Mod
Matrix while you browse alternative
sounds. It could be, for example, that
you like the movement in one of the
ARP+BPM patches, but want to explore
different timbres and Soundsources
applied to the same Arp/Envelope
settings. Sound Lock, therefore, is
a great way of creating hybrid patches
with just a few mouse clicks, and
a useful means of negating the train
spotter effect, where other musicians
and producers spot Omnisphere
presets in your music!

More effects
Adding to an already well-stocked
collection of effects, Omnisphere 2 now
features 25 additional effects modules,
bringing the current total to 58. New

Omnisphere 2 is proof that


Spectrasonics loves Omnisphere
just as much as we do
style (organic, abstract, pulsing and so
on) its pleasing to note a new Spotlight
EDM library that demonstrates just
how contemporary Omnisphere 2s
synth engine can sound.
Of course, having a patch library of
more than 12,000 sounds can be both
a blessing and a curse, so its
interesting just how much effort has
been expended on the Patch Browsing
functionality. This is immediately
noticeable in the Mini Browser that
populates the left-hand side of
Omnisphere 2s interface, which makes
browsing far quicker than before. The
full-sized browser has also been
In-use tip
Some of the best Soundsources for the
granular engine are musical phrases. Try
searching for Soundsources with the PHR
prefix under the Soundsource Browser (the
Gamelan Orch samples are our favorite
choice). Once loaded, enable the Granular
engine under the Oscillator Zoom page. Notice
how the sound appears scattered qualities
that you can adapt using Grain Depth and
Intensity controls.

models include a wealth of extra


distortion and amp modelling effects,
some vintage phasers, flangers and
a chorus unit, as well as some more
contemporary offerings in the form of
Quad Resonators and Innerspace. The
Innerspace works as a form of textural
impulse response processor, imposing
the characteristics of a wealth of
samples (such as Coin Dropper or
Electric Power Tower) on the output
of Omnisphere.
Ultimately, theres far more included
in the Omnisphere 2 upgrade than we
could possibly hope to cover, so its well
worth looking at the new features list
online to see what else is on offer.
Almost every part of Omnisphere has
been revised, tweaked or expanded in
some way, with often seemingly simple
transformations having a profound
impact on what Omnisphere 2 can do.
From the Arpeggiators new Note
Transposition features, to an expanded
set of Modulation options, Omnisphere
2 exudes creative potential!

Alternatives
Omnisphere 2 has a sound of its own, but there are other means of
getting similar results from other software instruments. Native
Instruments Absynth (169) includes a Granular Synthesis module and
imparts the same organic-like quality on many of its sounds. Wed also
argue that the expanded DSP waveforms and their wavetable-like
operation mimic the sound and operation of Native Instruments Massive
(169), which is a popular tool among many EDM producers. Ultimately,
the Omni moniker is an apt description, with few other instruments
offering the sheer breadth of imaginative, other worldy sounds as
Omnisphere 2.

Omni potent
Having developed one of the most
feature-rich virtual instruments ever
produced, it would be fair to say that
Spectrasonics had its work cut out
trying to improve on the original
Omnisphere. More than a means of
simply extracting a $249 upgrade fee
from its users, Omnisphere 2 is a
complete root and branch rethink on
the initial release a wouldnt it be
great if brainstorm thats delivered an
instrument that has never sounded
better, nor offered a greater amount of
creative potential. If nothing else,
Omnisphere 2 is proof that
Spectrasonics loves Omnisphere just as
much as we do, and that its unique
blend of electronic and psychoacoustic
sound is here to stay!
Even seven years after the release of
the original Omnisphere, its a telling
sign that a stream of new instruments
and sample libraries seek to sell
themselves as the ultimate
Omnisphere killer. While some
developers have got close to
Spectrasonics greatness, theres little
doubt that a revitalised Omnisphere will
arguably set a new gold standard for
the next five years an instrument that
many developers will seek to emulate,
but few will succeed in equalling.
Thanks to some genuinely innovative
features, not to mention a wealth of
extra sonic material to play with, its
hard to imagine any software
instrument delivering the same breadth
and sheer sonic excellence as
Omnisphere 2 does. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Exhaustive upgrade
+ Expanded synthesis options
+ Audio file import
+ More effects units
- Might take a lifetime to explore!
A superb upgrade on one of the
finest virtual instruments money
can buy. Omnisphere 2 oozes class
and sophistication and should be
an essential purchase for all.

10/10

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13/11/2015 14:03

MTF Reviews Best Service Era II Medieval Legends

BEST SERVICE

ERA II Medieval
Legends
Eduardo Tarilonte is the busiest man in
the worlds of sound design and fantasy;
and when these worlds collide, the
results are majestic and glorious.
Andy Jones takes delivery of his latest
title to discover, well, a new era

while back, Era II arrived in the


MusicTech offices with some
drama. Perhaps I should have
expected it given the collections
themes of high fantasy, dragons and
princesses. And given the man behind it
MT favourite Eduardo Tarilonte, the
man who spawned such wondrous
collections as Shevannia, Cantus and
Altus maybe I should have even
expected it to be delivered by arrow,
perhaps with orcs involved somewhere
down the line. But a limited edition
certificate, poster and money pouch
certainly piqued my interest.
No money in the pouch, sadly, just a
mysterious chess piece a King since
you ask which turned out to be a
32GB USB stick with the software on it.
Whether you get this drama (and
chess piece) is uncertain, but you will
get its all-important contents, and
luckily the collection easily matches the
drama of its delivery

The dawning of the age


Installation is straightforward. If you are
lucky, its by way of your chess piece or
by download. You can even, rather
quaintly, opt for a boxed DVD version.
Its a 20.9GB collection, one of the

102 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Era 2.indd 102

Details
Price 259
Tel
+49 (0) 89 45228920
Web
www.bestservice.de

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
biggest around and especially hefty for
an Eduardo collection, but theres a lot
in it. Before we get into that, though, its
worth mentioning the new Best Service
player that Era II comes with, as its
certainly the first time Ive come across

youll find parameters such as levels for


Wood or Pluck Noise, and these vary for
each instrument you load. Theres also,
usefully, an Info sub menu, where you
get details about the instrument you
have loaded and what is available

If you think its just lute


strumming then think again
(although thats there too)

Key features
20.9GB library
10 flutes, 8
reed, 3 brass, 9
bowed strings,
4 war horns, 13
plucked strings,
3 keyboards,
20 percussive
instruments,
1 singing voice
AU, VST, Mac, PC,
standalone

it. It is, as you might expect, a shell from


which to run Era and other BS titles,
and the engine appears as an
instrument within your DAW, like any
other plug-in. You then load in Eras
presets within it as you would with
Kontakt, either stepping through using
the up and down arrows or loading new
options in via a browser on the
right-hand side of the screen.
You can use the Quick Edit menu as
your main instrument area, as it has the
Era front panel and a few of the main
dials and sliders (for volume, effects
ADSR and more). Here, you can also
access a Controls sub menu, where

sample-wise chords, legatos and so


on mapped across the keyboard. Its a
useful section and when you explore it,
the scale and detail of what is in the
collection quickly becomes apparent.

A lot
And there really is an astonishing
amount going on, research-wise,
instrument-wise and sonics-wise.
Its a collection of early folklore
instrumentation, with all sorts of
obscure examples from around the
world. So if you think it comprises some
clichd lute strumming, then think
again Eduardo and his team have left

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:03

Best Service Era II Medieval Legends Reviews MTF

ERA II: MAIN SCREEN


Within the Best Service Player, use the Quick Edit
menu to play the main parameters of Era.

ERA II: CONTROLS


Access more of each instruments parameters
within the Controls sub menu. Here, four are working.

ERA II: INFO


Useful background detail on your chosen
instrument in the Info sub menu, plus key mapping.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: THE BROWSER


The new BS Engine, here showing the Browser and
loading the same Era II 2 Holed Flute sound as above.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: PRO EDIT


The Pro Edit menu allows access to more parameters,
including, in this case, LFOs.

BEST SERVICE ENGINE: MIXER AND MORE


You can also go deeper within the engine to
access main parameters or mixer routing options.

no medieval stone unturned (although


that lute is thankfully included, too).
Instrument-wise, there are Brass,
Key, Wind, String, Voice and Percussion
categories, but comparisons to a
traditional orchestra end there. This is
about boisterous gents singing about
rum in a tavern while a fidule plays in
the background; or bagpipes and war
horns sounding while armies gather.
Its Eduardo, its fantasy, its taking some
ancient but very real instruments
gothic harp anyone? and putting them
into a new fantastical context.
And, typically, theres a set of
soundscapes that acts as a full stop to
the collection almost a throwaway
folder, but to my mind full of some of
the best combinations of sounds in the
collection; and as ever I want more!
Finally, quality-wise, as its Eduardo,
you know that each instrument is
recorded superbly and we love the

recording detail supplied (a Neumann


U87 before you ask) and mapped
correctly (not too extremely), with lovely
variations in playing style also easily
available across different keys.
So its a thoroughly astonishing
collection a museum of ancient
instrumentation and a fantastic
resource. At the very least, its a record
of times and instruments gone by, but
for todays producer its a wealth of
history to tap in to and slightly
left-of-centre instrumentation to make
your compositions stand out from the
rest. And in that sense, it scores higher
than other Tarilonte collections simply
because you can apply it to so many
more genres, as its less specific.
So its a worthy update to Era, but
those who opted for the original should
check the Best Service website, as they
will own a lot of it; although we think, on
balance, the 99 update cost is well

Alternatives
It would be very easy and somewhat lazy of me to say that if you want something
fantastical, stick with Eduardo, as he really is the go to man when it comes to these
collections. Still my favourite has to be Shevannia: The Voice Of Elves, but in reality its
not comparable with Era II in terms of content, concentrating as it does on voices and
atmospheres. You can read more about the differences in these collections some
subtle, some not so in my individual reviews at MusicTech.net. I also wonder if there
will be some kind of best of Eduardo out at some point, or is that really just some kind
of high fantasy?

worth it. And those new to the Era


world? Well on the strength of Era II, it
really is time to take a visit. MTF
Note: As we go to press, we hear the
Limited Edition collection of Era II has
sold out, and that it contained extra
soundscapes and two voices: Bard and
Heroica. While this is a shame, these
extras might become available in 12
months time.

MTF Verdict
+ Fantastic-sounding instruments
+ Some great left-field inclusions
+ All well recorded
+ Additional playing styles and
variations very useful
+ Its a sonic museum!
+ Its Eduardo!
- Era I owners should check the
extras before deciding to update
- The limited edition has sold out
Era II could be seen as a great
collection for instrument
completists, but its been put
together in such a way that we can
all discover some amazing new
sounds and textures, and apply
them to many different styles
of production

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV Era 2.indd 103

| 103

13/11/2015 12:03

MTF Reviews Toontrack Hip Hop EZX

if you prefer you can record notes into a


MIDI track in your DAW instead and edit
conventionally there. You can change
playing styles easily, swapping open
and closed cymbal hit types, full and
side snares and many more, to tweak
the kit.

Mix it up

TOONTRACK

Hip Hop EZX

Hip-hop has its own requirements when it comes to


beats. Hollin Jones finds out if Toontracks latest
expansion pack can do the business

Zdrummer is one of the most


popular sample-based drum
instruments around, partly
thanks to its friendly interface
and features such as the innovative
Song Builder that enable you to create
backing tracks. It runs as a plug-in as
well as a standalone application. Its
also expandable, and one of the latest
expansion packs is Hip Hop! EZX,
produced by Mattias Eklund and
Alexander Juneblad.
This pack requires an existing
installation of EZdrummer 2 or Superior
Drummer 2.4.2 to be present on your
system. Unlike some other samplebased ecosystems there isnt a free
version of a player in which you can load
it. This might be an issue for anyone
who wants the sounds but doesnt
already have the player software,
though in fairness since the expansion
pack is designed to take advantage of
most of EZdrummers features, its not a
surprise that it requires an existing
install of some kind.
The installation process is simple
and, once completed, the collection
appears as a list of kits and as a
selection of preset patterns in the MIDI
browser. You can mix and match these,
and this applies to any other kits and
patterns you have in your library.
Everything follows your host tempo and
since loops are MIDI triggered, time
stretching isnt a problem.

Boom bap
There are 22 kit presets featuring 16
acoustic snares and 18 acoustic kick

104 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT148.REV Toontrack.indd 104

Details
Price 69
Contact Time+Space
01837 55200
Web
www.toontrack.com
System requirements
EZdrummer 2 or
Superior Drummer
2.4.2
2GB hard disk space
2GB RAM

Key features
22 mix-ready
kits
16 acoustic
snares
18 acoustic kick
drums
Hundreds of
acoustic and
electronic
percussions
sounds
Custom MIDI
grooves
Tweakable
playing styles
Multichannel
audio out routing
Master effects

drums, as well as hundreds of acoustic


and electronic percussion sounds a
full list of the samples is available on
the website. Graphic-heavy drum
instruments havent historically always
been the most efficient to actually use,
but EZdrummer and this expansion
pack make a good job of it. Each sound
in use is mapped to an on-screen
element, and wherever you see an
arrow, it means that element can be
swapped out for a different one. In fact,
clicking the arrow not only reveals a list
of alternative hits for that slot but also
volume and pitch controls, plus the
current MIDI mapping details.
Theres no visual or audible lag in
triggering the sounds with the mouse
(which some instruments suffer from)
and in addition to MIDI keyboard
mapping, there are options to connect
and map MIDI drum kits as well, which
generally offers a better playing
experience for drummers.
The kits cover a lot of ground, from
vintage funk-based hip-hop through to
modern-day neo-soul and southern
trap. The patterns are really well put
together, and mixing and matching
patterns with kits can produce some
interesting results. Of course a vintage
beat with a vintage kit has a classic
kind of a sound, but swapping the kit
and playing a boom bap beat with more
modern, electronic drums can sound
excellent as well.
You can drag loops into the timeline
and make some edits, removing notes
by type, though theres no direct MIDI
grid edit as youd get in a DAW. That said,

Theres an onboard mixer section with


the ability to send up to 16 individual
outs for more flexible mixing in your
DAW, and for processing individual
sounds through external effects.
EZdrummer has some effects of its own
though they seem to work on the
master output of the kit and its not
possible to swap them out, merely to
have them on or off and change their
settings. The Song Creator feature is
handy though, allowing you to build
verses, choruses, fills and so on. For
more serious work youll want to use it
inside a DAW to take full advantage of
the more advanced MIDI and effect
processing features that are available
to you there.
The hip-hop drum sounds in this
expansion pack are excellent and cover
a wide range of styles, from classic
hip-hop through to more processed,
filtered and affected kits. Its a shame
you cant modify effects chains inside
EZdrummer (this is possible in Superior
Drummer) though you can easily route
channels out and process them
externally, which isnt a huge hassle. The
preset patterns are very useable and
you are, of course, free to program your
own beats and make extensive changes
to kits and the playing styles of each
individual hit. If you happen to own
EZdrummer, then this pack comes
highly recommended. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Excellent hip-hop drum sounds
+ Great MIDI loops
+ Mix and match kits and patterns
+ Route creatively into DAW mixer
+ Easy-to-use interface
+ Covers lots of stylistic bases
+ Decent price
- You need at least EZdrummer 2
already installed
- No free player option
- No full MIDI editing in the app
- Cant modify effects chains
An excellent collection of hip-hop
beats covering many styles. Youll
need EZdrummer 2 though, which is
arguably limited in a few areas.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:49

Sonokinetic Tutti Vox - Cinematic Choir Reviews MTF

Alternatives

SONOKINETIC

Tutti Vox Cinematic


Choir
After a string of orchestral products with a stylish
GUI and a unique way of working, Sonokinetic has
released a cinematic choir library in a similar vein.
Keith Gemmell sings its praises
Details
Price 299
Contact via website
Web www.
sonokinetic.net
Minimum System
Requirements
NI Kontakt and free
Kontakt Player 5.1
and up

Key Features
48-piece
Cinematic Choir
(SATB)
3 Kontakt
instruments:
Tutti Vox Core
Glissandi,
Clusters, Vocal
FX, Tonal &
Atonal Beds;
Tutti Vox Lingua
Chants &
Sustains;
Tutti Vox
Spoken
Spoken words
and Phrases
16- & 24-bit
formats

lthough not exactly


commonplace, there are
several conventional
high-end choir libraries
around that allow you to program
complete soprano, alto, tenor and bass
choral works some with word
builders, others with just oohs and
aahs. Sonokinetics new 48-piece choir
library, though, is rather different in that
the content is geared mainly towards
producing cinematic choir effects.
However, melody writing has not been
abandoned completely, because theres
also a phrase builder for constructing
conventional tunes and harmonies.
A third section contains a selection of
spoken words.
Everything was recorded in the
same hall as sister libraries Capriccio,
Grosso, Minimal, Da Capo, Tutti and
Vivace. As such, the ambient sound of
Tutti Vox blends well with all of them.

Core blimey
The bulk of the library consists of a Tutti
Vox Core patch, with an amazing
collection of the kinds of choir effects
most libraries only touch upon atonal
risers, falls, crescendi, decrescendi,
clusters, ethereal beds and constantly
evolving soundscapes, some over 40
seconds long. There are plenty of
whispers, words and shouts, too.
If youve not used any other
Sonokinetic products before, with so

much information to cram in, you might


find the GUI a little intimidating. If so,
the online videos should be your first
port of call. However, if youre familiar
with Capriccio or Grosso, youll feel at
home straight away because all three
programs are conceptually similar. Also,
there is a help screen available with
useful information about each aspect
of the interface.
Unless you choose the alternative
light patch, there are four microphone
positions (Close, Decca Tree, Wide and
Far). However, they cannot be mixed,
and whichever one you choose will
affect the entire patch. A workaround is
to open a second patch on a different
track, select a different microphone
position and mix them in your DAW.
Just as in Grosso and Capriccio,
icons are used to visually represent the
different phrases on offer. Its a neat
system, once you get used to it. If you
read music, though, you might find it
easier to select phrases using the
notation supplied. This is what the
singers worked to when they recorded
them. The phrases themselves are
numerous, and divided into four
categories: Glissandi, Vocal FX, Beds
Atonal and Beds Tonal. With such an
abundance of material in the Tutti Vox
Core patch, inevitably, some phrases
are rather similar to each other, and
after a while a certain air of sameness
begins to creep in.

Most choir libraries contain effects of some


sort, but they are often something of an
afterthought. Thats not the case with
Requiem, which has more than 1,000 effects
articulations. Voxos, too, has a large range of
effects and clusters split into male and female
sections. VSLs Choir features a much smaller
range of SATB creepy voices.

Latin lingo
Two further patches, Tutti Vox Lingua
and Tutti Vox Spoken, are for
constructing sung phrases and spoken
words respectively. In the case of
Lingua, the process is quite
complicated, and for that reason two
options are available: Quick Play and
Advanced. The words, naturally enough
for what is a cinematic program, sound
Latin, but are mostly fantasy words,
built around oft-used vowels and
consonants. In Quick Play mode, very
effective phrases can be easily
produced, but its worth the extra effort
to learn how to use the advanced
section, which features a full SATB
choir. Impressively, each section can
sing different words simultaneously.
As a cinematic choir library, Tutti Vox
is exceptional with an enormous variety
of choral effects and depth of control.
However, it is complex software with
a fairly deep learning curve, and some
video watching and manual reading are
essential to get the best from it.
Although conceptually similar to
Tutti, Grosso and Capriccio, the vast
amount of material is overwhelming,
and in places rather similar. For that
reason, we didnt find it quite as
inspirational as the other products in
this series. That said, theres much to
commend it a new approach to choir
sampling, a very realistic sound with
unique and highly imaginative phrases,
and all the necessary ingredients for
cinematic productions. In other words,
a first-class library thats well up to the
usual high Sonokinetic standards. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Imaginative choir effects
+ Compatible with other
Sonokinetic libraries
+ Good phrase builder
- Awkward mic mixing
- Some effects rather similar
One of a kind, a complete library
crammed with imaginative choir
effects, along with sung phrases,
spoken words, an excellent phrase
builder and good editing facilities.

8/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT151.REV Tutti/Vox.indd 105

| 105

13/11/2015 14:10

MTF Reviews Secret Base Design Music IO

For PC
& Mac
that allows you to send audio and MIDI
back and forth between your Mac
(Windows support is coming) and your
iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. It does all
this using your standard USB charging
cable, so no extra hardware is required.

Your serve

Value

$
Innovation

SECRET BASE
DESIGN

Music IO

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

The mobile and desktop music worlds


have been frustratingly disconnected
for too long. Hollin Jones discovers all
that is about to change with Music IO

or all the ways in which iOS has


become a very capable and
competent platform for making
music with the many advanced
apps and processors that now exist on
it, theres still a gulf between the mobile
and desktop worlds when it comes to
continuity of workflow. Put simply,
meshing the two platforms together for
music is fiddly at best, involving either
swapping project files via the cloud or
iTunes file sharing section, or
essentially sampling audio from one
device to another. Neither is particularly
satisfactory in 2015.
Enter Music IO, a simple but
potentially revolutionary new concept
that aims to address this problem. Not
everyone wants to buy an iPad dock: as
good as they are, its extra expense and
you probably already own an audio and
MIDI interface for your computer
anyway. Music IO is a three-part system

106 | Logic Pro X 2016

MT149.REV MusicIO.indd 106

Details
Price 7.99
Contact
Via website
Web www.
musicioapp.com
System requirements
iOS 7
Mac OS X 10.7

Key Features
VST and AU
plug-ins
Stream four
channels of
32-bit stereo
audio in both
directions
Link iOS and OS X
Bi-directional
MIDI
Uses Inter-App
Audio
BridgeClock
MIDI sync
Configurable
latency and
monitoring

The first part of the system is a


lightweight server app that runs on your
Mac and acts as a gateway for the two
devices to communicate. There are also
special VST and AU plug-ins (one of
each format) that are inserted into
audio tracks in your DAW to enable the
flow of audio back and forth. On the iOS
device, an app uses Inter-App Audio,
CoreAudio and CoreMIDI to act as a hub
for compatible instruments, DAWs and
effects processors. The idea is that
everything becomes linked, so you can
play your iOS synth from a MIDI
keyboard attached to your Mac and
record the audio straight back into the
Mac at the same time. Alternatively, you
can send an audio track out from your
Macs DAW to be processed by a guitar
module on your iPad and, again, record
it back to the Mac. This all happens
down a single Lightning or 30-pin Dock
connector cable.
The potential uses of such a system
are clear to see. Youve been able to
incorporate external music hardware
into a DAW fairly easily for some years,
but iOS devices limited native port
offerings have always meant buying a
special adaptor or iOS-compatible
interface until now. In practice, it
works very well. Your IAA-compatible
apps appear inside the iOS app, and you
can load up to four instruments per
instance of the plug-in. Sound is
transmitted in 32-bit stereo back and
forth, and tapping on an app on the iPad
will open it and enable you to use its
controls, while sound continues to be
transmitted in the background.

In practice
To record in your DAW, you need to
insert the plug-in onto an audio track
then set its output to a group or bus
channel. Then, you create a second
audio track with its input set to that
group or bus, and the plug-in funnels
sound from the input of one channel
out to the other. This is ever so slightly
long-winded it would be ideal to be
able to do it on a single track but its
far from being a deal breaker. You

manage monitoring using the Mac


server app and, also, latency
compensation both here and in the iOS
app. I found it was possible to achieve
latency so low it was basically
non-existent, although it felt like this
was related, to an extent, to the specific
iOS app in use. Some apps exhibited a
little more latency and some a little
less, though none were particularly
problematic. Music IO also sends MIDI
back and forth, and once connected,
the iOS device appears as a source and
destination to your system. This is even
easier than audio since MIDI just flows
between the two and, as noted, you can
use your Mac and any hardware
connected to it to trigger the iOS
instruments, so no extra interfaces are
required. Again, latency is extremely
low, which is not surprising since MIDI
needs far less bandwidth than audio to
stream across a connection.
Music IO is a clever solution to a
problem in the music technology world:
how to literally bring your iOS
instruments and effects into your
desktop DAW setup. This, it manages
commendably and without any extra
cables or accessories. There are a few
elements that could be smoother and
more refined, but development seems
to be constant and the list of upcoming
features on the website connecting
multiple iOS devices, sample rate
conversion suggests great things
ahead for this software. If youre looking
for a way to unify your iOS and OS X
music platforms, this is the best
solution around. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Really works
+ Requires no extra hardware
+ Affordable
+ Integrate iOS and OS X better
than ever before
+ Enables use of iPad/iPhone as a
second computer
+ Very low latency is possible
- No Windows version yet
- Latency can be at the mercy of the
apps you use
- A few minor workflow
rough edges
A deceptively simple way to link iOS
and OS X for audio and MIDI and
unlock the full creative potential of
your iPad.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:22

Sample Logic Cinematic Guitars Infinity Reviews MTF

SAMPLE LOGIC

Cinematic
Guitars
Infinity

Choice

Guitars are perfect for scoring, but can Sample


Logic really deliver 2,400 trillion sounds?
Hollin Jones finds out

uitars are one of the most


sonically diverse instruments
around, thanks to the vast
number of ways they can be
played, recorded and processed. When
it comes to sound design, many of the
most interesting uses for guitars dont
involve conventional playing techniques
at all, which is where Cinematic Guitars
comes in. This latest release from
acclaimed virtual instrument developer
Sample Logic actually combines four
collections into one location to create
a 25GB sample and synthesis-based
monster thats targeted at sound
designers and composers. It runs in
Kontakt Player free or full versions, and
as such can be a standalone or a
plugin-based instrument.

Details
Name Cinematic
Guitars Infinity
Manufacturer
Sample Logic
Price $599.99,
upgrade
pricing available
Contact
via website
Web
www.samplelogic.
com
Minimum System
Requirements
Kontakt 5 Player or
Kontakt 5 Retail
Mac OS X 10.8, Intel
Core 2 Duo
Windows 7
4GB RAM

Four in one
What you get is all three Cinematic
Guitars collections, plus the Infinity
collection, which is a somewhat
different beast. The first three increase
in complexity and capability as you go,
since each version is newer than the
one before. Versions 1 and 2 are very
serviceable collections of sampled and
processed guitar sounds, and version 3
which is in fact completely new
adds a lot more control in the area of
effects and tweaking. It also has a step
animator for creating dynamic and
sequenced patches, and all three
collections are great for sound design
and composition. There are sound beds,
loops, textures and percussive patches,
that range from deep and ominous
through to bright and airy. Clever use is

9/10
9
9/
10

made of effects to add depth and width


to the sampled guitars, and many of the
patches are altered so much that they
dont sound like guitars but more like
ethereal synthesisers.
When you get to the Infinity
instrument, things get really interesting.
With a much more advanced design, it
enables you to morph up to eight sound
sources through four sound cores and
blend them using the 3D mixer, which
Sample Logic claims is a first for the
Kontakt platform. The four cores orbit
around a central mixer, and each one
has identical controls and can be
switched on or off. For each category,
there are presets that can be loaded for
each core. Then theres a volume control
with a step animator for creating
movement; a panner, also with its own
animator; and another configurable
animator section, where you can draw
in steps, choose from presets or morph
between two sequences. Multiply these
options by the four cores and you have
a huge amount of flexibility.

Work in 3D
Key Features
25GB
sound library
Four collections
in one
4 soundcores, 8
sound sources
XY slider and
3D mixer
Step animator
Randomiser
Multiple effects
2,000 sounds

In the centre is the 3D mixer, providing


a way to morph organically between all
the active cores, which alter their
luminance accordingly: a nice touch.
Youre also able to record and play back
movements in the mixer, and there are
presets available for this, too. In a
second tab, the large step animator
from CG3 is also available, so you wont
want for animation options. Moving
down, you get to the effects section,
with six effects each with a control

panel and plenty of knobs and buttons.


A stereo widener is also available, and
theres a master cut section, as well as
a randomiser button that will punch in
all-new settings.
Sample Logic claims that between
the various sections and combinations
of settings there are more than 2,400
trillion possible setups in Infinity. While
Im not about to test them all, its pretty
safe to say that there is an incredible
amount of tweaking you can do at
almost every stage of the instrument.
Many of the 750 presets are eminently
usable straight out of the box and
would fit perfectly into any TV, movie or
game score or indeed modern music
production. Its really nicely designed,
too, with an advanced yet clear
interface that pushes the limit of whats
possible with Kontakt.

To Infinity and beyond


If theres anything to watch out for, its
that you dont get overwhelmed by the
number of options. Its sometimes
necessary to solo one of the cores while
editing it, so you can hear what effects
your changes are having. Thats not a
criticism, more a way to ensure that you
use the many sections to their full
potential. Its also often easy to make
quick changes to get the result you
want, such as moving the mixer or
turning an animator on or off to calm
a patch down or liven it up.
This is a powerful, comprehensive
scoring instrument with the depth of
editing features that some users will
require, yet a plug and play immediacy
that will suit those looking for
cinema-ready sounds without spending
too much time digging around. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Sounds incredible
+ Perfect for scoring and
sound design
+ Huge amount of content
+ Almost infinitely tweakable
+ Infinity is extremely flexible
+ 3D Mixer and XY sliders
help creativity
+ Friendly design
- Multitude of options could
become overwhelming
- CG 1 and 2 maybe not
as impressive as the
newer components
A superb cinematic scoring
instrument with a wealth of
features and near-infinite
customisation options.

9/10

FOCUS Logic Pro X 2016

MT150.REV Cinematic.indd 107

| 107

13/11/2015 12:50

MTF Reviews Korg iM1

Excellence

10/10
KORG

iM1
The release of Korgs classic 1980s digital synth for iOS has Andy
Jones re-opening a three-decade old wound. Can he gain closure
and actually tell us if its any good? We doubt it
Details
Kit iM1
Manufacturer Korg
Price 14.99
Distributor
Korg UK/App store
Contact
Tel: +44-190-8304600
Web
www.korg.co.uk/
iTunes
Requires
iOS 8 or later

Key Features
Runs on: iPad
Gen3/4, Air 1/2,
mini 1/2/3
Polyphony: 2
to 64 notes,
depending on
iPad (Air 2 = 64)
Modes: Combo
plus 8-part multi
Sounds: up
to 3,300 with
expansion cards
(450 without)
Performance: via
MIDI keyboard,
touch Kaoss
and keyboard

m actually shaking a little bit while


writing this. Just a tiny bit. Im
reviewing Korgs iM1 the M1 synth
for the iPad and have hit that
Universe preset. Suddenly, Im instantly
transported back to my music
technology college 25 years ago, to the
midst of a frankly rather ridiculous, but
still bugs me more than I care to admit

The bloody M1
No, even I cant deny the impact that
the Korg M1 synth (workstation if
I must) had on, well, everything.
Alongside the Roland D-50 and Yamaha
DX7, it bolstered its Japanese makers

Loads of big-padded, fake


acoustic stuff; loads of LA; loads
of old brass; loads of unsubtle
late 80s sh*t; loads of money!
argument over which company made
the first synth workstation. Was it
Roland, with the D-20 the synth I
owned? Or was it Korgs M1 my friend
Jons keyboard? Whoever won that
particular geek-ument is lost in the
mists of time (it was me) but its now
largely immaterial. One of said
keyboards went on to sell gazillions,
becoming the synth of the late 80s and
early 90s, appearing in the TOTP rig
every week and basically soundtracking
an entire generation. The other ended
up in the second-hand pages of a
magazine. (I got 150 for it, if you must

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ask just over a tenth of the student


grant I spent on it).

coffers during the transition from


analogue to digital synthesis and it
certainly defined an era in music,
although I actually happen to think that
the era in question wasnt all that good.
Dreadful even. From about 1984 to
1989 the world of pop music went, for
want of a better expression, totally tits
up, and the M1 and its ilk were largely
responsible (alongside Stock Aitken
And Waterman).
Luckily, then, Korgs designers and
lets give them a bloody big pat on the
back, as theyre on a bit of a roll at the
moment have opted to produce the

M1 in all of its glory (and inglory, if that


is a word), plus a lot more besides.
Load it up and you get six sound
packs included, plus options to
increase these (just like adding cards to
the original); and a very neat touch is
that when I booted up Korgs excellent
Gadget, it gave me the option to load in
iM1 to join the brilliant range of synths
and drum machines in that app. Great
stuff so far

The Universe and everything


So, to the presets, and I have to say that
they easily transformed me into my
21-year old, rather stupid self. They are
there, although the rather bland original
front panel of the synth is not
(thankfully) as present as youll find on
Korgs analogue iOS ports. Instead, you
get parameters to play with and instant
hands-on control, something the
original never had unless you
squinted through menu after menu.
You get 100 sounds in each of the
first three banks (M1, M1EX and
Memory), plus 50 each in Synth1,
Drums1 and Orchestra1. Optional
expansion cards available include M1
Card Pack (16 titles) and T1 Card Pack
(11 titles), each just 3.99, which Ill be
reviewing next month in MusicTech.
Of the ones supplied, for anyone
who is in any way M1-orientated, its

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:05

Korg iM1 Reviews MTF

the wondrous and aggravating journey


you will have expected. On one hand,
you get those amazing Combinations
(great walls of sound or Splits to play
entire keyboard parts) and presets like
the aforementioned Universe (so good it
appeared on every Gary Numan album
during his fallow period). But then, in
what seems like random preset
ordering, you end up with a corny sax
preset straight out of a low-rent 1980s
porn film
This means you get, then, what you
damn well should: an M1 pianos
aplenty; loads of digital; loads of big
(shoulder) pads; loads of fake acoustics;
loads of LA; loads of old brass; loads of
big, in your face unsubtle late 80s sh*t;
loads of money!
So, if you want ethereal walls of
atmosphere that launched a thousand
Enyas youve come to the right place
[mmm, a thousand Enyas Ed]. But this
is the M1, so youve also come to the
Alternatives
A real Korg M1 and a couple of Kaoss pads. Oh
and some expansion cards. Or get yourself a
Roland D-20. I know someone who can do you
a really good deal.

right place for a big dollop of Black


Forest Gateaux. But you knew that.
Thats why youve read this far. As
I said, the M1 was infuriating. It was
second to none when it came to
creating atmosphere, but it was also
the synth that overdid the digital thing
so much that it arguably (and I am
stretching history just a little here)
ended up kick-starting dance music as
people rebelled against it. (Im not still
thinking about that three-decade
argument at all, you understand).

And calm
Well that review was a journey if ever
there was one. And a very bitter version
of me would conclude that the M1
wasnt as good as everyone said, and
that this app deserves to go the way of
the D-20. But with the extras Korg has
added, I simply cant make that
argument. Theres the fact that you can
effectively use it as a multitimbral
sound module in your studio set-up; the
fact that you get the Kaoss pads to give
you extra control; the fact that you get
true control over the sounds and extra
parameters that we all wanted at the
time; and finally the fact that you can

MTF Verdict
+ Great sound
+ Great price
+ Easier to use than the original
+ Fantastic new additions add lots
of real-time options
+ Some brilliant presets
+ its an M1
- Its an M1
- Some terrible presets. As there
should be
- It wasnt the first original synth
workstation (well someone had to
say it)
Its an M1 but, like the cars around
at the time of the original, Korg has
added not just go-faster stripes but
a new engine, new stereo, new
reflective paint and a blonde sitting
in the passenger seat with more
peroxide than the whole of 1989.
A page 3 stunner of a synth.

AT2020
USBi

T50RP Mk3
Manufacturer Fostex
Price 115

Manufacturer Audio Technica

Contact SCV Distribution

Price 179

T: +44 (0)3301 222500

Contact Audio Technica

E: sales@scvdistribution.co.uk

T: 0113 277 1441

W: www.scvdistribution.co.uk

E: sales@audio-technica.co.uk

10/10

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

W: eu.audio-technica.com

ostexs RP series of
headphones recently moved
to Mk3, but already has a
great reputation in studio circles
for close monitoring. The first
thing to note is that you may need
a headphone amp to drive them at
high levels, because a flat
frequency response has
effectively resulted in a lower
sensitivity. What this means is
that they are suited for long and
accurate mixing sessions. The
volume limitation forces sensible
listening, while the flat response
really doesnt flatter, nor does it lie.
What you hear, particularly
bass-wise (not so much highmids), is accurate. They wont suit
those after loud, but such
accuracy at this price is rare. MTF

expand its palette by thousands of


sounds that came out long after the
original. In fact, all I can say is top marks
Korg, its a souped up M1 even I cant
argue with. And all I can now say to
Roland is Your turn? MTF

T
Key Features
Type: Semi-open
Frequency
response: 15Hz35kHz
Impedance: 50
ohms
Max i/p: 3000mW
Sensitivity: 92dB
(at 1kHz, 1mW)
Weight: 315g

MTF Verdict
Great accuracy for those after
an unflattering signal for less
of a cash outlay.

8/10

his is the third incarnation


of the AT2020 that weve
looked at, and its fast
becoming a go-to mic for all
sorts of applications. This i
version is extending that list
because the i stands for iOS (the
clue is in the picture), and it
features a Lightning cable on
top of a great set of accessories.
The mic is one of the best USBs
out there negligible noise, little
colouration where you dont want
it and a great sparkle, all brought
into your mobile devices.
Weve not been convinced of
the iPads complete studio
credentials until some releases
for it this year, and this further
seals the deal. MTF

Key Features
Cardioid USB mic
Up to 24-bit
96kHz recording
Freq Response:
20Hz to 20kHz
Dimensions (mm):
162x52
Accessories:
stand mount,
protective pouch;
tripod desk stand;
USB and Lightning
cables

MTF Verdict
The original scored well, as did
the USB version, and so the i;
completes a hat-trick for AT.
The 2020 is a superb mic
solution all round

9/10

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13/11/2015 12:05

MTF Reviews Siren Audio Generative and Feedback

before you start you will need to give the


manual a pretty thorough read: the
quick start manual at the very least,
and preferably the main manual as
well. These arent really pick up and
play tools, youll need to invest some
time in learning how they work even if
youre quite experienced with music
technology. This is often the case with
applications that have been built in
Max/MSP, as they can be pretty esoteric
and experimental.

My generation

SIREN AUDIO

Generative
and
Feedback
Sometimes you want to make your
own unique soundscapes. Hollin
Jones unwraps the unusual and very
affordable Generative and Feedback
from Siren Audio

ax/MSP is something that


not all musicians have
heard of, but those who
have studied synthesis
almost certainly will have. Its an
environment for building software
instruments and effects, and its been
around for quite a few years, gaining
functionality as time has passed. Unlike
coding applications from scratch, Max/
MSP provides a bunch of audio-specific
building blocks to help a developer get
started, though its still no joke actually
making something that works. Play
around with it for a little while and youll
quickly start to appreciate the difficulty
of building your own software.
Generative and Feedback are two
processors from independent developer
Siren Audio. Built in Max, they run on
Mac or PC and are standalone
applications, not plug-ins.
Authorisation is done via a challenge
and response system, and you need to
email a code off to get an unlock key
back. Once thats done, the apps are
fully functional. Its worth noting that

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Details
Price Feedback 2 25
Generative 2 30
Both bundled
together 50
Contact
Via website
Web www.sirenaudio.
co.uk
System requirements
Windows XP or higher
Mac OS X 10.4.11 or
higher
4GB RAM
Java installation

Key Features
Granular
synthesis
Onboard effects
Randomisers
Record output
Create drones,
loops and
textures
Load your
own files
Fine-grained
control of audio
processing
Live input

Lets begin with Generative. This is


designed to transform sound from a file
or an external input into evolving
soundscapes by using granular
synthesis. The idea is that synthesis
parameters constantly change, as do
playback position, volume and panning.
You can load a sample or specify any
audio input on your system to get sound
into the processor. Each granular device
must have a number of segments that
get used as destinations for its
playhead or playback position. Once
a sample is inside the instrument, it is
analysed and the results are used to
drive the granular synthesis engine.
There are a number of controls inside
the main area of the applications
window, and some are contextual,
changing based on what you select.
Truthfully, you have to wrap your
head around what the app is actually
trying to do before you can start to
properly navigate around. Filters are
available at different stages in the
signal path and there are aux channels
and effects, too, such as delay,
distortion and reverb. Contrast in the
interface could be a little stronger, as
sometimes buttons dont initially seem
to be buttons: its all a bit dark. When
you do get a sound running and being
processed, the results are suitably
experimental and ambient. These kinds
of sounds are increasingly popular, not
just for installations but also
soundtracks for movies and TV, as
composers look to go beyond regular
synth sounds and create entirely new
soundscapes and textures. Generative
can certainly do that, though youll
benefit from being willing to delve into
its deeper workings.

Good feedback?
Feedback 2 is a different beast and
takes audio from a file or external input
and sends it to 20 different delays, each

with its own delay time, time variation


and gain settings. The idea is that the
compressed output of these delays is
fed back into the delay line, the result
being the possibility of creating infinite
feedback. As such, its designed to be
good for creating layered sounds,
drones, loops and textures. This is not
dissimilar to Generative, though the
way its achieved is not the same.
In addition to the delays, there are other
effects, including compression, filtering,
reverb and distortion, and the output of
the app can be recorded to a file in fairly
flexible ways, letting you choose which
parts of the signal chain get recorded.
Again, its a little complex to look at,
though the layout is easier to trace
signal through than is the case in
Generative. Its results are very
experimental and great for building
textures, drones and loops.

Sound of the Siren


These are two powerful audio
processors that will be of great appeal
to those with a keen interest in
synthesis and sound design. Theyre not
for beginners, and its true that turning
sound into more complex sound is a
feature available elsewhere, such as in
Izotopes Iris synth.
That being said, these are
significantly more affordable and
similarly powerful, provided youre
willing to get into the nuts and bolts of
how they work. Demo versions are
available that, although feature-limited,
will give you an idea of what theyre all
about. At such affordable prices,
dipping a toe into the water isnt all that
much of a gamble. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Great for textures and
experimental sounds
+ Ideal for soundtrack work
+ Makes unique sounds
+ Very affordable
+ Teaches you about
signal processing
+ Compatible with older OSes
- Quite a learning curve
- Interfaces could be a little clearer
- Requires investing some time to
get the best results
Unusual, but powerful signal
processors with tons of in-depth
control for those willing to take
advantage of them.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:24

U-He Hive Reviews MTF

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
U-HE

Hive
To make your tracks sound unique,
you need a synth thats powerful
and adaptable but doesnt blind you
with science. Hollin Jones gets
together with U-Hes Hive
Details
Kit Hive
Manufacturer U-He
Price $149
Distributor U-He
Contact Via website
Web www.u-he.com
System requirements
Mac OS X 10.5
or higher
Windows XP or higher
1GB RAM
Multicore CPU
with SSE2

erman developer U-He has


been steadily growing its
stable of software
instruments and effects over
recent years and the latest is Hive, a
soft synth thats designed to be light on
your CPU and easy to use even for
beginners. It comes in all major formats
for Mac and PC and will run on
operating systems that have been more
or less abandoned by most software, as
well as the latest versions of Mac OS X
and Windows.

Look and feel

Key Features
2 oscillators, 2
sub oscillators
3 synth engine
characters
Up to 16x unison
per oscillator
2 multimode
filters
Arpeggiator and
step sequencer
12-slot
modulation
matrix
7 effects
Drag and drop
mod assignment
MIDI learn

Although the synth looks quite busy, its


been designed to operate as far as
possible in a single window to cut down
on the need to open lots of separate
sections. Thanks to some clever
workflow design, its rather easier to
navigate and work with than an initial
glance might suggest, and the colour
scheme is easy on the eye. At its heart
are two oscillators, each with a sub
oscillator and a full set of controls.
Oscillators can be set to mono, poly, duo
or legato modes, with up to 16 voices of
unison. The osc sections, like most
other parts of the synth, have dropdown
menus attached that give you access to
presets for each section. So its possible
to call up a preset for any section rather
than having to alter the whole
instrument using a master preset. This
is something thats being used more
often in soft synths, and its great from
a user perspective. You can, of course,
save section presets of your own too.
The synth engine has three
switchable characters: Normal, Dirty
and Clean, and after leaving the
oscillators, signal passes to the two

multimode filter sections. The filter


controls can be locked by right-clicking
on any parameter and choosing Lock.
This is really useful, as it means no
accidental altering of a parameter
youve spent ages getting right. Theres
also MIDI learn available to assign any
hardware to almost any control inside
the interface. Beneath the filters are
separate amp and mod envelope
sections, as well as LFOs all with
detailed yet easy-to-follow controls and
dropdown preset menus invaluable
for calling up your favourite settings.
The large central area is where you
can start to make things a little more
interesting. It has two main sections,
the first of which is an arpeggiator and
sequencer. Punch in the note, velocity
and expression settings required, add
ties and alter the swing, attack and
direction, plus a bunch of other
parameters, and its easy to create cool
sequences in a couple of minutes. Its a
fun and friendly system for animating
your sounds, but also has plenty of
depth and options. The second part of
the central area concerns effects, and
there are seven that can be used at
once, and even dragged and dropped
into a different order to change the way
they interact. As elsewhere, this is easy
to follow, and each effect has its own
controls, with presets also available.
At the base of the synth is the
modulation matrix, and there are 12
slots available with two targets per slot.
You can choose parameters from a list,
open a preset or drag and drop from the
source slot to any compatible
destination inside the interface. So to
assign any slot, you just drag it to the
control you want to modulate. This kind

of setup is becoming increasingly


common and its very welcome here,
making assignment straightforward.

Hive mind?
For all Hives undeniable depth of
programming and tweaking
capabilities, its 2,700 presets are
excellent and you may well end up
using a lot of them as they stand. The
sheer number on offer means that in
addition to the kind of stuff you would
expect dubstep basses, trance leads,
acid sequences you get a fair amount
of stuff thats a bit more gentle:
shimmering pads, delicate arpeggios
and the like. Its probably geared more
towards heavy sounds, but its capable
of subtlety, too. And thanks to the
eminently approachable interface,
turning one sound into another isnt
difficult. Hive covers a great deal of
sonic territory and should find a home
in almost any setup as a great go-to
synth for cutting-edge production. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Good, friendly workflow
+ Panel presets are very useful
+ Excellent preset patches in
many styles
+ Powerful arpeggiator
+ Flexible effects
+ Clever modulation assignment
+ Highly tweakable
+ Adaptable to different genres
- No VST3 version
A very solid and adaptable synth
for a range of electronic and other
styles of production. Great
workflow and tons of presets.

9/10

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13/11/2015 12:51

MTF Reviews Native Instruments Emotive Strings

Sound editing is limited, which is not


such a bad thing with this type of
prerecorded material where speed and
efficiency is all important. Two types of
set EQ, a normal or wide stereo image
and close or stage mic choices, are all
thats available apart from a basic
convolution reverb.

Sweet themes

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS

Emotive Strings
Emotive Strings is full of moving legato
string phrases and arpeggios. Keith
Gemmell is overcome with emotion
Details
Price 249
Contact
NI 0845 5272006
Web
www.nativeinstruments.com
Minimum system
requirements
Free Kontakt 5 player
or Kontakt 5.
Download: 21.2GB
(28GB compressed).

fter the success of Action


Strings, it was always on the
cards that Dynamedion would
produce a calmer sister
library to compliment the former
librarys inherent aggression. Well, its
arrived and its called Emotive Strings.
As expected, the format is very similar
to Action Strings, with 175 string
orchestra phrases, two microphone
settings and 64 themes, which are
groups of up to five phrases that work
well together. The free Kontakt 5 player
is required to run it.

Melody maker

Key features
Instant legato
string phrases
Fast scoring
results
Motion picture
appeal

Ease of use and fast scoring are the


main objectives here and a MIDI
keyboard controller, complete with
Mod Wheel is needed to achieve them.
Just like Action Strings, all the phrases
are contained within a single
instrument, so theres no tedious
browser searching. Once loaded in
Kontakt, everything is plain sailing.
Phrases are selected with the left hand
and played with the right. They are, of
course, pre-recorded but much can be
done to manipulate them including
altering their pitch, either completely or
at any point in the phrase. You can load
up to ten at a time, depending on the
type of phrase selected.

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Alternatives
Grosso and Capriccio (299): both work on a
similar principle to Emotive Strings but are
more complicated to use, although never
difficult. Also, theyre both cheaper and, as well
as strings, they cover woodwinds, brass and
percussion sections.

Single Pitch mode is probably the


most useful because you can play
chords and melodies using straight and
triplet patterns as well as ostinatos.
Automatic divisi also comes into play
with Single Pitch mode: play two notes
and the string section is divided into
two sections with the same number of
players retained.
In Melodic mode, phrases can be
switched between major and minor
with velocity control. Also with Emotives
you can build legato melodies and runs
from phrases that were played legato
during recording. These ebb and flow
beautifully in conjunction with the
modulation wheel.
Whereas Action Strings was chock
full of aggressive phrases and
ostinatos, Emotive Strings is much
gentler with plenty of smooth, flowing
legato lines. Ostinatos are also present,
of course, because modern film and
game music demands them but here
they are played legato and more and
suited to subtle background work. The
phrases are short, simple, effective and
vibrato free, ideal for blending with
other libraries. You cant add vibrato but,
again, much can be achieved
emotionally with the mod wheel.

Much of the material has a dreamy,


haunting quality about it and thats
reflected in the theme titles
Storyteller, Dancing Snow, Hollow
Winds, to name just a few. Others,
though, have a sturdier character such
as Last Stand and Shadow Hunters,
adding variety to the menu.
It would be easy to snobbishly
dismiss Emotive Strings as just another
set of pre-recorded phrases but theres
no denying their usefulness, especially
for busy composers on a tight deadline.
Yes, there are limitations, particularly
when it comes to editing the sound and
stereo positioning and, of course, you
cant get at the individual string
sections, but an awful lot can be
achieved with this library we found it
very inspirational.
The collection has a polished sound
from the start, and musical material
extracted and analysed from hit movie
scores should kick-start just about any
composer with a mental block. Also,
once you get moving you probably wont
be able to stop because as well as
blending the material with other
instruments, its even possible to
crreate melodies and even complete
compositions with this library.
If youre looking for a very easy-touse simple string library, this is it. If
youre familiar with Action Strings youll
have no trouble adapting because the
basic structure of both libraries is the
same. Emotives musical material,
though, has a much lighter, smoother
character and a haunting quality. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Expressive string phrases
+ Simple to use
+ Ideal for motion picture work
+ Fast workflow
- Limited sound editing
- Cant access individual sections
The perfect partner for Action
Strings, Emotive Strings is a
brilliant piece of simple-to-use
phrase-based software for quickly
scoring haunting legato string lines.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:34

ProjectSAM Swing! Reviews MTF

Alternatives
Theres nothing else around at present to
match the eclectic mix of light-hearted jazzy
instruments and ensembles offered by Swing!
Garritans Jazz & Big Band is perhaps the
closest match for ease of use, with an
abundance of ensembles and solo
instruments suitable for light jazzy scoring,
but its nowhere near as stylised.

PROJECTSAM

Innovation

Swing!

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

Choose your style

Looking for a light-hearted, jazzy approach to


film scoring? Youll find it in this new library.
Keith Gemmell gets into his swing
Details
Kit Swing! - The Jazzy
Film Scoring Library
Publisher ProjectSAM
Price $349
Contact
Via website
Web
www.projectsam.com
Minimum System
Requirements
Minimum Kontakt
version: 5.4.2
Mac: OS X 10.8
or higher
PC: Windows 7 or 8

Key Features
Big band
ensemble
articulations
Brass section:
mutes and solo
instruments
Sax ensemble
articulations
Guitars, basses
and jazz drums
Tempo sync
guitar and drum
grooves
Script switches
intelligently to
half or double
tempo
On-screen
velocity and
modwheel
mapping

ention the term cinematic


sampling to most
musicians and blockbuster
trailer music or scores such
as the Batman series spring to mind.
What about the gentler styles of music,
though, required for many other score
types, such as dramas, comedies,
nostalgia, film noir or childrens films
not to mention music for games?
These genres are often neglected by
sample library developers. ProjectSAM,
an innovator of ensemble-style
cinematic sampling, has produced its
fair share of the heavy stuff in the past,
but has redressed the balance with this
latest offering, Swing! a jazzy film
scoring library. It runs in Kontakt 5.4.2
and up and the free Kontakt Player.
Recorded in two different locations
(the concert hall used for Symphobia
and a studio environment), Swing is
divided into two main sections: a
comprehensive collection of big band
ensembles and lead instruments, plus
17 multis in various styles, ranging from
light Hawaiian and Parisian music to
heavier West Side Story-type swing.

Swing low
Swing! encompasses an eclectic
mixture of instruments and ensembles.
Notable patches, for example, are as
diverse as a jolly lap steel guitar and
a couple of deep and moody low
ensembles featuring trombones and
a contrabassoon - very film noir. Theres
also a juicy big band legato, an

Playing ranges are somewhat


restricted, too, and frustration soon
crept in when we couldnt play the next
note in our mental melody line because
it was just out of range. That said, in our
experience, restriction is often an
advantage a route to creativity, and
Swing! is perfect in that respect. Go
with the flow, dont fight it and the
results will be excellent.

evocative gypsy guitar and a clutch of


big band ensembles, complete with sax
and brass sections. The saxophones,
however, were recorded as ensembles
only with no solo instruments. The
brass, too, is strong on ensembles, but
does contain some muted solo
trumpets and trombones.
In keeping with the playful feel of
much of this library, the rhythm section
is necessarily lightweight, featuring
acoustic guitars and ukeleles. Note the
lack of a piano (apart from a toy one for
lead work). Its just not needed. Double
basses, Fender basses and three
percussion sets underpin the
strummers a useful GM drum kit and
another containing some excellent
snare brush fills, cymbal rolls and
flams. The third one is devoted to
finger snaps.
The interface is excellent minimal
on the surface, but with an impressive
variety of controllable features
accessed using the keyboard, velocity
range and modwheel. The coloured
keyboard ranges are self explanatory,
but the modwheel and velocity controls
are more complex controlling, as they
do, many different features such as
staccatos, mutes, vibrato, slides and
so on. Its no big deal once you get used
to it, but some patches are tricky to play
accurately in real-time without a fair bit
of velocity curve editing, either in the
software itself, on the keyboard
controller or within the DAW that youre
working with.

The multis are intriguing, each designed


for a specific musical context or genre,
with titles such as A Game Of Chess,
Aloha, Django, Opening Night, Tango
Shoes and Trench Coat. Inspiration is
the priority here, and the imaginative
instrument combinations on offer
should enable you to make light work of
creative composition.
While its entitled Swing!, this is in no
way a heavy big band library, although
its possible to produce that type of
music to a certain extent. Its much
lighter than that, and really rather
playful with a healthy mixture of light
jazz swing and lively big band
ensembles, some containing the
seemingly bizarre combination of
gentle ukeleles and screaming high
trumpets. In theory, that shouldnt work,
but somehow it does - and sounds
quite brilliant as a result.
Despite its slightly restrictive
features, this a special library, totally
unique and highly recommended to
musicians who like producing music
with a lighter touch for films, games
and commercials. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Light-hearted feel
+ Sounds blend well
+ Very stylised in a good way
+ Highly controllable
- Range restrictions
- Limited solo instruments
- Tricky velocity control
Swing! is a brilliant library, thats
totally unique with a light-hearted
mix of styles for jazzy film scores
- enjoyable to work with and a very
creative tool.

9/10

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13/11/2015 14:04

MTF Reviews Zero-G Haunted Ground

Alternatives
Of course, sample companies such as
Loopmasters supply all sorts of sound
effects and atmospheres but tend to go for
more musical or genre-led collections,
although Samplephonics does have ethereal
guitar collections and a sci-fi one on sale
that might offer something sinister. Better
still, you could have a lot of fun searching for
some of the original vinyl recordings of some
of those old scratchy BBC sound-effect
libraries I mention in the text and have pictured here (it was Vol.13 for the
record). Rather less fun and a whole lot more sound effects can be
had by buying the originals on a hard drive from companies such as www.
sound-ideas.com for around $600 (for everything!), or more simply from
iTunes for around 2.50 a download. So take your pick, but always check
under the bed before you part with your cash

ZERO-G

Haunted Ground

Need creepy effects and atmospheres for your game or film


soundtracks? Or are you a producer carving out terror in dark
musical genres? Andy Jones opens his laptop under the sheets

do like a good old creepy,


abandoned place. Perhaps its an
unhealthy fascination with
post-apocalyptic movies, or
perhaps Ive been tempted by too much
Facebook see the creepiest photos of
abandoned places on earth click bait.
Haunted Ground is inspired by the
character of such places, and sound
designer Adam Pietruszko took a year
to come up with a collection designed
to give insight into the afterlife of these
seemingly dead and quiet buildings,
and to imagine the ghosts of workers
and inhabitants roam the rooms, halls,
corridors and attics, longing for the life
that had been taken away from their
homes. The machines, furnaces and
tools remember their duties, but their
shift is over. Creepy stuff, then

Details
Title
Haunted Ground
Manufacturer
Zero-G
Price
55.95
Distributor
Time+Space
Contact
+44(0)1837 55200
Web
www.timespace.com

Creating the creep


Haunted Ground reminds me a little of
a collection of BBC sound effects that
I had on vinyl when I was a kid, one put
together by Beeb boffins recording
things such as knives cutting through
cabbages to simulate decapitation
(really!). Pietruszkos methods are
somewhat more up to date, in that he
uses a few choice studio items that he
is refreshingly happy to divulge,
including using a semi-modular
analogue synth setup a Moog Little

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Key Features
1.665GB
download
652 Acidized Wav
files; 652 AIFF
Apple Loops; 751
Kontakt Insts;
751 EXS24 Insts;
751 HALion
Insts; 751 NN-XT
Instruments

Phatty Tribute Edition with CV Out Mod,


a collection of Moog Moogerfooger
analogue effects and a WMD Geiger
Counter digital wave-shaping distortion
unit. No vegetables, then, were killed in
the recording of this collection
The results are spread across four
categories: Entities and Spirits,
Exploration Echoes, Forgotten
Atmosphere and Forsaken Technologies,
and while you could probably argue over
which goes where until the (very probably
decapitated) cows come home, its nice to
see an attempt to categorise a collection
that could be so difficult to label.
And, on the whole, its a very
successful collection. Sure, synth fans
will know that a little LFO wobble here
and there can easily create similar
effects, and will see how he did it, but
Adam has also employed sufficient but
not overpowering effects to take
everything beyond its constituent parts to
the other side of eerie.
Highlights include some of the
Entities, which offer a sound reminiscent
of the blast of noise the aliens made in the
(not actually that bad) remake of War Of
The Worlds. Not quite as terrifying, but
well worth a blast at your neighbours at
3am*. The collection excels with these
drone types, and also echoey physical
effects stuff hitting other stuff, things
being dragged, other items incorporating

lift shafts that kind of industrial noise,


only in a far creepier context.
You could use some of the sounds
particularly in the Exploration Echoes
folder as incidental effects across many
other genres of music (deep house tracks
are often made by great incidental
flourishes, and there are many on offer
here), and in the Forsaken Technologies
folder there are even musical ideas that
you could use to underpin tunes with
basslines especially.
But that would be slightly missing the
main point, though, as this is full of
warped atmosphere to be used as
soundscapes rather than melodies.
And in that sense, you might find it a little
samey with some of the sub-categories
over flabby (I dont really need to buy so
many Electrical Fault sounds when I have
a studio full of loose plugs that give me
the same sound). Nor is it a collection to
turn to if you have very specific needs.
Indeed, you get the impression that you
need to listen to it and then do the music,
rather than the other way around, to make
the most of it. But that, at the very least,
makes it an inspirational place to start all
manner of dark work MTF
* Blasting neighbours with ghostly noises at
3am is not encouraged by MusicTech nor
Anthem Publishing.

MTF Verdict
+ Very high-quality recordings
+ Good variety of formats
+ Descriptive categories work
(on the whole)
+ Can be used as inspiration
+ Will work well with additional
effects added
+ Some are genuinely scary
- Very specific
- Some sub-categories have rather
too many only slight variations
- Not easy to find specifics, as titles
can be vague
Specific frights may be hard to find,
but the haunts are here, plus a
ghoul lot more. Thats the spirit, etc

7/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:24

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17/11/2015 11:31

MTF Reviews MunroSonic Egg100 Monitoring System

MUNROSONIC

Egg100 Monitoring System


MunroSonic has added a new smaller monitor to
its range. Mike Hillier cracks open the Egg100
Monitoring System
Details
Manufacturer
sE Munro
Price 1,299
Contact Sonic
Distribution
Web www.
munrosonic.com

Key Features
Stereo active
control unit with
two 30W RMS
power amplifiers
Bass reflex
speakers
Two-way
passive
crossover
25mm HF unit
100mm LF unit
Two-year
warranty

he MunroSonic Egg100
Monitoring System is the new
smaller sibling to the
distinctive Egg150 Monitoring
System. Like its bigger brother, the
Egg100 is a complete system,
comprising dedicated left and right
speakers, coupled with a control unit
and amplifier. The speaker design uses
the same curved, infinite baffle design
as the Egg150s in the distinctive egg
shape, but with a smaller enclosure
housing a four-inch driver.

Simple set-up
Setting up the Egg100 in our studio was
a fairly simple process; the speakers
come with two-metre Speakon cables
to connect to the control unit, and
unlike the larger Egg150 system there
are no Aux inputs, just a pair of XLR
inputs. Also gone is the Mid EQ, leaving
the front panel much simplified, with
only a volume pot, power switch and
headphone port. On the side of the unit
are recessed HF and LF filters, enabling

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close room equalisation of the


speakers, with precision
potentiometers giving up to 10dB
attenuation on each channel. Our

perhaps have been called the Egg Cup.


The Nest enables you to tilt the
speakers to correctly align the system
to your workspace, without blocking the

The Egg100 is a complete


system, comprising left and right
speakers and a control unit
studio has been treated, and we have
a fair amount of space between the
speaker stands and the nearest wall, so
we opted to simply roll a small amount
of high frequency from the top end,
while leaving the bottom end flat.
In smaller spaces, however, it may
be useful to also dial out a little bit of
the low-end.
The Egg100 system comes with
a newly designed vibration damping
stand, which has been named the Egg
Nest, although given its shape it should

port. Correct alignment of the system


isnt quite as easy as it was with the
Egg150 system, however, as the clever
little blue LED, which made aligning the
Small alternatives
Genelec 8010s make for a more portable
system than the Egg100, as the amp is built
into the speaker itself. However, this has other
compromises in sound quality, which
MunroSonic has been able to avoid by keeping
the two separate. Both would make excellent
small monitors, and will sound far superior to
a larger system in a small room.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:50

MunroSonic Egg100 Monitoring System Reviews MTF

larger Egg speakers so simple,


is absent.

Sounds familiar
The first thing we noticed when
comparing the Egg100 with our own
Egg150 system in the studio was how
similar the overall sound was. The
larger system sounded bigger, having
more low-end, but the soundstage was
remarkably similar, and the system
sounded similarly detailed and open,
with plenty of fast transients. Anyone
used to working on one set of these
speakers will be able to transfer to the
other quickly.
We spent a while getting used to the
system with favourite mixes of our own,
and a few from our reference tracks
selection, before setting off on a mix to
see how it would translate from the
Egg100s to bigger systems. We began
with a piano-led folky piece, with a

speakers, was still holding the track


together, gluing the string arrangement
to the guitars. Switching to mono, the
track folded up a little, and some of the
string elements started to sit on top of
each other, but the vocal was still
evident above the instrumental bed,
and the kick, snare and bass guitar
were still driving the song forward. Most
noticeably, the bottom end seemed to
be just right, with the bass guitar sat
above the sub-frequencies of the kick,
and no noticeable thinness from our
scooping of the kick. Nothing we would
be embarrassed handing over to a
mastering engineer.

multiband compressor on the low-end


of the bass to ensure it kept a solid
consistency at the bottom. The end
result sounded great on these
speakers. Switching first to our larger
rig, and then to headphones, it was

The larger system sounded


bigger, but the soundstage
was remarkably similar
fairly big arrangement taking in a string
quartet, acoustic and electric guitars,
full drum kit and electric bass. The
biggest issue was the midrange, which
was incredibly busy, with so many
instruments vying for space. The
midrange on the Egg100 system is very
focused, however, and with plenty of
spatial detail, finding a space for each
element was quite simple. The next
issue was the kick drum, which was
sounding muddy and seemingly
occupying the same space as the
bass guitar. The kick has plenty of
energy, so we opted to scoop out
some low-mids, making room
for the bass guitar in the
process, and then used a

obvious that our mix was translating


well. The midrange elements all
maintained their own space. The piano,
which we had worked hard to sit in the
stereo field with enough width to sound
like a full grand piano, but not so much
as to steal all the bandwidth in both

No yolk

The Egg100 comes in


red, white or black
with a dedicated
control unit and
amplifier (above)

For anyone working in a small room, the


Egg100 system is a great option, and
MunroSonic tells us its working on
a sub-woofer to be paired with the
system, should anyone want to add that
low-end back in. In an ideal world, wed
be working in bigger rooms on more
full-range systems; but with more and
more of our time spent in small spaces,
systems such as the Egg100 are a
necessity, so its a good idea to invest in
a great system such as this. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Comes in red, white or black
+ Dedicated external amplifier
and control unit
+ Excellent stereo soundstage and
transient response
- Too small for large rooms
- Simplified control unit
The Egg100 Monitoring System
produces a big sound from a
small package.

8/10

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13/11/2015 12:51

MTF Reviews Focusrite Clarett 8Pre

FOCUSRITE

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

Clarett 8Pre

Focusrites latest high-end interfaces not only look stunning but are touted as better, faster and
easier with new Control software to boot. Andy Jones checks out the new 8Pre
Details
Price 899
Contact Focusrite
T: +44 1494 462246
E: sales@focusrite.
com
W: http://uk.focusrite.
com/

Key Features
18 in, 20 out
Thunderbolt
interface
Low latency
means you can
use your DAW
plug-ins in
real time when
recording
Eight pres with
Air feature for
added recorded
realism.
24/192
conversion with
up to 119dB
dynamic range
Focusrite
Control with
mixer workflow
and Red 2 & Red
3 AAX, AU & VST
plug-in suite,
Supported
sample rates: 44.
48, 88.2, 96, 176,
192 kHz

ocusrite does a good interface,


we all know that. We also know
that the company does a lot of
interfaces so perhaps a quick
recap is in order before we jump in to
look at its latest, the Clarett 8Pre.
Broadly speaking, Focusrite splits
its ranges by interface protocol, so the
Forte, iTrack and Scarlett ranges are all
USB2.0; the Saffire all FireWire 400/800
(with a Thunderbolt option); the Clarett
(on test here) is Thunderbolt only; while
Rednet is Ethernet. Ive made that
sound quite simple, but anomalies and
additions do crop up: the Saffire 6 is
USB and theres the iOS standard,
which Focusrite has covered with iTrack
Solo and iTrack Dock. Like I say, easy.
So Clarett is Thunderbolt only, and
the future: a superfast connection
standard present on later Macs
(Windows compatibility on the way)
including the Mac Im testing it with.
Theres no Thunderbolt cable present in
the box and Ive moaned about lack of
cables with Focusrite gear in the past
(Saffire PRO required a FireWire to
Thunderbolt one). The company states
that including one will add too much to
the price so would rather leave this
optional purchase up to the user.

Software too
We also need to talk interfacing
software too. As you probably know,
most interfaces come with a layer of

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MT152.REV Focusrite Clarett 8Pre 2pp.indd 118

software that sits between your DAW


and interface, a necessary evil, I always
say. This is, after all, the only software
the interface manufacturer can control
as the DAW itself is produced by one of
a dozen other companies.
This software, then, should provide
you with a stable environment within
which to control and route your audio
from and to your interface and DAW. In
Claretts case its the newly-updated

a flexible recording beast for multiple


mic set-ups, with the eight mic pres
able to take up all sorts of duties: from
drum kit to complete band recording, or,
as with me, simply having a bunch of
analogue gear plugged into and playing
alongside my soft synths.
With a host of outputs combined
with the Control software, you can route
pretty much any in with any out, so set
monitor mixes for different players or

8Pre really does make using


your DAW plug-ins for latency
free processing a reality
Control software, which certainly looks
slicker than the Saffire MixControl
software Im used to. So, lots to cover

In use
The 8Pre has 18 audio inputs and 20
outs with eight analogue ins and 10
outs plus eight ADAT I/Os and stereo S/
PDIF I/O making up the remainder.
Channels 7 to 10 are shared with both
headphone outs each with
independent rotaries and front panel
connections. Inputs 1 and 2 are also
located on the front panel and eight
rotaries next to these control input
levels across the eight analogue ins. Its

have a couple of separate headphone


mixes easily enough connectivity and
routing flexibility for lots of scenarios.
Getting Clarett up and running was
almost stupidly straightforward with
my MacBook running Logic Pro 10.2. I
downloaded the latest version of the
Control software (1.0.2 at time of
writing) and Logic picked up the device
straightaway. A quick firmware update
and we were good to go a surprisingly
quick process compared to some of my
experiences with other interfaces
(including, it has to be said one of
Focusrites older Saffires) where a
certain amount of ordering of power-

FOCUS

17/11/2015 11:12

Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Reviews MTF

ups might be required to get software


and hardware talking. Not here, though;
the outputs on Claretts screen were
flickering with Logics straight away.
Focusrite Control is a big
improvement over MixControl in terms
of looks. It is clean, almost app-like in
nature you can see it transferring to
an iPad easily. The layout is
straightforward with outputs running
top (monitors) to bottom (ADAT) on the
left of the screen. Inputs meanwhile run
from left to right with all selectable
from a menu to the right. Similarly the
20 DAW playback channels are shown
below, again all selectable so you can
show as many or as few as you wish.
Device Settings, including monitor
set-up and line or instruments inputs
for channels 1 and 2, are accessed with
the other tab. Again, its all very
straightforward and a lot more obvious
than with other interfacing software.
The other main selling point with
Control is the addition of its own plug-in
suite of Focusrite Red EQs and
compressors, all neatly displayed on
screen and to add extra versatility
if needed. As good as they are, in
truth there other features that now
require attention

Speed v quality
Clarett is touted as better, faster and
easier. So far its scored well on the last
point, both in terms of setting up and
the software, but what of the other two?
Speed comes down to latency so
another recap is in order. Were talking
about the amount of time it takes for a
signal to get through an interface and
processed by your computer before
being spewed out again. That time
depends on your computer, the sample
rate (quality) of your audio, and how you
set up your buffer size (the lower the
better). You may use a higher sample
rate so need a large buffer size to
handle the extra data (or else your CPU
might struggle, resulting in audible
crackling). This means a larger latency
and an audible gap betwixt the note

pressing and hearing. Not good. There


are direct monitor or ultra low latency
features that reduce latency but Clarett
is Thunderbolt, so a fast connection
standard. And the big gain with this
kind of speed is the ability to use your
DAW plug-ins when recording, so no
extra hardware processing is needed
When testing it, though, there are a
lot of variables: number of tracks,
effects, processor load etc. And if you
are just mixing prerecorded audio,
latency isnt such an issue only really
a factor in live playing or monitoring an
input instrument.
I set the interface up with both
external instruments and internal Logic
soft synths and internal fx processing.
In practice, I was able to get it down to
3ms without any problems on a
new(ish) Mac, so nothing to worry about
at all. Dramatically increasing the
buffer size to maximum (which wasnt
actually necessary) resulted in 23ms.
Even pushing it with plug-ins heaped
on to push the processor didnt really
change the results. Certainly, in this
instance, 8Pre really does make using
your DAW plug-ins for real-time latency
free recording a reality.
In terms of quality I actually lined
Clarett up with a much cheaper option:
sister company Novations Audio Hub. I
also dug out a Prism Titan that were
looking at thanks to its new found lower
price tag, but it is still close to three
times the cost of an 8Pre.
In my tests Id say the Titan edged it
for certain tracks the depth of sound
is there and breadth is slightly greater
although Id probably struggle to point
one out above another every time in a
blind test. Against the cheaper option
the Clarett does have more presence
and its mic pres came into their own
with some of my analogue gear,
transferring the bass brilliantly on my
Sub 37. I even dared plug in my new
purchase Lewitt microphone no Im
not thinking of becoming a singer, its
merely a test item. The result again was
good in a transparent way, little

Slick, slim and


detailed, the Clarret
8Pre front panel has
thenow usual two
inputs for channels
1 and 2 and level
controls for 8 inputs
and mic pres with
correspoding LEDS.
Two independant
headphone outs
also add a great
deal of front panel
connecting
flexibility. Above,
around the back
you get just as
much connection
flexibility.

colouration but there seems to be a


presence added that is hard to define
but very positive and largely thanks to
the Air sound on the mic pres. This
adds a clarity and power to vocals,
emulating as it does, Focusrites ISA.

Conclusion
Overall then Clarett does everything
it sets out to do and very well. Its
certainly better with some great
mic pres offering superb recording
and the routing software offering the
ultimate in recording flexibility. Easier
too with that Control software taking
the strain out of having to use another
layer of software with your DAW
I especially like the fact that you can
simply display the channels you are
using rather than every one, used or
otherwise. And finally, faster? Ill admit
that my recording tests probably arent
exhaustive Im looking at this as a
device to plug multiple instruments into
a DAW set-up with less live monitoring
needed than some might need but
8Pre performed admirably well, with
zero latency and it will give multirecordists their speed.
One other thing: Focusrite seems
to have nailed any compatibility
issues certainly with Logic as this
interface was as solid as anything
during the test (which did involve
constantly plugging and unplugging
three different interfaces). So a very
solid interface for a whole host of
applications very highly
recommended indeed. MTF

MTF Verdict
+ Fantastic routing flexibility
+ Promises low latency and
delivers it
+ Rock solid
+ Control software is a joy
+ Easy to set up
- Windows compatibility not
available at time of writing (is
promised though)
Better, faster, easier it certainly is.
And flexible and rock solid too.
Thunderbolts are go (sorry).

9/10

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| 119

17/11/2015 11:12

MTF Mini Reviews

ELA M80
Manufacturer Telefunken USA
Price 229
Contact Unity Audio Tel: 01799 520786
Web
www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com

he M80 arrived in a sizeable


cardboard tube designed to
look like it contained fireworks.
Inside there was a zip up
pouch containing a stand clip and an
unusually smart hand held dynamic
microphone complete with rubbery
black finish for good grip and low
reflectivity, a nickel plated capsule grille
and arguably the most iconic badge
logo in the microphone world.
Several decades after its
introduction the venerable Shure SM58
is still the live vocal microphone all
others are pitted against. The M80 is
intended to present an alternative to
the SM58s midrange-laden tone. We
are also promised condenser-like
performance with the rugged
attributes of a traditional dynamic.
To achieve this Telefunken USA has
developed a low mass capsule with a

Key features
Cardioid moving
coil capsule
AMI/TABFunkenwerk
output
transformer
Output
impedance 200
Ohms
Frequency
response 30Hz
18KHz
Dimensions
48mm x 184mm
Weight 371.39g

super thin diaphragm.


The capsule assembly is
designed to reduce
proximity effect, thereby
allowing vocals more
low-end clarity and airy top
end. Inside theres also a
custom wound transformer
from the highly regarded US
manufacturer, AMI/TABFunkenwerk.
As you would expect the pickup
pattern is cardioid and the quoted
frequency response extends from
30Hz up to 18KHz. The M80
measures 48mm by 184mm and
weighs in at just over 370g. As well as
vocal applications, the M80 is also
recommended for snare drum and
electric guitars in the studio as well
as on stage.
The frequency response is anything
but flat and this is reflected in the

Fischer Viola
Manufacturer Embertone
Price $125
Contact via website
Web www.embertone.com

usicians humour can be


cruel sometimes and viola
jokes are commonplace in
many a band room. They
are said to have originated as far back
as the early 1700s when, after being
appointed head of an Italian orchestra,
a young violinist was such a bad
timekeeper that he was demoted to
playing the viola. Back then the violas
were mostly assigned filler parts. Today,
of course, they are an integral part of
the symphony orchestra. There are
many fine soloists around now, too, like
Christopher Fischer, the violist
performing on Embertones new virtual
instrument, the Fischer Viola.
Embertones other string
instruments, the Blakus Cello and
Friedlander Violin are renowned, not
only for their immediate playability, but
also for being highly configurable. It was
no surprise, then, to discover that their
new viola, based on similar principles,

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Choice

proved very expressive to play. This is


largely due to the extensive sampling of
the legato transitions at two dynamic
levels, one whispery quiet, the other
somewhat louder. Its a heavy CPU
feature, though, but can be switched off
for normal sustained playing. The other
three articulations are staccato,
pizzicato and tremolo, each extensively
configurable and controllable. For
example the staccato length can be
altered with CC control as you play.
Clever scripting also provides up to
eight players in ensemble mode with
options to humanize, randomize, alter
their intonation and pan each one.
Dynamics, slurs, bow position,
portamento and vibrato, all can be CC
controlled and keyswitches can be

9/10
9
9/
10
Key features
Dual layer legato
transitions (soft/
louder)
True legato bow
change/slurs/
slides
Phase-aligned
dynamic morphing
Bow positioning
between bridge
and fingerboard
Controllable
vibrato
8-player
ensemble mode
Dynamic/flexible
keyswitches

sound. The M80s upper mid and treble


lift is pronounced and certainly
reminiscent of some small capsule
condensers. Fortunately feedback
resistance is impressive and handling
noise is low.
At a short-ish distance the
midrange and low mids sound
somewhat lacking in body, but the
engineered frequency response makes
sense when the M80 is addressed as
intended up close and personal. The
tone fills out nicely, without becoming
boomy or losing intelligibility. MTF

MTF Verdict
The M80 comes with enhanced
detail and attenuated problem
frequencies straight out of the box.
It even has a preset HPF at around
250Hz. The SM58 is ubiquitous for a
reason. It works really well on PA
systems that are equalized for its
sonic signature. In contrast the M80
would be more effective with flat
response PA systems and vocalists
who sing up close perhaps to
backing tracks rather than a band.
The M80 is not better per se, but
what it is is a genuine high
quality alternative.

8/10

customized. For iPad and Android


tablet owners an app is available for
advanced Fischer control and a special
template is included in the
documentation folder. Embertone
highly recommend its use if possible.
That said, we didnt, and everything
worked amazingly well with a
conventional keyboard and modwheel.
We cant fault the Fischer Violin in
any way really except perhaps for its
rather dark interface (a woody imitation
viola) and peering at small red text on a
black background, isnt exactly
conducive to a fast workflow. However,
it scores heavily where things matter
most: tone, musicality and an
abundance of highly configurable
controls. Looking for a virtual solo viola?
You wont go wrong with this one. MTF

MTF Verdict
The Fischer viola is a very
expressive instrument to play from
the off and, at the same time, highly
controllable. The option to have up
to eight individual players is very
useful for blending with other
library sections. Highly
recommended.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:06

Mini Reviews MTF

Bombstrikes
Presents Bass Funk

Mainroom Techno
Production in Live

Manufacturer Loopmasters

by Paul Maddox

Price 29.95

Publisher Producertech

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Price 29.99

Web www.loopmasters.com

his is a heavy-weight
collection of breaks, glitch
and bass funk samples
created by producers from the
hugely successful Bombstrikes
label. There are patches spread
across a range of punchy drum
hits, whooping zaps and fx, bass,
guitars and subs, plus some
excellent female vocal adlibs.
Youll also find 202 loops including
party breaks, 808 glitch, and
tearing bass and lead lines,
alongside heavily processed and
chunky live funk bass, guitar and
drums. Some of the loops are a
tad over processed, but this is
countered by the excellent live
break loops. Overall it has fun and
well programmed patterns, and a
fair amount of variety. MTF

Key features

Contact via website

Bass funk, midtempo breaks, and


glitch samples
726MB of 24-bit
Audio, Acid WAV, Apple
Loops, Live Pack,
ReFill, REX2
64 Sampler patches
for Kontakt, HALion,
EXS24, Kong, NN-XT
& SFZ
202 loops & 310
one-shots
Written and
produced by artists on
the Bombstrikes label

MTF Verdict
A punchy collection of well
programmed riffs, and
simple but chunky beats,
backed up by some excellent
live instrument loops and
vocal adlibs.

8/10

aul Maddox takes a journey


into the hypnotic world of
mainroom techno in this
tutorial. It is divided into 11
modules and totals over 2 hours,
with all the relevant Live project
files, plus 150MB of bonus
samples from Loopmasters.
Maddox starts off by laying down
the beats before adding textures
and atmosphere, and processing
the entire drum group. Later he
looks at creating modular synth
arps using M4L devices and
macros, and chord stabs and pads
to fill out the track. It isnt a
complete track walkthrough but
Maddox covers the main elements
in a concise manner, and has
plenty of top programming tips. MTF

Key features
Mainroom techno
sound design in Live 9
Over 2 hours of video
11 modules
Written and
presented by Paul
Maddox
150MB of free
Loopmasters samples
plus accompanying
Live project

MTF Verdict
A concise tutorial on crafting
mainroom techno sounds
with some excellent sound
design tips that make good
use of Lives built-in tools
and devices.

9/10

Balearic Disco
Author Loopmasters
Price 34.95

Manufacturer Loopmasters

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Price 29.95

Web www.loopmasters.com

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Web www.loopmasters.com

9/10
9
9/
10

Web www.live-courses.com

Classic 90s
House Vol2

oopmasters has teamed up


with UK producer Audio
Jacker for another collection
of soulful, jackin 90s house.
Theres a hefty 1.3GB, spread
across 12 folders of loops, 8
construction kits, and a bunch of
one-shots with 33 accompanying
sampler patches. The production
here has a gentle simplicity, with
reverb on most loops and hits, but
when each element is combined it
forms a well-balanced, cohesive
mix. There are chunky live bass
loops, some satisfying piano and
Rhodes chord progressions, and a
useful folder featuring a single
funk guitar riff in different keys.
Despite a fair amount of repetition
and simplicity in some, there are
plenty of useful riffs for any house
producer to get stuck in to. MTF

Choice

Key features
Over 1.3GB worth
of 24-bit, classic 90s
house audio at 122bpm
Available in Acid
WAV, Apple Loops,
REX2, Live Pack and
ReFill formats
Inspired by Roger
Sanchez, Todd Terry &
Erick Morillo
98 hits with 33
sampler patches
Written and
produced by Audio
Jacker

MTF Verdict
Repetition of riffs aside, this is
a well written pack with some
excellent chord progressions
and clean production that
could be used as a good
starting point to your tracks.

8/10

his pack contains a large


collection of 80s synth pop
and Italo disco inspired
loops, with a mixture of vintage
synths and real instruments,
recorded to tape through an all
analogue signal path. It has 9
folders of chunky acoustic drums;
spaced out guitars processed
through vintage pedals; nostalgic
synths, pads and keys; and bulky
analogue bass patterns. The
percussion and live elements give
the drums an organic energy, and
the lush synth loops are all well
programmed and processed. Wed
have liked some presented in a
playable instrument format, and
found some drum and music
loops to be a little too full.
However, everything here is well
written, and the shear number of
loops means youre sure to find
some great hooks. MTF

Key features
Over 1.3GB worth of
24-bit, 80s synth pop
audio
Available in Acid
WAV + REX2 and Apple
Loops + REX2 formats
Features vintage
synths and real
instruments
100 to 120bpm, A, C
& G minor
Inspired by
Aeroplane, Todd Terje,
Lindstrom and more

MTF Verdict
Although there are no
instruments and some of the
loops are a little too full, the
majority of this massive,
analogue sounding library is
packed with hooks and
retro charm.

8/10

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MTF Mini Reviews

AMP1
Manufacturer BluGuitar
Price 485
Contact JHS 01132 865381
Web
www.bluguitar.com/english/AMP1.html

Key Features
100 watts of
guitar power
4 independent
channels
Pedal format
design
Live, studio
and practice
applications

he AMP1 is an unusual
analogue guitar amp in pedal
format. It features four
independent voice channels
and a 100-watt class-D power amp at
the core of which is a Russian
sub-miniature vacuum tube. This is
where you want your thermionics if
youre looking for authentic valve-style
character, punch and assertiveness.
You can run the AMP1 into any cab, go
direct to the desk or simply practise

using headphones. And its small


enough to take anywhere. While the
voice channels: Clean, Vintage, Classic
and Modern, arent modelled on
specific amps, the first three deliver
Fender-ish, Vox-ish and Marshall-ish
characteristics respectively. Modern is
designed for the high-gain metal arena.
As well as the necessary ins/outs,
theres an effects send/return and a
remote port this can be converted to
a MIDI port with a proprietary cable. The
units top panel features Master
Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble and
Reverb. There are globals and theres
a separate clean channel Volume, and
Gain and Master controls for the other
channels which have their own
selector. Independent tweaks to
channel tone and volume can be made
using the mini preset controls on the
units left-hand side. Here, youll also
find a control for the Boost level, series/
parallel effect loop switching and a
noise gate. Channel switching is easy:
the left-hand tromp switch toggles you
between clean and whichever

Apogee
Groove
Price 249
Contact Sonic Distribution
0845 500 2500
Web www.apogeedigital.com

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Key Features
USB 2.0
24-bit /
192kHz audio
Eight ESS
Sabre DACs
3.5mm
headphone jack
10Hz-20kHz
frequency
response
(+/-0.2dB)

MTF Verdict
BluGuitars Amp1 delivers a good
range and quality of tones and with
great customisation. A big sound
from a small box

8/10

only two buttons: volume up and


volume down. A mini-jack port at the
opposite side to the USB port provides
a connection to your headphones.
Sound-wise, the Groove is a
considerable improvement over the
headphone port on our MacBook; the
response is clean and clear without any
artificial enhancement a
disappointing feature found on far too
many PC laptops. Transients are
detailed and the low-end tracking is
excellent. We compared a mix using our
Lynx Aurora converters through the
headphone amp in our MunroSonic Egg
amplifier (a 4,000 chain) to the Groove,
and were very impressed with the
Groove which had perhaps a little
sweetness in the upper mid-range
when compared to our studio chain.
If you find yourself frequently editing
audio on the move, or you simply want
better audio quality from your system,
the Groove has to be worth a listen. MTF

Manufacturer Apogee

he Apogee Groove is a small


USB headphone amp aimed at
bringing studio-quality audio to
your laptop listening on the go.
The interface itself is barely bigger than
a packet of chewing gum, and while
lightweight, the Groove is built of
aluminium and has a solid feel. For
convenience when carrying the Groove,
it comes with a small carry pouch,
thats big enough for both the Groove
and the supplied USB cable. The Groove
packs four ESS Sabre DACs into each of
its channels, to achieve a dynamic
range of 117dB and incredibly low
distortion characteristics.
Groove connects to your Mac or PC
via USB, drawing power through the
USB connection. Three LEDs on the top
of the device provide quick visual
feedback for level indication. There are

secondary channel youve selected. The


middle switch activates the boost, and
the third is reverb on/off. The unit can
be reconfigured so that each switch
gives you a specific amp sound. Adding
the Remote1 controller creates a
further 36 memory locations.
The AMP1 sounds great right
across the palate of available sounds.
Theres plenty of clarity and definition
when you need it, and a totally
customisable range of top-quality
overdrive sounds. With a cab
connected, theres a noticeable change
of tone colour in the headphones
(a little less mid and a bit more bite)
because of the power amps reaction to
the current feedback. Different
speakers and arrays inevitably have an
effect on the overall sound, but this can
be tailored to personal choice.
Considering its diminutive footprint, the
AMP1 can get extremely loud! MTF

MTF Verdict

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

A great-sounding, lightweight
headphone amp and DAC. The
Groove will make editing audio on
the move a pleasure.

9/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 12:55

Mini Reviews MTF

Dub & Reggae


Sirens

Value

Publisher Loopmasters
Price 8.95
Contact info@loopmasters.com

Choice

Web www.loopmasters.com

9/10
9
9/
10

his new sample pack from


Loopmasters does exactly
what it says on the cover. It
simply sets to be the definitive
collection of dub sirens, with 87 of
the most common siren sounds
provided raw so that you can add
your own effects, and several
folders that have been processed
through an array of analogue and
digital delays and effect boxes.
Both the classic NJD siren (40
sounds included), and more
versatile Roots TS1 MK2 (74
sounds included) are present,
alongside a variety of synths
including the Moog Voyager, Pro
One, Elektron Analog Keys, and
Korg Kaossilator, plus you get
some real foghorns and air sirens
thrown in for good measure. There

more rounded collection. At the


time of writing the collection is in
a sale making what is already a
bargain an even more excellentvalue pack. MTF
are also a handful of bonus
effects sounds and seven sampler
patches, so that you can easily
play all the sounds.
In total you get over 250
different siren effects which vary
more broadly than you might
initially think. The Moog-based
ones are perhaps not surprisingly
deep and squelchy, while the
circuit bent and 8-bit collections

Price 77.28
Contact Studiospares
T: 020 8208 9930
E: sales@studiospares.com
W: www.studiospares.com

A thorough and versatile


collection of excellent
analogue and digital-sounding
dub sounds thats an essential
purchase for anyone looking
for warm-sounding effects. It
really does do what it says on
the packet and is the
definitive set of dub sirens.

9/10

Publisher Big Fish Audio


Price 139

Key Features
12U adjustable
rack and case
Removable lid
Dims. mm 540W x
600D x 200H.
Weight 8kg

Contact +44(0)1837 55200


Web www.timespace.com

ere loving the resurgence


in studio hardware and
all of the accessories that
go with it. This is almost genius in
its simplicity: a carry case that
doubles as a pop up 19-inch rack
unit. Its designed more for
transportation than as a
permanent fixture but
its pop up nature (at a
definable angle too) also makes
it great for the studio just make
sure the lock bolts slot in correctly.
Unlike a lot of protective gear its
fairly light too, so very practical.
Using it as a permanent studio
rack doubled as transport case
will depend on your 19-inch rack
gears depth so do check your
sizes but if youve got it, flaunt
it with this. MTF

MTF Verdict
are both a little more esoteric.
Overall, though, theres a
surprising amount of variety here,
from in-your-face chirps to
distant wails, and the Dub Beams
and Alien Chatters are both
surprisingly usable. With both of
your classic sirens well
represented and the added
effects you couldnt really ask for a

Ambient Black

Pop up Mixer case


Manufacturer Trojan

Key Features
254 analogue
and digital dub
siren effects
514MB of
24-bit audio
Includes the
NJD Siren and
Roots TS1 MK2
Nine sampler
patches for
EXS24, HALion,
Kontakt,
NN-XT, SFZ

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
MTF Verdict
Its cheap, solid, and light and
if your gear is the right depth,
will show it off in the studio
and take it on the road.

9/10

mbient Black, from Big Fish


Audio, is the sister library to
Ambient White, and focuses
on aggressive, atonal and
industrial sounds for ambient
music. The instrument loads into
Kontakt 5 or the Kontakt 5 Player,
and contains 6.5GB of audio and
280 patches, including
thunderous basses; unsettling
drones and atmospheres; epic,
distorted percussive and melodic
instruments; and looped rhythms
and terrifying effects. Various
organic sound sources and found
sounds were used, alongside
synths and prepared instruments,
which were then pushed with
extreme sound design techniques.
You dont get much control over
the patches, with sliders for
distortion, lo-fi, limiter, EQ, reverb
and delay, but the sounds are
extremely well designed. MTF

Key Features
Dark and
industrial
sounds
Over 6.5GB of
uncompressed
Wav audio
Loads into
Kontakt 5 or the
Kontakt 5 Player
Over 280
instrument
patches
Organic and
electronic
sound sources

MTF Verdict
Although lacking slightly in
editing flexibility, this is an
incredibly well-produced
collection of terrifying and
unsettling sounds that would
be an excellent toolkit for
anyone working on dark music
or media projects.

8/10

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MTF Mini Reviews

Sennheiser
ClipMic Digital
Manufacturer Sennheiser
Price 178.80
Contact via website
Web http://en-uk.sennheiser.com

echnology has opened the


doors to many to make music.
But it has also made it possible
for people in the 21st century to
be or pretend to be all kinds of other
people theyd only dreamed of before.
The internet has made us critics of film,
TV and video games (and just about
everything else, come to think of it);
mobile phones have made us all
photographers; and social media
networks have made it possible to
make contact with and interview our
icons. And without wishing to sound too
paranoid, those latter two mean that
anyone can now be a journalist*.
Yes, with a decent mobile device you
can not only record anyone and
anything, but also video them. Your iOS
device can now record any event even
help you create a music video if you

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
Key Features
Clip mic features
Sennheiser
ME2 capsule
Apogee
PureDigital A/D
converter
Mic, clip, wind
shield, carry pouch
Lightning
connector
Requires iOS 8

want. But the first thing that any


budding journalist or videographer falls
down on is the sound a decent mic is
needed. Usually, these are so large that
they negate the point of mobile, often
being weightier or bulkier than the
device you are recording with.
Enter the Sennheiser ClipMic digital
to be, as the company says, your entry
into the professional league for mobile
recording with iOS devices.
For the very specific price of
178.80, you dont feel as if you are
getting a lot its a clip mic and it feels

as though it weighs less than the


packaging. But dont let that deceive
you, as it uses an Apogee 24-bit/96 kHz
A/D convertor and features a
Sennheiser ME 2 capsule. You also get
a version of the Metarecorder app
(although there are many other free
ones available).
The omnidirectional mic results in
a sound for your iOS device far better
than weve been able to use at shows
such as NAMM and Frankfurt shows
that have destroyed our videos in the
past with such high background noise
so well definitely be taking this on our
next trip. ClipMic Digital makes the
process of getting audio into your
device simple, elegant and nononsense. Its not cheap but, hey kids,
think of all the money your new career
could make you.** MTF
* Not anyone can be a journalist, dont
take our jobs. ** Theres none to be
made in journalism, honest.

MTF Verdict
Unobtrusive, high-quality mic that
will bolster your audio quality and
give you pro results.

9/10

Unlocking
Creativity

IK Multimedia
iRig Mic Studio

Publisher Hal Leonard Books

Manufacturer IK Multimedia

Price $24.99

Price 127.92

Contact via website

Contact via website

Web www.halleonardbooks.com

Web www.ikmultimedia.com

n unusual book on many


levels, as record producer
Michael Beinhorn attempts
to outline some key points on how
to unlock the creativity of artists
working on collaborative projects.
As a producer who has worked on
many notable recordings, with
artists including Red Hot Chili
Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne,
Soundgarden and more, youd
think Beinhorn would have the
experience to comment. Certainly,
the chapters on communication,
creativity and roles are an
insightful read, even though he
goes down a few kids today, eh?
blind alleys. You also get the
impression that bringing out the
creativity in an artist might well be
down simply to getting on with
them, giving them space to shine

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A
and maybe challenging them a bit,
but that would make a very short
book. Otherwise, this is a great
insight into how wide a record
producers role is these days. MTF

MTF Verdict
A little clinical and list-heavy,
but Beinhorn makes some
valid points. You might not
agree with all of them, but its
a good read nonetheless.

7/10

nother mic dedicated to


mobile devices so the intro
to the above review applies
again although this is aimed
more at musicians and less at the
practical do-it-all mobile market.
You get a weighty, full-bodied mic
and connections for every device,
including Android (with which we
tested it). The mic works very well
in plug n play fashion, recording
effortlessly within seconds of
unboxing. The headphone adaptor
and level meters are great
features as is the stand mount.
Wed pick the Sennheiser for
portability and converter quality,
but the iRig Mic Studio is a great
package with everything included
for every mobile device not just
iOS and a good mobile offering
to take from studio to studio. MTF

Key Features
Largediaphragm
capsule mic
Includes
Lightning,
Micro-USB OTG
and USB cables
24-bit/
44.1/48Khz
sampling rate
Headphone
output
Colour LED
Portable
tripod stand

MTF Verdict
A great package to up your
phone and tablet recording
quality. Good price and for
Android users, too.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:02

Mini Reviews MTF

ER4
microPro

Performance
P840

Manufacturer Etymotic

Manufacturer Ultrasone

Price 179

Price 159

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Contact Synthax
T: +44 (0) 1727 821 870

Web www.etymotic.com

E: info@synthax.co.uk

his kind of money for a pair of


in-ear headphones means they
must be good, right? Well,
Etymotic claims to be at the
forefront of the technology, and the
companys ER4pt boasts an
incredibly flat response. And if you
want to be impressed with noise
cancellation not always something
youd associate with the in-ear type
then these might be worth it. But
you do have to be a fan of in-ear
headphones, as these need to be
inserted deeply into your ear canals,
otherwise we found the response
lacked definition in the low end and
was quite harsh. If you absolutely
need the practicality of (very) in-ear
phones, then these are probably as
good as it gets. If not, there are better
and less intrusive outer models for
the money. MTF

W: www.synthax.co.uk

Key Features
FR: 20Hz-16kHz
Impedance
(@1kHz): 100ohms
Sensitivity
(@1 kHz) SPL at
0.1v: 90dB
Maximum Output
(SPL): 122dB
Noise Isolation:
35-42dB

MTF Verdict
Fine for in-ear monitoring, but
wed probably favour a good
set of on-ear headphones for
the money.

7/10

Great comfort and noise


isolation make these
headphones ideal for long
listening and mixing sessions.

8/10

Price 24.95 (Live Pack, NI


Maschine), 17.95 (one shots &
sampler patches)

Price 29.95

Contact info@loopmasters.com

Contact info@loopmasters.com

MTF Verdict

Publisher Niche Audio

Publisher Loopmasters

his pack from Loopmasters


sees Author, aka Jack
Sparrow and Ruckspin, take
on the deep ambient side of
dubstep. The 2.2GB pack is
available in WAV, Apple Loops,
LivePack and ReFill formats
stuffed with heavy subs, drum
loops, cinematic riffs, Foley
recordings and special FX
percussion. You also get two video
tutorials, 120 MIDI files, Logic
channel strips, and 64 sampler
instruments to accompany the
one-shot hits and multi-sampled
instruments. Although well
written, we were a little
disappointed with the bass, drum
and music loops. However, where
this pack shines is in the organic
Foley and percussion sounds. MTF

ere taking a look at a


couple of models in the
latest Ultrasone
headphone range, starting with
the P840. Ultrasone wanted to
design these with maximum
comfort, so youd forget they are
on your head, and at just 274g and
complete with very large flexible
pads, they certainly fit well and
feel good. They also score well for
cancellation they dont use an
active system, but are well
designed to insulate against
external noise. They have a little
too much focus on the bass in
terms of sound, but a good spatial
feel and a very pleasing overall
quality great headphones for
long sessions. MTF

Pure Analog

Author Dubstep
Colours
Web www.loopmasters.com

Key Features
FR: 10Hz-25kHz
Impedance:
32ohms
Driver size: PET,
40mm
SPL: 96 dB
Accessories: 3m
straight & 1.2m
cable, 6.3mm
adaptor, case
Weight (excluding
cord): 274g

Web www.timespace.com,
www.loopmasters.com

Key Features
1.5 GB+ worth
of 24-bit/44.1kHz
audio
120 MIDI files, 192
REX2 files, 7 Logic
presets
64 sampler
patches for EXS24,
HALion, Kontakt,
Kong, NN-XT, SFZ
2 bonus
video tutorials
Written and
produced by Author

MTF Verdict
A large pack with some
fantastic organic textures and
hits, plus strips, some decent
instrument sounds and useful
MIDI files and channels, let
down only by some slightly
pedestrian loops.

8/10

iche Audio had a clear goal


for its latest pack: to
program all sounds from
scratch using analogue gear. The
result is a fat collection of drum,
percussion and FX hits, resonant
bass sounds, techno chord stabs,
and deep evolving pads. The pack
was programmed for Maschine,
but is also available in LivePack
and WAV formats with 15 sampler
instruments. Each kit is either
single sounds or a collection of
individual hits on the left of the
keyboard, and several chromatic
instruments to the right. Many
analogue drum machines and
synths were captured through
vintage analogue preamps and
tube distortion units, and you can
really feel the weight. MTF

Key Features
Requires Live 9.2+ or
NI Maschine V2.2.3+
Started projects with
programmed patterns
Wav version with 15
patches for EXS24,
HALion, Kontakt, NNXT and SFZ
296 24-bit samples
100% analogue notes
and drum hits

MTF Verdict
A fat-sounding collection of
analogue sounds that can be
used to add some warmth to
your projects, with some
particularly tasty drum and
percussion hits.

8/10

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MTF Mini Reviews

Classic Hip
Hop Cuts

Vintage hiphop beats and


instrumental loops
415 loops and
one-shots,
64-120bpm
24-bit Acid WAV,
Apple Loops or
REX2 formats
27 sampler
instruments
Recorded on
an MPC and then
passed though
analogue tape

Manufacturer Samplephonics
Price 34.70
Contact
info@samplephonics.com

Web www.samplephonics.com

he golden era of hip-hop


was when the art of
sampling really began.
Classic Hip Hop Cuts, from
Samplephonics, looks to capture
that vintage, crate-digging sound,
with 415 loops and one-shots in
your choice of Acid WAV, Apple
Loops or REX2, captured on an
MPC and processed through
analogue tape. Youll find folders
of chunky drum loops, dusty
Rhodes chords, wonky arpeggios
and synths, funky guitar licks, and
chopped-up pianos and
saxophones. Theres also
a handful of drum hits, effects and
slightly odd synths, with patches
for Kontakt, Ableton, HALion,
Mach 5, EXS24, NN-XT and Sfz.
Although everything here has an

Boom Bap Beats


& Bits

Key features

Manufacturer Samplephonics
Price 34.70
Contact
info@samplephonics.com

Web www.samplephonics.com

authentic warmth and lo-fi


quality, we occasionally found the
tape noise a little overbearing on
certain loops. Overall, though, this
is an interesting library with a
decent amount of variety and
some inspiring loops and riffs. MTF

MTF Verdict
The odd bit of excessive tape
noise aside, this is a varied
and inspiring pack with some
interesting, song-starting loop
ideas that are ready to be
chopped and manipulated.

7/10

Reel People
Sounds For
The Soul Vol1
Key features

Manufacturer Loopmasters
Price 29.95
Contact info@loopmasters.com
Web www.loopmasters.com

ounds for the Soul is a new


collection of live and
programmed funk and soul
loops, played by expert musicians
and produced and recorded by
Reel People leader, and founder of
Papa Records, Oli Lazerus. There
are over 300 loops, 200 one-shots
and 34 sampler patches, plus the
Apple Loops version has a special
Logic X demo song arrangement.
Youll find heaps of breaks and
broken beats, live bass and guitar,
grooving keys, brass and flutes,
and deep synth riffs. The playing
style and the finish are tight, but
natural and not too squashed or
compressed. The moderately
sized collection of drum, effects
and chord hits is a nice addition,
but the real stars are the expertly

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Choice

9/10
9
9/
10

Live funk and


soul loops and hits
696MB
of 24-bit/44.1kHz
audio
34 sampler
patches for
Kontakt, HALion,
EXS24, Kong, NNXT & SFZ
Over 300 loops
and 200 one-shots
Recorded and
produced by
Oli Lazerus

played loops, that form a great


library for anyone looking to add
an organic edge to their tracks. MTF

MTF Verdict
Another great collection from
Reel People that puts usable,
soulful live funk loops at your
fingertips. Its great for
injecting some human feel
into your tracks.

9/10

ontinuing the hip-hop


theme, and the perfect
accompaniment to the
Classic Hip Hop Cuts pack, we
have Boom Bap Beats & Bits, also
from Samplephonics. Created by
production duo RiggleBeats &
Illiterate, the library contains 99
drum loops in raw and supercrunchy tube versions, plus 50
percussion loops and 100 drum
one-shots with accompanying
sampler patches. Theres plenty of
variety, with a mixture of lo-fi,
saturated shuffles, and cleaner,
more spacious and punchy
rhythms. All the loops have the
classic MPC looseness and groove,
and we defy anyone to listen to this
pack without involuntarily nodding
their head. The one-shot hits are a

Key features
Chunky boom
bap hip-hop
beats and hits
Available in
Acid WAV, Apple
Loops, or REX2
formats
4 sampler
patches for
EXS24, Ableton,
HALion, Kontakt,
Mach 5, Maschine
NN-XT and SFZ
79-97bpm
Produced by
RiggleBeats
& Illiterate

welcome addition and form a


decent, characterful drum kit.
Although this is a relatively pricey
pack given the amount of content
on offer, the quality throughout is
excellent and it would make an
excellent drum toolkit for any
hip-hop producer. MTF

MTF Verdict
A characterful pack of
authentic, chunky hip-hop
beats and hits with a raw
saturated finish.

8/10

Fostex
T40RP
Mk3

Manufacturer Fostex
Price 115
Contact SCV Distribution
T: +44 (0)3301 222500
E: sales@scvdistribution.co.uk
W: www.scvdistribution.co.uk

e looked at Fostexs new


T50RP Mk3 headphones
recently and now its the
turn of the T40RP Mk3. The 40s
are closed headphones (as
opposed to the 50s semi-open).
The words Focused bass on the
box could indicate enhanced bass
which we dont want to hear and
indeed didnt hear. In fact the
response we experienced was
very similar despite slightly
different specs in this
department. The closed nature
means slightly less spill and more
isolation from the outside world.
Sensitivity is again traded off for
a flat response but well take
accuracy over volume any day

Key Features
Type: Closed
Frequency
Response: 20Hz 35kHz
Impedance:
50ohms
Max i/p: 3000mW
Sensitivity: 91dB
(at 1kHz, 1mW)
Weight: 315g

and, like the 50s, this kind of


accuracy at this kind of price
is always welcome. MTF

MTF Verdict
Comfortable and accurate:
more headphones that will
suit longer mixing sessions.

8/10

FOCUS

13/11/2015 11:35

Mini Reviews MTF

Rode
NT-USB
Manufacturer Rode
Price 129
Contact Source Distribution
Tel: 020 8962 5080
Web www.rode.com

SB mics are now big business


and ship in huge numbers,
thanks to their wide mobile
compatibility, ease of use and
increasingly low cost. Plug n play is, of
course, a great help especially when it
works, as it tends to here. And weve
also seen the quality levels rise, with
models from sE in particular scoring
well in MusicTech.
Rode is wading in with its NT-USB,
carrying the NT name from a range of
mics that have already been very well
received (we looked at the NT1-A some
time ago, and it has featured regularly
in our best condenser mic guides).
The NT-USB is priced competitively
and ships with an effective shield,
stand and a ruddy great big long USB
cable at last! Wed almost pay the

Choice

9/10
9
9/
10
Key features
USB studio mic
Pop shield,
tripod desk stand,
ring mount,
storage pouch and
6m USB cable, all
in the box
3.5mm stereo
headphone jack
for monitoring
Frequency
range:
20Hz-20kHz
Max SPL: 110dB
SPL (@ 1kHz)
Weight: 520g

asking price for that alone. If only other


companies would appreciate the
producers need for USB length!
Plug n play works well, especially
with our Mac, where you simply see it in
your preferences, so we were up and
running in Logic very quickly.
Sound-wise, the mic punches well
above its weight as youd expect with
Rode written on it. With vocals, theres
a pleasing presence at the bottom end,

Moog
Theremini

Manufacturer Moog
Price 259
Contact Source Distribution
Tel: 020 8962 5080
Web www.moogmusic.com

he theremin is one of the


earliest pieces of music
technology out there. Youll have
seen performances of people
making wobbly Forbidden Planet sci-fi
noises using 20th Century wireless
technology (electromagnetic fields) to
change pitch and volume with either
hand, using invisible (death) rays.
Moog has done the theremin before,
but this is arguably the companys most
accessible release. Its cheap, easy to
use and comes with 32 presets, so you

Key features
32 presets
2 outs +
headphone out
Pitch/CV out
User-selectable
scale and root note
(stored per preset)
Selectable
note ranges
Built-in speaker
Adjustable
delay effect
Built-in tuner
allows you to learn
pitch and scales
58x10x17cm
Weight 1.3kg

can do more than just that sci-fi


whistle. But before we get on to that
Setting up is straightforward. Simply
plug in the antenna (which is stored on
its underside), go through a (simple)
calibrating setup and then use your left
hand to adjust volume and your right for
the pitch. We might have made that
sound easier than we found it, as
setting up in an office full of computers
didnt do the unit any favours an
empty room with little to interfere with
an instrument that relies on EM waves
turned out to be a much better option.
The unit itself is very cool-looking,
kind of like a Jetsons spaceship, and
ideal for that 50s vibe. Its a little
plasticky maybe a surprise for those
expecting Moog wood, but perhaps not

which might well be a welcome


characteristic for podcasting, as well as
traditional vocal recording. Indeed, the
higher bass register, as well as the
higher treble reaches, is prominent,
giving a great overall tone, offering an
air of authority and a BBC feel.
You can see the mic used mostly on
vocals, as USB mics lend themselves to
all sorts of computer-based malarkey.
Wed be very happy to use the NT-USB
for anything of this ilk, and youll see it
being used on some of the increasing
number of YouTube commentaries (on
video games and just about everything
else), by people who are after a quality
mic to give their solutions, thoughts and
opinions even more gravitas.
Vocals aside, you could use it as a
good all-rounder, its a great USB mic,
easy to use and suitable for a wide
range of tasks. A no-brainer, really. MTF

MTF Verdict
A great package with a superb,
quality feel about it. Great sound
will give your recordings a pro feel
for a non-pro price. Just at home in
the studio as it is in your podcast.

9/10

considering the price. Changing scales


is a bit of revelation, and youll find
yourself learning more about the
subject in two minutes playing the
Theremini than in a previous lifetime of
listening to music theory the scales
are laid out on-screen and the sounds
are a flick of the wrist away. All manner
of parameters some obvious, such as
pitch and note range are adjustable,
and theres even a delay effect to add
some variation.
And talking of variation, the 32
presets take it away but not too far
from that eerie whistle; in truth, most
are of that ilk, and we could have done
with some more varied tones to really
experiment with.
However, for those after an easy
intro to the world of the theremin and
the other-worldly nature of its sound
(its also worth delving deeper into the
fascinating life of its inventor if you
have time), theres no easier way. MTF

MTF Verdict
An easy theremin to get into, both
practically and financially. Its a
little lightweight, but bang for buck
this thing whistles like no other.

8/10

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MTF Buyers Guide Six of the best

Six of the best


Hardware

Software

Mobile Tech

Accessories

Its the final MusicTech Buyers Guide, where we round up some


of the best products recently reviewed at MusicTech. For this last
part, we look at some of the best hardware emulations of classic
gear weve tested

BEST Synth range

The Boomstar
range

Chandler
REDD.47

he original REDD.47 preamps


were used in the EMI desks
made famous for their use in
legendary recordings by The
Beatles at Abbey Road. Reviewer John
Pickford said of this Chandler version:
From a purely sonic point of view, the

128 | Logic Pro X 2016

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Details
Price P49: 1,499
P28: 720
Contact
KMR 0208
445 2446
Web
www.peluso
microphonelab.
com

Details
Price 799
Contact
MSL Pro +44(0)207
1180133, email
contact@mslpro.co.uk
Web
www.mslpro.co.uk

he Boomstar range of synths


from Studio Electronics has
been with us for some time, but
a limited production has kept it
fairly low in profile. But those in the
know us included, naturally rave
about it, as it comprises some of the
best new analogue synths on the
market the fact that each model
emulates an iconic classic synth makes
it even more desirable. Reviewer Andy
Jones said: The bottom line is that
Boomstar is a masterclass in analogue
synthesis: unpredictable, rarely off the
money, and often incredible. The
Boomstar range has true analogue,
classic sounds, combined with an
uncompromising nod to the past, and
it is all the better for it.

BEST Beatles

REDD.47 has the authentic EMI sound


that has been unavailable for almost
half a century. The REDD.47 is an
accurate-sounding recreation. For
anyone wanting to Get Back to that
classic 1960s sound, this is truly a fab
(four) product.

Details
Price 2,149.99
Contact Nova
020 3589 2530
Web www.
chandlerlimited.
com

BEST Mics

Peluso
P28 &
P49 mics

he Peluso P range takes


inspiration from a few classic
mics. The P49 was created for
people who wanted a mic with
the characteristics of a Neumann M49,
while the P28 was designed with
elements of the Neumann KM54 and
the AKG C28. On the former, reviewer
Huw Price said: It gives you all the
vintage Neumann flavours you could
want, with less need to finesse the tone
with equalisation. On the P28, he said:
It always sounds good, and we found it
impressive for clear and breathy vocals
as well as general instrument
recording. Overall, he concluded: Two
more vintage boxes have been ticked.
Somebody has to meet the demand for
microphones that the original
companies are no longer willing to
manufacture, and the Peluso P49 and
P28 more than fit the bill.

FOCUS

13/11/2015 14:08

Six of the best Buyers Guide MTF

Details

BEST Dance classics

Price TR-8 359


TB-3 215
Contact
+44(0)1792 702701
Web
www.roland.co.uk

Roland AIRA

he secrecy and consequent


hype that surrounded the
launch of Rolands AIRA range
could never really be matched
by the quality of the resulting products
emulations of Rolands classic dance
hardware. But the TR-8 and TB-3,
emulations of the TR-808 drum
machine and TB-303 bassline
respectively, are certainly up there with
the best emulations of that hardware,
and certainly the best emulations that
Roland has ever released of its own

products. Reviewer Andy Jones said:


The
The TB-3 and TR-8 are both innovative
and important. They look extremely
cool and they sound just, well, damn
close. But their importance is that they
are priced in exactly the right way to
get the next generation of producers
off their sorry sofas and actually
performing again. The TR-8 is a
great-sounding and great-looking
drum machine and the TB-3 sound is
on the money, and the extra sounds
make this a great buy.

Details
Price 649
Contact Nova
020 3589 2530
Web
www.warmaudio.com

BEST EQ

Warm Audio
EQP-WA

ith the EQP-WA, Warm


Audio has turned its
attention to emulating
what is arguably the
most iconic equaliser of all time: the
Pultec EQP-1A. Reviewer John
Pickford said: Dont make the mistake

of thinking that the low price of the


EQP-WA equates with low quality. This
can hold its own in comparison with
any Pultec-styled EQ. It is a superb
product that punches way above its
weight. As a creative, musical sonic
shaper, its second to none.

The TR-8 and TB-3 emulations of the TR-808


drum machine and TB-303 bassline are the best
that Roland has ever released
BEST Classic synth

Korg/ARP
Odyssey

his is so close to the original that


it almost fits in the remake
category, but as its a smaller
version and not (truly) built by
the original company, well settle for one
of the best emulations of one of the
best classic analogue synths out there.
Andy Jones said: Wed certainly
recommend it to those after the

original
experience
on a budget,
and to those who want
to audition one of the greatest synths
on a smaller scale. The new ARP
Odyssey has the character of the
original, and matches it on many
levels. It has extra sonics, comes in a

Details
handy case and is a
great buy for classic lovers. But it
is just an analogue, so preset
hunters beware

Price 799
Contact Korg
via website
Web
www.korg.co.uk

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MTF On Your DVD

Logic Pro X has plenty to get your teeth into, with a


vast range of instruments, effects and features,
especially with the latest update that brings with it the
amazing Alchemy synth and sampler. Whether youre
looking to delve into these new features or check out
the native plug-ins, weve got you covered with the
Logic Focus DVD. Youll find over 2.5 hours of pro
tuition from Groove 3, Point Blank Music School,
Producertech and SubBass Academy covering
Alchemy, mixing techniques, tips and tricks and more.
Weve got the latest software demos, freeware plug-in
tools and promo videos, and royalty-free samples from
Loopmasters and Equinox Sounds. Finally we have all
the files you need to follow along with the workshops.
MTF On the disc Over 2.5 Hours of pro video tuition

ALCHEMY
The experts at Groove 3 have provided a
selection of pro tutorials to help guide you
through Logic Pro X. First we have 6 videos
looking at the filters, morphing, sequencer
and arpeggiator in the new Alchemy
instrument.

MIDI FX, DRUMMER, SUB KICK,


DIRECTION MIXER
Next we have chapters that take a closer look
at the Chord Trigger MIDI FX, the Direction
Mixer plug-in, Drummer, how to record with
effects, how to create a gated drum reverb
effect, and using the Test Oscillator to create a
sub kick.

CREATIVE TIPS AND MIXING


TECHNIQUES
A bunch of QuickTips and production videos
from Point Blank Music School looking at
creative vocal sidechaining, quantising drum
stems, and how to use stem mixing to mix
down bass and vocals within a track.

ORGAN RIFFS, DRUM BUS PROCESSING


AND NI MASCHINE
Producertech and Logic-Courses.com have
provided 3 tutorials looking at how to create a
classic house organ riff, how to process the
drum buss for drum and bass beats, and a
step-by-step guide to using NIs Maschine in
Logic Pro X.

D RAMIREZ PRODUCTION TIPS


SubBass Academy and veteran producer D
Ramirez take an in-depth look at making bass
riffs in Logic by layering instruments, and also at
the mastering channel strip using a range of
high-quality 3rd party compressors, EQs and
processors.

LOOPMASTERS FREE SAMPLES


Loopmasters has provided a
heavyweight collection of loops from Author
Dubstep Colours, Back to Techno, Darius
Strossian Real House Collection, Dread
Recordings 3, Dub Pistols Smoking Dubs,
Future House Sessions, Kate Wild Vocal
Hooks, Leftwing and Kody In Tech and more.

01

04

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02

05

03

06

FOCUS

13/11/2015 15:50

On Your DVD MTF

MTF Your Disc


MTF DVD 41 Logic Pro X 2016
PROMOTIONAL
VIDEOS

Weve got over 900MB of


videos showcasing the
latest plug-ins and
hardware including a
range of cutting-edge
synths and software
instruments from Roland,
Yamaha, Best Service,
Heavyocity, Impact
Soundworks, Nord,
Output, Plugin Boutique,
Sample Logic,
Sonokinetic,
Spectrasonics, Vir2 and
Zero-G . Youll also find
high-end processing
from D16, Elysia, and
iZotope, plus top of the
range audio channel
strips and effects from
dbx, Digitech, and Roland.

SOFTWARE DEMOS

Although Logic now


features a huge range of
excellent tools and
instruments, you may
want to supplement your
plug-in library with a few
choice additions. From
cutting edge processors
and creative effects, to
analogue modelled
synths, weve rounded up
a range of demo and
freeware software for you
to try out. Youll find
synths, EQs,
compressors, limiters,
filters, delays,
bitcrushers, stereo tools
and mastering suites to
help perfect your tracks.

USING OUR
WORKSHOPS

Whether youre looking to


brush up on your
programming skills, delve
into Logics new features,
or improve your mixes,
weve got you covered
with a host of Logic
workshops. Where
appropriate, youll find
hi-res images, project
files and audio on the
disc so you can follow
along at home. Be sure to
copy all the files to your
computer before opening
a project.

AUDIO LOOPS & HITS

On the disc

YOUR DVD CONTENT FILES

ZIP FILES
To maximise the amount of content we can bring you on
each DVD, the video, tutorial and samples files are
supplied compressed (zipped). Mac users should be
able to decompress ZIP files simply by double-clicking on
them; PC users may need to download a utility such as
WinZip (www.winzip.com).
TUTORIAL FILES
The software tutorials that feature in each issue of MTF
are almost always accompanied by files and audio so you
can work through them on your system. These files are
zipped to reduce the space they occupy on the DVD.

Download them to your hard drive and unzip them to


access the individual files (remembering to eject the DVD
to prevent your computer from slowing down).

WHAT IS ROYALTY-FREE?

Any MTF DVD content marked royalty-free can be used


in your own original compositions (even commercial
ones). You may not, however, resell these samples in any
other form.

DEFECTIVE DISCS

In the unlikely event that your disc is defective, please


return it to: Disc Returns, Anthem Publishing, Suite 6,
Piccadilly House, London, Bath BA1 6PL. We will

Weve got a whole load of


royalty-free samples
from Loopmasters,
Equinox Sounds and
MusicTech for you to use
in your tracks. All files are
in 24-bit WAV or Apple
Loops format, with a
mixture of dubbed out
textures and
instrumental loops,
heavyweight drums,
soulful vocals, big
sounding synth
hooks, organic
electronics, tech
house grooves and
more across a range
of different genres.

endeavour to supply you with a replacement disc


immediately. Please note that were unable to provide
technical support for the software on the MTF DVD
please check our website at www.musictech.net for any
known problems.

MISSING YOUR DISC?

If your disc is missing, contact us at editorial@anthempublishing.com with your full postal address and the
issue number. We will only supply replacement discs up
to six months after the on-sale date of each MusicTech
Focus (three months after a regular issue of MusicTech).

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