Make Noise 0-Coast

So I finally  decided to buy my first hardware synth (or any hardware device that doesn’t just serve as an interface for PC) – 0-Coast by Make Noise. Why this one?

0-Coast

I always wanted to have a hardware synth (or a dozen, you know this feeling), but realistically they are very expensive compared to functionality they offer. A cheap hardware synth is still 3 times more expensive than the best VST, such as Serum – and offers a fraction of its possibilities on paper. The hardware, however, has the advantage of fast work and also is great for learning and experimenting with hands-on experience. There are no presets in this curious box, so every time I need to make a patch from scratch. Also, it encourages experimenting and improvising.

There are a plenty of synths I considered, but they all miss something. Some have keys, some have polyphony, some have sequencers, others have eurorack connectivity – but in general their feature list is always limited. There is no one box to rule them all, and they are expensive.

However, I never gave up 0-Coast – simply because it has no replacements. It’s a truly weird eurorack-style synth using unconventional modules arranged as a traditional monosynth. Make Noise are the leaders in eurorack and develop modules which do not resemble traditional synths at all, yet still allow to build incredible musical contraptions. Evolving and self-generating, aperiodic and atonal sounds are something that not many people deal with, and something that I’ve been missing in my setup. So here it is.

Mind this is not a magic box that makes music on its own – early I encountered shortage of supplied cables. Also menu diving is abysmal, and number of signals is limited. Still, I plan to make extensive use of it. It’s great for plucks, basses, agressive synth sounds for psy-tech, but also a source of samples and wavetables for further use. Certainly there’s a lot to discover. However, I have the skills to make use of it all, and will explore 0-Coast to the max.

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Plugins galore

The summer sales are coming and I already purchased a full set of tools from my wishlist. Now that I can get tunes released, I just need to work faster and create tracks easier.

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Chaotic Wavetable Pack for Serum

Chaos and fractals were always attracting me (pun intended) and I wanted to give them a try in audio synthesis. Here’s the first try: wavetable pack for Serum made from chaotic oscillators.

Pick them from new blog page Samples & Wavetables. These are ordinary .wav files and should work with any wavetable synth or sample player. 37 different wavetables should keep you busy for a while. Some of them are evolving textures, some of them are simple but unusual like no one would ever craft by hand.

Chaaotic Wavetables

Rendering chaotic oscillators was the easy part. The difficulty was to actually make them musically usable. Some were picked directly, others were creatively processed. Chaotic attractors tend to generate subharmonic content and successive “periods” are very different from each other. It is opposite to wavetable where every frame is similiar to previous one.

Serum has a number of different import options, but they were not able to deal effectively with aperiodic waveforms. Many of them were picked and edited manually to be musically useful. This is only first attempt, I’m hoping to automate the process and create bigger, high-fidelity wavetables with minimal processing.

Also I have distant plans of creating actual synths and other utlities which will allow to use chaotic oscillators directly. There are dozens of known attractors and probably infinite number of new ones to discover. Surely there will be more depending on your interest.

Comb filter for Max4Live + modular dreams

Yesterday I started to learn Max4Live plugin development. For the first trial comes the remake of my simple Comb Filter with feedforward topology. You can see the old VST version here. The M4L version is on maxforlive.com.

Comb Filter

I may make some more, depending on time and ideas coming (some ambitious ideas might take a long time to finish). I’m also looking forward to Oscillot modular synthesizer – it’s easier to add own little plugin to already existing library of over 100 devices, than to build fully-blown synth from scratch. Even Oscillot Lite version can sound great. Unfortunatelly, so far it got little attention from customers – much less than it deserves, IMO.

Recently I was also inspired by Eurorack and it’s unusual modules which create random, seemless patterns and envelopes. This is certainly something that classic substractive synthesis is missing. Instead of having complete synth with all features you want, take random oscillator and let it make the music on it’s own, something you wouldn’t imagine. Check these movies, they are very inspiring.

Free Ableton Rack: 8-band transparent DJ mixer

Thanks to Septr from Ableton forum I was able to construct perfectly transparent 8-band DJ mixer out of stock Ableton plugins. It’s very simple to use and minimal on CPU. Also, it’s free. What more could one ask for?

8-band mixer

Download!

How to use it? Drop an instance on each channel you plan to mix, then crossfade. Typical workflow:

  • Swap band 3
  • Swap band 2
  • Swap band 1
  • Fade band 8 all over the mix, fade band 4 when there is too much melodic content

Of course it may work different for your mixing style, different music genre or specific material. But most certainly it will work.

Please do not re-upload this rack, always link to my blog.

Warmy

Studio synth setup

Finally got all the synths I need. I’d like to share with my studio setup and explain each choice

First of all, I tried to keep synth pool as small as possible and have all sounds covered. Well, good plugins are pricey. But that’s not the only reason – to many synths can distract you from getting the actual job done.

Sylenth1

Sylenth1

Industry standard substractive. Very simple and easy to program, but with great sound quality. The main advantage of Sylenth1 is the filter section, which can withstand wildest modulation without overdrive or artifacts. Always smooth. Also, CPU usage is minimal. Used for rather simple and clean sounds – kick, psybass, supersaws, acid, random blips.

Dune 2

Dune 2

Bigger cousin of Sylenth1. Can do substractive, FM and Wavetable synthesis all at once and has great modulation possibilities. The key feature is unison section which allows you to dial up to 32 voices for any patch. Program whatever you need and just instantly make it big and awesome with multiple voices. Great at leads and pads, but also has cool acid presets. However, tends to glitch at small, fast-modulated sounds.

Serum

Serum

Wavetable monster. It would be just another substractive synth if not the impressive wavetable engine. Serum allows you to manipulate sounds in variety of ways, including wavetable scan and weird warp modes as well as more standard PWM, FM or phase distortion. Unmatched at basses and evolving arps as well as gritty FX. Great GUI makes it my new favourite.

Operator

Operator

Comes in Ableton Suite. This tiny toy can do substractive, FM and even additive synthesis. Very fast to program wih incredible sonic possibilities. Can produce some bass, but mostly practical in FX / electro / dubstep madness. Unfortunatelly it’s monophonic (or stereophonic at best), but can be easily layered thanks to negilible CPU usage.

The Mangle

The Mangle

Granular synth suited for harmonic sounds. Still in beta, but can already deliver beautiful pads as well as monstrous FX and risers. Great drag-and-drop GUI make it easy to program.

Granulator II

Granulator II

Another granular toy coming in Ableton Suite. Many custom options result in evolving pads, risers and rolls. ‘Scan’ feature will change any sample into warping monstrosity. For when you need to get dirty.

Sylenth1 and Dune 2 have custom skins.

This post will become more important once you hear tracks made with all of these 8)

Comb Filter VST updated to 2.0

It doesn’t seem like such simple plugin would need any upgrade, but it had some issues, for which I apologize.

Image

Now all the bugs with mono/stereo channels are gone.

Additionally, Comb Filter will not change it’s frequency with sampling rate. Sampling rates up to 192 KHz are supported in full range, at frequency 1 Hz. However, if you set higher frequency, sampling rate can be rised proportionally – there is no limit that could be reached in practical situation that I know of.

Download link is updated. Get it here.