Tone2 has just announced Electra2, a major upgrade to their fantastic ElectraX synthesizer, on their Facebook page.
A major upgrade to our ElectraX synthesizer, Electra2 offers a large range of new features and enhancements. Like a comfortable patch browser to give you an instant overview of all available categories and sounds. 16 new effects, a sample editor, Physical Modeling synthesis, 5 new filter types, enhanced sound quality, improved user interface and a huge number of further enhancements.
ElectraX is all over my albums Fear Cannot Save Us and I Hear Your Signals, so I was quite excited to hear about this update since this is one of my goto instruments. Below are some first impressions after participating as a beta tester. This is followed by a list of what's new and links for more info.
Refinement of GUI
The GUI is more polished and the lighting is a bit more subtle, but hasn't changed from a layout point-of-view which is good news from for existing users who already have muscle memory. If you've never used ElectraX or Electra2 before, you'll really enjoy the straight forward layout and interactive graphic feedback. For example, if you use an LFO to modulate the filter and resonance, you'll see this movement in real-time in the interface. The interactive feedback makes learning from factory presets more immediate as you can see all the modulations expressed as graphical movement.
Backwards Compatible with ElectraX
According to Tone2, "Electra2 is 100% downward compatible with the previous version. It completely replaces ElectraX and you will be able to load your old songs and patches." During my testing with the beta, I found all Electra2 presets were backwards compatible with ElectraX and it loads the factory and my custom presets from ElectraX just fine. In Ableton, Electra2 still appeared as ElectraX so old my old sets that were dependent on ElectraX simply load with Electra2 - brilliant!
Integrated Sample Editor and Sample Saved with Preset
One of my favorite new features is the integrated sample editor. ElectraX allowed you to load samples as oscillator sources. Electra2 takes this a step further with integrated sample editing. This is a huge time saver as you can loop, tune, cut, trim, reverse, and more - all without leaving Electra2. As with ElectraX, Electra2 saves the sample as part of the preset. So you'll never have the borken link to source sample issue. With the addition of these new features, I'm finding Electra2 to be great choice for Musique concrète. Being able to use one workflow to tweak source samples, plus use the as sources for synthesis is organic, fast, and inspiring.
New Utilities in Menus = Huge Time Savings for Custom Sound Design
Electra2 has added even more utility functions to the menus throughout the instrument. For example if you click the "INIT" button just above the "SETTINGS" section you'll see a new "Reset all" option which initializes all four layers of the instrument (you used to have to do this a layer at a time). Also new is "Reset synth arpeggiator" and some new menus that will load template presets for the new PhysicalGuitar and PhysicalFlute filter types.
The "SETTINGS" "COPY" button has a fantastic new option called "Multilayer edit". If you click this, any change you make in one of the four layers will be reflected in the other three. This is a HUGE time saver!
NEW PATCH BROWSER
Electra2 adds a new handy patch browser making it easier to browse. The info pane automatically generates a snapshot view of what major features were used in a patch. Again this is a nice touch if you are trying to learn from factory patches. You can also us a 5 star system to rate your favorite patches (default is 3 stars).
There are many ways to control the volume of your presets in Absynth and many options are not on the same page. This being the case, I offer you a few tips with screen shots to help you wrap your head around overall volume adjustment technique in Absynth.
Controlling Channel Volume
First off, you can control the volume of each of the channels in the preset using the volume sliders ate the bottom of each channel while designing your sound.
Set Overall Preset Volume
When you have finished your sound, go to the “Perform” page. Then adjust “dB” value to set the overall volume of the preset relative to other presets in your library.
This setting is also handy a handy way to change the volume of presets in factory or third party library that are too loud or too soft for your taste.
Automatic Channel Level Adjustment
You can also have Absynth automatically ajust the levels so that the sum of the tree audio signals of channels never exceeds 0 db.
To set this go to “File”>”Options”>”Genera” then select “Auto balance patch channels.
I only use this last method when I’m designing sounds that might have crazy volume or pitch transients to protect my ears and speakers. Once I’m satisfied with the overall patch, I turn this off and manually tune the volume per the “Controlling Channel Volume” section above to achieve more dynamic sounds.
This song was performed using Tenori-On as a MIDI controller and live sequencer driving racks for synths hosted in Ableton Live. The visuals are generated on-the-fly using live camera input as the only source with real-time visual FX.
[project ruori] (http://www.ruori.org) for close-up video footage Paul A Vnuck Jr. for opening still photo Greg and Hong Waltzer for hosting such a wonderful event Edward B Siedzik for running sound Anna E Siedzik-Torres for running lights
First off, three cheers for Waldorf for putting energy into a synth released way back in 2007! There is no change log in the firmware zip files and instead, Waldorf’s Kay Dee is communicating and taking input for this update via Waldorf Blofeld group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/8492783249/
It’s been a while since Waldorf worked on Blofeld and it may be a while before they circle back, so now is your chance to test and give feedback!
One major reason to update is they are using software to correct for the issue of encoder twitchiness some users have reported. Kay Dee from Waldorf mentioned out on Facebook that if this update didn’t address your issues, you most likely have a hardware issue and should have your unit serviced. There is no change log in the firmware zip file, but I’ve gleaned the following from Kay’s Facebook posts:
Between the last official version and this version, there were sum interim betas. 1.2 introduced some bugs with gui (sine waveform went missing), phasing problem and jumping value when you turn volume knob. They are fixed.Other value optimization for knobs.
Sync lfo/arp fix. This was a major complaint with the last official version. I’ve not tested it, but early reports on Facebook indicate sync is much improved.
Encoder fix and some system fixes.
1.18-> 1.2 fix now you can use two wavetables/samples at osc1+2 at the same time.
Firmware update/downgrade now possible
General system Optimization
Blofeld Keyboard Edition Update
Now you can play a single "Part" with the keys. Changing the Global MIDI channel will change the Part. Omni will play all parts at the same time, so you can use this for layer sounds.
In as little as a decade, AI could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies are pouring billions into achieving AI’s Holy Grail—human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.
Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?
Music Production Notes All synth elements are from the Nord Lead 4 being both played live and sequenced live via Octatrack. I make heavy use of trig-level automation to manipulate parameters on the Nord Lead via MIDI CC messages. I also sequenced real-time automation plus manipulate the Nord on-the-fly.
The Octatrack also acted as a mixer allowing me to record audio down to a Zoom H2n digital recorder in real-time in one-pass with no edits. Drums are samples sequenced within Octatrack.
Video Production Notes I used a combination of practical projection with video feedback, real-time video effects via two webcams run through visual Software Resolume, and primary footage captured with a GoPro. I then composited all the shots in video editing software with only a teeny bit of post-production to create this dark – almost old-school analog video processing vibe.
The computers in the video are there to process and capture video from the two web cams - plus are part of the shot as a story element and for side-lighting. One is being used to project a camera in real-time over my right shoulder. This same camera is also seeing the projection which causes video feedback.
This rig is quite snappy, so all the latency between the different versions of my image are intentional introduced with the video editing software to create tension.
The fully modular synthesis studio lets you access a universe of synthesizers, sound generators, grooveboxes, sequencers, and effects, with limitless programming options. What’s more, you open the hood and customize existing instruments, or create your own from scratch.
REAKTOR 5 includes over 70 inspiring instruments and sonic devices. And REAKTOR 5 owners can access thousands more in the REAKTOR User Library.
U-HE is also offering a discount while the instrument is in beta.
If you're amazed by what you hear, you can purchase Bazille now at a 30% discount until two or three weeks after release (estimated for July 1). Purchase Bazille here [$89].
I downloaded it yesterday and am really enjoying it. Here is one of my first patches (screen shot of this patch is first image in post).
In this patch, OSC2 freq is modulating OSC 1. OSC1 phase distortion is being modulated with an LFO run through a lag generator. OSC1 is routed to filter and the cutoff is being modulated with the morphing sequencer. LFO2 is driving Factalize (kind of like sync). All the movement is in the patch. I'm just holding down a single key in different octaves.
Surreal Machines (http://www.surrealmachines.com/) has released a new set of Max for Live devices for Ableton Live called Dub Machines. For $39 you get 2 devices, 95 presets, and 2 live sets.
Dub Machines is a pair of expertly designed Max for Live devices that reproduce, and expand on the sound of classic tape and analog delays. With vintage character, extensive control and deep sound-shaping capabilities, Dub Machines is ready to take any sound into space.
In my first two-person podcast, I meet with Pete Dowling and Matt Jackson of Surreal Machines http://www.surrealmachines.com). Pete and Matt have just released a new MFL-based Live pack, and I hit them up for an explanation of the concept, a discussion about what it is like to collaborate on this kind of project, and how one might ever be satisfied with ones work. This is a revealing interview that provides insight on code-based collaborations.
If you haven't gotten a chance to test drive the Dubmachines Live pack, you should give it a try. The two devices are cool to work with, and have a very unique sound (and vibe) to them.
Magnetic is based on one of the most beloved tape delays of the 1970s. To capture all the nuances of the original, Surreal Machines started by measuring the distortion, frequency response, errors and mechanical noise of an actual hardware unit. As a result, Magnetic is a delay that oozes with nonlinearities and, true to the original, includes multiple gain stages, tape hysteresis, capstan wobble – not even the dry signal comes out the way it went in.
Magnetic comes with a high-quality internal convolution reverb with samples of classic spring and plate reverbs, early digital halls, plus several more radically character-altering spaces. And, in addition to the parallel system that original hardware units had, Magnetic’s reverb can be switched pre or post echo.
Two different reverse options for classic tape or stompbox behaviors are included. Several other tape delays from the period were examined and carefully crafted into new breeds of four different machine styles – all with a control to tone back or exaggerate character.
Is it delay? Is it reverb? It’s Diffuse, and most importantly, it’s lush and full of character. With a sophisticated feedback network under the hood, Diffuse can produce short virtual spaces, otherworldly atmospheric swells, and everything in between.
Diffuse gives you complete control over smearing, echoes and dampening and features plenty of the nonlinearities and smooth tape style delay changes of hardware. As with Magnetic, all relevant parameters can be tweaked directly in the device interface.
Some of the more advanced features include a digital rectifier to add some top end and sizzle and "Pump" – a specially designed dynamics tool to duck the delay out of the way of the dry signal and pull it back up again for long sustained trails.