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Posts from November 2008

Step 1 - Create Hit Song, Step 2 - Backup Your Data!

Wd_terabyte Last week I accidentally clobbered three banks of purchased presets for my Vanguard virtual synthesizer. Luckily, I had backups and was able to get the presets back. Are you doing backups? If not you REALLY, REALLY need to start.

To help you get started I'll pass along a list of tools and methods I've come to count on:

Image Backups (OS, Programs, Data) / Off-site Storage
I use ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE HOME V11 (WIN 2000,XP,VISTA) software to make a disk mage backup of my entire hard disc to a Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 1 TB External Hard Drive. I store this in a bank vault. Every month or so, I get the drive from the vault and I update the backup set with a differential backup (backups up just what has changed since the original snapshot). I also place redundant data backups (see next section) on this drive as well then put it back in the vault. Why a vault - uh, break in, fire, flood, comet strike, alien invasion... I mean really you don't want lose your data right?

WdData Backups (Data only, No OS, No Program Settings) / Local Storage / Backup on the Road
I store all my data, including my "Ableton" directory which contains all the songs I'm working under one folder - "My Documents". I backup up this folder every week or so, more often when I'm working on something I really don't want to lose. I use a great app called Goodsync and backup on to a Western Digital WDML3200TN 320GB My Passport Elite 2.0 USB Hard Drive - Titanium.This drive is small, light, and is bus powered so you can also take it anywhere. Once you create a backup with Goodsync, subsequent backups only copy files that have changed. This lets me have a handy backup in case I clobber a data file or want to revert back to an older version without having to go to the vault. Backing up only data - and data that has changed from the last backup means that it only takes a few minutes at most.

Data Sync
If you use more than one computer, your going to want to sync folders. Goodsync handles this nicely and works with flash drives (I highly recommend the Sandisc Cruzer ), or with the small drive I mentioned above. I have also done data sync between systems via the internet with tools like GoToMyPC.

There you have it. No go backup your data.

Revised Feb 13, 2009:
Step 3: Make sure you have data stored in at least two places and one of those places is off site - like a bank vault.

Mark Mosher

Modulate This Review of Rob Papen Predator Virtual Synthesizer


I just spent a few weeks immersing myself in Rob Pappen's Predator Virtual Synthesizer.  I've reemerged and decided to share my thoughts on this synth with a review.

Predator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plugin (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory.

Sonic Range
Even though Predator is primarily a subtractive synth, it can produce a much wider range of sounds than your average analog synthesizer. This is made possible with a powerful yet straight-forward  three oscillator architecture. For each oscillator you can select from one of 128 wave  forms. In addition to analog waveforms, Rob Papen has included, additive, spectral, pink & white noise as well. Each oscillator also has Pulse Width Modulation and oscillators 2 & 3 have modes for Ring  Modulation and FM Synthesis. In plain English, you don't need to understand complex harmonic structures to produce complex sounds quickly.


Predator_gator Predator allows for 3 effects per preset. The list includes Mono Delay, Stereo Delay,  Comb, Reverb, Chorus, Chorus/Delay, Flanger, Phaser, Wah/Delay, Distortion, Low  Fi, Amp Simulator with 5 models, Waveshaper, Stereo Widener, Autopan, Gator,  Vocoder, FX multi-filter, 5 Band Equalizer, Compressor, Ensemble, Cabinet Simulator,  Multi- distortion and AutoWah. Two FX modulation sources are available for connecting midi or synth controls to FX parameters. 

The "Gator" effect is a trance gate. "Vocoder" is a 32 band vocoder that can use either samples or sound (input) that is fed into Predator as a modulator. So, creating cool vocoded effects is a snap.

I should also mention that there is a stand-alone version of the effects processor called PredatorFX which allows you to use these effects on any audio channel in your DAW.



Predator has a 16 step pattern based arpeggiator with some excellent features that might make you use this arpeggiator more than the one in your DAW.  Some stand out features include the ability to enter note values for a step by using your midi keyboard. You can also set note velocity, swing and slide amount controls.  One really cool feature is the ability to use an  arppegiator step as a free modulation source. You can even control  arpeggiator latch using a midi sustain pedal. Lastly, you can copy, paste, clear, move, reverse, randomize and turn off / on controls, for both selected steps or all steps.

Right Click and  MIDI Learn

The interface supports right-click for access to additional parameters. For example, you can reset a knob to its default state or execute MIDI learn to map knobs and sliders on your controller to a Predator parameter.

One Page Interface
What’s amazing about Predator is that almost all the parameters fit on its clean one page interface.  A few parameters require you toggle to a different panel (see this article). The layout is logical and simple and if you’re familiar with subtractive synthesis you’ll be creating new custom presets in no time.

There is something for everyone inside of Predator. Musicians and Producers will love the large library of sounds, the bank manager,  and how easy it is to "tweak" using the single page interface. Sound designers will love the flexible Free Modulation scheme with 8 modulation routings for connecting 40 modulation sources and 65 modulation destinations.

At $149 EU/ $179 US you'll be hard pressed to find a virtual synthesizer with more bang for the buck. For many I think this will become their "goto" synth.

Learn More
I’ve covered the core elements of Predator in this review but there are many, many more features I’ve left for you to discover. Checkout the links below for more.

Mark Mosher

Solid Sounds Free Live Pack for Ableton Live

Ableton just posted "Solid Sounds". It's  a free Live Pack for registered Live/Live LE users and contains over 400 MB of content featuring 400 loops, 128 Simpler presets and 12 creative instrument Racks in a variety of musical styles. The library was created in collaboration with Loopmasters.

Samples are loaded under "Samples->Loopmasters".


Simpler presets are under "Instruments->Simpler->Loopmasters".


Racks are under "Instruments->Instrument Rack->Loopmasters".


The racks are setup so that Macro knob 1 allows you to quickly scroll through layers in a rack. Very cool!


Download this free Live Pack from

Mark Mosher

Thumbs Up for Keyboard Magazine Makeover

Kbd_cover I've been reading Keyboard magazine for a loooong time. In the last few years I've felt that magazines like Future Music and Computer Music were doing a better job keeping up and covering contemporary electronic musicians. I've been so disappointed in recent issues of Keyboard that for the first time since I subscribed, I was about to let my subscription lapse.

Then I received the October 2008 edition in my mailbox. I'm happy to report the magazine has undergone a complete makeover. New fonts and layout makes the magazine very easy to read. Much better coverage contemporary artists and new technology. Great tutorials on the tools I'm actually using.

So to the editors of keyboard I'd like to say nicely done! I'll definitely be renewing my subscription.


Mark Mosher