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Posts from December 2008

Modulate This! - Best Products of 2008 for Electronic Musicians


Hope you all are having a restful holiday season. I continuously strive for the leanest rig that will give me the best results. In this post I’ll offer a list products that make up the core of my rig. Consider this my “If I was stranded on a desert island” list for 2008.  Note that some products in my list were not new in 2008, but I’m still using them tons so they’ve made the list. If you want to see all the elements of my rig, check out this photo album on MySpace.

Best DAW – Ableton Live 7, $499
01_live_midnightFor me, Live has been become more than a DAW. It’s at the core of everything I do and after years of use feels more like a musical instrument to me than some piece of software. See all my posts on Live here. Official Live site is here.

Best Hybrid Synthesizer - Camel Audio Alchemy , $249
imageCamel Audio just released a new synth called Alchemy. They've been working on it for 4 years. It's an additive, spectral, granular, virtual analog synth. The interface is really well done with a clever scheme for routing modulation. I think it’s one of the finest virtual instruments I’ve ever used. I’ll be writing more posts about this synth in the future. For now you can learn more about it here.

Runner up for me in this category is Native Instruments Absynth 4. It’s not new this year but is also a great synth. I also want to mention Spectosonics Omnisphere. I don’t own it and I haven’t tried it (no demo available), but from what I’ve read and seen in demo videos it’s a monster synth. I went with Alchemy because it has a much smaller footprint and has more features for those like me who want to manipulate our own samples.

Best Virtual Analog Synthesizer - Rob Papen’s Predator, $179
predator_advancedPredator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plug-in (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. Even though Predator didn’t release this year, Rob Papen keeps the synth fresh with free updates. More posts here …

Best Controller Keyboard - Novation Remote SL, Starting at $299

02_novation_remotesl25 I still love the way this controller and Automap 2 software helps make using software more like using a physical instrument. Check out official site here. I still get a lot of traffic on my posts on the M-Audio Axiom series controllers so it’s clearly a popular choice if you can’t afford the Remote SL.

Best Controllers for Those on the Go -Korg Nano Series, $49-59


This year Korg released USB powered slim-line controllers nanoKey, nanoKontrol, and nanoPad. I have Key and Kontrol and can say they are fantastic if you want more control while making music from your laptop. More here

Best Bang for the Buck USB Audio Interface - Novation Nio, $249
image Microphone/instrument or line-level sources, low latency effects (Direct Mix Monitoring, 'Overloud' Guitar amp and distortion pedal effects, effects from the Supernova II and signal processing from Focusrite), two headphone outputs, four RCA outputs. All this for $249! See official site.

Best iPhone Music App – iDrum, Ocarina
image Hmmm. This is a tough one as there is so much innovation going on in this space. My two favorites are iDrum and Ocarina.

iDrum has a great interface for making beats on the go and synchronizes with iDurm for the PC and Mac. Read more about it here.

Ocarina turns your iPhone into a true musical instrument. It uses every feature of the iPhone and has some fantastic social connection features. Checkout the official site here.

Best Field Recorder – Zoom H2, $179
image I just got one of these back in November. It’s really fantastic. It weighs 4 ounces and has 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration. You can also use it as a USB mic. I blogged about it here.

Buy Online
Most of these items can be purchased online. Support Modulate This! buy using these links: Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, Zzounds.

Share Your List
I’m sure many of you out there have a your own list so feel free to share your list using the comments link at the bottom of this post.

See You in 2009!
Have a safe new years eve and I’ll see you in 2009.

Mark Mosher

Camel Audio Alchemy Now Available. What can you do with 600 Oscillators?


I've been anxiously awaiting the release of Camel Audio's new monster synth Alchemy (click image above to see large view). The technology and presets been being developed for years. Their web site had a "Coming Soon Autumn 2008" teaser on it for quite some time. Well the wait is over and today Alchemy is available for purchase!

What is Alchemy all about?

  • Additive, spectral and granular synthesis and resynthesis, sampling, virtual analog engine with unison and PWM.
  • 4 stereo sources each of which has additive, VA, spectral, granular and sampler engine, morph between sources using advanced harmonic blending and precise time alignmen, crossfade between sounds with vector mixin.
  • Performance controls and remix for easy tweaking by non-programmers. 16 controls per preset carefully assigned by the preset designer, for instant access to each presets most tweakable paramete.
  • 8 remix pad variations per preset - click and drag to morph between variations two XY squares
  • You can import your own samples from SFZ, WAV or AIFF files.
  • 2GB of samples and analysed content.
  • 300 presets covering everything from pads and soundscapes to keys, basses and leads designed by many of the worlds top sound designers.
  • 16 effects types including all of the CamelSpace and CamelPhat effects!
  • 128 Step Groove Arpeggiator
  • Extensive modulatation routing with midi learn

I think what's most exciting is that Alchemy builds on the strong additive feature set of Cameleon 5000 and takes additive, spectral synthesis, and granular synthesis to the next level. Alchemy has 600 oscillators. At this resolution, post resynthesis audio sounds almost like a sample but you get additive control. Fantastic! I've pasted in the feature set from their site and bolded what I think are the most innovative items.


  • Very high quality analysis and resynthesis - import vocal phrases, drum loops made possible by  600 stereo oscillators
  • Realtime modulation of amplitude, pitch and pan spectrums by any modulator - for example, control the odd/even harmonic balance, pan partials using LFOs, stretch or contract the harmonic spectrum and lots more
  • Individual amplitude, pitch and pan envelopes for each partial
  • Easy to use additive editor with unique detail knob to simplify sounds for editing

Spectral Synthesizer

  • Phase vocoder analysis for high quality pitch and time stretching
  • Noise resynthesis mode using 256 band noise shaping
  • Advanced graphical sonogram editing - choose from a range of brushes and select the colour and opacity
  • Graphical spectral cut, copy and paste - cut or copy and paste specific frequency and time regions

Granular Synthesizer

  • Sampler or granular playback modes
  • freely modulatable parameters including grain size, density (up to 10 simultaneous grains), random grain time and random pan
  • Selectable and customizable granular window shapes

Alchemy costs $249 / €199 / £179, and is now available. To really get your mind around Alchemy checkout videos on the page listed below as they are very detailed. If the videos and sample audio are any indication, this synth is going to be a monster and a fantastic tool not only for musicians but for sound designers.


Mark Mosher

Add Mark Mosher on...


One of the best parts about working on Modulate This is that I get to meet a lot of interesting artists, sound designers, producers and developers. So, I thought I'd do a post with links to sites where you can follow/add me. Check out the links below.

Modulate This!
Of course if you haven't done so, you can subscribe to this blog.

Twitter In addition to blogging here, I've taken to micro-blogging on twitter. It's less formal than on Modulate This and I post more often as I wander about the internet and such. It's more of a blend of music along with my my other interests in internet marketing strategy (day job), visual planning and productivity, life around Boulder/Denver.

Electronic Musician
I try not and go on too much about my music projects in this blog and stick to posts that are educational and informational for electronic musicians and producers. However, if you want to connect with me as a musician use the links below.

Video Tour of Image-Line's Gross Beat Plug-in

Last night I bought Image-Line's Morphine synth. As part of their holiday sale, I got their brand new plug-in Gross Beat for FREE ($99 value).

It's a great plug-in - so much so I stayed up way too late experimenting with it. To help you get your mind around the plug-in and jump start your use of it, I produced a video tour.


Mark Mosher

Image-Line Holiday Sale - Maximus and Morphine Only $99 a Piece + Free Copy of Gross Beat


There are a lot of sales going on right now so make sure you stop by your favorite companies site to see what deals they might have.

Image line has put both Morphine (virtual synthesizer that does additive synthesis and re-synthesis) and Maximus (Mastering Maximizer) on sale. Here is the deal:

  • Every order of $99 and more comes with a free copy of Gross Beat (value $99).
  • Maximus is available for $99 instead of $189 (AND includes a free copy of Gross Beat)
  • Morphine is available for $99 instead of $159 (AND includes a free copy of Gross Beat)

I've been waiting for Morphine to go on sale. I've spent a lot of time with the demo and think it has a great interface for additive synthesis. I especially love the re-synthesis capabilities and plan on using it to create some custom sounds for future projects. Needless to say I just hit the buy button. So it's now official, I own all of Maxx Claster's synthesizers (Poizone, Toxic Biohazard, and Morphine).


Mark Mosher

New Lower Price on Zoom H2 Portable 2-Track SD Recorder


I just saw that has lowered their price on the Zoom H2 recorder to $179! I have one of these and highly recommend it. It's very inexpensive yet has a great set of features for the price.

Here is a summary of features:

  • It weighs 4 ounces.
  • 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration.
  • The H2 records on Secure Digital (SD) media and a 512MB SD card is included. With a 4GB SD memory card, the H2 provides up to 2 hours recording at 96kHz, 6 hours at 44.1kHz, or up to a staggering 138 hours in MP3. Store your recordings on a PC or Mac with its USB 2.0 port. And you can use its time stamping function for reference during production.
  • Use the H2 as a USB Mic for recording directly to a computer.
  • Comes with earbuds, an 1/8 inch stereo to RCA cable, a mic clip adapter, tripod stand, USB cable, an AC adapter and a 512MB SD card.

Here are some thoughts on how you can use this little beast:

  • Field recording for found sound
  • Record band practice
  • Use it as a song writing tool
  • Record meetings and notes
  • Use it as a USB mic (great for podcasters)

The inclusion of all the accessories and the ability to use this as a USB mic make it this a no brainer buy at this price if you are in the market.


Mark Mosher

Ableton Holiday Sale - 25% Off Selected Products

Ableton is running a holiday sale -

They are also giving away a free live pack - Solid Sounds to all registered Live/Live LE users. Click here to download Solid Sounds. If you do download Solid Sounds, make sure you check out this Modulate This post on the topic -

Mark Mosher