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Posts from December 2009

Modulate This! - Best of 2009 Electronic Music Tech


Despite the economic downturn, 2009 was thankfully a huge year when it came to new technology for electronic music artists. Rather than try and cover every significant release, I’ll instead list some of my favorite products and notable trends.

The Year of Abletonimage
What a big year for Ableton. Live 8 with great new features set, Max for Live, 10th Anniversary of Ableton, launch of Live Intro, dedicated hardware controllers (APC40 & Launchpad). Awesome!

Grid (Matrix) Controllers

Grid controllers everywhere in 2009. New controllers like the APC40, Launchpad and Bliptronics 5000. Continued development with existing controllers like Tenori-On and Monome. The grid metaphor also became quite prevalent in apps as well. I have the APC40 and Tenori-On and simply love them.

Percussa Audio Cubes “Tangible Interface”

Not new in 2009 but new to me, Percussa AudioCubes are self-powered wireless computer systems. Cubes can detect and interact with each other and can detect the proximity of your hand near a cube face sensor and send this controller information to your DAW or to various free software apps provided by Percussa. I working with a 4 cube configuration within Ableton Live.

Fantastic Synths
A great year for virtual instruments. Below is a list of new and updates synths that I used over and over again in 2009 for both sound design and for music performance.

  • u-he ACE (Any Cable Anywhere)

    This synth just released by I use it all the time now! It’s a fantastic virtual analog synth with a great UI with patch cables. Sounds like butta’.

Continue reading "Modulate This! - Best of 2009 Electronic Music Tech" »

Ableton Live Quality Discussions in the Blogospher + Live 8.1.1 Release


The blogosphere is all a buzz with people discussing Gerhard Behles’s (CEO of Ableton) recent post on Ableton Quality on the Ableton forum -

“We have now decided to:

  • suspend all development towards new features while the whole team joins forces to address the current issues. This effort is open ended and will result in a free Live 8 update;
  • make process changes to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

We hope this plan finds your understanding and agreement. We'd like to wish you a very happy holiday season and a wonderful 2010!"

And on the heels of this announcement. A new bug fix release was just posted!!! Live 8.1.1 is now online -

Three Common Responses
Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music has categorized response to Ableton’s post as:

1. “Boy, I’m frustrated that this has come to this in the first place. Live isn’t reliable for me, and I paid for it.”
2. “I’m really happy with Live, so I don’t know what the fuss is about.”
3. “I have seen some issues, but Ableton is working through them, and I’m glad they’re open about it.”

My Take on This
I put myself category 2. I've been on Live 8 Suite since it's release and have found very few issues - and I'm on Vista no less. I'm currently on 8.0.9. I didn't got to 8.1.1 yet. I use it every day with piles of VSTs. I composed, produced and mastered my recent album with it.

Clearly some people are having some issues. I’ve seen reports of issues with 8.1. Perhaps 8.1.1 will improve the situation.

If you were just about to take the 8 upgrade plunge don't let this announcement dissuade you from at least trying out 8 via the trial. You can test it and see if it works for you.

Software companies are all in a race for market share while balancing quality. The pendulum swings to innovation and then back to stability. I've always felt Ableton has “baked” quality in. Clearly they feel they've lost a bit of focus in process of "baking it in". This announcement is just good transparent customer service and an acknowledgement that after a big year of new features they are going to stabilize the platform before the do the next round.

Seems reasonable to me.

Join the conversation about this on:

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist

Keith Emerson Holiday Greetings 2009

I stumbled on to this and thought I'd share - Keith Emmerson Happy Holiday Greetings 2009 YouTube video.

See other Kieth Emerson vids on his YouTube channel -

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer
Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
Buy on iTunes

Holiday Gift from ModulateThis! FREE Presets for Harmless Synthesizer

Rather than send a greeting card to you all with a yearly letter ;^) - I spent some time yesterday and today making some presets for you with the fabulous new Harmless virtual synth. FYI - I updated my previous post on Image-Line's Harmless to include a mini-review.

As I mentioned in my previous post, you can get Harmless "name your price" ($9 minimum) until 12/31 or you could also just grab the free trial to experiment with these presets.

Visit the Download page for a link to the presets.

Also, check out this video tour I created where I walk throught the presets. My personal favorite is "The Krell" at 3:48.

Happy holidays!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
Buy on iTunes

Image-Line Harmless - Name Your Price till 12/31/2009

(click image to enlarge) 

Image-Line, the makers of FL Studio, have released a new synth called Harmless. I’ve seen posts on this on other blogs but wanted to post here as well as this is such a good deal. You can name your price on this new synth ($9 min charge to cover overhead) until 12/31.

According to Image-Line,

“Harmless is an additive synthesizer doing subtractive synthesis. Or if you prefer, a subtractive synthesizer powered by an additive synthesis engine….Simpler to program, yet packed with evil features. Under the hood, you will find unique options, like linking the phaser's output to partials frequencies. The LFO section can act as a special modulation source, linking the phaser's width to the velocity, or the pitch to the filter's envelope.”

I can’t personally vouch for it as I’ve only started playing with it but it seems like a pretty awesome offer for a synth of this caliber.

Update: I've now spent many hours with Harmless and think it's one of Image-line's finest synths. I own many additive synthesizers and while I like additive, I think that for most it's just too complicated to get a predictable result for most people.

With Harmless, Image-Line has done a nice job simplifying additive. Rather then having to edit mutliple "harmonic snapshots", you instead use modulators, filter, phaser, and a harmonizer to automate additive harmonics. This is a really fun and fast way to go. If you know subtractive synthesis, it shouldn't take you long to get to the point where you are creating fantastic patches. They've included some nice tutorials in the manual and some template presets to help you get your mind around how all this works.

Another great feature is that the filters and phasers slopes can even be defined in Hz resolution instead of octaves. Filters also support self-oscillation.

The synth has an adequate effects section with chorus, delay, reverb and compressor.

Most importantly, it sounds terrific and is more CPU friendly than many additives. It has incredible sonic range and fantastic bottom end. Checkout some of audio demos of the FREE presets I'm working on to hear for yourself.

Harmless is one of Image-Line's best efforts, and my guess is that this will be priced in the $75-$100 US range after the group buy so seems like now is the time to buy.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

Percussa Audio Cubes: Lights & Tangible Interface with Ableton Live and Alchemy

Mark Mosher Percussa Audio Cubes

I recently added Percussa AudioCubes to my studio and performance rig. While I’m planning a longer post offering an overview of how AudioCubes work, this is a quick post to mention two applications of AudioCube technology I’ve been experimenting with.


First, I’m using them as lights. You can send RGB values to the cubes via MIDI. In the picture above, you can see a color fade being sent to an AudioCube via an Ableton MIDI clip. In a nutshell, you can sequence cubes as multi-color light sources against a timeline.  Controller number 14 is used for Red, 15 for Green and 16 for Blue.


Second, I’ve been experimenting with using AudioCubes+Ableton Live +VSTs to create "performance instruments” that I can play via cubes. In the picture above (click to enlarge), , I’m using Camel Audio Alchemy as a MIDI device with Ableton Live 8. The picture shows crop of a free Percussa app called MIDIBridge which is used to configure the cube settings. I’m using MIDI Yoke ports (I’m on Vista-32) between MIDIBridge and Ableton Live.

I am mapping device parameters to the X/Y of the remix pad in Alchemy. I then MIDI map faces of a an AucioCube in “sensor” mode to the performance parameters. In sensor mode, the AudioCube detects the proximity of my hands to their sides of the cube face and sends out a continuous controller value based on my hand position. So one face controls X, another Y. The same idea would work with Native Instruments KORE2.

Result = radical sonic changes within Camel Audio Alchmy presets with real time control via an AudioCube.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
Buy on iTunes

U-He Ace Tip: Resizing Interface to Fit Your Window

Want to resize U-HeAce to fit your display? Right-click on the interface anywhere there is not a control and pick a window size from the list. I wish more virtual synths supported this feature.