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).
I've only scratched the surface with my first impression notes above. Below is a more complete list of what's new from the ElextraX to Electra2 upgrade page.
- Over 700 additional patches with over 1500 sounds
- Completely reworked all factory sounds
- Comfortable patch browser
- Sample editor
- Physical modeling synthesis
- 16 new effects
- 5 new filters
- 236 additional waveforms
- Enhanced sound quality
- New graphics
- Better user interface
- Enhanced performance
- A huge number of further new features and enhancements
- Electra2 is downward compatible with the previous version
New features - effects:
- "Smart Unison" creates the sound of several detuned stereo voices with very low CPU demands
- "Phaser FB" is a great sounding phaser with feedback
- "Phaser Stereo" is stereo phaser with a vocalic sound
- "Vibrato" detunes the sound with an LFO
- "Vibrato stereo" can be used instead of chorus if a tight timing is needed
- "Tremolo" modulates the amplitude with an LFO
- "Tremolo stereo" add stereo panning to the sound
- "Reverb Infinity" has an infinitely long reverb tail (great for Pads, FX and Ambient tracks)
- "Reverb Big" simulates a huge room with lots of diffusion
- "Reverb Glass" simulates a bright room which absorbs low frequencies
- "Reverb Band" simulates a room which absorbs low and high frequencies
- "Reverb Real" simulates a realistic room
- "Loudness" equalizes the non-linearities of the human ear, offers a more fat sound and raises the perceived volume.
- "Bass boost" equalizes the non-liearities of the human ear in the low frequency range, offers a more fat sound and raises the perceived volume.
- "Vocals 2" is a vocal filter. Cutoff controls to vocal (AEIOU) and reso the formant frequency
- "vocal AM" is a vocalic sounding filter with amplitude modulation
- "LP AM" is a lowpass with amplitude modulation
- "BP Boobs" is a double bandpass filter. Reso controls the peak distance
- "M Shape" is a lowpass and a highpass in series. Reso controls the bandwidth
New synthesis method - Physical Modelling Synthesis:
- New resonator: Filter->"Phys String" simulates a plucked string. "Cutoff" controls tuning, "Reso" controls damping and "Analog" controls decay.
- New resonator: Filter->"Phys Flute" simulates a blown tube. "Cutoff" controls tuning, "Reso" controls damping and "Analog" controls decay.
- New oszillator: Noise->Pink is usefull for general purpose and plucked string simulation.
- New template: Init->"Create patch: PhysicalGuitar" initializes a Physical Modelling default patch.
- New template: Init->"Create patch: PhysicalFlute" initializes a Physical Modelling default patch.
Hint: To tune a resonator set "Cutoff" to 50% (strg+left click) and "filter key follow" to 100%.
New features - user interface:
- Added a comfortable patch browser with a keyboard which can be opened by clicking 'BROWS'
- Added mouseover support: Parameter values are displayed when mouse is hovered over them
- Midi learn support by right-click on a knob
- Edit multiple layers simuntaniously with copy->"Multilayer edit"
- Help->"Online video tutorial"
- Init->"Reset all" is a new button to reset all parameters t o default value
- Init->"Reset synth arpeggiator" is a new button to reset the arpeggiator
- File->"Save synth layer 1-4 to patch" saves a single layer
- Information and tags about the current patch is shown in 'info' tab of the patch browser
- Added support for a skinable user interface
- Sample loop/marker can be edited by clicking and moving the mouse on the wave display
- Sample window shows loop/marker start and end as dotted lines
- Aggressive focus which can be necessary for mousewheel support in some hosts can be forced by placing ElectraMouse.cfg in the plugin directory
- Hotkeys "F1","F2","F3","F4" to switch the synth layer (if the host supports it)
- Hotkey "ESC", a panic button, kills all currently played notes
New features - sample editing:
- Sample->Edit->"Autotune" automatically tunes the sample
- Sample->Edit->"Crossloop" automatically loops the sample with a crossblend
- Sample->Edit->"Export as wav" stores the sample content to a wav file
- Sample->Edit->"Reverse" makes the sample play backwards
- Sample->Edit->"Volume" maximizes the sample volume without clipping it
- Sample->Edit->"Volume +6dB" doubles the sample volume with clipping
- Sample->Edit->"Volume -6dB" lowers the sample volume
- Sample->Edit->"Fade in" fades the selected area in
- Sample->Edit->"Fade out" fades the selected area out
- Sample->Edit->"Silence" mutes the selected area
- Sample->Edit->"Trim" cuts everything but the selected area
- Sample->Edit->"Cut" removes the selected area
- Sample->Edit->"Tube saturate" applies soft tube saturation to the sample
- Sample->Edit->"Differenciate" makes the sample sound more bright
- Sample->Edit->"Square" doubles all frequencies
- Sample->Edit->"Sinoid shaper" is a soft waveshaper
- Sample->Edit->"Alias" makes the sample sound like an old sampler
- Sample->Edit->"Crush" is a digital vintage effect reduces the bitdepth of the sample
- Sample->Edit->"Selfsync" applies aoft selfsyncronisation to the sample
- Sample->Edit->"Remove DC" removes DC from the sample
- Sample->Edit->"Noisify" fills the envelope of the sample with noise
- Sample->Edit->"Loop all" resets the loop points
- Sample->Edit->"Loop to 100%" sets the loop points
- Sample->Edit->"Tune C5 44100Hz" sets sample tuning to a C5 sampled at 44.1Khz samplerate
- Sample->Edit->"Tune C5 96000Hz" sets sample tuning to a C5 sampled at 96Khz samplerate
Hint: Most sample edits are applied to the selected marker area. Click on the sample display and move the mouse to change the selection.
Enhancements - sound quality:
- Psychoacoustic processing has been redesigned. It offers a more transparent sound, a higher perceived volume and more dynamic expression.
- "Fat tune" has a much smarter microtuning algorithm. It delivers more harmonic and transparent chords.
- 6 point splines for ultrahigh precision sample playback
- Very high frequencies sound more transparent.
- "Reverb Hall" and "Reverb Cathedral" have a more open sound, less flutter and less detuning.
- "Delay" was extended with a subsonic filter which results in a more transparent mix
- "Multitap" sounds less out-of-tune
- "Flanger" has a triangle LFO now.
- "Analog" drift is more subtle and delivers a more harmonic sound.
- Resynthesis of wavetables gives better results
- Higher precision LFOs
- Replaced "Reverb Cathedral" with a better sounding one. The original one is still available as "Reverb Cathedral old".
- Replaced "Reverb Hall" with a better sounding one. The original one is still available as "Reverb Hall old".
- Replaced "Psychoacoust." with a better sounding algorithm called "Loudness". The old one is still available.
- Replaced "Analog sound" with a better sounding algorithm called "Bass boost". The old one is still available.
- "Quick import vocoder" results in a better patch
Enhancements - user interface:
- New skins
- Effects are more easy to use, since good default values are choosen automatically
- Init->"Reset synth layer" has been enhanced and gives better results
- When samples are loaded a dialog box "Autotune Yes/No?" appears
- High precision knob value editing by pressing shift + left mousebutton
- Popup menus and are more comfortable and faster to use
- Popup menus on PC waste less space and close automatically after 10 seconds
- More responsive GUI
- octave and semi are not longer changed after sample loading if no tuning info was found
- Wavetable->Resynthesis automatically sets pulsewidth to 0
- List selectors like waveforms can now be quick selected with the mousewheel in a more relieable way
- About page can be shown directly from help menu
- Lists with two rows have been replaced with more comfortable click selectors
- New installers for PC
- New standalone versions for PC
- Category is syncronized after saving patches
- On start the default category is ActionSequence with 0Welcome.fxp
- Higher precision positioning of elements
- Mousewheel support for arpeggiator slots (if host supports it)
Further new features and enhancements:
- New playmode "Polyphonic 1" which is suitable for punchy bass sounds
- 3 additional unipolar LFOs as matrix sources ("LFO1+,LFO2+,LFO3+")
- 17 additional sine LFOs as matrix sources ("Sine 1/64 Hz",...)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Chord D" (0,+1octave,+1ocave+third,+1octave+fifth)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Chord E" (0,+fifth,+1octave,+1octave+third,+1octave+fifth,+2octaves,+2octaves+third,+2octaves+fifth)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Fifth A" (0,+fifth)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Fifth B" (0,+fifth,+1octave)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Fifth C" (0,+fifth,+1octave,+1octave+fifth)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Third A" (0,+third)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Third B" (0,+third,+1octave)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Third C" (0,+1octave,+1octave+third)
- Arpeggiator has a new autochord "Third D" (0,+third,+1octave,+1octaves+third)
- Less demo restrictions
- Lower CPU if Reverb or Flanger is used
- Lower CPU for GUI
- Better host compatibility
- More responsive GUI
- Better overall performance
- More robustness
- Renamed synthesis mode 'Virtual Analog' to 'Wavetable'
- Renamed synthesis mode 'Wavetable' to 'Custom Wave'
- Renamed Lfo mode 'Global' to 'Song'
- Renamed Lfo mode 'Voice' to 'Trigger'
- Renamed Step Lfo mode 'Free' to 'Song' *
- Renemaed Step Lfo mode 'Retrigger' to 'Trigger'
DOWNLOAD DEMO, WATCH TUTORIAL VIDEOS, LISTEN TO DEMOS, GET MORE DETAILS...
Tone2 offers a demo version plus video overviews, sample audio, and even more detail at https://tone2.com/html/electra2%20overview.html.
Electra2 is available for $189 from the buy button on https://tone2.com/html/electra2%20overview.html
The upgrade from ElectraX to Electra2 is $89. Learn more about the upgrade process here: https://tone2.com/html/upgrade1.html.
If you are an existing user as you'll gain even more sonic range with even faster workflow. If you don't own ElectraX and are looking for a great all-around desert island instrument with interactive visual feedback Electra2 is worth a look. Either way, grab the demo and give it a spin.
Watch for future posts as I continue to explore Electra2. I’ll keep them in the original ElectraX category so you also see past and still relevant articles on ElectraX.