Posts categorized "Effects Plugins" Feed

How to Trigger Absynth 5 FX Envelopes with MIDI Notes in Ableton Live


In a previous post I mentioned the use of stand-alone FX versions of synths like Zebrify,  Absynth FX, and Predator  FX as effects processors. Here is a tip for you Absynth FX fans who are using Ableton Live and want to process the output of a another virtual MIDI instrument and then trigger envelopes in Absynth FX.

MIDI Won’t Pass Through By Default

If you drop Absynth FX into a MIDI track  that already has a synth in it – say ZebraHZ - the audio will be processed as you’d expect via the patch settings. MIDI notes however are not passed through to Absynth FX which means the envelopes won’t be triggered.

Ableton Routing to the Rescue

  1. Drop Absynth FX into '”A Return”
  2. Route the ZebraHZ audio to with the “Send A” knob.  I set the track to “Sends Only” so I only hear audio routed through Absynth FX.
  3. Create a MIDI Track in Live and route the MIDI to “A Absynth 5 FX” return. (Click the image above to see the screen shot full screen).
  4. At this point you can arm both the MIDI Track and the ZebraHZ track and play in real-time and notes will go to Absynth FX as well. Instead, I created a MIDI clip with a note pattern that repeats and…
  5. triggers the Absynth FX Envelope while I’m playing different notes in ZebraHZ.

Ok, give it a go and expect crazy and interesting results from the most epic Absynth FX and monster envelopes implementation.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

Loving Waldorf Largo 1.5 + Picture of Waveform After Abusing the New Chorus Effect


In late January I purchased Waldorf Largo and I’ve been using the hell out of it for work on my next album. It is now one of my most heavily used synths in my rig and I’ve crated a fairly large number of custom presets from INIT.

IMHO this is one of the finest virtual analog instruments on the market and the sonic capabilities are kind of mind blowing when you dig into the synth. Also, Largo is architecturally 98% the same as my Blofeld (look for a future post on how they compare) there was almost no learning curve for me.

I passed on Largo when it first released because I’m not a fan of the eLicenser technology and when I tried an earlier demo there were some oddities on Windows. The 1.5 update fixed these issues and added some great new features (see what’s new here) and once I tried this version I fell in love with the synth right away - so much so I decided to give in to the eLicenser dongle Regarding eLicenser, you don’t need a dongle if your only going to run on Largo one system, but I bit the bullet and bought the Steinberg USB Key so I could use Largo on my primary and backup systems. I also got the boxed edition so I could get the manual in paper form which ended up being a wise decision as the documentation is quite good.

One of the best new features in 1.5 is Largo’s new Chorus effect. It’s incredible how you can radically modulate it in-real-time without producing unwanted popping or stepping artifacts.This goes for almost every parameter in the synth by the way.


Waldorf describes the Chorus on the product page:

Largos new Chorus comes in three flavours. The one with two stages you already know from earlier versions, and now also with four and six stages to create lush pads and strings. Spread controls the behaviour of the four additional stages, when set to zero, all six stages run in sync with a fix offset creating the ensemble effect of old string machines. When set higher, the modulation is increasingly decorrelated to make the Chorus thicker and wider. But we didn't stop here. We've also added Feedback to make the Chorus effect even thicker. And together with the quite long delay time, you can now abuse the Chorus as an additional Comb filter (as if the Largo hadn't enough of them already).

I wrote a custom patch from INIT, then used Ableton Live automation clips to crank on chorus depth and speed during playback over a 2 bars.


Below is the resultant waveform after I resampled the output from Largo. Crazy!


I’ve written an entire song for the new album based on this waveform, variants of the waveform, plus live perofrmance playing the patch on keys while clips modulate parameters in real-time.

Sorry to be a tease – but you’ll have to wait to hear the audio till the album gets closer to release ;^)

Update: I made a t-shirt out of this waveform - you should buy it - you'd look cool in it!

Activate t-shirt2 

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO

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

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

Slicex Available as a Stand Alone VSTi - On Sale for $79


One of the most interesting new features of FL Studio 8 was the introduction Slicex. According to Image Line, the makers of FL Studio, "Slicex uses advanced beat detection algorithms to slice song/percussion samples into pieces and make them independently playable from the Piano roll or controller."

Image Line has made this tool available as a Stand-alone VSTi so you can run the tool within your favorite host.

I don't really see a need for this plugin for Ableton users considering we have slicing with drum racks, but this might be just the ticket if your using a host that doesn't have built-in slicing.

They are selling Slicex for $99 but it's currently on sale for $79.


Mark Mosher

Celemony's Direct Note Access Pitch Correction for Melodyne 2 Lets You Edit Notes Within Chords

View video on YouTube:

Celemony's Melodyne is an established tool for pitch shifting, time stretching, correcting the intonation and timing of singing, audio quantization, producing harmonies, and remixing and restructuring the melody, tempo or timing of existing recordings.

The video above shows a technology preview of their new Direct Note Access (DNA) which will allow you to access and edit individual notes in polyphonic audio material!!! The demo is pretty mind blowing.

Applications for this sort of technology are:

  • Edit individual notes within polyphonic material
  • Reshaping harmonies and rhythms
  • Tune a guitar after recording
  • Correct harmony vocals that are out of tune, or fix their timing
  • Turn major chords to minor (and vice versa)
  • Switch tone scales
  • Mute single notes
  • Remix volume levels after a performance has been recorded

This feature set will be available with Melodyne 2 which is due out in the Fall of 2008. According to their webiste, "The full version will cost US$399 (349 Euro); the update from Version 1 will cost US$129 (129 Euro). Customers purchasing Melodyne plugin after the 12th March 2008 will receive the update free of charge.

More info:

Mark Mosher