Posts categorized "Synths & Instruments (Virtual)" Feed

Show Report: Two Days in Denver with Robert Henke (aka Monolake)

Photo: DMNS Gates Planetarium

Robert Henke of Monolake and one of the creators of Ableton live came through Denver and performed his work "Intersection" on Monday and then delivered a lecture at Denver University on Tuesday. This invitation only event was hosted by The Digital Media Studies program at the University of Denver.

This was a real treat as this was one of only a small number Robert's performances in the US. Here is a show report.

"Intersection" is a work which incorporates “field recordings made in Hanoi in 2009, reconstructed through narrative, music and sounds”. The performance was presented in the context of the amazing full-dome digital theater of the Gates Planetarium

Before the show started the event host Trace Reddell, Ph.D. (Director, Digital Media Studies University of Denver) introduced Robert who talked a little bit about the piece and the show.


Robert described the show as a real-time collaboration between himself and Gate’s Planetarium’s own VJ / Pilot / Scientist Ka Chun Yu Ph.D. on visuals (pictured below).


They had only met a few hours before the show and the concert was almost completely improvised.

Music and Sound
On the sound side of things, Robert describes “Intersection” as follows:

Intersection is entirely created using field recordings taken in November 2009 in and around the city of Hanoi in Vietnam. The field recordings were transferred to a laptop and layered, filtered, slowed down and processed in many ways to form the composition. The idea of using recordings of day by day sounds as material for musical expression is not new. It has been pioneered shortly after the advent of tape recorders in the late 1940 by the French composer Pierre Schaeffer and others. They coined the term 'musique concrete' for these kind of works.

Continue reading "Show Report: Two Days in Denver with Robert Henke (aka Monolake)" »

$49 Yard Sale on Image-Line Plugins Till August 31st

Image line is having a yard sale. The following plugins are $49 till August 31st. Bold indicates plugins I used in my last two albums. Hyperlink links to a Modulate This post/category for the product.

  • Drumaxx
  • Maximus
  • Sakura
  • Morphine
  • Toxic Biohazard
  • PoiZone
  • Slicex
  • Sawer
  • Gross Beat
  • Sytrus
    • DirectWave
    • Hardcore
    • Harmless
    • Ogun
    • Vocodex
    • Juice Pack (I like the Multiband compressor, WaveCandy oscilloscope, and the notes VST)
    • Edison Wav editor

    Watch embedded promo video

    Move info…

    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Musician, Boulder CO


    Overview and Time-Lapse Video of My Ableton Live Laptop Music Rig + Controllers


    Over the years I’ve played hundreds of shows as a keyboardist using my trusty Apex column with various hardware synths.  In late 2009 I had a vision to create a new Ableton Live laptop-centric rig using only virtual synths running in Live.

    While I wanted to play some keys, I was really excited to add alternative visual, tangible, and spatial controllers and selected Percussa AudioCubes, Tenori-On, a Novation Launchpad. I went with my trusty Remote SL 25 for keys as it also doubles as a controller for Live. In the 11th hour I added a Moog Ehterwave Theremin which was clearly necessary to play “They Walk Among Us” live :^).

    I’ve played enough shows to know that you can’t always count on basic lighting and P.A. to be adequate, so I added these elements to my requirements as well – just in case. My goal was to be able to run a room of 80 people if needed with just my rig. My other goal was 4 trips from the car load-in max with a 15 minute setup time or less.

    The sketch above shows all this on paper (click the image to see a larger view). After months of slowly building up gear, the reality - sans lighting - is shown in the fun little time-laps video embedded video below.

    Here is a list of what's in the rig:

    • Laptop: Windows 7 32-bit, HP DV6t-1200 Pavilion w/Core2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53 GHZ, 3G memory, 7200 RPM Drive (Update I now use an HP Envy 14 I5)
    • Soundcard: Novation NIO 2|4
    • DAW Software: Ableton Live 8 Suite
    • Primary Controllers: Novation Remote SL 25 (updated to MKII), Launchpad | Tenori-On | Percussa AudioCubes
    • Primary Virtual Synthesizers: Tone2 Gladiator 2| Native Instruments Absynth 5 | Camel Audio Alchemy | U-He Zebra 2, ACE | Ableton Sampler, Operator... | SonicCharge Synplant | Lennar Digital Sylenth1 | reFX Vanguard, Slayer2 | Image-Line Harmless, Toxic Biohazard | Cakewalk Dimension Pro | FAW Circle | DCAM: Synth Squad...
    • Hardware Synthesizers: Moog Etherwave Theremin, Waldorf Blofeld (not pictured)
    • PA: Bose L1 Compact
    • Stand: Odyssey ATT2 Table, Odyssey L2 Laptop Stand

    Links to lots of the software I use here:

    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO

    U-He Zebra 2.5


    I’m just now getting around to experimenting with some of the new features in Zebra 2.5 which was released in December. A couple of big new features worth noting are:

    • New effect plugin Zebrify that allows you to use Zebra 2.5 effects on any synth. In the picture above (click to enlarge) I’m using it to add effects to U-HE ACE but it would work with any device. I love the idea of mixing FX from one synth with sound sources from another.
    • XMF Filter module with 15 filter types
    • Improved preset management (Favorites, Junk, drag'n'drop organisation, collapsible folders)
    • Unlimited undo/redo for parameter
    • New "SR Decimate" filter mode
    • 100+ new presets by Howard Scarr
    • ModMatrix now supports up to 12 slots
    • Glide2 parameter which offsets Glide for modules with an even number (Osc2, Osc4, FMO2 etc.)

    Bottom line, the new features take an already fantastic and classic synth and improve it allow for even more sonic possibilities.

    I’m currently exploring the new XMF Filter module which is quite fantastic. Checkout this video overview from Urs.

    Watch embedded video.


    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO

    New "State of The Art" Expansion for Gladiator 2

    Click Map to Enlarge

    I  just bought the new “State of the Art” expansion for the fantastic Gladiator 2 virtual instrument for $69US. With this expansion you not only get new presets, but the expansion also unlocks new synth features.

    Tone2's Upgrade Model
    This is the third in a series of expansions for Gladiator 2, and with each expansion you get all the features from the previous expansion. So if you were to buy just this expansion you’d get the combined features from the two previous expansions. Note, you need to buy each expansion if you want access to the presets though.

    Rather than list the features as a bulleted list, I spent some time creating the mind map at the top of this post which summarizes the features in relation to the signal path in Gladiator2 with the idea that you can print this and use it as a quick reference as you explore the new features.

    “State of Art” includes 315 unique presets aimed at “miscellaneous genres of electronic music”. Sound designers who contributed were Markus Feil, Bastiaan van Noord, Bryan 'Xenos' Lee, Alusio de Lima, Dajan Izzo, Massimo Bosco, Marco Scherer and Patchen Preston.

    Included in this update are 26 additional waves for OSC5. OSC5 is a special oscillator that is used for playing back these sample and noise waves. As a consequence, a larger portion of the new presets are centered around motion pads, percussive sounds, and FX. In general this expansion really shows that Gladiator’s range.StateOfArtExpansion_samples

    Listen For Yourself
    Rather than me trying to describe all this further, take a few moments to checkout the audio demo in the player below (or you can download an mp3 verson if you don't see the embedded player).

    Bottom Line
    I use Gladiator 2 a lot. Its easy on the CPU and really cuts through the mix. It's all over my album REBOOT and in my new song "First Orbit". I also enjoy programming it so for me this update just makes it more powerful and was therefore a no-brainer.  

    Is it right for you? My opinion is that non-programmers will appreciate the 300+ new sounds. Sound designers will appreciate all the new synth features - especially if you are still running Gladiator 2.2 without any expansions.


    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

    Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
    Buy on iTunes

    Camel Audio Releases 2 New Sound banks and a New Skin

    Camel Audio just released two new sound banks. Biolabs: Alchemy LabsGenetically enhanced Biolabs Alchemy Labssoundscapes, mutant pads and sound effects machines for electronica, ambient and IDM.

    You can download from for $59. One of the coolest things about this sound back is that it also comes with a new skin which is shown below. Click the screenshot to enlarge.


    The second sound bank is Electronic AlchemyJunkie XL: Future Oldskool. Oldskool synths, fat basses and driving loops for dance, electronica & house.

    Again, available as a digital download for $59 at

    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