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Entries in synth (47)
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Pumping synths are a hugely popular effects used in several music production genres.
In a recent article I mentioned some of the delight I had when trying new synths in my distant past, part of that was finding presets that made me smile often just because of sheer gratification, the other part was the sheer enormity of the sound.
Two moments in time were the first time I played a Korg M1 and hit the notes in Universe, what followed was what seemed like an entire film score unfolding, remember this was 1988 and was Korg’s response to the Roland D50. The second memory is the first time I played the MemoryMoog, a 6 voice, 3 oscillator monster, imagine 6 Minimoog’s in one (although getting the early version to stay in tune was a challenge.)
I start this review with those two stories to give my first impressions on firing up the Rob Papen Blue II, being presented with a 6 oscillator monster and finding one of the first presets in the demo sounds being a modern day rendition of the Korg M1 Universe, perhaps not one to appear in many tracks but still impressive and fun.
Rob Papen Blue II Synth Background
Blue II is out. Rob Papen said on his Facebook page…
We released Monday without sending the newsletter or having any video ready…or any mp3 uploaded. All is running smooth now and for us here it is great to hear the positive feedback on BLUE-II. With passion we built our products and we make ‘long days’. This positive feedback of our customers gives energy! Thanks for that guys, also on behalf of Jon Ayres! This afternoon I start making the promo video about BLUE-II …ehmmmm… where should I start? So much to tell about this supersynth!
First released in 2005 BLUE already reflected Rob Papen’s musical approach towards developing virtual instruments by first delivering FM and subtractive synthesis, then adding Phase Distortion and wave shaping synthesis to create one creative combination. Rob Papen himself called it ‘Cross-fusion synthesis’ since it covered so much musical ground.
With BLUE-II Rob Rapen’s aim is to remain true to that ethos with even more sound dimensions and features to its extended name, starting with six oscillators beating at its heart. These can be connected in various ways, together with two analogue-style modelled stereo filters with 27 different filter types, an enormous range of processing and modulation options, sequencer, and an arpeggiator.
A new range of specially selected waveforms based on samples have been fashioned for creating new and fresh-sounding synth sounds, so don’t go expecting acoustic pianos galore here. However, since choirs and strings are an excellent basis for so many synth sounds BLUE-II has them with much more besides!
Moreover, BLUE-II takes the useful XY pad features from its popular virtual instrument sibling Blade and transplants them into its own workflow… perfect for time-based sound movements and vector pad-type sounds. Complemented by four FX processors, each offering 35 FX types, BLUE-II is a surely a powerful virtual instrument to behold.
BLUE II Compatibility
- PC: 32 & 64 bits VST, AAX for Windows Vista / Windows 7/ Windows 8
- Mac: 32 & 64 bits AU, VST and AAX, for OSX 10.6 or higher
- Serial/license system, 2nd serial for 2nd computer/laptop are available after you have registering the product’s original serial/license.
BLUE II price
- € 149— (including VAT) or $ 179
- Upgrade from BLUE ► BLUE II: € 44 or $49
UPDATED: In the earlier version of this story we mentioned that Fabfilter One is a FREE plug-in - this is incorrect. Apologies for the confusion.
The word FREE can often conjure up the idea of something being worthless; for many years the VST world has been filled with worthwhile FREE plug-ins yet Pro Tools users have often felt a little left out of the FREE plug-in world. However there seems to be a growing collection of FREE plug-ins for Pro Tools RTAS and AAX that are well worth investing your time into.
Here are a selection of some FREE synths worth checking out.
A single oscillator synth with enough sound shaping options to give a palette of cool synth sounds, the option of PWM is always welcome on a single oscillator synth as it gives the possibility of creating extra depth from the single source - a trick used in the very early synths. Available in VST, VST3, Audio Units, AAX Native formats (all both 64-bit and 32-bit), as well as RTAS (32-bit only) More from Fabfilter
Linplug Alpha FREE
A cut down free version of the popular LinPlug Alpha, this 16 voice, 2 oscillator synth includes many of the features of the paid for version. There are over 30 waveforms to choose from as well as useful filters and a single LFO. Mac and PC RTAS only. More from Linplug
NI Reaktor 5 Player
Reaktor 5 is one of NI’s flagship products and Reaktor Player is a great way to explore the almost limitless potential of this modular synth design. NI offer a free download of over 200 synths based around 3 synths as part of this starter series. Mac and PC, RTAS and AAX. More here
A one oscillator, one filter, single envelope synth, Podolski has been around for several years in different incarnations. it also features a Zebra-style arpeggiator/sequencer plus chorus and delay effects. Mac and PC. More about AAX here (Mac)
Russ takes a look at Air Hybrid 3 synth plug-in and at the new features and sounds shipping with the latest version of this super synth.
Pro Tools dance producers are going to be delighted to discover that the ReFX Nexus 2 synth is now an AAX plug-in for Pro Tools.
The Nexus 2 synth features a 6gb library of over 1000 presets, an Arpeggiator, trance gate and extensive effects routing, all combined to creating those killer dance sounds found on so many hits.
64 bit AAX native support now gives Pro Tools users an added tool in their production arsenal.
More information and a demo sounds can be found here.
Arturia are running a promo giving 50% off their V Collection synth bundle, which comprises 10 software titles: Mini V, Modular V, CS-80V, ARP2600 V, Prophet V & Prophet VS, Jupiter 8-V, Oberheim SEM V, Wurlitzer V, Spark Vintage, Analog Lab.
There’s a Arturia V Collection in our 5th Anniversary prize draw studio bundle.
If you want to get under the skin of some of these plug-ins for Pro Tools then check out some of the Pro Tools Expert exclusive video reviews we created this year.
In this Pro Tools Expert video review Russ takes a look at the easy to use and low cost Rob Papen Predator-PL Synthesiser.
Rob is known for not only making very tweakable and complex products, he also spent a long time writing a very detailed training guide on synth programming. The good news is that thos who just want to grab cool synth presets for their Pro Tools sessions now have this option.
They say: “As cool and tweaky as modern virtual instruments can get, most keyboard players and composers spend little time under the hood of their favorite soft synth or sampler and more time looking for the perfect preset. So, when Rob Papen approached us with this Sweetwater exclusive Predator-PL virtual instrument synth, we jumped at the opportunity to provide you with a what we think you’ll find to be an invaluable songwriting tool. Among its 4,400 preset sounds, you’ll find all the essential sounds covering everything from laid-back ambient sound beds to wild and frenetic dubstep drops. And thanks to Predator-PL’s extremely user-friendly interface, there’s nothing standing between you and the sounds you need.”
Russ shows a workflow he uses when wanting to test out sounds from hardware analogue synths that have no presets.
Arturia have announced the MicroBrute, which is neither an aftershave for babies or an action hero. It’s a small micro synth, barely bigger than the picture above, with a lot of synth packed inside - a review will of course follow soon.
In their press info they say:
The guys at U-He are offeringa FREE AAX synth for those who in their words “brave enough to test our first AAX pluggie on Mac?”
Podolski is a simple, CPU-efficient virtual analogue synthesizer. Basically a cut down version of FilterscapeVA with just one oscillator, one filter, one envelope and two LFOs, it also features a Zebra-style arpeggiator/sequencer plus chorus and delay effects.
Podolski’s specialities are the Click parameter (emphasizes the filter attack) and its ability to seamlessly morph between three waveforms (WaveWarp).
Windows users do not despair as they write;
“We believe this to work, and while we’re adding AAX development into our development workflow, we hope that the brave among you out there will give this a spin. Please report any crashes with a crash.log here, and - if possible - compare whether or not this version behaves and sounds the same as its VST/AU counterpart.
If all goes well we’ll need only a few days to port it to Windows, we’ll have to buy 3 more iLoks to add to our build and testing servers and we might get to release AAX betas for everything shortly thereafter.”
Go to their forum here for more information and follow the instructions carefully regarding installation - we do not offer any support on this.
Perhaps one of the most underated and yet coolest small synth companies, TAL has released TAL-BassLine-101 v1.218 with AAX support in both Pro Tools 10 and 11.
- AAX support for Pro-Tools 10.3.6 or higher and Pro-Tools 11 added.
- Filter-FM for all waveforms as source added.
- Sequencer Insert, Delete, Length Global and Velocity Global added.
- MIDI automation can now record host automation.
- Keyfollow scale fixed for values > 0 and < 1.
- Better user interface performance while reading automation.
- More stable sequencer host-sync.
- Record sequence with MIDI and host sync fixed.
- Portamento Linear sample-rate bug fixed.
New Filter-FM features:
Choose a VCO waveform as source and add control the FM-intensity with the horizontal slider. Filter-FM modulates the filter cutoff with the source signal. Use a lot resonance and a low cutoff frequency to hear the effect.
If you are into dance or electro music then this is well worth a look with it’s very cool retro nod back to old Roland classic - we’ll do a review of it shortly, but this is one not to miss.
Russ takes a look at the Sean Paul track “Other Side Of Love” to see if he can recreate it using the FREE stuff in Pro Tools.
Russ shows what can be achieved by using filters on synths and loops to transform tracks.
Russ does a quick video to show how to get those really low bass sounds you hear in tracks like ‘Boom Boom Boom’
Next month, Arturia embarks on a major UK dealer tour letting musicians get hands-on with their brand new KeyLab keyboard controller range, MiniLab USB-controller, SparkLE drum system and mighty MiniBrute analogue synthesizer. This will be held in Arturia dealers throughout the UK, and with a free MiniBrute T-Shirt for every attendee plus special discounts on the day, is not to be missed…
Sébastien Rochard of Arturia will be in-stores demoing the power and creativity of Arturia’s latest creations, with tips, tricks and ideas on how musicians can use these new products to take their productions to the next level. It will be possible to put questions directly to the experts and get an exclusive hands-on with the very first KeyLab in the UK, make beats on SparkLE, and analogue tones on MiniBrute.
Once again, there will be a free MiniBrute T-shirt for attendees and special one-day-only discounts available in-store, so Arturia and Source look forward to welcoming Arturia fans in person.
Some of you may remember about 10 years ago a new kind of synthesizer rolled into town called the Hartmann Neuron, The Neuron was a crazy kind of synthesizer said to be based on Neuronal Synthesis which took models based on sampled waveforms and mashed them up in its own unique way.
Googling about the Neuron will give you far better descriptions of the technology than I could ever articulate so I’ll cut the history lesson short there.
Anyway due to problems in manufacture and distribution Hartmann went out of business, the Neuron ceased production and disappeared without a trace after what was a very short but seemingly successful time,
The synthesizer first in its hardware keyboard form won rave reviews in the music production press followed up by its baby brother the Neuron VS and its little “NUKE” controller / hardware dongle. A sad story to a really interesting and promising brand!
Well now some years later, thanks to the current owners of the technology and assets of Hartmann Neuron - Prosoniq, The Neuron VS VST instument is back and its Free!
Not only is it free for anyone whether you previously owned it or not, its ties to the hardware NUKE controller and copy protection have also been cut, but if you don’t own the NUKE controller you will not have access to the XY controller sticks that morph between the models, You will however be able to play back the presets and perhaps these parameters will be assignable via MIDI controllers - this is yet to be seen.
Sadly for Windows OS users Neuron VS will only ever be available for OSX 10.6.8 upwards and never again available for Windows and will also only be available in VST format but if you follow some of Russ’ VST hosting for Pro Tools guides or use NI’s Maschine, VE Pro , Reaper or whatever way of hosting VST’s on your Mac you like you’ll be all set.
Go get it at neuronsynth.com but be patient with the downloads - I have a feeling this one is going to melt those servers!
Huge thanks to Stephan Bernsee of Prosoniq !
Enjoy! - Neil
* Please note, these stories are offered as a news service to the community. We offer no endorsement, warranties implied or otherwise to products, services or policies of the brands.