XILS-lab literally creates plug-in pleasure principal when recreating revolutionary polysynth

GRENOBLE, FRANCE: audio software company XILS-lab is proud to announce availability of PolyM — an authentic recreation of the pioneering Polymoog polysynth, dreamed up by American designer Dave Luce and produced by Moog Music between 1975-1980, but benefitting from finest French software skills to truly create a plug-in pleasure principal as arguably the best ‘virtual’ divide-down oscillator technology-toting soft synth available anywhere and teaching the old dog some new tricks in the process — as of July 3…

That’s today. Putting PolyM in its present-day context involves initially looking back. But back in the early-Seventies, setting out to create an analogue, functional voltage-controlled synthesizer that was polyphonic against a backdrop of monophonic mainstays proved problematic for many. Moog’s musical solution came quicker than most, making an appearance in 1975 in its extremely expensive ($5,295 USD), nine-preset original form as the Polymoog keyboard (model 203a). It included a front panel packed with an almost continuous row of slider pots (permitting presets to be fully modified into more individualised analogue sounds via various subtractive synthesis parameters, including a 24dB Moog ladder filter section — allowing modulation modulated from its own envelopes and low frequency oscillation — alongside a unique and flexible three-band resonant filter section with lowpass/bandpass/high-pass filter modes) before being joined in 1978 by a marginally more economically-viable ($3,995 USD), 14-preset stripped back version (with editing reduced to volume, tuning, high-pass filtering, and basic LFO — Low Frequency Oscillator — features), which was also (confusingly) called the Polymoog keyboard (model 280a), though the original fully-variable version was then rebadged, admittedly, as the Polymoog Synthesizer.

Saying that, unlimited polyphony united the two innovative instruments in question, albeit unlimited in the sense that all 71 notes of their weighted touch-sensitive keyboards (capable of being split into three sections, each with independent volume control) could sound simultaneously, but based on divide-down oscillator technology — similar to electronic organs and string synthesizers of the time — to generate all notes and pitches using a small number of fixed-frequency oscillators as an alternative to ‘traditional’ VCOs (Voltage-Controlled Oscillators). Obviously, the Polymoog cannot create each voice from individual oscillators and filters, nor store sounds programmed by the user — unlike the first generation of microprocessor-controlled designs that soon followed suit, such as Sequential Circuits’ classic Prophet-5, the world’s first fully-programmable polyphonic synthesizer — as a result. Regardless of those limitations and reliability issues inherent in its complicated, convoluted design downfall, some notable users still shaped some stunning-sounding records using the pioneering Polymoog.

Prime example… as an innovative individual almost alone in seeing the opportunity for a star of synth-based music, a futuristic-looking Gary Numan notably ‘drove’ over an endless Polymoog landscape in the pioneering promo video for his 1979 chart-topping ‘Cars’ single and arguably opened the floodgates for the wave of (mainly British) synth-pop acts that trailed in his wake. Wisely — and appropriately — once observed: Gary Numan’s classic breakthrough, The Pleasure Principal, is almost an album-length advert for the Polymoog. Those beautiful, stark, synth-strings frozen all over the songs is the Polymoog’s Vox Humana preset.

Fast-forward, then, to two years ago, and XILS-lab clearly considered those oft-overlooked Polymoog presets to be well worth revisiting, recreating an ‘unlimited’ polyphony polysynth that was recognisably revolutionary upon its initial release and making it fit for today’s creative computer-based music-makers with a state- of-the-art software makeover. Making that happen was easier said than done, however — hence that two-year development time. That equalled the same time taken to develop the original, overly-engineered historical hardware from which it drew its innovative inspiration, ironically — hardly surprising, given that the Polymoog uses a TOS (Top Octave Synthesizer) system with a TOG (Top Octave Generator) chip to create a bank of 12 square waves representing the top octave of the keyboard, each of which are then passed through a divider chip to create all the lower octaves, and can then be processed to create other wave shapes; making matters more complicated, the Polymoog has two sets of TOS chips, generating two wave shapes (pulse and sawtooth) per key — two oscillators per key, effectively. There are also two envelope generators, two VCAs (Voltage-Controlled Amplifiers), and two fixed filters for each key. Those circuits are combined into a custom chip called the Polycom, mounted on a small card, and there is one Polycom card per key. That all adds up to a whole lot of circuit boards in one cumbersome keyboard…. little wonder, then, that reliability became an issue!

No such issues with the perfected PolyM, but no pain, no gain getting there as XILS-lab CEO Xavier Oudin obviously learned — the hard(ware) way — when taking today’s much more reliable route to software-based synthesized splendour: “Recreating this legendary synthesizer as a virtual analogue synthesizer was a real challenge, but we decided to take up the gauntlet. This was made more difficult due to our real machine’s poor condition.”

Continuing against all odds, Xavier Oudin and XILS-lab literally created a plug-in pleasure principal when recreating the revolutionary Polymoog polysynth as a soft synth plug-in par excellence — even ending up with more bells and whistles when finally finished. “It took more than two years, analysing, measuring, testing, and scratching our heads,” he concurs, before adding: “But we are proud to now offer PolyM, one of the best — if not the best — ‘virtual’ divide-down-based virtual synthesizers out there!”

In there is what counts, though, and PolyM palpably doesn’t disappoint… deftly reproducing yesteryear’s divide-down technology with two TOD (Top Octave Divider) oscillators — one for the sawtooth wave and another for the square, slightly detuned for a phenomenal phasing effect (when running independently in FREE mode), yet these take the concept further forward by adding polyphonic pulse width modulation. Meanwhile, in LOCK mode, those two TOD oscillators are almost locked in phase, producing PM (Phase Modulation) instead of FM (Frequency Modulation) when the square wave oscillator is modulated in pitch. The two TODs can also be modulated — tempo-sync-able — in pitch by an LFO, while the square wave oscillator has it own pulse width modulation by a tempo-sync-able LFO. Alongside a distinctive envelope generator, this represents the musical heart and soul of PolyM, pushing that revolutionary polysynth sound kicking and screaming into the future!

Further features of note include: 71 emulated chips, offering mixer, VCA, envelope, 12dB filter, and pulse width modulation for each of the available notes; stunning-sounding 24dB ladder filter (using XILS-lab’s critically-acclaimed zero-delay algorithm); nine dedicated acoustic filters — STRING, PIANO, ORGAN, HARPS, FUNK, CLAV, VIBES, BRASS, and VOX — carefully recreated from the original (model 203a); RESONATORS filter bank with three parametric (6dB and 12dB) filters matching the original; three vintage — DEL. (delay), PHAS. (phaser), and REV. (reverb) — effects (with adjustable settings from within an Advanced Settings Panel alongside nine modulation slots for furthering sound design possibilities well beyond the scope of the original hardware); and more…

More than 260 presets are available to help users get going and all parameters are MIDI-controllable, combining to position PolyM as an innovative instrument of its time while retaining the one-time pioneering Polymoog’s performance properties. Put it this way: while what Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud would have made of it is obviously open to speculation, surely Gary Numan should approve… as will anyone’s bank balance by paying (comparatively) so little for so much playing pleasure! Perhaps PolyM pushes beyond the pleasure principal?

PolyM is available to purchase as a USB eLicenser or iLok (1 and 2 dongle hardware or software) protected plug-in for an introductory promotional price of €99.00 EUR until August 31, 2017 — rising to an MSRP of €149.00 EUR thereafter — from XILS-lab here: http://www.xils-lab.com/products/polym-p-160.html

PolyM can be directly downloaded as a multi-format (AAX, AU, RTAS, VST), 32- and 64-bit virtual soft synth plug-in for Mac (OS X 10.7 and later) and Windows (XP, 7, 8, 10) from here: https://www.xils-lab.com/products/polym-p-160/download.html

For more in-depth info, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated PolyM webpage here: http://www.xils-lab.com/products/polym-p-160.html

Watch XILS-lab’s lovingly prepared PolyM promo video here: https://www.xils-lab.com/audiosample/PolyM/PolyMTrailer.mp4

Spitfire Audio debuts dry scoring stage ensemble library innovation inspired by legacy of iconic film composer namesake

LONDON, UK: Spitfire Audio, purveyors of the finest virtual instruments from the finest musical samples in the world, is proud to announce availability of BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT — taking inspiration from the electric genius of its iconic composer namesake (noted for his lengthy legacy of fresh film scores such as Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, and Taxi Driver that continue to inspire today’s composers) when working exclusively with The Bernard Herrmann Estate to curate and assemble a unique set of studio orchestra ensembles informed directly by a legendary orchestration aesthetic recorded at London’s legendary AIR Studios (Studio 1) by Abbey Road Studios Senior Engineer Simon Rhodes (Avatar, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Magnificent Seven) before being ‘translated’ to Native Instruments’ industry-standard KONTAKT PLAYER platform as an orchestral innovation for all — as of June 22…

“No composer contributed more to film than Bernard Herrmann, who, in over fifty scores, enriched the work of such directors as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, François Truffaut, and Martin Scorsese.” So stated Bernard Herrmann biographer Steve C. Smith. So when the opportunity arose for Spitfire Audio to collaborate with his estate, excitement throughout the cutting-edge company co-founded by working film composers was understandably palpable.

Putting the resultant BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT into its rightful perspective, Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson touts, “This is an incredibly vivid, tense, and exciting collection of recordings. It covers all kinds of things, from more slightly standard orchestral instruments through to unusual combinations of orchestral instruments, some synths, and some more esoteric instruments in there as well. This is definitely not a vintage sound source, so we’re not looking at recreating the sound of movies of the Sixties. What we’re looking at is the inspiration of a giant of cinema. Bernard Herrmann’s career started with Citizen Kane and finished with Taxi Driver, and he did a colourful collection of Hitchcock movies in between. But not just that; he was also a very passionate advocate for new music, championing the careers of many composers who would never have been heard otherwise. We’ve taken his original scores from some of his key movies and we’ve looked at the way that he tended to combine instruments, and we’ve used that as the inspiration for how we’ve recorded this collection of sounds.”

So how, exactly, did the steadfast Spitfire Audio team set about recording what would become BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT? Well, working exclusively with The Bernard Herrmann Estate to curate and assemble a unique set of studio orchestra ensembles informed directly by a legendary orchestration aesthetic, all duly decamped to Studio 1 within London’s legendary AIR Studios — complete with its unique AIR-custom Neve/Focusrite large-format mixing desk with 72 channels incorporating original ‘AIR Monserrat’ mic preamps and GML automation, alongside a 140m2 fully-floated floor live room capable of accommodating up to 45 musicians — in the capable company of Abbey Road Studios Senior Engineer Simon Rhodes — who has a longstanding association with various composers, including the late James Horner whom he worked with for 18 years on over 40 projects including Avatar, the highest grossing film of all time — to capture players performing as Bernard Herrmann himself would have done had he still been working today… boisterous, lively, and upfront.

Unusual instrumental combis, selected groups, chords, effects, and much more are the supremely sampled order of the day with BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT, tasty musical morsels served up in an easily accessible form from within Spitfire Audio’s already-familiar GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) and organised as follows: STUDIO ORCHESTRA; HIGH STRINGS; HIGH STRINGS OCTAVES; HIGH STRINGS HALF SECTION; LOW STRINGS; LOW STRINGS AND HORNS; LOW STRINGS AND TROMBONES; PICCOLO AND FLUTES; CONCERT FLUTES; MIXED FLUTES; FLUTES AND CLARINETS; COR ANGLAIS, CLARINET, AND TRUMPET; OBOES, BASSOONS, AND HORNS; TRUMPET AND XYLOPHONE; HORNS; MID BRASS; TROMBONES; TROMBONES AND TIMPANI; HARP AND CELESTE; HARP AND VIBRAPHONE; ONDES MARTENOT; PERCUSSION; TIMPANI; and SYNTHS. Speaking of the latter, included in the ‘advanced’ folder are over 30 patches inspired by Bernard Herrmann’s use of synthesisers in combination with orchestral material, all of which can be controlled using Spitfire Audio’s Mercury Synth GUI, an ingenious interface initiating instant interaction without forcing users to delve deep under the KONTAKT hood; helpfully, all controls are assignable to (compatible) control surfaces, so users can quickly make Spitfire Audio’s synth sounds their own with minimal fuss.

Much fuss has been made about Bernard Herrmann, however. And deservedly so since he is one of the great modern composers, after all. His work for TV and film is nothing short of iconic, and truly synonymous with mid-20th Century cinema. Collaborating with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane (1941), Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver (1976), and in longterm partnership with Alfred Hitchcock on scores such as Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), and beyond, the sheer magnitude of critical works is breathtaking. But not only did his work have a significant impact on popular culture at the time, more recently those works have been used to invigorate contemporary scores, such as Quentin Tarantino’s twist on the Twisted Nerve theme in 2003’s Kill Bill, 35 years after its inception — an eerie whistle which is now instantly identifiable worldwide.

But Bernard Herrmann demonstrated a unique and trailblazing compositional style throughout his celebrated career. His orchestrations were entirely original, daring, and inventive — albeit always appropriate for the context, so subsequently incredibly influential in film scoring. Psycho — famed for its strings-only approach — is an obvious example of a totally new way to score a thriller. The bold selection of specific instrumental ensembles — the infamous Torn Curtain featured 12 flutes, for instance — and choice of interesting combinations — harp and vibraphone in Vertigo; stopped horns and pizzicato strings in North by Northwest (1959) — challenged the status quo. Equally, experimenting with electronic instruments in scores — the Ondes Martenot in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) and amplified Moog synths in 1972’s Sisters and Endless Night — brought with them sounds previously unheard in cinemas. However, Herrmann also went as far as to affect change in the performance style of players, requesting that they did not play in the then-traditional, somewhat overblown nature that other Hollywood composers of the time tended towards.

Outside of his innovative scoring for film for which he remains best known, Herrmann had boundless curiosity and a genuine love of new music, championing the names of several composers who became household names as a result of his hard work as a conductor. As Chief Conductor to the CBS Symphony Orchestra, and the many radio broadcasts he made with them, he helped bring a huge variety of often little-heard music to the masses.

In short, Bernard Herrmann was a truly individual voice, an innovative individual who stood firm against what he saw as the dilution of the art form to which he dedicated his life. Little wonder, then, that his powerful presence continues to be felt so strongly so long after his passing, respected by and resonating with today’s film composing community. It is in this spirit that Spitfire Audio brings BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT to bear on today’s ever-expanding compositional climate as an orchestral innovation for all. As Paul Thomson tellingly concludes — for the right reasons, it’s all in there for the taking: “Tons and tons of really great material, recorded in a tight, dry acoustic that is a very, very fine room through a lot of amazing mics by Simon Rhodes. It really is a wonderful-sounding library — hope you’re going to enjoy using this and looking forward to seeing what you come up with.”

BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT can be purchased and digitally downloaded (as 225.0 GB of uncompressed .WAV files, featuring 186,742 samples) for a time-limited introductory promo price of £339.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$399.00 USD/€409.00 EUR (inc. VAT) until Thursday, July 6, 2017 — rising thereafter to an MSRP of £429.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$499.00 USD/€509.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from here: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/bernard-herrmann-composer-toolkit/

Note that BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT needs Native Instruments’ free KONTAKT PLAYER (5.5 and above) — included in the purchase — while Spitfire Audio’s free Download Manager application for Mac or PC allows anyone to buy now and download anytime.

For more in-depth informaton, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT webpage here: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/bernard-herrmann-composer-toolkit/

Watch Spitfire Audio Director Paul Thomson’s ‘traditional’ BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT video walkthrough here: https://youtu.be/CfXxlZVTT30

Watch Spitfire Audio ‘composer in residence’ Oliver Patrice Weder’s BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT ‘In Action’ video here: https://youtu.be/c-G_lNSGNzM

Watch Spitfire Audio’s enlightening promo video for BERNARD HERRMANN COMPOSER TOOLKIT here: https://youtu.be/Jr5SOEytres

Native Instruments releases MASCHINE Expansion STREET SWARM

New expansion inspired by the sample hunters of 90s New York hip hop

Berlin, June 27, 2017 – Native Instruments today releases STREET SWARM, a new MASCHINE Expansion packed with the razor-sharp acoustic drums, sliced 70s cinemascapes, vintage funk instrumentation, and raw grooves that typified the sound of 90s New York hip hop. A crate digger’s dream, STREET SWARM was specially designed to follow the approach of pioneers like Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, who often searched for obscure samples from old movie soundtracks.

 

In early 90s New York, hip hop swarmed from the underground onto Main Street. Raw and unpolished, it crackled with boom-bap drums. Sonic textures from old soundtracks merged with funky bass lines and dusty pianos. Single-note psychedelic hits danced between disjointed vocal stabs.

With that in mind, grammy-nominated sound designer and producer Snipe Young created a plethora of small musical scenes inspired by blaxploitation films of the 70s. These soundtracks – by renowned composers like Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Sun Ra, and Herbie Hancock – contained funk and soul grooves sought after by the hip hop producers in 90s New York. Staying true to the genre, Snipe created intricately orchestrated samples chopped to emulate the SP-1200’s loose editing. From romantic string interludes and triumphant horns, to sinister melodies, dirty bass phrases, and energetic drums, STREET SWARM is full of undiscovered gems, waiting to be sliced and crunched in that classic style.

STREET SWARM also includes bass guitar, electronic keyboard, horn and retro synth stabs and licks organized by key, so hip hop producers and musicians can play their own melodies. Producers who want to add texture and flare to their creations can also utilize the included FX macros to create something sonically different that matches their own style.

STREET SWARM runs in the latest version of MASCHINE software on the entire MASCHINE hardware family, and is available exclusively at the NI Online Shop.

A compact version of STREET SWARM is also available as an iMASCHINE 2 Expansion, for sketches on the go. Tracks can be exported to MASCHINE STUDIO, MASCHINE JAM, MASCHINE, and MASCHINE MIKRO for completion.

STREET SWARM is available now at the NI Online Shop for $49 / 49 € / £44 / ¥ 6,280 / AU$ 79 and runs in the MASCHINE 2 software.

The iMASCHINE 2 expansion is available at the iMASCHINE 2 in-app store for $0.99 / 0,99 € / £0.79 / ¥ 120 / AU$ 1.29

Additional information on STREET SWARM is available at:
www.native-instruments.com/streetswarm

EastWest Announces HOLLYWOOD CHOIRS

Hollywood, CA (June 26, 2017) – This fall EastWest/Quantum Leap will release Hollywood Choirs. Produced by Doug Rogers and Nick Phoenix, Hollywood Choirs is the epic follow-up to 1999’s Voices of the Apocalypse and 2005’s Symphonic Choirs, the best-selling and most awarded virtual choir of all time.

Hollywood Choirs gives voice to a new generation of powerful cinematic vocals with unprecedented dynamics and shocking realism that unleashes a new world of choral possibilities. It features a new and improved WordBuilder plugin that allows the composer to type in any words in any language and have them be sung by the full choir or the individual male and female sections.

Hollywood Choirs Diamond Edition includes a 13 microphone-user-controllable setup (including a Neumann Dummy Head) designed for surround sound and virtual reality, which is particularly attractive for film, TV, and game composers.

“This is the third choir EastWest/Quantum Leap has sampled,” says EastWest producer Doug Rogers, “we learnt a lot from the previous productions and Hollywood Choirs is the culmination of that experience. In particular, the choirs’ ability to sing any word or phrase has been significantly improved resulting in much more realism; and there are many more sound options to enable the user to sculpt the sound to their requirements.”

“In the past 12 years, there have been many attempts by others to improve on what EastWest/Quantum Leap achieved with Symphonic Choirs,” says EastWest producer Nick Phoenix, “Small improvements were made to various aspects of choir sampling, but the emphasis has been on pre-recorded and severely limited phrases. If composers are not tired of hearing the same faux Latin phrases repeated over and over, those listening certainly are. No single choir virtual instrument has managed to deliver a fluid, intuitive and great sounding choir that was capable of singing any words in any language, soft or loud … until now.”

Hollywood Choirs delivers the powerful, blockbuster sound that all composers are seeking and opens up new 3D soundscapes to create incredible and emotional journeys for their audiences.

Hollywood Choirs will be available for purchase and as a free addition for ComposerCloud subscribers this fall 2017.

About EastWest:
EastWest has been dedicated to perpetual innovation and uncompromising quality of sample libraries and virtual instruments for more than 29 years, setting the industry standard as the most critically acclaimed sound developer. Find more about EastWest at soundsonline.com.

ESI brings better performance to USB audio technology with progressive professional audio interfaces

LEONBERG, GERMANY: leading professional and semi-professional audio equipment vendor ESI is proud to announce (upcoming) availability of U168 XT and U86 XT — a progressive pair of USB 2.0 high-speed audio interfaces for Mac and PC that bring better performance to USB (Universal Serial Bus) audio technology for better results — as of May 2…

As implied by name, U168 XT provides no fewer than 16 clearly-labelled line INPUTS and eight line OUTPUTS on balanced 1/4-inch TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) connectors. Competitors’ comparable channel count offerings often add eight-channel ADAT (Optical Interface) ports, potentially adding confusion to that count — clearly not an issue with U168 XT, where all are available for simultaneous usage by discerning users. Ultimately, this full-featured 24-bit/96kHz solution also includes four integrated MICROPHONE preamps with XLR (External Line Return) inputs and switchable +48V phantom power, perfectly positioned on its front panel for easy access alongside two (switchable) MIC/HI-Z high-performance instrument inputs (1/4-inch connector) for electric guitars; plus (rear-mounted) coaxial S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) IN (input) and OUT (output) on RCA (Radio Corporation of America) connectors. Two independent headphone (H.P.) outputs are also easily accessible alongside an integrated monitoring mixer. Meanwhile, external keyboards, synthesizers, and sound modules can be connected via the 16-channel MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with an INPUT and OUTPUT on the unit’s rear panel.

Providing fast, high-performance, low-latency drivers based on proprietary DirectWIRE technology — that can be used for routing audio streams internally within applications using ESI’s EWDM (Enhanced Windows Driver Model) — with support for the latest WDM (Windows Driver Model), ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output) 2.0, and CoreAudio technology for both Mac (OS X 10.7 and above) and PC (Windows Vista, 7, 8.1, and 10), U168 XT works with all current standard audio applications available for professional usage.

As an equally versatile USB 2.0 high-speed audio interface for Mac and PC with an ADC (analogue-to-digital conversion) dynamic range of 107dB(a) and DAC (digital-to-analogue conversion) dynamic range of 112dB(a), U86 XT shares the same flexible feature set and functions as its U168 XT bigger brother, but with a reduced number of physical analogue inputs (eight) and outputs (six) — hence its appropriate appellation — and reduced (310 x 145 x 45mm) dimensions (down from U168 XT’s 450 x 145 x 45mm). Either way, with stylish and sturdy casings designed to work wherever their final destination may be, both bundle packages come complete with an eight-track version of Bitwig Studio, the namesake next-generation music creation and performance software solution from Berlin-based Bitwig as well as a license for DJ specialist Stanton’s Deckadance LE software. Simply start working… straight out of the box.

Both the U168 XT and U86 XT more than live up to their raison d’être of bringing better performance to USB audio technology for better results, as anyone adding either one of the progressive pair to their setup should surely delight in discovering.
U168 XT starts shipping worldwide in early May 2017 with an MSRP of €549.00 EUR; U86 XT follows in early June 2017 with an MSRP of €399.00 EUR. (For availability and pricing internationally, please visit the ESI website to find a distributor for your region here: http://www.esi-audio.com/company/distributors/)

For more in-depth info, please visit the dedicated U168 XT webpage here: http://www.esi-audio.com/products/u168xt/

For more in-depth info, please visit the dedicated U86 XT webpage here: http://www.esi-audio.com/products/u86xt/

Kenton makes managing multiple data streams simpler with eight-input intelligent MIDI merge unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONDON, UK: following its introduction at The NAMM Show 2017, MIDI solutions specialist Kenton is proud to announce availability of its new MERGE-8 — an eight-input intelligent MIDI merge unit designed, built, and assembled in the UK as the latest addition to its well-known line of MIDI utilities — as of May 4…

MERGE-8 can work in two modes: first is a full eight-into-two merge, where all MIDI data received across the eight input ports is merged into two outputs (with both ports outputting the same data); second is a split mode, with two completely independent four-into-one merges. Mode is set with a recessed push button and indicated with a bicolour LED. MERGE-8 stores this setting in EEPROM and starts up in whichever state it was last in.

Featuring a 32-bit ARM microcontroller for super-fast MIDI processing, MERGE-8 can handle large amounts of data. It is intelligent in that it applies merging rules to process the MIDI data from the inputs in the optimal way.

MERGE-8 is housed in a robust brushed aluminium case, measuring 155 x 80 x 35mm and weighing just 220g. With the famous Kenton build quality and reliability, MERGE-8 is able to withstand the knocks of a life on the road as part of a large keyboard rig, yet it is just as at home in the studio… powered from an included region-appropriate AC adapter — just fit and forget.

MERGE-8 can be purchased from dealers or directly from Kenton for £112.50 GBP (excluding tax and shipping), either online (www.kenton.co.uk/merge8) or by calling +44 (0)20 8544 9200.

About Kenton (www.kenton.co.uk) Kenton was founded in 1986 by UK musician John Price, who began by building a more cost-effective and well-specified MIDI interface for his beloved Oberheim OBX programmable analogue polysynth than was otherwise available; word soon got around, and today the company designs and manufactures a wide range of far-reaching MIDI solutions for famous and not-so-famous clients alike around the globe from its South West London-based HQ: “People often ask where the name Kenton came from; my father, Wylie Price, was a bandleader in the Forties and Fifties, and was a big fan of Stan Kenton, so, when I was born, I was given Kenton as my middle name.” © 2017 Kenton Electronics Ltd

Impact Soundworks releases retro-sounding, future-facing free KONTAKT instrument in handheld homage

 

FULTON, MD, USA: audio software creator Impact Soundworks is proud to announce availability of SUPER AUDIO BOY — a free AAX-, AU-, and VST-compatible KONTAKT instrument/sample library that creatively captures the retro sounds of the legendary Nintendo Game Boy handheld for authentically (re)creating Chiptunes or fast-forwarding them to today and beyond with advanced layering, filtering, arpeggiation, and much more besides — as of May 8…

SUPER AUDIO BOY is Impact Soundworks’ free version of SUPER AUDIO CART — the most complete set of classic video game samples ever produced, but bringing powerful SAC synthesis, rhythm, effects, and modulations to bear upon the detailed sample set of the legendary Game Boy alone. And it doesn’t get much more classic than Game Boy, a handheld system with interchangeable cartridges that truly revolutionised the gaming industry upon its release in 1989. Developed and manufactured by Nintendo to tremendous success throughout its lifespan, it shifted an unprecedented 64-million units before Game Boy Color came calling in late 1998, thanks in no small part to highly-addictive games such as Tetris, their distinctive-sounding synthesized electronic music made within the technical limitations of Game Boy’s sound chip. Powered by a specialised 8-bit Sharp CPU sporting two pulse oscillators, a 4-bit PCM sample channel, and a noise generator, Game Boy remains the first choice of many musicians in the Chiptune scene, thanks to the LSDJ cartridge, allowing for direct access to that sound chip to create music.

Musically, SUPER AUDIO BOY allows access to those classic sounds and much more besides. As Andrew Aversa — Impact Soundworks Lead Developer — himself proudly points out: “It basically takes the Game Boy part — all the samples that come with the Game Boy — and complete engine of our original SUPER AUDIO CART library and makes it free. All of the features from SUPER AUDIO CART are here, too; the only difference is that this is just Game Boy… all deliciously lo-fi and bit-crushed, just the way we like it! Everything is sampled from an actual Game Boy; these are the waveforms with all the grit from the circuitry of the Game Boy, recorded and very carefully edited and looped. Now, of course, the wonderful thing about SUPER AUDIO CART and, in turn, this free instrument is that you can take those very simple waveforms, put them into the engine, and do all sorts of cool stuff — not just Game Boy sounds, but create modern sounds as well. The big difference between SUPER AUDIO BOY and other free Game Boy emulations out there is that you have all these additional sound design features. For example, we also have an X-Y pad, which can be assigned to LAYER BLEND, so we can blend between layers, and then the X and Y axes can be assigned in our modulation matrix. This is incredibly powerful stuff! You can create LFOs, envelopes; you can do random parameters — modulate CCs or ranges, like key ranges, velocity ranges… it’s just awesome!”

Indeed, it is! Free it may be, but feature-light it is not. Needless to say, SUPER AUDIO BOY comes complete with the same four independent sound sources (LAYER A through to LAYER D) as its bigger brother, together with an integrated sound source browser; over a dozen filter models; poly arpeggiator, gate, and sequencer; 64-slot Mod (modulation) Matrix; plus five FX racks. Resumes Andrew Aversa: “These effects can be turned on and off; you can modulate these using the modulation matrix and hook them up to different things. We’ve got the SNES VERB — even though this is not a Super Nintendo — and convolution REVERB, and four additional effects racks — one per layer. You will not hear an actual Game Boy doing that, but that is the power of SUPER AUDIO BOY — all these advanced sound design things that you can use if you want to. Of course, because we’ve got arpeggiators and sequencers onboard, you can create drum loops just by holding a note.”

Notably, SUPER AUDIO BOY works with a wide range of controllers — keyboard or otherwise, since users can map almost any parameter or control to any physical CC. Clearly, then, this is a very powerful software tool for authentically (re)creating Chiptunes from a glorious (Game Boy) bygone era or dragging distinctive retro sounds — creatively kicking and screaming — back to the future… for free!

SUPER AUDIO BOY is available for free from Impact Soundworks here: http://impactsoundworks.com/product/super-audio-boy/#purchase

Note that SUPER AUDIO BOY requires the full version of Native Instruments KONTAKT (5.5.2 or higher).

For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated SUPER AUDIO BOY webpage here: http://impactsoundworks.com/product/super-audio-boy/

Watch Impact Soundworks Lead Developer Andrew Aversa’s SUPER AUDIO BOY video walkthrough here: https://youtu.be/pBOlE6gYqVY

 

About Impact Soundworks (www.impactsoundworks.com)
Impact Soundworks creates audio software designed with composers in mind: sample libraries, virtual instruments, and plug-ins. As passionate about creating music tools as its customers are about making music, the company was founded in 2008 by composers Andrew Aversa and Will Roget, II at a time when there were several large virtual instrument companies already around, but few developers creating affordable, flexible, and focused libraries featuring more unusual and unique sounds. Shrewdly, the dynamic duo noticed much in the way of in-depth orchestral offerings, but more unusual instruments were not being sampled with much detail at all. As such, the company’s first two releases were Impact Steel, a collection of found metal objects played as percussion, and Sitar Nation, a set of instruments from North India. It has since been collectively working hard to address the needs of modern composers, successfully striking the balance between depth and ease of use. Ultimately, Impact Soundworks is proud to call tens of thousands of musicians around the world its customers, intelligently investing time to study suggestions and review requests. After all, that is how a number of its best-loved libraries started… from the smallest seed!

© 2017 Impact Soundworks

Wide Blue Sound strikes partnership with Native Instruments to harness hardware integration for ORBIT and ECLIPSE

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA: Wide Blue Sound, creator of cutting-edge instruments for KONTAKT, is proud to announce a partnership with Native Instruments that allows its renowned ORBIT and ECLIPSE virtual synths to be used with NI’s NKS® (Native Kontrol Standard) hardware — namely, KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE workstation…

Wide Blue Sound is a company continually committed to integrating its software products with hardware — a rarity in today’s industry. “NKS is an important first step in harnessing the natural experience of hardware with the infinite creative potential of software,” states company co-founder and CEO Nathan Rightnour. “We’ll always be working to ‘bridge the gap’ in ways that bring usability and a visceral excitement to our software.”

ORBIT and ECLIPSE are the perfect powerhouses for creating stunning synth sounds, driving pulses, and atmospheric worlds, thanks to their critically-acclaimed interface and world-class sound design. With well-thought-through, creative mappings and tags for ORBIT and ECLIPSE, KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE workstations react with the feel of a custom hardware instrument. Indeed, ORBIT and ECLIPSE users with access to the trailblazing hardware will now feel closer than ever to their favourite Wide Blue Sound software synth… synths already benefitting from critically-acclaimed interface design that, according to Keyboard magazine, “All instrument makers could take heed to.”

The latest NKS®-supporting ORBIT and ECLIPSE updates bring with them the best of both worlds — intuitive interfaces and seamless interaction with intuitive tactility, thanks to Native Instruments’ innovative hardware. Hardened users and novices alike will be amazed at how fast they can come up with something stunning to fit any musical mood or emotion, whether wanting to tweak the dreamy, mysterious, or dark universe of sound in ORBIT or enter ECLIPSE’s pioneering heavy, forceful, and aggressive sonic vistas. The choice is out there — quite literally at the fingertips of KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboards and MASCHINE owners.

ORBIT and ECLIPSE are designed by working professionals in film, TV, video game, and electronic music production, built upon the idea that intuitive products provide the most inspirational results. Indeed, inspiration comes quickly since both instruments share three distinct sound engines. Engaging PULSE mode makes creating modern percussive elements easy; CHOP mode is best suited to fashioning electronic, stuttered stylings; and FLOW mode permits pads and texture creation like never before. Better still, users can seamlessly morph between those three engines using four independent 64-step sequencers — each with their own independent time base — that can modulate 24 useful parameters to further the creation of interesting, musical, and evolving sounds. Sculpting sounds still further comes courtesy of delays, multiple modulations, diverse distortions, and a special convolution engine that includes several practical creative impulses and beautiful reverbs from world-class hardware units commonly used in cinematic production.

Thanks to NKS® support, sound-shaping nirvana with Wide Blue Sound’s updated ORBIT and ECLIPSE is as simple as the turn of a knob. Each innovative instrument includes 250 track-starting presets. Put it this way: whatever way users choose to intuitively interact with them, the results are always out of this world!
NKS®-supporting versions of ORBIT and ECLIPSE can be respectively purchased and digitally downloaded directly from Wide Blue Sound for $199.00 USD and $149.00 USD from here: www.widebluesound.com (Note that both products are also available as the PLANETARY BUNDLE, including beta access to SKYPAD Remote, for $298.00 USD, representing a substantial saving of $50.00 USD.)

Note Native Instruments’ KONTAKT — full or free KONTAKT PLAYER (5.5.2 or higher) version — powers Wide Blue Sound products.

Additional Information

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated ORBIT and ECLIPSE webpage here: www.widebluesound.com

Watch Wide Blue Sound Founder & CEO Nathan Rightnour’s ‘Quick Drive’ ORBIT overview video here: https://youtu.be/ulxug3_VQUE

Watch Wide Blue Sound’s engaging ECLIPSE trailer video here: https://youtu.be/QCirtMFnEvU