Spitfire audio presents Cimbalom tuned percussion instrument

Spitfire Audio adds CIMBALOM to ORIGINALS series of instant writing tools as a shimmering, spine-tingling tuned percussion plug-in


LONDON, UK: sound-specialising British music technology company Spitfire Audio is proud to announce availability of CIMBALOM — an appropriately-named addition to its ongoing ORIGINALS series of instant writing tools with the same outstanding recording quality as the ‘full-blown’ flagship libraries with which it has built its reputation, simplified and presented in its free, easy-to-use plug-in, perfectly capturing its 19th century-originating shimmering, spine-tingling tuned percussion instrument namesake (nowadays familiar from being brought into play in innumerable Hollywood film scores, thanks to its mysterious, sinister sound with a distinctive metallic tone that cuts through an orchestra) by being performed by leading London cimbalom player Greg Knowles (known for his work therewith on The Hunger Games in 2012 and 2007’s The Golden Compass), carefully captured to the highest standard in the hallowed (Lyndhurst) Hall at London’s legendary AIR Studios, supremely sampled and served up as a ~1.7GB-sized library with three signals, five presets, and three straightforward NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) compatible controls, creatively combining to create the sound of suspense — as of February 4…
As a distinctive-sounding instrument in its own right, the cimbalom is a large, late-19th century-originating Hungarian concert-hammered dulcimer — itself a type of chordophone comprising a large, trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top, played by striking two beaters against the strings. Saying that, dulcimers are an ancestor of the piano, dating back to Babylonian times as a family of stringed instruments known for their Eastern European sound. Somewhat closer to today, they have become widely used as a Hollywood film scoring staple — spy thrillers in particular proving well suited to the tremolo technique, as evidenced by the likes of English composer John Barry’s thrilling title theme to The Ipcress File (1965). To name but a few more notable big screen appearances for the instrument in question: John Williams’ scintillating score to director Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981); American composer, conductor, and orchestrator James Horner’s ‘Stealing the Enterprise’ cue from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984); several scenes featuring Gollum in the Peter Jackson-directed The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), courtesy of Canadian composer and conductor Howard Shore; The Golden Compass (2007); The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008); Sherlock Holmes (2009), for which Hollywood hotshot Hans Zimmer turned to a banjo, cimbalom, and other unconventional instruments for the musical accompaniment; and French film composer Alexandre Desplat’s score to The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). In the smaller screen world of television, of course, composer Lalo Shifrin made much use of the cimbalom in several scores he wrote for the original Mission: Impossible American series, from which consequential cues were regularly recycled throughout its 1966 to 1973 run, one of which — ‘The Danube Incident’ — was notably sampled by British trip-hop pioneers Portishead on their track ‘Sour Times’ (from the 1995 Mercury Music Prize-winning Dummy album), which reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart upon its re-release.
But back in the supremely-sampled world of sound-specialising British music technology company Spitfire Audio, it is little wonder, then, that the cimbalom was deemed as a perfect fit for fronting the latest (namesake) addition to its ongoing ORIGINALS series of instant writing tools as essential cinematic ingredients. As a brief (musical) side note, according to Spitfire Audio co-founder and composer Christian Henson, the ORIGINALS name embodies the concept of original libraries of original sounds that make their users sound original, albeit by bringing back to life some dearly departed company classics in a revitalised form — hence ORIGINALS CIMBALOM presenting the existing content of a previously-released (no-longer-available) Spitfire Audio library (GRAND CIMBALOM) reprogrammed as an intuitive patch accompanied by all individual articulations to allow for complete control.
And who and what better to be able to completely control than perfect performances by leading London cimbalom player Greg Knowles (known for his work therewith on The Hunger Games and The Golden Compass), carefully captured to the highest standard in the hallowed (Lyndhurst) Hall at London’s legendary AIR Studios, supremely sampled and served up as a ~1.7GB-sized library with three signals, five presets, and three straightforward NKS compatible controls — CloseTree, and Pitched, the latter adding a rich, frozen atmosphere created by stretching and pitching down the ambient mic signal, complementing the vibrant close and tree mics by adding depth and otherworldliness. On top of that, control over the ATTACK and RELEASE times expands on this further, together with REVERB, allowing the realistic-sounding ORIGINALS CIMBALOM to morph into eerie textural elements on the fly. Five presets are at hand, allowing users to dive in and get going with minimum fuss: PerformanceShort DampedShort SustainedTremolo, and Warp (using the aforesaid ATTACK and RELEASE times plus Pitched signal to create a reversed-like textural pad).
Presented in Spitfire Audio’s free, easy-to-use plug-in, ORIGINALS CIMBALOM perfectly provides computer-based composers with ready-made variations of that Eastern European folk sound, but can also be used to elevate cues in a number of ways beyond that. The ninth product in the ongoing ORIGINALS series of instant writing tools is the perfect addition to the sound of any symphony orchestra, whether as an extra textural element or, indeed, its instrumental apex. Ask Greg Knowles — after all, he should surely know as a seriously sought-after cimbalom player par excellence! Entering the sound of suspense is as easy as installing ORIGINALS CIMBALOM

ORIGINALS CIMBALOM is available as an AAX-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-compatible plug-in supporting Native Instruments’ NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) for Mac (OS X 10.10 or later) and Windows (7, 8, and 10 — latest Service Pack) that loads directly into any compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for an RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of only £29.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$29.00 USD/29.00 EUR (inc. VAT) — from here: https://www.spitfireaudio.com/originals (Note that owners of the now-no-longer-available GRAND CIMBALOM library will automatically receive ORIGINALS CIMBALOM for free.)

Spitfire Audio’s namesake Spitfire Audio application allows anyone to buy now and download anytime, and is available for free from here: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/info/library-manager/
For more in-depth information, please visit Spitfire Audio’s ORIGINALS Frequently Asked Questions webpage here:https://www.spitfireaudio.com/info/faq/spitfire-originals/
Musically marvel at ORIGINALS CIMBALOM’s shimmering, spine-tingling tuned percussive sound while watching a walkthrough with Spitfire Audio here: https://youtu.be/nJ6LldwcyJA 

Icon audio new microphones are out of this world

iCON Pro Audio launches large-diaphragm Space series of professional studio microphones with Cocoon and Martian models boasting bold, intergalactic design


NASHVILLE, TN, USA: high-quality, professional-grade musical equipment provider iCON Pro Audio is proud to announce availability of Cocoon and Martian — making for an eye- and ear-opening fusion of vintage-sounding clarity with bold, intergalactic design as the two large-diaphragm condenser microphone launches with which it is inaugurating its Space series — as of January 21…
Cocoon could conceivably conjure up images of the namesake 1985 American science-fiction comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens — at least to those of a certain age, yet there is no denying the aptness of the name iCON Pro Audio applied to the cocoon-shaped intergalactic design of the first of two large-diaphragm professional studio microphone models making up its newly-launched Space series. Clearly, Cocoon is as eye opening in looks as it is ear opening in delivery, thanks to incorporating a true electrostatic Golden DropTM transducer within its space-age capsule architecture. A sputtering technique where a precisely engineered pattern of golden dots is distributed, this innovative technology allows Cocoon’s 33 mm (active) diameter diaphragm to move with laser-sharp precision for increased intelligibility while simultaneously reducing any colouration or distortion, which proves particularly effective given that the transducer is the part of the microphone that actually detects and converts the sound waves! With the thin, ultralight membrane being fabricated with pure 999 gold — considered the best purity of gold readily available since this refers to purity in parts per 1,000, meaning 999 parts are gold, Cocoon’s resultant extended upper clarity with smooth midrange suits any voice or instrument application.
Although on paper perhaps sounding out of this world, the ultra-rugged-constructed Cocoon’s Class-A discrete electronics housed within its metal die-cast body are built by hand in Latvia using only the highest-quality components for peak performance, superlative durability, and extremely low self noise. Outside of the microphone itself, iCON Pro Audio’s advanced shock-mount technology neutralises unwanted vibrations to preserve the integrity of the signal, aided still further by the inclusion of a durable metal pop-filter, thereby ensuring an optimum recording experience borne out by Cocoon’s professional performance specifications, including: 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range; unidirectional, cardioid polar pattern; 21 mV/Pa sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1000 Ω load; 50 Ω output impedance; 1000 Ω rated load impedance; 138 dB maximum SPL for 0,5% THD at 1000 Ω load; 85 dB-A S/N Ratio DIN/IEC 651 (A-weighted); 8dB-A equivalent noise level DIN/IEC (A-weighted); and 130 dB microphone preamplifier dynamic range.
Meanwhile, Martian sounds as warm and friendly as he looks — yes, iCON Pro Audio refers to the second entrant in its Space series of large- diaphragm condenser microphones as a ‘he’! Though the family resemblance to his cocoon-shaped sibling might not necessarily be physically obvious at first glance, enclosed inside the rotating head is a space-age shock-mounted capsule with an electrostatic Golden DropTM transducer made of pure 999 gold, allowing the 26mm (active) diameter diaphragm to move more quickly for rich detail and transparency. But below the shock-mounted capsule residing in his head, Martian rides in an advanced full-body shock-mount, complete with face shield pop filter, which neutralises unnecessary vibrations and minimises plosives, thereby ensuring the best recording experience possible. Perfect placement of his pop filter is perfectly possible, thanks to being able to rotate Martian’s head to just the right angle. And, no, he is not an extraterrestrial, but rather his Class-A discrete electronics housed within his durable metal die-cast body are also built by hand in Latvia using only the highest-quality components for peak performance, superlative durability, and extremely low self noise.
As a perfect microphone for voice and instrument applications, features well worth highlighting include Martian’s warm and classic sonic character; unidirectional, cardioid pickup pattern for outstanding sound source separation and feedback; professional hand-built large- diaphragm capsule for full, open-sound and unsurpassed audio quality; and pressure-gradient transducer with shock-mounted capsule, to name but a notable few. And a few performance specifications should be more than enough to seal the deal, as follows: 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range; 33 mV/Pa sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1000 Ω load; 50 Ω output impedance; 1000 Ω rated load impedance; 134 dB maximum SPL for 0,5% THD at 1000 Ω load; 83.2 dB-A S/N Ratio DIN/IEC 651 (A-weighted); 10.5 dB-A equivalent noise level DIN/IEC (A-weighted); and 123.5 dB microphone preamplifier dynamic range.
As an eye- and ear-opening fusion of vintage-sounding clarity with bold, intergalactic design as the two large-diaphragm condenser microphone launches with which iCON Pro Audio is inaugurating its Space series, serious recordists looking to make a bold statement in their studio spaces should surely consider making some space for the phantom-powered — +48V (+/-4V) — Cocoon and Martian models… space-age microphones for new-generation studios! 

Cocoon and Martian will begin shipping through iCON Pro Audio’s growing global network of dealers/distributors (https://iconproaudio.com/distributors/) in Q2 2021 with a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) of $499.00 USD and $699.00 USD, respectively.

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Cocoon webpage here: https://iconproaudio.com/product/cocoon/
For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated Martian webpage here: https://iconproaudio.com/product/martian/
Head into outer space to watch Cocoon and Martian’s arrival on earth in iCON Pro Audio’s Space series introductory video here:https://youtu.be/fU-hIX0qo6c
See and hear Cocoon and Martian in action here: https://youtu.be/gnnJHjsfiFI (Note that this video features the song ‘Giant’ by Steffanie Christ’ian: http://steffchris.com)
See and hear Cocoon and Martian in action again here: https://youtu.be/JvXlnKHJZws (Note that this video features the song ‘Fire’ by Josie Pace: https://www.josiepace.com

New Dual stage saturation plugin Neold Big Al announced

Plugin Alliance announces availability of one-off dual-stage tube saturator plugin as BIG AL arrives from NEOLD

“This is such a great tool to add glorious harmonic saturation, extra flavor, and vibe!”

– JUNO Award-winning mixer/recording engineer George Seara (James Bay, Drake, Shawn Mendes, Sting), 2021

SANTA CRUZ, CA, USA: Plugin Alliance, supporting all major plugin formats and uniting some of the best- known international audio companies under one virtual roof, is proud to announce availability of BIG AL — an emulation based on one-off analog hardware harvesting novel circuitry and authentic NOS (New Old Stock) components from the 1930s, exclusively designed for this dual-stage tube saturator from new pro audio plugin partner NEOLD offering a broad palette of stunning sound flavors flowing from the interactive network within its preamp and transformer-coupled power amp, where it generates gorgeous harmonics — as of February 2…
BIG AL’s frequency conditioning begins right in the EF9 preamp stage. Indeed, it is a filter freak at heart — hence the Low control being implemented as a Baxandall filter that allows for adjusting saturation intensity by around 100Hz in (optional) combination with boosting or cutting the bass at the same time. The High control is an additional EQ band placed in front of the preamp tube; its peaking filter boosts or cuts high-frequency content around 10kHz — essential for provoking or taming BIG AL’s potentially aggressive treble!
The straightforward user interface is spiced up with a jumper matrix, allowing access to BIG AL’s core circuitry: (Emphasis Shift), (Bass Compensator), and (Voltage Sag) provide powerful options with which to make complex changes to the distortion profile on the fly by simply inserting or pulling out a few (virtual) plugs. An AL4 power pentode and its output transformer act as the finishing spice, driven hot by the preamp stage.
And anyone wondering what this all adds up to need not trouble themselves any longer because BIG AL is a truly gorgeous kind of harmonic saturation that will always sound organic, musical, and bold! 

NEOLD BIG AL is available for purchase (as an AAX AudioSuite-, AAX Native-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting effect plugin for macOS 10.9 through 10.15 and Windows 7 through 10) at an attractive introductory price of $149.99 USD until March 4, 2021 — rising thereafter to an MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $199.00 USD — from here: https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/neold_big_al.html

A fully-functional, 14-day trial of NEOLD BIG AL is available to anyone registering for a free Plugin Alliance account here: http://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/registration.html
NEOLD BIG AL is included in Plugin Alliance’s monthly MIX & MASTER Bundle (https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/pa-mix-master-bundle-monthly.html) and annual MIX & MASTER Bundle (https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/pa-mix-master-bundle-yearly.html) subscription services, and also its monthly MEGA Bundle (https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/pa-mega-bundle-monthly.html) and annual MEGA Bundle (https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/pa-mega-bundle.html) subscription services at no extra cost!
Note that the proprietary Plugin Alliance Installation Manager means users can select, download, and install only the products and formats needed for their system.
For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit Plugin Alliance’s dedicated NEOLD BIG AL webpage here:https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/neold_big_al.html
Watch Tom Van Den Heuvel formally introduce BIG AL in Plugin Alliance’s awesome-sounding trailer video here: https://youtu.be/e3sWXKHliSY
Take a NEOLD BIG AL walkthrough with Plugin Alliance’s additionally informative video here: https://youtu.be/sFCVunozUxE 

IK multimedia UNO PRO synths announced

New paraphonic dual-filter analog synthesizers elevate the UNO lineto new levels of sound design, flexibility and connectivity

UNO Synth Pro - Image

January 13, 2021 – IK Multimedia announces UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop. Developed in collaboration with Italian boutique synth-maker Soundmachines, both these new analog synthesizers take the groundbreaking UNO Synth monophonic synth and expand it in nearly every section: more oscillators, more filters, more sequencer memory, more effects, more presets, more connections and more programmability. UNO Synth Pro puts this amazing new sound engine in a rugged metal chassis with a 37-key synth-action Fatar keybed, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides a more portable form factor to travel anywhere.

Uno pro $649

The UNO Synth Pro’s unique dual-filter, 3-oscillator paraphonic design lets it create nearly any synth sound imaginable, and with 256 presets, a new 64-step sequencer and expanded CV/Gate and audio connections, users will quickly find it’s the ideal creation station for any outboard rig.

Huge, real analog sound
Three analog oscillators offer continuously variable waveshape, including pulse-width modulation. Oscillators can be hard-synced for more harmonically-complex tones, and oscillator FM (frequency modulation) lets users shape everything from bell-like sounds to screaming industrial tones. UNO Synth Pro even includes ring modulation for wobbly, sci-fi sound, and a white noise generator for a wide range of percussive sounds and epic rises.

Uno synth pro desktop $399

Dual-filter design with 24 available modes
In addition to the original UNO Synth’s 2-pole OTA multimode filter, UNO Synth Pro adds a new SSI 2/4-pole LP filter with self-oscillation. The dual filters can be used in series or parallel, with invertible phase, for a total of 24 possible filter modes. This unique design offers nearly limitless tonal possibilities, from recreating classic vintage sounds or forging completely new, experimental sounds.

Massive sonic flexibility
UNO Synth Pro offers two full ADSR envelopes, one dedicated to the filter and the other to amplitude, with both available as sources to modulate everything from oscillator pitch and waveshape to LFO speed or even other envelope stages. Two LFOs (low-frequency oscillators) can create classic synth vibrato, wah and tremolo as well as do more complex modulations including audio range FM.

A 16-slot modulation matrix makes routing all these a breeze. Users can quickly and easily design even the most sophisticated modulation scheme, with both internal and external sources, including MIDI controllers.

Deep onboard effects
UNO Synth Pro offers four effect blocks: an analog overdrive circuit from the original UNO Synth, plus three new, custom-designed digital effects: modulation, delay and reverb. External signals can also be routed through these effects, with pre-effects filtering for added flexibility.

Improved playability
UNO Synth Pro offers a premium 37-key synth action keybed made in Italy by Fatar, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides an enhanced version of the original’s long-lasting capacitance-sensing keys along with pitch and mod strips for enhanced expression. Both units add firm-touch rubber pads for the control sections, plus LED-backlit indicators and an LED display for key information, making it easier than ever to use live on stage or in deep programming sessions in the studio.

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  1. First-class analog sound
  2. Dual state variable filters
  3. Discrete morphing oscillators
  4. PWM, sync, FM and ring modulation
  5. Song mode
  6. 64-step sequencer
  7. 10-mode arpeggiator
  8. 12 studio-quality effects
  9. Analog drive
  10. Monophonic or 3-note paraphonic operation
  11. 256 user-editable presets
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  1. Power supply included. Desktop model powered by via USB or power bank
  2. USB MIDI and firmware update
  3. Programmable CV/Gate input/output
  4. Audio input to filters, FX or pass-through
  5. Balanced stereo outputs
  6. 5-pin MIDI DIN input/output and Soft Thru

Powerful presets, sequencer and arpeggiator
UNO Synth Pro offers 256 user-editable presets, each capturing the full state of the sound engine from oscillators to effects. An onboard 64-step sequencer offers both step and real-time recording, with automation of over 80 parameters, letting users create incredibly intricate and evolving soundscapes, and even write CV and gate automation.

And a 10-mode arpeggiator makes it easy to create intricate patterns and runs, while a new “chord mode” takes advantage of UNO Synth Pro’s paraphonic design, opening the door to triads and chord work.

Advanced connectivity
UNO Synth Pro offers two noiseless, balanced stereo outputs as well as headphone out, for superior audio quality in any situation. USB and 5-pin DIN MIDI In and Out make it easy to integrate with other synths, Mac/PC and mobile devices, and its assignable CV/Gate connections lets UNO Synth Pro interact effortlessly with a Eurorack or other modular system.

And now, an audio input allows access to the filter and FX section for external signals, in addition to the original pass-through for daisy-chaining multiple units together without using a mixer.

Options, pricing and availability
UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop will be arriving in Q1 2021 and are currently available for pre-order from the IK Multimedia online store and from IK authorized dealers worldwide for $/€649.99* and $/€399.99 respectively.

Black lion audio releases affordable power conditioning

Black Lion Audio announces availability of affordable PG-XLM and PG-X as best-in-class power conditioning


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA: boutique audio company Black Lion Audio is proud to announce availability of the PG-XLM Power Conditioner and PG-X Power Conditioner — providing best-in-class professional power conditioning as affordable 1U rack- mounting must-haves with PG-90 Filtering technology providing an average of 90% of noise filtering — as of December 28…
Anyone actively involved in professional music-making — onstage or otherwise — knows that it takes more than a few rack-mounted power outlets to inspire true confidence in a power conditioner. Clearly, acquiring a must-have piece of gear only to find it noisier than expected or missing high-frequency detail — or, worse still, having it fried by an unwanted power surge — are all far from ideal scenarios! Such sorry setbacks need not happen, however; Black Lion Audio is here to help, having long since been trusted to modify the best gear and make it even better, which is what it took to create the PG-XLM and PG-X — taking industry-standard designs, and improving them to the point of peak performance.
Power conditioning comes naturally to Black Lion Audio. After creating its original PG-1 (https://www.blacklionaudio.com/store/products/pg-1/) as a confidence- inspiring, rack-mountable power conditioner — also available as the PG-1 TYPE F (https://www.blacklionaudio.com/store/products/pg-1-type-f/) variant with 230V Europlug connections, the company collectively realised that there are a lot of professionals out there working with a smaller budget who felt left out since some of its features could conceivably be viewed as overkill when seeking something appropriate at a more affordable price point. It is with this in mind that Black Lion Audio has built both the PG-XLM and PG-X, while still providing best-in-class professional power conditioning!
Clearly not all power conditioners are created equal, yet Black Lion Audio acknowledges that everyone’s hard-earned equipment purchases deserve the best power possible, which is why it took great care in making sure that the PG-XLM and PG-X both deliver just that — thanks to that best-in-class PG-90 Filtering technology providing an average of 90% of noise filtering, as opposed to the typical average of 76% found in other power conditioners at the same price point.
Putting this into practice, the PG-XLM features a back-panel-sited bank of eight switched, filtered, and surge-protected power outlets. On the front panel, there is a single SWITCHED OUTLET, an LED (Light Emitting Diode) display-based real-time VOLTAGE MONITOR, two pull-out lamps, and a (5V1AUSB CHARGER for device charging. As implied by its shortened nomenclature, the PG-X drops the lamps and metering from that specification, yet far from falls short of the mark by duly delivering the same core functionality to also provide confidence-inspiring power as an affordable 1U rack-mounting must-have.

The PG-XLM Power Conditioner is available to purchase through Black Lion Audio’s growing global network of dealers/distributors (https://www.blacklionaudio.com/dealers) with a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) of $199.00 USD and an SSP (Suggested Selling Price) of 199.00 EUR (excluding VAT). For more in-depth info, please visit its dedicated webpage here: https://www.blacklionaudio.com/store/products/pgxlm/

The PG-X Power Conditioner is available to purchase through Black Lion Audio’s growing global network of dealers/distributors (https://www.blacklionaudio.com/dealers) with a MAP of $119.00 USD and an SSP of 119.00 EUR (excluding VAT). For more in-depth information, please visit its dedicated webpage here: https://www.blacklionaudio.com/store/products/pgx/


Erica synths announces new generation Black sequencer

A New Generation of Sequencing: Erica Synths Announces Black Sequencer
Erica Synths’ Black Sequencer takes classical modular sequencing to a new level by adding tons of features required for contemporary modular synthesizersNovember 20, 2020 — Erica Synths announces the arrival of its long-anticipated Black Sequencer Eurorack module, which is shipping at the beginning of December. 

Sequencing power for a new generation of synthesists
The Black Sequencer features four channels with CV, gate and modulation outputs, and up to 64 step sequences that can be chained into songs, independent track time divisions, multiplications and lengths. It ncludes a built-in quantizer, LFOs, envelope generators, parameter randomization, a MIDI in/out and many other features essential for composing and performing electronic and experimental music. Despite the Black Sequencer’s depth of features, it provides many programmable parameters per step. Further, it is intuitive, easy and straightforward to use, and can serve as a master controller for many modular setups. 

Features
4 CV/GATE/Modulation tracksMIDI IN and MIDI OUTClock and Reset In/Out16 encoders for easy sequence inputUp to 64 steps per patternSong mode – up to 64 patterns in chain, each pattern can be repeated up to 32 timesNote, Glide, Gate length and Modulation adjustment per stepProbability, repeats and ratcheting per stepMicrotonal tuningAdjustable shuffle per track, shuffle mode customizationTiming divisions/multiplications per trackBuilt-in quantizerRandom pattern generator16 banks of 16 pattern memorySD card slot for backup and firmware updates
Erica Synths Black Sequencer will begin shipping in early December at a cost of €510. For more information, please visit the Erica Synths website

Modal announces new Cobalt8 8 voice virtual analog synthesizer

Bristol, UK: leading British synthesiser manufacturer Modal Electronics is proud to announce availability of COBALT8 — an immensely powerful, eight-voice extended VA (Virtual-Analogue) synthesiser that brings traditional and entirely new analogue-style sound textures to modern music creation and production as an innovative, sophisticated synthesis concept comprising two oscillator groups with selectable algorithms in self-contained elements enabling multiple oscillator modulations, an all-new 4-pole morphable ladder filter with switchable configurations, an unparalleled modulation engine, and much more besides, extending far beyond the limits of its analogue forefathers — as of October 29…
Creatively kickstarting a new synthesiser series by building on the tradition of warm and punchy analogue-style synth sounds seeded by bygone legendary synthesisers, COBALT8 creatively unlocks the full potential of analogue waveforms with up to 64 high-resolution VA oscillators with extended drift — up to eight for each of its eight true polyphonic voices. The two independent and self-contained Osc (oscillator) groups include sine, pulse, triangle, and sawtooth waveforms alongside 34 unique algorithms allowing for complex analogue synthesis techniques, built-in cross-modulation (sync, ring modulation, and more), PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), smooth morphing between VA waves, bit crushing, and filtered noise — unlike any other VA synthesiser before it, increasing creative options for new-generation synth sounds. Speaking of which, Algorithm1 and Algorithm2 each have an associated simple-to- use pair of controls — A1 and B1, A2 and B2 — chosen to suit the particular algorithm or character, providing musicians with the power of traditionally complex oscillator modulations or processes spontaneously.
But beyond COBALT8’s innovative oscillator engine an all-new 4-pole morphable ladder Filter — with Cutoff (frequency), Res (resonance), and Morph controls — has been added by Modal Electronics to inject more warmth and bite into the creative proceedings. Put it this way: with four switchable filter modes to play with, getting creative with the Notch filter or forming unusual synth textures with the Phasor, for instance, is only part of the story since two different characteristics are also available to instil a more subtle behaviour or process the sound with sheer raw power.
Pushing onwards and upwards to tap into its unparalleled Mod (modulation) engine, COBALT8’s three dedicated envelope generators for filter (FEG), amplitude (AEG), and modulation (MEG) are all accessible independently or simultaneously, with negative (reverse) versions for the modulation and filter envelopes, enabling extensive control over dynamics and expression. Switchable envelope types provide greater options for tailoring them to suit specific sound purposes. The three — two polyphonic — audio-rate LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) can be routed to a multitude of destinations using the sophisticated modulation matrix with eight assignable modulation slots and four additional fixed modulation routings with 12 modulation sources and 55 modulation destinations, duly supporting easy assignments of complex routings to keep the sound evolving.


Elsewhere, the integrated 512-note realtime/step sequencer (Seq) features four powerful animation lanes — Anim1, Anim2, Anim3, and Amin4, letting users compose and create complex melodic patterns with ease. Indeed, its polyphonic 64-note step mode (with eight notes per step) enables easy step input for note and animation values. Meanwhile, multiple sequencer trigger modes coupled with the powerful onboard arpeggiator (Arp) — programmable up to 32 steps with rest capability (and up to 2,048 steps before repeating) — alongside other fanciful features (such as chord hold, inversions, transpose, sustain, and latch) all serve to further enhance COBALT8 playability.


Performance-wise, professional keyboard players will, of course, cherish COBALT8’s rugged, road-ready steel and aluminium chassis and premium FATAR TP/9S 37-note full-size key bed. Better still, the velocity-sensitive keys themselves support aftertouch and deliver smooth action with which to express powerful performances, while COBALT8 itself supports MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) for next-generation expressive creativity. COBALT8’s 29 endless encoders (enabling realtime CC), 24 buttons, and a virtually ‘lockable’ four-axis joystick (assignable to a wide range of modulation destinations) provide direct tactile control over all crucial parameters for instant sound adjustments and changes, ably aided by a large 1.54-inch OLED display for instant visual feedback at all times. And all attractively presented in a compact — 55.5 cm/21.9” (L) x 30 cm/11.8” (W) x 10 cm/3.9” — form factor, flexibility and portability guaranteed. Glide/portamento (with both legato and staccato mode), and multiple — Mono, Poly, Unison (2, 4, and 8), and Stack (2 and 4) — keyboard modes are also at hand, as is stereo Width voice control.
Readily reshaping sounds is also achievable using COBALT8’s three phenomenally powerful, independent, and user- configurable DSP-driven effects engines (FX1, FX2, and FX3), in-depth programming provided. Polish to suit with 11 available algorithms adding character and depth — namely, Chorus, Flanger (Pos), Flanger (Neg), LoFi, Ping-Pong Delay, Phaser, Reverb, Rotary, Stereo Delay, Tremolo, and X-Over Delay.
COBALT8’s capacity for storing patches, sequences, and effects creations is outstanding. Out of the box, 300 of the total 500 patches are filled with factory creations, carefully programmed by some of the most accomplished sound designers in the world, with eight ‘Quick Recall’ slots always accessible from the front panel for fast loading of favourite patches. Performance enhancements continue with 100 sequences that can be linked to any patch for fast loading of arrangements alongside 100 customised effects configurations.
Thanks to two (Right and Left Mono) unbalanced 6.3 mm (1/4”) TS audio outputs, a 6.3 mm (1/4”) stereo Headphones output, a 3.5 mm (1/8”) stereo Audio In (with an ability to route incoming audio through the effects), 6.3 mm (1/4”) Expression and Sustain pedal connections, 3.5 mm (1/8”) analogue clock Sync In and Sync Out connections (configured to the Teenage Engineering/Korg specification), MIDI In and MIDI Out DIN connections, and also a class-compliant USB MIDI connection to a host tablet or computer, COBALT8 is a perfect fit for any live performance or studio setup.
Saying that, the free MODALapp brings the comfort of screen-based editing on a computer or mobile device to COBALT8 (and all other Modal Electronics hardware). Available as a standalone app for macOS (10.10 or above), Windows (8 or above), iOS (12 or above), iPadOS (13 or above), and Android (6 or above), and also in VST3/AU macOS (10.10 or above) and VST3 Windows (8 or above) plug-in formats for keeping users in the flow while producing music with any compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software, it is the perfect companion for synth enthusiasts looking to dive deep into all sound forming and performance parameters to create their own signature sounds, and to backup and manage patches and sequences.
Musically meeting the requirements of next-generation electronic musicians, synth aficionados, and producers alike, COBALT8 is, indeed, an immensely powerful, eight-voice extended VA synthesiser with which Modal Electronics has creatively kickstarted a new synthesiser series.

COBALT8 will soon be shipping and available through selected Modal Electronics dealers worldwide in November 2020 with an RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of £579.99 GBP (including VAT), MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of €649.99 EUR (including 20% VAT), and a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) of $749.99 USD.

BIG Freq plug-in available from empirical labs

Empirical Labs announces availability of its BIG FrEQTMplug-inpartially extrapolated from its Lil FrEQ hardware


LAKE HIAWATHA, NJ, USA: having hitherto made available an earlier version for prerelease, professional audio signal processing equipment designer and manufacturer/plug-ins producer Empirical Labs Inc. (ELI) is proud to announce availability of BIG FrEQ 1.0 — the full release version of its first EQ plug-in, partially extrapolated from its much-loved Lil FreQ hardware EQ (that takes a somewhat unusual approach to the task at hand by combining most of the sound-sculpting tools an engineer needs into a compact single rack space box), but expanded upon in terms of available sections and features — as of October 14…
With no fewer than 12 powerful sections of processing to its appropriate appellation, BIG FrEQ should single-handedly handle all tonal and spectral-shaping needs for single tracks, as well as busses, including use as a versatile mastering tool. As always, ELI itself strives to bring new functionality and creative twists to plug-in EQs with its first such release, having labored long and hard over making it easy to learn and plain fun to use.
But best of all, BIG FrEQ is immensely useful, obviously, offering the ability to create modern ‘flat-top’ EQ curves with an analog workflow and added controls for more tone-shaping possibilities than a typical EQ plug-in. Put it this way: each of the six parametric bands has an additional SLOPE control that allows for flattening out the EQ shape and grabbing more frequencies equally, while switching on the focus (F) function lets users fine tune frequency adjustment — centring the selected frequency and reducing the range of the FREQ (frequency) knob — to hear exactly what frequencies are being affected with the simultaneously switchable solo (S) buttons available on each parametric band. Elsewhere, each parametric section’s GAIN knob can be expanded from ±15dB to ±30dB with the range (R) button, while parametric section settings can uniquely be copied and pasted from one to another for quickly moving and duplicating bands, facilitating faster operation. On top of that, the unique FINISHER section adds warmth to any track with organic saturation and provides for up to 8x oversampling (tested up to 768 kHz operation).
Other features are also well worth highlighting: Hi Pass and Lo Pass filters with adjustable and selectable filter orders from 6dB to 96dB (per octave); Lo Shelf — smooth bass boost or cut, centered around 120 Hz — and complimentary Hi Shelf controls; WIDTH slider — controls bandwidth or, inversely, Q; and master PHASE switch — inverts the phase of the audio.
Additionally, a modern spectral display shows cumulative EQ shape as well as colored individual bands, while the built-in preset management system (with proprietary preset format for cross-DAW preset access), smooth automation of all parameters, available direct entry for all parameters (by double-clicking on any parameter to type in a value), un-linkable stereo version for dual mono operation, and an ability to bypass any section (to monitor changes and free up processing) rounds out BIG FrEQ’s fattened features.
Following in the footsteps of ArouserTM— ELI’s first foray into the software arena as the only Distressor-derived compressor plug-in, produced by the creators of the award-winning hardware Distressor itself, BIG FrEQ is another fine example of how the professional audio signal processing equipment designer and manufacturer/plug-ins producer brings the quality of its hardware to its software products and continues to offer things that cannot be done in the hardware realm to in-the-box mixing. Making room in any plug-in collection for BIG FrEQ is to see and hear what it can do when single-handedly handling all tonal and spectral shaping needs for single tracks, as well as busses, including use as a versatile mastering tool. 

BIG FrEQ is available for purchase as an AAX-, AU-, and VST3-supporting 64-bit effect plug-in for macOS (10.7 or higher) and AAX- and VST3-supporting 64-bit effect plug-in for Windows (7 or higher) for a time-limited introductory promo price of $129.00 USD for the first 30 days — rising thereafter to an MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $149.00 USD — directly from ELI’s online Shop here: https://store.empiricallabs.com/big-freq-p/bf1-rtl.htm

A fully-functional, 15-day trial of BIG FrEQ is available to download from here: http://www.empiricallabs.com/downloads/
An iLok 2 or iLok 3 USB dongle is required for activating both the demo and full versions of BIG FrEQ.
For more in-depth information, please visit ELI’s dedicated 
BIG FrEQ webpage here: http://www.empiricallabs.com/big-freq/