NI Form 1.1 Update Review

The Native Instruments FORM 1.1 update adds some truly remarkable new features to an already feature rich virtual synthesizer. Among these enhancements are the addition of more than 200 presets bringing the total number of presets to over 400.

Getting Around with NI Form

FORM is extremely easy to navigate because of its streamlined UI. The display that appears when you first load it gives you immediate access to all areas of the interface. The buttons along the top of FORM: SAMPLE, SOUND and EFFECTS respectively, are available on every page.

It’s only when the “SAMPLE SELECT” button is active that the other pages are not available as this page is dedicated to previewing and loading your own sample.  Any samples longer than 30 seconds can’t be loaded.

If you own Maschine Studio, Kontakt, MKII or any Komplete Kontrol hardware, navigation is much easier and a lot more enjoyable in my opinion as there is no need to mouse around.

Shaping Your Sound with NI Form

Although FORM 1.1 now comes with 400+ presets that are all editable and can be saved, I found it more interesting to load in my own samples and see what I could come up with. Whatever sample you drag and drop onto the interface becomes your main oscillator and from there turning any parameter will most often yield a pleasing result.

The SPEED parameter obviously changes the speed of the selected sample and can run free or be synced to the host tempo of your DAW.

The MOTION section gives you the option to select the direction in which the sample will be scanned, the sample range to be scanned and how the sound will be modulated using one of many curve presets. Using the curve editor gives you even more control over the sound as you are able to manipulate the curve you’ve chosen with much more detail and/or create your own curves.

The SOUND section on the top middle of the interface offers many modulation sources and destinations to further shape your sound. All parameters can be automated by any other parameter and any curve preset you choose. The ADDITIVE OSC is basically a sub oscillator to add warmth and weight to your sound and also doubles as an FM modulator.

Try raising the volume of the FM knob just to the right of the ADDITIVE OSC section and see what that does to the sound. Also in the middle of the interface is a helpful waveform display so you can actually see how your sound is being changed. The SHAPER didn’t have as dramatic of an effect on the sounds I was tweaking, but it’s basically a waveshaper. The MULTIPLY knob acts as an oscillator sync and really changes the tone of the sound. STEREO shifts the phase of the playheads to modify the width of the sound. All presets have multiple variations in the PERFORMANCE section, each of which can be activated via keyswitch. New in the FORM 1.1 update is the added feature to copy and paste variation parameters from one preset to the next. The new performance mixer allows you to balance the level of every variation.

The modifiers along the bottom of FORM 1.1 also add noticeable changes to the sound and are available on every page except when the SAMPLE SELECT button is activated.

To the top right of the interface, clicking the SINGLE button puts FORM 1.1 into multi-mode allowing for you to create more complex textures.

EFFECTS

My favorite feature of the EFFECTS page is the FREQUENCY SHAPING display. Using this you can really control the frequency range for your sound and have a visual representation of it as well. To the far right there is a dry/wet band filter so you can adjust how much the frequency is being affected. The REVERB section is unique in that it not only offers traditional small, large and space reverbs, but also 2 selections labelled cheap and unreal which I found to be quite interesting to play around with. Effects parameters can be copied and pasted between variations which is a new feature in NI FORM 1.1.

Conclusion

FORM 1.1 is a very inspirational and unique synth. It’s the shining star in the Komplete 11 bundle in my opinion. The sound possibilities are infinite and as deep as this synth is, it’s still very simple to craft your own new sounds or edit the existing presets. I’ve been using virtual synths for a long time and have never seen anything like it. I suggest you give this a really good look, download the demo. I’m almost sure you’ll be hooked.

PRICE:  $99 USD / 99 EUR / £89 GBP.

*This update is free for existing owners of FORM, Komplete 11 and Komplete 11 Ultimate. Download via Native Access.

NI Maschine Tips: Record Mutes and Solos

Let’s be honest. As much as we longtime Maschine users complain about its shortcomings, it’s still the first tool we reach for whenever we want to lay down a quick idea, do sound design or even make a complete song. We know that if you experiment in Maschine long enough, you’ll eventually discover something it can do that you never thought was possible. In this series of articles I show best work-arounds I’ve found through experimentation and forum lurking. Hope you enjoy and use them on your next masterpiece.

D16 Lush-101 on sale 75% off

One of the top VST synths Lush-101 by D16 is currently on sale with huge discount of 75%. 

LuSH-101 synth combines modules found in many VA synths, all combined into a single compact and logically intuitive design. However, this basic simplicity combined with its multilayer architecture turns it into an easy-to-use but extremely powerful instrument that can be programmed and tweaked quickly, almost effortlessly leveraging its maximum potential.

The multilayer architecture guarantees that both the sound design possibilities and number of unique situations in which LuSH-101 can be used, are virtually limitless. Layered sounds can be created simply by assigning the layers to the same MIDI channel; the results can sound as massive as anything imaginable! Assigning the layers to different keyboard zones allows you to create even the most sophisticated splits. Of course, you can always assign the various layers to different MIDI channels for 8-part multitimbral usage. And, virtually any combination of splits, layers, and multitimbrality is possible with just a single instance of LuSH. With each layer working as an independent synthesizer with its own polyphony, parameters, enhanced arpeggiator, and a palette of only the finest insert effects, LuSH-101 can push your creativity to unprecedented levels!

Download Lush-101

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Get Buchla 200 system for NI Reaktor FREE

Some amazing news here for all the modular synthesis lovers.

While we are waiting new modules for Softube Modular and new blocks for Reaktor Blocks – NI User Library got a great FREE ensemble – Buchla 200 and 200e emulation. 

Though it doesn’t follow Blocks specification – it is great recreation of Buchla. If you wanted to try 200 -system but didn’t have $10K – you can get it free for Reaktor. 

It was developed by Trevor Gavilan. Here’s how he describes it:

“Most emulations now a days try to replicate original and existing hardware but the reality is that so much things are put into the mix when soldering components and letting electricity do its work that to me the concept might be very very far away from where we are right now. Another factor that plays along is the human interaction with an interface that could easily re-shape our workflow and in the case of a Buchla system that concept comes naturally since many composers and synthesists around the world continue to redefine the way of working through the philosophy that designers like Donald put into their modules and their system’s interface. I believe that’s one of the main reasons a hardware interface will always continue to be the preferred way of working.”

Here’s the main look of the synthesizer – it looks pretty cool:

Inside London Modular – the showroom selling synths to Aphex Twin and Radiohead

Great video of VynilFactory visiting Modular showroom in London: 

Modular synth showrooms seems to be a new trend for music tech shopping. Well known music stores like Guitar Center can’t get interesting enough setups of Eurorack or Buchla – mostly focusing on stuff from largest manufacturers like Roland and Moog. But such boutique stores / showrooms is the best way to distribute Eurorack/other modular formats. People sometimes don’t know what they are looking for and thus they need to get their hands on the new modules. Such places also could be really inspiring – you can just come there for new ideas. And if you are not in London – here are couple of other Modular showrooms in other countries. 

Modular Showrooms:

PerfectCircuit – Burbank CA, US

SynthMan – Moscow, Russia

SchneidersLaden – Berlin, Germany

London Modular – London, UK

Softube Modular Updated

Softube has updated Modular – official Eurorack synth emulation with modules from Doepfer and Intellijel. 

Though there are no new modules in this update – it is great to see proper drag’n’drop implementation for modules. With the new release it is much easier to rearrange modules in the rack. 

The center bar now also follows sideways scrolling in small interface sizes, and the CPU usage has been reduced.

Since Softube now using Gobbler for updates – updating Modular takes just few minutes – Launch Gobbler and click Update on Modular. 

In the next update that is coming in spring Softube promised release of new module “modelling an existing Eurorack hardware module, and you will love it”. I hope to see something like Make Noise Maths that could really increase the possibilities of the Modular dramatically. Also it would be really good to see Mutable Instruments Clouds and 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator as virtual modules in Modular.

Get Softube Modular

Read official Softube press release

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Blamsoft eXpanse 2 Review

When first version of Expanse came out it was already one of the most advanced synthesizers available in Reason. Expanse synth is developed by Blamsoft – company that brought lots of Rack Extensions including two best-selling RE synths – Viking and Zero. Based on their great experience and understanding of Reason environment and workflows – Expanse 1 was more advanced then any other wavetable synth – combining wavetable, additive and subtractive synthesis in one powerful unit.

With Propellerhead’s introduction of Reason 9.2 and new Rack Extension SDK – Blamsoft updated Expanse to the version 2 and made it free update for existing users (though I’m sure most of them would be happy to pay a fee to get the ability to import their own waveforms).

Sample import was one of the most expected features for REs SDK. And apparently Propellerhead team was quietly working with Blamsoft to make Expanse 2 ready on the Reason 9.2 launch day.

Wavetables:

Expanse comes with nice selection of waveforms made by renowned sound designer eXode.
Even without importing your own waveforms you already have large collection to play with. Each osciallator has 4 modifiers – each can be setup as FM, Phase Distortion, Ring Modulation, Wrap, Decimate, Invert etc. BTW, Serum has only one modifier per OSC – and here we got 4 which makes sound shaping capabilities literally unlimited.
With the newest version (requires Reason 9.2) you can load up wavetables. Blamsoft says that all Serum wavetables are compatible with eXpanse. But also you can take wavetables from everywhere: free wavetables banks that you can find on the forums (if you search you can easilty find collection of Virus TI wavetables and other synths), wavetables packs from other synths – it is not just Serum but also Waves Codex, iOS-synth Animoog etc.
And of course you can just import any wav-file as a wavetable (just make sure it is pretty short), play with position modulation and modifiers – and you instantly get unique sound.

If you compare Expanse to Serum – Serum has better control on the waveforms (with its waveform editor) but it has 2 wavetable oscillators (+one noise OSC that can play files and sub-osc) and only one modifier control (warp, sync etc) while eXpanse has 4 wavetable oscillators and 4 modifiers per each osc.

Filters and Amps:
eXpanse has 2 filters that can run in serial or parallel mode and 2 independent AMPs!!! – that something that can make really interesting patches – from cool stereo effects to nice evolving sounds.

Modulation:

eXpanse is probably the most advanced synth in terms of the modulation: 5 envelopes with adjustable slopes, 3 LFOs, Random and Noise as Modulation sources, really nice Step Sequencer with two CCs that can modulate any parameter.

Modulation matrix with 6 modulation slots with 3 destinations per modulation, drag’n’drop modulation destination assignments, lots of CV ins etc.

Effects:
Effects section has pretty much everything you would expect from top-synth this days: Compressor, EQ, Distortion, Phaser, Delay, Reverb. We don’t stop here much because Reason is cool modular environment with great amount of various FX devices – you can easily add other REs for effects and combine it into single Combinator patch.

Overall:
If you’re already using Reason to make music – eXpanse is a must have Rack Extension. Just the ability to import your own samples as wavetables is worth buying it. It is well thought-out interface that looks very natural in the Reason rack (particularly with the dark-color scheme).

Intellijel introduced Plonk and other new Eurorack modules

Intellijel in partnership with AAS (Applied Acoustics Systems – plugin developer of virtual instruments based on physical modeling synthesis) introduced new Plonk Eurorack module.

Plonk features:

  • Resonator section models strings, beams, marimbas, drumheads, membranes, and plates.
  • Exciter section comprises a realistic mallet model and flexible noise source.
  • Two Voice Polyphonic at full resolution (24-bit 44.1Khz)
  • Pseudo multitimbrality via CV selectable presets recalled on each new trigger/gate.
  • Full parameter randomization possible.
  • All synthesis parameters can be assigned to the X and Y controls

Street price is $309 and it will be available in Q2 2017

Endorphin.es released Grand Terminal Eurorack Module

Endorphin.es announced about a year ago upcoming update to their Terminal module (now discontinued) which is called Grand Terminal. It comes with a bunch of stereo effects and still works as a great all-in-one envelope, lfo, filter/low-pass gate module.

It is a complex all-in-one module that together with any oscillator (e.g. Furthrrrr Generator) or even on its own represents a full modular synthesizer voice.
On one hand, the module is simple – just two envelopes and two lters which are very handy for beginners, having a block of modules that in some approximation usually could be found in every keyboard synthesizer like Moog, Nord, Prophet, or what- ever. Such a set of blocks is extremely handy for live performances having everything in a yet compact but accessible way.
On the other hand, everything is modular and CV controlled. By pressing a few button combinations, surprisingly advanced possibilities open up without deep menu diving.

• 26 HP, 1” in depth – super slim and Shuttle friendly
• Dual multi-mode lter (ladder, diode, vactrol, state-variable lp/hp/bp and comb) in dual, stereo and serial modes
• Dual looping/AD/ASR envelope generator that acts as band-limited oscillator when cycling at linear slopes
• Stereo “Cabin Pressure” processor with different ambient effects: from shimmered halls and reverberations to a spring simulation over tape/ping-pong delays to a chorus
• Separate mono modular level output and stereo line level output for direct line recording or driving the headphones.
• Easy rmware update via USB
• And of course fully compatible with GatewayT_XP
• I/O: 48 kHz 16 bit audio

Check out intro video and amazing manual: http://endorphin.es/assets/endorphin.es_grand_terminal_manual.pdf