Easy Granular Synthesis: Portal’s New Granular Synth

easy granular synthesis

Previously on idesignsound.com, we covered granular synthesis with the Lemondrop mini synth. You can read that review here. This synth has introduced many musicians to the concept and made it intuitive, easy to use, and attractive. There aren’t actually that many granular synths on the market, but another of these is the portal granular synth. This synth is very different from the Lemondrop. Instead, it is a digital VST which works on DAWs such as logic. However, the makers have designed it similarly intuitively to the folks at 1010 music. This is because they know that fewer people know of granular synthesis than some of its counterparts. As a result, they realised it was important to translate this type of synthesis. This led to a smooth, clean, and easy-to-use synth so that it is accessible to every kind of musician. 

What Does Granular Synthesis Involve?

Ultimately, granular synthesis is a kind of synthesis which involves samples. Granular synthesis chops up samples of real-life sounds and mixes and matches them at very small sizes, known as granules. Each granule makes up part of the soundwave. By manipulating these granules you can sculpt and shape them to create a sound of the desired timbre, tone, and texture. It is so precise, this can be anything you may want.

Granular synthesis is very different from the classic forms of synthesis which arose in the 80-s and 70s. Instead, it is perfect for creating space age, alien, or otherwise more underground and unusual sounds. This is really a type of synthesis for audiophiles who enjoy constantly seeking the best kinds of new sounds. It also suits artists who are looking for something really special 

Granular synthesis allows the artist an unprecedented amount of control over the shape of the sound. It offers an entirely new way of looking at soundwaves. Instead of the wave as a whole, fluid thing, granular synthesis breaks it down to its absolute building blocks. This means you can get to grips with exactly how to create sound. Ultimately, it can show you fractal patterns and meta arrangements of new sounds. These help you really get to see what makes a sound harsh or soft, light or dark, etc. 

What Does the Interface of the Portal Granular Synth Look Like?

The interface focuses mainly on a circle which allows you to actually map out the different grains of sound. This way you can see how they interact with each other to create the sounds you are making. There’s a drop-down menu on the left-hand side, which offers you many presets that appeal to adventurous artists. This includes really weird, glitchy, and otherwise unpo[pular or unusual sounds. These can add just that little extra something to your new track.

With a simple drag of the mouse, you can affect the amount of granulation. It also lets you turn knobs and dials for the more conventional effects such as tape delay. In this way it is like you would find on any other synth. Not only can you use it as an instrument in itself, but it can also combine it creatively with vocals. This further allows you to alter sounds in a really unusual way. 

You can check the price and buy the Portal Granular Synth + some cool presets over at our friends at Pluginboutique by clicking here. You will be helping this website a lot buy buying it using this link.

How Does Portal create Such Easy Granular Synthesis?

Luckily, the designers at Portal know that most of their customers will be new to granular synthesis. Therefore, they have made it easy for you. It has over 250 presets, all of which are seriously good in themselves. The portal granular synth is interesting based on those alone. However, it really excels at tempo-based granulation. The designers of this synth made it with the knowledge that timbre and tone do not exist in isolation. Portal wants all your tracks to really hook together and get into the groove. A value readout panel also helps you get to grips with controls. Luckily, due to the way it breaks everything down, this is a perfect synth for learning transferrable skills. You can then use these on other granular synths.

A time manipulation control really shows you how your sound waves interact with tempo. Furthermore, an XY-based control lets you plot sound systematically against these axes so you can actually visualise it. Seven built-in FX, a master compressor, and scale-based pitch modulation also add to it. All in all, this makes a super slick machine which can take you on a whirlwind tour of granular synthesis. With this, there is no doubt it will then become your trusty companion. 

Requirements to Use the Portal Granular Synth:

AAX, AU, VST and VST3 versions included

Mac OS X 10.9 or higher
Windows 7 or higher
32 and 64-bit compatible (PC)
4GB of RAM required, 8GB recommended
At least 300 MB of free drive space

And at 131 GBP (156.59 USD) it’s actually a really affordable synth. This is mostly due to the fact it is relatively unrelated and that the market hasn’t given it much publicity yet. In terms of innovation, granular synths tend to be high end. Therefore, along with the Lemondrop from 1010 music this is one of the best and most affordable out there. In fact, it provides not just an introduction ot granular synthesis but also lets you explore it further.

Final Thoughts on the Portal Granular Synth

This synth doesn’t boast any historical credentials. It isn’t modelled off a classic piece of gear. The design team also doens’t include any particularly notable minds. However, it doesn’t need it, and for what it is, it works really well within itself. It does what it needs to do, yet excells at it. Furthermore, it takes on a little known part of synthesis and makes it accessible. This is no easy feat.

Sometimes analogue or analogue modelled synths are subject to high standards. They tend to have a lot of history to live up to. However, musicians often overlook what can be doen with just a DAW in mind. This is a powerful example of a really good digital example of a synth that can hold so much possibility. The designers also haven’t felt the need to include huge amounts of complicated features. They are instead safe in the knowledge that the style of their product really is enough to turn heads. In the end, actually doesn’t need anything more. The portal granular synth is available from the portal website for download. 

You can check the price and buy the Portal Granular Synth + some cool presets over at our friends at Pluginboutique by clicking here. You will be helping this website a lot buy buying it using this link.

1010 Music Nanobox Lemondrop Review – All About this Portable Polyphonic Granular Synthesizer

What is 1010 Music Nanobox Lemondrop mini synth?

The Lemondrop is one in a series of nanobox synths released by 1010 Music where the company has combined awesome colours in a compact little box which really is unbelievable in terms of both its intuitive nature and it’s portability.

With the other synth in their series being the Fireball, it really doesn’t have much difference except for one thing – the fact it is a granular as opposed to wavetable  – but what a difference this makes. For those unfamiliar with granular synthesis, this little synth allows you to take almost any sample you like – whether running water, a snatch of music from your favourite song, or something else entirely – and it’s efficient processing will chop your sound up into tiny pieces, each of which is called a grain. When these grains are put together, it creates an otherworldly sound which is perfect for soundtracks or even for more experimental music projects, where it’s lushness can create atmosphere and add some depth to other elements of a track.

What features does the 1010 Music Nanobox Lemondrop mini synth have?

By using such a unique type of synthesis you could assume that the designers at 1010 music have already done all their work, but no – they’ve ensured that the Lemondrop has all the features which are available with the fireball as well.

In keeping with the way it is designed for musicians on the go, the Lemondrop has an extremely intuitive interface which involves a touchscreen which allows the user to shape the waveform directly giving the ultimate amount of flexibility and control over the shape of the wave and the way it interacts with other features such as distortion, compression, and so on. The only thing which has been noted by users is the fact that with the Lemondrop’s small size there can come a significant amount of menu diving which means that if you are not an organised musician or producer finding the things you need and the pre-sets you have created can sometimes come with some difficulty and annoyance. However, it is a small price to pay for such a portable synth which otherwise has an incredibly wide range of effects which are easily accessible and extremely creative.

The Lemondrop includes:

  • 153 presets and 311 wave files
  • 16 grains per oscillator for a total of 128
  • Sample memory per oscillator 30 seconds
  • 24-bit DAC and ADC resolution and 32-bit internal resolution
  • A 49kHz sample rate
  • Included USB-C connection
  • 3.5mm audio input and output
  • MIDI support for the following – note on/off, mod wheel, sustain, pitch bend, mono & poly aftertouch, assignable CCs, and clock

How does the 1010 Music Nanobox Lemondrop mini synth compare to others on the market?

What really stands out about the Lemondrop mini synth is the way 1010 music have taken a relatively uncommon type of synthesis – granular synthesis – and completely streamlined it. One of the ways they have done this is by taking into account that the target audience for granular may be slightly wider than for classic wavetable synthesis such as with the fireball – instead attracting artists and sound designers who are looking for something different to experiment with but as a result may not be fully versed in all the basics of using synths. As a result, it is the small size and simplicity of user interface which works so well with granular synthesis. This is how the Lemondrop – in comparison to the Fireball – provides something completely different as a result of the same smart hardware design – with the Lemondrop really making an unusual type of synthesis accessible and opening the learning possibilities for sound designers due to its hands on nature and the fact a visual waveform can be manipulated by touch.

If, to get the best of its granular capabilities, you want to involve as many of your own samples, the menu diving could become cumbersome. However, it isn’t much of a price to pay for a synth which can be easily slung into a back pocket. As an introduction to granular synthesis and at a much lower price than the rare few other granular specific synths on the market, it can’t be beaten. And with this encouragement to sample, the Lemondrop could easily become part of a portable kit bag which also includes a sampler for a sound designer who is looking for something to complete a fluid, on the go workflow.

Pricing and availability

Like the Fireball, the Lemondrop is a mid-range synth at 399 USD although if bought together the two end up coming to a pricier 798 dollars. It’s generally always available from the 1010 music website, although as a high quality and relatively specialised synth it isn’t produced in bulk.

Should you buy the two alongside each other? The 1010 music website demonstrates how they can work alongside each other as tabletop synthesizers. The Lemondrop’s sister synth the Fireball provides a wavetable synthesiser which, due to being more common, is potentially better at slotting into a roll with the rest of your equipment and established sound. Nevertheless, the uncommon nature of granular synthesis really gives the Lemondrop an edge on many other synths on the market. You can see the current price on the Reverb.com website by clicking here.

Final thoughts

Overall, the Lemondrop mini synth is really one of a kind. As a granular synthesizer, it doesn’t have many other competitors anyway, and as a mini, pocket sized, technologically smart and extremely efficient and compact little synth, it really steals the show in terms of the way it’s been designed for the needs of the creative. With portability as one of its greatest assets, it combines the rarity of finding it’s unique granular engine with the technology which helps it fit into the lifestyle of today’s modern music producer or sound designer – very often a digital nomad, one who goes from gig to gig or studio to studio and needs a compact synth to take with them. In this way, 1010’s Lemondrop is truly something special.

And if Music Production hardware is your thing, we have a full category for you, click here!

1010 Music Nanobox Fireball Review – All About this Portable Polyphonic Wavetable Synthesizer

What is the 1010 Music Nanobox Fireball?

The 1010 Music Nanobox Fireball is one of two Nanobox synths designed by the team at 1010 audio and as a result, it follows much the same outline as its sister synth the Lemondrop, bar a few key differences and the fact that it is red instead of yellow. The trend for small, portable synths has been a relatively small but significant part of the synth market since the launch of the Volca by Korg in 2013. Nevertheless, with the Lemondrop and Fireball, what 1010 music has done so well is taken every feature you would want in a smaller piece of kit and streamlined them into an updated, cutting edge little polyphonic synth which grabs both the ear and the eye.  

How does the 1010 Music Nanobox Fireball differ from other synths on the market?

One of the most stand-out features of the Fireball’s design is an overall pattern as opposed to a single piece of kit or specification. 1010 music have gone out of their way to create a synth which takes all the features needed to craft fantastic sound and executed their assembly with outstanding efficiency. The result is a synth which is really geared towards the modern musician in the sense that it is easy to learn from, portable, but also follows the natural process of sound designers in the way it facilitates ease and flow of work. Are there any cons?

The Fireball is not as stand out as its sister synth simply due to the fact it is competing against a much larger market due to wavetable synthesis being generally more common than granular. Therefore, if you already have a solid synth collection there may not be as much incentive to buy the Fireball; however, there is something to be said for its portability which sets it apart from other wavetable synths.

Specs and features

For all intents and purposes, the Fireball is much the same as the Lemondrop . The team behind 1010 music does actually market the two synths together, especially in the tutorial videos they have on their website. What’s more, the synths have the same interface and features – right down to details such as the number of inputs and outputs, compatibility, design, and layout of software. Off course, another thing they share is the extremely useful and intuitive touchscreen which allows users to mold the waveform to their liking, enabling them to get hands on experimenting with sound so as to control the custom synth patches they create.

However, there is one very big difference between the Fireball and the Lemondrop, which is that the fireball is a wavetable synthesizer in comparison to the Lemondrop, which is a granular synthesizer. This means they are capable of creating extremely different sounds and as a result it can be helpful to buy them alongside each other. You might not be getting two for the price of one, but the transferrable skills which are gained from learning the ins and outs of one mean that you can easily double the amount of creative possibilities open to you.

What is it like when getting your hands on the Fireball? One thing this synth does very well – like it’s companion – is using simplicity to get a lot of results. With two dials which control multiple parameters it is easy on the eyes and doesn’t require a lot of complicated hardware to create great sound. By simplifying things it leaves a lot more up to the musician’s own capabilities as opposed to spelling out every single possible way that sound can be shifted and altered. Nevertheless, it does have a good selection of default patches all of which share a characteristically creative way of looking at wavetable synthesis from the minds behind 1010 music. And for wavetable as opposed to granular synthesis like the Lemondrop, this means you are taking a type of synth which is more frequently seen on the market and with its bright hardware, easy to use software, and most of all the extreme control which can be had over the waveform, it gives any user a new spin on a form of synthesis which is more frequently seen. The combination of polyphony and visualisation of the wave in particular means that musicians are shaken out of their normal working patterns – this is really a synth which facilitates creativity.

The 1010 Music Nanobox Fireball has:

  • 123 presets and 103 wavetables
  • A USB-C cable and 3.5mm audio input and output
  • 24-bit DAC and ADC resolution and 32 bit internal resolution
  • A 96kHz oscillator sample rate
  • MIDI support for all the following: note on/off, modulation wheel, sustain, pitch bend, mono & poly aftertouch, assignable CCs, and clock

Price and availability

At 399 USD, the Fireball is a mid-range wavetable synth and due to its high quality it isn’t necessarily made in bulk, though nevertheless is generally always available from the 1010 music website. Check out Reverb.com for a price update.

Final thoughts

Overall, the Fireball is essentially the wavetable edition of 1010’s attractive little nanobox synth series and because of this that it really depends on your priorities as a musician. Whilst wavetable synths are much more common than granular synths such as the Lemondrop and therefore the fireball is up against some stiffer competition, if your priority is portability, design, aesthetics, and simplicity – whilst all the while being an intuitive synth – then the Fireball is as worthy a synth for your collection as the Lemondrop despite having more features in common with other products. In fact, perhaps due to it doing similar things but more simply and cleanly than other synths on the market, it is a synth to really push you to use your maximum possible creativity.

And if you have an affinity for Music Hardware, we have a full category waiting for you, just click here!

Teenage Engineering TX-6 – Portable Audio Interface, Tabletop Mixer, and Synthesizer

What is the Teenage Engineering TX-6?

The TX-6 is marketed primarily as a tabletop mixer and audio interface, but also includes a synthesizer and drum machine, and it is it’s clever design and portability which make it so appealing to the musician on the go. The technologists at Teenage Engineering have left nothing unthought of when it comes to making a product which both suits the needs of musicians who may need to travel – as well as one which is technically well put together and doesn’t sacrifice it’s software or hardware just for being easy to manage. If anything, the TX-6 has so many features that its size and design is deceptive, this could, at first, be slightly overwhelming to a beginner sound designer and thus it may not necessarily be an ideal first mixer; then again, the ability to hook it up to your iOS device does make it an extremely attractive prospect for those who have not yet built a full studio of gear.

Ultimately the Teenage Engineering TX-6 is incredibly useful to have as a well-balanced middle ground between audio and digital. It’s unobtrusive enough that you can continue working mostly with your DAW if so desired – but the fact that it is a fully functional mixer as well as including the synthesizer and drum machine elements means that it is in some ways a stepping stone to the lush, hands on world of an analogue studio. In keeping with this happy medium between different ways of working, it’s design and aesthetics sit somewhere between modern and retro, with a pixelated LED display and sleek yet incredibly durable shell.

How does the Teenage Engineering TX-6 compare to other tabletop mixers?

Is there really anything comparable to the TX-6 on the market? It doesn’t fall cleanly into any particular category of gear as in addition to being a mixer, it also acts as a synthesizer with its own low frequency oscillator and envelope. How does this work? The TX-6 may be a little counter intuitive to work at first due to having to dig through it’s different parts to discover all that it can do, and this is one of the few cons of it as a piece of hardware. It takes a bit of getting into before you can really figure out all its features, plus how they interact with each other – and as a result it holds hidden surprises for you as you go along. That being said, this also means that after purchasing one you may not be able to fully predict how it will fit into your pre-existing workflow. Ultimately the TX-6 is part of a trend of synthesizers and tabletop mixers which are all about packing the best possible options into a small space – not necessarily from the perspective that more is more but instead, this is a synth which has really been designed to bring freedom and give you the most creative possibilities.

Features and specs

One thing which sets the Teenage Engineering TX-6 apart is what it is capable of when hooked up to an iOS device. It allows you to mix multiple tracks onscreen using GarageBand or the DAW of your choice, which works perfectly in keeping with the portability which is a huge selling point – Teenage Engineering have really taken into account the increasing number of high quality apps such as samplers or other pieces of music gear which musicians now carry with them on their phones – and despite the TX-6 being a high quality and pricy bit of hardware, the designers have chosen to work with these trends as opposed to against them. In this way, they have carved themselves a niche in the market which allows them to sit in a comfortable place at the crossroads of some sort of new evolution of music technology. In fact, the tech behind this synth means that it is actually – as boasted by the website – the smallest of its kind, and the kind of craftsmanship which has gone into creating it is evident in the fact that it is high quality and by all accounts hard waring. In some ways, the TX-6 is unprecedented in the combination of effects it has – one of the things Teenage Engineering has really thought about is usability.

The Teenage Engineering TX-6 has:

  • An included USB-C cable so it can be used as a classic 12 channel audio interface, as well as MFi which allow you to attach it to any iOS device.
  • An 8 hour rechargeable battery, user-sensitive display and customisable LED.
  • 4 oscillator waveforms, 4 drum sounds, and tempo sync mode to stay on the beat.
  • 8 built in FX – reverb, filter, delay, freeze, tape, distortion, and chorus
  • Wireless connectivity as well as specialist made slimline cables and a field bag so you can take the TX-6 wherever you go
  • In addition, the innovative DJ mode means that the TX-6 can be turned on its side with three of the 12 channels able to be used to crossfade.
  • 6 3.5mm audio inputs

Price and availability

With all of this, the TX-6 really does not come cheap. But is it worth it? This is a truly unique piece of kit, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else on the internet- and one which certainly hasn’t really been seen before in the evolution of synthesis. However, at 1199 USD, it is on the pricier end. Nevertheless, it can be bought directly from Teenage Engineering’s website.

CHECK THE CURRENT PRICE BY CLICKING HERE!

Final thoughts on the Teenage Engineering TX-6

Does the TX six have too many things in one small machine? When reading it’s list of specifications, it could be easy to conclude that there is simply too much going on. However, the real test is whether a musician needs anything else. It is not necessarily the amount but how the features of the TX-6 fit into a musician’s lifestyle – instead, they have judiciously chosen features that offer the most based on what they are, and combined these into a small package to fit with the flow of a wide variety of kinds of sound designers. Therefore while it may take some investigation to discover everything that the TX-6 has to offer, it nevertheless is an extremely useful piece of kit and well worth the investment for those who want a more flexible way of working with sound design – or those who are really looking for something bold and parameter changing for a turning point in their work.

If you are interested in Music production hardware, we have a full category right here!

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 Honest Review

Guitar Rig 6 from Native Instruments comes in two separate forms: Pro and Player. Whilst Pro is the paid for version, Player is so great for the novice musician that it is equally popular and can be a welcome addition to any collection of plugins you have begun to build.

What is included in Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6?

Guitar Rig 6 has all the things provided to create amazing sound that hits the mark, emulating true to life instruments in an astounding way, and packed full of bonafide, real instrument modelled plugins – both modern, vintage, and boutique amps as well as effects from both Native Instruments and Softube. It also contains Native Instruments’ Patented Intelligent Circuit Modelling, the ability to colour code and personalise presents, and the chance to discover Native Instruments’ own FX which can be found with no other company on the market – plus turn it up to eleven by running multiple amp heads at the same time (with the Pro version).

How does Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 differ from other products out there?

There are a lot of options out there and it’s sometimes hard to wade through the mass of similar VST products. One problem is that many products claim to be all encompassing. However, any great piece of studio software will have stand out features which set it aside from the rest. For Guitar Rig 6, this is the Intelligent Circuit Modelling. Native Instruments have gone so far as to work with the creators of the corresponding analogue products to perfectly simulate each individual component in the circuits of their amps, pedals, and effects. This means that every single part of the FX chain on Guitar Rig 6 is completely true to life. For the musician who may not have the space or money to amass such a collection, it’s an amazing way to see what gear there is out there plus use it in your own projects without having to fork out a hefty fee or track it down. And because of the ICT, unless you are a hardcore audiophile with a need/desire for analogue instruments, it’s as good as the real thing – and having so much true-to-life gear in one place means that you can compare and contrast different sounds to really find something which ties all tracks together.

Check out the latest price and possible deal on Guitar Rig 6 by clicking here (redirects to the official Native Instruments website)

How can Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 be used?

Guitar Rig 6 contains digital copies of real amps favoured by all your favourite guitarists, and it is set up in such a way so as to be completely intuitive for the creative minded player looking for analogue quality from their digital equivalents. Guitar Rig 6 allows you to build a wall of sound out of many different amps, meaning that you can combine sounds to create the perfect medley of different FX. In discovering this feature, I was almost reminded of the way the legendary producer Butch Vig mixed the four different layers of guitar for Smells Like Teen Spirit on Nirvana’s classic album ‘Nevermind’. The sounds involved in Guitar Rig 6 would actually be perfect for this kind of grungy, effects heavy production, yet the rig is so versatile it can add to everything. At first it appears there is a vintage bent, but the sounds are such classics they can be used in all genres and the rig also contains specialised amps created directly with Native Instruments alongside some of your favourite legendary guitarists and companies. Scroll through the NI browser to find hidden gems and refine your sound – Guitar Rig 6 has something for every mood.

Guitar Rig 6 Pro vs Guitar Rig Six Player

Guitar Rig 6 is split into two different models: Guitar Rig 6 Pro and Guitar Rig 6 Player. The difference lies mostly in the price and amount of features. However, Guitar Rig 6 Player is just as useful for musicians on a budget. It may not contain as many effects and pedals as Pro but if you use it creatively you can easily design fantastic walls of sound and boutique, specialised effects which can add verve and colour to your music.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 – not just for guitarists!

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 6 stands out in containing all of the above plus plugins with unusual variants of noise such as radio effects which can be used for more creative, avant-garde production. In some ways this is a package primarily aimed at rock, blues, funk, and indie musicians, which leaves out the heavier and more technical, crisper, cleaner sound of metal and shred guitar – but some individual plugins have been modelled with legendary musicians from all genres including Richard Z. Kruspe of Rammstein.  And despite it’s name, Guitar Rig 6 is not just for guitarists. In fact, the Native Instruments site has a demo video that shows how FX such as the eerie ‘Area 51’ can be used for violin, creating ethereal and unearthly sounds which can be extremely atmospheric. More natural FX such as reverb and delay are also there to enhance almost any instrument. This is one of the biggest plusses of the rig – its insane ability to adapt to other instruments which, through present FX chains, can be used for just about anything.

Check out the latest price and possible deal on Guitar Rig 6 by clicking here (redirects to the official Native Instruments website)

Final thoughts

Why buy Guitar Rig 6? Whether Pro or Player, it does not hurt to have something this all-encompassing on your side when producing. And though the bias towards classic sounds could be considered restrictive it actually makes this plugin super easy to apply to any genre of music – with enough care taken in its creation that it is not merely a vanilla, one size fits all piece of technology but instead something which gives way more bang for its buck than you would expect from the surface. The sounds are great crowd pleasers – but all have been displayed, chosen, and arranged carefully enough that they give a real fresh spark of creativity to any musician in need of some new kit.

If you enjoyed this piece of gear review, we have a full category waiting to be explored, so dig in by clicking here!

IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 honest review

Billed as the industry’s favorite amplifier and effects modelling software, this is a totally honest review of the IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 guitar processing pack, which has recently been updated to version 5.3 with a bunch of new features. With obvious reasons why it is so popular amongst the industry, AmpliTube 5 turned out to be intuitive and easy to use in terms of interface and a design. It works with the flow of the average musician and it has really been created with the thought processes of the user in mind.

How is IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 set up?

What stood out to me first was the way the entire signal chain has been modelled, with a crisp, clean overview of the chain including everything from direct input to pre-amps, gain, stomp-boxes, and more. You can see the whole thing from a bird’s eye view and drag and drop the different parts around to experiment with positioning. Different lines are color coded – and you can go with dual input or even three different parallel lines of FX connected to the same DI, which makes it extremely nonlinear and versatile. I was refreshed by the way that AmpliTube 5 seems to go above and beyond in terms of having a layout which explicitly works with the way most musicians seem to think and practice. It almost feels as if it was designed for guitarists, by guitarists. The gear selection process has been updated to drag and drop, and the gear view window is photorealistic and designed to be as hands on as it can possibly be without having the actual gear there in front of you – with a mixing window which is along the same lines too.

What makes IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 stand out?

This is software which isn’t messing around. It’s been designed with a wholistic view of the production process and includes the following features:

  • The entire signal chain is covered from start to finish in terms of modelling.
  • Sound is hyper realistic due to IK using its own specifically trademarked DIM and VIR technology.
  • 8 track recording software allows the creation of nuance, layers, and walls of sound.
  • Set up and ease of use speed up each part of your workflow and thus minimizes processing power needed to create great sounds.
  • All FX are based on real gear and IK Multimedia has worked with real manufacturers including Orange, Mesa Boogie, and Fender thus allowing them to focus on what they do best with intuitive interface design while simultaneously including pro-level sounds created by those who have already hit the sweet spot with tone and popular appeal.

What does IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 include?

The FX themselves are extremely well chosen. Some modelling software tends to have a bias or bent towards one side or another. AmpliTube 5 is a clean, neutral territory. There are over 400 different bits of gear and the designers have taken their time to work with classic, crowd-pleasing companies such as Fender to hit the sweet spot between familiarity and the ability to spice things up enough to spark ideas. IK Multimedia has split it into three sections, with the signal/FX chain modelling being the main focus and a mixing window which is positioned above, as well as the gear selector window to one side which contains AmpliTube 5’s magnetic selection of options bound to draw in any gear lover.

Why purchase the IK Multimedia Amplitube 5?

Personally, I found it was in the realm of inspiration where the AmpliTube really comes into its own, and while I investigated it, I realized this is not just FX modelling which attempts to cram as many different options into one rig as possible but instead includes carefully chosen collections of software which bring new options and idea combos to the table. AmpliTube 5 has focused on user interface and managed to combine creativity, a format that actually works for musicians, and an excellent level of variety, so it doesn’t feel just like a set of different VSTs and tech. Instead, it’s an interconnected ecosystem of sound design which works equally well for indie rock as it would for hardcore punk. I also found because of how different components are deliberately linked, they connect to each other in a way that ensures your workflow won’t be interrupted. As a result, this is a setup which works for both beginners and pro sound designers in separate ways. Beginners will find the fact that it is easy to use – without much technical detail needed to create amazing blends of sound – a real bonus when struggling for inspiration. On the other hand, anyone with a deeper grasp of the production process will be pleased with the sheer level of different plugins available for creative use, and how IK Multimedia has laid them out to spark new combinations of ideas.

Pricing and availability

Amplitube 5 can be bought off IK Multimedia’s website at $299.99. At this kind of price, it’s beyond the budget of the average bedroom producer or beginner, but it is a bit of software which is well worth investing in – in terms of sheer density of different options per unit of cost plus the way it frees up workflow and creates a smooth, easy-going sound design process.

Click here to check the latest price on their website!

Final Thoughts

I found everything about the AmpliTube 5 to stand out in terms of care and consideration taken to make a top tier product which focusses on the user as opposed to bunching a lot of different techs together. It has two main points of appeal – the variety of FX and thus possibilities in sound design and chain modelling – and the creative, non-linear set up designed to release workflow issues for speedier and more enjoyable music production. Personally, the workflow and interface design make it sold for me – but it’s the sheer number of options in terms of how you want to work with sound that means it has an appeal beyond any single genre. And if you want to read more reviews by us, head on down to our Reviews category by clicking here!

Audio-Technica AT2035 Review

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a side-address cardioid condenser microphone that is perfect for both studio and live applications. It has a large diaphragm that provides natural sound reproduction, and its low-profile design makes it ideal for use in tight spaces.

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a great microphone for anyone looking for an affordable alternative to some of the more expensive models on the market. This mic is perfect for home studios, project studios, and even live applications.

Audio-Technica AT2035: Build quality

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is very solid with a metal body casing and a durable metal grill protecting the microphone capsule. The mic is made of all-metal construction, and it feels very solid in your hand. This makes it less likely to suffer damage from accidental drops or impacts, which can be important if you’re using it in a live setting.

The shock mount on the Audio-Technica AT2035 is very well-designed, and you won’t have any issues with it. The mount will help to keep the mic stable and free from vibration, which can cause noise and degradation in your recordings.

Audio-Technica AT2035: Recording pattern

The AT2035 has a cardioid polar pattern, which is ideal for capturing vocals and instruments in a close-up setting. This ensures that the sound picked up by the mic is focused on the front while minimizing noise from the sides and rear. This makes it well-suited for recording solo artists or small groups in a studio setting.

Audio-Technica AT2035: Frequency response

The AT2035 has a frequency response of 20 Hz-20 kHz, which makes it suitable for a wide range of applications. It will provide accurate recording of vocals, guitars, and other instruments, making it a versatile option for studios of all sizes. 

However, if you need a mic with a greater frequency response, then you may want to consider looking at some of the other options on the market.

Looking to build a studio or just for a refresh in your gear? Be it digital or hardware, come on down to our Reviews category by clicking here!

Audio-Technica AT2035: Sensitivity

The AT2035 has a sensitivity of -33dB, meaning it is capable of capturing sounds at lower volumes. This is great for recording quieter sounds, like a singer’s voice or a piano.

This is great because it means your pre-amp won’t be overloaded. In other words, you can use a lower-powered microphone pre-amp to get the same or better results than you would with a higher-powered pre-amp. This is important if you’re using a portable audio recorder, which often doesn’t have a lot of power.

This low sensitivity makes it very difficult for the AT2035 to pick up background noise, making it ideal for situations where there are lots of things that could cause interference. This is why the AT2035 is such a great choice for home studios and professional studios, where capturing every detail is critical.

When used in a quiet recording environment, the AT2035 can produce very clear and rich sounds. This is due to its low sensitivity which allows it to capture quieter sounds without being overwhelmed by background noise. This makes it an ideal microphone for use in professional studios and home studios.

Audio-Technica AT2035: Sound quality

The Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone is designed to provide the best sound possible. This microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, which helps to isolate the sound source and reduce feedback. It also has a low-cut filter to remove any unwanted low-frequency noise.

The AT2035 microphone is also designed for durability. It has a die-cast metal housing that can withstand regular use, and the included stand mount helps to keep it in place. This microphone is also compatible with most standard audio interfaces, making it easy to use with any recording software.

The Audio-Technica AT2035 produces very clear and natural sound. This is due to its large diaphragm, which helps to capture all the nuances of your recordings. The mic is also very sensitive, allowing you to capture sounds at lower volumes without having to worry about background noise.

This mic is known for its clear, crisp sound. It’s perfect for both home and studio recording, as well as live performances. Additionally, the AT2035 is very versatile, and can be used with a variety of sound sources.

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is an excellent microphone for the price. It produces sound quality that is comparable to much more expensive microphones. I have tried several other microphones in this price range, and the AT2035 is the only one that comes close to matching the sound quality of the NT1-A.

Microphone Setup

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a condenser microphone that connects through an XLR interface. It requires phantom power, which is pretty much standard for condenser microphones. This microphone is also back electret, meaning it is forgiving about voltage (Rated 11-52V DC).

If you are interested in a bundle for setting the microphone in the studio (alongside a microphone arm and the associated cables), Amazon has you covered, click here to see the bundle at a very good price point!

Conclusion

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a great all-around microphone that is well-built and has some great features. The mic is perfect for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, and other sources.

If you are looking to spend under $300 on a microphone, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is one of your best choices. This microphone has great sound quality, and it is built to last. It also comes with a variety of accessories that make it easy to get started recording right away.

TrainYourEars – GREAT Music ear training software – Honest Review

What is Train Your Ears?

Train Your Ears is a revolutionary new Music ear training software tool for fine-tuning your ears and mind to the frequencies of different bandwidths, thereby showing you the differences between different sounds at a technical level as well as comparing before and after a bandwidth is changed. A fantastic product for both beginners and seasoned musicians alike, it goes into the granular details of equalisation, bringing a new perspective to a tool all music producers have encountered yet which is so commonplace that it normally becomes an accepted part of production. Train Your Ears is an incomparable way for all musicians to think more deeply about EQ – and in turn about their own music.

Why purchase this music ear training software?

Outside of simply requesting the user to match EQ bands with examples of noise which has been cut or boosted, this music ear training software allows you to move bands around to your liking and experiment with the interface to fine tune your understanding of how it works. In fact, Train Your Ears lets you literally take sound apart and reconstruct it – simply by listening to the different frequencies which resonate within it. So far, no other product comes close to giving the user this amount of freedom to experiment with sound – Train Your Ears is virtually unparalleled in giving musicians a way to EQ which matches their composition process.

When purchasing a DAW, there are many options for an EQ plugin which works for you. We have just recently reviewed probably the best new EQ software right now – Eventide Split EQ, read the review here. However, all of these tend to leave the user alone in terms of working out how to use them. In fact, they presume a pre-existing knowledge of the EQ process. Train Your Ears is therefore totally novel in letting artists combine it with any EQ plugin they wish to show you not just how the technology itself works but how noise itself interacts, creating real effects on the sounds of a song.

How to use the Train Your Ears music ear training software?

Too many articles on the internet attempt to teach EQ and fail because they are explaining a very nuanced concept in words – and yet it is one which is much better shown than told.

Train Your Ears does away with all the unnecessary written details and goes straight into showing you the difference between two versions of the exact same piece of music – one with EQ and one without. A typical practice session has seven bands which correspond to the division of EQ into bandwidths on a typical DAW such as Logic or Ableton.

It is very important for music ear training software products to provide the user with as much interaction as possible.

After a sample is played, it encourages you to match the audio with the corresponding bandwidth change, determining by how much it has been boosted or cut. Checking afterwards will then confirm how accurate your ear is.

The training session will then ask you to change the EQ’d signal so that once again it manages to sound the same as the original, and you are able to check afterwards to see if it is correct. The product also contains a monitor which allows you to see the exact level in decibels by which the signal has been boosted or cut, allowing a precise measurement of the amount of sound.

You can check the price for this product on the Train Your Ears website, by clicking here.

Once you install the product, be sure to check their own documentation and exercises by clicking here.

Here is an example assignment for Train Your Ears

Personal Review

I personally found that the software easily translated from a digital product to actual, tangible results which I was able to apply to my own music. At first, I was not able to hear the difference between the subtleties of different bandwidths and the smaller, technical divisions music falls into such as bass and sub-bass, but with even a small amount of time spent listening to Train Your Ears, I found myself becoming more finely attuned, simply because I had reference points.

By allowing the usage of songs which are already familiar, the music ear training software product manages to hold attention and makes the process of getting deep into some of the most subtle and technical aspects of music much easier. It translates terminology which is understandable first and foremost to those who are intimately familiar with the equipment into something manageable for most if not all musicians to turn into a fantastic reference for their own production skills.

It could be assumed that the applicability of this technology heavily depends on the style of music you are producing. Some genres, such as heavy metal, have very specific, niche methods of production which do not necessarily align to the customary methods of EQ’ing. Therefore, for those working in these genres, one key point for Train Your Ears would be if it is adaptable to managing other methods of working. Personally, I found the interface had a beautiful cleanliness and simplicity – which means it is flexible enough that in the hands of someone familiar with their genre, it can be adapted to suit any kind of music.

Pointing out the different bandwidths numerologically also means that there is a tangible, logical, concrete result for any EQ changes. EQ changes are not just an abstract wall of sound – instead they are given as precise numerical data so you can see exactly which bandwidth has been changed and where – as well as keeping track of multiple boosts and cuts.

You can check the price for this product on the Train Your Ears website, by clicking here.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Train Your Ears is an indispensable way to get more in depth and understand the full picture of how EQ works before applying it to your own music. Any musician can benefit from it – whether novices or pros, it shows the real vibrations and elements which make up any production. Not only this, it does this in the abstract whilst also directly linking the sound you hear to measurable values.

In this way, it is a really valuable piece of kit – and most importantly gives you a way to change in real time an equalised piece of music to make it match the original again – demonstrating how much EQ’ing can change the sound of a song but also how, with the right skills, it is possible to manipulate it at multiple levels to reach a broader and more nuanced picture of your production, therefore giving the artist more freedom.

Native Instruments Massive X: The NeXt Generation of Synth Plugins

Hello Friends, and welcome to our honest review of the Native Instruments MASSIVE X VST synth. In the digital audio space, it can be easy to overlook just how much great software is available to us with only a few clicks. Gone are the days of relying on expensive hardware and studio-time alone to make great music. For most of us, a laptop and a MIDI controller is all we need to open an entire world of musical possibilities. I often find myself in front of a laptop, with a MIDI controller next to me and a VST synthesizer loaded into my DAW. So, what options are available to us as home producers, and what’s new in the world of digital synth plugins?

What is Native Instruments MASSIVE X?

Native Instruments, a well-recognized name in the world of audio production, brings us MASSIVE X, a follow-up to their highly successful and appropriately titled software MASSIVE. Available for download and as a demo from their website, it doesn’t take long to see why so many people love this next generation synth.

Early impressions of the software are very positive. The well laid out user interface isn’t just functional, it’s familiar. MASSIVE X is a plugin that prioritises the modular aspect of synths, and it does so very effectively. For a definitive list of the BEST VST Plugin synths we have a huge article right here.

What makes Native Instruments MASSIVE X stand out?

The power of synths largely comes down to two core elements: oscillation and modulation, and how much control users have over these parameters. With dual wavetable oscillation at its core, MASSIVE X is a ton of fun for seasoned producers and beginners alike. MASSIVE X gives users all the conventional wavetables we expect, but also provides a wealth of new options for creative inspiration.

Here is an example of the complex modulation possibilities with this VST synth

For users already familiar with MASSIVE, Native Instruments has included remastered versions of their wavetables as well. MASSIVE X allows users to manipulate the wavetable position, level and pitch easily. The interface is well thought out and retains separation between sound generation and various effects, including routing and modulation.

For other reviews you should check our dedicated REVIEWS section by clicking right here.

What are the key features of Native Instruments MASSIVE X?

MASSIVE X allows users to connect inputs and outputs without restraint, just like it should be. Routing in MASSIVE X allows users to bypass, feedback and reroute modules with total control, and without sacrifice. The level of controllability in MASSIVE X is arguably it’s best feature, and the software comes packed with tons of presets to get you started.

The oscillators in MASSIVE X provide endless options for producers with over 170 wavetables and 10 different oscillator modes to read them. Each wavetable mode is completely adjustable, and two-phase modulation provides even more opportunities for mixing and layering. Effects can be applied in series, parallel or at random anywhere along the signal chain. For users who want full functionality of plugins with a MIDI controller, MASSIVE X is fully compatible and provides 16 assignable controls for your DAW.

A great overview of Massive X, straight from Native Instruments

Pricing

While not cheap, Native Instruments MASSIVE X is more than worth it, in our opinion. Worth arround 200 USD, you may get a deal from time to time by checking the NI official website: click here to check the current price.

There is also a special price if you already own the first MASSIVE VST Plugin Synth, and you can see this crossgrade price on the official website by clicking here.

Last but not least, Pluginboutique.com is offering a lot of presets for MASSIVE X – see them all by clicking here.

Final thoughts

Native Instruments has packed MASSIVE X with an incredible number of user controllable options in a familiar, modular interface. Producers who are already familiar with other synths will appreciate not just the clean aesthetics of the user interface, but also the familiar functionality of the software as well. MASSIVE X is not simply a digital imitation of a modular synth, it is a modular synth, and it’s right there in your DAW.

Eventide Split EQ: A new approach!

Welcome to our review of the Eventide Split EQ VST product! There are few things more crucial to a good mix than equalization (EQ-ing). As the digital audio marketplace continues to grow, it becomes much easier to find new tools to add to your production toolbox. However, it becomes harder to find new products and plugins that do something that is in fact, well, new. With this in mind, Eventide sought out to solve some longtime problems in audio mixing and production with their latest offering, Split EQ.

What is Split EQ?

Eventide, a well-known name in the world of audio effects and digital production, brings us their latest VST plugin Split EQ, and it doesn’t take long to see why producers are so excited. For a home user like myself, well versed in DAWs, and VST plugins, Eventide Split EQ goes well beyond the parameters of others I’ve used. Equalization is a fine art, and our final mix is often limited by the quality of recordings available to us. Where conventional equalizers often come up short, Eventide Split EQ rises to the occasion, offering new mixing possibilities by approaching equalization in a whole new way – a split way.

What makes Eventide Split EQ different?

SplitEQ is two equalizers rolled into one. Through a literal ‘split’ of the audio signal – using a patented technology Eventide calls Structural Split – SplitEQ provides users with two controllable signal parameters – two entirely independent equalizers. Eventide calls these parameters Tonal and Transient.  Where conventional EQs alter the entire sound envelope as a whole, SplitEQ provides two signal paths. This is the magic behind this plugin.

The best price for this product can be obtained on Pluginboutique, and there is also their fidelity program where you get points for spending money in their store, points that can be used for future purchases.

CHECK OUT THE OFFER ON PLUGINBOUTIQUE BY CLICKING HERE

How does Eventide Split EQ work?

Signal splitting allows users to adjust individual elements of a track with much more control. The tonal signals are in many ways the body and soul of the track – they are ambient, resonant, and sustained. The transient signals are the more dynamic elements of a track – attack, harshness, and hiss. With SplitEQ, users can mix these distinct elements individually without sacrificing the overall mix. Signal parameters are easily adjustable through a click and drag user interface which is very intuitive and allows for easy audio monitoring. Most producers can appreciate how quickly things get muddy when trying to reign in a harsh treble response on a track; by using Evende SplitEQ, users gain a whole new level of maneuverability within a particular aspect of the sound envelope, thereby eliminating many of the concessions inherent to other EQs.

Where does SplitEQ really stand out?

Audio producers are always trying to find that sweet spot of a mix. With Eventide SplitEQ, users can preserve distinct elements of a track, maintaining clarity and crispness to vocal melodies without suffering top-end harshness or sacrificing bass response. SplitEQ also provides new options for spatial dynamics which are especially useful in high energy mixes, helping create motion for drops and adding variation to heavy electronic bass-lines.

Here is a very nice comparison between Split EQ and Fabfilter Pro Q3

Final thoughts on Eventide Split EQ?

Split EQ provides a wealth of new possibilities for home producers and addresses many of the limitations of conventional EQs. It’s clear the designers at Eventide know what users need and expect from their software and Split EQ is no exception. Eventide has managed to change the way we interact with equalization, and I look forward to adding Split EQ to my regular toolbox.

CHECK OUT THE OFFER ON PLUGINBOUTIQUE BY CLICKING HERE

Make sure you also check the DEALS category on idesignsound.com

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