Techivation T-Exciter: add life to sound, save your time

Image Credit: Techivation

Techivation T-Exciter “brings life to sounds” by musically brightening the highs and adding both width and depth to your sound.

Any plugins that empower us to save our precious time while we produce our recordings are more welcome than the in-laws. Well, Tecivation specialises in this particular arena.

They’re relatively new to the plugin scene, but they bring a lot to the market. Testament to that is their new plugin T-Exciter: a plugin that gives us “magical results quickly”.


Techivation T-Exciter

With just a few settings, Techivation T-Exciter allows you to bring your sound to life quickly and effectively.

Moreover, where you may think to use an EQ to enhance your sound, T-Exciter’s simple and tidy interface removes the need for processor-hungry plugins. Whether you’re a Windows or macOS user, T-Exciter is optimised for low CPU consumption.

Features

T-Exciter has four Effect Modes where each gives our sounds and recordings different characteristics.

  1. Shine makes our sounds sharper by enhancing sonic details.
  2. Air, as you may have guessed, adds “natural” air to our sound with a musical overtone.
  3. Wet glues different sounds together by adding “overall excitement” – perfect for grouped instruments.
  4. Crisp allows sound to cut through our mix and brings them to the front.
Techivation T-Exciter has four Effect Modes.

Shine makes our sounds sharper by enhancing sonic details.

Air, as you may have guessed, adds "natural" air to our sound with a musical overtone.

Wet glues different sounds together by adding "overall excitement" - perfect for grouped instruments.

Crisp allows sound to cut through our mix and brings them to the front.
Image Credit: Techivation

And additional controls and buttons give us more control over the final effect.

  • Width widens the stereo image of sounds, instruments, groups to add “dramatic or subtle” depth and width.
  • Undo/Redo allow us to undo mistakes quickly, removing the risk of losing desirable settings.
  • A/B Switch is an onboard referee control for easily comparing different settings.
  • Mix adjusts the wet/dry mix of the two input/output signals – perfect for parallel processing.

Adding both richness and crispness to your mix has never been more instantaneous. Furthermore, you can add more definition to your sounds, instruments and groups and bring them to the front of your mixdown with a simplified workflow.

Whether guitars, vocals, drums, or key-based instruments, you can enhance the distinct tones of these sounds. Meanwhile, you can glue your grouped instruments together and add more energy by making the little details bigger.

Finally, T-Exciter reduces aliasing by running the internal process at a sample rate up to 16 X faster than the host for optimal sound quality.


Price and availability

Techivation T-Exciter is now available for $29 as an introductory price, whereas $39 will be the regular price.

The plugin is compatible with Windows 7+ in 32 / 64-bit VST and VST3, and 64-bit AAX.

It’s also compatible with macOS X 10.11+ in 64bit VST, VST3, AU and 64-bit AAX with Native M1 support.

AKAI Pro MPC Key 61 synth: streamline your studio with one tasty synthesizer

Image Credit: Magnetic Magazine

As time goes on, your home studio begins housing music gear with specific functionaltiies. But the AKAI MPC Key 61 is set to change that with its plethora of features that will streamline your workflow.

AKAI have long been pioneers in the all in one music performance tool market. Now, the MPC Key 61 is a true testament to that title. The latest AKAI synthesizer workstation tool is packed full of features for endless inspiration, creativity and most importantly, fun.


The AKAI MPC Key 61: composition and performance tools for your home studio and the stage

Powered by a quad-core processor with 4 GB of RAM, the Akai MPC Key 61 is a standalone music production keyboard synthesizer. The synthesizer combines the infamous MPC interface and velocity-sensitive RGB drum pads with a semi-weighted 61-key keybed – and that’s just the start of it. It packs 32 GB of internal storage but has an SSD card slot for expandable space!


Interface features

First, let’st talk about the new keybed. 61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch have been “created with attention to feel, velocity response, and dynamic accuracy” with an end goal of easy performance perfect for any playing style.

And to left hand side of the key bed sits dedicated creative pitch & mod wheels. An assignable touch strip sits above the keybed, and you can use it to manually adjust plugin parameters, apply automation, note repeat, and more.

To the right of the touchstrip sit 16 velocity-sensitive RGB drum pads with bank buttons that allow you to effortlessly access & capture drum takes.

The 7″ multi-gesture interactive touch screen displays all of your project information. Here you can select your instruments, change plugin parameters, and more including physically apply edits and trim your samples “with precision”.

The interface of the AKAI MPC 61 Key is neatly laid out for ease of use. It's perfect for any playing style, and it's jam packed with features for both music composition & live performance!
Image Credit: AKAI

To the right of the screen sits a rotary encoder knob for adjusting data values. You can control parameters, automation, and more with four 360 Q-Link knobs too.

On the far right of the interface sit transport controls for recording and over dubbing, in addition to play, stop, and locate buttons.

Finally, in the top left of the MPC Key 61 sits the main volume knob for adjusting both main & headphone level.


Onboard virtual instruments & software synthesizers

The MPC Key 61 features twenty five impressive virtual instruments that give you everything from acoustic sounds to digital synthesizers. However, it includes sick brand new instruments making their debut.

Fabric

First, an impressive standalone synthesizer. Fabric is a hybrid polyphonic synth which is powered by a powered by a sample-based engine.

OPx4

Capture the sound of iconic synthesizers for iconically vintage sounds.

Organ plugin

A rich organ sound that simulates real leather & virtual draw bars.

Stage Piano

Stage Piano “takes full advantage of the semi-weighted keys”. It’s a collection of virtual acoustic pianos that range from concert grand pianos to more intimate pinao instruments.

Studio Strings

Here is a collection of orchestral instruments that includes solo violin, violas, double-bass, and more, in addition to full orchestral ensembles.

Stage EP

Finally, a collection of keyboards that includes Rhodes, Whirley keyboards and more. You can expect to get some funky ideas flowing after the press of a few keys.

The AKAI MPC 61 Key is here to streamline your music production workflow in your home studio.
Image Credit: Magnetic Magazine

Sounds, Tabs, Workflow

Next, the new sounds page is a one stop shop for organising your workflow. Organise all plugin instruments, your preset selections, set lists and your favourite sounds in one place.

Here you can access all MPC plugin instruments and select the plugin you desire. By doing so you’ll see a page full of pre-sorted sound categories that allow for quick browsing of instrument types.

Setting your favourite sounds is a simple process – simply enter the Favourites tab with an instrument loaded and hold an empty slot via the touchscreen. Then your chosen instrumetn or sound will populate that slot.

The performance tab allows you to save plugin instrument templatess that can load up in the future at once! This is a huge time saver for anyone who knows where their idea needs to go. Simply select your instrument template and get writing!

In the Set Lists tab, save entire projects for live performance and cue songs one after the other.

Finally, the Key Ranges tab allows you to stack & layer multiple track types (bass, drums, etc.) and create custom variations. Additionly, you can break up the key bed into zones that accommodate for your track types by adjusting the split points here.


Connectivity

With all of this impressive functionality and an abundance of sounds, what more could you want? Well, lavish connectivity of course! Let’s look at the rear of the synth, shall we?

MPC Key 61 I/O connectivity includes: 

4 mono 1/4 outputs & a stereo 1-4 headphone out

2 combo jacks for line, instrument, and microphone level sources where each input has its own voltage level switch & gain knobs (+48V switch sends phantom power to both inputs)

8 eighth inch TS output jacks allow you to connect to CV and gate devices 

MIDI In, Out and Through connections allow you to connect to modules, other synthesizers and true MIDI enabled devices

3 keyboard pedals (sustain, expression & assignable foot jacks)

2 USB type A ports for external storage

1 USB type B for connecting to MIDI devices and audio interfaces

1 ethernet port for Ableton Link connection where no WIFI is available
Image Credit: AKAI

MPC Key 61 I/O connectivity includes:

  • 4 mono 1/4 outputs & a stereo 1-4 headphone out
  • 2 combo jacks for line, instrument, and microphone level sources where each input has its own voltage level switch & gain knobs (+48V switch sends phantom power to both inputs)
  • 8 eighth inch TS output jacks allow you to connect to CV and gate devices
  • MIDI In, Out and Through connections allow you to connect to modules, other synthesizers and true MIDI enabled devices
  • 3 keyboard pedals (sustain, expression & assignable foot jacks)
  • 2 USB type A ports for external storage
  • 1 USB type B for connecting to MIDI devices and audio interfaces
  • 1 ethernet port for Ableton Link connection where no WiFi is available

Price and availability

The AKAI Pro MPC Key 61 standalone synthesizer is available now for $1,899/£1,699.

BLEASS Monolit: a free synth that inspires creativity – get it here

Image Credit: BLEASS

BLEASS Monolit is a free monophonic synthesizer full of creative potential for macOS, Windows and iOS devices to celebrate World Music Day.

Finding yourself stuck staring at oscillators in search of inspiration can be time-consuming. Well BLEASS Monolit is here to help you find inspiration with its abundance of sound design tools…

The synth offers two oscillators, where the first features a square wave with PWM, in addition to triangle and a sawtooth wave. Alternative, you can use oscillator 1 as a noise ossilator. In contrast, the second oscillator has a totally morphable waveform!
Image Credit: BLEASS

BLEASS Monolit: a free creative tool for professional sound

To see what this tool can do straight out of the box simply play with its randomizer. By clicking on the dice, the engine randomizes every parameter on the synths and really shows you what it can do. Though you won’t get a musical result every time, you will find inspiration for musical ideas.

Though Monolit is a monophonic software synthesizer, you can have up to 7 voices for a more stereo sound.

The synth offers two oscillators, where the first features a square wave with PWM, in addition to a triangle and a sawtooth wave. Alternative, you can use oscillator 1 as a noise oscillator. In contrast, the second oscillator has a totally morphable waveform!

Image Credit: BLEASS

You’ll find octave and fine-tuning controls on both oscillators too. And you can apply frequency modulation via a dedicated oscillator to OSC 1, OSC 2, or both with sine, tri, saw, and square waves.

To add some movement, character and warmth your signal; a multimode filter is available with slope & drive controls. And two ADSR envelopes enable you to apply modulation, in addition to an LFO with multiple waveforms that you can sync to your host DAW’s tempo.

Slide and pressure controls feature two slots each on the General tab. Here you’ll also find a modulation wheel. In my opinion, there is a lot of modulation potential for a free synthesizer!

vImage Credit: BLEASS

Moreover, adjustable vibrato, glide tools, and a range of re-trigger options allow you to maximise movement in your sound.

The synth even features an onboard arpeggiator too! If you’re stuck for melody ideas, don’t fear. You can play around with the arpeggiator settings and find the right rhythm for your track.

And, of course, a very clear and colourful user interface houses all of these awesome tools in true BLEASS fashion. The look is far from intimidating and new users will have no trouble finding their way around.

Finally, BLEASS Monolit comes with high-quality presets from both independent sound designers and YouTubers such as Red Sky, The Sound Test Room, and more!


Availability

You can get Monolit now as a free download. It’s available in VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats for macOS and Windows devices. And iOS-based producers can get their hands on it too with its AUv3 support.

t.akustik LF-D 60 Halifax oak: bass traps for low-end absorption in your home studio

Image Credit: Gear News

t.akustik’s new LF-D 60 Bass Trap Halifax oak is a bass trap with a specific design for improving room acoustics. You can expect the attennuation of sound reflections between 80 to 500 Hz.

As a result, you’ll hear a more honest reproduction of frequencies low and mid frequencies. More specifically, the LF-D 60 Bass Trap Halifax oak targets frequencies within the mid-bass group to low-mids frequency group.

A well-treated acoustic space enables you to hear an honest reproduction of your musical creations. A bass trap specifically targets low-end reflections. This is due to how low frequencies are omnidirectional which leads to bass frequencies dramatically doubling in the corners of rooms. Moreover, home studios housed in square and rectangle rooms can greatly benefit from bass traps.


LF-D 60 Bass Trap Halifax oak

The LF-D 60 Bass Trap creates a more neutral listening by reducing low-frequency reflections in your home studio. It does so by utilising a high-quality polyester acoustic foam with a density of 45 kg/m³. Furthermore, the polyester material sits on an HDF plate with a 3 mm wide diameter lined with CPL laminate. The overall product dimensions are 600 x 600 x 325 mm (H x W x D).

The t.akustik LF-D 60 Halifax oak creates bass traps a more neutral listening by reducing low-frequency reflections in your home studio. It does so by utilising a high-quality polyester acoustic foam with a density of 45 kg/m³. Furthermore, the polyester material sits on an HDF plate with a 3 mm wide diameter lined with CPL laminate. The overall product dimensions are 600 x 600 x 325 mm (H x W x D).
Image Credit: Gear News

t.akustik LF-D 60 key features

  • LF-D 60 Bass Trap Halifax oak
  • Absorber to optimize room acoustics
  • high-quality polyester acoustic foam with a high density (45 kg / m3) and dense structure
  • specially designed to absorb low frequencies
  • Main effective range: 80 to 500 Hz
  • flame retardant according to FMVSS 302 Burn rate <100 mm/min
  • 3 mm HDF panel veneered on both sides with CPL laminate
  • Abmessungen (H x B x T): 600 x 600 x 325 mm
  • Colour: Halifax Oak decor
  • Delivery quantity: 2 pieces

Pricing and availability

You can get the t.akustik LF-D 60 Bass Trap Halifax oak in a pack of two for a price of £172 ($176).

Softube Wasted Space: a “perfectly imperfect lo-fi reverb”

Image Credit: Softube

Softube Wasted Space is a new lo-fi reverb effect coming to you from the labs of “the Swedish masters of dsitortion”.

Wasted Space is an “instant and extreme lo-fi digital reverb plugin for creative production and sound design”.

This new release by Softube presents a retro-futuristic interface with ’80s aliasing artefacts. Pop and electronic genres have been paying homage to 80s music with retro synths making their way back into pop culture. As a result, manufacturers introduce digital products that empower us to recreate classic sounds and atmospheres. Now, Wasted Space is here to join that machine.


Softube Wasted Space

Wasted Space offers an inspiring retro-futuristic interface and the authentic ‘80saliasing artefacts currently on-trend in pop and electronic genres. Features like variable sample rate and selectable aliasing filter type let users effortlessly bring elements forward in a mix and quickly find their lo-fi sweet spot.

Softube

Wasted Space includes modules for the company’s Eurorack platform Softube Modular and their pro audio guitar and bass platform Amp Room.

Softube Wasted Space features:

Intentional exaggeration of aliasing artefacts that were present in early digital reverbs.

Variable sample rate and selectable aliasing filter types let you quickly find your ideal lo-fi vibe.

High pass filter to reduce low-end rumble.

Pre delay and time sliders to effortlessly adjust traditional reverb parameters.

Dry/wet slider for finding the perfect balance on a track or going completely wet on a bus.

Featuring Softube Extended Features for even more control.
Image Credit: Softube

Therefore you can utilise this plugin across a number of excellent-sounding in-house platforms. All with superb Softube sound quality. Go from lackluster to out-of-this-world in a flash with Wasted Space from Softube.

Wasted Space features

  • Intentional exaggeration of aliasing artefacts that were present in early digital reverbs.
  • Variable sample rate and selectable aliasing filter types let you quickly find your ideal lo-fi vibe.
  • High pass filter to reduce low-end rumble.
  • Pre delay and time sliders to effortlessly adjust traditional reverb parameters.
  • Dry/wet slider for finding the perfect balance on a track or going completely wet on a bus.
  • Featuring Softube Extended Features for even more control.

Price and availability

Softube Wasted Space is available for Windows and Mac in VST/VST3, AU and AAX plugin formats. You can get it now at an intro price of $35 until July 31st, after which it’ll be $59.

How do audio signals work? How voltage and sound intertwine

Differing pieces of audio gear output and process different audio signals. In fact, it’s easy to identify and match up three of the four audio signals. Microphone, instrument, and speaker level signals are pretty self explainatory.

One signal that’s not so easy to identify is a line level signal. I remember when I first started out working with digital audio and i couldn’t;t make sense of what “Line In” and “Line Out” meant. Microphone and instrument inputs are easy enough to grasp, but line level signals were a matter of confusion.

Moreover, I remember thinking “what’s the difference between these signals?” After all, the vast majority of audio interfaces have XLR/jack combo inputs. Therfore I think any confusion over the differing audio signals is justified.

What we’re covering about audio signal levels:

Let’s get started!


The main difference between the four audio signal levels?

From weakest to strongest signal strength, the four signal levels are:

  1. Microphone level
  2. Instrument level
  3. Line level
  4. Speaker level

The difference between audio signal levels is their voltage levels which determines their signal strength. But the exact voltage level of any signal, whether microphone or speaker, depends on factors such as how loud a sound source is. But if you mismatch any of these four signals to the wrong input – like inputting a line level signal into a microphone or instrument input – then you will create a signal chain that won’t sound optimal, and you may damage your gear too.

The difference between audio signal levels is their voltage levels which determines their signal strength. 

Speaker level signals are the strongest signal strength.

Line level signals are the second strongest while instrument signals are the third strongest signal.

Finally, microphone signals are the weakest signal strength.

What is a microphone level signal?

We say a signal is microphone level when we describe the level of audio that a microphone outputs. A microphone level signal is the weakest signal strength, and this is due to the nature of how microphones work. As another matter, microphone signals have low impedance (electrical resistance) and are balanced signals.

You may know that condenser and ribbon microphones require external power (phantom power) to capture audio optimally. Be that as it may, these microphones still produce a microphone level signal. In order to boost the signal to line level (increase its voltage/signal strength), we need a microphone preamp.

I’m willing to bet that your audio interface has at least one microphone preamp and phantom power. In fact, a lot of professional audio gear often features both. But there is a difference between them…

Phantom power vs microphone preamplifiers

Whether 24V or 48V, phantom power is an electrical current that travels through your XLR microphone cable to power the aforementioned microphones. As we mentioned, your condenser may have had a power boost, but its output signal is still a microphone level signal – as is the output of a dynamic microphone.

On the other hand, a microphone preamp boosts the voltage of the mic level signal to a line level signal so equipment like rack EQs and compressors can read and process the signal. Mic preamps only have one job – to boost a microphone level signal to line level. But there are some differences between microphone preamps too. For example, some add particularly desirable colouration while others try to be as transparent as possible. It all depends on what the manufacturer wants to achieve with the product.

Finally, some standalone preamps include onboard EQs and compressor circuits that provide further functionality. Due to the fact that some preamps add a particular characteristic to a signal, studio engineers often have a range of standalone microphone preamps for more versatility in their recordings.

Unfortunately, your audio interface only has one or two preamps and they probably sound the same. Audio interface preamps usually aim to be as transparent as they can. With that said, preamps in modern audio interfaces don’t compromise on quality and can compete with professional-grade mic preamps!


Instrument level: what does it mean?

The next audio signal strength is instrument level. Instrument level signals have high impedance & are unbalanced too. Examples of instruments that output instrument level signals are active instruments like electric guitars, bass, and keyboards.

The pick-ups on instruments such as electric guitars produce an unbalanced signal with high impedance. As a result, your receiving gear needs high impedance inputs in order to process the signal. But not all gear provides such inputs, and if you run a high impedance signal into a low impedance input you’ll lose some high-end frequency content and volume.

Additionally, unbalanced signals pick up interference and noise as they travel through long cables (25 feet+). Balanced signals on the hand are not so vulnerable to external noise. However, shorter cables with poor cable shielding will also allow for more noise in your unbalanced signal. That’s not to say that heavy shielding is always a good solution though.

A real solution comes in the form of DI boxes. DI boxes convert unbalanced signals with high impedance to balanced signals with low-impedance signals. In other words, DI boxes convert instrument signals into microphone signals. From here, you can run your microphone signal over longer cables without picking up noise.

From your DI box you can run your balanced microphone signal through a microphone preamp and boost the signal to line level.

A microphones output signal is a microphone level signal. A microphone level signal plugs into a microphone preamp and is boosted to a line level signal.

An instrument signal - such as the output signal of an electric guitar - is unbalanced with high impedance. Therefore we must input an instrument level signal into a DI box to lower its impedance and convert the signal into a balanced microphone signal. Now this converted microphone signal can plug into a microphone preamp and be boosted to line level.

Hardware such as rack EQs can only accept line level signals, so it's crucial that we boost our microphone and instrument signals to line signals. 

From our EQ, our line level signal travels into an amplifier so that we can boost the signal to speaker level. Finally, the amplifier sends the signal to our speakers so that we can listen and enjoy our microphone & instrument recordings.

What is line in line out in audio?

I’m a bit of a gambler, and I’m also prepared to bet that you’ve seen inputs and outputs on audio gear that say “Line In” and “Line Out”. I’m also willing to bet you were as perplexed as I was too. Well, these phrases refer to line-level signals which is the second hottest audio signal. These inputs/outputs only accept line level inputs and only output line level signals. But what is a line level signal?

Line level signals have higher voltages than microphone and instrument signals. As we’ve been discussing, the output of a microphone preamp is line-level. But mixing consoles and other hardware gear like your audio interface also outputs line-level signals to speakers.

Line level is the standard for professional audio gear such as hardware EQs, reverbs, compressors, and so on. Manufacturers design rack modules such as these to accept line level signals, as they do for home recording gear such as audio interfaces.

The difference between Consumer (-10dBV) and professional line level (+4dBu) audio signals

Though line-level is the standard for professional audio gear, there are actually two types of line-level signals. One is tailored towards professional audio while the other is tailored towards consumer audio gear like stereo hi-fi systems.

  • Professional line-level: +4dBu (where dBu means decibels unloaded)
  • Consumer line-level:  -10dBV (where dBV means decibels as referenced to voltage)

And in terms of voltage itself:

  • 0dBu = 0.775 volts / +4 dBu = 3.1 volts
  • 0dBV = 1 volt / -10 dBV = 0.316 volts

dBu measures decibels relative to 0.775 volts in an unloaded circuit.

Meanwhile, dBV is an abbreviation for decibels as referenced to voltage. Like dBu, dBV specifies a relative voltage level. The difference though is that the reference voltage is 1 as opposed to 0.775.

Mixing and matching consumer and pro line level signals and inputs

Okay, that’s the technicals summarised enough.

As we briefly discussed, while working with professional audio equipment you’ll be working with +4 dBu line-level signals. Although some audio gear may allow you to switch its inputs between a -10 dBV and +4 dBu mode.

Should you connect a -10dBV signal to a +4dBu input, you will inevitably increase the noise floor of the receiving gear due to the disparity in voltage. But you’re likely to get a cleaner signal by boosting the gain of your professional gear rather than boosting the outputs of your consumer gear. Boosting the consumer gear will only increase the noise floor more.

In contrast, connecting a +4 dBu signal to a -10dBV input will overload the inputs on the consumer gear. As you may expect, this is because manufacturers don’t build consumer gear to receive voltages that professional line-level signals output. But attenuating the output of your +4dBu signal will give you a slightly cleaner signal. As a matter of fact, -10dBV consumer equipment is 4 times more sensitive than +4 dBu pro equipment.

dB difference between consumer and professional line-level signals

Finally, in terms of decibels (which are a tenth of a bel), -10dBV is 12dB quieter than +4dBu.


Line level vs mic level

Line-level is approximately one volt/1,000 times stronger than microphone level signal.

So if you were to input a microphone signal to a line level input with no preamplification, the gear will only receive a low-level signal. Again, this is because microphone signals have a weak signal strength/voltage. As a result, driving input-level dependent hardware such as compressors becomes a problem. More specifically, your microphone signal won’t breach the threshold level on your compressor.

Furthermore, if you input a line level signal into a microphone input then you’re going to overdrive the input on the gear and get distortion.

It’s crucial to match a device to the correct input since there’s no real technical tolerance for mistakes. For example:

Connecting a microphone to a line-level input will result in almost no sound at all, because the mic-level signal is too weak to drive the line-level input

Connecting a line-level source to a mic-level input will cause the sound to be loud and distorted because the line-level signal is much stronger than what the mic input will accept. (Note: Inputs and outputs on some higher-end mixers are mic and line level switchable.)

Shure

What is speaker level?

The final strongest audio signal strength is speaker level. Like a microphone signal needs to run through a preamplifier to reach line-level does a line-level signal need to run through an amplifier to reach speaker level.

Passive speakers like consumer hi-fi stereo systems require external power via an amplifier. Meanwhile, active speakers like professional studio monitors have internal amplifiers that do the same thing.

Because a speaker level signal is the strongest signal, they require cables that can handle such high voltage. XLR, TRS, and TS cables are all capable of handling such voltages for active monitors, as can RCA cables for hi-fi systems. However, we use speaker cables such as speakon cables to connect professional PA speakers to amplifiers. These cables are unshielded and use thick conductor wires. In any event, it’s the size of the speaker which dictates the required voltage. Smaller speaker drivers require less voltage – meaning XLR & TRS cables can handle the speaker level signal – while bigger drivers require more voltage.

Hypothetically, connecting an amplifier and a live PA speaker with a TRS/TS instrument cable which is shielded and uses thin conductive copper strands will melt the cable and possibly damage the amplifier.

Sennheiser teases first details about Momentum 4 Wireless noise-cancelling headphones

Image Credit: Sennheiser

The new Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless noise-cancelling headphones are set to exceed the Momentum 3 headphones that launched three years ago.

After three years, Sennheiser has finally announced some details of the all-new Momentum 4 Wireless noise-cancelling headphones. And the fact they’re coming this summer has to be the best bit!


Momentum 4 Wireless noise-cancelling headphones

The over-ear headphones may well continue to build on the awesomeness that was the Momentum 3’s. A new chic, grey fabric headband with synthetic leather ear pads makes these new additions look very comfy.

But putting comfortability aside, let’s talk about the technical bits. A massive 60 hours of battery life is coming our way (whether having ANC activated is a factor hasn’t been mentioned) which is a big jump to compete with new cans such as the Sony WH-1000XM5s.

Moreover, the drivers inside the Momentum 4 Wireless headphones are angled to emulate the sound of the listening sweet spot – a rising trend among headphone manufacturers. As a result, we can expect a “more natural soundstage”. And their voice pick-up may also have seen an improvement making better for better call quality and voice assistants too. Sennheiser is promising additional sound customisation features too!

​The MOMENTUM experience starts with Sennheiser’s Signature Sound that surpasses everything in its class – letting users enjoy music as never before. An audiophile-inspired 42mm transducer system delivers brilliant dynamics, clarity, and musicality for exceptional high-fidelity sound. The angled speakers ensure sound is channeled slightly from the front towards the user’s ears to give a more natural soundstage. Advanced voice pick up provides for optimized calls and easier voice assistant access. 

Sennhieser

With all of that said there are no more details currently available. Bluetooth connectivity, water resistance, and pricing are all details we’re waiting for. When these details will make their way to us we don’t know, so we’ll just have to wait patiently for them. But the Momentum 3 offered a three-button interface as well as auto on/off and a Smart Pause feature – will these also see an upgrade?

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless over-ear headphones are set to be available globally from August. You can find out more on the Sennheiser website

Roland announces Jupiter-4 Software Synthesizer

Image Credit: Roland

The Roland Jupiter-4 Software Synthesizer will be available as a Roland Cloud plugin or a System-8 “plug-out”.

Roland has announced the release of the Roland-4 software synth emulation. Now, this recreation of the company’s first polyphonic synthesizer is the latest addition to the Legendary series available on Roland Cloud. You can access the Roland-4 emulation as a DAW plugin as a “plug-out” for the company’s System-8 synthesizer keyboard.


Jupiter-4 Software Synthesizer

Roland stated the recreation was possible thanks to their Analogue Circuit Behaviour (ACB) technology. In essence, through analysis of the original units’ behaviours, unique character, and even its instabilities could Roland bring the unit to the digital realm. But new features include new Condition controls and a new Circuit Mod which allows you to manipulate the ‘character’ of the poly synth to fit your taste and musical style.

Roland’s evolving Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology brings the JUPITER-4 to life through careful analysis of original hardware units, circuit diagrams, and other historical data. This information is then used to recreate the authentic circuit behaviors of the vintage instrument—including all the beloved quirks and instabilities—giving the JUPITER-4 Software Synthesizer a breathtakingly accurate sound that buzzes with unique character.

Roland
Roland’s evolving Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology brings the JUPITER-4 to life through careful analysis of original hardware units, circuit diagrams, and other historical data. This information is then used to recreate the authentic circuit behaviors of the vintage instrument—including all the beloved quirks and instabilities—giving the JUPITER-4 Software Synthesizer a breathtakingly accurate sound that buzzes with unique character.
Image Credit: Roland

Though the Roland-4 has emulations of the single VCO, LFO and filter sections, some features have seen enhancements. For example, the recreation has an extended oscillator range and sub-oscillator volume control, velocity sensitivity, adjustable noise, and an arpeggiator! And the addition of a new phaser, flanger, overdrive, reverb and delay effects on top of the ensemble chorus of the original instrument give us plenty of effects to play with.

The Roland-4 plugin has a resizable UI like the majority of modern plugins. Furthermore, it supports VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats too. Native M1 and M2 compatibility are available too.

With System-8 integration, you can control the plugin via the keyboards panel or make use of the plug-out functionality. This functionality turns the System-8 into a standalone eight-voice Jupiter-4 synth!


Availability

You can access the Jupiter-4 Software Synthesizer now via Roland Cloud.

CLAP is a new plugin standard for plugin/host communication by Bitwig & u-he

Image Credit: u-he

CLAP (Clever Audio Plugin API) is a new open standard for audio plugins and hosts.

Bitwig and u-he have announced CLAP: a new plugin standard to allow more efficient communication between plugins and their host system, reports KVR. CLAP is designed to give us modern technical features; further plugin stability, and support for plugin developers’ host applications. Oh, and it’s open source too!

Developed in collaboration with experts from diverse fields in the music software industry, CLAP is a plug-in standard designed for modern computers and modern paradigms. It caters to novel DAW concepts, opening up new horizons for what a plug-in can do or be.

u-he and Bitwig

CLAP: the processors champion

CLAP has the modern CPU in mind. There is clear allocation between plugin and host, and it allows for collaborative multicore support between plugin and host via a “thread-pool”. This thread-pool allows hosts to manage a plugin’s CPU threading if it provides its own multicore support.

As a result, CLAP hosts can read a plugin’s metadata and contribute to organizing your plugin library. In other words, a CLAP host can retrieve information from your plugins without a need to wait for it to initialize. Therefore scanning for plugins is about to get much faster!

An additional extension is in the works too. Upon finalisation, CLAP will allow plugins to inform their host system of the type of files they require – like samples or wavetables – so the host can fetch them automatically. This will be a big relief to anyone who has lost files while moving work across systems.


CLAP is improving parameter modulation

But CLAP also has ways of enhancing modulation & automation in mind too. For example, it supports automation and modulation for individual notes in line with MIDI 2.0 specifications. In addition, it allows for temporary parameter offsets. This means that as soon as modulation has finished, the modulated parameter returns to its original state.

CLAP is now at V1.0 and is ABI stable. Now developers are actively encouraged to build on top of the foundation. And musicians can investigate CLAP in Bitwig Studio betas and a few u-he plugins.

Do you think CLAP is the future of plugin & host communication?

Moog Mavis: budget-friendly analog semi-modular synthesizer

Image Credit: Moog

Moog launches Mavis: a small yet mighty budget-friendly semi-modular synthesizer with authentic analog circuitry.

The Moog Mavis is a low-cost semi-modular analog synthesizer. Despite its affordability, it has the classic Moog sound, feel, and quality. Further, you can use it standalone or integrate it into your Eurorack (44HP). It has a true analog circuitry with 24 patch points, a built-in keyboard, and an all-analog sound engine with Moog’s new wavefolding circuit.


Moog Mavis: an affordable build-it-yourself semi-modular synthesizer

Mavis is a small DIY synthesizer that you assemble yourself. What sets the Mavis apart from other Moog DIY synths like the Werkstatt-01 is that this synthesizer utilizes synth techniques other Moog synths haven’t.

But before we jump into those technicalities, let’s talk about the DIY aspect.

To build the Moog Mavis, you must place its circuit board into its plastic enclosure, mount the face plate, and screw on the 24 patch connectors.
Image Credit: Moog

With no soldering required, you must place its circuit board into its plastic enclosure, mount the face plate, and screw on the 24 patch connectors. And that’s it!

Furthermore, the four patch cables come bundled with the Mavis in addition to some preset boards. As a result, getting started should be as easy as ABC.

As we mentioned earlier, Mavis will fit nicely into your Eurorack with its size of 44 HP. And in addition to patch cables, bundled is a single octave 13-key mini keyboard for playing notes and interacting with your sound. And 22 specified parameter controls allow you to twist and play with the sound possibilities in front of you.

The Moog Mavis will fit into a Eurorack with its size of 44 HP.
Image Credit: Moog

Moog’s wavefolding circuit and synth parameters

Sitting just to the right of the patch pays is an all-new sound engine. The new wavefolder circuit shapes and can fold incoming waves, putting this synth in a lane of its own. In short, the wavefolder allows you to make brand new waveforms rather than being stuck with the classic saw and square wave.

Image Credit: Gear News

And next to the wavefolder sits the VCO (oscillator) section. Controls for pitch and VCO wave shape sit here, and you can continuously adjust between saw and square oscillator waves. Other controls here include pulse width, VCO Mix, pitch mod amount, and PWM (pulse width modulation) Amount. 

Moving further right, the filter controls include cutoff, resonance, VCF (filter) Mod Mix, and VCO Mod Amount.

On the far right sits the output volume control and a switch for the VCA (amplifier) Mode.

In the modulation section, the LFO uses adjustable-rate and LFO-Wave parameters to manipulate the modulation. And to the right of the LFO sits the envelope generator. 


Connectivity

Despite all of these pros, one issue that some users may pick out is the lack of modern connectivity. Although the synth utilizes true analog circuit at an affordable price point, there are no digital connection options for MIDI or integrating the device into your DAW.

These don’t necessarily need to be issues though. If you want a bigger set of keys to play your sound with then you’ll need a keyboard capable of outputting control voltage. As for DAW integration, a mini-jack to 1/4″ adapter should allow you to plug your Moog Mavis into your audio interface. but that’s all additional hardware.


Price and availability

The Moog Mavis is available now for $415/399 Euro/£343.