Solid State Logic X-Gate: creative sound design and audio restoration

Image Credit: Solid State Logic

SSL X-Gate features SSL’s renowned advanced workflow; suited to musicians, mix engineers and content creators.

SSL X-Gate features a rolling waveform graph for visual analysis. The inclusion of mid/side will allow for creative stereo field gating, in addition a fixed expander mode, and built-in ducking.

With its multitude of features, X-Gate is set to be a tool for creative sound design, in addition to audio restoration and mixing.


SSL X-Gate

The rolling waveform visualisation graph empowers you to set the right threshold for your audio. Furthermore, the threshold and range controls are visually aligned with the waveform graph and the gain reduction meter for “coordinated control”.

X-Gate makes use of a “traffic light system” that informs you of the momentary open, closed, and hold states of the gate.

Moreover, you can trigger the gate more creatively with MID/SIDE processing options and specify whether the plugin should gate the mono or stereo elements of your signal.

Fast, snappy and precise, X-Gate is guaranteed to be your new workhorse plug-in for shaping drums and other instruments, adding punch to your mixes, and transparently fixing ghost notes, noise or room bleed

Jonathan Sandman, Plug-ins Product Manager at SSL

Traditional attack, release and hold parameters give you control over the final shape of your output too. And you can use the expander mode and knee control to expand the dynamic range of your signal.

More advanced options include the lookahead feature which enables the plugin to anticipate fluctuations in your signal. Additionally, duck mode only attenuates the signal when it breaches your threshold.

Finally, you can audition the sidechain and gate functions for A/B testing.


Price and compatibility

You can get SSL X-Gate now in VST2, VST3, AAX and AU plugin formats. It’s available for just $89 until July 28th, whereafter it’ll be $129. Apple M1 processor compatible is available too.

However, you can get X-Gate and a lot more from Solid State Logic in SSL’s Complete plugin subscription service for $14.99 a month.


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SMACK 2: design unique percussion with unrivalled detail

Image Credit: Big Fish Audio

“The next generation of body percussion” has arrived. SMACK 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the percussion plugin SMACK.

SMACK is a body percussion plugin where you can design your own percussion sounds with impressive precision. Now, SMACK 2 is here to add to the reputation of the original plugin with ever more epicness.


SMACK 2 Claps, Snaps & Stomps

SMACK 2: Claps, Snaps & Stomps is a sample set of body percussion sounds that offers an unrivalled level of detail.

“[We] set out to design and record a worthy sequel that not only captures the same magic of the first library”, state Big Fish Audio, “but also improves on it in several ways”.

As a result of this ambition, all of the body percussion sounds were recorded with three different customizable microphone positions – close, stereo, and room.

And the developer added further depth to the sample set in order to make every production as realistic as they could. To do so, they recorded every sound evenly from different positions and at several different velocity layers!

And you have total control over every sound too as you’ll have access to over seventy articulation patches. These give you immediate access to each individually recorded sample on the keyboard.

Big Fish captured every performance in small, medium, and large rooms to add more dynamics to every sound.

For further versatility, Big Fish explored a variety of new clapping techniques and stomping surfaces. “We sampled a single person stomping on a guitar case with a tambourine on top”, they say, “and also a small group stomping on plastic packing materials”.

You’ll also be able to utilise unique electronic sounds that complement the body percussion sounds too. “This patch includes electronic toms, kicks, snaps, claps, and other percussion instruments”. state Big Fish. “While these samples sound great on their own, they also blend beautifully with the acoustic samples”.


Product Features of SMACK 2

38 articulations
Recorded in 3 environments
3 mixable mic positions
43 effect presets
83 total patches
11 round robins
Up to 7 velocity layers
Over 12,000 samples
Full Komplete Kontrol & Maschine integration
Total size: 3.2GB


Komplete Kontrol and Maschine integration

Finally, Big FIsh has developed SMACK 2 for “seamless integration” with Komplete Kontrol and Maschine interfaces. This means you can get fully hands on with your sound crafting, and manipulate the plugin interface using the controls of compatible hardware.


Price and compatibility

SMACK 2 is now available for an introductory price of $79.95 until July 8th. Furthermore, SMACK 1 owners get SMACK 2 for only $69.95 through July 8th by using their original serial number as a checkout coupon. The regular price will be $99.95.

The SMACK 2 sound library requires approx 3.2GB of free hard drive space, 4GB RAM, Kontakt 6 Player (Included) or Kontakt 6 (Version 6.7.1).

The plugin is compatible with Windows 7+(32 or 64 bit) & OSX 10.13+ (64 bit).

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.

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.

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.

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?

Spotify will acquire Sonantic in line with their ambition to enter the audiobook market

Image Credit: Sonantic

Spotify is buying Sonantic, a London-based AI voice platform.

Founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn launched Sonantic in December 2018. The pair both have professional backgrounds in speech and language therapy for Hollywood sound production. On the Sonantic site, the company claims its “technology is poised to revolutionize game and film production” reports MBW.

Furthermore, the company claims to be able to create “compelling, nuanced, and stunningly realistic voices from text”.


Who are Sonantic?

In a blog post, co-founder and Sonantic CEO Zeena Qureshi said that a number of uses within the voice market include “advertising and call centres to robots and audiobooks”. In the same blog post, Qureshi talks about how Sonantic’s work is split into two parts.

First, they create “high quality voice technology for studios”. For anyone that works in dialogue recording and editing roles, you’ll know that it takes time to record. Add to that the logistics of getting voice actors into the studio and you’ve got a lot to think about. Well, Sonantic aim to “[spare] creators the time and logistics involved in traditional voice recording, while also transforming their scripts into immersive story voices in real time

As for the second part of the company’s work, they work with professional actors to “create models of their voice”.


Spotify acquires Sonantic

The Sonantic co-founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn said in a joint statement: “We’re looking forward to joining Spotify and continuing to build exciting voice experiences.

“We believe in the power voice has and its ability to foster a deeper connection with listeners around the world, and we know we can be better than ever on the world’s largest audio platform.”

The news of Spotify acquiring Sonantic is in line with last week’s Spotify Investor Day. CEO Daniel Ek outlined his company’s intentions to enter the audiobook market. Moreover, Spotify announced in November that an agreement to acquire audiobook distribution company Findaway was in reach.

We’re really excited about the potential to bring Sonantic’s AI voice technology onto the Spotify platform and create new experiences for our users. This integration will enable us to engage users in a new and even more personalized way.

Ziad Sultan, Spotify’s Vice President of Personalization

Get Ableton Live 11 Intro, Standard or Suite at a 25% discount until 14th June

Image Credit: Gear News

The sun’s out for summer, and so discounts are here too. Until June 14th you can get Ableton Intro, Standard, and Suite at a 25% discount. These deals also include upgrades from Lite and older versions of the Ableton DAW.

Additional Ableton summer sales include Max for Live, every Ableton Live Pack, and even crossgrades to Max 8! Despite these great software discounts, there are no hardware discounts on the Push MIDI controller. But now is the time to get your Ableton software of choice and wait for a hardware discount to come along… maybe on Black Friday?


Ableton Live 25% discount

Ableton has risen to the top of the list for electronic music composition, mixing and production DAWs. The DAW is one of the simplest DAWs to learn and use too. You can jump in and start exploring new sounds instantly, and there is a massive array of “How to use Ableton” tutorials online. In fact, there are more Ableton tutorials than most DAWs so you’ll have no problem learning the DAW.

Ableton is a popular tool for live performance as well as music production. You’ll find that most producers, musicians, and live performers use Ableton Live to both create and perform music in every electronic genre. Ableton Live is an incredibly competent DAW for creating scenes, MIDI channels and recording live during a performance. Furthermore, Ableton features amazing stock effects plugins, virtual instruments, and sample packs.

Now you can save up to 25% off on Ableton Live’s three tiers. This is pretty standard for Ableton discounts, so now is the time to get yourself the DAW before the offer ends. And if you’ve never used Ableton, take advantage of the free trials that you can access on Ableton’s website. Check out the discount prices below:


Ableton discount prices

Ableton Live 11 Intro: £50

Ableton Live 11 Standard: £222

Ableton Live 11 Suite: £385

You can access the range of discounts here. The discounts are available until June 14th.

Playfair Audio’s Dynamic Grading is an alternative to compressors

Image Credit: Playfair Audio

How would we control audio dynamics if compressors were never invented? Well, Playfair Audio seems to answer that question with their debut plugin Dynamic Grading.

Dynamic Grading is an alternative to a compressor, whereby we can control the dynamics of our signal without the use of threshold, ratio, or attack controls. Despite its alternative controls, Dynamic Grading does take from some of the great compressors that we know and love. But what’s intriguing is the easily adjustable representation of audio dynamics that replaces the aforementioned controls.

As a result, Dynamic Grading should leave your signal chains free of complicated plugin pairs. No longer will you need to watch a hundred or so YouTube tutorials to understand the different types of compression either.

Playfair Audio Dynamic Grading

“Dynamic Grading makes your audio dynamics visible and tangible.” state Playfair Audio.

Dynamic Grading is an intuitive alternative to compressors. Rather than controls like Threshold, Ratio, and Attack, it utilises imaging controls such as Spectrum, Response, and Release.
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

And, well, this certainly looks to be the case. The representation of audio dynamics via a histogram is one thing but couple it with the limited three controls and you get a plugin that’s easier to understand than compressors are at first.

Controlling audio dynamics is a key part of music production, but Dynamic Grading’s fresh approach to them could be a game-changer. The plugin questions how we’ve thought of compressors as technical tools for so long. Before, we had to sit and think about signal flow in complex signal chains that included combinations of different processors. Now, with the use of Augmented Intelligence – artificial intelligence that helps you rather than doing the work itself – you can sculpt the dynamics as Michelangelo did his David. Its simple histogram display and imaging controls allow you to adjust audio dynamics much like changing brightness and contrast in images.

The Dynamic Grading method is inspired by digital image processing tools, where the use of histograms and grading curves is well-known and established to adjust the dynamics of brightness in images. With Dynamic Grading, these concepts have been adapted and tailored to practical use in music production and audio engineering for the first time.

Playfair Audio
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

The interface seems to be pretty straightforward, though you will have to spend some time using the process and getting to grips with it.


Price and availability

Dynamic Grading is available now from the Playfair website for £167.00. It works in 64-bit AU, VST3, and AAX plugin formats under macOS 10.10+ and Windows 7+.

Do you think Dynamic Grading is the first of many alternate takes of audio processing plugins?

NUSofting Echobis: granualize your delay

Image Credit: NUSofting

NUSofting’s Echobis is a polyrhythmic delay plugin for building rhythmic atmospheres. Whether on drum loops or melody lines or one-shots, fresh new grooves await your music and your audience.


NUSofting Echobis

You can mix, pan, or cross-fade its two delay processors (both with their own feedback processors) for giant time-based modulation inside NUSofting Echobis. Furthermore, you can apply quick settings in milliseconds or sync both processors to your tempo (time divisions up to 1/32 to 32/32 or 1/24 to 24/24).

You can determine the volume of both delay processors with two amplitude envelopes and freely adjust the pitch with pitch modulators. Two granualizers and filter pairs sit in the feedback signal path, so you can add a lot of spice to the sound whilst controlling what frequencies the spice dominates in the mix. You can adjust the rate of the granualizers to taste too.

Both the amplitude and pitch modulators perform relative to the audio input. As a result, the modulators accurately follow the input level while keeping the pitch modulations in sync with the echo repeats. The modulators are inside the feedback loop, making for a deeper and deeper sound per feedback cycle.

NUSofting Echobis features two delay processors that you can mix, pan, or cross fade together. You can sync the delay to your DAW tempo with time divisions up to 32/32 or 24/24 or manipulate the delay via milliseconds.

Two amplitude and pitch modulators sit inside the feedback loop, as do the granualizers and filters.

Additional processors include a compressor, an analog style drift flutter and cross-feedback.
Image Credit: NUSofting

Additional processors include a compressor, an analog style drift flutter and cross-feedback. You’ll also receive 83 factory presets to play with.

You can change the size of the user interface, and it features two peak meters for monitoring the level of your outputs.
And you can apply additional GUI themes or just make your own!


Price and availability

Echobis is now available at an introductory price of €9 until the 29th of June. Its regular price will be €18.90

The plugin is available as 64-bit AU and VST2 plugin on Windows and Mac with native M1 support.


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