Google launches an instrument tuner – online, free, and it works

Image Credit: Google

Google has just introduced an instrument tuner online that’s right there built into the top of your Google search.

Google’s new super useful guitar tuner, free online, is just a search away. The instrument tuner works with anything, whether that’s an acoustic guitar or a flute.

Just type “Google tuner” into the search engine and the guitar tuner with mic will appear at the top of the page. Hit the mic and watch the colourful dial inform you whether you’re in tune or not. No more searching for a free way to tune guitar online only to find you need to download an app, with in-app purchases.

Image Credit: Google

The free instrument tuner works on any device – computer or mobile – and is pretty accurate for a free chromatic tuner. Mobile devices do seem to pick up the sound of the instrument more accurately though, presumably because you can get the microphone closer to your guitar.

The Google tuner joins other nifty free tools, including the Metronome, Flip a coin and Colour picker, as well as the Google Hum to Search feature in the app.

New free Travis Scott samples pack makes creating an Astroworld type beat easy for beginners

Image Credit: BVKER

Create a Travis Scott-type beat free of charge with this awesome Travis Scott sound pack of over 100 samples.

If you’ve been wondering how to make a Travis Scott beat, these samples will set you up.

The free free drum samples pack “The Astro” from BVKER is inspired by the Travis Scott Astroworld drum kit. They’ve nailed his experimental sound. The samples sound great and they’re freshly made without recycling sounds, so you’ll sound unique.

“The Astro” is built for recreating a Travis Scott beat. The 808s pull no punches and the hi-hats are sharp.

BVKER have made it easy for you to get started making beats like Travis Scott by including two full audio construction kits of loops, stems and one-shots taken from the demo. The one-shots are tuned to C to make things even easier.

What do you get in The Astro Travis Scott drum pack?
  • 10 808s, tuned
  • 40 drum shots
  • Two construction kits
  • 23 hi-hats and cymbals

Grab the drum kit download here for free and start producing.

Get the Orange Dual Terror virtual guitar amp free – before your time is up

Treat yourself to a spooky surprise and grab the Orange Dual Terror on AmpliTube for free from IK Multimedia for limited time only.

Happy Hallowe’en! All AmpliTube 5 users can get the Orange Dual Terror virtual guitar amp for free when you sign up to the IK Multimedia newsletter before – you guessed it – October 31st.

The freebie is a virtual Dual Terror guitar amplifier. You can coax a range of tones from the three controls on both the warmer Fat Channel and Tiny Terror Channel.

The free download is for the Orange Dual Terror 30-watt guitar head which is compatible with AmpliTube 5 platforms. If you haven’t got a version of AmpliTube 5 you can download the free AmpliTube 5 Custom Shop plugin, a collection of pedals, mics and amps.

To get the free Dual Terror guitar head, make an IK Multimedia account if you haven’t already.

Follow the instructions here to download your free Orange Dual Terror amp.

Different types of synthesizer and how they work

Image credit: Avi Naim

Ever wondered what all the different synthesizers are and what types of synth sounds they all make? You’ve come to the right place.

If you’re getting into the world of synthesizers and the infinite possibilities of making music with devices that can create their own sounds, then you might be wondering what separates all of the synthesizer types – or even what types there are!

If you’re looking to dive deeper into the world of synths and answer questions like, “how do they even work?!” then look no further than our introduction to synthesizers.

Digital vs. Analogue Synthesizers: Which is better?

To start with the basics, all synths will come under one of two categories: digital or analogue. Analogue synthesizers use circuity and modulators to generate sounds whilst digital synthesizers will create their sounds, well… digitally.

Digital synthesizers use a computer to create their sounds in essence. Analogue synthesizers will often use a voltage controlled oscillator.

As is usual with arguments in the music world, there are synth-heads who will fight the superiority of analogue synths to the death. There is something to be said for hardware for sure and an authentically produced audio signal may provide that “warmer” feel that musicians often look for.

However, we’re living in the 2020s… The potential in digital music production is astonishingly vast and the things that you can do with digital synthesizers would blow the mind of most music makers pre-dating the millennium. As always, personal preference really decides which is best and if you have your own opinion on that then that’s great!

What are the different types of synthesizers?

No two synthesizers are completely alike and there are plenty of different methods that allow them to create audio through analogue and digital means. Strap in, as we’re about to cover the different forms of synthesis.

Subtractive synthesis: This uses complex waveforms which are generated by oscillators and shaped by filters which either boost or remove frequencies to tweak a final sound signal.

Additive synthesis: Additive uses a large number of waveforms and combines them into a cohesive sound. These are usually made up of sine waves.

Frequency modulation synthesis: Often acronymized into FM, this method modulates waveforms with the frequency of others. These waveforms can then be used to modulate other waveforms and so on the cycle goes.

Phase distortion synthesis: This is essentially a brand specific form of sound synthesis. Used by Casio for their CZ synthesizers, it works much the same as FM synthesis.

Wavetable synthesis: These synthesizers modulate between digital representations of different waves to change their shape and timbre.

Sample-based synthesis: These use sampled recordings of sounds rather than generating their own. These can often be manipulated through the use of filters, envelopes, and LFOs.

Vector synthesis: This uses crossfading between different sound sources and was pioneers by the Prophet VS.

Granular synthesis: This splits audio samples into “grains” which are played back in a recombined state. It often splits its samples to between one hundredth and one tenth of a second in length.

Physical modelling synthesis: Taking a physical source of sound and making a mathematical model for it.

Synth terms explained: A glossary of terms in music production

Image credit: Anton Shuvalov

Oscillators and LFOs, waveforms and filters, attack, delay, sustain, and so on. What does it all mean? Our handy guide will explain what all of the most common terms on digital synthesizers and analog synthesizers are.

There’s a lot of unique jargon and terminology involved in using synths. Whether you’re playing with an old piece of electronic hardware or you’re creating synthesized sounds in your digital music software, knowing what it all means is vital to getting the best results in creating your own sounds.

For a more in-depth guide looking at what a synthesizer even is, how the hell they work to create such unique and seemingly infinite sounds, what the different kinds are, and everything else you need for a 101 introduction into the world of synthesizers then head to our guide here.

ADSR: Attack, delay, sustain, and release. What are they? We’ll get to each of them individually below.

Amplitude: The volume of a tone of waveform, represented by the height of a waveform on an oscilloscope (click here in case you don’t know what that is too).

Analog: An analog circuit is an electronic system that uses a continuously variable signal. The term “analogue” describes the proportional relationship between a signal and a voltage or current that represents the signal.

Arpeggiator: Arpeggios are chords that are played in sequence, like strumming out each string on a guitar in sequence rather than one quick flourish. An arpeggiator simulates this movement of notes for you, sequencing a pattern of notes that make up a chord.

Attack: This is how long it takes for the sound to go from nothing to it’s peak. The longer the attack the more the sound will appear to glide in rather than start immediately.

Attenuator: A method of reducing the amplitude of an audio signal, essentially reducing its volume.

Band: A range of frequencies in an EQ.

Band Pass Filter: A filter that allows for only the band of frequencies surrounding the cutoff to pass through and prevents the frequencies outside of that band.

Bandwidth: This is the width of a band or the number of frequencies that are boosted or cut around a selected frequency.

Bank: No this isn’t a coin slot in your synth. This is where a group of patches are stored in MIDI instruments.

Bass: The bandwidth of low frequencies, usually accepted to be between 20Hz to 400 Hz.

Chorus: An effect which plays multiple copies of a signal, slightly out of time to create a new tone. Think about the difference between a solo singer and a choir of singers all singing the same note. This can also be called an Ensemble.

Clock: This creates a consistent timing that you can connect throughout the synths and other devices in your setup to keep them in sync.

Cutoff: This is controls the cutting off of frequencies, pretty simple huh? Acting as a filter this controls how much certain EQ frequencies are removed.

Controlled Voltage: Often presented as just CV. This can control any parameters in an analog synth. This is used to adjust the oscillators, filters, and envelopes.

Decay: This measures how long the tone will take to fall out after the sound has been triggered.

Delay: A copy of the signal which plays back after the original sound and varies in the time between repeating and how many times it will play back. It comes in many different forms, find out more here.

Digital: In synthesizers, this refers to a module that uses digital processors and uses the direct digital synthesis architecture. It uses a numerically-controlled oscillator. Erm, it’s basically a computer controlled sound.

Distortion: An effect which boosts the amplitude, often to a point of peaking that provides a crunching, crushing tone to the sound.

Dynamic: The range in volume of an audio signal.

Envelope: A filter that determines the tones of your synth sound. A standard envelope filter will use the ADSR setup to control the sound.

Equalisation: Usually referred to simply as EQ. This is used to control the frequencies in a sound.

Eurorack: A modular synthesizer format which has grown to become incredibly popular. They use compact, 3.5mm mono jacks and cables for patching signals. To find out more, head here.

Filter: Filters are what defines the shape of your synth sound by taking out specific harmonics.

Frequencies: This is the number of times a second that a sound wave will repeat its cycle. When this is increased it will provide a higher pitch to the human ear.

Gain: Another way of referring to the level of a signal.

Gate: These signals can turn notes on and off, change the stages of an envelope, or control when a sequence is started and stopped. This can also be used to refer to a dynamic effect that cuts off a sound below a certain level.

Harmonics: Overtone frequencies that are found at intervals equal to the fundamental frequency.

Low Frequency Oscillator: Usually referred to as an LFO, this is an oscillator moving so slowly it is below the audible range for the human ear. It is used to alter the movement of a sound by modulating the audible frequencies from its own range.

Low Pass Filter: A filter that lets frequencies below the cutoff to pass, eliminating high frequencies.

MIDI: Stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Without getting into the technical complications of it, it is a system that allows control over digital synthesizers with a keyboard. You can find out more with our Introduction to MIDI here.

Modulation: This describes the changes in a signal. You can modulate most elements of an audio signal to define its output and how it travels.

Module: The units that make up modular synthesizers. These come in many forms… so many forms. You can find out more about what these modules can be and how they work here.

Noise: No we haven’t just added an obvious term here. In reference to synths, noise often refers to generators which add electrical noise to your signals. First found in analog synths, digital synths will sometimes simulate the effect but can’t replicate it authentically.

Octave: The intervals between a frequencies half or doubles, providing the same note but a different pitch.

Oscillator: These generate waveforms. Defining the shape of these waveforms has a huge impact on the sound you produce from a synthesizer.

Panning: The position of a signal on a stereo output in terms of left and right.

Patch: A pre-programmed sound that has been made up from oscillators/samples and customised then saved into a synthesizer. The name comes from the days of old when manually patching cables together created the desired sound.

Pitch: The frequency of a soundwave. The higher the frequency the higher the pitch of the sound will be to the ear.

Polyphony: The number of voices that a synth can play at a time. A monophonic synth can play only one voice, a paraphonic and duophonic synth both play 2 voices but work differently, and a polyphonic synth simply refers to multiple voiced synthesizers.

Portamento: This sweeps the pitch up or down between two notes when they’re played one after the other.

Pulse Width: This is the time a waveform will take to go from its highest point to its lowest point. The width refers to the visual length on the waveform of the signal.

Quantisation: This lines a signal up the closest increment in a specified range. Most commonly used when referring to rhythm and aligning notes up in time with a rhythmic grid.

Release: This defines the time taken for a sound to reach it’s lowest point in whatever the envelope is defining.

Resonance: Using feedback, this boosts the frequencies around the cutoff. This can emphasise harmonics and can generate a sine-wave if it is raised enough to boost the feedback.

Sample: A recorded sound bite which can be replayed and manipulated.

Sequencer: The arrangement of musical patterns which can be repeated to build up looping beats and melodies.

Sine Wave: The most straightforward waveform and the one you’re most likely to think of when you imagine an oscilloscope.

Square Wave: A waveform with very abrupt changes to its peak and trough, creating a shape with near right-angles.

Sustain: This describes how the sound will vary and sets the peak. For example, it will be the volume of the note when the attack reaches its destination.

Tempo: The speed at which music should be played defined by the number of beats in a minute.

Threshold: The level an effect must pass before it is activated.

Timbre: The character of a sound that isn’t related to its pitch or intensity. Can also be referred to as the tone clur or tone quality.

Treble: The bandwidth of high end frequencies. Commonly accepted as between 5.2kHz and 20kHz.

Tremolo: A modulation effect that impacts the volume.

Triangle Wave: Waveforms with a linear rise and fall giving it a triangular shape.

Trigger: The method uses to activate a module or synthesizer’s sound.

Velocity: Normally equating to the loudness of a note, this represents the dynamic attack of a trigger.

Vibrato: Effecting the pitch of a tone, this creates a funny warbling sound from a signal.

Voice: The sound created by an oscillator or a group of oscillators together.

Waveform: The visual display of a soundwave.

Patch your way through the apocalypse with a game of modular synth logic puzzles

Image Credit: Reckoner Industries

The Signal State is a game that combines logic-testing puzzles with synthesizer knowledge.

If you love modular synthesizers, The Signal State by Reckoner Industries is the game for you. The player must solve more than 40 puzzles in order to repair machines and rebuild a farm vital to producing food in a future where agriculture is failing.

Each puzzle in The Signal State has an interface built around modular synthesizers. That’s right, it’s time to make use of your modular synth patching knowledge – or equally, if you’ve always been intrigued but never dived into their complex world, the game is an absorbing way to start learning about synths.

In order to save the world in the single-player game set in a post-apocalyptic future you’ll be tested on your logic skills by dragging and dropping cables, programming samplers, output, and signal delays, just like in electronic music production.

Image Credit: Reckoner Industries

The cables are customisable, and there’s alternative designs by Papernoise. Reckoner Industries’ plan is to further update the game to release in sandbox mode, and also let players design their own puzzles.

The Signal State is on Steam and costs £15.49. It’s had a fair few positive reviews already. You can download a demo to have a go first – the game runs on PC and Mac.

How to sidechain in Ableton Live

Sidechain compression is a favourite technique amongst modern producers and brings an iconic thumping sound to a track. Here’s how you can sidechain in your tracks using Ableton Live.

First of all, if you’re not sure what sidechaining is then I’m glad you’re hear to learn about but it’s probably worth you checking out our introduction to sidechain compression so that you know what you’re going to be achieving when you bring it in to your mix:

If you’re in the know and you’re wanting to use the process to build a particular sound in your track, whether it’s boosting your bass drum in the mix for a huge dance sound or if you’re letting the vocals shine through the mix more than the backing track; whatever the sound you’re looking to achieve, here’s a guide to sidechaining on Ableton.

Sidechain compression in Ableton Live

Sidechain compression allows you to duck a channel based on another channel’s output. This is often used to allow one element to come through in the mix even more prominently and is most effective when used on a solid hit rather than continuous noise.

  1. Open one of their compressor plugins on the track that you want to compress. We’ll use Glue Compressor to walk through it in this case.
  2. Use the toggle arrow button to select and open the Sidechain compression pane in the plugin.
  3. Enable the Sidechain input (this should turn it yellow).
  4. In the two bars under ‘Audio From’ you’ll be selecting where your external source comes from and your tapping point. Select the track that contains your signal in the top bar and then the element you want to tap in the lower menu.
  5. You can select the small headphones symbol between Sidechain and EQ to filter the sidechain signal and choose from 6 of the available filters. This helps to control the triggering of the compression if it’s not working as you want.
  6. Using the Attack, Release, Ratio, and Threshold you control exactly how the sidechain is impacting your output. For details on how this works you’ll need to look into compressors more deeply elsewhere. Our guide is a good place to start.

Other types of sidechaining in Ableton Live

You can use other effects with the sidechaining process for varying results.

Rhythm: Using the techniques above, try sidechaining a recurring instrument or sample to create a rhythmic ducking to your track. Playing with your settings you can use a sidechain not so much to emphasise certain instruments but to emphasise a rhythmic pattern. You could even mute the instrument you’re sidechaining, allowing you to experiment with ducking without any sound needed to be pushed in those gaps.

Gate: You can set up a sidechain on Ableton’s gate to open and close the gate based on the level of a track. This can allow you to push two tracks at the same time, creating a relationship between two instruments or sounds. For example, gating a bass with the kick drum allows them to push their space together, bringing them both to the front of the track when the kick hits.

Filters: Sidechain to your filter and control the parameters like the envelope and filter so that when your input comes through your sound is transformed. This can be an amazing way to make a certain track’s sound shine through on each beat.

Got any unique ways of sidechaining that have created an interesting and different sound within your music? Share it with us in the comments below and maybe someone else will discover a brand new method to take into their music thanks to you.

Tidal won’t open? Try this

Image Credit: Tidal

If your Tidal app keeps crashing or freezing, these quick solutions might help.

An unresponsive or crashing Tidal music app is annoying but should be easy to solve. Use this checklist to work out why Tidal doesn’t work on your device, and you’ll be back streaming music in beautiful high definition in no time.

First, try restarting your device. A reboot is often all it takes to get Tidal up and running again. If that doesn’t make a difference, try uninstalling and redownloading the Tidal app.

No good? Next stop is to check on the status of Tidal to make sure the site isn’t down – a Twitter search for “Tidal down” is always a good bet.

Now check you’re running the most up-to-date version of Tidal. And is your device software up to date? Not keeping up with the latest software release can cause problems with running apps, whatever mobile device you’re on.

If Tidal won’t work on your Android phone, trying clearing the cache of corrupt files by holding the Tidal icon > App Info > Clear Cache. On iOS, you can try the same fix by heading to Settings > Tidal > Clear app cache on next launch.

Tried everything? No better? Contact Tidal support here to submit a request for assistance.

Get your music on Tidal with RouteNote for free and start making money from your music every time someone streams your songs. Sign up for free today.

Shazam on desktop?

Image Credit: Apple

Does Shazam on Windows exist, and is there a Shazam desktop version for Mac?

Is there a Shazam for PC? No – the Shazam app also isn’t available to download to PC. It’s Mac and mobile-only.

And whilst Mac users can use the Shazam for browser version, you can’t Shazam a song directly from the Shazam website on a Windows computer. Instead, you’ll have to download the Shazam app on Android phone or iOS device.

Shazam website on PC

If you’re a Mac user, you can download the Shazam app from the Apple Store. Once downloaded, you can activate Shazam from the icon on the right of the Menu Bar and the app will listen out for any music.

As soon as a track is identified you’ll be directed to the Shazam website to for more information about the artist and to hear a preview of the song. On you can also view music charts of the most Shazamed tracks around the world.

Shazam website on Mac

As Shazam is Apple-owned, you’ll of course be prompted to listen to the whole track on Apple Music. Apple Music users can connect their account, and songs will play in full in Shazam.

Shazam not only listens to music in the outside world – on the radio or television, and so on – but can also identify songs playing in different apps on your Mac, should you be watching a music video on YouTube or hear a song on Netflix.

At the time of writing you can head to My Library on to see your Shazam history. That’s soon set to change, and you’ll need the Shazam mobile app to see your old Shazams.

Are you an artist who’d love your song to be recognisable by Shazam? Sign up to RouteNote. We help unsigned artists and independent labels put their music online to all the major streaming platforms and stores, and we’ve partnered with Apple Music to get your songs on Shazam.

Our music distribution is completely free. Find out more here.

This free piano VST plugin is perfect for lo-fi hip-hop

Wondering how to make lofi beats? Become a lofi hip-hop artist with this free Upright Piano VST from Audiolatry, providing simple, sweet melodies and fuzzy chords.

Image Credit: Audiolatry

A lovely new free Upright Piano VST from Audiolatry realistically samples a Kawai piano. The piano plugin has a sweet tone that would fit perfectly with Lo-Fi hip-hop, easy-listening pop songs or chill dance tracks.

The free piano VST plugin has a very simple interface, so it’s quick and easy to get to grips with the virtual instrument. There’s a few features like reverb, attack and release, and a high pass and lo pass filter. You can also adjust the volume of the keys release.

For a free plugin, the tone is very pleasant – no tinny toy piano sound here. Two velocity layers give it an airy feel. The no-frills sound is discreet enough to perfectly provide a gentle melody or fuzzy chords to anchor a lo-fi beat.

At the moment the plugin is available as a VST and VST3 for Windows only, though Audiolatry say a Mac version is in the works. You can pay what you like for Upright Piano, or get it for free.

Find out more and download the free VST here.

And once you’ve added that cute piano sound to your track, why not upload your song to streaming services for free with RouteNote? You could end up on our in-house curated Lo-Fi playlist.