Thursday, June 30, 2011
That’s the promise of a new app, Divide Frame’s Spectral Layers.
Spectral Layers analyzes audio and creates a graphic interface for editing the sound. On the horizontal axis, Spectral Layers represents time. On the vertical axis, it displays the audio spectrum.
Spectral Layers isn’t the first app to explore the idea of ‘Photoshop for audio’. Photosounder is an older app that brings new meaning to ‘photo synthesis‘ – acting as a bridge between the worlds of audio and images.
What makes Spectral Layers interesting, though, is its unique set of tools for working with the audio.
Check out the video demo above for an introduction to the application, its tools and their potential – and let us know if you’re interested in using Photoshop-like tools with audio.
* Advanced audio editor based on spectrum
* Accurately analyze, extract and transform any audio datas using layers and tools in a fully visual approach.
* Extract and transform voices, instruments, noises or any kind of sound
* Reconstruct, enhance and create new effects and raw materials.
o High-quality 32-bit float spectrum
o Realtime transforms and 3D display
o Surround project support
* Extract and Transform
o Non-destructive layer system
o Additive and substractive layer compositing
o Local tools and filters to transfer and modify spectral datas
* Cross-platform Windows/Mac OS X
* Open project format
* SDK for custom file formats, devices, tools and filters
More information on Spectral Layers is available at the developer’s site. Availability and pricing is to be announced.
via Peter Kirn at CDM, who features some interesting comments from the developer; see also the developer’s channel on Vimeo for a video tutorial on Spectral Layers.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The film features a rare, in-depth interview with Blackwell alongside contributions from former Island artists Grace Jones, Toots Hibbert, Amy Winehouse, Sly and Robbie, PJ Harvey, U2, Brian Eno, Spencer Davis, Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, the B52s, Kid Creole, Greg Lake, Ian Anderson, Trevor Horn, Paul Weller, Richard Thompson and Keane.
News archive and rare performance footage are used to tell the story of the label - its part in bringing reggae music into the world; its expansion into progressive rock in the late 1960s; the rise of Bob Marley into a global star; and the label's reputation for consistently signing, producing and championing innovative acts from the UK and all over the world.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Comprising of pioneering electronic musicians Peter Zinovieff and Tristram Cary (famed for his work on the Dr Who series) and genius engineer David Cockerell, EMSs studio was one of the most advanced computer-music facilities in the world. EMSs great legacy is the VCS3, Britains first synthesizer and rival of the American Moog. The VCS3 changed the sounds of some of the most popular artists of this period including Brian Eno, Hawkwind and Pink Floyd.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Chamberlin keyboard is a tape-based sample playback keyboard, invented in 1946 by Harry Chamberlin. It’s considered by many to be the first sampler, though it was primarily used as a sample playback keyboard.
According to stories, Chamberlin got the idea while recording himself playing the organ. He figured that if he could record and playback the organ, he could record other sounds and play them back, triggered by a keyboard.
Chamberlin went on to actually build 100 or more of his proto-samplers before his idea was “borrowed” to create the Mellotron. The Chamberlin has 8 tracks (Sound Effects, Trumpet, Flute, Cello, Organ, Violin, Female voice, Organ) and has stereo output.
Chamberlin’s story is featured in the excellent Mellotron documentary, Mellodrama.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
The film features interviews with Brad Plunkett, the inventor of the pedal, plus many other musical luminaries such as Ben Fong-Torres, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Eddie Kramer, Kirk Hammett, Dweezil Zappa, and Jim Dunlop.
These professionals explain how a musical novelty transcended convention and has become timelessly woven into the fabric of modern pop-culture.
Featuring interviews with Roska, Scratcha DVA, Blackdown, Mark Fisher, and Lisa Blanning, plus footage from a live SBTRKT DJ set.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Totally Wired is a DVD documentary film about Schneiders Buero (or Büro), the "infamous" analogue machines store, located in Berlin.
I'm sure most of you know the place, but for those who don't here's how Totally Wired's director, Niamh Guckian, describes her first experience and how the idea of making a film came out: "... first time I went there I couldn't wait to get out. All around me were small beeping machines and a voice box saying Good Morning, Welcome to Schneiders Buero... Walls and walls of modular systems were blinking and making too much noise, and I suddenly felt very unwell. Then a very tall German man with huge hands appeared, rather like a medicine man from the Little House on the Prairie... And suddenly, I had bitten the hook, and was listening intently to Andreas Schneider's Sermon from the Analog Mount, and thinking, who is this person, what is this place and maybe I should make a film about it...".
Totally Wired is an 80-minute tribute to a dream made of electricity, chaos and unpredictability, hard human work, alternative marketing approaches, boutique dirty toys, and of course to the city where the dream started, Berlin.
Featuring interviews with Mr.Schneider, manufacturers (Macbeth, Doepfer, Vermona, Flame, Cwejman, Flower Electronics) and special customers/friends (Ricardo Villalobos, Daniel Miller, Anthony Rother, Junior Boys and many others) Totally Wired is a well shot (classy photography!) and enjoyable document. It's a must-see for all analogue purists out-there, as well as for any electronic music lover.
As Niamh Guckian points out, "this film is all about possibility... Having the vision to keep it going when all around you are telling you to forget it...".
P.s: Totally Wired was shot in 2008, in the meantime Schneiders Buero's showroom (aka SchneidersLaden) has moved from the original location that can be seen in the film (an old Soviet Bloc office building in Alexanderplatz) to a new one.
A detailed description of Raymond Scott's work would take too much space here. I'd recommend having a look at the Wikipedia page and at the lovely official site.
Deconstructing Dad, now available on dvd, is directed and produced by Stan Warnow, Raymond's son from his first marriage. It's a an act of love, a virtual reconciliation with someone who's never been a perfect father. The documentary, while not extremely focused on musical or technical details, is a very interesting journey into Raymond Scott's life and carreer.
It's cool to see the few rare clips of Raymond Scott's bands in action, and to hear some phone conversations (yes, he used to record private conversations, that was part of his technology addiction). Also, the interviews with people like Jeff Winner (co-producer and founder of the official Raymond Scott Archives), Hal Willner, Don Byron, Williams, Herb Deutsch (Moog co-inventor) etc. help understanding Scott's personality and approach to music.
There's a passage in the movie which tells a lot about Scott's approach and evolution: with his bands he was playing jazz, but it was not actually jazz. I mean, the instrumentation and the language could be defined as such, but the approach was completely different. Control is the keyword here. He wanted to be in control. No improvisation, almost a sacrilege for jazz purists!
This clearly explains why later he fell in love with creating and using electronic instruments. In his lab (which looked incredible, by the way) he finally had complete control over the whole musical process. And, as far as we know, the tools he created were really unique and ahead of his time. In the fifties he had created a synthesizer, the Clavivox, and a polyphonic sequencer, before these words even existed.
But he wanted more, he was dreaming of an intelligent machine, able to automatically generate music. And he created one, the Electronium, which was also bought by Barry Gordy, Motown's godfather (which hired Scott at Motown too, as researcher). Raymond Scott was definitely not interested in marketing his creatures. For him they were all a huge "work in progress", he was constantly working to improve them, and that explains why years later he was fired by Gordy, tired of investing so much money on machines that were not ready to be shown to potential customers yet.
Raymond Scott to me is a sort of modern Leonardo Da Vinci: a perfect, rare, visionary mix of art and craft skills.
As said, this documentary is more about the man than about his music or his creations. While this leaves space to other, more specialized analysis of his work as composer and inventor, I'd definitely recommend watching Deconstructing Dad. It's an excellent, intimate and original introduction to Raymond Scott's genius.
Swedish company Softube have just released a Channel Strip plugin based on emulations of the excellent hardware company Tube-tech. Based 2 hours away from Stockholm, the team of four guys have been focused on creating accurate emulations of hardware gear since 2003, picking up many industry accolades and endorsements along the way. Notable companies they've partnered with include Native instruments, Marshall guitar amps, Abbey road studios, and of course Tube-Tech, whose engineers they worked directly with on creating this latest plugin release.
The tube-tech channel strip is a bundle of four plugins: The PE 1C - an emulation of the tube-tech PE 1C, which is itself a modern emulation of the classic passive tube based Pultec EQ. The ME 1B Mid-Range EQ - an emulation of the tube-tech hardware modelled on the Pultec (MEQ-5), and The CL 1B - an LA2A style emulation Opto compressor. The fourth plugin is a channel-strip version of all three together, with bypassing and routing elements added.
I really enjoyed the PE1C - I found it to be the most flexible and useful of the three plugins. I like to think of it as a 'sweetener' eq rather than a surgical tool. You can boost and attenuate the low and high end, including the 'Pultec trick' of boosting and attenuating the low end at the same frequency range, which strengthens and tightens the sound, and has been a technique used on many kick drums and basses over the years. I found I could use this EQ on almost all sources to smoothly boost highs, and warm and fatten up the low end. It even worked well on the 2-buss at the end of a mix. Vocals, guitars, bass, drums, all benefitted from it.
In comparison with the UAD pultec plugin, which I use a great deal, I found it to be a little bit subtler in the way it affected the sound. Here's a comparison of the two EQ's. The track is dry for a bar, Softube, dry, UAD, and then repeated. The sounds are quite different, even though the settings are identical.
It's impossible to say whether one's better than the other, as they're both emulating slightly different things, but I thought it was interesting to pair them up and hear the difference.
The ME 1B is a new plugin released individually at the same time as the channel strip/bundle plugin. It deals with the frequency range the PE1C doesn't deal with. As softube say on their website - it 'is a godsend for getting a modern and focused vocal sound or that extra bite in the guitar track.' I definitely found this to be true - the EQ focuses on the narrower mid range of 200 to 5khz, and is a little more able to sculpt the sound, find the particular frequency you want to boost or cut, to give more bite, or scoop out the wider midrange, to cut some of the honk out. Whereas the previous EQ works well by itself, I feel this one works best in conjunction with the other, and needs the smooth lift of the highs to complement the work done on the midrange. You can boost the low mids and the high mids, and there is a sweepable cut that covers almost the entire frequency range of the plugin. It proved great for adding bite and brightness. Whereas the PE1C is excellent at creating smooth boosts adding warmth, fatness and glisten to a source, The ME1B is great at cutting, helping a track stand out in a mix, adding some brightness, and cutting out any muddiness or honkiness in a sound source.
CL 1B Opto Compressor
This is based on a compressor that has been used in countless records, and alongside the others is definitely considered a classic in the audio world. The elements that stood out to me immediately were the inclusion of external sidechain capabilities, and the fast attack time (0.5ms). Both are very useful attributes that are not always present on other software compressors - there have been many times when I've been frustrated by the lack of external sidechain on the particular compressor I've been using. This compressor seemed to work well on all sources. I think that because it's emulating the hardware faithfully - and as this hardware is tube-based, I found it pretty coloured, and sometimes I felt like it muddied the sound a little. But gentle compression on larger sources, such as room mics, or piano, it sounded brilliant to my ears.
You can bypass any unit to save CPU, and route the EQ before or after the compressor. I loved the routing switch. The order you compress and EQ can have a massive difference on the sound, and it's great being able to A/B them without having to physically move the plugins around on the DAW. That saved a lot of irritation! With the addition of the Bypass switches, I thought that it made having the separate plugins a bit redundant - why not just load the Channel strip up every time and bypass the modules you're not using?
Softube have included quite a few videos on their website, which will help anyone find their way around the software more easily, and even give tips on the best order to use the software in.
The EQ was lovely, the midrange EQ even lovelier. The compressor was good, I really loved the external sidechain option - Not many others have these. Not having easy access to the hardware originals, it's hard to give a direct hard to soft comparison - but I'll take comfort in the fact that Tube Tech fully endorse these plugins, and Softube worked side by side with engineers at Tube Tech to create the software. If you love the sound of Pultec, or the outboard from Tubetech, then for the cost, you can't go wrong with the emulation Softube has created. It really does sound excellent.
Welcome to Dada Life and their Sausage Fattener, a plug-in that, well, compresses, saturates and can get a nice sausage out of your bounced tracks.
The plug-in was actually developed by Tailored Noise, in collaboration with Dada Life (a team of Dj/producers), and it looks like more will follow. I hope they'll keep on making funny videos like this one!
Dance and Electronic music producers may be the main target here, but even other users could find Sausage Fattener good for their tracks, why not? Just be careful when trying it on songs where you want to preserve the original dynamics.
Unfortunately no demo version (yet?). The plug-in is 29$, more or less like a very good homemade sausage.
This is not a comparison of their features but of how each one of them sound.
The Altiverb sweep generator produces a sweep with a start and end beep (which it uses for identification). Since most other deconvolution tools don’t recognize these beeps, we created two versions of the sweep – one with the beeps and one without and normalized them to -0.3dBFS. The recorded sweep at the venue also included broadband noise and AC hum, which Altiverb’s processor did a good job of neglecting. The other plugins weren’t as good and included the noise along with the impulse. To make the comparison easier we used some amount of noise reduction on both versions of the recorded sweep.
1. AudioEase Altiverb:
AudioEase’s IR Pre-Processor needs to be used to deconvolve a sweep that is usable in Altiverb. The process is very simple – select a folder with the recorded sweep (make sure they are stereo-split SDII files), an output folder (your Altiverb preset folder), an input description file (in this case, “Sweeps, not to be equalized”) and hit “Process”. Re-scan your IR directory in Altiverb and it should show up.
Here’s what the sweep recorded at the venue for Altiverb sounded like (with beeps, noise reduction and normalization). Make sure you aren’t monitoring too loud:
Revolver has its own utility in the form of an AudioSuite plugin. This is even simpler to use. You need to make sure that both your original sweep and recorded sweep files are imported into Pro Tools. The plugin can then be used to analyze both files and the result can be saved as a preset.
Here’s the edited and processed (noise reduction) sweep that was used:
3. TL Space:
TL Space has no deconvolution utility. A third party utility can be used – Voxengo Deconvolver on Windows, Fuzz Measure Pro or Space Designer on a Mac.
4. Waves IR1
IR1 has restrictions. It only works with the sweep provided by Waves (on the install CD or downloadable from their website). It’s a 15 second sweep from 22Hz to 32KHz. Because of this, it could not used for this test.
5. Space Designer:
In the more recent versions of Logic, the deconvolution option in Space Designer is hidden. It can be found by switching the view options of the plugin to ‘Controls’ and scrolling down to ‘Decode IR’ menu. It will then ask for both the original sweep and the recorded and sweep and output a deconvolved response. we used the same edited sweep that was used for Revolver.
The SoundCloud clip below shows the results of the sweep deconvolved by the above plugins. All plugins were running flat with no additional processing. The results were normalized to -1dBFS.
Altiverb does sound closer to the actual recording in the space. Although, it does lack LF and wideness in those frequencies. My guess is it’s because of the noise reduction, as the results in my previous post (with no noise reduction) sound alright.
The stereo spread in Revolver is a bit skewed across the frequency spectrum.
The result from Space Designer are closer to the source but it also has a lopsided image. It does seem to have a litte more depth though.
What do you think? Which of the results sounds closer to the source to you?
Plugin Sound Comparison:
To compare the sound of each plugin, we used Voxengo’s Deconvolver to create an impulse response that could be used commonly across all the plugins (thereby keeping the effect the deconvolution process has on the sound common across all plugins). It’s a standalone application that runs only on Windows and is simple enough to use – select the two files and hit process. It does come with other options that are useful for batch conversions (normalize, fade in, fade out, high cut, low cut, etc).
All plugins had no additional processing and the results were normalized to -1dBFS.
The results are definitely interesting! Each plugin seems to be treating the IR very differently. Altiverb & TL Space sound closest to the source and also sound similar. Revolver seems to have some sort of smearing again. Waves IR1 sounds more “wet”. Space Designer has a lopsided image again in addition to having a little more depth (not as upfront as Altiverb and TL Space). It’s also interesting to compare these results with the ones above.
What are your thoughts? Which of these plugins do you use and how do they translate and work for you in a mix?
You can stream music from those sources directly within the program (try that with iTunes’ browser), purchasing whatever music you encounter there that strikes your fancy from multiple sources: Amazon, Amie St., eMusic or iTunes. Or, if a blog or other site offers songs as free downloads, those are gathered neatly at the bottom of the screen as well.
At its core, though, Songbird is a solid music playback program — albeit one that can be customized with add-ons from Songbird and other developers, a strategy we’ve seen before from Songbird founder Rob Lord, formerly of Winamp, which itself had a wide variety of plug-ins. Lord set his sights squarely on iTunes when he launched Songbird a couple years back, accusing the program of being "like Internet Explorer, if Internet Explorer could only browse Microsoft.com." Songbird, with its emphasis on unfettered access to the web’s music sources, proves his point.
Aside from being a solid local player with Web 2.0-friendly music discovery built-in, Songbird can sync music to your iPod, so long as it’s not protected by Apple’s Fairplay DRM. Although a mechanism exists for playing Fairplay-protected music in Songbird, it didn’t work for us (screenshots below).
Beta versions of Songbird have been kicking around for ages, but today`s official release offers several improvements over the program, including a switch to the open source GStreamer multimedia playback system, which the team says makes this version perform better and with more reliability.
Songbird also added a mashTape feature that harvests images from Flickr, videos from YouTube, artist bios from last.fm and news from Google, all related to the currently-playing song. Minor tweaks include revamped keyboard shortcuts, a new Linux installer (the program runs on Windows, Mac and Linux), the ability to find out where a file actually lives, and the ability to nest one smart playlist inside another.Songbird
At Prolight + Sound 2011, Harman Professional is introducing its HiQnet Performance Manager software, a highly-refined user interface that facilitates the design of touring and live performance venue sound reinforcement systems. Designed especially for touring and theatrical sound engineering, HiQnet Performance Manager is an application-specific iteration of the category-leading HARMAN HiQnet System Architect 2 connectivity and control software application for professional-grade audio system integration.
HiQnet Performance Manager offers a comprehensive, step-by-step workflow that directly corresponds to real-world system configuration, taking the workflow paradigm introduced in System Architect 2 to a higher level of functionality for any live performance audio application. It is fully integrated with JBL’s Line Array Calculator II loudspeaker configuration and acoustic modeling software. The user begins by loading templates of the speaker arrays used in the system, and then runs Line Array Calculator II for each array as part of the initial sound design task of determining how many and which type of loudspeakers are required to cover a given venue. For each array, Performance Manager automatically loads the passive VerTec or powered VerTec DrivePack DPDA line array configuration into the main application workspace—the first of many automated design processes native to the software application. Loudspeakers can also be manually loaded into the templates if desired.
In this first installment documenting the journey of the Minimoog synth through the 1970's, we explore the musicians and the people that were instrumental in bringing the instrument to prominence. We also sit with one of Moog Music's earliest engineers, Bill Hemsath, who recalls the process of the Minimoog's birth and sheds some light on what sets the Moog synthesizer apart from other analog synths.
See more Moog history here: http://www.moogmusic.com/legacy
Friday, June 17, 2011
The technique may one day be used to allow 3D televisions to produce lifelike sound and to help people with certain types of hearing impairments locate noises. Segments of the video above incorporate Choueri's 3D filter to demonstrate the phenomenon.
The filter is designed to work with loudspeakers - not headphones - and can be experienced through standard computer speakers. (Make sure the right and left speakers are on the correct sides.)