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Plugging Into Cool Sounds
August 14, 2012 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Computer-based musicians have a wealth of free VST (Windows) and Audio Units (Mac) plugins to use in their favorite DAW software. Here are some of my favorites (primarily Mac, though most are available for Windows as well). If you share my passion for this stuff, you are likely already a fan of the excellent website KVR Audio, the ultimate resource for plugins of all stripes.

SoundMagic Spectral are Mac-only, and are perfect for turning audio loops into strange soundscapes, particularly strong in the use of granular synthesis as a way to mangle audio. The folks at TAL offer up some great synthesizers and delays, along with all sorts of other effects goodies, and they're bi-platform (M/W). The Luxonix 1310 (M/W) is a Swiss Army knife plugin, with up to 3 simultaneous effects from a selection of 24, a very low memory and processor footprint, perfect for sonic novices (thanks to the many useful presets built into the plugin). If you're looking for a desert-island selection of effects, MeldaProductions offers a wide range of free plugins, including most of the bread-and-butter tools like equalizers, compressors and modulation effects, for a grand total of 24 different plugins (M/W), astoundingly good and free. Compressors are a standard item for serious audio geeks, and the rowdy little Rough Rider (M/W) lives up to its name, it's a sonic bulldozer for drum tracks, perfect for dance music and all sorts of other things (Audio Damage makes all sorts of inexpensive plugins worthy of your consideration, Dub Station has effectively replaced my bucket-brigade Electro Harmonix Memory Man delay). Another must-have compressor is the C3 Multiband Compressor (M/W), a great-sounding, comprehensive compressor for all sorts of audio engineering problems. Supaphaser (M/W) is my go-to free phase shifter, with a better overall sound than a few hardware phase shifters I've owned.

In the case of synthesizers, it's downright surprising to see the kind of sonic power being given away these days, the choices are truly wonderful and useful. The Tyrell N6 (M/W), by audio guru Urs Heckmann, was created as a giveaway for a magazine, and is juicer than some commercial offerings I've come across. Another great U-He synthesizer freebie is Zebralette (M/W), the baby sister of his heftier Zebra 2, both are in heavy use in my computers. An old go-to freebie is the highly programmable Crystal (M/W), a nice addition to any virtual synth rack. Commercial developer Native Instruments has all sorts of great synths for sale, but I'm really partial to their free scaled down Reaktor instrument Mikro Prism (M/W), it has some absolutely unique tonal qualities and excellent drone sounds, extremely musically useful little gem. A Mac-only favorite of mine is Automat, which can potentially blow out your speakers, so handle with care.

I know there are plenty more where these came from, but these are some of the standouts I've found in my voyages, feel free to link any you might know of that rock your world.
posted by dbiedny (54 comments total) 115 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks! Looks like lots of useful and/or fun stuff here.
posted by TwoToneRow at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2012


Don't miss ValhallaFreqEcho. Valhalla's paid plugins are also excellent.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:37 AM on August 14, 2012


Not everything is free, but if you already have Kontakt (and for a lot of these you do have to have the paid version) there are a lot of really cool, free or inexpensive instruments. Some of my faves:

audiothing (I love love love the pong glockenspiel and the magical toy keyboard)
embertone (check out the chapman trumpet!)
synth magic (polychrome is delish)

Something else I love to do to find cool/weird/cheap/free audio stuffs (these are global tag pages for Pinboard):

pinboard.in/t:vst
pinboard.in/t:AudioUnits
pinboard.in/t:kontakt
pinboard.in/t:softsynth
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks! This looks like a good broad-section of resources. Another resource that I have bookmarked is Tweak Bench - the field effect in particular is why I bookmarked it, as I was looking for ambient background noise effects at the time, but there are some real gems in there (peach and triforce are interesting for adding 8-bit sounds, for instance).
posted by mysterpigg at 9:43 AM on August 14, 2012


Hm, last time I tried Automat the presets didn't install, probably because I didn't run the install script. This time, I, uh, ran the install script. It's much nicer than I expected. Thanks!

An absolute must for all Windows and Mac audio nerds is the Yohng W1 limiter. Slap one on the master output, turn down the threshold a bit and it makes everything be good.

I also like the cross platform Voxengo Span spectrum analyzer.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2012


Speaking of VSTs, there's a very interesting shift happening in the industry. Basically, many commercial VSTs are pirated extensively -- even big name producers and artists pirate them. I was talking to someone from Antares, and they said one of Beyonce's producers had called their tech support regarding the Autotune plugin -- turned out they had a pirated copy.

I think the industry will go the way of Propellerheads, who is trying an Apple-like approach. They're using their dongle/internet auth device to setup a plug-in store that ties purchases to your account. By using a proprietary format, since the host has to be authenticated, so do all of the plugins. It makes me wonder how long VST will be around, since companies now have a commercially viable way of reducing piracy (e.g. once Ableton, Cubase, etc. all move over to similar closed systems).
posted by spiderskull at 9:46 AM on August 14, 2012


Airwindows makes some really great free-and-cheap Mac-only AU plugins. One of his free channel color plugs is on almost every one of my tracks. It's subtle, but it does something really nice as you turn the gain up.

I'm also really dreading going to 64-bit, because my favorite plugin is Massey's aborted attempt to port TapeHead to Mac AU. It's magic on bass and vocals.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:47 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


most. awesome. post. evar!
posted by smcdow at 9:57 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been keeping track of mostly free (or donationware, not the same thing) vst plugins for years now at delicious, using the tags vst, vst_effects, and vst_instruments. The tag macwin will filter so that only plugins which work on both platforms are listed (there's an underpopulated macwinlin tag for the few linux friendly plugins). Have fun!
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for making this post! Lots of things for this newb to explore.
posted by owtytrof at 10:10 AM on August 14, 2012


Basically, many commercial VSTs are pirated extensively

I wrote a track called Honesty which in its final release form was honest about the fact that I was using a trial version of the MicroTonic drum machine.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:12 AM on August 14, 2012


spiderskull - plugin anti piracy is as good as the developers want to make it. Look at FXpansion for example. Their stuff like Synth Squad has been "sort of" cracked but not reliably. A walled garden approach is not necessary. I much prefer being able to use standard format plugs in multiple hosts.

A more likely (and desirable, to me) path forward is the hybrid software / hardware approach that companies like NI are following with Maschine and various DJ products. The hardware acts as a dongle, in a way, but provides a huge benefit to the legit user that the pirate doesn't get. Of course not every synth plugin can have or needs a custom control surface, so hmmmm.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2012


Some of the TAL plugins really fantastic for free plugins. I'm a huge fan of their delay, TAL-DUB, for noisy, washed out resonating on and on and on effects.
posted by Hutch at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2012


What is Metafilter's favorite DAW? I use Reason a lot and sometimes wonder if I'm missing out. I'm on a Mac.
posted by circular at 10:33 AM on August 14, 2012


What is Metafilter's favorite DAW? I use Reason a lot and sometimes wonder if I'm missing out. I'm on a Mac.

Ableton Live here.
posted by acb at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Favorite DAW? Use whatever works for you. I've been using Logic Pro for the past six years and I still love it (for the most part).

When I was a PC user I liked Sonar.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:40 AM on August 14, 2012


Ableton Live all the way.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:43 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


REAPER is the DAW of the FUTURE.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:44 AM on August 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, my favorite free VST "shop" is krakli. They seem to have little respect for the traditional way of designing synths and their interfaces, which I find refreshing.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2012


Oh, here's another useful tag:

http://pinboard.in/t:soundfonts (remove the last 's' for more hits)

PROTIP: lots of samplers (like Kontakt) can still play the old soundfonts, and the internet is LOUSY with dusty old free soundfonts.

Speaking of DAWs, if you don't need MIDI sequencing but want a solid audio recording and production DAW for not too much money: Harrison Mixbus, it even works in Linux!
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:49 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been using FL Studio since it was called FruityLoops and was just a little drum machine. Nowadays it is a fully fledged DAW. Free upgrades for life is a pretty sweet deal as well. I also pop over to Ableton sometimes for arranging things, but I stay away from all its live performance stuff.
posted by hellphish at 11:20 AM on August 14, 2012


Logic Express 8 on a dedicated MacBook.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


DAWs: Unless your workflow is exactly, exactly the same as the guy who wrote Ableton, let me very strongly recommend against Ableton Live. (I have literally thirty years of experience with sequencers, if you include the sequencer I wrote on the PDP-11 in 1981, so it's not "just me".)

I'm stuck on working with it because I have years invested in Max and Max For Live is right now the best way to put programming in your sequencer. But I'm increasingly thinking I made a terrible mistake.

I think as a songwriter - and the most basic tasks you face as a songwriter are difficult or impossible. Forget pickups. Forget recording a MIDI performance track "freely" (without a metronome) and then stretching it to fit the bar lines (unless your MIDI performances only contain notes and no controllers, pitch bend, or anything else). Forget using system exclusives to control your external gear. Forget about pick ups (er, not the amplification device, but the musical device where one or two notes appear before the beginning of the first bar).

The worst part for a program named "Live" is that if you are playing multiple songs in a show, you have almost no choice but to put them into a really large Live document - but there's no way to keep these songs separate so every track in every song in your set appears in all other songs in your set, which results in pathologically large "playfields" if you have a serious set with songs with many parts.

I've hired two experts in the program, and I found it very entertaining. They both came in cocky and full of certainty that they could fix my issues - but they weren't able to (though I learned a huge amount from both).

Both of them tried to convince me that I didn't want to do a lot of the things I did! For example, wanting to play without a metronome isn't me being "difficult" - often when I'm trying things out I play various themes "free-time" into the DAW until I come up with some that work, and then stretch it and cut it into my main sequence - and this isn't just me, this is very common when I work with other players. But when I demonstrated how it would work, they had to concede that it was perfectly reasonable (and something you can do in ALL other DAWs that I've ever used!) (Yes, you can do this with audio - but I need to do this with MIDI because I record a performance and then tweak it and tweak the sound that I'm triggering - just like most other electronic musicians I've ever worked with!)

Today's session, we had a drum track, and I wanted to see what the sound of one note (i.e. one drum sound) in my sequence sounded like. The Expert played the whole track. "Er, there are a lot of sounds here, I want to identify one specific. In previous DAWs, I could just click on the note, and it would make that sound."

This seems like madness, but given a single note in your sequence, there seems to be no way to make it sound without playing the entire clip. Craziness.

I could go on and on. Avoid Ableton Live unless your sole purpose in life is turning loops on and off... you'll thank me for it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:57 AM on August 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


REAPER's the best traditional DAW I've used. Plus it's lightweight, inexpensive and has a healthy development cycle.
posted by frenetic at 1:24 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been very interested in Reaper. Unfortunately, whenever you see a question about live performance in their forums, the moderators say, "This is not intended as a live performance tool." :-(
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:37 PM on August 14, 2012


So where does that leave us? Digital Performer and Logic/MainStage? As far as I know, the ProTools family (aside from being more or less infuriating to me, even though it's The Industry Standard) really isn't set up for live work either.
posted by Alterscape at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2012


Bitwig Studio might be a contender, later this year. Looks like they are taking the core ideas of Ableton Live and building upon them...
posted by dbiedny at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2012


A lot of people swear by Logic/MainStage for live performance. It certainly does fix the "multiple songs in one set" issue. I haven't used it.

I did spend some time with Digital Performer. It seemed pretty good indeed for song-writing (e.g. it has proper stretching and pick ups) and I felt that it might have a solution to the multiple songs in one show issue too but I didn't have enough time to evaluate it - and I didn't see how I was going to put in my Max stuff too easily.

Of course, we're all really hopeful about Bitwig, made by programmers jumping ship from Ableton, and it does apparently fix a lot of the issues of Ableton (like not being able to open two songs at one time, can you believe?) I didn't get into the beta, though, and so far it doesn't exist, so it's just a dream....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2012


Ha! I hear you, lupus_yonderboy. Every time I've tried to buckle down and learn Live - every time, no exaggeration - within an hour I find an impossible show stopper limitation that I simply cannot believe is there. I do believe it's actually damaging electronic music as an art form by virtue of its inflexibility. It presents a barrier to structural freedom and innovation and forces everything into a four on the floor UMP UMP UMP regime.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:18 PM on August 14, 2012


My favorite Live failure: no sysex. Because you'd never want to send sysex to your synths in a live performance situation! never!

Live is good with audio, and makes a fine sampler. It is really bad with MIDI.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:34 PM on August 14, 2012


Re:DAWs - I've been a Cubase (PC) user for years, but recently got a demo of Mixcraft, and loved it so much, I bought a license (~79 bucks) and then upgraded to Mixcraft Pro Studio (~$150)

It feels like a really usable mix between garageband, cubase, and fruityloops... It's got a pretty excellent sample library, comes with a ton of useful VSTs, including some really nice mastering tools in the Pro Studio version...
posted by stenseng at 2:40 PM on August 14, 2012


Oh, I suppose a link couldn't hurt...

http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft-pro-studio/
posted by stenseng at 2:43 PM on August 14, 2012


Live is good with audio, and makes a fine sampler. It is really bad with MIDI.

I've used Live almost entirely with softsynths, with a bit of audio (usually stems for remixes) and had no problems with it. Then again, I sold all my physical MIDI kit in 2004 (with the exception of a Roland SC-55 that's sitting in a storage locker in Melbourne).

One trick I've stumbled upon for remixing: make a Drum Rack, then import your vocal stems (or whatever) into the pads and crop them to size. Then play the chopped-up/rearranged vocal line as a MIDI track.
posted by acb at 2:47 PM on August 14, 2012


Hollow Sun is also a good resource for cheap/free sounds.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good post. I'm a recovering KVR addict.

I've followed the industry since the late 80s. It's astounding* what someone can do now, even with free or very low-cost software.

*except for Autotune. make it stop!
posted by Artful Codger at 3:15 PM on August 14, 2012


*except for Autotune. make it stop!

Autotune's for people who don't have the time or inclination to get into Celemony Melodyne. Now there's an impressive piece of audio-manipulation software.
posted by acb at 3:20 PM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


There really isn't a one-stop-shop piece of software yet for both recording and performance purposes.

I use Reason and Sonar for recording. I also have Melodyne for pitch correction (it's not "autotune" -- if you have a reasonably close performance it's almost entirely undetectable in its correction).

And I have Ableton Live to play live. It's a huge pain in the ass, but Ableton isn't really suited for real recording, and nothing else really works well to play live.
posted by chimaera at 3:24 PM on August 14, 2012


Live is bad with with softsynths, too.

For example, the idea that your notes are completely unrelated to your controllers means that if you create a MIDI performance with your Softsynth with notes and controllers or pitch bend, it is basically impossible to ever edit that performance, as the controllers and pitch bends are glued into clip, while the notes can be freely moved.

The inability to do pick ups means that a lot of ultra-simple songs (think, "Oh, Susannah") are hard to do. In fact, consider the opening of that song... there is a two-note pickup, "Well I", which requires an entire bar. Simple, right? Except that when you run back into that pickup, you want to play it "over" the previous sequence - but you can't so you have to then e.g. cut off the last bar from each track in the previous sequence, add it to the front of the next sequence, and then put the pickup notes over that... then start the sequence one bar early (and of course there are quantization issues).

Watching one of these "experts" try to add a pick up to one single clip in my set was very revelatory - total time over 30 minutes for something that would be a minute in Digital Performer (or at least, so it appeared in the demo).

There's the issue that you can only have one MIDI channel in a Live track. This is truly frustrating if your softsynth has multiple channels! (There's a hack around it where you have two separate channels and send them to a third channel but that's again a complexifying factor - and it doesn't work to make Max For Live patches run more than one MIDI channel).

There's the terrible problem that there's no way to say, "This clip is exactly the same as this other clip so if I make changes to the first one, I make changes to the second one to" - so useful for songwriting. And there's no way to say, "Run these clips end-to-end so if I make one longer or shorter there's no gap or overlap" (SO useful for songwriting!)

And again, I get back to the "no way to put multiple songs in a set" issue. Opening a new document in Live is slow, even with my fast machine. Worse, for whatever reason it emits a bunch of crap and my lights go crazy, not very disciplined. So there's no choice but to lump everything I'm doing in one evening into one set.

Everyone, or so my experts tell me, just puts all their songs into one great huge set, and has pages and pages of scenes. Of course, if you want to have a fairly large set of songs and select a short set out of them you have to do a great deal of work to build one of these huge sets... everyone apparently just has ONE (main) Live document and do their entire show from that. This means that every single thing that ever makes noise in your show has to have a track that's there all the time. It means that if you wish to change sounds between songs you need either clever tricks, or going over to your computer and fiddling between songs.

I just spent the last week wrestling with this piece of excrement software for my first show in Berlin, at the end of the month (yes, I was serious when I told you guys I was working on moving out of the US, though this time we're only there for three months) so I'm very fresh on this now.

Drop me memail you're in Berlin and if you want come and see the show - it's a friend's house in Neuk├Âlln so I can't post the address, but it should be fun, it's free and we'll have free booze (because it'll be mostly my friends here).

The music is... um... not sure what to say without spoiling the surprise but let us say it has song structure and electronics and the electronic wind instrument and a lot of performance... perhaps Kraftwerk meets a marching band in sound?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:38 PM on August 14, 2012


> it means that if you wish to change sounds between songs you need either clever tricks

(unless you have a softsynth that responds to program changes, but they generally don't...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:47 PM on August 14, 2012


I also have Melodyne for pitch correction (it's not "autotune" -- if you have a reasonably close performance it's almost entirely undetectable in its correction).

It's good for more than that; you can completely change the rhythm and melody of a recording, and now can pick apart chords and change their individual notes. (So if you have a guitar strummed in one chord progression, you can change it to a different one.) As a creative tool, it comes into its own.
posted by acb at 4:11 PM on August 14, 2012


For example, the idea that your notes are completely unrelated to your controllers means that if you create a MIDI performance with your Softsynth with notes and controllers or pitch bend, it is basically impossible to ever edit that performance, as the controllers and pitch bends are glued into clip, while the notes can be freely moved.

You can open the controllers as graphs and move the points around.
posted by acb at 4:13 PM on August 14, 2012


The inability to do pick ups means that a lot of ultra-simple songs (think, "Oh, Susannah") are hard to do. In fact, consider the opening of that song... there is a two-note pickup, "Well I", which requires an entire bar. Simple, right? Except that when you run back into that pickup, you want to play it "over" the previous sequence - but you can't so you have to then e.g. cut off the last bar from each track in the previous sequence, add it to the front of the next sequence, and then put the pickup notes over that... then start the sequence one bar early (and of course there are quantization issues).

The loop doesn't have to start on a bar boundary; it can go from the pickup to just before the end of the last bar.

The one-bar early start is a bit annoying in clip mode; I've taken to using Live in traditional sequence mode most of the time when working on tracks, using clip mode mostly for prototyping.
posted by acb at 4:15 PM on August 14, 2012


i guess i'll be the contrarian here - i've been getting away from soft synths and picking up cheap old rack synths - emu proteus 1 xr, roland jv1080, yamaha tx81z and tg55 - to edit them, and often to control them, i've finally settled on former commercial programs released as freeware - on a virtual atari st

no filter on the proteus? - send it through a korg mini chaos pad

rompler presets boring? - mix and match the different rom samples with subtle off tune "overtones" from a different sample set - try the golden ratio of .618 for that

are the effects a little lacking? - you can pick up cheap old rack fx even cheaper than cheap old rack synths - not to mention guitar pedals ...

they sound quite a bit gnarlier than soft synths do - and the tx81z is a four-op fm synth with 8 different wave forms fully capable of edgy sonic mayhem

i'll use anything if i can find a use for it - the synth lead on riot going on at the mall is a children's toy keyboard i bought for 49c at goodwill, miked touching the speaker and put through a crapload of cavernous reverb

there's a lot of fun hardware out there ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:27 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


What? No Magical 8bit Plug?
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:41 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


What? No Magical 8bit Plug?

You know, last time I tried that in Logic, it didn't work. I think it used to fail validation, and then suddenly it didn't, but sometimes it just made static. Which is unfortunate.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:30 AM on August 15, 2012


I never liked Magical 8bit Plug, but its price certainly can't be beat. On the other end, you could spend about a hundred bucks and get Plogue Chipsounds, possibly the most obsessively detailed "chip music" virtual instrument available.

And I don't know where you live, pyramid termite, that you can find all this sweet old gear. Here in Salt Lake City Utah I rarely have any luck finding gnarly old synths. Though I did recently pick up some sweet nasty Sony microphones from the 1970s. Beige!

Virtual instruments also have the added benefit of not cluttering up my office, which is already so brimming with gear that if I add too much more I may get tossed out of the house by Mrs. Creature...
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:54 AM on August 15, 2012


For MacHeads in the room, here are a couple of bonus commercial music tools/toys:

- Perhaps the most important secret weapon of choice for audio designers and musicians: MetaSynth. Nothing else like it, and it's waaay beyond a simple encapsulated description. From the maniacally genius mind of Eric Wenger, maker of so much cool stuff, it boggles the mind.

- Numerology: the ultimate step sequencer, and a perfect companion for any and all AU plugins. I have lost endless hours of sleep falling into this wonderful program. Raymond Scott would have loved it.
posted by dbiedny at 7:56 AM on August 15, 2012


There's a good roundup of free VST hosts here. I've used Cantabile Lite and Live Professor a bit, but a friend has been pushing me toward Reaper. It's really full-featured and well-documented, but with a steeper learning curve. I use it for live work on my radio show, mainly VST effects and playing back pre-recorded content.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:19 AM on August 15, 2012


There's the issue that you can only have one MIDI channel in a Live track. This is truly frustrating if your softsynth has multiple channels! (There's a hack around it where you have two separate channels and send them to a third channel but that's again a complexifying factor - and it doesn't work to make Max For Live patches run more than one MIDI channel).

While it's true that you can only have one MIDI channel per track, there is a way to handle multitimbral/multichannel instruments conveniently. It's a bit of work, but only once, since you save the setup as a template for that instrument and can then pull it up quickly whenever you need it.

There are a lot of Logic features, softsynths, and effects (I've used Logic since before it was Logic: Notator/Creator on the Atari ST) that I like better than Live, but Live is still the best for, well, live. I just wish Logic could be slaved via ReWire instead of insisting on being the master app. I slave Reason to Live a lot to use, among other things, its ReDrum module.

I second the recommendation of Eric Wenger's (U&I Software's) synaesthetic apps. I've used Metasynth and Artmatic, and I was fortunate when I still lived in SF to hang out with Eric a bit (he lived not far from me) and get demos of what he was up to. It was worth coming home smelling like the unfiltered Lucky Strikes he chain-smoked. (He's a true Parisian.) Here's a bit I created back in 2001 using Artmatic, processed in Metasynth, and loaded into an Alesis S4+ for playback, a wash that opens the piece (a Nord Lead 2 sound comes in after a few seconds to begin the piece proper.)

I'll have to check out Numerology; I've tried various Max for Live step sequencers, which are pretty good, but step sequencing is another of those areas where Logic is still superior to Live. Anything that can improve it in Live is welcome.

Lastly, I recommend the (OSX/Audio Units only) plugins from MusicUnfolding, currently free (the developer is moving on to hardware and iOS development.) As a student of Hindustani classical music, I use the xResonance virtual sympathetics strings plugin all the time, on my fretless guitars and on other instruments as well. It's tuneable in very fine increments, important for the Just Intonation tunings I use. I did an audio demo of it here.

(If you're using these in Live, you need to be running Live 8 for their graphics to display correctly. Logic has handled them correctly for a while now.)
posted by Philofacts at 10:33 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Philofacts - I'm surprised we never ran into each other at Wenger's SF apartment. Many great memories from hanging out with him, I adore him and have been following his work since the earliest Art Mixer days. Check out the ArtMatic splash screen. :-)

And thanks for that link to MusicUnfolding, those look great!
posted by dbiedny at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2012


Maybe we did run into each other. ? Only went over there a handful of times, whenever Eric emailed or phoned a few of us with a come check this out message. First met him at a demo of Metasynth he did at Computers & Music on Mission St.; I wrote a review of it that got randomly reposted on some music site, he liked it and the rest is, if not history, an interesting footnote. I'd heard of him via his work on Bryce for Kai Krause's company (also met Herr Krause via a housemate's GF who was one of Metacreations' first employees), and he was the first person I'd heard of applying graphics processing techniques to audio. Both he and Kai are triple-threat programmers, graphic artists, and music composers.
posted by Philofacts at 4:09 PM on August 15, 2012


Philofacts - I know all about Kai Krause, and for the record, he's not a programmer, I never heard a shred of music he ever wrote (he did claim he got a Clio for audio work he supposedly did on Star trek 1, but lo and behold, there's no record of him ever winning a Clio for anything), and as far as his graphics art skills, all I'll say is that his work is nothing if not dated. I know far too much about Krause and his mythology for this thread, we'll leave it at that. Wenger, on the other hand, has more talent in his pinky than Kai could ever imagine. Ah, the stories...
posted by dbiedny at 6:46 PM on August 15, 2012


And I don't know where you live, pyramid termite, that you can find all this sweet old gear.

sw michigan - trips to n indiana and western detroit metro were necessary

truth is, i found the synths i did in a month's time and i think i was probably very lucky as last month and this month i've had no luck at all
posted by pyramid termite at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2012


I just had to add this insanely cool effects plugin, it has destroyed my mind and sleeping habits. and it's a great way to wrap up this thread. It's an exciting time to be a musician and audio geek!
posted by dbiedny at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2012


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