Send and return channels are super handy for a lot of things, but do you know the difference between pre and post fader and what each is handy for?
Propellerhead’s baby feels like it’s been around forever – that said, I remember opening up the beta of Reason 1.0 for the first time like it was yesterday. In the more than 12 year lifespan of Reason, it’s undergone a few major upgrades, but a quick ‘what’s new’ just isn’t good enough for us… Continue Reading
I hope you live somewhere cold. Honestly. It makes all the difference if, when removing the OP-1 from its packaging – which is an exercise in artistic design in itself – if the aluminium chassis is cold to the touch. The build quality of the OP-1 is fantastic; it’s unbelievably solid, from the encoders to the buttons, and the OLED screen is beautiful to behold. Does the sound match up to the looks though? Let’s find out.
The aesthetic qualities of the unit are only really only a value adder to the hard and fast audio capabilities of Teenage Engineering’s flagship OP-1, of course. What the OP-1 comprises is eight synthesis engines, a drum machine, effects, a step sequencer, and a flexible recording system that emulates reel to reel tape recording. There’s more besides, such as the gyroscope that can be assigned to many of the parameters, an inbuilt FM radio, internal speaker… It’s a huge amount of stuff to cram into one unit, and thus it’s not surprising that the OP-1 doesn’t have best in class performance of any single feature. What it does do, though, is combine its functionality with its form to enable it to be an inspiring instrument to use – velocity-free note keys notwithstanding.
The OP-1 can have eight simultaneous instruments loaded at once – any combination of the same or different engines that it produces – although it’ll only play one at a time. The synths in the OP-1 are all very simply designed, with an emphasis on making tweaking them fun and easy. Having only four parameters means that they’re not hugely versatile individually, but between them the breadth of sounds that the OP-1 can produce is very impressive.
A run down of each synth engine:
- String: with the ability to change string taughtness, impulse from a morphing slider of very dull to very metallic sound, impulse decay for wetness, and detune, with the right settings you can achieve some quite realistic string sounds – just don’t expect string concertos to make their way out of the OP-1 any time soon.
- Pulse: A simple PWM synth, with the ability to modify the width and height of two pulses and modulate the rate at which they shift.
- Cluster: One of the more versatile engines, Cluster allows you to combine up to six waves and change the envelope to get anything from pizzicato to drone effects. Spread and unitor controls allow you to widen the waves right out and detune them to get expansive sounding patches; it’s good for anything from raspy electro leads to warm atmospherics.
- Digital: Reminiscent of video game sound chips of yore, digital allows you to play with the wave shape, alter the timbre with ring mod and the octave of overtones, and then dial in ‘digitalness’. Chiptune fans rejoice, basically.
- FM: As you might expect, there’s a pretty wide range of sounds to be had out of the FM synth, and modulations can provide wild digital sounds. That said, it’s one of the more abstract interfaces – perhaps because FM synthesis is a constantly surprising synthesis method when turning dials anyway, there’s very little to indicate where parameters are at any given point.
- Phase: Based around putting two sine waves out of phase, the phase synth is capable of some really growly basses. There’s no in-built mechanism to retain the sub bass that is often lost with phase, but there is interesting wave distortion and phase tilt that can really squeal.
- Dr Wave: An wavetable synth with simple controls for wave shape, filter, phase and chorus; Dr Wave sounds great and really benefits from the wave display on screen, as it really shows you how the synthesis can sound so radically different with small changes in parameters.
The world of effects gets more exciting by the day. Gone are the days when rackmounted devices, real springs and actual tapes were needed for the effects we take for granted today, and most of us now use software plugins for our effects. With computer power hurtling along at a frightening rate, having eight effects in a slot which would, as little as a few years ago, struggled to cope with one, the way we think about effects has taken on a whole new dimension. Turnado from Sugarbytes has two aims: create mindbogglingly complex effects chains, and make them super simple to use. Does it succeed?
PC: Windows XP+, Mac OSX 10.4+, runs VST, AU, and Standalone.
|Price at review: €139/$179|
Turnado is a no brainer purchase if you need effects that evolve and give your productions an organic unpredictability…
Rather than a single effect, Turnado is a rack with slots for eight effects to be loaded at one time. It gives us a choice of 24, and those 24 fall into eight basic types: delay, phase, reverb, ring mod, distortion, loop, granulation, and filtering. Each type has at least two different effects to choose from, and each effect has four unique parameters which can be controlled by two LFOs and an envelope follower.
We found the modulation system really easy to understand
We found the modulation system really easy to understand; the main screen for Turnado shows us eight large knobs, one for each effect, and by going into the deep editor for each effect you can set the ratio by which the big knob affects every other knob. You can also select from a number of ramp shapes for the knob to follow, allowing a linear adjustment, a curve that starts off shallow and then becomes steep, and so on. Because the LFO can already be modulating the parameters of the effect and then the big knob can change that relationship on top of that, Turnado’s effects sound absolutely fantastic and very organic when tweaked.
Tweaking really is the name of the game with Turnado
Tweaking really is the name of the game with Turnado, and whilst its effects do sound good when just left to be static, you’d be missing a trick if you weren’t using them to create evolving sounds. The order in which the effects are chained can be set one of two ways: linearly, from bank one to eight, or dynamically according to the order in which they are activated. This choice can make or break a patch, and Sugarbytes have again considered the implications of potentially complex patches by allowing drag and drop swapping between the banks.
Vintage Compressors takes three vintage compression circuitry types – FET, Electro-Optical and VCA
Vintage Compressors takes three vintage compression circuitry types – FET, Electro-Optical and VCA – and creates three separate analogue style compressor models for Guitar Rig Player. At €199 this is a serious collection, and we’re looking forward to giving it a thorough test. You can listen to the audio examples over at the Native Instruments website, and if you update to the latest edition of Guitar Rig Player you’ll be able to test them out in demo mode yourself….
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Traktor’s 12 is a fusion of Native Instruments’ three major areas of expertise – studio instruments and effects, DJing, and guitar effects chains. The resulting product is a collection of hands on and tweakable effects lifted from Traktor to be used in the studio or on the stage via Guitar Rig (or the free Guitar Rig Player).
DJ effects used to be the poor cousins of their studio counterparts… Oh, how the tables have turned.
Why bother with DJ effects when you probably already have go-to favourites for most, if not all ofthese module types? Well, firstly it’s important to make something clear. These are Native Instruments effects – the people that make some of the best sounding software on the market. The low price of the bundle and the simple controls perhaps leads one to assume that they’re not up to scratch, but that is absolutely not the case. Secondly, these effects are founded on their usefulness in performance; studio level audio quality is a pleasant side effect of the increasing power of computer music. The best sounds from Traktor’s 12 aren’t tweaked out with tentative adjustments, they’re bent, massaged, twisted and warped from furious hands on experiments; they beg for you to be rough with them just as much as they appreciate a soft touch.
This idea is echoed in the fact that there are just a handful of presets for each effect to show you the kind of things they can do, but with the simplicity of control and the dynamic nature of the effects they’re unlikely to take too much of your time. So, let’s look at the Dirty Dozen…
the best sounds from Traktor’s 12 aren’t tweaked out with tentative adjustments, they’re bent, massaged, twisted and warped from furious hands on experiments
The effects are as follows: Delay, Reverb, Lofi, Ring Mod, Formant Filter, Peak Filter, Beatmasher, Beat slicer, Gater, Reverse Grain, Transpose Stretch, and Mulholland Drive, an overdrive. All of them have a simple interface – there’s a wet/dry knob, and then three parameter controls which are unique to each device. Some of the controls have a button or two as well, but everything can be figured out by prodding until satisfied.
Digital Lo-Fi offers masses of scope to change the character of the sound, with a dialable smoothness filter affecting how the sound is aliased to allow you to create passable apings of classic crunch.
Ring Mod is perhaps the most pedestrian of the effects, as there’s not a great deal in the way of feathers in its cap – that said, it’s capable of some great Dalek sounds.
Traktor Delay has a handy ‘Freeze’ button which grabs a snapshot of the audio at the length specified on the rate dial and immediately switches over to it in a 100% wet loop (even if the effect is 100% dry, which allows you to use it as an interesting alternative to a beat repeater), and repeats ad infinitum with a gradually closing low pass filter – all the while editable with the onboard filter and by increasing the repeat rate. Think ‘loop roll’ that’s being filter swept.
There’s a freeze in Traktor Reverb, too, which loops a tiny section of the track based on the size dial, giving the effect of an infinite reverb tail. What’s more, altering the size of the effect after activating freeze resamples the already grabbed audio, so you can get interesting pitch effects with it as well.
continue to page 2 for more