Sugar Bytes Cyclop

We love bass, so we decided to take a look at the latest low end monster synth on the market in our Sugar Bytes Cyclop Review. Cyclop has huge possibilities for dubstep – read on to find out just how worthy it is of your hard earned…


First Impressions

Cyclop is, initially at least, pretty confusing to look at. It doesn’t take too long to get your head around things if you’ve got a sound understanding of basic synth principles, but Cyclop is probably a synth that you’ll get the most out of if you’re already somewhat au fait with synths in general. It’s got a pretty big GUI, with a central section that has multiple pages that have their own subpages, and until you ‘get’ how it all works you might get a little frustrated. Once you do, though, things turn out to be quite logical and the layout of the GUI more or less mimics the signal chain, or at least, as much as it can when that chain can be rearranged.

Oscillators and Filters

Sugar Bytes Cyclop Oscillators

There are two oscillator sections in Cyclop, plus a sine wave sub osc just to make sure there’s always some knee shaking sub on offer. The main oscillator sections allow you to choose an overarching synthesis type and then tweak them further, with FM, saw/double saw/square wave sync, a supersaw creating ‘saw regiment’, a granular wavetable (that supports wav import), a spectral shaping oscillator ‘spectromat’, and a phase distortion unit that creates harmonics out of pushing sine waves out of phase and accentuating their clashes. This is a lot of potential, and if I’m to be completely honest I found myself neglecting the phase stressor and spectromat in favour of the simpler and perhaps more versatile analog sync, FM, and saw regiment types. Over time I think the extra oscillator types will be something I’ll delve into more, as the subtlties of their character starts to win me over. It’s clear that there’s a great deal of sonic potential in the oscillators, though, and even the basic waveforms sound excellent.

Sugar Bytes Cyclop Filters

The filter section is similarly well endowed, with ten different types of filter on offer – high pass, band pass, mid boost, three low pass types, comb, ripple (a sort of band pass/comb hybrid), and band stop. All the filters can be set to operate as formant shifters too, which works especially well when certain filters are combined with rhythmic modulation. All the filters are tweaked to be ‘bass appropriate’; they’re very smooth, and even high resonance settings are accessible without ruining the patch in key pitch zones.

For even more flexibility the oscillators and filters can be run serial, with the sum of oscillator 1 and 2 going through filter 1 then 2 (or the other way around), parallel, with the sum of the oscillators split and running into each filter individually, or in split mode, where oscillator 1 runs to filter 1, oscillator 2 to filter 2. Experimenting with just how much this could change the sound was eye opening, and this semi-modular approach to Cyclop is definitely one of its strong points.


Sugar Bytes Cyclop Modulation

Whilst it generates some pretty gut wrenching bass straight off the bat, it’s the modulation options that set Cyclop apart; rather than creating a sound and then warping and shaping it with DAW automation and further plugins, Cyclop really wants you to program every aspect of your bassline, from the wobbles to the tone changes, in its own GUI.

Each of the main controls on the oscillators and filters can be modulated individually by an ADSR envelope, a ‘sound’ dial, a step sequencer, an LFO, and the ‘wobble’ dial. The wobble is a special control that is really at the heart of Cyclop; essentially, wobble is a tempo synced LFO, and every rhythmic interval – 16th, 8th, etc – can have its own shape. This can lead to some very interesting wobble bass patches, where different LFO speeds have character over and above just the rate at which they bounce between settings. For even more fluid changes, the shapes and rates can be interpolated between each rhythm division. Experimentation is key here, and indeed there’s a randomisation button to help you to do so.

Sugar Bytes Cyclop Rhythm

On top of all this modulation capability, you can even rhythmically automate these modulation parameters from within Cyclop. You can get so deep with Cyclop that it stops becoming about twisting knobs to get a bass sound and more about getting the meat of your entire track, leaving you to simply play notes and let the automation you’ve set up take care of the rest. I didn’t find myself using even 50% of the total capability of Cyclop in most instances, but it’s nice to know that if you have a certain mutation in your head, you can probably achieve it.

Oh, there’s more. On top of all this, the effects (described below) can be turned on and off in sequence, and there’s an amp gate that’s designed to give rhythmic qualities to held notes. In short, a well programmed Cyclop patch can more or less completely take care of everything that makes basslines interesting except the pitches of the notes in them.


Sugar Bytes Cyclop Effects

Sugarbytes’ existing calibre with effects is evident with Cyclop. There’s a whole page dedicated to the internal effects – reverb, delay, phaser, chorus, vinylesque wind downs and ‘scratch’ sounds, loops and pitch rolls, each with their own variations. You can layer these effects, with reverb, delay, phaser and flanger as one choice, the vinyl effects another, loops another and pitch the last, in order to create weird and wonderful sounds.

There’s no way to alter their order in the signal chain, but even if it were possible I don’t think it would make much difference to the final sound. There are, though, individual wet/dry controls for delay, reverb, phaser, and chorus, which gives a little more control over these important effects.

Sugar Bytes Cyclop Distortion

As I touched on previously there are eight separate effects settings available, and these can be selected at will either manually or rhythmically to further mess up the sound emanating from the bowels of Cyclop. You know, in case you didn’t have enough sound mangling options already.

We’re still not done! The main signal (not including the sub osc, which runs separately to ensure it simply provides a pure sine bass tone), as well as the pre-filter signal, can be distorted by one of many models, from bit crushing to saturation to downright nasty overdrive. These are set and forget settings (something had to be), as are a general bass tweaking dial that smooths out the high end ‘woofing’ bass and boosts up lower end grunts and a stereo dial that widens out higher frequencies whilst keeping bass in the middle, opening up the sound to proper arena shaking effect. 


As interesting as Cyclop is, it’s not perfect. First off, it’s a shame it’s monophonic. I realise that Sugar Bytes are aiming specifically at the bass market with Cyclop, but it would be nice to have just a little bit more versatility – and this is something that polyphony would really facilitate.

In addition, modulation is reset on a note off command – which can at times be frustrating. You can of course simply overlap notes to keep things working through the rhythm schedule, but I would have liked the opportunity to turn this functionality off and have the rhythmic modulation independent of note. It’d also be nice to have a note latch for many of the same reasons.

Sugar Bytes Cyclop

An arpeggiator might just be too much to ask from Cyclop, but I feel like with the rest of the features it’s crying out for one!

There’s one thing missing from Cyclop’s internal signal chain, and that’s some kind of limiting device. It would be fantastic to have a multiband compressor inside Cyclop somewhere, but then again I think perhaps because Cyclop already does so much inside its own engine I’m just wishing for the world when in reality dropping an external plugin over the top of Cyclop is a fine workaround.

Wrap Up

Sugar Bytes Cyclop

As you can see, Cyclop is a vastly configurable synth. It’s very much suited to a particular type of sound – the huge, tearing basses that are so popular in dubstep and rougher house music – and for those it’s one of the best synths we’ve tested. It’s not particularly versatile though; the massive amount of modulation possible makes Cyclop able to create interesting, evolving sounds, but it’s all geared towards that sound. Sugarbytes are very open about this, and it’s not a bad thing by any means – it’s better to be the best at one thing than okay at a bunch of them. You can get lost in Cyclop, but when you start to learn your way around it’s a very rewarding piece of software.

Win a Copy of Cyclop (ended)!

 The good folks over at Sugar Bytes furnished us with one full licence of Cyclop to give to one of our lucky readers – the competition’s over now, but make sure you Like our Facebook page and register for free so you’re first to know about future competitions!

Audio Technica ATH-M35 Headphones

Audio Technica have a bit of a hit on their hands with the ATH-M35s. For their price, they easily stand up to competition even if they’re not perfect. If you’re in the market for some affordable, good quality headphones without too many issues, read on. Continue Reading


Review: Propellerhead Reason 6

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

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Heavyocity Damage

Heavyocity Damage

Damage is a triple A rompler that uses Native Instrument’s Kontakt player to house a massive soundbank of devastating percussion sounds that smash their way through your productions. The Kontakt player concept has been gaining traction for a while, and revolves around a self contained, non-editable version of the Kontakt sampler; Kontakt has a very clever scripting engine built into it that allows ambitious mechanics to get distilled into simple to use top level controls, and when combined with custom user interfaces the Kontakt Player can be made to feel like an instrument in its own right. NI are obviously very happy with Heavyocity as shown by the advertising co-branding, so let’s take a look at the ins and outs to see if it’s worth the pretty large price tag…


Requires: Win/Mac, standalone or VST/AU/RTAS, 30GB for install


  • Fantastic sounds
  • Great effects
  • Loads of live playability
  • Huge install
  • Entirely self contained
Price at Review: £239 Damage is packed with unique, dirty sounds. It’s not going to be your go-to plugin for main drums, but it’s great for cinematic sounds and garnish. Just make sure you have plenty of free space for the install.


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Like any good rompler, the included sounds are very unique. Heavyocity have gone fire and brimstone on everything from burning pianos to smashing cars with wrecking balls, but they’ve dialled things in a little and recorded some classic snares, cymbals, and other percussion staples with world class equipment to make sure that the resultant collection still resembles drums. The quality of the sounds is pristine, and ensembles were recorded with unbelievable precision, but don’t expect to load up Damage and smash out your main drum section if you’re producing any dance or beats music. The sounds in Damage are huge and intense, and there’s little if anything in the way of clean, snappy hits that you might typically use to drive a track. Damage comes into its own when using it as the bells and whistles (not that there are many bells and whistles included) of the percussion of your track.

there’s an array of amp envelope sequencers that can be set to note on messages to allow you to switch between them

The loops are split into a few different general feels, ranging from ‘mangled pop’ to ‘epic organic’. In the broader categories, there are patches that load in loops on every key over two octaves, allowing you to layer up and create big parts. It’s impressive how well the timing and general sound of all the loops sync up, even if it does feel a tiny bit lazy to use them, and to really get busy with tweaking individuality there’s an array of amp envelope sequencers that can be set to note on messages to allow you to switch between them. There’s also the option to load individual loops into the player, which brings up a different interface page.


In the individual loop mode, loops are sliced and individual slices can be panned, pitched and level adjusted, and there are four controls each for randomness, freeze, and ‘slice drop’ (which skips slices rhythmically). The four controls for each make the effect incrementally stronger, quicker, or larger, and everything keeps time no matter what happens. There’s a reverse loop button too, but weirdly it doesn’t follow the behaviour of the rest of the controls and actually shifts the playhead back; rather than playing from slice five after hitting reverse on slice three to get a 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 effect (as you would get if you froze slice three for two slices using the freezer), it plays from slice two again. Each slice in the loop can also be individually triggered, and all the effects are also triggered from keyboard keys. You can also drag the loops, with timing data in tact, into your sequencer – great for putting your own spin on things after using a loop for inspiration.

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Maschine Mikro

Video: Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Review

Maschine Mikro is the little brother to Maschine;  the software’s the same, but the hardware and price have both been slashed. I’ve been giving it a fair trial and here’s the video lowdown of the Oh Drat verdict. Text and photography to follow soon!


Review: Steinberg Cubase 6

Cubase 6 has been around for the better part of a year now, and after a couple of months of getting to grips with it, we decided to give it the Oh Drat review treatment. It seems like Some of the updates in Cubase 6 are reactive, others proactive, but after a period over the past few years during which the big DAWs’ designers seemed to be trapped in a mass group think, churning out updates that brought their feature sets closer and closer in design to each others, things look to be specialising once again. Read on…


Mac OSX 10.6 or Windows 7, Dual core processor, 2GB ram. 1280×800 recommended screen resolution.

  • VST Note Expression 2
  • Clean interface
  • Powerful inline audio editing
  • Some editing is fiddly
Price at Review: £448 An evolution of the big changes that Cubase 5 brought the lineage, Cubase 6 is tighter and better, catching up to other big DAWs in most aspects and excelling with Note Expression 2.

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I think the odds – in an alternative dimension where bookmakers are inclined to take bets on potential features in professional music software updates – of Steinberg adding guitar amp simulations in Cubase 6 update were pretty high, considering they’ve been added to just about every other DAW in the past couple of years (and they sound and behave just like the rest). An improvement to the inline time stretching, which now runs Elastique Pro, brings it into line with the competition too. It’s the things that Cubase does that the others don’t, like the drum replacement, inline pitch and harmonic alteration, and some beefy advantages bestowed upon the software by VST 3.5 that give it the most strength.

VST Note Expression allows per note message editing of instrument parameters

Perhaps the biggest incentive to going Steinberg is the integration of the VST 3.5 standard. Don’t forget that it was Steinberg that introduced VST in the first place, and their periodic updates to the technology have allowed greater integration between the plugin and host as time’s gone by. With the advent of Apple’s acquisition of Logic and their introduction of Audio Unit technology, non-Cubase Mac users don’t tend to deal much with VST as until you get deep into the technicalities of the two formats, the two produce the same end result, with AU being better supported and thus more convenient. VST 3.5 changes all this though, as there are some pretty big breakthroughs in the integration between host and software, that currently Cubase 6 is the only DAW to take full advantage of.

VST Note Expression allows per note message editing of instrument parameters. Single notes in chords can be modulated, bent and so on on any instrument that supports the VST 3.5 standard, meaning things like orchestral patches can be worked with in the same MIDI editor for much more natural sounding programming; string quartets no longer require every virtual virtuoso to play exactly the same way when it comes to pitch bends and pressure modulation, and synth parts that use different voices can have different filter sweeps. It’s a really great feature, and perhaps the major thing Cubase has over its competition. The only caveat is the requirement for the plugin that you’re using to have been programmed with VST 3.5 in mind.

An aspect in in which Cubase shines is audio editing. It has a suite of editing tools that allow inline pitch, timing, and slicing, and for the most part they’re very good – things can be fiddly, but more on that later. The addition of the Elastique Pro audio tools unfortunately isn’t compatible with the real time nature of the warping tools, which means that you’ll have to fall back to the standard Cubase rendering and bounce tracks to new audio (or ‘apply’ changes and lose the original) to get the best of both worlds, but this isn’t that much of a hassle.

slicing and tempo detection is now more accurate

Much of the editing options debuted in Cubase 5, but Cubase 6 introduces a couple of important improvements. There’s been something of an overhaul of the detection algorithms, meaning that slicing and tempo detection is now more accurate.

It’s still not perfect when it comes to audio with lots of harmonics and very smooth waveforms –pads, for example – but it’s almost always spot on when it comes to drum loops and staccato sequences, and its defaults can be massaged with its semi auto controls if it’s a little out and of course you can go in manually if it’s just not getting it.

If you record multiple mic setups for drums and other audio, the phase stable quantisation is handy. It allows you to specify which of your tracks you want to take priority for quantisation and moves audio in all corresponding tracks along side them to make sure that there are no phase issues. There’s also an improved multi take comping mode which works in much the same way as the design that Propellerhead Software used with Record and Apple introduced into Logic.

hitpoints can now be sliced to MIDI

In addition to VariAudio’s ability to create MIDI tracks from the pitch data it finds, hitpoints can now be sliced to MIDI, which is designed to make layering drums with plugin sounds easier. In reality we didn’t find it that useful, as the hitpoints are simply exported as MIDI notes in much the same way as groove quantise, leaving you to rearrange them to different notes manually. Different transients can be assigned different velocities, but it’s up to you to switch those velocities to different notes, which seems a little like giving up on the home straight.

The audio warping system, whilst powerful, doesn’t really come close to the ease of use of Ableton Live’s, and editing can be fiddly as moving warp markers can only be done at the top of the screen with no keyboard shortcut to allow dragging with the mouse from the centre. It’s possible to set the warp markers from the hit points, which is a nice touch as it allows you to precisely set the hit points from the transients, but it also feels a little like there are some unnecessary steps in the process – what else would you want to base your warp markers on if not the hitpoints of the audio? Furthermore, swing can only be adjusted in Musical Mode, which can only work from the default beat grid.

The extra warping features aside, Cubase 6 hasn’t added any modes which contend with Ableton Live’s ‘live play’ workflow, and I for one am not in the slightest bit disappointed. Live’s niche is that it has been developed from the ground up to be used as a Live tool, and when other software has tried to get in on the action – for instance Apple’s Mainstage – I’ve simply come away wishing they’d spent more time developing features that the core audience use the software for.
Whilst Steinberg are keen to point out that Cubase 6 has some ‘snazzy’ (their words, not mine – kudos, Steinberg) interface improvements, they’re mainly cosmetic, focusing on smoother and more harmonious colours.

Cubase’s workflow and basic interface hasn’t changed radically in over a decade

Cubase’s workflow and basic interface hasn’t changed radically in over a decade, and whilst we generally applaud this, as Cubase’s sleek sequencing environment has in many ways been the blueprint for new contenders, there are one or two areas where competitors have the drop on it. Cubase 6 does have some more things in the inspector panel for each channel than the previous version, with quantise and transpose now a couple of clicks closer to you, but we’d have loved to see a channel strip that actually looks like the strips in the mixer, and a split pane design for the main window would also be welcome. As it is, windows can be positioned to where you like on screen, forced to stay on top, and multiple workspaces can be defined and locked to allow you to set up and switch between your most oft used work screens, but on smaller screens every pixel counts and the title bars that sit on top of every window do add up, as does the time spent dragging and moving the edges of multiple windows.

A review is always most objective in the context of the competition, and one obvious difference between the Mac and Windows platform is the availability of Apple’s Logic DAW on Mac. For PC users, Cubase is probably the premier DAW on the market. It’s stable, clear, and extremely powerful. Many Mac users will point to Logic when it comes to crowning the king of DAWs – especially those that are attracted to Apple for its GUI ruleset – but Cubase 6 can definitely stand up to Apple’s creation in most aspects, and even beats it to others. One area it’s definitely not quite toe-to-toe with Logic on is included instruments, but the included HALion SE is a much more user friendly sampler than Logic’s aging EXS24.

 All in all Cubase 6 is a great DAW with a few niggling issues, mainly with the fiddliness of the audio warping and pitching system, but its clear GUI and VST Note Expression 2 make it absolutely worth checking out as a potential centre for your sonic activities. It’s more evolution than revolution from Cubase 5, but upgrading will endow you with a nice handful of workflow and creative features.

Steinberg HALion 4

Review: Steinberg HALion 4

It’s been some time coming, but Steinberg have finally released the fourth major update to their HALion sampler. We delved into the new features to see what was what…


Windows (XP/Vista 7), P4 2.4GHz or Core Duo/Athlon64 min / OSX (10.5+) Core Duo. 2GB RAM.

  • Articulation options for natural sounding compositions
  • Integral synth with 3 oscs + sub osc
  • Totally customisable interface layout
  • VST 3.5 support
  • Sample library smaller than competition
  • A couple of UI gripes
Price at Review: £292 HALion 4 is a big update to Steinberg’s flagship, with a lot going for it. We love the synth, and if you’re a Cubase user its value skyrockets due to the VST3.5 implementation.[like action=like]

Rather than cramming all of its features into a standard window or forcing you to memorise different page locations, HALion 4’s modular design allows you to create the sampler you’ve always wanted; the interface splits wherever and however you desire, and you can fill each pane of the main window with the elements of the software that make most sense to your workflow. Editing your samples? Why not a huge sample editing window running along the top of the software? Want an easy HUD for live use? Just arrange macro controls, quick select pads and the instrument rack into prime locations and get rid of the technical gubbins. It was great to be able to make full use of large screen, and saving different screen sets allows for all your use cases to be catered for.

Its inoffensive design, based around muted clay and blue colours, is easy to work with if a little utilitarian. Due to its simplicity we went scouting around the options to see whether we could change the dominant colour (or even colour code certain elements), but alas, no dice.

the modular approach that Steinberg have taken with HALion 4 has really paid off

There are some UI gripes, like a lack of tooltips, non alphabetical sorting of modules, and the inability to resize the main window by simply dragging its edges – as well as the aforementioned single colour scheme – but in general the modular approach that Steinberg have taken with HALion 4 has really paid off, making it potentially one of the easiest to use pro samplers available – providing you can settle on setups long enough to get used to them!

HALion 4’s synth is one of the most powerful additions to the software, and also one of the things that sets it apart the most from other samplers. Three oscillators, a dedicated sub osc, plus ring modulation and a noise generator add up to some very thick sound design capabilities, and rather than adding crazy wave table oscillators – which are often not much use – the traditional saw/square/sine pulse waves are on offer in standard, synced, PWM, CM and XOR variants, allowing pulse width/phase modulations to create unique sounds. It’s a shame there’s no dedicated drum synth controls, but maybe that would be asking too much.

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Review: Monkey Banana Turbo 5

Pro audio equipment manufacturers trade on their reputation, and that’s never more true than in the monitors market. The focal point of most producers’ studios, it’s vital for monitors to sound great, and look distinctive enough to be recognisable. New starter Monkey Banana have certainly nailed the latter, so where do they stand in the all important sound stakes?


5″ woofer @ 50W, 1″ tweeter @ 20W – SNR >99dB / 95 dB. THD 0.02%/0.05%. Frequency response 55Hz-30KHz


  • Distinctive look
  • Sound fantastic
  • Excellent tweaking controls
  • Balanced, unbalanced and digital inputs
  • All rear adjustment slightly awkward
  • Not much else
Price at Review: €249The Turbo 5 is an excellent mid level monitor speaker that has the connectivity and adjustability to fit right in in your studio.
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For the more traditionally minded amongst you Monkey Banana will supply their monitors in jet black, but the adventurous will surely fall for the bold red trademark design. The hexagonal shape is unique and eye catching, and a subtle backlit logo indicates the power status of the unit.

Bass ports are rear mounted, with a grill shielded soft dome tweeter weighing in at 20W and exposed woofer that hits 50W, and that equates to each of them reaching over 95dB. Volume and pressure wise it puts them ahead of the KRK Rokit 5 and about in line with the Yamaha HS50. The size and weight of the unit is about average – there’s not a great deal of difference across the market with 5” speakers tending to come in at around 6kg and the Turbo 5 is no different.

The bass response of the Turbo 5 is very clear and well rounded for a 5” speaker

The bass response of the Turbo 5 is very clear and well rounded for a 5” speaker, and the highs are exceptionally transparent. Whilst most manufacturers state flat response up to 20kHz, Monkey Banana boast their tweeters can handle 30kHz, way past the threshold of human (and most dog) hearing limits. The result is an air that allows tweaking of those high registers without straining and a general tone that works well from rough electronica through to acoustic classical.

The Turbo range outshines pretty much all the competition when it comes to inputs, with a TRS/XLR combo input, RCA, and S/PDIF. S/PDIF is handled by including a pass through and a left/right switch on the speakers and is a really welcome addition. All three sound great, the digital input is as clear as you’d expect and the same goes for the balanced ins, but even the RCA inputs have a great SNR.



The Turbo 5′s rear is impressive

Another area the Turbo 5 really stands out is in its tone control. 100Hz and 10kHz each get a +/-6dB adjustment pot that allows you to tune the speakers to your room with much more accuracy than the switch based cut and boost on most competitors, and it’s this versatility that really puts the icing on the Monkey Banana cake. We found the bandwidth of each to be wide enough to smooth out issues with bass and those resonant top mids, not so wide that they simply relegate the mid ranges into negative space. Many of you will have less than ideal spaces to work with that give a slight boom to a certain trouble area, and the Turbo 5 have more scope than most to fixing it.


All in all we really, really like the Turbo 5s

Niggles? Manufacturers seem to insist on placing their on/off switch at the rear of the unit, and Monkey Banana are an equal culprit. Maybe an option to switch off the backlit logo would be nice. We think you’ll agree, these are small issues. We’re tempted to wish for front mounted adjustment controls, purely for the level of tweaking that can be done to get things just right, but it’s a general no-no across the board and we’d hate for the form of the Turbo 5 to be spoiled.

All in all we really, really like the Turbo 5s, and would assume that the rest of the range is similarly great; it’s rare for a new speaker manufacturer to come in and throw itself into direct price competition with the entry and mid level market, and the features and quality of the Turbo 5 means that we’d definitely want a pair of Turbos in our studio.

Visit Monkey Banana’s website for distributor information

Apogee ONE

Video: Apogee ONE Review

We’re experimenting with video in the Oh Drat studio, as we’re really close to bringing you the introduction to the Oh Drat Music Production Tutorial Series (the title’s still on the drawing board).

this video should quench your thirst for knowledge

If the full review and photography on the Apogee ONE wasn’t good enough for you, or if you want to get some more up close and personal with the unit, then this video should quench your thirst for knowledge… Enjoy, and please let us know what you’d like to see more of from our videos…

FL Studio 10

Review: FL Studio 10

FL Studio has a long heritage on the PC; from humble beginnings as a drum sequencer it’s evolved into a fully featured DAW. It’s unique in many ways, though – is it for you?

Version Reviewed:

Platforms: Windows 7, Vista, XP & 2000 (32 & 64 Bit)

Minimum Specs: 2Ghz AMD or Intel Pentium 3 compatible CPU with full SSE1 support, 1GB RAM. (much) More highly recommended

Price: €212 for Signature Edition (reviewed), €141 for Producer Edition. Feature cut versions: €70 for Fruity, €34 for Express

The line between straight up DAWs and All In The Box softwares has gotten blurred over the years, what with the big DAWs including all manner of instruments and effects – in many cases simultaneously reducing the asking price, too.

The line between straight up DAWs and All In The Box softwares has gotten blurred over the years

Thus, whereas Fruity Loops was once a rite of passage for home musicians and producers FL Studio is now very much an alternative solution to the ‘big guys’.

Looks wise, FL Studio is perhaps the least homogenous of all the modern DAWs and soft studios. The software’s origins as a drum machine are apparent in the way that sounds, be they samples or instruments, are still loaded into a bank and afforded a step sequencer. There is of course a piano roll available, and the step sequencer is replaced by a standard MIDI note track when used.

Some aspects of FL Studio feel a little gimmicky, such as the visual flourishes when dragging that sometimes gets in the way of precision or the visualisation plugins (although the dancing mascot is undeniably cute). At the same time, one of our favourite things about any production equipment is its ability to creatively engage a user and eschew the idea that it should be simply utilitarian in design.

Some aspects of FL Studio feel a little gimmicky

There have been some important system level updates to version 10 of FL Studio, including a true 64 bit mode, which enables efficient memory management and utilisation of all the RAM in >4GB systems, automatic plugin delay compensation – a must for any serious DAW, ensuring true accurate timing of multiple channels with and without a variety of different plugins, new more direct audio engine options which may help to reduce your latency, and a project restore menu which tracks revisions to project files, including autosaves.

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