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Music Industry News

  • Mackenzie Shivers is Keyboard Magazine’s Talent Scout Artist of the Week
    Mackenzie Shivers is Keyboard Magazine's Talent Scout Artist of the Week

    Keyboard Magazine has featured some of the most talented musicians such as Elton John, Tori Amos, and more! Joining the list is Queens, New York singer-songwriter and pianist, Mackenzie Shivers

    Mackenzie has been featured in Keyboard Magazine's Talent Scout feature as the Artist of the Week. You can read the whole feature here where Mackenzie talks about her musical training, her favorite keyboards, her influences, and so much more.

    Hear Mackenzie's beautiful piano playing for yourself on her read more

  • Dove Audio WTF MU Oscillator Exclusive to KMR
    Dove Audio WTF MU Oscillator Exclusive to KMR

     

    It's not that often we see something genuinely new in the synth market, not to sound defeatist or anything like that, but it is quite rare to see something that's not been directly influenced by an already existing design, again not that that's a bad thing, but refreshing new tools are just that, refreshing. And when they can inject as much sonic potential into your patches as the... read more

  • The Word Is Bond is loving Nick Andre’s “Turn Back”

    The new Nick Andre track “Turn Back” features “a classic team” according to The Word Is Bond: Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious), Eric Boss and Lateef The Truthspeaker.

    The site goes on to say “over a percussion-driven soundscape, the duo goes for the jugular with their thought-provoking lyrics in a tag team fashion while Eric Boss comes in with additional vocals for the chorus. It is really a delight hearing seasoned verbal jousters doing what they do best sans label red-tape resulting in an all-out... read more

  • Emmeline

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  • Silverbacks new single out now
    Silverbacks new single out now

    Single release: ‘Just In The Band’ by Silverbacks
    Release date: Out now
    Label: PK Miami Records
    More info: read more

  • Hajk new single out now
    Hajk new single out now

    Single release: 'Keep Telling Myself' by Hajk
    Release date: out now
    Label: Jansen
    More info: Band website

    Today, Hajk... read more

  • Maxïmo Park new album out 22 February 2019
    Maxïmo Park new album out 22 February 2019

    Album release: ‘As Long As We Keep Moving’ by Maxïmo Park
    Release date: 22 February 2019
    More info:... read more

  • Jaws new single out now
    Jaws new single out now

    Single release: ‘Driving At Night’ by JAWS
    Release date: Out now
    More info: Band website

    Birmingham dream-pop trio... read more

  • Elmore Magazine Exclusively Premieres “The Canyon” from Mackenzie Shivers
    Elmore Magazine Exclusively Premieres "The Canyon" from Mackenzie Shivers

    Mackenzie Shivers has been working her way towards her second solo LP release, The Unkindness, which comes out February 2019. Leading up to the release, she has released two singles, "Believe" and "tears to Keep Me Warm", and now Elmore Magazine is here with an EXCLUSIVE premiere of another new song, "The Canyon". Read the full feature here.

     

    When talking about "The Canyon", Shivers told Elmore: 

    "I wanted it to feel like you’re moving in a forward motion, so the chorus... read more

  • THE BEASTS! Announce ‘Still Here’ Album & 2019 National Australian Tour!
    THE BEASTS! Announce ‘Still Here’ Album & 2019 National Australian Tour!
    Former Beasts of Bourbon Kim Salmon, Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola and Tex Perkins reinvent themselves in a recorded project entitled ‘The Beasts Still Here’. THE BEASTS NEW ALBUM ‘STILL HERE’ read more

Featured Articles

  •  

    It's not that often we see something genuinely new in the synth market, not to sound defeatist or anything like that, but it is quite rare to see something that's not been directly influenced by an already existing design, again not that that's a bad thing, but refreshing new tools are just that, refreshing. And when they can inject as much sonic potential into your patches as the Dove Audio WTF can, then it's VERY refreshing....like ice cold beer on a VERY hot day refreshing.

    Dove Audio, in case you didn't know the brainchild of British synthesis design legend Paula Maddox. A lady who has been synonymous with developing some of the industry most unique and interesting designs including the Modulus Monowave, VacoLoco Gorf and the Modal Electronics 001, 002 and 008 synthesizers.

    Paula's first release from her new company is the WTF Oscillator, a brand new form of oscillator that uses an unusual form of synthesis to create unique timbres and tones that are quite unlike anything else you've ever heard.

    WTF stands for Window Transfer Function and it produces its unique tones by producing a waveform who's results are a mix of another two waveforms. Think of the resulting sound as mega PWM. In a nutshell, you have a wave in front and a wave at the back, by opening a window in between, you're able to hear the mixed results they produce.

    Each side of the windows waves is made up of a mixture of classic analogue waveforms and also a wide variety of non-standard, complex digital waveforms. There's also a tuneable noise section, which goes from your standard white noise through to chip-tune esque 8-bit synth NES sounds. Both waveforms on either side of the window can be modulated by incoming CV, so you can sequence the modulating waveform, control the pitch and even FM the resulting timbre for even more unusual results.

    WTF is available in both Eurorack and MU versions, and we're super happy to announce that the MU version is exclusively available in Europe at KMR. We have stock and a demo module arriving the first week of December and we can't wait to share it with you.

    For more information about Dove Audio, MU modules or synths in general, give our synth specialist Tom Lewis (me) a call.

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  • UA : Winter Specials

    Nick Mitchell

     

    UA Apollo X promo KMR

     

     

    NEW UA Plug-in Bundles with Apollo X

     

    Christmas is coming early from those good folks at Universal Audio with the introduction of new plug-in bundles starting today. The Apollo X is Universal Audio's flagship audio interface and has their best A/D and D/A conversion to date, with HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing allowing up to 50% more DSP power than previous Apollo interfaces.

    From the 15th November through until 31st December when you purchase and register any of their new Apollo X interfaces * you will receive the following bundles:

     

    Apollo x8p and Apollo x16:

    Purchasing either of these interfaces will give you the following plug-ins which have a value of £947

    • Empirical Labs Distressor
    • Helios Type 69 Preamp and EQ
    • SSL 4000 E Channel Strip
    • Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb

    Apollo x6 and Apollo x8:

    Purchasing either of these interfaces will give you the following plug-ins which have a value of £489

    • SSL 4000 E Channel Strip
    • Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb

     

    For Apollo X Bundles at KMR please click below :

    > UA Apollo X Bundles at KMR <

     

    As well as these new bundles you also get the following UA plug-ins as standard :

    > What Plug-ins Come With My UA Interface? <

     

    * Please note, customers who purchased an Apollo X 15 days prior to promotion start date, can contact UA Customer Services to arrange for the promo plug-ins to be added to their account. retailams@uaudio.com

    * Customers who purchase a unit by 31st December but are late receiving their item, just need to register their unit by 15th January with UA. They will automatically receive the promo plugins.

     

    UAD-2 Ultimate 7

     

    KMR Ultimate & bundle UA

    Universal Audio are also replacing their Ultimate 6 bundle with a NEW Ultimate 7 Bundle totalling 99 UA developed plug-ins from the 15th November. Please note that Ultimate 7 will only be available in Thunderbolt and PCIe variants - as USB Ultimate will be discontinued.

    The latest plug-ins to be added are :

    • Century Tube Channel Strip
    • Neve Preamp
    • Helios Type 69 Preamp and EQ
    • Lexicon 480L Digital Reverb and Effects

     

    For more info on everything Universal Audio at KMR please click the link below :

    > Universal Audio @ KMR Audio <

     

    UA Overview Videos of the featured plug-ins below :

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  •  

    KMR SSL Fusion Image

     

     

     

    Fusion is a brand new analogue mix bus processor from Solid State Logic. The unit has taken a full two years to design, and over that time SSL has used a selection of industry producers, mixers and engineers to provide feedback and workflow suggestions to help them during product development.

    I was privileged to be asked by SSL to be part of that team and was involved from the initial concept discussions through to testing and providing feedback of the final prototype.

    Since being announced, the interest has been positive so now seemed a good time to cover a few of the questions that I’ve been asked following its release.

     

     

    Fusion - How does the Vintage Drive sound?

     

    KMR SSL Fusion Vintage Drive

    Traditional tape recordings through analogue consoles naturally provided harmonic content and transient smoothing so when the industry went digital we had to choose to add this either at the tracking or mixdown stage.

    The Vintage Drive section was something that intrigued me as I’ve always used harmonic distortion from hardware units like the CraneSong HEDD, Dave Hill Europa, Culture Vulture and 'In The Box' with UA plug-ins and Avid’s HEAT. The idea of adding Even or Odd harmonics is not a new concept, but the way we add them, and why has changed.

    The Vintage Drive is a new design from SSL, but with a nod to their VHD preamps that they’ve been implementing on their Duality and AWS consoles for years. Vintage Drive is much more of a distant cousin though and has taken the VHD concept and turned it into a brand new circuit providing something new. This sounds nothing like the VHD drive stage that SSL users may be familiar with.

    Rather than “crunch”, it has warmth and depth - and even though you could drive the input and be creative with the distortion it provides, I think you’ll end up with the Drive around 5-6 and the Density tweaked to taste. The Density below 3 provides more even-order emphasis and taking it above 3 tends to emphasise odd-order harmonics. The more the density increases the ‘thicker’ I feel it makes a track.

    The Drive also goes up to 11….because (as anyone who’s seen Spinal Tap will know) ‘it’s one louder isn’t it?’

     

    Fusion - Can’t I do all of this in Software?

     

    Yes, you can. But the same could also be said about every piece of hardware out there.

    The answer perhaps should be ‘But do you WANT to?’ Many of us run hybrid setups these days, and the instant recall of software has meant that labels and artists know we can create an infinite amount of alternative mixes and recalls.

    But is this a good thing? It’s very convenient yes, but is that enough to make it ‘good?’

    When engineers say they can “do it all in the box”, are they really saying that they prefer the ability to make instant recalls, and that they’re simply happier with this workflow? This is exactly where software wins out. I also choose to not use hardware inserts within Pro Tools HD, as I find that software allows me to hit the instant recall spot every time.

    But does it sound better?  For me, no. I still use hardware to track though and for printing tracks - and I always use hardware on my mixbus, in conjunction with software afterwards.

    As software has got better, and computers have got faster we’re probably now at a golden age for digital processing, and it’s hard to deny there are many excellent software plug-ins that will allow you to make great sounding recordings.

    But why stop there?

    Why not use the best software available AND the best hardware available and use what each is good at, rather than having to insist that one is better than the other. It’s like the Mac v PC debate, it’s not relevant these days, pick your weapon of choice and crack on.

     

    Fusion - Does it have the SSL Bus Compressor inside it?

     

    SSL already make a very good bus compressor, as do many other companies. SSL know this and understand that mixers have their preferred compressor, whether in hardware or software. So rather than duplicate something, and significantly increase the price, why not give the choice to the end user?

    By including an insert point on the FUSION you have several places where you can position your favourite compressor. Before Fusion, on the Insert PreEQ or on the Insert PostEQ.

     

    Fusion - Is there Attack, Release and Ratio on the HF Compressor?

     

    KMR SSL Fusion HF Comp

    The HF compressor has been designed to just provide ‘top end’ smoothing - something that is ‘tape like’ which you can use after the EQ. I also find that by boosting the Violet EQ HF you can tame it musically with the HF compressor without bottlenecking or squeezing the signal.

    The Attack, Release and Ratio have all been set by SSL after much tweaking to provide the most transparent settings. Sure this may not work for everything - but by just getting the green LED to illuminate gently it can work smoothly when required.

     

    Fusion - Are all the pots stepped - and why no Digital Recall?

     

    KMR SSL Fusion Output

    In a way, we know DAW software has spoiled us. Compared to the days of tape editing we’re no longer forced to make a decision as we know we can defer it to later with another mix revision. But what many successful producers and mixers will tell you is that committing to a sound and moving forward with a concept is far better than never making decisions.

    When they use hardware they have to do that. They use a particular piece of equipment for the sound, and the emotional connection, the vibrations of sound and then move on.

    The Fusion is a new product but one which is based on those tried and tested chains of equipment, and tweaked by SSL designers who have had many years of experience with how hardware can affect and translate the audio based on feedback from producers and mixers who have used their gear for years.

    Having all the pots stepped would increase the build cost, and then probably cause issues for those who want to ‘play’ the device by dialling through to a sweet spot which may or may not be between indents.

    There is enough space for manual marking on the device, taking a photo with your smartphone or using some 3rd party software (eg. Session Recall) to store and manage your settings.

    This is not to say that software controlled analogue isn’t something I’m keen on, I am, you only have to look at the Bettermaker range of equipment to see how something can be implemented beautifully. But these tend to do one process at a time. With Fusion, it is a range of audio processing, and because of that, each section may need to be treated differently.

    The pots are centre indented on the controls that need it and stepped on the EQ switches and HPF.

     

    Fusion - Is it made in China?

     

    It’s engineered at SSL, Oxford and assembled in China. As part of the larger Audiotonix group, SSL now have access to larger manufacturing lines and they are taking advantage of this. I know that they have been in complete control of setting up Fusion production and have test equipment linked directly back to SSL in the UK where they can view the test data, and monitor the builds.

    This, is a new area for SSL and one they are very conscious of having to get right, but to be able to manufacture to their specifications, and still allow the price point to be something that many people can get excited about is exactly what they have set out to do. SSL have years of history behind them, but they aren’t going to sit still. For the end user, this is a very exciting time.

     

    Fusion - What does the EQ sound like?

     

    KMR SSL Fusion Violet EQ

    We all have our favourite EQ’s and know that over the years many hardware sweetening EQ’s like the Pultec, GML8200, Massive Passive, TG Curve Bender, Dangerous BAX and Maag amongst others have been successfully used over many a mix bus.

    So what do we want from our Mix Bus EQ really? Well, it tends to be a bit of ‘air’, ‘ bite’ and ‘ weight/bass’.

    SSL looked at this and consequently designed the Violet EQ to provide minimum-phase shelving filters for frequencies we ‘tend’ to reach for. I also find the +/9db of gain is nothing like any other SSL EQ I’ve used before, providing plenty of headroom.

     

    Fusion - So who is it for?

     

    KMR SSL Fusion Input

    Anybody.

    I know that may sound a bit trite but let me explain a few different scenarios…

    1. You work ‘In the box’:  you have a great sound and mixbus chain - you strap Fusion on afterwards and experiment with the Drive, EQ and Imager and print back into your session.

    Very quickly you can hear what the hardware is doing, and how you can benefit from adding some analogue processing to your zeros and ones.

    2. You work 'Outside the box':  you have some great gear, some hardware EQ’s, Compressors and maybe a desk? Connect Fusion to your insert point and keep using them, with the added flexibility of the processing from the Fusion as well as your other hardware. Bypass what you want, leave in what you like.

    3. You work HYBRID…. you work mostly 'ITB' but have some hardware. Use Fusion over your mix bus and create processed In The Box mixes. Then strap your other hardware either before, after or on the insert of Fusion. Print and process with plug-ins again for limiting and loudness maximising afterwards.

    Why stop there? Since I’ve had my unit I’m now tracking through it at line level after my preamps for anything from some extra drive to the EQ or just for the transformer sound and widener on synths.

     

    Fusion - Flexibility is key

     

    Many of the most successful mixers and producers don’t reinvent their workflow on a daily basis. They stick to what they know works for them and then they tweak when necessary.

    This is what SSL have tried to do with Fusion – providing users with the tools that are mainly used all the time, but allowing the flexibility to tweak or bypass particular stages based upon your needs.

    I believe SSL have tried to cover as many needs (and some perhaps you didn’t even realise you needed) in the Fusion. With a price point that can benefit everyone from the most experienced mixer to those trying out hardware for the first time.

     

    Fusion Audio Examples - Raw and Processed

     

    Below are two audio examples - first is a dry pop mix and the scecond is the same mix processed through Fusion.

    The settings used are below :

    KMR Audio SSL Fusion Graphic

     

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  • Universal Audio has just released version 9.7 of their UAD software and as usual, have included five new plug-ins including an emulation of the Lexicon 480L digital effects system.

    A (Very) Brief history of the Lexicon 480L

    The Lexicon 480L was released in 1986 and rapidly became the ultimate digital reverb by which all other reverb and digital effects were measured. Designed as the successor of the 224XL, it included a mainframe and the Lexicon Alphanumeric Remote Control (LARC) to give you controls of all the different aspects of the reverbs.

    Original Lexicon 480L

    It also used 18-bit quantisation and a sampling rate of 48kHz, offering a dynamic range of 98dB for the wet signal which was very impressive at the time. It also benefited from some of the latest computational power available which helped create lush and realistic-sounding reverbs and two different engines that could be used simultaneously, dramatically extending the possibilities on offer.

    The 480L saw the inclusion of the Random Hall that is often associated with the “Lexicon Sound” and the Ambience algorithm that was used so prominently on drums in the 80s.

    Recreating a Classic

    After the success of the UAD Lexicon 224, Universal Audio went all out to recreate the legendary sound of the 480L, using Lexicon 480L’s final firmware (v4.10).  

    UAD Lexicon 480L Interface

    Just like for the 224, the plug-in GUI is based on a recreation of the LARC with an alphanumeric Program select buttons to let you dial the chosen program, eight global utility buttons which give you quick access to important functions and six faders to adjust parameter values and an additional six buttons at the bottom. All these give you access to all the controls of your reverb with notable workflow improvements over the original.

    First of all, all the algorithms are directly accessible by a click on the main display. Universal Audio have also re-assigned certain functions to some of the buttons that were not useful in the plug-in removing the need for multi-function buttons.

    For example, the Bank and Page buttons have been moved to the buttons below the faders while the blue Prog and Rec buttons have been recommissioned as Machine A/B select. A hidden panel access unveils input and output gain controls.

    Just above the fader can be found a Parameter display which shows the name of the parameter and its value which is controlled by the slider below it.

     

    The Algorithms

    Universal Audio have included five of the most popular reverb and algorithms of the original hardware including Reverb, Effects, Twin Delays, Random and Ambience. These algorithms have been organised in banks.

    • Banks 1 to 4 use the Reverb algorithm
    • Bank 5 uses the Effects algorithm
    • Bank 6 uses the Twin Delays algorithm
    • Bank 7 and 8 use the Random algorithm
    • Bank 9 uses the Ambience algorithm.
    • Bank 0 uses a variety of these algorithms based on your selection.

    Each of these banks has certain specificities that are represented in the controls available. For example, any bank using the Reverb algorithm will have access to Lexicon’s Shape and Spread parameters combined with its popular split decay.

    The Effects algorithm uses randomly varying time delays and can be used to create a wide range of sounds such as reverse Effects, modulated delays, doubling, tremolo, chorus and more.

    The Twin delays algorithm is  based on a four-voice delay with  independent level, feedback and delay time

    The Random Algorithm is possibly what the 480L is most known for. It is very similar to the Reverb algorithm but adds random delay elements which deliver a smoother reverb tail with none of the unwanted resonance that can occur with simple or no modulations.

    Finally, the Ambience algorithm is a short reverb designed to help place an instrument in a space. It can be used to add realistic depth to a source recorded with close microphones.

    In Use

    UAD Lexicon 480L Plug-inThe Lexicon 480L is fairly easy to use. Choose your Bank and program from the Main display drop-down menu or by cycling through them with the buttons located below the sliders. Once you have a reverb that you like you can simply turn the faders up or down for each control. For finer controls of the slider, simply press the shift key and drag your mouse.

    Since only six parameters are visible at any one time, clicking the page buttons will show you the additional controls available to be modified. It would seem that during the time I spent with the plug-in that there are no more than four pages to cycle through for each program.

    The Global Utility Buttons include a Wet solo which I found very useful when using the reverb as an aux which was most of the time. Additional Dry/Wet Mix controls are provided when using the plug-in as an insert. Pressing on the Mix Dry will decrease the amount of reverberant signal while clicking on the Mix Wet will increase it. One click represents 1% in either direction.

    The Aux Outs button lets you select the sound of the Main output or the auxiliary outputs, offering some subtle sonic changes based on the modelled hardware.

    A Lexicon of Sound

    I have to confess that I don’t have much experience with the hardware 480L and while I have used some Lexicon reverbs in the past I cannot comment on how accurate the emulations are based on that. What I can say however is that while working with the plug-in there were many instances where it immediately sounded strangely familiar. But it wasn’t the “Lexicon sound” I was hearing, it was the sound of the records I grew up with and loved! Suddenly I realised how some of my favourite tracks had been done. It was just simply using a Lexicon 480L.

    As I was playing with the different banks and programs something that really surprised me was how naturally the decay was blending with the rest of the music. Even as I was pushing decay and levels way past where I would have them normally on any other reverbs,  they blended really well with the music.

    I first wanted to hear it on a snare drum, and dialling a few settings I really loved how expansive and huge the Large Hall sounded. I tried the gated reverb for fun and it was actually pretty good. I was also curious to hear the difference with the 224 so I dialled it up and tried to replicate the settings as much as I could. Both reverbs sound completely different! The 480L was very imposing and present with huge decay fading, while the 224 with similar decay sounded much thinner.

    I then decided to try it on a horn section comprising of real trumpets mixed with virtual instruments and after playing with a few settings I really loved what the Ambience algorithm brought. It added a noticeable space and the instruments seemed to blend together much better.

    And then I decided to try it on vocals, I played with a few settings going through some of the artists presets provided and settled on the same “ambience” algorithm which just added bright space without clouding the vocals.

    I don’t normally gravitate towards digital reverbs. If I want a plate for vocals I’ll choose the EMT140, if I want to add Ambiance, I’ll use the UAD Precision Reflection Engine and if I want to add Room, I’ll go straight to the UAD Ocean Way Studios which lets me think in terms of placement instead of numbers. However, spending some time with the UAD Lexicon 480L really changed that. Yes, it sounds like what I know of Lexicon, but more than that it evokes to me the sound of the music I’ve listened to over the years in a very tangible way that I have never experienced before. It’s lush, it’s rich and it’s extremely versatile, it’s all very impressive, and while I’ve only had it for a few days, I really want to explore all the possibilities this plug-in has to offer.

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  •  

    When they’re not manning the engine room at KMR, our staff can usually be found beavering away in their own recording studios.  We asked the guys here to choose one “keeper” piece of kit, and one cheap secret weapon from their own setup…

     

     

     

     

     

    Nick's Keeper:  DRAMASTIC OBSIDIAN COMPRESSOR

    The Dramastic Audio Obsidian is a VCA stereo compressor based on the famous Solid State Logic bus compressor that provides that familiar ‘glue’ (and punch) that has helped tracks sound cohesive and ‘like a record’ for years.

    The Obsidian makes some significant sonic and character improvements to the original design by including four custom TXIO transformers made by Jensen just for Dramastic Audio, and with VCA’s from THAT Corp, Gold Plated Neutrik connectors, gold-plated custom switches from ELMA and a pretty massive power supply this is one high-end piece of kit…and it sounds it!

    Being in the fortunate position to audition many hardware boxes I auditioned every manufacturer of this type of compression, and while there are some outstanding designs, the Obsidian still won, for me, on every style of music I put through it.

    It's capable of making a mix sound tight and focused immediately with the HPF in action all the time. I do sometimes find myself running tracks through it such as vocals, bass or drums, and blend to taste before strapping it back over the mix bus. This is one compressor that I have never EVER regretted purchasing and one that (in my opinion) blows away every other hardware 'SSL style' bus compressor, and software emulation, by miles.

     

    Nick's Sleeper:  APHEX 104 C2 "BIG BOTTOM" ENHANCER

    Always one to cause a smirk when tweaking the “Overhang” or “Girth” controls, this is a cheap sleeper tool that I like to use strapped across backing vocals. It kicks in some unique harmonic character and is easier to use in a creative way than the plug-in emulations.

    Capable of adding bright, pushed, grab and focus, I tend to run this in parallel or behind a track, tuning the frequencies from 800Hz to 6kHz to taste. I don’t use the Big Bottom section as much as I used to, but it’s useful if a track is a bit lifeless or needs some extra weight. Used sparingly, the Aphex 104 is still a handy tool to have in my arsenal, and no plug-in quite does what this does.

     

     

    Rab's Keeper:  AMEK DMCL DUAL MIC PREAMP/COMPRESSOR

    I bought this box back in 2004 while looking for a stereo preamp for recording acoustic guitar. My favourite mic pre remains the Neve 1073 (no surprises there), but I wanted something faster and less coloured for these tracks. Even as I was handing over the moolah, I was suppressing a quiet yawn – expecting this to be a politely efficient, but ultimately uninspiring processor that was destined for eBay once the project was over. But I’ve kept hold of it, and over the years it’s become the preamp I use more than any other (even the 1073!).

    The DMCL (Dual Mic Amp Compressor/Limiter) was the last in Amek’s Pure Path range of outboard, designed by Rupert Neve and based on his designs for the iconic Amek 9098i mixing console. The preamp uses Neve’s TLA (Transformer-Like Amplifier) circuit with a healthy 72dB gain. After which the signal passes through a useful HP/LP filter stage to focus the audio before hitting the compressor, equipped with Neve’s “And Much More” (&MM). This changes the response from hard to soft knee and I keep it permanently engaged as it’s pretty much the only control that seems to introduce any colour at all into the audio.

    It’s clean, super-low noise, beautifully detailed and neutral without being sterile, and it is exactly these qualities that make recordings through it an excellent base for applying plug-ins while mixing.  Doggedly reliable rather than exciting, this "Volvo of the preamp world" always produces highly usable results. And if I want more mojo, well… that’s what the 1073 is for.

     

    Rab's Sleeper:  FREDRIC EFFECTS GOLDEN EAGLE GUITAR PEDAL

    I collect guitar pedals the same way my son collects Lego Star Wars mini-figures – a habit that has no prospect of being satisfied and will lead me to penury some day. In truth, I could have chosen any number of pedals for this write-up, but I’m particularly fond of the Golden Eagle as it represents the culmination of a Homer-esque odyssey hunting out clones of the mighty Klon Centaur. If that means nothing to you, then move on now… but if you’re at all interested in guitar pedals then you’ll know there is probably more written about this one overdrive than any other.

    With originals going for around £2000 (crazy money for a small box of solid state electronics – even if it does contain the fabled “magic diode”), there is a huge market in affordable klones trying to replicate the thick, smooth and transparent overdrive tones of these pedals. I’ve tried a few… OK, I’ve tried a LOT… of klones, and I’m happy to leave it here. The sound is spot on and the smaller “MXR” format means it doesn’t take up acres of real estate on my pedal board.  At £125, it's a lot more wallet-friendly than shelling out for an original Klon and by happy coincidence it’s also made in North London, so nice to support a local maker!

     

     

    Paul's Keeper:  DR-MQ5 MASTERING EQ

    The DR-MQ5 Mastering EQ is a 5-band parametric EQ based on the Sontec MEP-250 with selectable low and high shelves and built-in M/S mode built for me by Gaetan at audiomaster.se. Since having it I cannot recall a mixing or mastering session where this hasn’t been used. With stepped switches throughout, it offers a choice between +/-5dB and +/-10dB

    What’s so special about it? The sound! It is extremely transparent like the Maselec MEA-2 and GML 9500 EQ with just a hint of musicality that simply brings a smile to your face.

     

    Paul's Sleeper:  KLEMT ECHOLETTE NG51 TAPE DELAY

    Despite my reputation for heavily distorted music, my favourite effects are delays, more specifically tape delays. Everybody knows the Roland Space Echo’s, the Echoplex and WEM, which are fantastic, but there is one little-known unit that really stands out and that is the Klemt Echolette NG51. Originally built in the late 50’s this delay was used by the Beatles during their Hamburg days. This tube tape-delay may not offer the same flexibility as the more popular choices but what it has is an incredible character. It has three modes, Fast, Slow, Fast + Slow and it’s enough to get your source just blend in the track.

    It’s noisy and dirty by modern standards, but the tone it provides is just incredible. It is my go-to delay for vocals.

     

     

    Tom's Keeper:  BUCHLA MUSIC EASEL

    The Buchla Music Easel (as anyone who has ever spoken to me about synths will attest) is probably my most favourite musical object. It’s the finest example of instrument design I’ve ever comes across, with a perfect blend of deep sonic versatility and workflow that’s seldom achieved in other instruments of this ilk.

    Its unique ability to craft interesting rhythms, textures and drones is matched by its superb layout, which reveals a vast array of performance-friendly controls and capabilities – something hard to match with even the most comprehensive modular system.

    The Music Easel is great for reactive and experimental musicians like me, who like to delve deeply into the possibilities of a machine in the search for that perfect tone. I always find myself uncovering new things and I am yet to reach the limits of what the Easel can achieve. Based around two oscillators, two low pass gates, a single envelope generator and a simple 5-step sequencer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not particularly flexible, but it is the synth’s simplicity, the implementation and choice of the circuits which makes it unlike anything else.

    The Music Easel’s unique layout is intuitive and inviting (something Don doesn’t get enough praise for I might add!) meaning you’re never without inspiration or options for discovering a new sound. The 218-touch keyboard is just the icing on a very delicious cake - its pressure control, preset voltages and MIDI conversion complete the playing experience.

    I think it can only be topped by a rather sizeable 200e modular system  ;-)

     

    Tom's Sleeper:  DREADBOX WHITE LINE ATTENUATOR

    One of my most favourite modules in my Eurorack system is the humble attenuator. Yes, that simple little device that can yield so much potential when properly implemented in a well thought out system!

    My module of choice? The Dreadbox White Line - a 2 channel 2HP passive attenuator that provides a single input and output with a micro shaft knob in between each channel, which lets you control the amount of input signal reaching its destination.

    I use it for modulating the pitch of VCO 2 by the amount of voltage being produced at VCO 1, and since they both share the same CV pitch information, they track perfectly for very clean, crisp FM with a wide range of useable timbres throughout the control knob’s range.

    Attenuators have a vast array of possible applications. Use them to control the depth of an LFO, envelope or use them to add voltages to another source - they are incredibly versatile and often overlooked.  Sure, you can never have too many VCA’s - but remember you need something to control their results!

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  • AES 2018 Roundup

    Nick Mitchell

     

     

    AES NY 2018 Roundup

     

    It's that AES time again and below are few of the new products due for release either imminently or next year. It seems hardware is as popular as ever alongside microphones, with many manufacturers combining their software and hardware experience into streamlined workflow creations for engineers, producers and mixers alike.

     

     

    TC Electronic | Clarity M Stereo

     

    Last year TC Electronic released the TC Clarity M, a desktop 7" inch visual display for stereo and 5.1 mastering and mix monitoring decisions. This year they've released the new TC Clarity M Stereo, a dedicated stereo version, at a reduced price point but with many of the original features still in place.

    There is USB connection for VST, AU and AAX plug-in metering, stereo 96k AES3 digital audio on BNC for broadcast-grade metering. Featuring a Vectorscope, realtime analyser with 1/3 octave resolution, TC's LM6 loudness meter, stereo optical input on TOSlink, and true scalable peak meter identifiers that show you clipping in DAC's, CODECs and downstream filters.

    Click for more info : < TC Electronic @KMR >

     

    KMR TC Clarity M Stereo Front

    KMR TC Clarity Stereo M Rear

     

     

    TC Electronic  | 8210-DT + 1210-DT

     

    Hot on the heels of their 2290-DT controller are the new 8210-DT and 1210-DT mini control surfaces that combined all together with the DVR250-DT will give you the ultimate plugin control surface for that legendary TC sound.

     

     

    Chandler Limited | TG Microphone

     

    Chandler Limited have announced the TG Microphone in conjunction with EMI/Abbey Road. This is a larger diaphragm condenser mic with a Dual Tone voicing system. This voicing is also enhanced and changed by featuring :

    " an on-board NAB/IEC 'Tape Equaliser' facility, re-purposed from historic EMI TG12410 transfer (mastering) consoles and re-engineered for microphone duties "

    The Chandler TG Mic has an external power supply rather than relying on Phantom Power to achieve a larger less 'pinched' sound. The TG Microphone's EQ settings based upon the EMI NAB/IEC EQ and the Dual Tone System will allow it to be extremely flexible no matter what source is placed in front of it.

    Click for more info : < Chandler Limited @ KMR >

     

    KMR Audio Chandler TG Mic

     

    Rupert Neve Designs | 5211 Mic Preamp

     

    Rupert Neve Designs have announced their new two channel preamp which is a natural development from their original 5012 Duo Mic Preamp.

    The new RND 5211 has the added variable Silk which provide saturation on the Class-A output stage. The amplifier circuit design has been improved with higher voltage, providing improved headroom, signal-to-noise and dynamic range. The new RND 5211 also has the custom output transformer from their Shelford Channel and is presented in a single 1u rack.

    Click for more info : < Rupert Neve Designs @ KMR >

     

     

    WAVES | TG Mastering Chain Plugin

     

    WAVES in conjunction with Abbey Road have released the TG Mastering Chain Plugin bundle. Featuring 5 modules that can be used independently, they are : TG12411 Input Module, TG12412 Tone Module (EQ), TG12413 Compressor/Limiter Module, TG12414 Filter Module and the TG12416 V.A.L (Spread) Module which is incorporated into the output module of the plug-in.

    With an introductory price point I can see this being very popular!

     

     

    KMR Waves TG Mastering Plugin

     

    AEA | KU5A Microphone

     

    AEA microphones have released the new KU5A Supercardioid Active Ribbon Microphone designed to reject bleed, room reflections and loud ambience noise whilst recording.

    The KU5A is an Active Ribbon mic meaning you can power it from any mic preamp with phantom power. The design of the mic has been tailored for many instruments and voice, with the new grill allowing singers to sing directly into it - which is unheard of really when using Ribbon mics.

    Click for more info : < AEA KU5A Mic @ KMR >

     

     

    Eventide | SP2016 Reverb Plugin

     

    The hardware was a classic, so it's no surprise that Eventide have updated their original Eventide 2016 Stereo Room software reverb to the new SP2016 reverb which is true to the original programming and sound. The SP2016 has been given the thumbs-up by the likes of hardware users Dave Pensado, Joe Chiccarelli and Mick Guzauski.

    There is only one video from Eventide online currently and be warned it's a bit like Marmite...(the video - not the plugin!)

     

     

    KMR Eventide SP2016

     

    Grace Design | m801mk2

     

    Grace Design have announced their new m801mk2 8 channel preamp. The original m801 was designed and released back in 1994, then updated in 2006. This is a new design and improves low frequency bandwidth, improved signal to noise ratios and improved RFI/EMI immunity from things like mobile phones, wifi etc

    As with all Grace Design products, the sonics, appearance and tactile feel is second to none and will be available from November.

    Click for more info : < Grace Design @ KMR >

    KMR Grace m801mk2

    KMR Grace m801mk2_rear

     

    Grace Design | m908 Monitor Controller

     

    This is the latest Grace Design Surround monitor controller featuring their best AD/DA conversion to date. With up to 24 channels for immersive surround formats such as ATMOS, DTS:X and Auro 3D this provides powerful DSP controlled high resolution volume control.

    Click for more info : < Grace Design @ KMR >

    KMR m908 Grace Design

     

    Prism Sound | Verifile Technology for Titan, Atlas & Lyra

     

    Prism Sound have released their Verifile technology as a software update for their popular audio interfaces the Titan, Atlas and Lyra. This technology was invented by Prism Sound in 2014 and is now being made available in a firmware release for the above interfaces. This is to help prevent dropouts and other audio errors pass through, within your recording files.

    " Verifile encoding is applied to all of the unit's ADCs, and can be checked at all of the unit's DAW outputs. In addition, an offline Verifile Checker app is supplied, for both Mac and Windows, which can check the integrity of recorded files in a variety of formats."

    KMR Prism Sound Verifile

     

    Universal Audio | Apollo X

     

    On demo for the first time is Universal Audio's new Apollo X Thunderbolt3 compatible AD/DA converters. Capable of running up to 50% more UAD plugins with their new UAD Hexa Core processing and available in X16, X8, X8P and X6 versions, this is the new generation of Universal Audio devices for your DAW.

    Universal Audio have announced full compatibility with ‘trash can’ late 2013 Mac Pro computers. Users will need the latest UAD software - more details here : https://bit.ly/2Em5keq

    Click for more info : < Universal Audio @ KMR >

     

     

    KMR UA Apollo X

     

    Solid State Logic | FUSION

     

    One of the most exciting products recently announced is the Solid State Logic FUSION mixbus processor.

    This is SSL creating a device that will help your workflow, whether in the box or working outside of it. FUSION provides simple mix enhancement tools that have been tried and in various guises throughout the recording industry.

    Featuring a Drive stage that allows you to add tape/valve style harmonic distortion is followed by Low and High EQ with specifically chosen frequencies to add weight and sparkle. There is a High Frequency compressor for taming sharp EQ peaks - like tape, a Stereo Imager that allows you to add width to the sides without affecting the phase. An insert point can be placed before or after the EQ, and SSL have also designed their own transformer (Yes! a transformer in an SSL) which adds some subtle weight and smoothness to the whole affair. Stock is arriving mid November.

    Click for more info : < SSL FUSION @ KMR >

     

     

    Solid State Logic | Native FlexVerb

     

    SSL have released a brand new reverb processor that is available as part of their Native Plug-in collection or separately as a subscription. It has four reverb types with multiple controls including 6 Band SSL EQ and an output compressor, allowing you to sculpt and control you sounds, even down to a lockable Wet/Dry mix which stays when flicking through comparison settings.

     

     

    Moog | ONE

     

    Whilst not being announced at AES I couldn't let it pass without a mention of the new Polysynth from Moog Music. The Moog ONE is the first Polysyth from Moog for over 30 years, and they haven't failed to deliver. Available in 16 or 8 voice this is one synth that has the power and sound to inspire.

    Click for more info : < Moog @ KMR >

    KMR banner Moog ONE

     

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  •  

     

    Solid-State-Logic Announce FUSION

     

    Solid-State-Logic, England have released a brand new 2u analogue processor called FUSION consisting of 5 analogue modules that can be combined together or used individually.

    KMR_SSL Fusion_Front

    Featuring LED output metering, large input and output controls, a High Pass Filter switchable at 30Hz, 40Hz and 50Hz and an insert point (which can be pre or post EQ) the main features consist of :

    • Vintage Drive - This is a brand new harmonic circuit capable of providing harmonic saturation and soft compression, You can create subtle warmth or really push to the extreme with the Drive and Density controls, you would be forgiven if you thought there was a valve stage in here...it's that good!

    KMR SSL Drive Control

     

    • Violet EQ - A New EQ circuit from SSL! This is a 2-band EQ and provides +/-9db at 30Hz, 50Hz, 70Hz and 90Hz and +/-9db at 8kHz, 12kHz, 16kHz and 20kHz. This EQ is designed to add that real low end weight alongside smooth sparkle in the highs, capable of easily enhancing a mix.

    KMR SSL Fusion EQ

     

    • HF Compressor - You want some smooth top end control?..you got it! Designed to help tame harsh frequencies (that sometimes sneak through) but controlled in a natural, transparent analogue way with the simple Threshold and X-Over controls providing 'tape-like' HF roll off.

    SSL Fusion_HF-Compressor KMR

     

    • Stereo Image - SSL have always provided some Stereo Width control on their consoles and here for the first time is a dedicated M/S encode/decode circuit. The Space controls the amount of bass in the side signal, and the Width controls the overall level of the side signal.

    KMR Audio SSL Fusion_Stereo-Image

     

    • SSL Transformer -  Yes a transformer in an SSL!!! Something that perhaps I thought I'd never write in a sentence, but SSL have fitted a custom-designed Transformer circuit which has been chosen purely to add subtle low-end saturation and high end poise. Switchable in and out, but why would you take it out?...it sounds so good!

    KMR_Audio_SSL Fusion_Transformer

     

    The Story So Far

     

    I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the beta testing and early listening tests since last year and I personally feel that SSL has come out with a killer sounding and totally perfect addition to our modern, current workflows.

    Whether "In The Box", or "Out Of The Box" this unit will provide real flexibility and sonic pleasure in a simple, musical way - regardless what your chosen workflow.

    Full review will follow later this month. Shipping is expected in early November 2018.

    Price £1499 ex vat

    KMR Audio FUSION

     

    For more information please go here > Solid-State-Logic FUSION @ KMR Audio <

     

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  • About time:

    Moog have finally done it. After decades of being absent from the Moog product line-up they’ve finally unveiled a brand new polyphonic synth called One and boy oh boy, does it pack a punch.

    And after keep my lips sealed behind an NDA for 13 months, I can finally talk about what I’ve seen and heard.

    In the summer of 2017 I was incredibly fortunate enough to visit the Moog factory with some of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (you know who you are), we made the 11 hour flight and 2 hour drive to Ashville, North Carolina where the employee owned Moog Music Inc. are based.

    Walk down to the bottom of the high street, under a bridge and to your right, a vividly coloured, voyager XL laden building that adorns the Moog logo which conceals one of the most breathtaking showrooms and busiest, vibrant workshops I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, and talking to the people building the machines, it’s very apparent they love their craft as much as we do.

    During our time there we were invited for Moog Pro training, which is a special certification you can obtain by only completing a series of tests and questionnaires at Moog HQ to prove you know your apples (well, synths anyway). Once we’d completed said training Moog took us into the sound lab and Amos and the gang showed us something I’d wanted from them for a long time…a rather big synthesizer codenamed L.A.S. which stands for large analogue synthesizer, but it’s now formally known as One.

    One was demonstrated to us in great detail for almost 2 hours, the team went through the impressive spec and at the end of it everyone, including me was left with their jaws on the floor. But after that impressive demonstration, we had to sign a non disclosure agreement so up until today, I’ve not been able to mention One at all.

    Blue pill or the red pill?

    So what is this synthesizer we saw, shrouded in secrecy for so long? Well One is the synth you always dreamed someone would make, a truly impressive multi-timbral analogue synthesizer with dual filters, a massive modulation matrix, tonnes of hands on control, a superb Fatar TP8S 61-note keybed and brand new oscillator technology.

    Available in both 16 and 8 voice configurations, The One houses some of the most advanced analogue circuitry coupled with a rich and fully featured UI developed in-house on the JUCE platform, which allows you to easily navigate this potentially very complex synthesizer.

    One in its 16 voice configuration houses 48 oscillators, since theres three oscillators per voice. Each oscillator is build on brand new technology, which was dubbed variable core at the time of our first sighting, these oscillator tech allows smooth morphing between waveforms well up into audio rates, for rich, dense and complex timbres.

    One contains two unique filters which can run in parallel. One filter is the classic Moog 24dB transistor ladder filter and the other is a state variable filter, which gives amazing flexibility and sound shaping potential just in the VCO’s and filter alone, but there’s ring mod, FM and that whopping modulation matrix to play with too.

    Couple these sound design capabilities with a world class suite of effects from Eventide onboard and you are really in the deep end with the vast amount of sounds you can make with this thing.

    And what about preset storage and recall? One has that covered too, with hundreds of possible storage locations for instant recall of your carefully designed patches, making is a superb tool for live players as well, the storage also allows for instant recall of your sequence data as well.

    Yeah, a sequencer. As if all of the above that wasn’t enough, Moog have put a truly impressive sequencing system onboard, with up to 16 notes per step and support of up to 256 steps, you could pretty much make a whole track. You can run a separate sequencer and an ARP per timbre…blimey.

    Specific specifications:

    • 8 or 16 voice polyphonic analogue synthesizer
    • Three oscillators per voice
    • Brand new oscillator technology with OLED displays for the waveforms
    • Ring mod, Sync and FM
    • Tri-timbral architecture
    • Craft unique splits, layers and zones
    • 61 note FATAR TP8S keybed
    • Two analogue filters, one classic Moog low pass and one state variable
    • Four LFO’s and three envelope generators
    • Eventide effects onboard
    • LCD display with UI powered by the JUCE platform for effortless navigation
    • Preset storage and recall
    • USB MIDI and DIN MIDI
    • Assignable CV and Gate IO
    • Premium Moog build quality

    MegaMoog:

    So, let’s be real. This is a premium machine at a premium price point which delivers unheard sonic qualities and a seriously, seriously impressive spec. One sounds absolutely stunning, with incredible sonic precision, articulation, power and immersive quality that’s going to set the standard for polyphonic synths for the next 30 years, at least.

    This is a game changer, no better yet…..a game winner.

    The Moog one is going to be available on demo and in stock at KMR soon, so if you want to hear this monster through some serious monitoring and get some expert advice, then drop me line and I’d be more than welcome to share my enthusiasm for what I believe represents the next quantum leap for synthesizers.

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  • Building a live set

    Building a live set #1:

     

     

     

    If you're like me and you enjoy synthesizers (a bit too much) and the idea of performing music appeals to you, then chances are you've probably thought about playing live in some aspect, and let me be upfront and say building a "live system" was one of the most mentally challenging, but rewarding things I've done in my electronic music making career.

    In this series of articles I'm going to try and demystify and pre-warm you of some of the issues you might run into when trying to make music with non-trad instruments.

    If you want to make bangers and get peeps dancin' then read on intrepid explorer.

    How to be truly DAW-less.

    The rise in popularity of synthesizers has had a fair few knock on effects in the music scene: not only are we blessed with an incredible array of affordable, interesting instruments and machines, but there’s a growing interest in performing live, using synths to perform complex, intricate and sometimes improvised performances.

    A lot of synthesizer manufacturers are picking up on this somewhat underground movement and the range of performance friendly, intuitive boxes is growing all the time and the range of possibilities can be somewhat overwhelming.

    If you’re reading this, it means you’re probably interested in creating some sort of music making system to help you express your musical ideas and let your creativity flow, but with so many options on offer it can be really hard to figure out what workflow suits you best.

    So I am going to try and demystify the processes of setting up for a performance and help you get into a position of music making bliss.

    I have personally been researching, developing and refining a live system of my own with the purpose of performing improvised music. In this series of articles I’m going to talk you through my thought processes for picking instruments, my ever changing and evolving setup, how everything is connected and how I approach the music making processes.

    In this first article I’m going to talk about going DAWless, which is a term that only came to be over the last couple of years.

    Let’s get DAWless:

    Until very recently, if you wanted to play a live set formed of groups of songs, your main (reliable) option was to take a laptop, a few control surfaces and jam your Ableton sets, (something which PUSH made especially possible), but it is with the rise of interest in hardware, that people have become slightly jaded with the concept of taking a computer out for a show. I mean, it’s still a very valid means to perform music, but it’s incredibly hard to improvise in that kind of setting, thus making those kinds of sets more playback tweaking than anything else.

    So what does DAWless actually mean? Well it means performing music without the need for a computer or a software environment and for some that is an incredibly daunting task and it need not be.

    Freeing yourself from a computer, means freeing yourself from the constraints of a fixed architecture or ecosystem of layout and sound, it means you can freely express your ideas without being slaved to a screen. By using an electronic instrument you are removing the need for “classical” training and instead replacing it with good judgement.

    Going DAWless has many benefits to the music making process, by removing the screen you’re not worrying about the “symmetry”, the perfect timing or layout, you’re just listening to your collection of sounds and making real-time decisions on how they change and evolve through your performance.

    Your hardware will always sound better than a plug in, so the benefits of a dawless setup go way beyond just workflow, your music will sound better.

    So if you want to make music without a computer, there’s a fair few things you need to consider to in order to make your performances coherent, interesting and engaging. Let’s get the really boring stuff out of the way before get onto the meat and potatoes.

    Get connected:

    First of all you need to have a think about how you’re going to get all of you machines in sync to they play in time, thankfully there’s a few options to make sure you’re setup runs on time.

    MIDI: In 1983 this clever technology called MIDI was invented, you’re probably familiar with it…it’s the most widely used form of clock synchronisation and information transfer you’re likely to find on a synthesizer. It’s a perfect transfer protocol for music making applications, since it’s low latency, low bandwidth and very configurable, so perfect in fact that it’s never surpassed version 1.0. Connection is made using a 5-pin DIN cable.

    DIN Sync: A form of clock sync found usually found on Roland gear, whilst it physically resembles MIDI it does not carry clock, note or any other information in the same way as MIDI does. It’s a far less common sight nowadays and has all been but abandoned, but you can still find sequencers and synths with it as a clocking option, just so you can get your TB-303 or TR-606 running smoothly. Connection is made using a 5-pin DIN cable.

    Analogue clock: This is a slightly more ambiguous form of clock that requires a bit of clarification since there are a fair few versions of analogue clock depending on the gear you have in front of you, and getting them to talk to each other can sometimes be a right PITA. On the whole, analogue clock is usually described in PPQN, which translates to Pulse Per Quarter Note and, there are many different types of PPQN:

    There’s 2 PPQN which is the sync format for Korg Volcas, Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators and the Twsited Electrons Minisynths.

    1 step gate, which is the standard timing format for Eurorack, which can be produced by an LFO or a get source. For example, this is the type of clock the Bastl Kastle 1.5, Moog DFAM and the Mother-32 can sync to.

    24PPQN and 48PPQN, these are less commonly seen on newer synthesizers and drum machines, you’re more likely to see this on a vintage Roland or Korg synth, but newer machines like the Elektron Analog Four support the format to allow them to sync up with vintage gear.

    Indentifying your type connection means you can start to think about how to connector your clock signals to bring everything together. One important thing to remember about connecting clocks is that most machines will have a clock thru, which will either be in form of a MIDI thru or analogue clock out.

    MIDI thru as its name suggests, passes the data received at its inputs thru to the following machine connected to the MIDI thru, this is great for setting up chains of instruments that you want to follow a global clock signal.

    For modular, clocking is everything. It is the cornerstone from which most of your patches will develop, so getting it right is incredibly important. There’s a whole host of clock generators out there, so find one that gives you the stability and connectivity you’re after, and by adding clock dividers, multiples and other logic based modules will let you form complex rhythms and derivatives of your global BPM, to let you form the parts of complex, generative patches.

    In your setup, you’ll need to define which instrument or module is your master clock and going on experience, you should select a machine with a BPM readout or display, so you know which tempo your composing at, if you went with a machine, (for example Volca Keys or ADE-32 Octocontroller) that does not have a BPM readout, it’s all up to your sense of timing, which can cause problems for sync’ing things up to other gear later down the line.

    Make sure that your machines stay in sync by putting in a note or a trigger on every other step to ensure tight synchronisation between everything and they all fire at the same time. If you do experience any lag between your machines, it might because the preceding machine isn’t quite transferring the MIDI Thru out at the right speed, you can always forgo the MIDI Thru method as described earlier and use a MIDI multiple, or a Thru box to multiply the single global MIDI signal to multiple machines, for super tight sync.

    Maintaining sync on a modular is fraught with far less issues, you’re very unlikely to run into any timing problems, just make sure you have enough clock sources, splitters and such to give you the base for forming sequences, patterns and events.

    So now you understand how to clock everything, let’s think about audio signal flow. This is another seriously important thing to consider and for me, it was a stumbling block that took quite some time to be resolved. If you want to perform with multiple audio sources, then you’re going to need a mixer.

    Mix it up:

    In modular land, sourcing a mixer is a pretty simple thing to conquer since there’s literally hundreds mixer options to suit your scale, I/O and workflow. There are even modular-modular mixers that can grow with your systems requirements… pick one that carries your channel count on go with it. Simple.

    When it comes to desks for your non-modular efforts then the waters get a little murky and for me, this is where the Elektron Octatrack saved the day, but the Octa isn’t for everyone, so a “traditional” mixer or something to combine your audio streams is going to be a must.

    The things to consider are pretty simple:

    • Make sure you have enough inputs to handle all of your gear.
    • Make sure you have the requisite send and returns to integrate any external effects you might want to use.
    • And make sure you learn it in depth like the rest of your gear.

    The mixer is the thing you’ll interact with the most in y our setup, balancing all of your audio sources and matching your rig to the system you’re playing on is imperative to making finished sounding material. Use your EQ’s to bring out the click of a kick, the resonance of a snare or simply remove a frequency from a track.

    Mixers can allow you dial in the right amount of separation for each element of your rig, making everything sound cohesive and full. There are also a few tricks you can utilise using a desk that can create some unique effects, aside from just using sends for your favourite external effects you can create complex feedback loops to make that lowly Volca Beats sound like a distorted industrial monster.

    Me, personally I adopted the aforementioned Elektron Octatrack, which with its four balanced mono inputs, master effects and cross fader scenes, does everything for me. It handles three channels of modular (DFAM, MFB Nanozwerg Pro and Dreadbox voice) one channel of Analog Four whilst handing the bulk of the drums and percussion duties, it also serves as my master MIDI clock, transport, effects processor and looping / sampling.

    It’s way more than just a sampler and it’s small form factor means my entire rig fits into two cases and remains patched at all times, meaning travelling to shows is a breeze.

    Stay tuned:

    So we’ve covered basic clocks and audio mixing, in the next issue we’ll have a talk about picking your gear and how to connect this mishmash of machines up before we talk about how to approach writing and performing....

    If you can't wait that long and you have any questions about anything I've covered above, give the shop a call or email us.

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  •  

     

     

    Universal Audio have revamped their range of Apollo rack interfaces with the newly announced Apollo X, significantly upgrading the converters and built-in DSP.

     

    Main new features include:

    “ELITE-CLASS” AUDIO CONVERSION pairs 24-bit/192kHz converters with all-new analogue circuitry, raising the performance from what was already very respectable AD/DA in the last generation devices. Universal Audio claim the widest dynamic range and lowest distortion of any integrated audio interface on the market – Apollo x16 has a dynamic range of 133dB and THD+N of -129dB, which is very good! Initial listening tests against other high-end interfaces in our demo room confirm this is no idle boast – we were certainly impressed. Apollo X now puts UA firmly in the "big boys" league of converters.

    HEXA CORE PROCESSING bumps up the SHARC DSP count from four to six chips, meaning you can now run 50% more plug-ins. The ability to track through the highly regarded UAD plugins in real time, with near-zero latency, remains a unique feature of the Apollo range

    BUILT-IN TALKBACK has been a long asked-for feature – now available on the new Apollos

    SURROUND MONITOR CONTROLLER provides more monitoring flexibility – especially for post-production and live sound applications. This feature won't be immediately available on release but is scheduled just around the corner in Q4...

    IMPROVED FRONT PANEL CONTROL allows users to adjust UAD plugin parameters from the front panel without having to open the software console page for more direct control

     

    The new interfaces are exclusively Thunderbolt 3, but can be used with Thunderbolt 2 with an inexpensive TB3-TB2 adaptor without any sacrifice in performance. One side benefit is that TB3 carries 14W power, meaning MacBook users can trickle charge their laptops through the Apollo.

    The feeling @KMR is that Universal Audio have played a good hand with this latest upgrade. The excellent converter quality and ability to track through class-leading UAD-2 plug-ins with 50% more DSP means “studio in a box” has never sounded more compelling – especially when you start comparing prices.

    Check out our UA interface comparison chart  >> HERE <<

    Watch this space… we’ll be back with more detailed audio tests once we've had a chance to properly play with the new units...

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