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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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  • Native Instruments Komplete 12

    Native Instruments are back! Today NI announced a whole new line-up of hardware and software including the highly anticipated Komplete 12. These releases signify a move to make their ecosystem more accessible for all types of users, from beginners wanting to make their first beat, all the way through to serious producers and sound designers who demand the best sound quality and the most diverse content to cover all genres and styles.

    So what’s new? Hardware first…:

    Well let’s start with the Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2, the Komplete Kontrol MK2 range was released last year with the 49 and 61 getting the facelift with a fresh new professional look and vastly improved UI. But the 88-note flagship weighted S88 was left sadly left behind, until now!

    The S88 has now undergone the MK2 treatment; it now features the two screens for navigating your presets and managing your parameters, it features the same super high quality FATAR weighted keybed as it's predecessor, capacitance encoders, light guide, deep Komplete integration, full NKS support, after touch and physical pitch and mod wheels plus more of the features which the MK2 range has become so well known and respected for.

    Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2

    So if you’re after a truly expressive, fully weighted keybed with NKS support, deep DAW integration and the best integration with your Komplete library, then there’s no better option than the S88 MK2.

    Next up is the new Komplete Kontrol A Series, a price conscious take on the aforementioned Komplete Kontrol series.

    Available in 25, 49 and 61 note variations the A Series represents the very best of NI’s hardware innovations in a more affordable package. The A series retains the super slick navigation, encoders and form factor of the Komplete Kontrol S range, but it forgoes the dual screen layout and opts for a high resolution OLED display, USB MIDI (no Din MIDI) output, plus a custom keybed designed specifically for NI and this range, which feels almost identical to the FATAR keyboards from their premium lineup, providing the same positive, quality feel you're used to.

    Komplete Kontrol A49 Komplete Kontrol A49

    This new range allows users to access NI’s ecosystem of Komplete instruments, effects, NKS and superb DAW integration without having to invest into a premium keyboard. If you’re happy using your computer screen to navigate your software library and you don't need the light guides, then the A series is just the ticket.

    A Series is NI quality at a price point you wouldn’t expect. Each A Series keyboard ships with Komplete 12 Select and Maschine software with 2GB of content, meaning you can get right to work making music, right out of the box.

    Speaking of Maschine:

    Maschine see’s its first hardware addition since the highly successful Maschine MK3 with the announcement of Maschine Mikro MK3, a brand new take on the Maschine Mikro Groovebox. In the style of the A series keyboard lineup, Maschine Mikro forgoes it’s bigger siblings colour screens, and opts for a more subtle, yet highly usable OLED display.

    All of the mod-cons from MK3 have been carried over to the Mikro MK3, the up-rated and enlarged RGB pads, the touch strip, lightening fast browsing and super slick step sequencer, but the overall size has been slimmed down into a Mikro chassis, making it great for a portable setup, a second controller for more advance beatmakers, or a quality step sequencer for your DAW environment.

    Playing the pads on the Mikro, you instantly notice that they are IDENTICAL to the MK3, with all the bounce, snap and response you expect from an NI pad, with just enough squish in them to make pressure based effects and beat repeats accurate and effortless.

    Maschine Mikro MK3 Maschine Mikro MK3

    During the RND process of designing the Mikro, NI digested and analysed all of the most commonly used shortcuts and actions used by maschine users to dial in the perfect workflow within the restricted space the smaller chassis provides, so there’s less shift commands and menu diving than ever, but it’s super simple to build your perfect groove.

    So for aspiring beat makers, finger drummers and producers wanting an affordable yet incredibly high quality hardware solution to their beat-woes, the Mikro MK3 is a serious contender. Mikro MK3 ships with Maschine software and includes thousands of sounds, so you’re sure to never dry up for creativity.

    Just tell me about Komplete 12!!!

    Well this is the biggie isn’t it? Of course, EVERYONE knew it would eventually come but in true NI style they’ve really outdone themselves this time around, squeezing in more content, instruments, effects and now expansions than ever available in any other version of Komplete.

    Komplete 12 Ultimate Collectors Edition

    In Komplete 12 there’s even more tools available at your disposal than ever before, with a whole host of new instruments, effects and some revamps of some world class classics, such as the genre defining Massive and Kontakt which have been upgraded to Massive X and Kontakt  6 respectively.

    Expansions are also included as part of Komplete now, for the first time ever. Meaning all of those lovely sounds you wanted access to....well they're all included as part of the Komplete experience. There are now four versions of Komplete 12 available, let’s have a rundown of what you can expect to see in each version and see what’s fresh and new:

    Komplete 12 Select, your entry point into the Komplete ecosystem. Bundled with a variety of NI hardware, this essential software collection is also available separately and provides you with 45GB of sound content, instruments, samples and more to get any enthusiastic songwriter off the blocks. Updates to the full versions are also available further down the line.

    Included in Komplete 12 Select Included in Komplete 12 Select

    Komplete 12, the industry standard software instrument platform returns. With over 50 instruments and effects and 220GB of content, Komplete 12 is the perfect tool to get the music in your head out into the real world.

    Included in Komplete 12 Included in Komplete 12

    Komplete 12 Ultimate, Ultimate by name, Ultimate by nature. A breathtaking collection of the creme-de-la-creme of NI's software titles. The package if you're looking for deep synthesizers, beats, samplers, pianos, bagpipes (remember that!?), strings, orchestral, modular and so forth.

    "But wait, you said four versions?" Ah yes I did, the fourth version is a new package from NI, something I am personally very keen to spend days installing and tinkering with, it is.....

    Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition, a completely new version just for the release of version 12. The Ultimate Collectors Edition is for the VERY serious producer who simply needs any conceivable sound at their fingertips at any one time. It includes everything from Komplete 12 Ultimate (as above), but it also includes all of the Symphony Series, Creative Effects and Expansions that were released between 11 and 12, making it the most cost effective way of owning the largest collection of NI titles, in one package....just look at it.

    Included in Komplete 12 Ultimate Collectors Edition Included in Komplete 12 Ultimate Collectors Edition

    System requirements are below and are the same throughout each version, it’s just the hard drive space you need to budget for, and at a whopping 990GB for Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition, you better get the 2TB SSD sharpish, because you’re going to run out of room!

    • Windows 7,8 or 10 (64-bit with latest service pack)
    • macOS 10-.12 or 10.13 (latest version)
    • Intel Core i5, 6GB RAM
    • Supports ASIO, Core Audio and WASAPI
    • Runs in 64-bit VST, AU and AAX hosts

    And with any Komplete release there's opportunities to get very favourable prices on upgrades from your current version, or if you're not to NI & Komplete you save £££'s when you buy with a hardware bundle, by upgrading the included version of Komplete Select to your desired Komplete version. Call us to discuss your upgrade path.

    All of this fresh new hardware is set to ship in 2018, with some software and hardware coming as early as next month, so give us a call to see what NI hardware is the best fit for you and your projects.

    For more information about Native Instruments speak to our in store specialists (and NI users) Li Daguerre and Tom Lewis.

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  •  

    Which Plug-ins come with my UA Interface?

    We often get asked which UAD plug-ins to use and add with UA Interfaces, but it's always worth checking out the plug-ins that come bundled with them. Below is a roundup of all the UA Plug-ins that come FREE with any of the Audio Interfaces from Universal Audio - so before you start adding to you system, see what you've got included below :

     

     

    UA 1176SE KMR Audio

    1176SE/LN Classic Limiting Amplifiers (Legacy)

    Probably the most famous FET compressor out there, the 1176 is suitable for vocals, bass, drum overheads, guitars, synths..you name it. It will crunch up if you drive it and works wonders if you parallel it on vocals or layered backing vocals for some extra bite.

     

    La2a Legacy UAD KMR Audio

    Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier (Legacy)

    Probably the most famous optical compressor out there! The Teletronix LA-2A has been the staple vocal compressor for years (sometimes using it in series through an 1176 as well). Perfect for getting those vocals to sound the way they should. With it's easy to use layout, you'll probably end up using it on many instruments - as it's that easy to get it to sound great!

     

    Pultec EQ Legacy KMR Audio

    Pultec Pro Equalizers (Legacy)

    Many times you may have heard of Pultec EQ's, but until you've done the EQP-1A boost and attenuate trick at the same time you don't realise how many times you'll want to end up using them! The EQP-1A is equally as happy on individual tracks as well as across the mix bus or sub groups, and alongside the MEQ-5 Midrange EQ you've got warm tube EQ for all styles of music production.

     

    UA KMR Precision Mix Rack

    Precision Mix Rack Collection

    Designed by UA themselves the Mix Rack Collection features the Precision Channel Strip with 5Band EQ and nice clean dynamics, Precision Refection Engine and Precision Delay Modulation featuring Chorus, Flanger and Delay plug-ins. Really low DSP usage as well.

     

    UA Hz1 KMR Audio

    UA Precision Enhancer Hz

    You want bass? Help dial in some extra low-end with the Precision Enhancer Hz. Whether it's for Synth or Real bass or perhaps just to assist your overall mixes gain some extra heavyweight sound, the Precision Enhancer Hz can help. * NOTE : only supplied with the Apollo Rack Interfaces *

     

    UA 610B KMR Audio

    UA 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ

    The UA 610-B Tube Preamp uses Universal Audio's Unison technology to add the emulation of the 610-B tube amplifier, signal path and transformers to your signal whilst tracking or re-amping. It's like having your own vintage console in the box.

     

    Fairchild Legacy KMR Audio Plugin

    Fairchild 670 (Legacy)

    The Fairchild 670 is the dual channel version of the Fairchild 660 and is one of the most sought after valve compressors ever. Designed in the 1950's and consisting of 20 valves and 11 transformers this is one warm sounding unit, equally at home on lead instruments or say a drum bus, where you can add subtle depth or drive it a bit harder for extra texture. * NOTE : only supplied with the Apollo Rack Interfaces *

     

    KMR Audio UA Marshall Plexi

    Marshall Plexi Classic Amplifier

    Recorded at KORE Studios in London by engineer Tony Platt (who recorded AC/DC Back In Black), this is the sound of Rock. Made famous and used by Hendrix, Clapton and Page the Universal Audio version was developed by Softube. Gives you that grit and and punch with option mic blending between 7 mic placements and types : FET, Valve and Dynamic. Use the Unison Technology to track through this classic with no latency.

     

    KMR Audio UAD Mpeg SVT VR

    Ampeg SVT-VR Bass Amp

    For those who want the Classic Bass Amp to partner their classic guitar amp then look no further than the 1969 Ampeg SVT-VR. Suitable for all genres of and capable of using the Unison technology, this is one bass amp that will cut through a mix or re-amp dull lifeless parts easily.

     

    Raw Distortion

    Based on the original 1980's RAT Pro Co Distortion the RAW is a faithful version of this classic guitar pedal, and by using the Unison technology you can just plug-in and play. Instantly taking you back to this vintage rock moment in time!

     

    Realverb1 UA KMR

    RealVerb Pro

    Ok, it's been out a while now, and yes there are probably more fancy and full -on Reverbs out there, but there still is some charm about the sound of RealVerb Pro, and it comes bundled with the Interfaces so why not check it out, easy to edit and navigate and of course it's FREE!

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  •  

    KMR Interview Jake Gordon

     

    Jake Gordon is a MPG nominated Mixer, Producer and Engineer who has worked with artists as varied as Dizzee Rascal, J-Hus, Emeli Sande, Lethal Bizzle, The Vaccines, Everything Everything, Tinchy Stryder, Clean Bandit, Plan B, Naughty Boy as well as mixing the Mercury Prize winning album by Skepta. Working out of Miloco Studios, Jake is now the 'go-to mixer' for urban music and I caught up for a chat about how he likes to work and how he started his journey...

     

     

    KMR : So Jake what is your main choice of DAW these days?

    JG : It's always Pro Tools, it always has been. When I started it was a Pro Tools studio based around a Pro-Control but I have learnt and taught myself Logic, only because every now and then people send me a Logic session. It’s just useful to be able to get around in it.

     

    KMR :  Do you prefer recording audio in Pro Tools or in Logic - and have you used Ableton at all?

    JG : I guess I’ve always thought of them like Neve and SSL’s - they both do the same thing just all the buttons are in different places! I started on Cubase about 15 years ago, but I don’t use it at all now. I’m doing the Dizzee Rascal record and he used to be a Logic guy but now he’s downloaded Ableton and he’s just flying!

     

    KMR :  Are you more of an "in the box" guy?

    JG :  Well, other than every now and then...my mixes always start and finish in the box, so it’ll be ITB yes. I wish I wasn’t really but it's mainly just down to how the mixes go. I don’t have my own studio currently, and sometimes you only have one day to do it, so I need to be able to take it home - where I'll often get calls like ‘ we’re in mastering send me the pre-master’ - or 'we need this tweak etc'. I think if I wasn’t in the box I'd probably have lost a lot of clients by now!

    My vocals 99% of the time always go out into the Tube-Tech CL1B hardware because it sounds wicked. If there's some cool outboard then I’ll throw it out into it, anything that's a bit weird. If I'm on top of it and feeling good then why not, I'll have a go.

     

    KMR :  I guess if you have the time really?

    JG :  Precisely. If not, then there are the UAD versions, but it’s mainly the CL1B pretty much on every mix. The Eventide H3000 I've got back into, it's one of those pieces when you can’t figure something out, it's just wicked - we just try that. I’m sure, maybe it's a placebo thing, but I’m sure the flangers and the choruses in the box just can’t reach the same depth. They sound one-sided in the box and the H3000 just sits nicely it doesn’t take up any space it shouldn't, it just sounds great.

     

    KMR :  Do you use guitar pedals as effects?

    JG :  I use a couple of Sansamps sometimes, putting drums through them, or the bass and parallel it and just smash it to bits. It sounds terrible to say, but I don’t really care about EQ's. If I want to EQ something I’ll find something ITB that I can EQ with. Frankly, if I want it to sound a certain way, I’ll get to the sound whether I’m using SSL, Waves or ProQ - but the weird stuff I think that’s where it’s at. Like the Sansamps, and the Mutator, Eventides…

     

    KMR :  Things that don’t react the way you expect them to?

    JG :  Yeah, like "that was unexpected - brilliant let's use that!"

     

    KMR :  Did you start off ITB?

    JG :  I actually learnt out of the box, but I don't know if I can remember how to recall an SSL! In terms of recording I always prefer a console, but these days I’m not doing so much tracking. The last big thing I did was the Emeli Sande record which was 2 years ago. I do find the flow of a desk works better when you’re recording, especially when you’re recording lots of instruments. I hate giving myself options, I’d rather put it down!

     

    KMR :  Sometimes too many options can be too distracting...

    JG :  Oh, 100% - actually having said I’m ITB - the API Console 550 EQ’s are brilliant - they sound really good.

     

    KMR :  How do you track vocals - what do you use on the way in, do you keep the CL1B just for in the mix?

    JG :  When tracking vocals it’s always been a Neumann U87, some sort of Neve preamp and then an Empirical Labs Distressor on the way in.

     

    KMR :  What mode on the Distressor, 1176?

    JG :  4.1 usually, it's just a sort of subtle thing, I like using it, I think it comes from assisting where Distressors are really easy to recall with the numbers.

     

    KMR :  Do you always use a U87?

    JG :  I tend to just always put it up, especially when I don’t get a lot of time to experiment. When I did the Skepta record the first take we ever did ended up on the record! Sometimes he wouldn’t tell me he was going in the booth, and I'd turn around and he’d be stood there, and I’d have to be 'ok cool, right let's go'. It’s more about getting it down and capturing it. So the U87 you know it works, you know it sounds good - if it sounds bad then it’s probably something else.

     

    KMR :  U87 into a Neve then 1176 is kind of a working standard, isn’t it - what other mics do you use?

    JG :  Yeah, you know what it is. If there’s a Shure SM7, especially on rappers that sounds really good, a U47 is always nice. There was a mic called the LOMO 19a19 and they are phenomenal! I've never used it on a rapper, but they used to have one in Hoxton Square when it was open and I think they’ve got a couple in The Pool. They look ridiculous, they’re like Soviet throwbacks.. tiny little valve mic - kind of thin sounding but in a really nice way, it’s not like a C800 bright.

     

    KMR Lomo19a19 microphone Lomo 19a19 Microphone

     

    KMR :  What tools help get you to finish tracks - do you have a standard mix bus chain?

    JG :  I tend to use the same mixbus chain as that's how I started off out of the box. So it’s always a very OTB style chain: a UAD Curvebender, into an SSL Compressor, then I’ve been using the Waves C4 multiband every now and again, and then Ozone, but that basically just limiting. I’ll get a kick and a Snare sound, then I get into it and just mix into it. I will adjust them though if it sounds shit!

    I learnt with the GML 8200 EQ and SSL compressor but with the UAD software I also compared the Massive Passive and just sort of preferred the CurveBender on the mix bus.

     

    KMR :  Which other Engineers or Producers helped you start off?

    JG :  When I was 16 I was assistant at a studio called The Library which was owned and run by Julian Standen, who most people may know as Jules who runs Gearslutz.com. So I started with him, and then he started off Gearslutz, so I worked with Tom Stubbs who was his engineer, whilst doing a BTec at the same time, but I spent 5 days a week at the studio. Jules was wicked - he was hard! He was old school, I appreciated it. He’s done so much for me man, he’s got me every job since. It was the Studio etiquette sort of thing I learnt, where you just shut the fuck up!

     

    KMR :  Yeah, where you don’t say anything for two years...

    JG :  Exactly! He was so up for teaching me stuff, and if there wasn’t a band in then I'd clean the studio from top to bottom, and he’d say 'OK, I’m going to be here for 3 hours, so go and mess around with Pro Tools'. The Studio was cool, and Jules is brilliant - I owe a lot to him, I haven’t seen him for a while, but he seems to be doing alright with Gearslutz! He took the time to train me, and show me things like ‘this is how we coil a cable’, things like that.

     

    KMR :  I think I had the same lesson on day two when I was a tape op - these things you never forget!

    JG :  It’s the one thing I get really annoyed at other people with! 'Why you doing the cable like that?? ’ haha!

     

    KMR :  So what did you do after The Library closed?

    JG :  Jules then hooked me up with Fortress Studios in Old Street, so I was at Uni and at weekends I was at Fortress, and then after University finished I was there full-time.

     

    KMR :  How did you end up at Miloco after Fortress closed?

    Miloco had just revamped their studios and were throwing a party so I went along and Jules introduced me to Nick Young. Nick then asked me to be the assistant at The Square, which is now closed unfortunately.

    They were just putting a Solid State Logic desk in The Square for a chap called Lex - Alex Dromgoole who is amazing! I think he used to be one of Spike Stent's guys at Olympic and I went into The Square and I don’t think I had a day off for about 7 months! Fortress was fantastic but it was definitely more indie bands, I think Miloco came at a good time and really kicked it on a bit.

     

    KMR :  Miloco brought a new level to running studios at that time, didn't they?

    JG :  100%! I spent a whole bunch of time with Lex -  I was the assistant in the studio and he was brilliant. It was the first time I'd ever assisted on mix sessions. At Fortress the assistants never bothered, so when Lex came in it was all on the board, fully SSL, at Fortress it was Neve and previously at The Library it had been Pro Control. So I learnt how to do all his recalls on the SSL so that was fantastic.

     

    KMR :  Assisting on mix sessions has changed so much now...

    JG :  It used to be one of the most boring things in the world. These days my assistants don’t even have to do recalls. It used to be terrible - assisting with a band is great, but with mixing it’s you and the other bloke, and he’s doing all the work!

     

    KMR :  ..and they don’t want to talk to you

    JG :  Exactly - he doesn’t want to talk because they’re just getting on with it. At least with the SSL recalls I got to see what was going on, as I was writing it all down..not that there was much outboard as he was all on the desk.

     

    KMR :  He didn't use much outboard then?

    KMR :  Yeah he had his way, I don’t know whether it was a Spike Stent thing or not, but Lex felt that the EQ's on the G Series sound fantastic. The compressors on the G sound fantastic so why not put everything through the same sound because we’re trying to mix it all together. The same tones on everything. Unless it's not working on the board then why bother because the EQs sound great… the compressors are all like DBX160s anyway!

    Then I started working with Dan Grech who was all in the box. As much as I loved Lex’s way of working on the desk, probably Dan’s way influenced me more. He produced the first Vaccines record which I assisted on. He did that thing where he'd done the drums at RAK - and then he had a U87, SM57 and an RE-20 and one lead, which was plugged into the Neve and the Distressor. If he wanted guitar he’d plug into the U87, bass the RE20 etc - his mantra was it sounds good, the mics sound good, then if it sounds shit there's something wrong at the source.

     

    Jake Gordon Miloco Studios KMR

     

    KMR :  There's something to be said about walking into a room and just making it happen, isn't that what makes a good engineer?

    JG :  Yes one of the guys who is exactly like that is Phill Brown, and to assist with he's phenomenal, he was brilliant. I was moving around the Miloco studios, and I was down at Music Box and he would just walk in and just make it work. He always used both 1176's one on the vocal and one parallel, and I remember he came in one day and one was broken. He was just like’ yeah ok no worries I’ll compress it and it'll sound the way I want it to ’. But I think that comes with experience, not being scared of things not going to plan, and just having the confidence to make it work.

     

    KMR :  I’m sure at some point he’d have experimented with compression to find his sound, and then trusting his ability?

    JG :  Yes of course and also just not being freaked out. Sure, sometimes turning up and not having your favourite plug-ins available can be annoying - but as we're in a service industry you just have to use what you’ve got. Frankly, it's not the plug-in that'll make a kick drum sound bad it’s you.

     

    KMR :  Speaking of plug-ins what could you not live without?

    JG :  Soundtoys probably. All of the Soundtoys pretty much go on every single channel, EchoBoy always sounds fantastic. I just go through the presets randomly and then adjust the time to where I was and you get these mad settings - and every now and again you hit jackpot. Also Crystallizer and the Little AlterBoy. Oh yeah and AVID LoFi, I use LoFi a lot, I think I read an article a few years ago from Tom Elmhurst where he took it all down to 10bit or 8bit or something, that's where I first heard about that idea.

     

    KMR : LoFi is great, I use about 0.5db of distortion, then drop it down to 12bit - I’ve even used it on a mixbus when the track was sounding ‘too nice’!

    JG : Yeah, it sounds brilliant! I've done something similar but with the Ozone exciter on the master bus - it's just the thing when people say its ‘too clean’ then I use it to excite and make it sound a bit crunchy.

     

    KMR : How do you find spending a lot of time getting wonderful recordings and then having to lose a bit to get it like the demo?

    JG : Well, we all overthink things don't we, and if I don’t listen to the rough mix I just wouldn’t get anything done. These days clients want it exactly like the rough mix, absolutely 100% like it - and you’ve got to beat it and make it so much better!

     

    KMR : Do you work on singles or albums mainly these days, how do you think it’s changed for you since you started?

    JG : I love doing albums. I just don’t get as many as these days artists don’t do it like that, very rarely do people come to you with 12 songs, they usually have one and then a few months later have another. But with the albums I have done, you’d always go back to the first track as usually it's wrong, but then you start to get the vibe and you get a great sounding album.

    I do think it's changed over the last 8 years, I also rarely get booked more than like 5 days in advance - it just seems to be a very different way of working. The first 5 years of assisting were all bands and I’m really happy that's how I started, and it’s a shame that a lot of assistants these days may not get that opportunity.

     

    KMR : Loudness wars?

    JG : Well, I usually just have to make it louder than the rough mix - it's a shame as inevitably it is at the end of your lovely mix, you then have to slam it through a Limiter and send it off!

     

    KMR : What artists or projects are you working on currently?

    I'm currently working with Dizzee Rascal on his album and its wicked, he’s producing it all himself and it sounds really sort of English and very cool. There's another guy called BiG HEATH from Cambridge, he’s really good.

     

    KMR : Thanks for the interview!

     

    Jake is represented by Pieces of 8 Music

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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 look in their plug-ins folders and talk about some of their favourite software tools...

     

     

     

    Balance Mastering MagPha EQ

    I chanced upon this little gem a few months ago on Gearslutz. I knew John Flynn’s work in the past as a mastering engineer but also as the developer of the Teufel Reverb plugin. Since then it’s been used on all my work. It’s an amazing mastering EQ plug-in that sounds extremely musical and smooth and is extremely flexible. Some of the presets are a lesson in how powerful this EQ can be. It’s also very affordable.

     

    Oeksound Soothe

    I’d never heard about this plug-in until a friend recommended it to me. Oeksound Soothe is an incredible tool that removes any harshness dynamically and very transparently. Whether I’m recording vocals, mixing or mastering, this plug-in is in my chain. Nothing comes close to it.

     

    MeterPlugs Dynameter

    While not the sexiest of plug-ins (it’s just a meter), MeterPlus Dynameter has been the most influential plug-in in my arsenal ever since I first purchased it.  The impact it’s had on my mixes and masters has been incredible! I just can’t do without it now.

     

     


     

     

    First off, I’ll hold my hand up and admit to being very much a hardware guy. Happily, my advanced years mean any Luddite tendencies are forgivable - possibly even expected.  But even I have to grudgingly admit that in-the-box processors have come a long way. Here are a couple of things currently on my mix bus that manage to get even a jaded old hack like me excited…

     

    New Fangled Audio Elevate

    A collaboration with venerable digital meisters Eventide, Elevate claims to be “the most advanced mastering plug-in ever created”. Now mastering should very probably be left to people who know what they’re doing (ie. not me). But often projects don’t have the budget available, or it’s simply nice to get a demo sounding more polished, and in these situations it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve.

    I won’t pretend to understand the technical hoodoo that’s going on under the hood, but it’s something to do with (deep breath…) adaptive multi-band limiting based on 26 Mel scale linear phase auditory filters modelled on the human ear. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry - the informative GUI is intuitive, easy to navigate and very tweakable.

    Why do I like it? Because it sounds very natural - even when pushed into hard limiting – and it’s almost effortlessly easy to get good results. It has bumped off a load of other dynamics and EQ plug-ins from my mix bus and simplification is always good in my world. To my ears at least, it just sounds right.

     

    IK Multimedia Dyna-Mu

    Although not explicitly described as such, IK Multimedia Dyna-Mu is fairly clearly modelled on the Manley Vari-Mu valve compressor. What does it sound like?  Well... remarkably like a Manley Vari-Mu – and therefore fantastic (believe me, I’m crying inside as I write this!). It really nails the warm musical glue that this processor is so good at - a subtle glow that just makes everything sit better in the mix without messing with track definition. This is part of IK Multimedia’s T-Racks 5 suite that includes a bunch of other great emulations. Well worth checking out…

     


     

     

    XLN Audio RC-20

    Swedish based XLN Audio is probably most famous for Addictive Drums 2. However, another one of their handy plug-ins is RC-20 Retro Color which uses their Flux Engine to add harmonic and analogue texture to almost anything.

    I find myself automating the Magnitude slider throughout a track to add extra dirt or character to particular sections. It works very well on things like soft synths, taking them more into an “analogue” direction.

    RC-20 usually ends up on sources for “retro” vocals and any instruments that just need that something extra - and the simple control layout and visual cues provide clear assistance. Similar in sound to magnetic tape and analogue harmonic distortion, I find RC-20 provides really flexible and quick solutions to sounds that are sounding a bit ‘flat’ in the box.

     

    BOZ Digital +10dB

    Do you like smashing drums? Or pinning vocals and then adding a hair of bite? Or maybe you want a mix bus that tames yet sways?  Then you need a Compex compressor!

    The Compex F760X is hardware only, but Boz Digital Labs has a solution for you in the +10dB channel. The “dB” stands for David Bendeth (renowned producer and user of these classic hardware boxes), and the plug-in comes very, very close to the sound of the original 1960/70 units.

    I use this on drums and guitars all the time. Also, I work with a studio that has the hardware originals and the tracks always get to the ‘right place’ with the plug-ins at my studio before comparing to the hardware units. We mix and match the hardware and plug-ins as it sounds so good.

    I feel parallel compression is where this plug-in truly excels, especially on drums - and with the legendary ‘expander’ you can soon get that "Jon Bonham" drum sound… should you want it!

     


     

     

    Native Instruments Reaktor

    Reaktor is the only software synthesizer I’ve ever invested any serious time to.  I’m also a hardware guy, so something really needs to stand out to get my attention!  I’ve used almost every synthesizer plug-in out there, but nothing challenges my understanding of synthesis and meta-programming quite like Reaktor.

    The things you can do with Reaktor are truly limitless. Of course, it comes with a huge amount of pre-programmed presets and patches, but it’s the ability to start a patch completely from scratch that really appeals to my desire for sound exploration.

    While getting to know Reaktor’s incredibly intricate back-end, I have learned so much about sound design, signal flow, modulation and event triggering. This understanding has transferred itself into other areas of my music and I now approach things with a very different mindset than I would have done before.

    When you make a patch from scratch that ends up being the defining part of your track, it’s a great feeling to know that you made ALL of the decisions that led to making that sound. No presets… all you!

     

    Moog MultiMode Filter XL

    Sometimes a plug-in comes along that demands an emotional response. It can be negative when someone has done a poor job of ripping off one of my favourite synths, or it can be the polar opposite when I’m pleasantly surprised! The latter is true with the UAD Moog Multimode Filter XL, one of the best emulations of an analogue circuit that I have ever heard.

    Moogs filters are revered by the music making masses - you can literally buy t-shirts with the schematic of a transistor ladder filter on them!  It’s a pretty simple circuit but it really did define the direction of synthesizers and electronic instruments that followed in Bob’s footsteps.

    The UAD emulation of the Moog filter gives you a traditional low pass filter with four selectable slopes, two LFO’s with balance control and… the thing that really sells it to me…a sequencer section, where you can apply sequential changes to any of the parameters. This allows smooth swells, glitchy resonant peaks and much, much more.

    I use the Moog filter collection all over my mixes, and when I’m making samples for live sets, I'll usually reach for my UAD plug-ins to grab some tape saturation and some EQ, and then run it all through those lovely, thick Moog filters.  Win!

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  •  


     

    Dear Octatrack,

     
    Before I found you I was a lost soul in an ocean of sound, you were the one who picked me up and helped me focus on what was important to me and my music, without you I would still be a wandering, hopeless synth-dude.

    It sounds mooshy - sorry, but that's really how I feel about the Elektron Octatrack, for me the Octatrack was the piece of gear that helped me steer my improvised musical endeavours into a more structured and interesting form. I feel without it, I'd still be making those challenging drones(!) and ambient tracks, that didn't really go anywhere or do anything (nor did anyone listen to them).

    It is with the power of the Octatrack that I can design and perform a live set or a group of tracks with relative ease, whilst making them fun, unique and engaging to both perform and listen to.

    Originally released in 2011, the Octatrack DPS-1 was widely adopted by the music making masses because of it's complexity, incredible sound design capabilities and performance capabilities.

    In 2017, Elektron released an updated MK2 version with design cues from the Digitakt, and improved layout and navigation to allow for quicker and easier editing and the such. They also improved the quality of the inputs to provide a better noise floor when connecting external gear. they also made the buttons back-lit for better visual feedback when on stage.
     

    So, why do I like it?

     
    The Octatrack is renown for being a complicated box to master, in fact Elektron machines as a whole have this stigma attached to them and I feel that this is very true when talking about the Octa, it took me a little while to master, but now I know - there's no going back.

    The Octatrack is dubbed an 8-track performance sampler, but as the marketing suggests it's "way more than a sampler" and I really can't stress how important this simple fact is. Sure, you can sample on it, make incredible beats and build stupidly complex songs and patterns, but where I believe the true strengths of this machine begin to unfold when you use it as a performance mixer.

    The Octatrack has eight internal tracks, it has four balanced inputs which can be used as two stereo pairs or a four single mono inputs, allowing you to connect up to four external instruments, which can be live sampled, looped, effected, sliced and rearranged as you play. In this setting the Octatrack is unlike anything else ever made. It becomes your central hub for applying effects, mixing and performing your material.

    There's even the option to set track 8 as a master track, so you can apply master effects or even a global beat repeat if you like.

    I use the Octatrack in a improvised DAW-less setting with a few grooboxes that I am very comfortable with, Octatrack sends master clock and transport control information to the machines, each of the audio puts of the synths are fed into the Octatrack where I can apply changes on the fly and more.

    Despite its steep learning curve, I honestly believe that the Otatrack is the best piece of hardware ever designed. It can literally do anything with audio and if you're interested in making a daw-less setup then I strongly believe that with the Octatrack, your music wont only be easier to perform, it'll be a lot more engaging to listen to.

    Get one, they're wicked.

    If you want more information about Elektron machines, then get in touch with us!

     

    KMR Elektron Octatrack MkII

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  • Is 5U for you?

    Tom Lewis

    A quick history of 5U.

    In the 1960’s a certain Dr Bob began to develop a new type of sound making machine. After a few years building and selling Theremin kits, Bob was beginning to form some circuit designs that would ultimately become a line-up of Moog Modular synthesizers.

    In 1964 Bob presented one of the very first modular systems of his design at the AES show and this is where 5U was born.

    Unlike other modular designs that were being developed at the time, Dr Bob decided that it would make sense to have a familiar input device to control his modular systems, as such the 953 keyboard system was developed to allow musicians to interface with this unusual machines in way that seemed familiar.

    The Moog Modular was really brought front and centre when a certain Wendy Carlos released a somewhat groundbreaking album 1968. Switched on Bach was a turning point for electronic music, it was a body of work that proved that a synthesizer could be used to perform complete pieces of music that were not just abstract in nature, but true pieces of “real” music. This is where the Moog modular began to gain popularity and even found its way into some of the pop music of the time.

    The specs.

    The 5U format adheres to all the modern standards we use and take for granted nowadays: Bob decided that the oscillators would track to a 1 volt per octave input and there would be a separate system for turning functions on and off, this system is commonly known as CV and Gate and is found on literally everything.

    Moog System 35 Moog System 35

    Throughout the history of the “modular synthesizer” there’s obviously been a fair few formats to come to fruition, for example Wiard, Buchla, MOTM, Frak-rack and most notably Eurorack. Euroracks voltage standards all follows Bob’s original spec, where 1 volt corresponds to the western scale of 12 notes or a complete octave.

    All that’s changed is that S-trig and V-trig have been replaced by a simpler system of gates for controlling all aspects of triggering. 5U uses ¼” jacks and in certain Moog systems Cincon Jones connectors are used for the switch triggers (or s-trig), and given that they are 5U in size, modules themselves feel more substantial than some other formats.

    So given the amount of formats that are available, why should you get into 5U? Well for me, the answers are pretty simple:

    • For starters the sound quality is simply unlike anything else you ever heard. There's this simplistic, raw and unyielding quality of a well designed oscillator going through a big low pass, that is technically repeatable on other synthesizers (duh!), but a 5U system does it like nothing else.
    • The feel and workflow of a 5U system just can't be matched. Big Cosmo knobs, hefty positive 1/4" jacks and a open friendly front panel design, that even on the busiest of modules, never feels cramped or awkward.
    • And one for those who are aesthetically challenged...5U looks cool :) I mean, it just does, doesn't it?

    So is 5U for you?

    Well this is the big question, what does 5U offer me that other formats do not? Well we've already covered the sound quality, the feel and the aesthetics, what about function? An argument I've seen int he past is that there's not enough choice in the 5U format and that argument is starting to be quashed all the time thanks to a few elite builders who exclusively adhere to the format and develop new ideas.

    The Free State FX FSFX101 is a 5U version of Mutable Instruments Braids

    Moog reissued a selection of their legacy modular systems back in 2015, in fact we've been lucky enough to have a System 15 and we also have in stock a System 35, but outside of those reissues, getting hold of a real Moog 5U module or system, was a rare and expensive opportunity.

    Thankfully there have been a lot manufacturers who have continued to build 5U modules when Moog had stopped developing the format, and in fact there's new builders coming onto the scene, like Paula Maddox Aka. Dove Audio who have just announced an MU / 5U format oscillator called WTF.

    Moon Modular, Free State FX, Corsynth, Analog Craftsmen, Synthetic Sound Labs and Frequency Central are all brands that we carry and develop a range of 5U modules, and within those few manufacturers alone there's a deep catalogue of modules that cater for every possible application you could imagine. To argue there's not enough choice..well it's simply not the case.

    And 5U isn't even more expensive than other formats, you can build an extremely powerful system or buy a pre-assembled system form Moon modular or Analog Craftsmen for example for less than £5k

    So is 5U for you? Well if you're after the best sound quality, then yes and if you're looking to build something unusual, then yes....thanks to the wide array of modules available you can literally design any form of system you might desire.

    If you're interested in learning more about 5U modular, please get in touch. We'd love to talk you through the options available and help you design a system that's perfect for your requirements

    And hell...it's not like you can't plug your Eurorack into it anyway....."Oh hey Maths, how are you?"

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