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Review: Bronto Scorpio Dimensions soundset for Diva

Bronto Scorpio Dimensions

Dennis of Bronto Scorpio Music has recently released Dimensions, a soundset for the Diva virtual analog synthesizer instrument by u-he.

The goal was to take the limited structure of Diva and get the most out of it using various little tricks.

The result is 64 new patches, which range from classic synth to more modern, futuristic and even somewhat experimental sounds.

Here’s a breakdown of the patches:

  • 9 Arps
  • 9 Bass
  • 8 Chords
  • 6 Drums
  • 7 FX
  • 10 Pads
  • 5 Plucks
  • 10 Synth

The patches make good use of modwheel, aftertouch, pitchbend, etc. so those who play the keyboard well will benefit from a good dynamic range.

I had a short run through the patches, so check the video below to get an idea of what you can expect from Dimensions.

So what do I think?

Product: Dimensions by Bronto Scorpio
Format: Patches for u-he DIVA
Price: 10 EUR
Like: Fantastic chords & pads, very dynamic, great value for money
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

Dennis managed to bundle quite a lovely set of patches into this bank. Within these 64 patches there is a good amount of variety, and every single sound is very well designed. It seems that synths like Diva tend to bring out the best in sound designers.

While all patches are really good, the chords and pads are my favorites. There are some absolute gems in there, good for instant inspiration.

At just 10 euros I think Dimensions is a no-brainer. You can hardly go wrong, but if you’re still not sure if this set is for you, make sure to check out the 10 free demo patches available from the Bronto Scorpio website.

More information: Bronto Scorpio Music / Dimensions

Review: Tone2 Nemesis – NeoFM synthesizer plugin

Related: , , , , Posted in reviews on Mar 28, 2014 - comment 0 comments
Tone2 Audiosoftware

Tone2′s latest synthesizer instrument Nemesis aims to take FM synthesis to the next level with NeoFM, which offers a “genuine FM synthesis” approach.

From the manual:

Most conventional FM synths such as the DX7, use phase modulation (PM) instead of genuine FM synthesis, yet such synths are branded as FM synthesizers for marketing reasons. However, the traditional PM approach is limited to using dark sounding waveforms like sinoids or triangles, which results in a dull or bell-like sound. Classic waveforms like a sawtooth do not work well with it because they result in an unpleasant, sharp and excessively metallic sound.

‘Real analog FM’ suffers from drift and lacks precision, resulting in a disharmonic sound, which is musically not very useful. The innovative neoFM approach, exclusive to Nemesis, combines only the advantages of both types of synthesis without suffering from any of the weaknesses associated with PM or ‘Real analog FM’ synthesis.

Tone2 Nemesis
The Nemesis interface, similar in style to the RayBlaster, Saurus & ElectraX synths.

Nemesis features 22 synthesis types that can be combined in 2 oscillators to expand traditional FM synthesis with other methods like additive, wavetables, phase distortion, formant, waveshaping, sync and reso synthesis, and more. You can use your own samples as waveforms as well, and editing of waveforms is easy with the additive spectral editor.

The oscillator section has a carrier and modulator oscillator, with tune, envelope, filter, and mix controls for each. The filters are a bit different in that they are very steep (90dB slope) 0-phase filters which operate directly on the waveform. This means that as you turn down the filter it filters out the partials.

The oscillators also have drift/detune, phase (start phase of waveform), feedback, and an FM keyfollower for the Neo FM knob, which controls the amount of FM applied to the oscillator.

Tone2 Nemesis synthesis modes

From the oscillator display you can select one of the 22 synthesis modes, the active one being shown on the right side of the screen. Both carrier and modulator oscillator waveforms are dynamically updated so any chance will be reflected in this screen.

A large selection of waveforms is available, and you can also load your own samples and resynthesize waveforms.

Want more control? The additive spectral editor lets you manipulate the partials and phase of waveforms.

The additive editor of Nemesis can handle the first 32767 partials of any waveform and you have detailed control over the phase of the waveform. This can make a significant difference in the sound, especially when the oscillator is played at a low frequency.

The first 16 partials can be modified directly from the oscillator display with sliders, the higher partials and phase are changed with modifiers, which are destructive. However, you can export your waveforms so if you’re working on variations you might want to keep make sure to export often.

Tone2 Nemesis additive spectral editor

A few dozens of spectral modifier presets are available for modifying the whole waveform with spectrum, phase, volume, damp, cut, mod, and noisegate processes.

As it befits Tone2, they have also included a well featured arpeggiator, a flexible dedicated gate, 2 FX slots with 33 effects, and a bunch of voice and audio settings, including various modes for play, glide, re-triggering, boost, micro-tuning, clip, punch, and eq.

A 12-slot modulation matrix lets you easily set up sources and destinations from drop-down menus, including the 2 LFOs (bpm syncable) and 2 envelopes available in Nemesis.

Nemesis comes with well over 1,000 patches, including arps, bass, leads, pads, keys, synth, fx, and many more. Check out Tone2′s demo below to get a taste of what this synthesizer sounds like.

So what do I think?

Product: Nemesis by Tone2 Audiosoftware
Format: VST/AU
Price: 149 EUR / $199 USD
Like: Crisp sounds, large factory bank, easy to use
Don’t like: Bit pricey
Verdict: 9/10

I have to commend Tone2 on once again doing something new. You would think FM synthesis has already been well covered with the synthesizers from the 80′s and Native Instruments FM8 software instrument.

Still, Nemesis manages to take a fresh approach, delivering a feature set that allows you to get the sounds that made 80′s pop music, as well as the sounds of current EDM genres like dubstep or trap music.

The synthesizer is easy to use, and sounds great. I would tag it “digital” and “crisp”, though you can also get some really smooth analog type sounds from it. It is quite a bit more versatile than I had expected.

More information: Tone2 / Nemesis

Review: Dust Road for NI Massive by ModeAudio

Related: , , , , Posted in reviews on Feb 25, 2014 - comment 0 comments
ModeAudio

The Dust Road soundset by ModeAudio aims to bring the sounds of analogue synthesizers to Native Instruments Massive.

Now, I guess Massive isn’t exactly known for its warm, analogue type sounds. You might think it’s all about aggressive dubstep wobbles & harsh, digital sounding electro stabs, but it does in fact sport an analogue architecture.

Here’s what ModeAudio says about this:

“But Massive is digital, it can’t possibly produce a sound like analogue!?” we hear you cry. Think again! The dazzling variety of sampled waveforms, resonant filter choices and dizzyingly complex modulation capabilities allow Massive to conjure up sounds every bit as lush, unstable and warm as its analogue counterparts.

ModeAudio Dust Road

Dust Road exploits these abilities entirely, bending pitches, blending waveforms, blurring filters and blitzing standard routings, all to gorgeous effect. Hear the decayed, constantly-shifting sound of analogue audio come to life, complete with full sound sculpting options. Every macro control of every preset has been hot-wired to give you full access to and control of your sound.

Dust Road comes with 50 presets: 10 bass, 5 chords, 5 lead synths, 15 pads, 5 plucks, and 10 classic synth sounds. It also includes 50 MIDI loops which showcase the bass, synths and chords.

Below is a short video of me checking out the patches. The end of the video includes a short demo clip I made in some 15 minutes, using only the sounds from Dust Road and a drum kit preset from ModeAudio’s Hyper Beats for Maschine 2.0.

So what do I think?

Product: Dust Road by ModeAudio
Format: 50 Massive patches + 50 MIDI files
Price: £12 GBP
Like: Gritty vibe, lots of movement in the sounds
Don’t like: Plucks
Verdict: 8/10

It’s great to see a soundset for Massive with a bit of a different approach. I think Dust Road does a great job showcasing the more analogue side of Massive.

I have to admit the lovely demo track at the ModeAudio website already won me over. This pack has so many unique sounding patches, I am well impressed with Dust Road.

I love the movement, the slight variations you get when holding a note, and the useful macro assignments. With the included MIDI’s you get a good idea of what ModeAudio was thinking of when designing the patches. The only section that didn’t do much for me was the plucks.

In general, I reckon you’re going to get some good use out of the sounds of Dust Road, especially if you do downtempo electronic music or cinematic works that need a gritty, analogue type vibe.

More information: ModeAudio / Dust Road

Review: SOR Minimal Techno Revolution Vol 3

SOR Minimal Techno Revolution Vol 3

Sound designer Oliver Schmitt (aka Sounds Of Revolution) has kicked it up a notch with the third title in the Minimal Techno Revolution series of sample packs.

Distributed by Resonance Sound, Minimal Techno Revolution Vol.3 covers special organic sounds (e. g. live drums, live bass loops, field recordings) right next to all-time favorites such as true analog drums, SID samples (C64-style), loads of drum loops with/without kick and a variety of carefully processed vocals.

Missing something? How about kit loops for starters, dark and mystic atmospheres, hypnotic bass and synth loops, semisynthetic field recordings or never-heard fx sounds shaking the ground to its every bit?

The sample pack includes both one-shot sounds and loops, no less than 1,435 samples (24-bit) in total.

The one-shot sample folders features 51 kicks, 34 claps, 39 snares, 43 hi-hats, 25 crash & ride cymbals, 63 percussion, 42 click & grain sounds, 49 SID sounds, 112 vocal samples, 65 processed live recordings, and 122 fx sounds.

There’s a good variety in sounds, and although most of these are staple type sounds, they are very solid and you can hear Oliver’s attention to detail in the production. The last two (processed recordings & sound fx) have the most character and include some really well designed sounds, in particular some of the designed fx samples are brilliant.

On the loops front we have 63 bass & 35 live bass loops, 219 kick free loops, 281 kit loops, and 152 synth loops.

The bass loops are quite minimal and really well processed. They come with some variations, and a good amount of different bass sounds was used. The live bass recordings by Heiko Steinweg are also crafted into some lovely sounding loops. These have a great funky vibe and the creative processing here makes for some unique sounds.
The kick free loops are great for layering. This section is split up into four sections: hihats, mixed, percussion, and vocals. The kit loops include various parts of beats as individual loops, so many of these are basically also kick free loops. Again, a solid selection with plenty of variety in style and sound.
The synth loops section is probably my favorite of the pack. It includes some beautiful chord stabs, big pads, and other melodic gems. Dry versions are included for quite a few of the loops so you can apply your own fx chains.

All loops are 127 bpm, and key info is included in the file names where relevant.

Besides the synth loops, another favorite is – funnily enough – a bonus folder of atmosphere sounds. Big reverb stabs, filtered gritty sounds, futuristic machine noises, eerie atmos, reversed sounds, lovely strings… Love it!

You can listen to some of the sounds of this pack in the demos below.

So what do I think?

Product: Minimal Techno Revolution Vol 3 by SOR
Format: 24-bit Wav samples, REX/Kontakt/ESX24
Price: 47.99 EUR ex. VAT (individual parts also sold separately)
Like: Quality production, creative and well designed sounds
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

Oliver shared with me that he has worked long and hard on this pack, and I think it shows.

Minimal Techno Revolution Vol 3 includes a well-balanced, useful collection of loops and samples, and the overall quality of sounds is simply great.

I would say this pack goes way beyond Minimal Techno, with interesting material for producers in a much wider range of electronic styles.

In short, Oliver’s sound design and production skills make for a top notch sound pack that offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Resonance Sound is offering a free demo with 25 samples from the pack, so check it out for yourself.

More information: Resonance Sound / Minimal Techno Revolution Vol 3

Review: The Raw Cutz Super Pack – 5,000 Breaks, Cuts & Samples

Raw Cutz is a new label by Erik Svahn of E-Lab and Equipped Music, and Loopmasters sample boutique owner Matt Pelling.

Together Erik and Matt have formed Raw Cutz, and hope this site will inspire musicians old and new to make exciting Hip Hop, House, Drum and Bass and other experimental forms using some of the inspirational sounds, swung beats, processed kits and found sounds that Raw Cutz and its Producers will be releasing regularly on this imprint.

Raw Cutz Super Pack

The Raw Cutz Super Pack takes the 30 launch releases from the new imprint, and bundles them in a giant pack with no less than 5,645 individual samples, good for 3.3 GB content.

Whether you are looking for Punchy Kicks, Crisp Snares, Mellow Rhodes, Ethereal Vocals, Dubbed Out Basses, Glitched Jazz Guitars, Drifting Flutes, Funky Horns, Ambient Sounds, and Dusty Breaks – these smoking beats are guaranteed to add the flavour, punch and inspiration to your productions that you have been looking for.

Raw Cutz Super Pack features

  • 300 81-99BPM Raw Break Loops
  • 3,510 Raw Cut Music Samples
  • 778 Raw Kick Samples
  • 468 Raw Snare Samples
  • 331 Raw Hi Hat Samples
  • 302 Rex2 Files

The pack comes with everything listed above in respective folders. You do get file listings of each of the 30 individual packs that make up this super pack, but if you want to find the sounds that are from the same pack you’ll have to use the file name tags to locate them.

A collection of 300 break loops (10 loops per pack) is good for 110 individual breaks, and 190 no kick/no hihat type variations. They have a nice vintage vibe, though when you audition the bunch some of the themes start to sounds a bit the same-ish. Of course nothing keeps you from chopping the breaks up, and since you also get over 1,500 one-shot drum samples so can easily make your own breaks anyway.

For me, the next bit – the “Raw Cut Inspirational Music Samples” – is what this pack is all about.

One of the first sample libraries I bought was E-Lab’s Xclusive Wav Xtension (10-disc pack including the X-Static Goldmine series). I remember it cost an arm and a leg (back then anyway), and it seemed that a lot of the content was simply lifted of existing recordings – nicely processed, but not very original nonetheless. Some samples were blatantly ripped from commercial tunes, but I always loved the vibe of these samples. Especially the melodic one-shot stabs/hits are fantastic, and this is the kind of sampling that in my opinion has its merit.

The music samples on the Raw Cutz Super Pack are much the same. Bass, guitar, electric piano, flute, saxophone, organ, atmospheric sounds, etc.
Short 1 or 2 second sounds, all with that fantastic vintage funky, soulful vibe. While the sounds mostly have a Hip Hop feel, you can easily use them in other genres as well. Many samples have that lovely delay and reverb processing that you would hear on early drum & bass records.

The Loopmasters website says:

These exclusive samples have been crafted carefully by our top producers using technology including MPC and SP1200 samplers, Technics 1210 mk2 decks, Analogue Tape Machines and vintage mics and instruments including Fender Jazz Guitars, Double Basses, Horns, Rhodes Pianos and much more besides.

I have read that text a few times, and I guess it doesn’t actually exclude crate digging. To be honest even if these samples weren’t created from scratch I don’t really care. Sampling has always been part of Hip Hop music production, and I would feel totally comfortable using these samples in my work.

Check the sound examples below to get an idea on what kind of sounds you can expect.

So what do I think?

Product: Raw Cutz Super Pack by Loopmasters
Format: 24-bit Wav samples
Price: £149.95 GBP
Like: beautiful one-shot hits/stabs, well processed for that vintage vibe
Don’t like: breaks could have bit more variation
Verdict: 8/10

This pack is perfect for beat makers. The Raw Cutz Super Pack will save you tons of time, no need to go crate digging!

The 3,500+ sounds are just what you need to create the perfect vibe for your Hip Hop tracks.
Yes, the breaks are nice, the single drum sounds are very useful, but for me, this pack is all about the brilliant stabs, chords, hits, bass & guitar licks, atmospheric fx, etc.

The samples are processed with care to get a great vibe, totally inspiring and full of character.

Get your samplers ready, serious head bobbin’ is inevitable.

More information: Loopmasters / Raw Cutz Super Pack

Review: Cableguys Curve 2 synthesizer plugin

Related: , , , , , Posted in reviews on Sep 04, 2013 - comment 0 comments

I reviewed the first version of Curve about two and half years ago, and most of what I wrote there goes for Curve 2, but recently I have been designing some more sounds with this synthesizer so I thought it was a good time for an additional version 2 review.

For those who haven’t heard of Curve before, it is basically a subtractive synth with some tricks up its sleeve.

Curve is a software synthesizer with an irresistible waveform editor, huge sound library and slick interface. Ideal for both experimentation and detailed tweaking at an excellent sound quality.

Feed Curve’s oscillators, LFOs and envelopes with custom waveforms. For anything rhythmic from wobbles to FX loops and evolving pads. For broad oscillator timbres from deep basses to shrill, aggressive snarls.

Cableguys Curve 2
Curve 2 comes with a new layout, improved workflow, and a black skin.

I would say the main attraction of Curve lies in the drawable waveforms that can be used for the oscillators and LFOs. This allows for great control over partials/harmonics of the sounds and it welcomes experimentation which I reckon most sound designers will enjoy lots.

With version 2, you now can also use the same functionality with all three envelope (velocity + 2 custom) modules. This makes Curve an even more flexible synthesizer to work with, since you can now create/draw your own multi-stage envelopes right there in the main display.

Also new is the fact that you can combine two waveforms in a single oscillator, which likewise really opens up the way for new sonic exploration.

Curve 2 Marco settings
Macro knobs in Curve

A workflow improvement comes in the shape of macro knobs, to which you can assign a number of parameters for modulation.

Of course you could automate this kind of thing without macros just fine, but it where’s the fun in doing that when you can create sonic mayhem with the turn of a single knob instead?

The 2 filter units are still there, and with version 2 you can now also route them individually to each oscillator, either single or both in series or parallel.

Curve 2 has a more refined, and more user friendly interface. I have to admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a white/grey edition though. The new dark skin looks great but it can be a bit straining on the eyes, to me anyway. That said, it is still a lovely GUI and the workflow is great.

Add to that the ever growing online presets database (well over 2,200 last I checked) which includes tons of high quality sounds, and you will find Curve 2 to be a versatile synthesizer that can easily stand its own ground.

Check out Myagi’s video on how to create a supersaw synth bass with Curve 2 for a good overview of how to design sounds on this plug-in.

So what do I think?

Product: Curve 2 by Cableguys
Format: VST/AU/RTAS
Price: 119 EUR / $159 USD inc. VAT
Like: waveform drawing, very flexible, sound designer’s dream, presets database
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

Cableguys offered something new and exciting with Curve’s flexible drawable waveform based instrument, and they confidently lift the powerful synthesizer to a higher level with Curve 2.

The improved envelopes, extended oscillators, macro knobs and workflow adjustments all contribute to creating an instrument that motivate the sound designer in me.

The only thing missing is the effects section, and to be honest, I don’t really miss it at all. It is still refreshing to hear what you can achieve without reverb, delay, and whatnot, and if need be there are plenty of other tools to get that job done anyway. If nothing else, the lack of effect units makes me design my sounds more carefully. Browsing the many beautiful sounds in the presets database, I realize I still have a lot to learn.

So, whether you want to create your own unique sounds, or simply enjoy the thousands of presets provided by the community, Curve 2 is definitely a synth that deserves your attention.

More information: Cableguys / Curve 2

Review: Goldbaby Dirt and Layers sample pack

Goldbaby Dirt and Layers

Goldbaby’s latest sample pack Dirt and Layers features a collection of samples to enhance your drum and percussion sounds by adding some dirt, layers & more.

The dirt category comprises 140 sounds, including vinyl and tape noise, digital hash, guitar amp and pedal hum and more.

The dirt sounds can add subtle or not so subtle texture to your individual instruments or whole mixes. Add some vinyl noise to give the impression that your instrument was sampled off vinyl. Add some tape noise to make your recordings sound like they were done on tape before noise reduction was invented. Use the damaged cassette noise to fake your cassette sampling skills.

No less than 830 drum layering sounds are found in the layers category. These include kick drum subs, snare top sounds, sucking sounds, transients, and more.

The drum layering sounds are a fantastic tool kit for augmenting and beefing up drum sounds. Give your drums more depth and texture by experimenting with different layers. Boost the bottom end of kicks with tuned subs or add a transient layer to help it cut through a mix. Crispen snares with various top layers or add body and substance using the sauce and body layers.

For instant gratification you can drop one of the 50 loops (REX) in your track to get the authentic, characteristic sounds of vinyl, dirt patterns, etc.

While the pack is clearly designed to enhance your drum sounds and add character to (any) audio, many of the sounds are also great for using as is, or as the basis for further processing. If you like your odd percussion sounds like me, you will be in for a treat. Transient clicks and kick subs are probably best used layered with existing drum sounds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them any other way. Hugo also included things like synth fx, random noises and vocoder sounds, so you really have a good variety of sounds.

Maschine and Geist users will be happy to hear that Dirt and Layers includes browser integration for these instruments, so everything is nicely ordered/tagged and good to go right off the bat.

Check this nice video demonstrating how you can use these tools to layer sounds in Maschine.

So what do I think?

Product: Dirt and Layers by Goldbaby
Format: 970 wav samples (24-bit) / 50 REX loops
Price: $29 USD
Like: Excellent tools, top notch sound design, browser integration, Goldbaby quality
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

I think this is one of Goldbaby’s best sample packs to date. Hugo has always delivered work of the highest quality, but to me Dirt and Layers is a bit special, something like a treasure trove.

Making sure you have good quality source material to work with is really important, but there usually is room for improvement. Dirt and Layers is like a toolbox filled to the brim with the best tools for the job.

Depending on the vibe you are trying to create you will want to add some of those character noises, fatten up your drum sounds, or add some excitement with sound fx type samples. This pack has it all.

And if you like a more experimental sound, you’re going to be using these samples for a lot more than layering or simply adding character. Get your creative juices flowing!

More information: Goldbaby / Dirt and Layers

Review: Arte Nuovo Padsheaven 2 soundset for Zebra

Arte Nuovo Padsheaven 2

Hot on the heels on the Joseph Hollo’s first soundset comes Padsheaven 2, a new collection of sounds for the Zebra 2.5 software synthesizer from u-he.

The continuation of the successful padsheaven, a brand new collection of lyrical, dramatic pads, effects and soundscapes and much more from a multiple golden and platinum record owner composer.

Like the first version, you can use them in almost all styles from classical pop/rock ballads to moviescores or even in the most up to date compositions.

The majority of Padsheaven 2 patches are pad sounds (99). A full range of pads is included, from deep & warm to icy thin. Additional sounds include a variety of keys, bass and lead, plucked instruments and drum sounds (19 patches in total), as well as 15 arp/rhythmic patches. A few variations and bonus presets make for a total of 133 patches.

Joseph has once again made good use of the various controller assignments to add lots of expressive and dynamic variety to the sounds. Aftertouch, breath and expression have been assigned to the XY pads on Zebra, so you can change multiple parameters with a single control.

So what do I think?

Product: Padsheaven 2 by Joseph Hollo
Format: 133 .h2p patches for Zebra 2.5
Price: $25 USD
Like: Beautiful sounds, well designed
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

Padsheaven 2 goes on in the same vein as its predecessor. High quality sounds, exceptionally emotional, expressive, and beautifully sculpted by talented sound designer Joseph Hollo.

I can never get enough of good pad sounds, and this set delivers another stunning collection.

Padsheaven 2 is another must buy for any Zebra user who needs pads. And then some. The bells, leads/synths, plucked sounds… all just hitting that sweet spot. These sounds will do wonderful in ambient and cinematic works, or anything else that needs gentle, moving, astonishingly beautiful sounds.

Joseph is offering a free 8-patch demo bank so make sure to check it out.

More information: Arte Nuovo