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Synth Britannia - 1:30h video

Depeche Mode, OMD, Pet Shop Boys - Synth Pop generation documentary Watch

15 interesting synths

Virtual synths that somehow went under the radar Read article

NI Kontakt instruments

Free and affordable NI Kontakt libraries Read more

Sylenth EDM Soundset

165 modern presets, created by me, for Lennar Digital Sylenth synth. Visit

400 Modern presets for V-Station

Tons of presets that will bring a new life to the Novation V-Station synth Visit

Cakewalk Z3ta+ 2 presets

155 Synth / lead and bass presets inspired by many modern electronica genres. Visit

Free Organ synths / samples

Best, free organ synths / multisamples Read more

Soft Synths released in 2011

Interesting soft synths released in 2011 Read more

Free String Machine vsts

Freeware String Machine plugins Read more

Who's the Big Dog now?

I don't know why but "Who's the Big Dog now" video made me smile :) It's short, funny and well directed.

An author of this video - Calvin, also runs very nice blog about hardware synths. Lot's of audio examples ! :)



More info: cl516.blogspot.com
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U-he Synths Presets + Randomizer

Do you need U-he Zebra2, Zebra CM, Zebralette presets ? I'm sure you do :) Just visit Zebra Family Presets webpage and you'll find tons of presets :)
If it's still not enough then you might consider using Preset Randomizer created by Urs. All you need to do is to put it (it's h2p file) in preset folder and then load it, load it, load it ... :)
It affects only parameters that have knobs, only to a certain percentage and it doesn't change tuning parameters. For more control, open in text editor and change "percentage". Randomizer should work with most of U-he plugins. It's a tiny file but an amazing one :)

Download 1: Zebra Family Presets
Download 2: Preset Randomizer for U-he Synths
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G-Town Church Sampling Project

G-Town Church Sampling Project contains almost 700 mb of music samples (450 mb compressed) created by music producer - Tobias Marberger and recorded in his local church in Grebbestad (Sweden). This project is available in two separate torrents (you need a torrent client - I downloaded it with Vuze / Azureus) - original .WAV files + EXS24 sampler patches or as .GIG Gigastudio-formatted version.

G-Town Church Sampling Project contains wide range of sounds covering snares, hihats, anvils, piano, organ, glockenspiel, flute and more. It's licensed under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus 1.0 license. You are free:
- To sample, mash-up, or otherwise creatively transform this work for commercial or noncommercial purposes.
- To perform, display, and distribute copies of this whole work for noncommercial purposes (e.g., file-sharing or noncommercial webcasting).

Under the following conditions:
- You must give the original author credit.
- You may not use this work to advertise for or promote anything but the work you create from it.
- For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.

Isn't it great ? :)



ps. thanks Dave for sharing this link.

Download 1: G-Town Church Sampling Project (GIG format)
Download 2: G-Town Church Sampling Project (WAV format)
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Dynamic Range Compression articles

At wikipedia, you can find a well written, very informative article about Dynamic range compression. There are of course some basics at the beginning (ie. what compressor is) but you'll find some more practical stuff like: hard and soft knees, Peak vs RMS sensing, Look-ahead.

Article contains well designed images, really helping in understanding Dynamic Range Compression - especially I like limiting (with different amount of attack and release) and clipping compared. Also you'll learn about sidechain, parallel, multiband and serial compression.



But that's not all. There's another nice article at wikipedia called "Loudness wars".
With the advent of the CD and digital music, record companies, mixing engineers and mastering engineers have been gradually increasing the overall volume of commercial albums. Originally they would just push the volume up so that the single loudest point was at full volume, but more recently by using higher degrees of compression and limiting during mixing and mastering, compression algorithms have been engineered specifically to accomplish the task of maximizing audio level in the digital stream. Hard limiting or hard clipping can result, affecting the tone and timbre of the music in a way that one critic describes as "dogshit". The effort to increase loudness has been referred to as the "loudness wars".

Article 1: Dynamic Range Compression

Article 2: Loudness wars
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The real story on Billie Jean

In 1984 (or 83 ?), I was four and was going to nursery school (school for childern, in polish: "przedszkole"). I remember two artists being constantly played on the radio. One was Tina Turner (I really hated her as a child ;) ) with the song I don't remember and the other one was Michael Jackson with Billie Jean. You should know that Poland in 1984 was ruled by communist regime - I guess it wasn't easy to have an access to all european / world hit records. So it usually ended up hearing same tracks over and over :)



Now I'm a little bit older ;), I'm interested more in music production and personally think that Billie Jean is an exceptional, well produced song. But do you know the real story of Billie Jean ? Do you know, how many mixes it took to create the song and which number was actually picked as "official" ? You can read this whole thing at gearslutz forum in post created (in 2006) by Bruce Swedien, who mixed Billie Jean.

Article: The real story on Billie Jean
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Synth1 Kaiyoti bank

It's time for some new Synth1 soundbank, created by Kaiyoti. It contains 64 patches with high quality Drums/Percussion, Plucked Strings and Pads/Drones. Just listen to the mp3 demo and decide if it's worthwhile - in my opinion, it is :)








Download: Kaiyoti Synth1 bank | Batman begins demo presets
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EVM Occam SE

EVM Occam SE (Special Edition) is a very rare gem. It's two oscillators wavesample synth. Each oscillator has 13 atmospheric, warm, pad samples so Occam is naturally some kind of ... pad machine :) There are of course some basic tools to shape the signal like filters, envelopes, modulation and pretty useful thing for pads - stereo enhancer. The GUI is nice and clean, the patches are ok (16 patches available).

Overall, It's a nice, small synth. It doesn't offer reverb, chorus so I suggest using external ones (if you need it), as well as EQ (brighter sound). Layering two, three instances of Occam also seems nice idea.

Audio Demo:


Download: EVM Occam SE
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Jeroen Breebaart Barricade - free limiter

Barricade is another very nice plugin created by Jeroen Breebaart. It's free brick wall limiter unit, which means that it has very high ratio and a very fast attack time. Ideally, this ensures that an audio signal never exceeds the amplitude of the threshold. Ratios of 20:1 and more are considered to be "brick wall".

Barricade has separate controls for gain adjustment, limiter release time, and variable softclipping for extreme 'overs'. Overall, it's a simple limiter that does it's job very good. If you need something more advanced but still free / cheap then you might consider buying commercial version of Barricade called Barricade Pro (cost: 10 EUR)

Download: Jeroen Breebaart Barricade
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Sequential Circuits Prophet 5

It's time to write something in newly created category "Software vs Hardware" - more about it in previous post :) The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by Sequential Circuits in San Jose, California between 1977 and 1984. It's the most classic synthesizer of the eighties !
The Prophet 5 is one of the first analog synthesizers that implement patch memory, a feature which stores user settings of every parameter on the synthesizer into internal memory. Now it sounds funny but it was very needed feature. It's also one of the first polyphonic synthesizers, with five voice polyphony - two oscillators per voice and a white noise generator. Well, actually there was a version called Rev 1 (or Prophet 10) with ability to play 10 notes simultaneously ! Unfortunately, it was unreliable, and the build up of heat within the case meant that it was never in tune for more than a few minutes. Apparently, the only solution was a radical one. Synth designers dumped half the electronics, and the Prophet 10 became the Prophet 5 :)

Prophet 5 lacked MIDI but it's still loved today because of great string sounds, analog effects, and punchy analog basses. Unfortunately the P5 is not immune to the dark side of vintage synths - it has it's fair share of analog synth problems such as unstable tuning, it's difficult to repair, lacks MIDI, etc.



I'm not sure about it but the first patch reminds me the sound you can hear in music composed by Bill Conti for Rocky movie :)

Software plugins related with Prophet 5: (ordered by price)
1. Arturia Prophet V - 199 EUR
2. Native Instruments Pro 53 - 199 EUR
3. Messiah - 30 $
4. Analog Synth Lab Prophecizer 5 - 8.99 pounds (standalone only ??)
5. Chris Roberson Prophanity (Link Updated) - Free
6. EFM SCI Prophet 5 - Free

Article: History of Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
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Software vs Hardware and post number 250 :)

We live in the digital era - lots of plugin users and makers haven't even heard the real analog synth or effect. Quite often we can read that plugin X is an emulation of real, analog, hardware synth. How close (or far ;) ) such emulation is ? Do the presets are the same as hardware factory soundbank ?

I would like to introduce new category "Software vs Hardware". No, no - it's not going to turn into flame war :) The concept is simple - one, two youTube videos with sound of certain hardware, analog synth and the list of plugins that are somehow related ("emulations", "inspired by" etc.) with it. It's up to you to do download / buy the softsynth and see if it actually sounds similar to the original synth.

Like I said, it's a simple concept which actually tries to promote the sounds of original, hardware synths and give people (and myself too) point of reference when comparing plugins to hardware.

ps. That's my 250 post. I admit, I wasn't expecting this :) It supposed to be very small blog but it turned into something a little bigger. Well, I hope VstCafe will reach 500 posts soon but it won't be an easy task for lone wolf ;)

Also, I would like to thank all people who donated vstCafe. Thanks to you, commercial hosting I bought a while ago doesn't hurt so much ;) - it was really needed cos Elektrostudio plugins and all these mp3 previews are using some serious bandwidth. One day it was like 10 GB transfer used ! Also it was kind demoralizing to upgrade ~ 80 mp3 embeded players because of free host dead ;)
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Vintage Strings MkIII - 50 % discount until the end of June

Vintage Strings MkIII is a new (released in March 2009) virtual string machine that recreates rich warm string pads, and other beautiful atmospheric sounds of analog string machines. The string machine (also called string ensemble or string synth) was invented by Ken Freeman in 1970 as an attempt to replicate the sound of orchestral strings. It was so successful that it shortly became beloved instrument in its own right.

Until the end of June, the Vintage Strings MkIII is available 50 % cheaper than usually - instead of 59 EUR, it costs 30 EUR.



More info: http://www.mcrow.net
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GVST GRevDly

GRevDly is a tiny, small effect created by GVST (remember their free pitch correction GSnap plugin ?), which seems very usable. GRevDly simply plays the delayed signal in reverse. Reversed chunks are cross-faded to eliminate clicks.

Parameters available:
Time - the size of reversed chunks,
Overlap - The length of the cross-fades,
Dry - The level of the dry signal,
Effect - The level of the effect output.

Like I said - it's a plugin dedicated to just one effect, which actually I like :)

Download: www.gvst.co.uk
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Omniverb - free reverb vst plugin

It's been a long time since I've added some free vst effect. It's time to fill that gap. Omniverb, created by Jeroen Breebaart, is a free reverb plugin with separate control of the reverberation time, echo density, room size, and early reflections. It can also be used as a gated reverb. There are 11 presets avaiable - I like "default hall" and "large hall" the most.

Omniverb was awarded 'best free vst plugin' by Computer Music in June 2008 and I'm not surprised. It just sounds very good :) Mp3 preview shows dry part first, then wet.



Download: Jeroenbreebaart.com - Omniverb
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FabFilter survey - free 30 EUR

I'm not sure if this applies to every Fabfilter account (it works for sure, for those who purchased FabFilter One synth, during 5 year Anniversary promotion sale) but if you have such one then it's worth checking :)

Visit your account and there should be an online survey available. Fill it and you'll receive 30 EUR discount on any of FabFilter plugins. This promo stacks with other "personal discounted prices" so for example you can buy FabFilter Simplon - simple filter plugin, for 19 EUR, instead of ... 59 EUR. That's a pretty serious discount :)

More info: http://www.fabfilter.com/myaccount
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PSPaudioware 25% discount

PSPaudioware is well known plugin developer company located in Poland. Their plugins are not the cheapest (but top notch quality) so it's worth noting that until Monday, June 28th you can save 25 % on any order.
We love summer it's our favorite season here in Poland!

To celebrate the prehistoric Slavic holiday 'Noc Kupaly' (the longest day and the shortest night of the year), we have decided to organize a short-time, 9 days long special offer.
You can save 25% on any order (either individual plug-ins, a custom bundle, or an upgrade to a bundle or newer version) by simply entering SummerTime in the additional discount coupon field during check out at our web store.

Remember - the offer is time-limited and lasts until Monday, June 28th. After that night the days start getting shorter... Enjoy the Sun!
ps. With this post I would like to introduce a new category on vstCafe - Promotion which will contain posts about some promotions, discounts available on commercial plugins. It's nothing special - just an information which will hopefully let you buy plugins cheaper.
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16 ways to make your music collaborations work

In theory, working with another person on a track should ensure that you get better, faster results than when you're working on your own, but it doesn't always seem to work out that way.

MusicRadar article - "16 ways to make your music collaborations work" presents 16 tips that will help you to collaborate with other people and make that partnership more enjoyable.

Article: 16 ways to make your music collaborations work
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Vst instruments updated

Two very nice, virtual synths, presented earlier on VstCafe, have been updated.

KX-Synth-X16 (more info here), an awesome free synth inspired by EMS VCS3 - portable analog synthesizer with a flexible semi-modular voice architecture, initially made in 1969 by Peter Zinovieff's EMS company, has been updated to version 2.0.
One of the new features of the 2.0 version is the polyphony with a total respect of the original feeling of this synthesizer. A new KXMOD system is implemented to create fat vintage leads or nice polyphonic instruments. A CV and gate sequencer has been added to create real vintage sequences.

Download: www.kx77free.free.fr

Virtual synth Messiah (more info here), created by Gunnar Ekornås and inspired by Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 has been updated to version 1.1.




New features in 1.1:
- new GUI Keyboard (I love it :D)
- Midi learn by right clicking any controls
- Dual core problems solved
- CPU usage lowered (it was already quite low :) )
- reduced note stealing clicks and more

Also there are 34 new patches created by Gunnar and 13 patches, which show more modern, aggressive nature of Messiah created by ... me :) Here's some short demo of my new patches included in factory bank:



More info: www.memorymoon.com
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Reason 4.0 Tutorials

Another part of Reason 4.0 Tutorials. Again it's about creating some elektro, dance sounds...

Create A Dirty Electro Bassline In Reason 4.0



Create Benny Benassi's-Bring The Noise (Pumpkin) Synth


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Wusik Station

Since few days I'm proud user of Wusik Station - a hybrid vector & wavesequencer Sampler. Unfortunately I had not enough time to fully explore each feature (most time I spent playing samples :) ) so this small review will be focused more on economical aspect :)




Currently, there's great promotion available called - The Wusik Summer 2009 Group-Buy. Since 163 users already decided to buy Wusik Station, the price is now set at very low level. Instead of 120 $, Wusik station is now available for 60 $. Not cheap enough ? I agree - without sample libraries it would be rather high, especially for vstCafe "requirements" ;)

BUT, for 60 $ you'll receive tons of sample libraries. First - Complete Sound Set libraries which contain about 4 GB of samples - it is compressed, so overall I assume it's about 6 GB !!! Additionally, you'll receive 200 Wusik Sound Credits (which I don't have because I didn't buy it via this promo :| ) which translate into another few GB of samples - check the libraries available and the credit costs here. 200 credits is very much...

Now, my thought - during last few days I really liked Wusik Station. It's nicely designed, it has a lot of features (many effects, sequencers, layers) - actually my home studio lacked good sampler and Wusik Station filled that niche. And samples libraries ? Very good stuff. Wusik Station introduces it's own format WusikPRST / WusikSND but you can also import WAV and SFZ (format developed by Cakewalk) files (you can convert Soundfont (SF2) files to SFZ with some freeware converters - for example sfZed).

More features are described in manual available online at
http://www.wusik.com/download/Manual.pdf







PRICE: 59.95 $

More info: Wusik Station VST
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30 issues of Wusik Sound Magazine

Wusik Sound Magazine is monthly (at least in theory ;) ) music magazine created by wusik.com, available online via issuu.com. At the beginning, May 2006, the magazine was pretty much a brochure about Wusik products, especially their flagship product - Wusik Station sampler. But then, it evolved a lot. WSM design was improving in every issue at the end - it actually became the "real" magazine about music production. Wusik Sound Magazine offers nice articles, vst instruments reviews, sample cds reviews, tips etc. The issues available on issuu.com are in 90dpi resolution - if you need a better one, you can subscribe magazine at www.wusiksoundmagazine.com.
Current issue is February 2009 and it has 88 pages.



Download: 30 x Wusik Sound Magazine at issuu.com
More info: www.wusiksoundmagazine.com
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Odosynths plugins are now freeware

Since yesterday, every vst plugin created by Odo (www.odosynths.com) has a freeware status :) There are some nice synths available. For example Double Six which is pretty sophisticated 6-operator FM synth with 32 Yamaha DX7 algorithms and 16 4-operator algorithms. 38911 Bytes seems nice for cheap sounds similar to legendary Commodore C64 machine with it's famous sound chip - SID 6581 :) Also there's a drum sampler and drum synth in one - Dr-Fusion 2.

Well, there are almost 30 plugins available - at the moment I'm too busy to test them all so it's up to you to pick the quality ones :)

Download: www.odosynths.com
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Practical guide to musical composition

It's been a long time since I've updated PDF category. "A Practical Guide to Musical Composition" is an ebook created by Alan Belkin which "discusses fundamental principles of musical composition in concise, practical terms, and to provide guidance for student composers. Many of these practical aspects of the craft of composition, especially concerning form, are not often discussed in ways useful to an apprentice composer - ways that help him to solve common problems. Thus, this will not be a "theory" text, nor an analysis treatise, but rather a guide to some of the basic tools of the trade. It is mainly based on my own experience as a composer and teacher."

Practical Guide to Musical Composition is the first in a series. The others are: Counterpoint, Orchestration, and Harmony.
Download 1: Practical guid to Musical Composition
Download 2: Principles of Counterpoint
Download 3: Artistic Orchestration
Download 4: General Principles of Harmony
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Traktor and Ableton Live - syncing

Everyone who tried both Ableton Live and Native Instruments Traktor knows that each program has it's own strengths and weaknesses. At www.djtechtools.com you can find nice article about syncing these two great DJing applications together. Tutorial covers the steps required to run each program on a separate laptop and mix them together on a standard audio DJ mixer.

If you're about digital DJing - this article is for you ;)

More info: The best of both worlds - Syncing Traktor and Ableton Live
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New free sounds from Puremagnetik

Puremagnetik has released, two, new free downloads specifically created with Ableton Live 8 users in mind.

"Human Beatbox Kit", created by Adam Matta - a beatboxer and vocal performance artist from New York City, comes packed with a fully programmed beatbox Drum Rack and a collection of dynamically expressive Live Clips.

"Funky Constructions", created by Biboulakis is a collection of funky beats and hot grooves for Ableton Live 8 in grouped "construction kit" format.

There are of course some other free downloads, also for Ableton Live 7 users...

Download: Puremagnetik - Artist Kits
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Reason 4.0 Tutorials

It's time for some Reason 4.0 tutorials.

The first one is about creating that famous sound from Bodyrox - Yeah Yeah.



The second tutorial is about creating that even more famous ;) Benny Benassi sound.


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Trance music live performance on keyboard

I'm into trance music (and all other electronica related genres) and couldn't resist to put this video here. It's live performance on keyboard by DJ Flo - Out Of the darkness into The Light ! I like the arpeggio part a lot and I wish I had such skills :)


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10GB free OLPC Samples

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) association develops a low-cost laptop — the "XO Laptop" — to revolutionize how we educate the world's children. Their mission is "to provide educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning."

Musicians, Colleges have created over 10GB of free Samples library to support the OLPC developers, students, XO users, and computer and electronic musicians everywhere. Loops, Grooves, Licks, Stings, Hits, Pads, Melodic Motives/Themes/Phrases, Sound-Effects, City and Country Soundscapes..., Motors, Machines, Toys, Guns, Explosions, Swords, Armor, Cars, Jets, Pot & Pans, Acoustic and Synthetic Noises, Acoustic and Electronic Drums, Voices, Western and World Instruments, Real and Human Animals, Industrial and Natural Ambiences, Film and Game Foley, and more, more, more!

Samples are free and are offered under a CC-BY license for downloading and use in your teaching, your demos, your research, your music, your remixes, your songs, your games, your videos, your slideshows, your websites, and your XO activities. Each of the 7000+ samples is 16-bit, WAV, Mono, normalized to -3dB, and provided at 3 sample rates - 44.1K, 22.5K and 16K.

I'm sure that you can find some interesting stuff there :)

Download: OLPC - Over 10GB of FREE Samples
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Synth1 bell sound tutorial

Another great Synth1 virtual synth Programming tutorial created by Thalassa77 from Switch on Synthesizer. This time it's about creating the bell sound using FM modulation.


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New download server

Just a short note. All VstCafe download links, mp3 previews are now hosted on commercial server (www.arvixe.com) and should work as intended :)

Don't forget that you can still contribute a little bit :) by:
1) reporting (in comments) dead links / mp3 previews - there are some for sure
2) sending me links to some nice articles, tutorials, presets
3) sending information about plugins you find interesting
4) sending some ideas of improving vstCafe
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DSK Hispasonic Sampled Series

Hispasonic Sampled Series is a very nice collection of free high quality multisampled instruments created by DSK Music in collaboration with Hispasonic.com. Instruments include multiple velocity zones and are available in five formats: Kontakt, SampleTank, SoundFont, GigaStudio and Reason Refill (every format is about 270 MB in size, ~195 MB download).

Hispasonic Sampled Series includes:
- HS Vintage Keys: 6 classic keyboards (Clavinet, Dyno Rhodes, DX7 Rhodes, Hohner Pianet, Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer).
- HS Saxotopia: 3 saxophones (tenor, soprano and alto).
- HS Dynamic Guitars: 3 guitars (acoustic, nylon and steel).
- HS Classic Grand Piano: Steinway piano in three variations: standard, bright and damped.



Download: Hispasonic Sampled Series
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Messiah - a Prophet 5 inspired synth

What would you say if I asked you about Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 Vintage Synth emulation ? Most of you would probably point me at Native Instruments website and their Pro-53 virtual synth for 199 EUR. Others would say - pick SCI Prophet 5 or Prophanity, they're freeware.
But, is there a third option - cheap / average priced, commercial, quality soft synth ? Fortunately, there is. It's called Messiah, it's created by Gunnar Ekornås (remember Minimogue VA ?) and after 3-4 hours testing session I'm really wondering why this synth seems hmm forgotten. To be honest, even I, vst instruments freak ;), had problem to notice it. Actually it was one Vst Cafe user who recommended me this softsynth and it convinced me to give Messiah a try.

First I started with the presets. Factory bank contains 128 presets - there are leads, arps, basses, effects, chords, guitars - it's almost everything. I was surprised because many presets sounded very nice. At this moment I didn't know anything about the whole concept of Messiah. All I saw was an upper gui part which looked quite similar to Pro-53 (or maybe I should say Prophet5 VA :) ) and the keyboard at the bottom.

But then I started the real testing. It turned out that there are additional three pages with knobs, buttons, switches. I remember this moment perfectly because it was just - "woow" :)



Messiah has three very innovative oscillator types:
1. Morph oscillator - you can morph between 4 waveforms (11 waveforms to choose such as: sine, saw, square, triangle, ramp, soft ramp, peak ramp, peak, octava, cluster1, cluster2)
2. Unison oscillator - 7 voices (and you can put this oscillator into 5 voice unison for 35 voices) for creating fat detuned sounds.
3. Flexi oscillator - two separate waveforms that can perform PWM, Ring Mod, Phase distortion and more

Messiah development took over one year. An author has been analyzing Prophet5 soundfiles (for example at filter design stage) to reach the best effect. Sure, it's not 100 % accurate emulation but it's actually more than just an emulation. These oscillators are really doing the great job and they're NOT killing the CPU - Messiah is very low CPU hungry.

Is it worth ? To be honest I don't remember the sound of Pro-53 but one thing I do remember - I didn't like the unison - the more detuned sound (and since I'm much into trance, I like to detune everything ;) ) I had, the less brightness and more noise I heard. Fortunately, Messiah unison sounds as it should - fat, detuned (if you want to), but still pretty bright and without noise.

The most important thing - it's very hmm creative synth. I was giving myself about three hours to write this short review but I failed miserably. "Tweaking knobs" part just took too long :) I managed to create few nice presets ranging from Usher - Yeah, Deadmau5 plucks to trance pluck. Factory presets are very nice too - especially I like presets called "Depeche" - I spent half an hour playing "just can't get enough" ;)

Don't forget to check the demo - you shouldn't trust the guy you virtually know nothing about ;) The demo is fully functional + silence effect, which to be honest is too frequent. At first I thought that there's some bug in Messiah hehe

Last word - Messiah needs more attention. It's an amazing, powerful synth. Sure, there are tons of free plugins - some (for example Synth1, Outmeal, Atlantis) are as good as commercial. But if you have them all and you need something new - Messiah will give you that new feeling. It's pretty unique synth - good enough to be a commercial product. Great work Gunnar! :)

Here are some examples I did during Messiah testing (there's tiny amount of external reverb - rest is Messiah)


Price: 30 $ (or 40 $ with Memorymoon - plugin inspired by Memorymoog polyphonic synth).

More info: http://memorymoon.com
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Remixing a Tune - Ableton Project part II

Almost one month ago I introduced you Tom Cosm project called remixing tune : Pitch Black - Sonic Colonic (Tom Cosm Remix). He has recorded the entire production process from start to finish, and was going release 6 hours of video footage to show people exactly how he did everything. The first two hours are available to everyone in previous news - part I. Since that moment - Tom added another video footage - the third hour.

You can download the entire Ableton project file, so you can have a look at how everything was made. All samples are included, only native Ableton instruments and effects were used, so all you need is just Ableton (or Ableton Demo). The project has about half gig !!!

Download: Tom Cosm Pitch Black Remix Production Video Part 3

More info: http://www.cosm.co.nz
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Usual articles selection you may like (or not) ;)

As usually, couple articles found over the internet you may like or not ;)

1. Enhance your drumkicks via sinewawes – tutorial (Steelberry Clones – Electronic Music Lab)

2. How to Use Visual Audio Analyzers and Scopes (The Stereo Bus Blog)

3. How to Add a Subwoofer to Your Monitor System (The Stereo Bus Blog)

4. Thump and Bump: Balancing the Kick and the Bass (The Stereo Bus Blog)

5. EQ Crash Course (The Stereo Bus Blog)

There are still some materials, sent from vstCafe readers, waiting for public but if you know some more, good articles, tutorials, plugins - email me at greeg@inbox.com. It usually takes few days and you must know that I'm not publishing everything you'll send me :)
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FAW Circle Tutorials

Mo Volans, a regular contributor to EQ, Remix and Music Tech Magazine, presents a series of step by step tutorials for designing sounds with Future Audio Workshop Circle synthesizer.

Currently there are four tutorials available:



Circle Tutorial 1 - Creating a Classic Brass Sound

Circle Tutorial 2 - Creating an Electro Synth Bass Sound

Circle Tutorial 3 - Creating a Classic Synth Lead Sound

Circle Tutorial 4 - Creating a Noise Based Sweep Effect
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Audio Damage Fluid - chorus unit

Couple months ago I was wondering why most software chorus plugins sound similar to each other and actually rather poor. I couldn't find an answer and what's worse I couldn't find the plugin I like. I mean, come on chorus seems a simple thing to implement in software but for some reason most choruses are just terrible.

Presented chorus is finally the plugin I was looking for. It's ... Audio Damage Fluid. Some of you may not be surprised because Audio Damage plugins (effects only) have attained a cult status among users over recent years. Almost every plugin is reviewed very high by magazines such as Computer Music or Future Music. Also the pricing policy is worth mentioning - plugins (compared to quality and creativity they offer) are cheap and there are no problems with transfer license. I know it because I bought it "second handed" - who knows maybe that's why my Fluid sounds nice, and it has more analogue soul ;)

Fluid is an analog-modeled stereo chorus suited for subtle phasey widening as well as full-on modulation mayhem. Actually, it makes chorus a usable effect again. I can just insert Fluid on my, for example, pads channel and it'll give them nice, wide sound. Inserted on dull, motionless analogue synth channel, will give depth and richness. And I don't have to sit whole day tweaking it - presets are nice and the gui contains just five knobs.

While Fluid is simple outside, it's not inside. It took several design iterations followed by several tweaking iterations before developers accepted the effect. It's internal structure is not based on any existing design. Of course it has similarities to other chorus algorithms - especially analog chorus units and multi-effects DSP hardware ones but it has it's own tricks (as most Audio Damage plugins) too. Most vintage chorus processors used only two or three modulated delays - Fluid uses a network of five modulated delays and four fixed delays.

So why most chorus plugins sound just dull, lifeless and this one is totally opposite ?
I have a theory: lots of people don't know what a good chorus sounds like. Lots of plug-in users and plug-in makers have not heard really nice hardware chorus units. They have no point of reference. Hence plug-in makers build blah-sounding choruses based on the simple concept that you allude to. Just about every book on music related DSP will describe chorusing as a simple one-delay/one-LFO process, so many plug-in makers will code that up as their chorus plug-in, listen to it and figure that's what it's supposed to sound like, and leave it at that. End-users hear the result, go "bleah!" and move on to some more interesting-sounding plug-in.
Features:
- True stereo analog-modeled chorus effect
- Feedback control for extreme special effects
- Optimized for low CPU usage
- Full MIDI learn on every parameter for hardware control (VST version only)

ps. Mac version is also available. Unfortunately, there's no demo version (?)





PRICE: 29 $ (transfer license available)

More info: Audio Damage Fluid
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Jeremy Evers Atlantis - updated & skinned

On 2nd June, Jeremy has released heavily updated version of his Atlantis virtual synthesizer plugin. If you don't know what Atlantis is then click here. So what actually has changed ? Lots of new features, bugfixes and since now - fully skinnable ui. To be honest ui was the weakest part of this amazing synth but not anymore. Click the thumbnail - it's the custom skin created by Limeflavour.

What's so special about Atlantis ? It's probably the most complex free vst monstersynth (along with Green Oak Crystal) available. You can load your own single cycle waveforms into one of three oscillators. You can shape these waveforms in almost every possible way. Atlantis really reminds me commercial Audjoo Helix for example. There are 49 (!!!!) different filters, 7 signal flow chains, 6 distortion alghoritms, choruses, reverb, phasers - it's almost everything there.

Now, with the skinnable UI it's already up there - amazing stuff.

ps. skin installation info: Atlantis default user settings is Documents and Settings / User / My Document / Atlantis folder. You need to create there an additional folder called "skins" (you should end up with folders: bank, chips, presets and skins), and copy the unpacked Limeflavour Mimic Skin there.



Download: Atlantis 0.9m
Download Skin: Limeflavour the Mimic Skin
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Sander van Doorn Studio Session Videos

It's always nice to see how pros do actually create their productions. This time it's Sander van Doorn and his Logic Pro Audio Workstation. The video (three parts) lasts about 30 minutes and is available in HQ:

1. First part covers creating drum and bassline

2. Second part is about melody - Sander uses Rob Papen Predator vst Instrument, Spectrasonics Omnisphere

3. Third part is about the basics of compression, limiting - standard Logic Audio plugins are used as well as third party (UAD Neve). Also there's small presentation of Sander's stuff. We have there Waldorf Blofeld, Dave Smith Evolver, Moog Voyager etc.








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Audioxygen Gemini

Few days ago, one the VST Cafe users sent me an email with some recommended plugins. I decided to test them and the result is this post :)
It took 2 years of research and development to release Audioxygen Gemini virtual synthesizer plugin. According to official website, this synth "combines a huge fat analogue sound with unique step sequencers and radical distortion. It excels in Raging Techno baselines, Psy/Goa FX, Hardstyle screams, Shimmering pads, Massive Trance leads and much more".

What do I think ? I admit, I was a bit sceptical. On the paper Gemini doesn't look great - 2 Oscillators, 2 Filters, Delay, Reverb and LFOs. The new features are dual step sequencers working in add / multiply modes. But if you spend a while and listen to the demos, you'll quickly realise that Gemini produces quite unique sound. I believe that's because of somehow processed (distorted quite heavily ?) oscillator waveforms. The dual sequencers can modulate each other - that's pretty neat idea. Also two filters with pretty much unique Resonance and Distortion are doing good job.

Full version offers 180 presets aimed at all kind of electronica genres (techno, industrial, hardstyle, goa etc.)

Is it worth ? One thing I was worrying about is CPU usage. Synthmaker plugins are known to be rather high CPU consuming. So, is it high ? I think it's acceptable :)

Well, check the demo which is fully functional (and no installing - just simple dll file) with randomly played noise sound and listen to the mp3 previews (there are plenty of them at Audioxygen website) - below few presets (no additional processing):



and nice video with most features introduced:



PRICE: 19 EUR / 25 $ / 17 pounds

More info: Audioxygen Gemini
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Useful articles

There's never enough articles, advices about music production so here's another part of interesting articles :)

- Smart Mixing Setup for Ableton (Dj Tech Tools)

- How can I create a better stereo image? (Sound On Sound)

- I am deaf in one ear; can I mix with monaural hearing? (Sound On Sound)

- What’s the best order for mixing? (Sound On Sound)

- Does mono compatibility still matter? (Sound On Sound)

- Decibels Demystified, Part 1 (Emusician)
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How to make... Tutorials

In my opinion, during last few months Music Radar has improved a lot. I like their latest idea of presenting "How to make..." tutorials similar to those printed in Computer Music magazine.
How to make a Justice-style bass sound is step by step tutorial about creating Justice's bass which can be heard throughout their debut album "Cross". Independence Free Sampler used.

How to make a big house piano sound - Korg's M1 is frequently cited as the instrument that gave birth to the house piano sound. However, the chances are that you don't own this classic late-'80s synth, so Music Radar is going to show you how to create an authentic house piano using software.
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Maestro Concert Grand Giga Bank

The Maestro Concert Grand is a sampled reproduction of a Yamaha CF-3 grand piano from the early 90s. It was chromatically sampled, to maintain the tempered tuning.
Maestro Concert Grand is in GigaStudio format (*.gig) - Halion, Kontakt and other samplers can handle it. The 895 mb (337 mb compressed) Giga file contains contains 452 stereo samples (recorded with a pair of Neumann KM84 microphones). The samples are sorted in 5 velocity layers, of which velocity 0-30 are piano, 30-59 are mezzo piano, 60-89 are mezzo forte, 90-108 are forte and 109-127 fortissimo.

Originally created in 2003 by Mats Helgesson is avaialable to download from Soni Musicae website. Definitely it's one of the best free piano sound bank available.



Download: Mats Helgesson's the Maestro Concert Grand
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Image-Line Autogun VSTi

VST Cafe seems finally up so it's time for some music action ;) About a month ago, Image-Line has released their newest synth called Autogun. Autogun is freeware and it shares the same additive synthesis engine as commercial Image-Line Ogun plugin. Autogun offers 4294967296 (over four billion :D) presets with very nice acoustic and overall, realistic metallic timbres. Of course it's not possible to check all presets because, according to IL math, it would take you 134 years ;)

That's why every Autogun has it's own, unique preset start number, so that each member of the team is assigned a personal starting address, ready to explore. However, you can at any time, jump to a new location in the preset-space by simply entering a preset number. Once a prized sound is discovered, and it's preset number logged, you can share it with outher Autogun users or even import it's bigger brother - Ogun.

Autogun is very nice plugin, mostly suited for hmm preset whores ;) No synth programming skills are required, there are almost no knobs, just presets, presets, presets :)

But there are downsides too. Autogun seems buggy - it's very unstable especially on Sample Rates bigger than 44.1 kHz. Also it's better to stop playing when switching presets. But that's not the end - due to long releases, reverbs etc. CPU can be pretty heavily loaded. Luckily there's processing quality option (5 modes) which sets the interpolation but to be honest I use just two: draft and average.

So, as you can see it's not perfect but overall I like the concept a lot. I like the idea of sharing presets, finding them somewhere, every user starts with different presets - it may be hmm funny :)



Download: Image-Line Autogun
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