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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

Mr. Soundman – Free Ear Training Game

Mr. Soundman is a bit like an arcade game with an intuitive GUI, and rapidly increasing difficulty. You start the game with three lives. Mr. Soundman will play an audio source with a noticeable boost somewhere across the frequency range. Your mission is to identify the boosted frequency. The closer you are to the boosted frequency the more points you gain.
While Mr. Soundman is free, there is also premium version which costs 29 EUR. Almost forgot – the application is standalone, PC only.

Download: Mr. Soundman – Ear Training Game

SaviHost – free, handy VST Host

Few days ago I read some forums and some guy had a problem: his wife wanted to learn to play the piano (on midi usb keyboard). Sure, normally you can just open your DAW, pick some VST Instrument via DAW Browser and play 🙂 But what if your wife is not an IT expert (or even beginner 😉 ) ?
Well, SAVIHost is your friend. It’s a VST Host program, with all the basic stuff required (as well as some nice features, ie. ASIO support) and one feature that is perfect – it automatically loads “selected VST” on start so all your wife / girlfriend / cat 😉 needs to do is to just double click .exe file (or better some icon) and actually play, without any problems. All you need to do is to rename SaviHost.exe to the name of the plugin’s dll name. If, for example, the Plugin is called blabla.dll, savihost.exe has to be renamed to blabla.exe and it will automatically load blabla.dll on start.

ps. Of course, another option is to use some standalone (mostly commercial) plugins.

Download: SAVIHost

The Akaizer Project

Akaizer is a freeware application for Windows / Mac OS X / Linux which can time stretch and/or pitch shift any WAVE or AIFF sound file in the style of the ‘cyclic’ time stretch, which featured on old Akai sound samplers, like the S950 / S1000 / S2000 / S3000 series.

This is ideal for DAW-based music producers who want that classic metallic-sounding effect, as used in many old school Hardcore / Jungle / Speed Garage tunes from the 1990s, without the need for an actual Akai sampler.

Hmm sounds nice for Akai samplers lovers 🙂

Download: The Akaizer Project

MilkyTracker music application

With mobile gaming industry growing so fast, there is, sometimes, a requirement to compose some catchy, oldschool, 16bit-computers soundtracks. How to achieve such task or at least find some inspiration ? Well, the easiest way is to go back to the 90s, to the Amiga Demo scene / gaming industry which produced hundreds, thousands of great soundtracks.

Amiga Scene Demo: 9 Fingers (Spaceballs, 1993)

Amiga Game Music Compilation

I guess it’s worth mentioning that Amiga scene didn’t have Ableton Live or Logic Audio 😉 The most common music sequencers were so called trackers which offered completely different workflow.

A tracker’s musical interface is traditionally numeric: both notes and parameter changes, effects and other commands are entered with the keyboard into a grid of fixed time slots as codes consisting of letters, numbers and hexadecimal digits. Separate patterns have independent timelines; a complete song consists of a master list of repeated and concatenated patterns. [wikipedia]

Sounds oldschool ? Yea, but combine:
– unique Trackers workflow
– audio chip limitations : Amiga audio chip – Paula, had 4 independent hardware-mixed 8-bit PCM sound channels and sample rates from roughly 20 Hz to almost 29 kHz
– architecture limitations : sound was created pretty much from very short waveforms (similar to single cycle waveforms) looped, hard panned left or right (there was no really stereo) + short sampled stuff (computer memory limitations)
and you’ll quickly achieve that oldchool, 16-bit computers era vibe 🙂

MilkyTracker (yea, I admit, it’s an excuse to write about Amiga music 🙂 ) is an open source, multi-platform music application which recreates the workflow of old Amiga music platforms (ie. Pro Tracker). It also attempts to recreate the module replay and user experience of the popular DOS tracker program – Fasttracker II.

Is there anything usable for non 16-bit era freaks ? 😉

Actually there is. MilkyTracker sampler offers quick way to create your custom single cycle waveforms. All you need is to click new, pick the size of the sample (256, 512 etc.) and you can generate common waveforms but also draw your own (and hear the changes in real time !), smooth them and of course save as wav. It’s a really quick way to create new waveforms for VST Instruments that can load custom waveforms (ie. Toxic Biohazard, Jeremy Evers Atlantis and tons of others)

Download: www.milkytracker.org

Asio4All – Universal ASIO Driver

I remember that 7-8 years ago, I had Sound Blaster Live soundcard. The main problem was latency because SB Live didn’t support ASIO protocol (specified by Steinberg). Of course, the best choice would be to buy better Audio Interface but I didn’t have enough errr resources 🙂

Luckily there were (and are 🙂 ) amazing drivers available called – ASIO4ALL (Universal ASIO Driver). Performance (much lower latency) boost is really great so if you use an old sound card or you’re on laptop (without some external USB Audio Interface) then Asio4All is a real saver.

Download: ASIO4ALL – Universal ASIO Driver

Presets Manager – Big Tick Zen

Navigating through the hundreds of presets can be a painful experience … 😉 Of course, there are some plugins with great preset browser implemented, where you can describe preset using tags, or even add some text but mosty it’s just a typical FXB bank with tons of presets. My workaround is time consuming 😉 I just scroll through every preset, then save the preset I like and then create “favourite sounds” soundbank. Usually takes about a day but it really pays off.

But there is another option. Big Tick Zen. It’s a free presets manager vst plugin which works similar to ie. NI FM8 preset browser. This means that each preset can be described by the tag (you can create your own tags) and then you can simply search for ie. “Favourites” tag.

The main difference (compared to ie. NI FM8 preset browser) is that Big Tick Zen supports around 50 vst synths, both free (ie. Synth1) and commercial (ie. Sylenth, ACE, Zebra, Toxic). How does it work ?

It acts as a loader for other vstis. So with Zen, you can search for Rhodes piano and get a list of all matching presets regardless of the final vsti (Rhino, Zebra, Absynth whatever). When you select one of the presets in Zen, the corresponding vsti is automatically loaded to play the requested preset.

So, you just load preset and you “don’t care” if this preset comes from Zebra or Synth1. All you care is that you’re searching for “Rhodes Piano” and you don’t want “Mono” for example. Sounds simple but actually there’s much more behind it. You can ie. find some more presets online (or share) but overall don’t expect to master this plugin in 15 minutes. Read the manual, FAQ. It takes a little bit of time to understand the whole concept but still it’s much quicker than browsing through the hundreds of weird named patches 😉

Download: Big Tick Zen

Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch

Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch is a small but neat tool which can transform any music (ogg and mp3 format) into looong textures, atmospheres, ambient pads etc. It produces high quality extreme sound stretching of the audio (like 50x) and applies special effects by “spectral smoothing” the sound. If you want “less extreme” time stretching – use other programs.

It really works nicely for some genres, ie. stretching classical music (an author even found some small errors on choirs 😉 ).

Download: Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch

ps. Ondrej – thanks for this tip 🙂

Sonic Assault Rndwave! – Wave Shape Generator

There are at least few wavetable virtual synths available with an option to load custom (single cycle) waveforms – Cakewalk Z3ta+, free Jeremy Evers Atlantis, FAW Circle, Audjoo Helix etc. Some products have nice waveforms factory library included but what about expanding it ? You can choose the commercial way and check, ie. Galbanum products or free way, which means using, ie. Sonic Assault RndWave!.
It’s a free, vst random waveshape generator. It’s very easy to use and actually very handy. Just click the button and new randomly generated waveform will show 🙂 Then just record it and you have your wav file ready. There’s a preview (sound) option, there’s auto generation option (it generates new waveform every few seconds), there are some configuration options available (mono/stereo, 16-bit, 24-bit etc.). Neat tool 🙂

Download: Sonic Assault Rndwave!

sfZed – SFZ format editor

sfZed is a free visual editor dedicated to SFZ files 1.0 specification. The editor works with audio samples to map them to the keyboard, and shape them to create the sound you want. It can also convert SoundFont (SF2) format to SFZ, giving you the opportunity to change some settings, do some fixes etc. Sfz format contains over 200 settings like velocity sensitivity, loops, reverb, EQ and controller settings to create the sound you want for your music.

Overall, if you have a Sampler plugin which supports SFZ format (ie. discoDSP HighLife, WusikStation etc.) but at the same time you have some old soundfont (SF2) files you would like to use then sfZed may be a very helpful tool…

Download: sfZed

Wavosaur – Free Audio Editor

Wavosaur is a free sound editor, audio editor, wav editor for editing, processing and recording sounds wav and mp3 files (and some other too). Wavosaur has all the features to edit audio (cut, copy, paste, etc.) produce music loops, analyze, record, batch convert. Wavosaur supports ASIO driver, multichannel wav files, real time effect processing. The program has no installer and doesn’t write in the registry. Use it as a free mp3 editor, for mastering, sound design. The Wavosaur freeware audio editor works on Windows 98, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Honestly, I like it a lot. I’m actually stunned how did they manage to put all of this (it’s not an application with just 2-3 options) into 0,5 mb application ?!! It’s very lightweight but also very powerful. There’s (at least) one thing I love. It’s VST Rack. You can use any VST plug-in (ie. EQ, Chorus – just everything) you want to modify the sound of your wav / mp3 file. You can use VST Instruments too.

For a long time I used an old Cool Edit Pro application (for some reason I like it much more than ie. Sound Forge or some newer audio editing tools) but few days ago I realised that I just use Wavosaur more and more because it’s such a nice app …

Download: http://www.wavosaur.com