Fruitymasterz released Hercules V2, a freeware virtual analog synthesizer in VST2 and VST3 plugin formats for digital audio workstations on Windows. Hercules V2 is an improved version of Fruitymasterz’s previously released Hercules virtual synth. The new instrument features an improved sound engine, an FX section, improved modulation capabilities, and several bug fixes. Feature-wise, Hercules V2 […]
RDG Audio offers Stage, a freeware gain staging and stereo enhancing plugin in VST3 and AU formats for macOS and Windows. Stage is available via the RDG Audio website in AU and VST3 formats. Downloading is free, but there is an option to make a donation is feel so inclined. It’s a simple but effective […]
As DSP wizards’ primary concern has become the painstaking modeling of decades-old analog equipment, it’s easy to forget the greatness of digital processors. Digital is an endless playground for ideas where the only constraints are imagination, math skills, and computing power. In today’s quasi-hipster realm of “analog warmth” unabashedly digital plug-ins have become somewhat of a novelty. I don’t know about you, but my brain likes novelty. And distortion. Heaps of it. Luckily, Minimal Audio’s Rift distortion plug-in is exemplary in both.
Trash to treasure
Released in 2012 (which makes it ancient in plug-in years), iZotope’s Trash 2 is still something of a gold standard in sophisticated distortion plug-ins. It has seemingly all the gritty analog and geeky digital nuances of the stuff combined into a tweaker’s paradise. While FabFilter’s Saturn 2 comes close, I couldn’t really think of an immediate successor to it, and it’s been close to a decade. Then Rift dropped and, a few minutes in, I already think iZotope can pass the torch to the Minimal guys. Rift expertly takes the “distortion lab in your DAW” concept to 2021. It feels “cutting-edge” like few plug-ins have in years past.
Rift’s core identity is bipolar processing, a method for distorting and manipulating the positive (upper) and negative (lower) halves of a waveform separately. The two are then mixed in different ways and modulated into a life of their own. Bipolar processing is not a new and groundbreaking approach, but it’s exceedingly rare. You will find splitting waveforms like this in a handful of plug-ins, such as Fruity Waveshaper, and possibly some Eurorack modules. As the first distortion plug-in designed around this largely unexplored concept, Rift is bound to sound fresh and different. Then, the robust modulation options (which include MIDI keyboard input) and esoteric options like tuning the filter cutoff frequency to musical notes practically turn Rift into a distortion synthesizer, of sorts. As far as I’m concerned, the envelope-pushing thinking behind Rift is only rivaled by Glitchmachines.
Styled in a sanitary blue and gray scheme slightly reminiscent of Trash 2, Rift 2 features two main views: Play and Advanced. Play View contains the essential controls for dialing in the core sound. Advanced View is where you put on your lab coat and overshoes to enter the reactor control room. You can access the same features in both views, it’s just that Advanced has all the cryptic parameters to explore. Dividing complex plug-ins into separate views like this is something developers should do more often – it makes everyone happy.
Six ways from Sunday
Rift is beaming audio through six sections, arranged near an oscilloscope-like analyzer. The latter pulls double duty, visualizing either the output signal and distortion scope (how the positive and negative waveform halves interact), or the filter’s frequency response (while in Play View). You can’t re-arrange the sections, but you can bypass them individually, and the filter has a Pre/Post switch for basic routing experiments.
The processing chain begins with Distortion, where you can chose from 30 distortion algorithms for the positive and negative waveform halves. There are 5 distortion types – waveshaping, wavefolding, noise, bit depth reduction and sample rate reduction. You can select the number of distortion stages – more stages equals more sauce at a greater CPU expense. You can also control the blend between waveforms + and -, with two modes – Hard (brighter, more defined) and Smooth (warmer, less defined). The Drive, Drive Boost, Trim, and Output controls (in Advanced View) enable immediate distortion shaping. You can also engage an output limiter with soft clipping. Additionally, the distortion engine can operate in Stereo, Wide Stereo (inverts the right channel bipolar processing), Mid/Side, Mid, and Side.
Next up is the Feedback section where you can tap into stereo and ping-pong delays, distorted feedback, chorus and flanger-like modulation, resonators, and even frequency/note-tuned feedback. Indeed, the feedback rate can be set in notes (MIDI input or specific notes), Hz (for comb filtering effects), milliseconds, and BPM-synced note divisions. Using the Pitch Snap tool, you can quantize the Frequency parameter to notes and scales. This way, you can play and modulate melodies that sound like nothing else. The feedback is further shaped by Amount, Distort, and Spread parameters. There are also HP/LP filters and a Mix slider.
The Filter section is evolved to the point of existing as a separate plug-in – Rift Filter Lite – which you can grab for free for a limited time. For starters, it features 4 filter types: Basic, Morph, Peaking, and Harmonic. Then, the Cutoff parameter can be assigned to track MIDI input, quantized to notes and scales, or worked into standard frequency cutoff. It’s accompanied by Resonance, Morph, and Filter Spread parameters.
The Modulation section is deep, to say the least. First off, modulators work on all of Rift’s knobs and sliders. Since that’s a lot of potential modulation targets to ponder for a first timer, the plug-in offers five randomization options – audio effects, distortion, feedback, filter, and modulators. You can start with these and tweak from there. The available modulators are Macro 1 and 2, Follow, LFO, Curve 1 and 2. They can function as Primary and Depth modulators for each knob and slider. The primary modulator directly affects the parameter and the depth modulator controls how hard the primary modulator is working. Additionally, modulation can be set to bipolar or unipolar which changes its range accordingly.
As for the modulators themselves, the two Macro knobs can be mapped to any knob or slider, including several of those at once, then modulated separately. Follow is an envelope follower which follows the input signal and offers Attack, Release, and Gain controls with optional BPM sync for the first two. The LFO has Rate, Sync Rate, Shape, and Shape Snap controls. When the latter is disabled, the shapes can be continously morphed. There is also a shape randomizer and the LFO can be triggered by MIDI input. The Curve modulators are all about shapes – be it presets or ones you create yourself in the exhaustingly detailed Curve View editor.
Rift’s Curve View caters to your inner expressionist.
If you like creative distortion, Rift is a must-have. It’s the most innovative release the category has seen in years. It will either complement your existing distortions or replace them completely. Rift offers advanced sound design tools yet maintains a producer-friendly workflow. One wouldn’t expect to hear such DSP insanity from a plug-in looking this crisp and clean, but Minimal Audio obviously intends to exceed expectations. At USD 129 (USD 75 with the early adopter discount), Rift costs about as much as it should. There is no demo to convince you, but Minimal has a 30-day refund policy, no questions asked. You can also have Rift’s entire Filter section as a plug-in free, for a limited time. This may help you get a feel for it. Rift is available in 64-bit VST, AU, and AAX formats for computers running macOS 10.9 or later and Windows 10 or later.
Relab Development is making a long-overdue move happen by making its excellent emulation of the Lexicon L480 digital reverb available on a budget. Where the LX480 Complete plug-in alone costs a steep USD 349, the new LX480 Essentials offers a taste of what makes the former great for USD 99. At a USD 35 introductory price, LX480 Essentials is an okay proposition. It lets you dial in a great-sounding reverb fairly quickly.
Relab LX480 Essentials
The Essentials plug-in homes in on four signature algorithms from the original Lexicon unit and supplements them with presets by professional producers. The algorithms in question are Fat Plate, Small Ambience, Medium Hall and Large Wood Room.
The Fat Plate algorithm conjures bright, colored metal plate reverbs that sound best on vocals and percussion. Medium Hall is a smooth and even hall reverb that’s more or less traditional-sounding. Small Ambience is good at adding what’s missing to dry-sounding tracks. Large Wood Room is useful at creating a sense of space and depth that’s more subtle than a hall or chamber.
The reverb effect is controlled from four sliders that adjust the reverb time, pre-delay, low filter, high filter, and wet/dry mix. You also get input and output signal meters.
Relab LX480 Essentials GUI
Price and availability
Relab LX480 Essentials is being sold for USD 35, down from USD 99. The plug-in is available in VST, AU, and AAX 64-bit formats for computers running Windows 7 or later and macOS 10.9 or later. The introductory offer is limited to one license per customer. The plug-in requires an iLok account (free) or USB dongle (paid) for authorization.
This week’s collection of free plug-ins features a bit crusher based on the Sega Genesis, a very useful stereo enhancer and an 808-style bass ROMpler for powerful, rumbling basses. Here’s PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit, Stage and 808 Bass Module 4 Lite.
Can’t get enough of great free plug-ins? Check out our huge archive!
Inphonik PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit
This unique plug-in was released back in February by the folks who brought us the awesome RX950. And once again, they set out to recreate the sound of an iconic piece of digital hardware. PCM2612 was pulled from their RYM2612 synth and emulates the 8-bit PCM channel of the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive sound chip. It offers scalable 8-bit decimation, a stereo/mono switch, a dry/wet knob and two types of output filtering. Get ready for some serious retro digital vibes!
There are many ways to enjoy PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit. It’s available for macOS, Windows and Linux in VST, AU and AAX formats, for iPad and iPhone (AUv3/IAA) and even as a Rack Extension for Reason. Not bad at all for a free plug-in!
Stage by RDGAudio is a free gain staging and stereo enhancer plug-in. It offers several modes (narrow, mono, normal, stereo, wide, wider, super wide) for controlling the stereo width of your signal. The plug-in also offers volume and pan controls that help to place signals in the desired locations on the sound stage. There are factory presets for various applications and you can also save your own. A very useful mixing tool, and it’s completely free.
Stage is available for macOS and Windows in AU and VST3 formats.
Need some booming 808-style basses for your electronic music productions? This ROMpler by Electronik Sound Lab could be what you’re looking for. 808 Bass Module 4 Lite comes with 15 ready-to-use presets. You can tweak the sound using an ADSR envelope, filter and distortion. There’s also an LFO for modulation and a glide control. And if you’re craving even more bass, the full version with 318 presets and a 1 GB library is currently on sale for just €15.
808 Bass Module 4 Lite is available for macOS and Windows in AU, VST and VST3 formats.
UK guitar brand Manson Guitars has just unveiled its MA 10th Anniversary Editions. And an eye-catching set of instruments they are, too. Based on the MA EVO body shape made from swamp ash, each of these ten unique guitars features a one-off combination of specifications and colours.
Manson Guitars MA 10th Anniversary Editions
To celebrate 10 years of its MA model, Manson Guitars asked ten of its top dealers to help create the MA 10th Anniversary Editions. Each guitar was hand-selected, glued and shaped in-house by head luthier Tim Stark; one of Manson’s dealers was given free rein to spec the guitar any way they wanted. The result is a diverse range of instruments with all kinds of colours, and features. Manson Guitar Works CEO Adrian Ashton says:
“We’re excited to build these special instruments reflecting this 10 year milestone. It shows the versatility of the MA platform and I’ve enjoyed having direction from our dealer network as to what finishes and elements their customers would like to see.”
Manson Guitars MA 10th Anniversary Editions
Manson Guitars MA 10th Anniversary Editions
Manson Guitars MA 10th Anniversary Editions
The basic specification of the MA model consists of a Sustainiac Sustainer system, T.O.M. bridge and a twin humbucker layout. Some dealers added custom circuits such as the Z-Vex Fuzz Factory whilst others favoured wild finishes such as Purple Nebula, Night Sky Metallic or Gloss Silver Flake. The necks include roasted woods, flame maple and a combination of ebony and rosewood fingerboards.
Manson Guitars MA 10th Anniversary Editions
Celebrating 10 Years
Unsurprisingly, these models show the influence of Muse’s Matt Bellamy, who now owns part of Mansons Guitar Works. I can’t imagine that any of these models will remain unsold for very long – I think they’re all so insanely cool and the colours are great. The MA models already built a substantial following and these look highly desirable with collectors and fans alike.
ASIO4ALL version 2.15 (Beta2) brings a welcome refresh to this vital utility and updated support for those pesky Windows 10 Intel SST audio drivers.
In the first major update since Windows 10 support was added in 2015, Michael Tippach has released a new version of ASIO4ALL. While the changes are not huge it’s got it where it counts and as a regular ASIO4ALL user this update has made my day.
ASIO4ALL is one of the most useful music technology utilities for Windows-based music makers. It takes the built-in multimedia audio engine of laptops and desktops and transforms it into a low-latency music production system that will run as an ASIO driver in professional music software. Michael wrote the driver in 2003 in order to get his laptop AC97 audio to run within ASIO based software.
The reality of the in-built audio on Windows computers is that they are designed for movie playback, games and music and to ensure smooth playback across the thousands of PC variations it works within a large buffer. This buffer results in a ridiculous amount of latency when trying to run real-time audio software. While most music software supports the Windows audio drivers the latency makes monitoring impossible and virtual instruments unplayable. ASIO4ALL sorts all of that out by wrapping the Windows driver in an ASIO4ALL driver and neatly bypasses the buffer. The result is that your laptop or desktop becomes capable of being a playable and workable music-making machine.
Alternatively, of course, you should buy a USB audio interface that has proper ASIO drivers. But this is not about that, this is about dealing with and enabled the audio system that comes with the computer.
ASIO4ALL is not perfect. In some ways, it’s a hack to work around the limitations of other people’s drivers. It’s not always stable, the interface can be a bit baffling and you can only go so far with the latency. However, it’s completely enabled computers to become studios in the bedrooms of many a penniless musician.
What’s important about the new version for me is the better support for Intel SST (Smart Sound Technology) drivers. It’s the audio system found in most modern laptops and hybrids like the Microsoft Surface Pro. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the Surface Pro and music production and getting your head around the settings within the previous version of ASIO4ALL was challenging to say the least. There’s a lot of trial and error and blue screens to contend with while trying to get the right combination of settings to get low latency audio in and out of the machine.
The new version is a dream in comparison. Rather than having to contend with various sample rates, different options and multiple entries for the same thing there’s just one option – and it works.
My Surface Pro has two audio drivers, one for the speakers and one for the headphones. The previous version of ASIO4ALL would not let you run both at the same time without crackles and distortion and so you could only enable one. If you then plugged in some headphones you’d have to go back into the control panel and activate/deactivate the relevant drivers. Now you can select both drivers and see them as 4 channels in your music software. I can’t quite express how fantastic that is!
The look is slightly different, it now supports higher resolution screens and it’s all a bit tidier. But otherwise, it all seems very familiar. There are loads of other bug fixes, rewrites and improvements that you can read about on the website.
The audio stack in Windows has been greatly improved since 2003 with the WASAPI protocol and is now capable of realtime audio latency with the right combination of software and hardware. However, I’ve found repeatedly that ASIO4ALL beats the latency and performance of Windows Audio in almost all applications. Microsoft continues to work at it and a new API called AudioGraph has the potential to move things along in terms of Windows 10 native audio systems. So maybe the days of ASIO4ALL are numbered but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
ASIO4ALL is a free download from Michael’s revamped and advertising heavy website. ASIO4ALL has always been free to use and has helped so many people over the past decades that I certainly don’t resent him making a few dollars from adverts. Michael, thank you for the work you’ve done and how you’ve enabled so many musicians over the years.
Ableton is making the best out of the pandemic situation by spinning off its yearly Loop event into a new online event called Loop Create. Taking place on June 26 and 27 2021, Loop Create will be about celebrating and learning about music. The schedule offers a line-up of musicians, artists, technologists, and intermediaries from the audio and music sector. Ableton would like to bring these people together on these two days and connect viewers with creators. A very nice goal, and admission is free.
Loop Create is the further development of the well-known musical event Loop, hosted by the hardware and software company Ableton. The event has the motto Creativity and Community. As online content such as live streaming, video casting, and podcasting has become ubiquitous, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ableton is taking advantage to recreate some of Loop’s magic virtually.
Loop Create will connect interested viewers with the acts on the virtual stages of the multimedia show. It will show how musicians make music (workshops), perform live, and share insights from the music scene in question and answer sessions in which the community can participate (likely via chat). Ableton promises a large and diverse lineup of people that will do the pre-pandemic Loop events justice.
Ableton Loop Create will take place as an online event on June 26th and 27th, 2021. You can register for the event online from 26 May, 2021. Participation is free of charge. You can also sign up for a newsletter on the Loop Blog website to stay informed. Ableton says Loop Create is the beginning of a period of experimentation for Loop as the experience from previous years is reshaped and developed into new events. It will be interesting to see the experiments unfold.
We are thrilled to offer the OneKnob Wetter ($49 value) plugin by Waves Audio as a FREE download for all Bedroom Producers Blog readers from May 28th until June 3rd, 2021. The free licenses will be delivered on June 5th, 2021. Here’s a huge THANK YOU to all BPB readers (you are the best! ❤️) […]
Software and hardware powerhouse Eventide has lowered the prices of its H9 plug-ins for a limited time. The discounts reach at up to 67 percent off the regular price! Included in the sale are the Eventide Blackhole, UltraTap, Spring, CrushStation, MicroPitch, Rotary Mod, Crystals, TriceraChorus plug-ins and the complete H9 bundle with all of these effects. These are tempting offers for some very high quality effects!
Eventide H9 plug-ins temporarily reduced in price
All of the H9 plug-ins that originate from Eventide’s popular H9 effects pedal are on sale for EUR 39 each. You will find all sorts of effects suitable for audio and instrument tracks. In addition to the Blackhole reverb, you can also save on these tools: UltraTap, Spring, CrushStation, MicroPitch, Rotary Mod, Crystals and TriceraChorus. All the effects can be tested beforehand as demos.
Price and availability
The individual Eventide H9 plug-ins are currently available here at Thomann.de (affiliate link) for EUR 39, down from EUR 117.81.
The H9 plug-in series bundle is available here at Thomann.de (affiliate link) for EUR 299, down from EUR 593.81.
The campaign runs until June 6, 2021. The plug-ins work under macOS 10.7 or later and Windows 7 or later in VST, AAX and AU32 or 64-bit formats. You need a free iLok account (or paid USB dongle) for authorization. You can download demo versions and PDF user manuals from the Eventide website.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.