Plugin Alliance has released Tantra 2 by DS Audio. The plug-in lets you go wild with sequenced multi-effects in two layers. Turn any audio track into something completely different with this fireworks display of rhythmic effects.
DS Audio Tantra 2
The concept behind Tantra 2 isn’t completely new or unique. If you like to chop up your audio tracks using sequenced effects, you’ve now got a choice of many interesting plug-ins like Infiltrator, Shaperbox, or Lunatic, which came out just a couple of weeks ago. But Tantra 2, which is distributed under the Plugin Alliance umbrella, offers a twist: Everything you see is available in two layers.
The effects section offers six effects: filter, distortion, delay, lo-fi, flanger, and glitch. These can be adjusted separately for the A and B layers. Each layer offers its own set of stereo inputs and outputs. This means that you can use the layers in parallel or in a series and effectively mix two separate effects chains, which opens up many creative possibilities.
Everything is controlled by the Modulator section. There are eight modulators, which can be programmed in a 32-step sequencer. By modulating the parameters of the various effects, this allows you to create complex patterns that range from subtle motion to all-out destruction.
The master section offers separate level and pan controls for the two layers, as well as global reverb, equalizer and exciter effects.
If you like to fire rhythmic salvos of effects at your audio material, Tantra 2 puts a well-stocked arsenal at your fingertips. It’s not like DS Audio has reinvented the wheel, but if you like sequenced effects, be sure to add this one to your list.
Price and compatibility
Subscribers to the Plugin Alliance MEGA Bundle can now enjoy early access to DS Audio Tantra 2. The plug-in will officially come out and become publicly available on October 5, 2021.
Tantra 2 runs on macOS 10.9 through 11.0.1 and Windows 7 or higher in VST, VST3, AAX, AAX DSP and AU formats.
From Full Bucket Music comes a software emulation of a pair of Korg’s 1980s digital synthesizers, the DW-6000 and DW-8000. FB-7999 is just one digit away from nailing it.
The Korg DW-6000 and DW-8000 used the Digital Waveform Generator System (DWGS) as the basis of their sound generation. It consisted of 16 single-cycle digital waveforms that were played back via the two digital oscillators. These are then routed through an analogue filter and VCA before hitting some digital effects. Of course, the patch editing was a nightmare because this was a time when we believed editing on digit displays with data sliders and buttons was really very cool.
FB-7999 takes all that on by sampling a couple of these synthesizers to death and fleshing out the editing. Full Bucket Music has expanded the waveform palette by adding another 16 waveforms and pushed the polyphony up to 64 voices. The poly and unison modes are still there along with the digital delay. You’ll not find the arpeggiator from the DW-8000 and the filter emulation is not exactly on the money but it sounds really good.
Björn Arlt of Full Bucket Music goes into some detail about the emulation and how it compares to the hardware in the manual. He admits it’s not perfect but feels it’s close enough for him to give it the name 7999. He also mentions how he wanted to keep a bit of the 1980s in the interface which is why you still have to contend with data sliders and 2-digit displays but you can access each parameter much more easily.
Check out the demo video below to see what you think.
FB-7999 is available for macOS and Windows free of charge although donations are always appreciated.
Arturia has announced the MiniFuse series of audio interfaces. Designed as a more affordable alternative to the company’s AudioFuse series, the new MiniFuse 1, MiniFuse 2 and MiniFuse 4 offer USB-C connectivity and versatile features for recording, podcasting, and more.
Arturia MiniFuse audio interfaces
All three new Arturia MiniFuse interfaces are available in black or white. They all offer a USB-C connection and are compatible with macOS and Windows. The free Control Centre app provides access to all settings and firmware updates.
The interfaces run on USB-C bus power. The MiniFuse 4 also offers a connection for an optional DC power supply. Arturia is known for providing a USB hub on its interfaces, and the new MiniFuse series are no exception. The MiniFuse 1 and 2 each have one USB-A port for connecting MIDI controllers or other devices, while the MiniFuse 4 offers two.
Another feature is especially useful for podcasting and streaming: All three MiniFuse interfaces offer a virtual loopback channel, which is great for recording phone calls or gaming audio, for example.
Now, lets talk about the differences, which lie mainly in the input/output configuration. The MiniFuse 1 offers a single XLR-1/4” combo jack for microphone, instrument or line signals. The MiniFuse 2 has two of these, while the MiniFuse 2 offers two 1/4” line inputs in addition to two XLR-1/4” combo jacks. All MiniFuse interfaces offer phantom power for powering your condenser microphones.
The MiniFuse 1 and MiniFuse 2 each offer two line outputs, while the MiniFuse 4 has four. The top-of-the-line interface also adds a second headphone output, while the two entry-level models only offer one.
The MiniFuse 1 doesn’t offer MIDI. The MiniFuse 2 and MiniFuse 4 each offer MIDI In/Out on traditional 5-pin DIN connectors.
Prices and availability
The Arturia MiniFuse 1 and MiniFuse 2 will be available soon for €99 and €149, respectively. The manufacturer says that the MiniFuse 4 will be released early next year. Its price hasn’t been announced yet.
The new Blacksun amp sim plug-in from Audio Assault is a versatile two-channel amp model with a special”mode” control that lets you change the tone of the amp. And until 1 December 2021, you can download a free copy for your favourite DAW.
Audio Assault Blacksun
The Audio Assault Blacksun will no doubt look familiar to many guitarists, as it bears close resemblance to a well-known UK-designed twin-channel amp head. The mode control allows you to voice the amp from a British to a more American style eq. This dual-channel amp is capable of delivering clean and high-gain guitar tones, so it would be a nice addition to any DAW plug-in collection.
Audio Assault Blacksun
Controls and Stompboxes
You have a 3-band EQ, a presence control, and a depth knob, plus master volume and input gain controls.The company has included three free stompbox sims to get you started, including a noise gate, a booster pedal, and the green Screamer drive pedal.
Audio Assault Blacksun stompboxes
There is also a really handy FX section included where you will find some useful rack effects. These include reverb, delay, chorus, as well as a 9-band graphic EQ for sculpting your overall tone.
Audio Assault FX Section
Last but not least, Blacksun features a dual cabinet loader. You can load your own IRs or use the set of free impulse responses provided by Seacow Cabs. To fine-tune the cabs, you get controls for panning, filters, and volume.
Blacksun Dual Cab Loader
Formats and Pricing
The Audio Assault Blacksun plug-in is available for 64-bit digital DAWs on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and comes in VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX plug-in formats.
This plug-in offers a lot of potential for your DAW. If you’re interested, follow the link below to grab your free copy, as long as you register before 1 December 2021.
RRP – Free until 1 December and then USD 39 full price
The ChopTones IR Loader is available as a free download for a limited period from the Italian maker’s website. The download also includes 10 free Impulse Responses to get you started.
ChopTones IR Loader
The ChopTones IR Loader allows you to blend two impulse responses, and has a built-in eq section with hi-pass and low-pass filtering. It allows users to create their own combinations of IRs within a DAW on either Mac or PC setups.
ChopTones Free Download
For a limited time, you can download this plug-in for free. And the company is even generously including 5 impulse responses and 5 custom IR mixes to get you started.
Included Impulse Responses and Mixes
Mesa Boogie 4×12 loaded with Celestion V30
Marshall 1960 4×12 loaded with Celestion V30
Fender Twin Reverb 2×12 loaded with Jensen C12K
Hughes & Kettner 4×12 loaded with Celestion G12M Greenback made in the UK
Vox 2×12 loaded with Celestion Alnico Blue
American Classic IR mix
American Vintage IR mix
Brit Classic IR mix
German Classic IR mix
Tweed Classic IR mix
Be quick or miss out!
The offer is valid till the 18th of October, 2021, so don’t miss out! If you have never played with impulse responses in your DAW, then this plug-in could actually be a great way for you to try some out and experiment a little with your recordings.
Speaker cabinets whether virtual or real can have a huge impact on your guitar tone and so it really is worth experimenting with them in your chosen setup.
It works on both PC and Mac systems. All you need to do is subscribe to the company’s email list and you will receive a link for the free download, on either platform, in VST3 and AU plugin formats.
Developer Physical Audio flaunts some of the brainiest physical modeling in the industry. Delivering version 3.1 updates to two of its core products – a pair of phys-heavy reverbs doing springs and plates (what else?!) – Physical Audio had them rewritten from scratch and souped up with brand new Physical Audio Optimisation Engines running the models in real-time. We are taking these bad boys – very matter-of-factly named Dual Spring Reverb and Dynamic Plate Reverb – for a spin…
Dual Spring Reverb
Technologically, Dual Spring Reverb stands out as the first-ever plug-in to model wave propagation in helical springs. This means that the audio engine is built entirely upon simulating the inherent physical equations. Thankfully, you only get to reap the benefits without worrying about any math stuff. Among the benefits is reasonably adept creative control of spring setup to further increase the sound design possibilities. By the developer’s words, Dual Spring Reverb goes fine on guitar, synth, and drum tracks. I find this to be the exact use cases, for the plug-in never fails to add rich and colourful overtones in addition to the spring vibrance.
Owing to the math intricacies mentioned above, Dual Spring Reverb models two separate springs with controls for echo time and chirp cutoff frequency. You can also adjust how the chirps spread out over time. You can get a lot of tones out of these two controls alone, and then there are global parameters for the level of ‘boing’ (how adorably un-scientific!), damping, and tone. The final stage is a 7-band graphic equalizer to get only what’s needed out of your newly ‘sprung’ tracks. The final Stereo output is generated from signals passing through each of the two springs – a cross-fade control is there for adjusting the mix ratio. All in all, that’s a very respectable quantity of tonal possibilities packed into a plug-in that’s easy-peasy to use and takes almost no CPU.
Physical Audio Dual Spring reverb
Dynamic Plate Reverb
The Dynamic Plate Reverb plug-in lays on the plate reverbs real thick, making the spring reverb plug-in sound delicate and unobtrusive in comparison. My first stop was the material choice window which is positioned dead-center. Switching between Steel, Silver, Gold, Copper, and Aluminum produces markedly different tones for which I lack the vocabulary to properly describe. Regardless of choice, the reverb sounds mighty lush and full. This is where you go when you want the reverb to soak in your audio’s character to the point it becomes its identity. In less fancy words (please understand, they hired me for my fancy words…), this is your nascent ambient / shoegaze / drone project’s go-to reverb.
Like the spring reverb plug-in, Dynamic Plate is solid math in action. In place of impulse responses and delay networks, the plug-in kicks off with a mathematical description called the Kirchhoff plate equation. This permits simulating plate displacement in minute detail, such as size, thickness, tension, and material properties. I find the result outstanding. Pushed to near-max, the reverb is not for the faint-hearted. Rather, it’s very musical doom and gloom – which is a delightful aesthetic, may I add.
While the reverb engine is deep, the plug-in itself isn’t unnecessarily so. It gets you a Decay parameter posing as a “how much of the juice you want” control, alongside stereo spread and preamp drive knobs. The material selector is in the middle, and an 8-band graphic EQ is on frequency shaping duty to the right. That’s plenty enough for considerable plate-y fun!
Physical Audio Dynamic Plate reverb
Price and availability
Normally priced USD 130, the Dual Spring and Dynamic Plate plug-ins are on a launch sale for USD 91.20 each (30% off). Free demo versions are provided for both. The plug-ins work in AU, VST3, and AAX formats under Windows 10 and macOS.
Overloud followed up the release of its free Roland Dimension-D chorus emulation with a full-blown modulation effects collection – the GEM Modula. That’s how you get people going before a big release. In fact, Overloud is playing us like a vintage violin and we’re loving every minute of it! Anyway, here’s GEM Modula…
Overloud GEM Modula modulation effects
GEM Modula packs extended emulations of three classic modulation units – the Roland Dimension D, the Solina String Ensemble, and the Yamaha SPX90. All plug-ins share some core functionality and controls – namely, Dual Mode (independent L/R channel settings), input stage saturation, stereo width, custom LFO shapes, parametric EQ, envelope modulation for parameters, and sync to BPM.
You may have encountered other emulations of the units in questions in your production life. For the uninitiated, here’s the gist. The Roland chorus has that mid-80’s / early 90’s character that’s especially prominent on vocals, but it’s also good for reverb-less depth enhancement and harmonic saturation. You gotta try this one out on both tracks and buses.
The Solina String Ensemble is the chorus circuit from the manufacturer’s classic string machines. It sounds h-u-g-e, almost comically so when driven hard. Then, the Yamaha unit is your 90’s digital chorus that goes on anything, especially if you want to forego subtlety. I mean, Zakk Wylde famously used this one, and if you’re into him, you know how his lead tone is drenched in chorus.
Each effect has the Overloud enhancements mentioned earlier – input saturation, parametric EQ, and stereo width. It also has envelope modulation for the parameters, along with custom LFO shapes to expand the variety of modulation effects.
The Modula enhancements
Price and availability
GEM Modula is available with the traditionally tempting Overloud introductory discount which sees the regular EUR129 price reduced to EUR70 until October4, 2021. A free trial version is available as well. Overloud plug-ins typically work under macOS (10.9 or later) and Windows (Vista or later) in 32-bit and 64-bit VST, AU, and AAX formats.
This week’s collection of the best free plug-ins brings you an “analog” filter and distortion effect, a fantastic open-source recreation of Logic’s famous Delay Designer and a useful little ROMpler for all your 808 kick drum needs.
Check out our archives for many more free plug-ins!
Eplex7 DSP Analog
The name says it all: This new free plug-in by Eplex7 DSP is all about analog filtering and distortion. The developer says that it can be used to add light coloration and warmth to your tracks, but also for heavier distortion. Analog is based on a 2x over-sampled analog modeled “liquid” filter with resonance and an analog distortion circuit. With its simple GUI, the plug-in makes it easy to throw a filter and/or distortion effect on any audio track, such as drums, basses, synths or vocals.
The Delay Designer has long been one of the best plug-ins in Apple’s Logic Pro. DelayArchitect is a free, open-source adaptation of the concept. Like Delay Designer, DelayArchitect is the ultimate delay tool box: You can create custom delay effects by creating as many taps as you’d like and dialing in the volume, cutoff, resonance, tune and panorama for each one of them independently. It syncs to your song tempo and even swings. If you’re not a Logic user, this one is a must-have.
DelayArchitect is available for Windows, macOS and Linux in VST3 and AU formats.
Adding classic, boomy 808-style bass drums to your tracks doesn’t get any easier than this. 808-ROMpler is a simple sample player that comes with 16 samples. While they’re definitely in the style of the legendary 808, the developer says that they were actually recorded on a DSI Tempest. You can edit each sound using the included ADSR envelope. And if you prefer to use your own samples, you can simple drag&drop them onto the interface – so it’s actually not a ROMpler at all.
808-ROMpler is available for macOS and Windows in VST3 and AU formats.
So you want to write a song or produce a track, but you always end up with the same three chords or the same beat. Frustrated, you eventually put the guitar aside or close the laptop. Almost everyone who is creative sooner or later encounters creative blocks. But there are a few tricks you can use to get out of them. Here are seven tips on how to beat any creative block, along with some ideas for gear that can help revive your creativity.
If you like to be creative, blockades often feel like a humiliation. As musicians, we sometimes blame ourselves and doubt our ability. But periods where creativity seems elusive are a normal part of being process. We can’t expect ourselves to be creative all the time. If we search doggedly for our next idea, often we can’t seem to find it.
Paring down your setup is a well-known and often successful way out of creative misery. If you limit yourself to a few instruments, effects or plug-ins, you force yourself to intensively explore the possibilities of each individual device or instrument. Fresh ideas then often come all by themselves.
This is especially true when working with a DAW. With its infinite possibilities, the software tempts you to lose yourself in details instead of letting your creativity flow. If your first idea is immediately followed by “Which of my 10,000 bass drums is the right one?”, your creative moment sometimes evaporates faster than you can press record. If you suffer from Plug-in Acquisition Syndrome (PAS), you may spend more time searching for the right sound or effect than making music.
This is another reason why so-called DAWless setups are becoming increasingly popular. Working with hardware is perceived by many as more inspiring and creative. But as musicians we sometimes make the mistake of accumulating more equipment than is good for us. It can be very liberating to draw a line in the sand and get rid of things we (come on, be honest) actually hardly ever use).
For capturing ideas without a computer, a standalone multitrack recorder is a good idea. I have fond memories of my first attempts with a cassette four-track recorder in the early 90s. The possibilities were extremely limited, but I’ve seldom felt as creative as I did then. Today’s counterparts are digital recorders that usually record on SD cards. They come in mobile versions that are also suitable as field recorders, and somewhat larger ones with integrated mixers. Here are a few bits of gear you could take a look at:
Tascam DP-008 EX
Zoom H6 Black
iZotope Spire 2nd Generation
If you produce beats or electronic music, a groovebox is a great way to create complete arrangements without a DAW. There’s a huge range to choose from! Some focus more on sampling, others on the integrated drum and synthesiser sounds.
Novation Circuit Tracks
Akai MPC One
Roland Verselab MV-1
A looper can also be an inspiring recording solution. Here everything is pushing your creative flow forward, and you’re often focused on the moment, with less distraction and risk of getting lost in the minutiae of plug-in settings.
It sounds banal, but this can be very effective. When walls of your creative space – be it studio, rehearsal space or bedroom – are closing in, it’s time for a change of scenery. It’s no coincidence that bands like to retreat to the countryside to write songs or record a new album. Go out, observe your surroundings, get inspired. Watch films, go to the theatre, meet new people. Leave your comfort zone! Some people find that being consciously aware of themselves and their environment is the bedrock of their creativity.
Another idea is field recording. Try recording sounds from your surroundings to process them in your songs. Or you might want to sit down with your guitar in the park, on a mountain or on an ice floe and record your song ideas right there. Then you need a field recorder. These are available in different versions, from simple “dictation machines” to fully equipped multi-track recorders.
Roland R-07 Black
Making music with others can give your creativity a real boost. You might discover skills you didn’t know you had and learn new music or new techniques. Feel free to try out styles or bands that don’t match your personal musical taste. Broadening your horizons is one of the best ways to avoid creative stagnation!
A billion years ago, you used to put a note on the notice board at school or use a classified ad in a musicians magazine to find new players. Today, it’s mostly done through groups on social media platforms like Facebook. There’s bound to be a musician’s group for your town or area.
But you don’t necessarily have to live in the same city as your collaboration partners. Online collaboration systems have gotten a big boost in the Corona pandemic. These range from simple audio file sharing platforms like Bounce Boss to live tools with direct DAW integration, like Steinberg VST Connect. Other examples of internet collaboration tools include Soundwhale, Mixed In Key Satellite, Endlesss Studio and Soundation Collab Live. You can find an overview with more tips here.
Try out another instrument
The ultimate way to broaden a musician’s horizons is to try a completely new instrument. Try it out, you may discover talents you never dreamed of. If you mainly produce beats on your computer, try experimenting with “real” instruments.
If you want to get a taste of another instrument, it’s a good idea to buy a beginner’s instrument, but of course it should be of a certain quality. Here are a few examples of guitars, basses and synthesizers to let you jump into a different arena and get your feet wet.
Fender Squire Affinity Stratocaster in Brown Sunburst
Harley Benton HB-35Plus Guitar Set
Marcus Miller V3 TS 2nd Gen
Behringer DeepMind 6
IK Multimedia UNO Synth
For producers, trying out a different DAW can be a real eye-opener. Every software has its own special strengths and the workflow of another DAW can give you new ideas. Of course, there is always a learning curve involved, but it’s worth thinking outside the box.
Produce a sample pack or sound bank
No matter what instrument you play, creating your own sample pack can be very inspiring. Record a few sounds and loops, process them with effects if necessary, and then experiment with your own samples. The result might be stylistically different from what you’re used to, but you’ll get new ideas.
Whether you work with hardware or software doesn’t matter. Some examples of current samplers are:
Akai MPC Live II
Korg Electribe Sampler Red
Steinberg HALion 6
Analyse your idols
Watching your idols is a great way to get new ideas. Listen to your favourite guitar solo, find out what chord progression your favourite song has or recreate the sounds and beats of your idols. It can be a real eye-opener! It also takes the pressure off you to be creative yourself right away – you’re just playing along for now. New ideas usually come on their own. If you don’t know any music theory, browse YouTube for some great free content that can get you another perspective on chords and progressions.
Take some lessons
Learning new skills can lead to a place where you come up with lots of new ideas. Taking lessons can be very helpful in overcoming a creative block. It can expand your creative toolbox. If you don’t have the time or budget for regular lessons, you can try one of the many online offerings that are now available for instruments, production or a range of other skills.
This post contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!
Harley Benton is an inhouse brand of Thomann. Our publisher, Remise 3, is a Thomann daughter company.
With Gatelab, developer Audiomodern is giving away a plug-in which “hacks” into your audio tracks using all the classic gating and sequencing tricks in the book. A creative gate sequencer, Gatelab generates rhythmic patterns and volume automations in real time, with various random functions added. That’s a welcome addition to any producer toolkit, especially for the price of free!
After the ingenious filter step that made it into many freeware hit lists since its appearance, Audiomodern presents another free plug-in that’s not to be missing from any collection. Gatelab is a creative gate sequencer that creates new patterns by rhythmically ‘dismembering’ the audio track.
Among everything else, the plug-in offers a ‘flow mode’ for manipulated volume curves alongside a gate mode for traditional gate sequences of up to 64 steps. You can simply draw them separately with the mouse for the left and right channels. A ratcheting function with up to three subdivisions can be activated per step. There is also a shuffle function and sequences can be played forwards, backwards, or in ping-pong mode.
A palette with numerous ready-made patterns is a good starting point for new patterns. A click on the central Randomize button creates random sequences, which always creates new patterns. There is also an auto-randomize function which automatically shuffles patterns after a chosen number of bars.
What I find particularly interesting is Gatelab’s ability to output MIDI data for sequencing other plug-ins. And the other way around, Gatelab can be comprehensively controlled via MIDI controllers which makes it ideal for live use. The preset buttons at the bottom are also a great performance addition. Here, the created patterns can be saved and recalled spontaneously.
Free for macOS, Windows and iOS
Audiomodern Gatelab is available for free from the manufacturer’s website for macOS and Windows. All you have to do is create a free account. The plug-in runs under macOS 10.12 or later and Windows 7 or later in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX formats. It’s also available standalone.
The iOS version, which you can get in the App Store, is also free. It requires iOS / iPadOS 9.3 or later, and runs as an AUv3 plug-in.
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