VCV was at Knobcon showing the latest version of VCV Rack which includes a fabulous UI redesign, lots of enhancements and the option to run it as a VST plugin.
VCV Rack 2
VCV says it’s coming in November which is very exciting! We reported back in May about how the road to version 2 has not had the smoothest of development schedules but it looks like we’ve arrived.
The new version has a nicely polished user interface with better depth, colour and definition. There’s now a Dark Room mode to help with patching into the early hours. The browser has been improved which is great news because with all the thousands of modules you end up downloading the browser gets a bit overwhelming. You also get the ability to import and export, duplicate and randomise module selections.
The community has been very vocal in their desire for a version that will run inside a DAW. It makes sense but VCV Rack was originally designed to be a standalone environment and cramming that into a VST framework takes a fair bit of development. But we’re there now which is amazing!
However, VCV is no longer going to give everything away for free and for all the work that’s been put in why should it? There will be a free Community Edition which is open source and includes all the features of the current version along with the V2 updates. But there’s now a VCV Rack Studio Edition which costs $99 and includes the VST plugin version and proper technical support. That sounds absolutely worth it to me.
VCV also announced a new bunch of 9 drum modules covering the usual sort of 808 and 909 sounds based on VULT Technology emulations. It’s available as separate modules are as a combined drum machine with a mixed output which massively reduces the patching.
That’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to November.
From Flandersh Tech comes Movementron, a unique synth that’s all about keeping things in motion. It’s got a sequenced 8-step oscillator that allows you to dial in a different wave shape for each step. The second oscillator lets you draw your own waves. Needless to say, the filter is sequenced, too. With a bunch of envelopes and LFOs for modulation, as well as integrated compressor, delay and reverb effects, Movementron never stands still.
Movementron is a VST3 plug-in for Windows 8.1 or higher (64 bit).
Off-Grid by Ricardo Plugins is a colorful and experimental drum machine that will keep you inspired for days. It has seven channels with four voices or cells each. Each cell has independent volume and pan controls and can hold one of the 448 included sounds, which can be pitched, reversed and looped. But the real fun starts when you roll the dice and use the plug-in’s many randomization features, which will help you to come up with something new in no time.
Off-Grid is a VST and VST3 plug-in for Windows (64 bit).
Audec is a regular in our weekly freeware section with its extensive range of simple, but very effective plug-ins. Shape is no exception. It’s a waveshaper/wavefolder effect that offers five shaping curves for mangling your audio tracks: hard clip, soft clip, tube, triangle and sine. You can dial in asymmetrical distortion using the bias knob, and adjust the input and output levels, dry/wet mix and oversampling. Simple, straightforward and very useful.
Shape is available for macOS and Windows in VST3 and AU formats.
BLEASS makes cheap and really chic plug-ins that always surprise with good ideas. Not only that, they always appear on macOS, Windows, and iOS at the same time! These conditions also apply to Saturator, whose inconspicious name kind of under-sells the plug-in considering its diverse abilities.
With this plug-in, you are not just dealing with a Saturator here. Instead, several different concepts are packed together in ways that make perfect sense. If we simply work our way through the features from left to right, we come across a multi-band drive section first. You can turn up the gain to 60 dB here, activate the EQ mode, and adjust the amount of bass, mids, and treble. The controls for Low Freq and High Freq let you set the crossover frequencies.
Next in line is a waveshaper. Waveshapers are a weakness of mine and fairly rare, so hearing about new shapers on the block makes me thrilled! This one is expectedly rad, offering nine different algorithms such as classic hard and soft clip all the way to digital polynomial madness. The section also includes a display which graphically illustrates the algorithms in action. Then you can see how the shape changes while you tweak the Offset, Depth, Period and Strength parameters.
Bit-crusher? That’s the third section. Alongside the usual controls for bitrate and depth, you can place the section in front of (or behind) the waveshaper – or simply deactivate it. Fourth comes the LFO stage with six waveforms and 12 possible modulation targets. More specifically, you can modulate the Drive, High Frequency, Low Frequency, Low Gain, Mid Gain, High Gain, Offset, Depth, Period, Strength, Bit Depth, and Bitrate parameters. can be controlled in this way. The modulation can be set freely or synchronously with the project. There are also parameters for rate, offset, stereo phase, and amount.
Price and availability
BLEASS Saturator works in 64-bit VST3 and AU formats under macOS (10.9 or newer) and Windows (8 or newer). You can get a free demo version from the manufacturer’s website. For the introductory period, you pay EUR 14.99. The regular price is EUR 19.99. That’s very little to spend on a formidable plug-in like this. The iOS version works on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices running iOS 11 or later. The price is EUR 4.99.
There’s probably no other studio effect that’s as emotionally charged as Auto-Tune. Still, the sound is everywhere. Even if you can’t hear it, chances are that most of your favorite tracks from the past couple of decades use Auto-Tune, and this subtle kind of pitch correction is what the effect was originally intended for. In this list, we’d like to give you an overview of current pitch correction plug-ins, whether you’re looking for in-your-face, T-Pain-style effects or just need to make a couple of quick adjustments to an otherwise bang-on performance.
Note: This article by Dirk B. first appeared on our German sister site gearnews.de.
The best plug-ins for Auto-Tune effects and pitch correction
If you’re on the hunt for thatAuto-Tune effect, you now have many alternatives to the original. The effect is so popular that many developers have jumped onto the bandwagon, offering their own interpretations of the effect. Some specialize in drastic pitch quantization with ultra-fast tuning for obvious effects, while others focus on smooth, inaudible adjustments. That’s why this list includes a couple of entries that don’t necessarily stand for that over-the-top “Cher effect”.
Before you buy, it’s a good idea to check if your DAW already offers a pitch correction tool in the box. While Ableton Live doesn’t have one built in just yet, Logic Pro offers both a pitch correction plug-in and a full-blown Flex Pitch engine, and Cubase Pro has VariAudio. Reaper has ReaTune, FL Studio has Pitcher and Tracktion Waveform Pro even comes with Melodyne Essential and AutoTune Access.
If you don’t own the right tool for the job yet and want to unleash your inner T-Pain, take a look at the list below. And since everybody loves free stuff, we’ve also included a couple of free alternatives, as well as a couple of mobile apps.
Note: This list includes affiliate links to our partner Thomann. If you buy via these links, you pay the same, but we receive a small commission that keeps the lights on in the newsroom and helps us to pay the bills.
This list must begin with the OG pitch correction tool, Antares Auto-Tune. This software not only laid the groundwork and helped to shape modern vocal production, it also became eponymous for this type of effect as a whole.
Antares currently offers several versions of Auto-Tune, ranging from a beginner’s version (Access) to a full-blown subscription suite (Unlimited). Depending on which version you get, it can be a good idea to add Auto-Key, a plug-in that automatically detects the key and root of the vocal track. This information is then passed on to the actual Auto-Tune plug-in, which takes care of the pitch correction. Auto-Key is included with Auto-Tune Pro and Auto-Tune Unlimited, and Antares just released the free Auto-Key Mobile app for iOS. You’ll find an overview of the various versions here. Most Antares Auto-Tune plug-ins are available at Thomann, here’s an overview*.
This plug-in was originally developed by CrispyAudio and named Crispytune, until Brainworx acquired the company and renamed it bx_crispytuner. In addition to the actual pitch correction tool, the bundle includes bx_crispyscale, which automatically detects the key and root of the material.
One feature that sets bx_crispytuner apart is the live mode, which makes adjustments in real time without any noticeable latency. This makes bx_crispytuner a good choice for live applications.
In its extensive catalog, Waves offers no less than three plug-ins for vocal pitch correction. Waves Tune LT is the most basic version, while Waves Tune offers a bit more, such as synthetic vibratos. These two versions are restricted to offline processing. Waves Tune Real-Time is by far the most desirable of the bunch, because it works on real-time audio streams.
If you’ve set your eyes on one of the Waves plug-ins, be sure to catch one of the manufacturer’s many sales. There are frequent opportunities to secure yourself a nice discount.
Melodyne isn’t an obvious choice for Cher-style effects, although it can absolutely do that, too, if you push it hard enough. The software operates differently from the plug-ins mentioned above and is more tailored to intricate tasks, such as precise editing of the pitch, pitch deviation, vibrato and timing of individual notes. Melodyne is known for is transparent sound and many creative possibilities.
If you’re looking for a tool that lets you edit vocal recordings with a laser focus on the exact pitch curve, Melodyne is hard to beat. Another thing that sets it apart: Melodyne also works on polyphonic material. You can edit vocal recordings with multiple voices and even turn a single melody into an entire choir. It’s also great for correcting the pitch and timing of instrumental recordings. The software integrates deeply into compatible DAWs via the ARA2 protocol.
The various versions of Melodyne are all available at Thomann, including updates from older versions. Here’s a list*.
Like Melodyne, Revoice Pro is designed to perform as naturally as possible and lets you go into great detail with your adjustments. The software is a comprehensive tool for editing vocals, dialogs or instruments.
If you’re looking for a distinct, audible Auto-Tune effect, look elsewhere. But if you need a comprehensive and in-depth vocal alignment and pitch correction tool and additional effects like convincing double tracking, Revoice Pro is the right tool for the job. Another interesting feature is the ability to copy the pitch from one recording to another.
Unlike many pitch correction plug-ins, Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys offers only a handful of parameters. While it can deliver the typical hard tuning effect of modern R&B and hip hop productions, there are plug-ins that are better at it.
So why is Little AlterBoy on this list? It’s fast! The plug-in lets you create cool pitch effects in no time and even lets you change a male voice to a female voice or vice versa. It can also turn your voice into a robot.
MAutoPitch by MeldaProduction is a free alternative. The plug-in works on voices and other monophonic material and offers some additional features, like stereo widening. It also features an integrated limiter.
If you’d like to experiment with automatic pitch correction before you buy one of the commercial tools, give MAutoPitch a try.
Auburn Sounds Graillon 2 is another free option. To be precise, there are two versions. The free version offers pitch correction and pitch shifting. The Pro version, which costs USD 39, adds a number of features for more drastic changes to the source material.
Due to its low latency, Graillon 2 can be used in real time. It sounds pretty decent and many consider it to be one of the best free alternatives to Auto-Tune. It’s available for macOS, Windows and even Linux, which is another plus.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 wireless earphones is a redesign of the 215 series with updated features. If you’re looking for earphones you can use in the gym or on-stage, then these could be an ideal choice!
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2
If you were strolling through Shure’s booth at CES 2020, you’d have noticed the introduction of a new product line. Shure’s AONIC line took the earphone and headphone design from their studio and stage transducers and adapted it to “on the go” wireless tech. The AONIC range is a great choice if you need one set of earphones that can serve double duty; both on stage, in the studio, on the go or in the gym.
18 months on, and Shure has updated the Aonic 215 earphones to Gen 2 specification. So what are the big updates? Well, as far as I can tell the big headline news is that the Aonic 215 Gen 2 are now IPX4 rated for water resistance. Undoubtedly, that could be super handy if you’re looking for a set of high-quality earphones for active and on the go use.
Additionally, Shure appears to have enhanced the Aonic 215 Gen 2 with added functionality through the free ShurePlus PLAY app. For example, you can customize your hardware EQ, configure the touch button controls, customise environment mode and more!
Undoubtedly, many of the features that made the original Aonic 215 so appealing are still here. I particularly like the clever modular connectivity; the earphones connect to the wireless receivers via the same connector you’ll see on Shure’s professional IEM earphones. Importantly, that means you can also use them with a conventional wired connection.
As a consequence, your wireless, noise-cancelling, mic equipped earphones can become wired IEMs in seconds. Obviously, you have to purchase additional accessories in order to pull off this dual functionality, but that’s much cheaper than having two sets of earphones to switch between the gym and the stage!
Altogether then, the Aonic 215 Gen 2 earphones look like a tempting proposition at a reasonable price. If you’re a musician on the go and you need a versatile set of IEMs, then you could do much worse than taking a closer look!
This new update for IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 5 software allows users to try every X-GEAR effect pedal in a virtual guitar rig. You can also get a deal if you decide to buy both the virtual and the hardware version of the pedal at the same time.
Virtual X-GEAR pedals
The new update to AmpliTube 5 is free to all owners of the software and gives you a 72 hour trial period with each of the new virtual X-GEAR pedals, so you can see if you like them. Each of the pedals has 16 effects, and you can play with the different controls of each pedal in your virtual rig.
IK Multimedia X-GEAR virtual pedals
Each virtual pedal will set you back $/€149.99 (plus tax) via the Custom Shop. Or you can get both the hardware pedal and its virtual version from the IK store for $/€299.99. It could be a good way to demo the four new X-GEAR pedals before you decide to lay out any of your hard-earned cash, especially as this is the first generation of this effect from IK Multimedia.
The first effect pedals from IK Multimedia – Amplitube X-GEAR
You can get virtual versions of the new X-DRIVE, X-VIBE, X-TIME, and the X-SPACE so it may take you a while to try out all four of them. It could get pretty expensive if you bought them all outright blind, so the ability to test them out for 72 hours is going to be useful for any potential buyers.
Moog has released a free VST wrapper for their amazing Model 15 modular synthesizer app. It’s free and sadly only available on macOS.
The Model 15 app is an amazing piece of synthesis software designed for iOS and macOS. It recreates the character and complexity of the legendary Moog Model 15 from Moog 921 series oscillators and 904A filters to the 907 filter bank. It can handle both monophonic and 4-voice polyphonic operation has an inbuilt keyboard, 8-step sequencing arpeggiator, 1150 Ribbon Controller and Animoog keyboard with 22 scales and polyphonic modulation capabilities. You also have modern enhancements such as MIDI integration, loop recording and effects.
It really is a fantastic piece of work and functions brilliantly with touch on the iPad and on the desktop as an AU v3 plugin. However, since it got to the desktop last January many people have been asking for an AU v2 or VST version so it can run in DAWs that don’t support AUv3 – most prominently that’s Ableton Live.
Now Moog has introduced a free VST Wrapper that will take the app and let you run it on your desktop as if it was a VST or AUv2 Instrument within your DAW. You must have Big Sur version 11.0.1 installed and you must already have Model 15 installed on your system. Then via some shenanigans it all just works – sorry, I’m not a Mac user, maybe someone could fill in the details in the comments.
It’s a shame this doesn’t extend to it becoming a VST Instrument on Windows as we would very much appreciate that.
Moog Music will be at Superbooth so they might have it on demo. But come on, it’s $30, why wouldn’t you buy it? You’ll find them in booth Z120.
Developer Denise Audio presents Bite Harder, a new bit crushing plug-in that’s (unsurprisingly) quite typically Denise. When it comes to features, Bite Harder employs a graphic push-pull equalizer which is used to adjust the intensity of the effect over the entire frequency spectrum. So you can savagely “crush” individual frequency ranges, be a little easier on others, and leave some out completely. Additional features, such as filters, are also available to you and the price is quite attractive, too. As Denise usually does, the developer is giving away a scaled-down version of the plug-in called My Crush – completely free. Good times!
Bite Harder & My Crush form a pair of all-out classic bit-crushers stacked with modern and unorthodox functions. The push-pull equalizer, in particular, is a Denise specialty that’s very interesting. Here you can specify areas in the frequency spectrum in which the effect should intervene. But the strength of the bit crusher is also set via the graphic EQ. This can generate extreme movements and new sounds when individual equalizer points are automated.
On its way to the end, the audio signal passes through high and low pass filters at the beginning and end of the chain. You can also adjust the dry / wet mix, add a softener (Silky), and adjust the actual effect with pull / resample / reduce controls. There’s also the input and output volume. An optional clipper prevents the output signal from overloading. Built-in effects, such as repeat, stutter, glitch, and drive can be added. There’s also a random generator which mixes up parameters and conjures new presets.
Denise Audio Bite Harder GUI
Denise Audio Bite Harder & My Crush – Price and availability
Denise Audio Bite Harder is currently available from the developer’s website at an introductory price of EUR 18.03, down from EUR 29.04. While the freeware version is a treat, the paid one is a no-brainer for the price considering the features. Note that Denise account holders with a newsletter subscription can get a further discount which brings the price down to just EUR 8.20 (plus VAT). Bite Harder and My Crush run under MacOS 10.7 or higher (including M1 computers) and Windows 7 or higher in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU 64-bit formats. You can also download a demo version from the website. Several presets from music producer and live performer Florian Meindl are included in the package.
Unfiltered Audio likes creative audio distress most of all. In music production, breaking stuff on purpose is often the ticket to memorable sounds that stick out, serve a mood, and make a great song what it is. Dent and Indent 2 are an admirably cruel pair of filter and distortion plug-ins. And then there are the likes of BYOME, TRIAD, Fault… yup, the Unfiltered catalog goes a long way. The newest addition is called LO-FI-AF and it’s a lively take on the nostalgic vibes of vinyl, radio, tape, and other retro sources.
Unfiltered Audio LO-FI-AF
To lift those unmistakeable hissing, crackling, barely-held-together-but-wonderful sounds out of analog obscurity, Unfiltered rolled out the heavy artillery – there are convolution, spectral shaping, bit-crushing, and other advanced artifact makers at play. Additionally, the user interface is a total looker. It’s Unfiltered’s prettiest by far, it has 14 skins (remember your collection of WinAmp skins?) and it takes you through a total of 24 possible signal paths. They combine all the plug-in has to offer, which is quite a few things, actually. Think along the lines of tape saturation, vintage mic coloration, vinyl pops, CD players skipping (remember your discman’s dodgy anti-shock?), MP3 compression artifacts (remember your 128kbps files off KaZaA?), radio interference, and the unmistakeable chatter between cell phones and speakers placed too close. These are more recent nostalgic items that very few (if any) of the countless lo-fi plug-ins out there have to offer. Unfiltered’s effort is as commendable as the wholesome nostalgia which LO-FI-AF oozes.
LO-FI-AF Price and availability
LO-FI-AF is on sale at distribution partner Plugin Alliance for USD 130, down from USD 150. It’s also part of the provider’s monthly and yearly subscription bundles. A free 14-day trial version is available for download. The plug-in works under macOS 10.9 or later and Windows 7 through 10 in AAX Native, AU, VST2, and VST3 formats.
Korneff Audio is bringing back the budget digital reverbs of the late 80s with the Micro Digital Reverberator plug-in. Get your fix of Microverb goodness in your DAW for less than 20 bucks.
Korneff Audio Micro Digital Reverberator
Despite their limitations, the Alesis Microverb and Midiverb budget effect processors have been studio staples ever since their introduction in the late 80s. Studios all across the world happily use them alongside much more expensive reverbs, and they’ve made their way onto countless hit records. Korneff Audio has set out to recreate this iconic sound in the Micro Digital Reverberator plug-in.
Just like the originals, the Micro Digital Reverberator sports a very simple GUI with just a few controls. You can choose from two machines. Machine 1 is modeled after the original Microverb and offers a choice of 16 presets via its rotary selector. Machine 2 emulates a later unit and offers 55 presets, which are accessible via the keypad and up/down keys.
Their simplicity is a big part of what made the originals so useable: Just pick a preset, dial in the desired amount of reverb and you’re good to go. So the MDR is all about quick results, too. Besides the preset selector, all you get is controls for the dry and wet levels and a pre-delay knob.
Korneff Audio Micro Digital Reverberator
But if you’d like a bit more tweakability, there’s something for you, too. Like Korneff Audio’s other plug-ins Talkback Limiter, Pawn Shop Comp and Amplified Instrument Processor, the Micro Digital Reverberator can be “opened up” to reveal a bunch of additional controls. Here, you can tweak the damping and stereo width and apply a low pass filter. You also get access to oversampling, hardware accelerationand GUI zoom.
The original hardware units were famous for delivering instant results and sounding just right most of the time, despite their low price tags. There’s much to love about simple, inexpensive things that just work, and it looks like the Korneff Audio MDR is just that.
Price and compatibility
The Korneff Audio Micro Digital Reverberator is now available for an introductory price of USD 19.99. The regular price will be USD 29.99.
The plug-in runs on macOS 10.7 or higher or Windows 7 or higher in VST3, AU and AAX formats (64 bit). You’ll need a free iLok account for activation.
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