Analog Obsession has released BUSTERse, a freeware bus compressor effect in VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats for compatible digital audio workstations on PC and Mac. BUSTERse is the upgraded version of the previously released Buster compressor from the same developer. It introduces several improvements and new features that allow more control over the compressor’s […]
The new THR30IIA from Yamaha is a neat, compact 30-watt stereo acoustic guitar amp and the newest member of the brand’s popular line of THR amplifiers. This acoustic amp features wireless capabilities and a host of other useful functions. If you’ve been looking for a portable acoustic guitar amp with all the bells and whistles, keep reading.
I’m a big fan of the Yamaha THR amps. I own one of the older models for electric guitar, which I keep in my lounge for when I want to noodle. I also liked the earlier THR acoustic model enough to include it in my best mini practise amps roundup back in April. The THR30IIA is the newest model in the series and comes hot on the heels of the Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 announced earlier this week, which, at £200, is significantly cheaper than this new Yamaha model.
This new model has the familiar metal casing used throughout the THR series and sports a 30-watt stereo amplifier with two 3.5″ speakers. That should be plenty of power and provide a decent spread of sound. You get a nice smattering of onboard effects that are well suited to an acoustic guitar including compression, chorus, a studio-quality delay and a reverb. But that’s not all, it also includes modelling for three microphone models: dynamic, tube and condenser, plus tone modes for nylon string guitars and a Flat setting for when you want to bypass all the extras.
You also get Yamaha’s D-PRE mic preamp on board for your vocal mic, if you want to sing and play along. The amp has a 1/4″ and XLR combo mic inputs, a stereo 1/8″ aux input, a headphones out, and 1/4″ line-level outputs. There is also a MIDI input for a footswitch control.
You choose your amp models with a five-way rotary dial, then sculpt your tone further using the three-way Stereo Imager switch, three-band EQ and Tone Blend control, which adjusts how much of the EQ’d signal is blended in. There are five buttons across the top for user presets, and a button for Bluetooth connectivity lets you stream music to play along with. There’s also a tap-tempo button for time-based effects which doubles as the built-in tuner when held down.
THR30IIA Top Panel
The amp has a built-in rechargeable battery and can also operate with an optional Line 6 Relay transmitter, allowing you to play totally untethered and cable-less! It’s obviously nice not to have a clutter of wires, and should make performing way more fun.
Apps, DAWs and more
You can connect to the Yamaha Rec’n’Share app, which works on both iOS and Android, or adjust settings via the THR Remote app for Mac, PC and mobile devices. The amp comes with a free copy of Cubase AI for PC/Mac and Cubasis LE for the iPad. It has the usual USB connectivity for recording and playback, so plugging into your DAW of choice should be hassle-free.
The THR30IIA is a lot more expensive than the Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30, but it offers a lot more too. If you need an all singing and dancing, yet compact acoustic guitar amp, this is certainly worth checking out. You can buy an optional carry case for it, the THRBG1, but I reckon you could just stick it in a regular bag and save a few quid. If it’s built as sturdy as my THR10C, then it will be pretty bomb proof anyway.
It may be a bit of an investment, but I think it offers some great benefits for acoustic players on the go. And if the demo videos are anything to go by, it sounds quite impressive. The Stereo Imaging technology and 30-watts of power should really help get a nice full sound. You can read the full amp specifications by clicking the link below.
Update: The Neural DSP Quad Cortex is now available to order on Thomann. You can follow the links below if you’re interested in getting one for yourself.
The new Neural DSP Quad Cortex floor modeller was first demoed during Winter NAMM. Back then it was in Beta, and we were told that it used machine learning to make its models even better than its competitors. Since the Quad Cortex is going to be launched at the end of the month, I thought it was time we revisited this unit.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex
The Helsinki based company claims its Neural DSP Quad Cortex is “the most powerful floor modeler on the planet”. The unit is based around the 2GHz Quad-Core SHARC architecture, and this dedicated DSP is essentially the heart of the unit, providing it with a lot of realtime processing power. Add to that a 7” multi-touch display and it should also make the Quad Cortex super simple to navigate for users. It even has a built-in WiFi module that can be used for wireless preset sharing, or cloud backups, over-air firmware updates, and more.
The modeller comes with over 50 amps, 70 effects, and 1000 IRs, so there should be plenty to keep you occupied and up and running. You get 11 footswitches on the front and one big Volume dial. The footswitches can also be used to control virtual knobs on the amp and effects models, by turning them to adjust the parameters. Combine this with that massive touch screen, and this should be a breeze to use.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex
The floor unit itself has a robust anodised aluminium unibody, and at only 1.9 kg, is lightweight and portable, but also very strong. You should have no issues transporting it to gigs and rehearsals, and it should be able handle the rigours associated with the road.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex is lightweight and compact
Capture, share, and download any rig’s sounds using the Neural Capture function. Neural DSP is using its own biomimetic AI technology which allows the Quad Cortex to learn and replicate the sonic characteristics of any physical amplifier, overdrive, or cabinet. This is what the company hopes will set it apart from its competitors. And if it works, it could put them way ahead of the competition.
IRs and EQ
With over 1000 impulse responses at your disposal, plus a parametric EQ, this unit should have enough ways for you to tailor your virtual rig. However, if you need more, then it can also handle any third party IRs you want to add to it.
With a pretty extensive input and output section, the Quad Cortex has you covered for just about every scenario when it comes to plugging your gear in and out of the unit. All the inputs and outputs are high-quality Neutrik parts where appropriate. So again, it is built to tour with.
It features dual combo inputs, with TS, TRS, and XLR. You also get variable impedance and level controls, with built-in microphone preamps and phantom power. A dual effects-loops can handle external mono or stereo effects in your signal chain.
Neural DSP Quad Cortex rear panel with a host of connectivity
For outputs, you have two mono, balanced (TRS) jacks along with two mono, balanced XLR output jacks, and a headphone output. Capture Out is used for the biomimetic AI technology, Neural Capture function. The unit also has MIDI In, Out/Thru, and dual expression inputs for two expression pedals, along with USB for any firmware updates, etc.
Neural CNS Mobile & Cortex Desktop Controller
Neural CNS Mobile & Cortex Desktop Controller
You can explore and share your presets on the cloud with the Neural CNS Mobile, which syncs up to your device using the Quad Cortex’s built-in WiFi module. Once synced, you can send presets to and from your device with no cables involved, making back-ups or adding new sounds to your unit, a hassle-free process. The Cortex Desktop Controller then allows you to control the floor unit in real-time. Or you can use it to access the Neural CNS which is used for exploring, sharing, and downloading presets.
There are three main switching modes available for users: Stomp Mode allows you to assign and activate any block in a rig to a footswitch, just like you would with a normal pedal board. Scene Mode lets you easily select any footswitch, and instantly activate it and control the settings of any number of blocks within a rig. Finally, with the Scene Mode, you can choose any footswitch to instantly activate and control the settings of any number of blocks within a rig.
Setlists and Gig View
The Quad Cortex usesSetlists to make the various Presets easy to organise. Simply put, you make your sets and then access them. Each Setlist can contain 32 banks of 8 Presets, which should be plenty for most players. The Gig View will let you see all three Stomp/Scene/Preset modes, making it even easier to see what’s on the display when you’re standing above the unit. Gig View uses the whole 7″ screen and shows you what is assigned to each footswitch.
It looks like the new Neural DSP Quad Cortex could well be the latest must have all-in-one floor modeller. Shipping is expected to start between the end of October and beginning of November, and I for one, am really looking forward to hearing it in action, as on paper it sounds pretty amazing.
You can follow the link below to read the full specification and and hear it in action in the demo video below.
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Nearing October’s end, developer KiloHearts of Phase Plant and Snapin system fame brought some goodies to our attention! First off, kHs is making its ONE software synthesizer free for a short time. There’s no contest or anything like that involved – just a free download! Also, the developer is taking up to 60% off the prices for its paid plug-ins. And mind you, that’s a lot of interesting, creative plug-ins you can grab at bargain prices!
Kilohearts kHs ONE
Free for a moment, kHs ONE is a subtractive polyphonic synthesizer that goes a long way. It features two oscillators, a sub oscillator, two filters, per-voice waveshaping, two LFO generators and three envelopes. These are complemented by an effects section with chorus, delay, EQ and limiter. The unison mode goes up to 8 voices. Yup, this one’s a beast. Did we mention it’s going free?
Kilohearts effects on sale
In addition, the following Kilohearts effects are on sale at the moment: Ring Mod, Distortion, Reverser, Formant Filter, Pitch Shifter, Trance Gate, Tape Stop, Haas Effect, Filter, Reverb, Phaser, Gate, Comb Filter, Disperser, Compressor, Faturator and Ladder Filter. They are available at pretty much bargain prices, starting from EUR 7.90. You can grab the ones you want from Kilohearts (use the coupon APGONE) or dealers like Thomann (affiliate link).
Blackstar has just unveiled its new ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 acoustic guitar amp. Keen to plug acoustic guitar playing into the 21st century world, the company has included some decidedly modern features to do things like live streaming your acoustic performance to the web. But it has the functions and sounds you’d expect of an acoustic guitar amp, too, and comes in at a pretty darn competitive price point.
Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30
Part of Blackstar’s reputation is to try to do amp design a bit more imaginatively. I own a little Blackstar Fly amplifier and it’s one of my go to amps when I just want to work out a riff or chord sequence quickly without annoying my neighbours. These award-winning little amps, I think, put Blackstar on the map in terms of guitar gear that’s useful beyond playing live gigs. Since most players are now in some form of a lockdown due to COVID 19, Blackstar has added some features to its new acoustic guitar amp that makes it easier for them to reach online audiences.
Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30
Before we come to the 2020-relevant stuff, let’s take a look at the standard amp functions. The ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 has a simple control panel with controls for Gain, Low, High for each channel and central Master output control, along with dedicated controls for the onboard effects.
Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 Top Panel
Super Wide Stereo
The ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 has Blackstar’s Super Wide Stereo technology, based on 30W of power with a 2 x 15W setup, along with built-in Enhance and Vocal Clarity controls. These allow players to dial in sounds to make them sound fuller and wider. There’s also a dedicated input for your vocals, so you could stage your own gig with this one amp. It has three channels, with four-channel USB recording capabilities and effects built in as well. The FX include a stereo reverb and two chorus effects.
USB Recording paths
• USB Channel 1 + 2: Main stereo output • USB Channel 3: Pre EQ D.I for Channel 1 • USB Channel 4: Pre EQ D.I for Channel 2
On the input side, there are jacks for for Microphone, Instrument and Line In, plus an XLR DI output. A neat feature is the adjustable tilt-back stand. Blackstar also offers an optional PA stand adapter. You can also use a TRRS cable to connect to your smartphone and the apps running there. This lets you take your acoustic performance directly into the digital realm and stream via Instagram Live. There is even a footswitch option, so you can use it hands free – a big help when you’re performing.
Blackstar ACOUSTIC:CORE 30 with tilt back stand
Value for money?
This new acoustic guitar amp from Blackstar has some very useful features for players looking to make the most out of digital tools for reaching their audience during the Covid era. It certainly packs a punch feature-wise, especially for the price point. The option to directly connect to a smartphone for use with apps like Apple’s GarageBand and Instagram Live makes it an appealing solution for the modern player.
On paper, this acoustic amp certainly has a lot of very nice features and I could see it being a very useful little amp to have around, especially if you need to integrate into your smartphone, or if you would like to stream online. The price point is very reasonable. If this amp sounds as nice as in their demo, it should be on your radar if you want an app that does more than just produce a nice sound in a room.
Waves and W. A. Production are offering the OneKnob Louder ($49 value) loudness booster plugin as a free download until October 30th, 2020. Waves OneKnob Louder is a single-knob audio effect for boosting the loudness of an audio track. It does so by using a combination of limiting and dynamic range compression with auto-gain. In […]
kiloHearts is running a $19 deal on the kHs One ($99 value) virtual synthesizer. In addition to that offer, the plugin is available as a free download for a limited time only. kHs One is a 24-voice polyphonic virtual analog synthesizer in VST, AU, and AAX plugin formats for digital audio workstations on PC and […]
The best sample packs this week include scenic sounds created with unusual objects, emo beats, dubstep vocals, instruments that help you paint a daydream, and jazz breakbeat drums.
FrozenPlain Scenic Vibrations
Bring tension and suspense to your sound design with this customizable synthesizer. The sounds were innovated in unique ways, like recording sheets of metal or bass strings through a transducer. The 100 easy-to-navigate presets cover a ton sonic ground, and provide a streamlined way to select between samples. Powered by the company’s Mirage engine, there are three layers to the sound that can be blended to taste. Every layer has individual filtering, envelope, loop, and LFO controls. Globally, there is an entire rack of effects on the master for adding final polish.
Included in this pack are loops, hits, and one shots from a variety of instruments in tempos ranging from 140-160bpm. There are melody loops, 808s, pianos, guitars, bass, effects and vocal elements perfect for adding a little emotion to your tracks. Chord and melody loops give you a number of options, and song starters also allow for a quick way to get your ideas off of the ground. The entire half gig of sounds are in 24-bit WAV format and are royalty-free. At only $39.95 this is a sample pack with a lot of variety that brings a unique perspective to any production.
This vocal sample pack is 2GB of loops, one shots, and kits. The construction kits include MIDI for advanced editing, Serum presets, and dry/wet vocal layers. This allows for using the preset sounds or manipulating them into exactly what you need. There are five vocal kits with wet and dry acapellas. Also in the bundle are 21 chop loops and 38 phrases. Everything is royalty-free and available for just $19.90.
Intimate is a good word to describe this bundle that includes four different instruments like piano, violin, pads, and textures. Perhaps the best patch is the Cozy Piano. It is an upright played with a pianissimo (soft) dynamic, captured beautifully with Neumann KM 184 stereo microphones. Each instrument comes with a variety of features, and the interface is very easy to use. Just select the instrument and adjust the hall reverb to taste. All samples come in 24-bit/48kHz and run on Kontakt 5.8.1, but is not supported on the free player. The sounds are warm and soft, creating a great atmosphere.
This pack comes from popular musician Jungle Drummer. The jazz/breakbeat fusion style is useful in genres from jazz to soul to trip hop, and more. All loops range from 70-170bpm. Most of the loops are in 4/4 time, but there are a few in the unique 5/4 meter. Everything here is a fraction of what is coming with the full Extinction Point release, and it’s all royalty-free. At just around $32 it’s a great way to see if the full set is right for you.
It’s been a great week for free plug-ins, especially if you’re a guitarist or bass player! We’ve got two brand-new tube amp simulations for you this week. Also, an awesome morphing monosynth by Monoplugs is now free, so there’s something for the synth crowd, as well.
Check out our archives for more free plug-ins than your DAW can handle.
Resonant DSP Swanky Amp
Swanky Amp by Resonant DSP is a free, open-source tube amplifier emulation. The model is quite sophisticated; you can read more about the development process here if you’re interested. The plug-in offers preamp, power amp and cabinet models, as well as a staging section and 4-band EQ. As Swanky Amp is open source, you can even download and modify the source code if you’d like. A ‘pro’ version is also in the works and coming soon.
Swanky Amp is currently available for macOS and Windows in AU and VST3 formats.
Here’s another free tube amp simulation. After releasing ToneDeluxe 2 and Modern Deluxe for the guitar crowd earlier this year, Lostin70s is back with a bass amp. Bass Deluxe offers two identical channels with compression, drive and 9-band graphic equalizers. The plug-in also includes a pedalboard with six bass effects. You also get four bass cabinet models (1×15, 8×10, 4×10) and even a looper and some drum grooves for practice. Not bad at all for a freebie!
Bass Deluxe is available for macOS and Windows in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
This remarkable synth was originally released back in 2016. It used to be $49 but is now available for free. Monique is a monophonic, subtractive synthesizer with three oscillators, FM, a bunch of different filters, extensive modulation capabilities, an arpeggiator and effects. The morphing groups are where it’s at. Separate morphing groups for the oscillators, filters, FX/EQ modules and the arpeggiator make Monique a never-ending source of exciting, inspiring sounds.
Monique is available for macOS, Windows and Linux in VST, VST3 and AU formats.
Resonant DSP has released Swanky Amp, a freeware guitar amplifier in VST3 and AU plugin formats for DAW software on PC and Mac. Free guitar and bass amplifier emulations are a dime a dozen these days, and they sound pretty good. But having one more to enjoy cannot possibly hurt, can it? Especially since we […]
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