We’ve got three new free plug-ins for you this week, and there’s something for everyone: a free multiband gate for all your audio cleanup needs, a string machine synthesizer for Linux and an emulation of a famous guitar pedal. Here’s MGATE-MULTI, Performer Free and MT2.
Head over to our archives for many more free plug-ins!
Mogwai Audio Tools MGATE-MULTI
MGATE-MULTI by Mogwai Audio Tools is a multiband gate that divides your audio into up to six frequency bands. This is useful for removing unwanted signal components in specific frequency bands, without affecting the rest of the signal. You can set the crossover frequencies and adjust the gate using the threshold, ratio, attack and release knobs. Each band can be deactivated, bypassed and soloed individually. There’s also a lookahead function. A very useful tool, and it’s free for now.
MGATE-MULTI is available for Windows and macOS in VST3, AU and AAX formats (64 bit only).
Here’s a treat for the Linux crowd! Crumar has made its emulation of the famous Performer string synthesizer available for free on the Linux platform. The plug-in was originally released in December for PC and Mac. For the free Linux version, Crumar has removed all the extras, leaving just an emulation of the Performer as it is in real life. It’s precompiled for amd64 and armhf (Raspberry Pi). This means that you can now upgrade your Pi-based synth with an awesome string machine for free!
Crumar Performer Free is available for Linux in VST and VST3 formats. The commercial version for Windows and macOS costs €99.
This Audio Toolkit-based freebie emulates the famous Boss MT-2 Metal Zone distortion pedal. The developer says that it models all the tone-shaping components of the pedal, including the override section, and delivers an accurate reproduction of the characteristic Metal Zone sound. The simple GUI doesn’t look anything like the pedal, but it has all the controls: distortion, low, high and mid level and mid frequency. Hidden controls provide access to a bunch of advanced parameters.
MT2 is available for Windows and macOS in VST3 and AU formats.
ADSR offers the Valves (€59 value) plugin by AudioThing for free with any purchase. The offer is available until March 31st and can be redeemed by simply clicking the free add-on checkbox at checkout. Valves by AudioThing is a vintage tube emulation plugin that helps you get that bluesy triode sound, high-gain pentode sound, and […]
SampleScience releases the G-Town Church Sample Project sound library by Tobias Marberger as a free download. The G-Town Church Sampling Project takes its name from the Swedish town of Grebbestab, where it was recorded in a local church. The sounds were captured by music producer Tobias Marberger and released by SampleScience. The collection contains a […]
Roland releases the JD-800 Model Expansion for Zenology and Jupiter-X/Xm. You can try it out until the end of the month absolutely free.
Cor, what a monster! The JD-800 was one of the most imposing synthesizers in anyone’s rack. Built at a time when nothing had hands-on controls it’s covered in sliders and buttons and looks like it would feel at home in a Sci-Fi movie. It seems odd now that the field of sliders was considered “retro” and out of step with the digitally driven menus and preset surfing of other synths.
The sound was based on the Roland D-50 but with updated sounds reflecting the emerging dance music scene of the early 1990s but with a nice fat multimode filter and effects section. It was a bit of a revolution… or should we say rave-olution (!)
Roland JD-800 Model Expansion
Anyway, Roland has chased it down, cornered it and roped it into a Model Expansion for their Zen-Core platform. You can run it in the Zenology virtual instrument or it can be loaded into Zen-Core compatible devices such as the Jupiter-X and Jupiter-Xm synthesizers which is going to give it a whole new life I think.
The Model Expansion comes with 64 of the original presets and all the sound functionality and synthesis engine has been modelled and tweaked to perfection. The Zenology software gives you access to all the controls of the vast sound engine.
You can try it now with a free Roland Cloud account and Zenology Lite. Or if you subscribe to Pro or Ultimate then it’s part of your bundle. Alternatively, you can buy a lifetime key for the JD-800 Model Expansion for $149.
Plugin Boutique offers the Wave Box plugin by AudioThing as a free download with any purchase this month. Wave Box is a dynamic dual wave shaping device that can generate either symmetrical or asymmetrical distortion. You can download it for free with any purchase at Plugin Boutique by the end of March. Waveshaping Distortion Unlike […]
Thomann is bringing together a bunch of brands, artists and creators for an online synthesizer jamboree called Keys & Frequencies. It’s inspired by its Synth Reactor event from 2019, retooled for the Covid age.
Keys & Frequencies
Thomann are going virtual with a live, interactive and free festival of gear and gurus. It’s designed as a live platform for anyone interesting in synths where you’ll be able to check out products, view performances, listen to talks and take part in workshops.
All this takes place on 27 March 2021 between 2 pm and 8 pm (CET). The list of brands taking part includes Korg, Nord, Akai, Arturia, ASM, Dreadbox, IK Multimedia, Modal, Moog, Novation, Roland, SOMA Labs, Waldorf and Yamaha. So quite a few big-hitters there, with a couple of smaller names to keep it interesting.
On the artist side you have Mathew Jonson, Radioslave, Rebekah, Inhalt Der Nacht and Cinthie. From the world of YouTube synth shenanigans you have BoBeats, Cuckoo, DivKid, Doctor Mix, Gaz Williams, Hainbach, Look Mum No Computer, Noize London, Red Means Recording, SynthMania and Vosne. Many of those will be familiar to some of our readers, I’m sure.
The event will be run on “RunTheWorld” virtual events software which hopes to make it very interactive and exciting. My experience of virtual events over the past year has been very mixed. Last year’s virtual Superbooth was great and largely thrown together at the last moment. More organised events such as the recent NAMM, on the other hand, have been fairly disappointing. A lot of this has been down to the baffling interface, dull content and lack of information on how to take part. Hopefully, Thomann has a solid plan in place to make access easy and keep the content lively. 6 hours also doesn’t seem like a lot considering the number of contributors although the promo video does mention simultaneous live streams. At the virtual SynthBooth last year all the talks were restricted to about half an hour and rarely got going before they had to finish.
These sorts of events are a challenge and it will be interesting to see how well Keys & Frequencies comes across and engages with an enthusiastic and bored synth community.
The concept is certainly exciting and the promo video fills me with the hope of a cool event. A full schedule is coming soon.
Announced at NAMM 2021, Epiphone’s Nancy Wilson Fanatic signature model definitely caught our eye. Based upon the cult classic Nighthawk, the Fanatic marks a welcome return for this design. Epiphone was kind enough to send me one to take out for a spin. And super-interesting it turned out to be, too! Here are my impressions of Nancy Wilson’s new signature model.
Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic
Let’s start off with some background on the history of how this guitar came to be. There are various stories as to how this shape appeared in the Gibson catalogue. Importantly, most of them involve Nancy Wilson of the rock group Heart. According to Wilson herself, Gibson approached her regarding a signature model in the 1980s. As a consequence, she presented Gibson with the outline of the guitar which became the Gibson Nighthawk.
Finally, in 2013, Gibson released Wilson’s design as the “Nancy Wilson Nighthawk” along with a hefty price tag too! Now, in 2021 we have the Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic, an affordable version of her Gibson signature model.
From the moment Epiphone announced the Nancy Wilson Fanatic signature model, I was itching to get my hands on one. I’ve been a long term Les Paul player, but nowadays prefer guitars with less physical heft and more versatility. The Fanatic suggested I might just find the perfect balance of Gibson and Fender design details. Without a doubt, this was one guitar I was eager to review…
Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic
Unpacking the Fanatic from its shipping carton, I first found a very attractive black vinyl covered hard case. Buyers will rejoice in hearing that this case is included in the purchase price. Clearly, a nice touch, especially on a non-standard sized guitar.
Opening the case, I was not disappointed, this is a handsome guitar! It should be noted you can only get the Fanatic in one colour, namely, Fireburst. Undoubtedly though it’s a beautiful finish and really compliments the figured maple veneer top.
From a purely superficial, aesthetic standpoint, Epiphone has absolutely nailed it with the Fanatic. Lift the lid on the case and it has a “wow factor” beyond its price point.
Fit and Finish
A criticism I’ve had of Epiphones of the past is the “plasticky” lacquer used on their guitars and sadly the Fanatic suffers just the same. Admittedly, at this price point, you’re not going to find a nitrocellulose finish! That aside, I had to look really hard to find anything disagreeable in terms of fit and finish. There’s some slight overspray on the binding, but again at this price point, it’s an impressively screwed together guitar.
Putting fingers to fretboard I was deeply impressed by the factory setup. The action is low and buzz-free and the intonation from that hardtail strat-type bridge is spot on. I particularly like the ebony fretboard with neatly installed inlays.
The tuners are an Epiphone branded version of the classic “Gibson Deluxe”-style tuner and have a solid and smooth feel in operation. Tuning stability was superb. Indeed, the guitar was perfectly in tune out of the case and stayed that way through most of my playing!
The Neck – Fender Scale and Gibson Profile?
I don’t know about you, but the profile and feel of a guitar’s neck is absolutely a “make or break” feature for me. Just as the rest of the guitar is a hybrid of Fender and Gibson design touches, likewise so is the neck. You’ll find a Fender-style 25.5″ scale length along with a chunky, Gibson-style Rounded C profile neck. Clearly, this is going to be a very personal preference you’ll either love or hate.
I personally loved the note definition and chime the extra scale length gave chords and individual notes. On the other hand, I found the combination of a chunky neck with extra scale length a literal and metaphorical handful!
I should point out that I have smaller than average hands and so usually favour short scale and thin necked guitars. By the same token, I’d hoped that a guitar with slimmed-down body dimensions and reduced weight might have a slinkier neck than this.
Once again, neck profile and shape is a very personal issue. But I can’t help but feel a slimmer neck profile would make this a more attractive guitar to a wider cross-section of players.
Pickups and Electronics
In years gone by, Epiphone pickups and electronics undoubtedly let their guitars down. I’m pleased to say that judging from this example, those days are long gone. I found it impossible to criticise the Epiphone ProBucker pickups in any way, considering the price point.
I couldn’t resist a cheeky look in the electronics cavity and was consequently impressed with what I found. Some cheaper guitars manufactured in east Asia suffer from electronics that may not stand up to vigorous playing or stage use. But this looks competently done.
Instead of the dreaded mini-pots and circuit board style selector switch, you’ll find proper full-size pots and a traditional wafer-style, five-position selector switch. Impressive!
Tones and Playability
Thanks to the five-way selector switch, you have access to a mix of full humbucking, coil tapped, and coil tapped pickup mix tones. Even more impressive is how good the coil tapped tones sound; the centre position tone with both of the inner coils mixed together is glorious. Like a warm, rich and full Telecaster! It’s one of the standout tones on offer.
The control layout is, admittedly, always going to be one of personal preference. I have no issue with the Strat-type pickup selector location. What I found irritating was the position of the volume knob that always seemed to be in the way. I find it equally irritating on a Strat, however, so perhaps this is another one of those areas of Gibson vs Fender design features you’ll love or hate.
Undoubtedly, The Nancy Wilson Fanatic has a unique tonality all of its own. As I’ve already mentioned, the Fender scale length and through body stringing gives remarkable sustain and definition. Couple that with the mahogany body, neck and Ebony fretboard and you have something quite special.
Indie guitarists will simply love the chime and the warm, rounded tone from big open chords. Tuning down to D or further, that longer scale length coupled to the warmth of the mahogany makes this a machine for doom and metal styles too.
The Gearnews Verdict
Without any doubt, the Epiphone Nancy Wilson Fanatic offers incredible value for money. At this price point, any negative criticism comes down largely to personal preference. I continue to find it amazing just how much guitar you can buy for between €500-600 nowadays!
It’s a great looking guitar and everyone I showed the review example to was taken in by its good looks and equally amazed it didn’t cost significantly more money.
Even so, from a personal perspective, I sorely wish the neck had a slimmer profile to complement the slimmed-down, more comfortable body design. I recommend you try one out for yourself to see if the hybrid of Fender and Gibson features strikes the right balance for you.
The Wireless Go II is Rode’s latest update to its successful wireless mic system. One look at the images and spec sheet, and we’re pretty certain that this could be the simplest, most compact wireless mic available at the moment.
Rode Wireless Go II
Rode continues to be an innovative company, and in our opinion, it seems to have its finger on the pulse. We were excited by the Rodecaster Pro back in 2018 and we’re still excited to see they’re releasing innovative products.
We’ve said this a lot over the last year, but the definition of “live” has changed. We’ve all switched to making and/or watching content online. So any tool that makes this easier and faster is welcomed by us with open arms!
Now comes the latest iteration of its successful Wireless Go wireless microphone system. Unlike a conventional wireless mic system, it’s a combined transmitter, recorder, interface and microphone all in one. Yup, each transmitter has a built-in mic as well.
For a very reasonable sum of money, you get two transmitters and a receiver. Importantly, each transmitter is small enough to clip on anywhere you’d wear a broach or large badge. It should be noted that each transmitter also doubles as a recorder! How neat is that!
Clever Portable Tech
Rode has made a big deal of how simple, foolproof and accessible the tech in the Wireless Go II is. Whilst we haven’t had a set to try out yet (hello Rode, if you’re listening), the tech used certainly seems impressive.
Rode has sensibly opted for the 2.4Ghz band for the Wireless Go II. It’s simple, license-free and ideal for the application. A 200m range is more than adequate and your audio is security encrypted too.
Without a doubt, one of our favourite features is the “safety channel”. A second audio channel at -20db in case your main audio level clips. What a lifesaver!
The connectivity is great: you can plug in an external microphone if you need something a bit more specialised than the built-in mic. You can also connect the receiver directly to a mobile device via USB-C or Lightning. We also like the comprehensive accessories Rode has on offer.
Altogether then, if the technology delivers on the promises, this is a very difficult product to fault. Bravo Rode!
Vladyslav Voinov has released PeakEater, an open-source waveshaper effect in VST3 and AU plugin formats for PC and Mac. PeakEater is a free, open-source VST3/AU waveshaper plugin, and it’s available from Github. It is the first audio plugin released by Vladyslav Voinov, an indie developer based in Munich, Germany. Inspired by Kazrog KClip 3 and […]
Fender has just announced a new series of one-off Custom Shop Masterbuilt models all finished in Surf Green. The Surf Green with Envy Collection includes all the iconic Fender guitars and basses. And even contains a drum kit and two stompboxes!
Masterbuilt Surf Green with Envy Collection
The Surf Green with Envy Collection was the brain-child of FenderMaster BuildersPaul Waller and Ron Thorn. The series features models from all the Custom Shop Master Builders. Each builder was free to choose a particular year in Fender history to showcase, as long as it was finished in Surf Green!
Drum kit & Stompboxes
The collection includes six amplifiers, two pedals, and even a custom painted Gretsch drum kit amongst the run of guitars and basses. The two pedals on offer are both hand built by Fender’s Vice President, R&D, Stan Cotey and include a Tremolo and a Boost pedal.
Each model in the Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt Surf Green with Envy Collection is one-of-a-kind and unique. The instruments will only be available from authorised Fender Custom Shop showcase dealers, either in person or online. So if you’re a fan of Surf Green, get in touch with your local dealer. You can check out the official video below which gives you an overview of the concept.
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.