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05 August 2015

News: Spectrasonics releases Omnisphere v2.1 update

Spectrasonics has released Omnisphere 2.1 with a streamlined 'Sharing' feature for sharing user sounds, and a new Library Publishing capability

In May, Omnisphere Version 2.0 was released with vastly expanded new synthesis and creative capabilities for sound design, along with significant user interface innovations, and thousands of new sounds - see the feature list below.

The new v2.1 update, a free download to Omnisphere version 2 users, includes refined patch and project sharing features for exchanging custom sounds between end-users directly or over social media, a Library Publishing feature allowing third-party sound developers to create easily installable sound sets for Omnisphere 2 users, plus an improved boot time for the plugin itself. Both the Sound Sharing and Publishing features can contain 'User Audio', offering new horizons in patch creation and simplified collaboration.

29 July 2015

SPECTRASONICS OMNISPHERE 2 Review | £285/$499/€399

Since launch, Omnisphere has proved to be a titan among software instruments. Back in 2008, California-based developer Spectrasonics rolled all manner of sound-generation methods into a high-quality, flexible, affordable package that rapidly assumed its place on the must-have lists of many pro-sumer and professional high-tech musicians, picking up numerous awards along the way.

There’s been a number of interim updates, but the whole-number step to version 2 has been a very long time coming. Then on April 30 this year, the latest incarnation of the cross-platform, VST/AU/AAX/RTAS sound-creation engine blew socks off far and wide, even picking up a Best of Show award at this year’s Winter NAMM. Why so?

13 April 2015

iZOTOPE RX 4 Review £239 / $349
iZOTOPE RX 4 ADVANCED Review £815 / $1,199

It seems like only 18 months since this very organ (then MuzoBlog) sang the praises of iZotope’s audio-perfecting suite RX 3 in both its standard and Advanced versions. Since then, industry awards have sallied forth proclaiming the title’s sound-polishing modules an “Outstanding Technical Achievement” (NAMM 2015 TEC award) and a “Technical Achievement In Post Production” (Cinema Audio Society 50th annual awards).

Talking about cinema, The Hobbit audio guy Ray Beejentles has been doing just that (see interview), describing RX 3’s successor a “game changer” by which more than 80 per cent of the WingNut film’s original production recordings were saved before blending into automated dialogue replacement (ADR) - impressive. “With RX 4 Denoiser, we were able to use lines from The Hobbit that would have been thrown away during The Lord Of The Rings,” he enthuses.

However, there’s more to RX than optimising orc-tongue. Skip to 2013's FellKlang RX 3 review to discover how much of a music studio essential this software has become, from taming background uglies, thru surgically removing unwanted clanks and parps blighting individual takes, to prepping mixes for commercial release. The conclusions reached in 2013 apply just as much today, but first, a video just so we know we're all on the same webpage…

31 March 2015

Lite £49 | Pro £199 | Pro Extended £299

There’s much hoo-ha about performers promoting themselves as singers while using auto-tune technology to disguise the fact that they can’t sing. They may have the looks and attitude, but when they open their mouths ready to belt it out, teeth grate; ears bleed.

Rather than buying into the con, one could robotise the vocal and go for an electro-pop sound, or just forget about singing and do death metal, or whatever other metal sub-genre accommodates a good ‘graaargh!’ for a lyric. However, get the technique wrong and a career may get dented.

We’re looking at vocal cord nodules, polyps, ulcers, or even paralysis, which ain’t great if you’re halfway through a studio album or tour. So how about taking a leaf out of the industrial music handbook? Use tech to distort, re-pitch, mash and otherwise marmalize the vocal.

Most every electric guitarist has at least one overdrive, distortion or fuzz effect ready to switch on for instant talent, so why not the singer? There are heaps of techie ways to mess up a vocal and one that has pinged loud on the FellKlang radar of late is Krotos Dehumaniser.

Designed for voice-overs and SFX in video games and on soundtracks, this Mac/Windows standalone suite lends itself ideally to monster music production, such is its wealth of tweakables.

For a taste of such, here’s a delightful little ditty featuring a monster having a rather angry day...

02 February 2015

TOONTRACK BASIC JAZZ MIDI Review | £19.95 / €25

Jazz great Buddy Rich is said to have said: "I can think of a lot better things to do with my hands than to cut them up on the rim of a drum.” Not only were the words highly relevant in his day, he was almost certainly alluding to the plight of modern-day rhythm programmers' fingers. Possibly.

Hammering away on trigger pads while trying to inject human feel into beats that stray from dancefloor fodder does not happy digits make. The blindingly obvious work-around is to hire a real drummer for authentic performances in jazzy, swinging tracks focused more on love than sex, cars and guns.

If you're not equipped for recording real drums, then tracking an electronic kit with a MIDI sequencer could do the trick.

However, running up basic jazz numbers when alone in the studio demands some clever thinking. And that's what Toontrack has been up to in devising its Basic Jazz MIDI pack.

19 January 2015


Since foundation in 2007, British sampling specialist Spitfire Audio has forged a feisty reputation for creating world-class libraries of a classical bent for Native Instruments Kontakt. In fact, it immediately became clear, on the release of a debut product line in 2010, that the company’s output would be as characterful and quintessentially British as RJ Mitchell's slightly famous fighter aircraft.

Spitfire’s first outing, the Albion range, demonstrated there’s more to the company’s ethos than combining quality sampling with clever scripting and ingenious interface design by which to challenge the Kontakt engine.

Spitfire’s founders deduced that a sterile, machine-driven approach would result in yet more me-too offerings, indistinguishable from the waves of watery orchestral sample libraries already flooding the market. Rather, they hit on hosing the audience with the sensibilities of wetware (people), liberally dispensing the human spirit and character that do great instrumental performances make. And such is the case with eDNA01 - Earth, the ‘e’ for ‘electronic’, followed by ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ (presumably), along with the library’s planet of origin...

Whatever the reasoning behind the name, squirting all this characterfully human goo around created an an ocean of overmatter; terabytes of stuff amassed during years of product development that other outfits may have just spat into the sink. Not so our resourceful Spits.

15 January 2015

A 38,000-SAMPLE ORCHESTRA | €249,90*+VAT

*Developer’s largest Kontakt instrument to date on time-limited special offer - goes full €299.90+VAT next week. See website for more.

Following the slightly gargantuan Grosso launched last year, sample-instrument developer Sonokinetic presents Capriccio, a 38,000 sample, phrase-based Kontakt instrument capturing the vigorous sound of a full symphony orchestra.

“Capriccio is our biggest orchestral collection yet, both in terms of physical size and in terms of sound, which is just... BIG,“ says the dev.

“We had conductor Petr Pololanik approach the limits of his Capellen orchestra for these recording sessions, and the resulting energy, drive and power really comes across in each and every sample. Each phrase has been carefully treated from conception through production to implementation in the final instrument, to make sure it would work as a whole, and be as widely usable as possible.

“We say it is big, and the sound is big, but the sound has a diverse range of uses and is only limited by your own imagination. You can use Capriccio as a base for your composition, or to complement an existing piece, using only bits and pieces. It can be really loud and awe-inspiring, or gently set the mood.