Monday, November 30, 2009

World AIDS Day

I know this isn't VST related. I'm cross posting this with my other blogs. 


December 1st is also known as World AIDS Day. Whether it be through our behaviour, our friends, loved ones, heroes, even just images from half a world away, we are all affected by this.

I am HIV Negative and I understand that I am lucky.

I have entirely too many friends who are positive, I think of people I used to know in Ottawa and Peterborough and wonder if they're still alive. I hope so. I spent the first 25 years of my life scared shitless that this was going to kill me, especially when I came to the realization that I was gay. It's the second thing my parents thought of when I came out to them (the first thing was whether my brother is as well... he isn't).

I think of a friend down in DC who is bound and determined, despite living with full blown AIDS and KS that he is going to live every day he has to in order to see his grandson graduate from college. He told me that the grimmest jokes come from PWAs themselves. He then told me one:



What's the hardest part about having AIDS? Convincing your mother that you're Haitian.


I spent the afternoon folding papers for the local needle exchange run by the AIDS Committee Of London to do even a small part to help prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis and AIDS amongst intravenous drug users. I'll be getting more involved with them in the future and am helping with the sound setup for the vigil tomorrow, 138 Wellington, the Christ Anglican Church there if anyone local to London can make it. I believe it starts at 7PM and goes to 9PM. If there is a vigil close to you, I implore you to go there. If you're not comfortable going to one if it's in a church, well, do what you need to do but take some time and think about it.

And as I tell all of my friends who happen to tell me they're going on a date: Play safely. Please.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This week's reviews

KXStep


Not being anything remotely close a musical prodigy has its rewards, specifically: step sequencers. Now this is a pretty technical one so don't think it's all click and be done with it. What is pretty hell of awesome about this one though is that you can create a 16 step sequence and, when pressing the transpose to CV option, it will modulate your appregiation brilliance! This also has a gate option so you can incur some regular silence. The synth itself sounds allright, a good oscilator however the controls for the sound itself are more for advanced users. While most of the labels will be familiar, determining any major change to the sound itself will be the difficult part when using this particular synth. There are over 20 interesting built in patches and plenty of room to create your own.

Interface: 3/5
Sound: 4/5
Responsiveness: 3/5
Score: 66%


Modcat

I really wanted to like this one more than I did. I love the presentation, I love the fact that you can switch between monophonic and polyphonic keyboard use. There are 20 out of a possible 50 slots that have synth patches and while they have a great retro sheen to them, especially the 5th and Rnd Fil patches, this synth leaves a few things to be desired sound wise, such as the idea of returning to any key held down in monophonic setting. Of course, that's just me. Design wise this is a very simple, easy to see and read design. The issue the KxStep had with its synthesizer is present here as well, experimenting with the open initial patch did not lead to satisfactory results, simply the discoveries that some commands needed to be at full throttle to be worth a damn (the release) and some were on a hair trigger (the LFO Frequency).

Interface: 4/5
Sound: 3/5
Responsiveness: 2/5
Score 60%


Inorganic

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to present this week's Synth Of The Week. This even comes with its own standalone application that can work with a PC USB keyboard. The controls are as cleatly labelled as they are interesting to see. There are only eleven patches but there is plenty of room to work with in this particular synthesizer. Between 2 oscillators, easy to select filters, built in delay and reverb, with this synth even a beginner will be making some sweet, switched on music very very quickly.

Interface: 5/5
Sound: 4/5
Responsiveness: 5/5
Score: 93%



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Rebuild Of Music Gives Me Superpowers

  •     First, for those of you who came in on this with me, sorry.
  •     Second, I want to apologize to the character of Disc. I've been trying to get him into a story since high school but it's still not the right time.
  •     Third (and most important) I want to introduce you to the new Music Gives Me Superpowers.
    There are plenty of sites that talk about and offer VST plugins but I've yet to find any reviews of VST Plugins available on the internet. So, since as a musician I tend to use VSTs on a regular basis, I've decided to pick and choose VST Plugins at random, testing them out and reviewing them for your edification. I review them based on three criteria:



Interface:     The overall look and design of the VST.

Sound:        How the VST sounds, its variety of possible sounds

Responsiveness:    How well the synth responds to its built in effects, velocity



    So with that in mind, I want to state this right here, right now:



I have absolute respect for all VST programmers. You do amazing work. I write what I write in an effort to be constructive.







MassTurboTar (by Morfiki)



    Behind the clever (not really) name and the green exterior lies a very capable, if noisy synth. It benefits from having a particularly large set of individual patches, each with its own set of presets that alter each one just enough to be noticeable and useful. While MassTurbotar has patches for Bass, Pad, Lead, Key and Sound Effects, its strength is thoroughly rooted in its bass capacity to the point where I thought I was still in the bass section while I was halfway through the leads.

    Aesthetically, the green works for the synth however the thin, circuitboard style lines connecting each knob are thin and confusing and if you play your cards wrong, you will end up with no sound at all. On the plus side, the VST comes with a very well done PDF explaining what each knob and line represent. That being said, the documentation also assumes that you know the know the language like an old pro. If you are new to VSTs and couldn't tell a sine from a square, that's quite allright... but you should probably read more.

    Overall, MassTurboTar is a robust bass synth that is easily used by beginners but probably best used by the intermediate or advanced set of VST aficionados.



Interface    3/5

Sound        4/5

Responsiveness    5/5

Score        75%





Antopya (by L-Day)


    From the loud, we go to the quiet one. Antopya is designed to to be an ambient synth with adjustable oscillations, built in chorus, delay and a neat placement system between the moon and the earth to determine pitch. It comes with a relatively small group of patches and no Initial patch to build from. What it does, however, is retain your settings for a patch should you switch to another, specifically the BPM setting. planet alignment and synth settings. Aesthetically it is one of the prettier synths I've had the fortune to review.

    The downside of this synth is that because it is designed for ambient use, to really get sound out of it, you either need to turn the velocity up manually in order to play lightly and even then there is no guarantee you won't crack the red on the volume. By all means, Antopya has the ability to sound gorgeous and spare, its bright piano and hypercube patches are a testament to this ability, but the few offered patches and tempermental velocity readings on this synth put it at a something of a disadvantage.



Interface    4/5

Sound        4/5

responsiveness    3/5

Score        73%




FMMF (By De La Mancha)



    Designed initially to be an "FM synth anyone could use", the deveoper at delamancha certainly succeeded. Ease OF Use should be somewhere in the title of this thing. The problem, and maybe this is my own bias coming through, is that there are too many noise patches. However, there are quite a few very nice lead and Arp patches and an Initial patch that a user can use to design their own shape with a few clicks of a mouse. There is a built in appregiator with a discernable beat counter. There are four oscillators available, each with an octave and semi tone knob, an amplifier knob and clear numbers and symbols to determine what whomever uses this synth wants to use it for.

    While during testing, I did break into the red zone, I only did so by 0.3db. There's a fair amount of power under this synth making it one I will definitely come back to.



Interface    5/5

Sound        4/5

Responsiveness    4/5

Score        86%





Metatron (By Psychic Modulation)




    Metatron is the name of the Voice of God, it's also the name of an allright virtual synth whose arp and gate patches have an odd but not unwelcome staccato quality. The itnerface is clean though the text is a touch difficult to read. There are a number of patches with simple names, the type of patch and the number where it fits in sequence although while going through each, the patches did end up feeling very similar and repetative.

    While the gate sequencer is fun to play with and can lead to some interesting combinations with an additional delay effect as the included one does not seem particularly effective. On the plus side, inverting the filter can open up an expansion on the sound itself.

    That being said, Metatron is a noble effort but honestly it would not be my first choice. It has a great interface but its overall lack of variety hurts it in the end.



Interface    5/5

Sound        2/5

Responsiveness    3/5

Score        66%   





That concludes the VST reviews this week, if you would like to download and try these yourself, you can find them and many more at : http://www.kvraudio.com/developer_challenge_2009.php#09_35



Where did the stories go?

You ever have one of those ideas that you think is hell of awesome and you'll have so much breadth of material and no matter what you'll be able to update regularly?

Yeah.

Didn't happen.

So where are the two posts that were here? Lost in internet caches of the few people who looked upon this site. The fact is they are gone, not coming back and something better, more human, will be here in their stead. This blog needs a redesign, a shift in focus and will be on a regular track as of next week. In the meantime, might I suggest looking up the meaning of the VST? That should be a hint right there.

Also, I expect a new logo next week as well.