Recently, game audio industry vet Jeremy Rogers launched a new SFX library store & blog at www.thesoundkeeper.com. While the blog is still new, he’s already putting out some interesting articles, including his most recent “The Top 5 Must-Have Plugins for Sound Designers“. Check it out for Jeremy’s plugin recommendations, as well as some brief descriptions on how he uses them in his own work!
Back around the time I was first starting out, I remember opening up a demo of Cubase VST (on my trusty PowerMac 6400) and taking a look through the various menus. Everything seemed pretty standard, but something in particular caught my eye, a menu item labeled “Ears Only”. Curious, I clicked on it, only to have my monitor go completely blank. After a few seconds of panic thinking I had broken everything, I realized that Steinberg had programmed a mode that completely disabled the monitor and forced you to just listen. At first, this option seemed like a strange addition. Why, when I’m creating sound, would I not be listening to what I’m doing? Listening while working with audio seemed like a no-brainer. However, after gaining a little more experience, this “just listen” mode began to make a lot more sense.
METAMORPH is the latest sample library from Twisted Tools, makers of the designed sample libraries as well as some fun and unique Reaktor ensembles. With sounds designed by BJM Mario Bajardi and Komplex (Iter-Research), METAMORPH “takes heavily processed violins, pianos and acoustic instruments and morphs them into impacts, sci-fi atmospheres, user interface elements and beyond.”
METAMORPH comes as stereo 24-bit, 96kHz BWAV files with full SoundMiner metadata for easy searching. It includes sampler kits for Ableton Live 9’s Sampler and Simpler, Logic 9’s EXS24, and Native Instruments’ Kontakt, Battery, and Maschine; Also induced is the MP16d, Twisted Tools’ sample player. METAMORPH contains just over 2 GB of samples broken down into 10 categories: Drums, Imaging Elements, Micro, Noises, Pass By, Sci-Fi Atmos, SFX, Textures, Tonal, and Composite. The “Micro” category includes User Interface and “Microbot” elements. There’s a good selection of sounds to be had, and the added metadata makes finding things fairly easy.
Last week I came across a post on the Cycling ’74 Wiki about exporting gen~ code into an AU plugin. It looked too simple a process to be true, so I began investigating. After a few hours of work (and some help from the C74 forums because I stumbled across a bug) I managed to get a simple distortion plugin working. The whole process is actually quite simple, after you spend a few agonising hours figuring the system out – like with most things. I must mention that the code export feature in gen~ is still in beta, so things are expected to break. I look forward to a stable release, there’s so much that can be done with such a great sounding DSP library!
What is gen~?
Gen~ is an environment within Max that was introduced in version 6.0. It allows for patching of low level operations that are instantly compiled into great sounding objects without the limitations of MSP. I’ve been using it for about a year now and it sounds absolutely amazing. Version 6.1 of Max makes it possible to export gen~ objects as C++ code, making it portable. Cycling ’74 plans to add documentation for VST plugins and the iOS operating system in the near future.
For this tutorial we are going to attempt to create a tremolo AU plugin (sorry Windows users!). We’ll first start with trying to understand how a tremolo plugin works and implement a basic version within Max (I’ll translate object names for the Pd users out there) and then re-create it within gen~ so that we can export the code that will help create our AU plugin.
DISCLAIMER/WARNING/MESSAGE IN CAPS: gen~ is in beta and there are chances that the code you compile might not work. I’ve got the AU plugin working fine on my computer (OSX 10.7) but haven’t been able to get it to work properly in 10.8. I am also not a coder, I know just enough to hack (or break) my way around things. If you think you’ve come across a bug, do let the kind folks at Cycling ’74 know.
Endless Series is a unique audio tool from Oli Larkin. It is tough to describe it in a single sentence. The description on the ‘box’ says “Shepard/Risset Tone Modulation”, which only scratches the surface of what this plugin is capable of.
What are Shepard/Risset tones?
From the manual:
Endless Series is an experimental effect/tone generator based on the auditory illusion known as The “Shepard Tone/Scale” after Roger N. Shepard who discovered it in the 1960s. Shepard demonstrated that using basic additive synthesis principles it’s possible to create the illusion of a continuously rising or descending chromatic scale. Although Shepard’s scale appears as if it is constantly moving in one direction, in fact, after twelve steps it returns to where it started.
The composer Jean-Claude Risset did further work with circular pitch illusions and created a version based on a glissando rather than a scale (sometimes known as a Risset-Tone), which he used in several compositions.
So, what does it do?
Endless Series synthesises Shepard/Risset tones and most importantly allows you to change and modulate the parameters that affect the synthesises of these tones = lots of cool design options! More importantly, it can also modulate an audio input signal using different modulation modes (more below). The plugin might not make sense on first run, but the manual is quite extensive and very clear.