Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sale on Audio Nerd Books (And Others) at Packt

I read a post at FlipMu on a book about using the JUCE library for C++. I've been wanting to jump into JUCE as a way of building compiled instruments for non-Reaktor users. Not that I'll ever stop using and building in Reaktor - but I'd like to reach out to people who aren't "of the body" as they say on Beta III.

Having missed the deadline to win a copy, I looked up the publisher's website and discovered a giant sale in progress - all books and videos are $5! I immediately grabbed Getting started with JUCE and am now eyeing these guys:

Mapping and Visualization with SuperCollider

Multimedia Programming with Pure Data

Mastering openFrameworks: Creative Coding Demystified

The SuperCollider book is especially interesting, as it has chapters on synthesizing waveforms from data. Unusually, it's more oriented to visuals than audio, but the math and programming principles still apply to the language, and it covers stuff the free / online tutorials don't. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Desert Island Plugins: The Best Virtual Instruments

I have too many instrument plugins, like anyone else who uses a DAW. Some are free, some are paid, and put them all together and ya got options paralysis. So I decided to get out the pruning shears.

Here's what I consider the top plugin instruments, the ones I can't do without:

Reaktor. Duh. It can do things nothing else can do and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Synthmaster - this thing has completely spoiled me for most other "straight" plugins. And by straight plugs, I mean not a construction kit like Reaktor or an elaborate scripted sampler like Kontakt. I can load up a beat and noodle around on Synthmaster presets for hours. It's like ear candy laced with ear crack. Ridiculously gorgeous sounding. If you think the buzz about Synthmaster is just hype - nope. Try it and see for yourself.

Geist - a superb plugin for cranking out swinging MPC type beats. Well designed, great workflow, enough bells and whistles but not too many; it's a productive and stable beat-making environment with low to moderate resource usage.

Tremor - for a drum machine from the same company that makes Geist, this has very little overlap. The polyrhythmic and probabilistic features remind me of my own ParamDrum ensemble for Reaktor, but it uses synthesis instead of samples. Going by what people say, I think the sound is a love or hate thing. I love it to death, me. Great workflow like Geist. I can put together a beat in this that morphs over time and just listen to it chug hypnotically for half an hour instead of listening to an album.

Kontakt - like Reaktor this can do things nothing else can do, and approaches much of what Reaktor does in the area of sampling, thanks to its scripting language. I find myself exploring Kontakt more and more, and using it for creative sampling rather than as the big dumb multi-gigabyte library playback leviathan it also is.

Honorable mention: DCAM Synth Squad. The mind melting sound is unparalleled in the sphere of analog emulation, but the lack of a stable 64 bit version has me reaching for it less these days. I hope the FXpansion fellas do something about this soon, so I can add it to my list of vital desert island coconuts.