Last week the internet spontaneously combusted at some news from Uli Behringer that his company was thinking about developing a cheap ($400) Minimoog Model D clone. Ok, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration but the salt was definitely flowing over at the Gearslutz forum and it’s safe to say that Mr Behringer sure knows how to split people into two distinct camps. His following comment rubbed some people up the wrong way:
“Many people have asked us to revive synth jewels from the past and make them affordable so everyone can own one. This very much resonates with me because when I was a kid, I spent hours in stores playing and admiring those synths – however I couldn’t afford them which was tremendously frustrating.
Frankly, I never understood why someone would charge you US$ 4,000 for a MiniMoog, when the components just cost around US$ 200.”
I actually see a lot of merit in this and hot on the heels of the success of the Deepmind12 I see no reason why the company shouldn’t use the engineer talent from MIDAS for every good use they can possibly think of. I highly doubt with that level of talent on-board that they will settle for simple clones, the Juno 106 clone that slowly transformed into the DM12 is a prime example of this train of thought.
Anyway, I digress. On one hand we have a group of people who think that this behaviour is total sacrilege. More so coming from Uli’s company who have the manufacturing facilities and buying power to make this cheap Model D a reality. Certain commenters have been quite vocal about this being a case of big B throwing a serious spanner in the works for the smaller boutique companies who simply cannot compete in terms of buying power and manufacturing cost – especially as Moog have reissued the Model D recently themselves.
On the other hand we have struggling musicians and those who don’t care what badge a piece of gear has, as long as it sounds good and they can afford it then its a win-win. After all the posturing and proverbial mud slinging, Uli posted a gorgeous little render of a Eurorack compatible Model D clone…and with it the internet fire seemed to be suffocated by the lack of oxygen due to the communal gasps.
Some of the staunchest naysayers on the thread seemed to relax a little once Uli revealed it wasn’t going to be just a cheap 1:1 clone. Among the ashes of the weeks bickering and moderated comments, there were posts that say Behringer may have plans for another 20 synths. Wait, what?!
Fast forward a week, Uli has now teased that the OSCar and ARP 2600 are high on the priority list and I am personally over the moon! He left this comment on Gearslutz last night
“Aside from the Oscar synth, I can confirm that the 2600 is high on our priority list as it is a truly remarkable synth; I always wanted one for myself:-)
We are currently trying to acquire an original unit for benchmark purposes.
We hope we will be able to show you a first design draft within the next few weeks, while we’re studying the circuit diagrams to provide you with an estimated retail price.
Once ready we will reach out to you to see if there is enough interest.”
Considering I’m not rolling in dosh, I have never had the opportunity to play on any of these mythical beasts, and his projected price range is much more suitable for someone like myself. I personally don’t see these units taking any market share away from the likes of Moog as they are aimed at completely different price points and completely different customer bases that very rarely venture into each others gear territory. Uli Behringer I salute you!
For more info be sure to head over to the Gearslutz forums, unfortunately some of the more colourful posts have been moderated but these threads are still a fantastic read.
Ryzen is finally with us and it is quite possibly one of the most anticipated chipset launches in years, with initial reports and leaked benchmarks tending to show the whole platform in very favourable light.
However when it comes to pro audio handling we tend to have different concerns over performance requirements, than tends to be outlined and covered by more regular computer industry testing. So having now had a chance to sit and work with an AMD 1700X for a week or so, we’ve had the chance to put this brand new tech through some more audio-centric benchmarking, and today we’ll take a first look at this new tech and see if its right for the studio.
AMD has developed a whole new platform with the focus based around improving low level performance and raising the “IPC” or Instructions per clock cycle figure. As ever they have been keen to keep it affordable with certain choices having been made to keep it competitive, and to some extent these are the right choices for a lot of users.
The chipset gives us DDR4 memory but unlike the X99 platform restricts us to dual channel RAM configurations and a maximum of 64GB across the 4 RAM slots which may limit its appeal for heavyweight VSL users. The is a single M.2. connection option for a high speed NVMe drive and 32 lanes for the PCIe connections, so the competing X99 solutions still offer us more scope here, although for the average audio system the restrictions above may offer little to no real downsides at least from a configuration requirements point of view.
One thing missing from the specification however that has an obvious impact in the studio is the lack of Thunderbolt support. Thunderbolt solutions require BIOS level and physical board level support in the shape of the data communication header found on Intel boards, and Thunderbolt itself is an Intel developed standard along with Apple backing. Without either of those companies appearing to be keen to licence it up front, we’re unlikely to see Thunderbolt at launch although the little to say that this couldn’t change in later generations, if the right agreements can be worked out between the firms involved.
Early testing with the drivers available to us have so far proven to be quite robust, with stability being great for what is essentially a first generation release of a new chipset platform. We have seen a few interface issues regarding older USB 2 interfaces and USB 3 headers on the board, although the USB 3 headers we’ve seen are running the Microsoft USB3 drivers, which admittedly have had a few issues over on the Intel boards with certain older USB 2 only interfaces so this looks to be constant between both platforms. Where we’ve seen issues on the Intel side, we’re also seeing issues on the AMD side, so we can’t level this as being an issue with the chipset and may prove to be something that the audio interface guys can fix with either a driver or firmware update.
Overclocking has been limited in our initial testing phase, mainly due to a lack of tools. Current windows testing software is having a hard time with temperature monitoring during our test period, with none of the tools we had available being able to report the temps. This of course is something that will no doubt resolve itself as everyone updates their software over the next few weeks, but until then we tried to play it safe when pushing the clocks up on this initial batch.
We managed to boost our test 1700X up a few notches to around the level of the 1800X in the basic testing we carried out, but taking it further lead to an unstable test bench. No doubt this will improve after launch as the initial silicon yields improve and having not seen a 1800X as yet, that may still proved to be the cherry picked option in the range when it comes to overclocking.
One of the interesting early reports that appeared right before launch was the CPUid benchmark result which suggests that this may shape up to be one of the best performing multi-core consumer grade chips. We set out to replicate this test here and the result of it does indeed look very promising on the surface.
We follow this up with a Geekbench 4 test, which itself is well trusted as a cross platform CPU benchmark and in the single core performance reflects the results seen in the previous test with it placing just behind the i7 7700K in the results chart. The multi-core this time around whilst strong looks to be sat behind the 6900K and in this instance sitting under the 6800K and above the 7700K.
So moving on to our more audio-centric benchmarks and our standard Dawbench test is first up. Designed to load test the CPU itself, we find ourselves here stacking plugin instances in order to establish the chips against a set of baseline level results. The AMD proves itself strongly in this test, placing mid-way between the cost equivalent 6 core Intel 6800K and far more expensive 6900K 8 core. With the AMD 1700X offering us 8 physical cores along with threading on top to take us to a virtual 16 cores, this at first glance looks to be where we would expect it to be with the hardware on offer, but at a very keen price point.
I wanted to try a few more real world comparisons here so first up I’ve taken the Dawbench test and restricted it to 20 channels of plugins. I’ve then applied this test over each of the CPUs we have on test, with the results appearing under the “Reaper” heading on the chart below.
The 1700X stands up well against the i7 7700k but doesn’t quite manage to match up with Intel chips in this instance. In a test like this where we’re not stressing the CPU itself or trying to overload the available bandwidth, the advantages in the low level microarchitecture tend to come to the fore and in this instance the two Intel chips based around the same platform perform roughly in line with each other, although in this test we’re not taking into account the extra bandwidth on offer with the 6900K edition.
Also on the same chart we see two other test results with one being the 8 Good Reasons demo from Cubase 8 and we tried running it across the available CPUs to gain a comparison in a more real world project. In this instance the results come back fairly level across the two high end Intel CPU’s and the AMD 1700X. The 4 core mid-range i7 scores poor here, but this is expected with the obvious lack of a physical cores hampering the project playback load.
We also ran the “These Arms” Sonar demo and replicated the test process again. This tests results are a bit more erratic this time around, with a certain emphasis looking to be placed on the single core score as well as the overall multi core score. This is the first time we see the 1700X falling behind the Intel results.
In other testing we’ve done along the way in other segments we’ve seen some of the video rendering packages and even some games exhibiting some CPU based performance oddness that has looked out of the ordinary. Obviously we have a concern here that the might be a weakness that needs to be addressed when it comes to overall audio system performance, so with this result in mind we decided to dig deeper.
To do so we’ve made use of the DAWBench Vi test, which builds upon the basic test in DAWBench standard, and allows us to stack multiple layers of Kontakt based instruments on top of it. With this test, not only are we place a heavy load on the CPU, but we’re also stressing the sub-system and seeing how capable it is at quickly handling large complex data loads.
This gave us the results found in the chart above and this starts to shine some light on the concerns that we have.
In this instance the AMD 1700X under-performs all of the Intel chips at lower buffer rates. it does scale up steadily however, so this looks to be an issue with how quickly it can process the contents of a buffer load.
So what’s going on here?
Well the other relevant information to flesh out the chart above is just how much CPU load was being used when the audio started to break up in playback.
So the big problem here appears to be inefficiency at lower buffer rates. The ASIO buffer is throwing data at the CPU in quicker bursts the lower you go with the setting, so with the audio crackling and breaking up it seems that the CPU just isn’t clearing the buffer quickly enough once it gets to around 70% CPU load at those lower 64 & 128 buffer settings
Intel at this buffer setting looks to be hitting 85% or higher, so whilst the AMD chip may have more RAW performance to hand, the responsiveness of the rest of the architecture appears to be letting it down. It’s no big secret looking over the early reviews that whilst AMD has made some amazing gains with the IPC rates this generation they still appear to be lagging slightly behind Intel in this performance metric.
So the results start to outline this as one of the key weaknesses in the Ryzen configuration, with it becoming quite apparent that the are bottle necks elsewhere in the architecture that are coming into play beyond the new CPU’s. At the lower buffer settings the test tends to benefit single core performance, with the Intel chips taking a solid lead. As you slacken off the buffer itself, more cores become the better option as the system is able to spread the load but even then it isn’t until we hit a 192 buffer setting on the ASIO drivers that the performance catches up to the intel 4 Core CPU.
This appears to be one section where the AMD performance still seems to be lacking compared with the Intel family be that due to hardware bottle necks or still not quite having caught up in the overall IPC handling at the chipset level.
What we also see is the performance start to catch up with intel again as the buffer is relaxed, so it’s clear that a certain amount of performance is still there to be had, but the system just can’t access it quickly enough when placed under heavy complex loads.
What we can safely say having taken this look at the Ryzen platform, is that across the tests we’ve carried out so far that the AMD platform has made some serious gains with this generation. Indeed the is no denying that the is going to be more than a few scenarios where the AMD hardware is able to compete and will beat the competition.
However with the bottlenecks we’ve seen concerning load balancing of complex audio chains, the is a lot of concern here that it simply won’t offer the required bang per buck for a dedicated studio PC. As the silicon continues to be refined and the chip-set and drivers are fine-tuned then we should see the whole platform continue to move from strength to strength, but at this stage until more is known about those strength and weaknesses of the hardware, you should be aware that it has both its pros and cons to consider.
The entire range of Wampler Pedals are now available here at Scan and we are just slightly pleased to have them all here under our roof. I say slightly pleased……..as a pedal freak I’m ecstatic that these pedals are here as they are fantastic and I get to sneak off and have a play through them whenever I have some spare time!
I get asked about distortion pedals all the time and often the customer has a particular sound or style in mind. This narrows the search beautifully as a player looking to nail that SRV tone is not looking to buy a high gain pedal and vice versa the high gain lovers are not looking to buy a mild overdrive pedal. This is all well and good but what do you do when you fancy a light crunch for lunch and a high gain thump for dinner? Buy different pedals is one answer and many do for specific tones that they can switch between instantly but if this is not a requirement then a wide ranging drive pedal is probably ideal for your needs. Which after all this rambling brings me to this beauty……
In a nutshell the Pinnacle gives you mild overdrive AND extreme gain all rolled into one beautifully built pedal and its party piece is one of the most convincing “Brown Sounds” in a pedal you will hear. In fact, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tech Zeke Clark played through this pedal and said….
“I’ve played tons of pedals that promised that “Brown Sound”… this pedal NAILS it better than anything I’ve ever heard or played.”
Trust me when I say if you are considering a drive pedal this has to be at the top of your list of must tries and if you love the tone but need extra versatility Wampler has got you covered on this score as well with the V2 pedal below. Full three band E.Q and a boost as well!
Did I mention it does that ”Brown Sound”…grab a PAF and enjoy !!
Bandlab aims to take online music collaboration to the next level with its social music creation platform. It combines social features such as video sharing, messaging and discovery with a cross-platform DAW. In their own words: “BandLab’s mission is to break down the technical, geographic and creative barriers between creators, collaborators and community by providing a completely FREE and unlimited service”
Bandlab utilises HTML 5, Web Audio and Web MIDI so there’s no need for any other software to be installed. The browser based DAW seems to be simple to use, easy to understand and the layout is similar to what we’re all used to. It comes with an array of instruments and loops to get you started. You can try out some of the sounds here. You can even play the instruments with your QWERTY keyboard if you don’t have a MIDI controller. Mobile apps are available providing access to your projects whilst on the go. There’s also a desktop assistant in beta stage which updates you on on any collaborations you’re involved with as well as providing some common shortcuts.
The first thing that always comes to mind with something like this is audio quality and the potential for latency issues seeing as everything is done online through your browser. However, the general consensus is that it functions pretty well. It’s also free to sign-up so go see for yourself!
It’s an age old question, in these days of super modelling, Ultra High DSP and Super compact sizes, why would anyone ever bother with a Big Lunky Pedalboard?
Well, the first thing to say I guess is Horses for Courses….
If you’re playing at home or just jamming with friends, or even in a local ‘covers’ band down the local pub every Saturday, the quality of sound from the new generation of Multi FX boxes like the Zoom or Korg or Boss really is very accurate, and indeed if you’re looking to emulate the exact delay of a U2 track or the chorusy swirl of a Stone Roses cover, you’ll probably find that someone has done the hard work for you, and the sounds are VERY close indeed, but for those seeking the Holy Grail of real guitar tone from a real amplifier with real dedicated Stompboxes, the Pedalboard will always be the way forward.
There’s just something about the ‘physicality’ of the guitar, where you have to physically ‘make’ the notes using both hands, (as opposed to say a Piano player who just pushes a key and the sound is there) that sits so well with a dedicated pedal.
Let’s try and explain…
For me the one thing that will always be missing from the Multi Effects brigade is the movement of air by the speaker cone, and the way that sound evolves over the course of a show, as the room warms up and the tubes in the amp warm up and how a pedal fit’s right in to that mix, as another thing to be controlled.
Indeed, I usually recommend to anyone playing a Multi effects box live, to run it straight into the PA and let the sound guy give you your sound back through the Monitor. Especially if the unit has the ability to model or emulate a speaker cab. (What’s the point of a great speaker cab emulation which then gets run through your existing amp and consequently takes on the character therein, hence doing away with the Cab sim completely…)
In these circumstances as I said before, especially in a small Pub or club, these units can sound absolutely accurate for classic tracks, and the sound man will love you forever as you entrust your levels to him, but for the true guitar Tone Meister, only the real thing will do.
One of the problems of the Old Fashioned Pedal board, was the perpetual ‘Tap Dancing’ to be seen on stage, as the hapless guitarist tried to switch pedals in and out for different parts of a song, but nowadays, there are some pretty sophisticated switching systems that lie on your board alongside the pedals , and are capable not only of switching between various pedals, but also switching patches within the pedal or Patches via MIDI.
Also, in the same way that a real amp moves air in a different way depending on the venue, a real pedal can be reached down to and tweaked on the night, mid song, as the room eq becomes more apparent, in a way that a multi-effects unit can’t ( most of them being editable via a series of LCD or LED windows ).
However, it must also be said that in the studio, where you have the time to tweak the unit and add extra e.q.’s and tone shaping, there are some Multi-effects boxes that work a treat, and in truth, you’d be hard pushed to know the difference between them and the real thing in the depths of a mix.
Also, there’s portability…. My current board is not dissimilar to carrying a Mini Clubman under your arm, and the resulting benefits in tone, are completely offset by the lack of ability to play properly after carrying it in from the car… So… what’s the answer.
The answer is obviously, you have to have both.
In my studio at home I have all manner of Guitar FX units, each capable of creating sounds that fit wonderfully inside a mix, ( I have a Korg A1 unit from 1991 that does one sound I cannot re-create anywhere else…), and I’m seriously tempted by the latest little Zoom units,
but ultimately, for me to play live, I still rely on my board,
So it’s been a few months since Steinberg released Cubase 9. A maintenance update has since been released which includes many bug fixes and improvements. The 143MB update (510MB for Mac users) is available for free to all existing Cubase 9 users.
Here’s a list of what’s included in the update:
Fixed an issue where dragging Chord Event across a Divided Track List resulted in a misaligned event.
Fixed an issue where “Follow Chord Track” was not working correctly.
Fixed an issue regarding wrong note colors when using “Chord Track” for event colors.
Fixed an issue where the Quantize Panel did not correctly display the Crossfade section for multi-track usage (via Folder Group Editing).
Fixed an issue where certain setups of the Input Transformer could crash the application.
Fixed an issue where pinned Inspector sections were all closed after loading a project.
Fixed a potential crash issue.
Fixed an issue where Filter Target “Note is equal to” was stuck on “C”.
Fixed an issue where using the Search field on the MediaBay could crash the application.
Fixed an issue where Show/Hide Controller Lanes did not work when Lanes were removed manually beforehand.
Fixed an issue where resizing the Controller Lane area within the Inplace Editor could crash the application.
Fixed an issue where note names where displayed with inconsistent enharmonics (e.g. Bb instead of A#).
Fixed an issue where MicroTuner settings were not applied after reloading a project.
Improved the compatibility of the number attribute for slurs (for import into Dorico).
Improved the compatibility in regard to the encoding of tuplets (for import into Dorico).
Fixed a performance issue when “Auto Select under Cursor” options was activated.
Fixed an issue where VST 3 plug-ins with special characters could not be used.
Fixed an issue where StudioEQ presets were missing in Cubase Elements.
Fixed an issue where panning could be wrong with REVerence.
Fixed an issue where side split LP/HP bands did not properly change type in Frequency.
Fixed an issue where the Maximizer output level was not consistent with the readings from the MixConsole metering.
Fixed an issue where “Open in separate Window” in MIDI Editors was not possible after working in the Controller Lane area.
Fixed an issue where the Overview Line was missing in Cubase LE, AI and Elements.
Fixed an issue where new recorded MIDI Parts were not displayed in open Editor tab in the Lower Zone.
Fixed an issue where remote control devices (e.g. NI Komplete Kontrol) could not follow the parameter mapping correctly while navigating through the track list.
Fixed an issue where Sample Start/End markers were not correctly set after dragging a resized audio event into the Sampler Control tab.
Fixed an issue where re-opening the Sampler Control tab showed no content.
Fixed an issue where the root key color indication on the keyboard display was incorrect.
Fixed an issue where “Remove unused Media” in the Pool was not working correctly for audio files referenced by the Sampler Track.
Fixed and issue where no content was displayed in a Sampler Control tab after re-opening the Lower Zone.
Fixed an issue where creating a sampler track from an MP3 file in the MediaBay crashed the application.
Fixed an issue where closing the Audio Hardware Setup window (e.g. for UR hardware) could lead to an application which could be no longer operated.
Fixed an issue where the F1 key did not open the Cubase Help referring to steinberg.help.
Fixed an issue where the cursor position was not synchronized while scrubbing with the mouse.
Fixed an synchronization issue using a jog wheel followed by Fast Rewind / Fast Forward commands.
Fixed an issue where TrackVersions on Signature Tracks could crash the application.
Fixed an issue that stops the recording when changing the Metronome volume.
Fixed an issue where no values for all sorts of Transport control related items could be entered by key command if both Transport Panel and Transport Zone were closed.
The Cubase 9 Pro update is available here. Updates are available across the entire Cubase 9 range so download sizes may vary slightly from what’s mentioned above.
Providing a unique approach to learning how to play guitar, Fret Zeppelin by Edge Tech Labs aims to make the process easier for beginners. The system uses low-profile LED technology to display where to place your fingers on the fretboard. It fits to any regular guitar neck and aims to simplify learning chords, scales and even full songs.
The free smartphone app that goes with it will be released in beta versions before the official release so any special features/requests can be considered. It’s also being developed with an easy to use open API so other apps can be written to communicate with the hardware.
This crowd funded project has already superseded its target on Kickstarter. An initial pledge of $199 dollars will get you a Fret Zeppelin system and they aim to be ready to ship in October this year. There’s also talk of a system being made to cater for bass guitars as well as 7 and 8 string guitars!
Bulgaria seems to be a bit of a busy place for Pro Audio at the moment with Antelope pushing out some absolutely fantastic gear and progressing on the software side of things at a staggering pace. The Balkan Mountains truly are alive with the sound of music…courtesy of Antelope’s pristine AD/DA conversion and supreme clocking!
Truth be told, it’s a pain (in a good way) keeping the content updated for their products, the guys and girls over at Antelope are like a machine, churning out updates to their FPGA based ecosystem of interfaces – giving their customers extra functionality and making additions to the free FPGA FX packages.
Enter the new addition to the family – the stunning looking ORION32 HD was announced at NAMM and I imagine Pro Tools HD users are pretty happy. It’s compatible with any DAW on the market via a HDX port or USB 3.0. This means no matter what you choose to use in the studio you can benefit from 64 channel 192kHz audio I/O, Zero Latency Monitoring, industry-leading AFC clocking and as you’d expect, flawless conversion. Throw in the usual plethora of connectivity such as ADAT, MADI, S/PDIF, Wordclock and mastering-grade Monitor outs and you have a beast of an interface. Now if you have a Pro Tools HD setup and a customer comes in with a laptop project made on Cubase, Logic or Presonus etc then you can simply use the USB port to integrate their project directly into your existing setup – no extra interfaces needed!
Coming back to the free FPGA FX package, if you’re not aware of it – Antelope have integrated a fine selection of free hardware-based vintage FX. The ever growing library includes hardware-based vintage EQ’s, compressors and Auraverb. The exquisite collections of Vintage EQ’s include authentic models of Lang PEQ-1, BAE 1073, 1084, 1023, UK-69 and many other classic British and German vintage units. If vintage compressors are more to your favour, how about a life-like model of the FET76 aka the legendary UREI 1176LN?
One more thing to note is the impressive software control. The routing matrix is pretty neat and even that has had some little tweaks over the last few software revisions to make it even easier to use. The control panel can be run on any machine on the network allowing for remote access to all the important stuff and as a side bonus, the control panel can be resized at will – its the little things that can make a huge difference in the right circumstances!
It’s not coming soon it’s here NOW and it’s limited to 50 pedals worldwide of which we have secured 2 pedals currently in stock.
Based on the original and highly praised SDR-4, they have retained the original circuit while using updated parts. To say this pedal gives you a full sound that cuts through the band environment is an understatement.
The SDR-4 has a fast attack and an edge to its’ sound that helps create a punchy tone with a thick low mid-range.
That Fat switch is an added bonus. When engaged it raises the gain in the low frequency range which is what gives that fat, aforementioned thick tone. This is really prominent on a single coil pickup and thickens and adds power beautifully to your bridge position.
I love a drive pedal that gives you “snap” and this pedal does it. Use a pick or use your fingers or preferably use both as hybrid picking rocks!
The next big Windows update will be towards the end of Q.1 this year and news about some of the impending features have been cropping up for a few months now.
Last nights confirmation of the forthcoming “Game Mode ” potentially offers up a surprising number of possible advantages for the audio system user.
Essentially the game mode is designed to cushion a running program against the calls and demands of the rest of the OS. The mode looks to restrict background tasks and process calls, claims are there that it can secure threads and cores and assign them exclusively to a running program. The hope is that it can intercept all the demands of Windows and allocate them a dedicated thread or two, in order to stop them causing problems for more important software running in the foreground. For the average audio software user this could smooth the user experience further we’re all hoping it will help to eak out even more performance out of Windows 10.
With the ability to assign the game mode to specific programs so that it may change and optimize the system settings on the fly whenever you open certain .exe’s, it sounds like this might be a boon for audio system users. Comments have also been made about further development and refinement of this mode going forward which is great to hear.
The announcement this week has obviously concerned itself with pushing the features from a gaming point of view, so news with audio software in mind is currently a bit sparse. The insiders update is due to go live today however and if your signed up to the program already might be of interest to check out.
Otherwise we can expect to see this roll out in the next major W10 update which will be content creators update in Spring.