Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

First Impressions & What’s New with Tone2’s Electra2 – A Major Upgrade to ElectraX Synthesizer

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Tone2 has just announced Electra2, a major upgrade to their fantastic ElectraX synthesizer, on their Facebook page.

A major upgrade to our ElectraX synthesizer, Electra2 offers a large range of new features and enhancements. Like a comfortable patch browser to give you an instant overview of all available categories and sounds. 16 new effects, a sample editor, Physical Modeling synthesis, 5 new filter types, enhanced sound quality, improved user interface and a huge number of further enhancements.

ElectraX is all over my albums Fear Cannot Save Us and I Hear Your Signals, so I was quite excited to hear about this update since this is one of my goto instruments.  Below are some first impressions after participating as a beta tester. This is followed by a list of what's new and links for more info.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Refinement of GUI

The GUI is more polished and the lighting is a bit more subtle, but hasn't changed from a layout point-of-view which is good news from for existing users who already have muscle memory.  If you've never used ElectraX or Electra2 before, you'll really enjoy the straight forward layout and interactive graphic feedback. For example, if you use an LFO to modulate the filter and resonance, you'll see this movement in real-time in the interface. The interactive feedback makes learning from factory presets more immediate as you can see all the modulations expressed as graphical movement.

 Backwards Compatible with ElectraX

According to Tone2, "Electra2 is 100% downward compatible with the previous version. It completely replaces ElectraX and you will be able to load your old songs and patches." During my testing with the beta, I found all Electra2 presets were backwards compatible with ElectraX and it loads the factory and my custom presets from ElectraX just fine. In Ableton, Electra2 still appeared as ElectraX so old my old sets that were dependent on ElectraX simply load with Electra2 – brilliant!

Integrated Sample Editor and Sample Saved with Preset

One of my favorite new features is the integrated sample editor. ElectraX allowed you to load samples as oscillator sources. Electra2 takes this a step further with integrated sample editing. This is a huge time saver as you can loop, tune, cut, trim, reverse, and more – all without leaving Electra2. As with ElectraX, Electra2 saves the sample as part of the preset. So you'll never have the borken link to source sample issue. With the addition of these new features, I'm finding Electra2 to be great choice for Musique concrète.  Being able to use one workflow to tweak source samples, plus use the as sources for synthesis is organic, fast, and inspiring.

Electra2-editor

New Utilities in Menus = Huge Time Savings for Custom Sound Design

Electra2 has added even more utility functions to the menus throughout the instrument. For example if you click the "INIT" button just above the "SETTINGS" section you'll see a new "Reset all" option which initializes all four layers of the instrument (you used to have to do this a layer at a time).  Also new is "Reset synth arpeggiator" and some new menus that will load template presets for the new PhysicalGuitar and PhysicalFlute filter types.

Electra2-init

The "SETTINGS" "COPY" button has a fantastic new option called "Multilayer edit". If you click this, any change you make in one of the four layers will be reflected in the other three. This is a HUGE time saver!

 NEW PATCH BROWSER

Electra2 adds a new handy patch browser making it easier to browse. The info pane automatically generates a snapshot view of what major features were used in a patch. Again this is a nice touch if you are trying to learn from factory patches. You can also us a 5 star system to rate your favorite patches (default is 3 stars).

 

WHAT'S NEW

I've only scratched the surface with my first impression notes above. Below is a more complete list of what's new from the ElextraX to Electra2 upgrade page.

Upgrade summary:

– Over 700 additional patches with over 1500 sounds
– Completely reworked all factory sounds
– Comfortable patch browser
– Sample editor
– Physical modeling synthesis

Categories
(Modulate This) Ableton Push Contollerism Sound Design Synth: ElectraX

How to Use ElectraX Synth with Ableton Push Pad Pressure and Use Ribbon Controller Like a Mod Wheel

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I finally got my hands on a Push. I’m going through songs in my existing live show and tweaking synths to be even more expressive with Push’s aftertouch and ribbon controller. In this post I’ll be focusing on the wonderful ElectraX synth by Tone2 Audiosoftware but the same concepts apply to any synthesizer that allows for CC mapping in their Mod Matrix – including all the other Tone2 synths.

The image below (click to enlarge) illustrates how to map Push’s pad pressure (aftertouch) and ribbon controller in the mod matrix.

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Ribbon Controller

If you are using Ableton instruments, the ribbon controller on Push is hard wired to pitch wheel. One advantage to using third party synths is synths like ElectraX, Absynth, and others allow you to map MIDI controller information right into their mod matrix. In other words you can map the ribbon to anything you like

In ElectraX if you want to disable mod wheel so it doesn’t change pitch got to Settings and set “Pitchwheel” to off. Now go into the Mod Matrix and map Pitchwheel. In the example above, I’m using the ribbon to crossfade oscillator 1 and oscillator 2 volumes.

Pressure

To map pad pressure, which is really exposed as aftertouch, go to the Mod Matrix and map “Afterto.” to parameters. In the example above I’m using pressure to close the filter and increase filter resonance.

Keep Up with Push Posts

I’ll be doing many more posts on Push in the future so keep an eye on this category http://www.modulatethis.com/ableton-push/. You can subscribe to the RSS feed for this category here http://www.modulatethis.com/ableton-push/atom.xml. The ElextraX category is here http://www.modulatethis.com/synth-electrax/ | http://www.modulatethis.com/synth-electrax/atom.xml.

Mark Mosher
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

Tone2: ElectraX 1.4 released

electrax-1-4

One of my goto synths ElectraX has been updated to 1.4.

New features:

  • 64 Bit VST & AU version for Mac (requires OSX 10.5 or higher)
  • Mouse-wheel support for list selectors and knobs (if the host supports it)
  • PDF manual can now be viewed from within the plugin (Mac)

Enhancements:

  • Better overall performance in big projects.
  • Reworked graphics and skins.
  • Enhanced workflow.
  • The GUI code was completely rewritten. It’s faster and supports alpha blending now..
  • Enhanced LFOs (random types & frequencies below 4Hz)
  • Enhanced Legato.
  • Key follow of filter with glide.
  • Gatekeeper support on Mac.
  • 64 bit version is Windows8 compatible.
  • Improved installation process on PC and Mac.
  • Many other small enhancements.

Fixes:

  • Workaround for a host bug in Logic (garbage Midi data was sent to the plugin)
  • Fix for hosts that did not open GUI on plugin loading (Ableton, Logic)
  • Workaround for a Windows problem when mouse buttons are click-held for a long time.
  • Fix for a possible permission problem in OSX Lion.
  • Fixed a memory leak.
  • Legato, sustain pedal.
  • Fixed some GUI glitches.
  • Several smaller bugfixes.

More information is available at http://www.tone2.com

Categories
Ableton Live AudioCubes Synth: Alchemy Synth: ElectraX Synth: Predator Synth: uTonic Synth: XILS3

My 2012 Go To Virtual Synthesizers

Mark_Mosher_Synthesizer_Picks(1)

I own a lot of virtual synths :^)  As part of a voluntary simplification exercise I started in January,  I’ve been limiting myself to a smaller number of instruments over the last year so I could go deeper and create more expressive and unique signature sounds for compositions and live performance. The image above (click to go to interactive map and then click branches learn more about these synths) shows a mindmap of synths I’ve been most drawn to over the last year. In other words, these are the instruments that consistantly make into my tracks like “And What do the Trees Hear When the Wind Blows”, “Orbiting Miranda”, and “Now is Now Remix”.

When narrowing down to this list, I worked to find a very complimentary set of instruments with great workflow. The instruments range in character from pure synthesis instruments (Zebra and Predator), to sample-based instruments (Sampler, Iris), to hybrids (Alchemy, ElextraX) to virtual drum machines (utonic). The instruments with green dots in front are ones I’ve been spending 100s of hours with working to create signature "patches” from scratch that I’ll use in future compositions, productions, and live performances. I should also note that I’m also using many of these synths as effects processors allowing me to capitalize on the investment I made learning the synth workflows (here is a post on this notion) .

Demos

For those not familiar with some of these synths checkout some audio samples from past sound design experiments. First is a clip with Alchemy (download MP3) where I use granular synthesis to repurpose the field recording of a fluorescent light bulb.

Here is a little behind-the-scenes video on the creation of this patch.

Here is another example where I use Alchemy (download mp3) to repurpose crowd noise from a CU bastkeball game, a morse code key, and add in something called factalized waveforms.

Next is a Zebrify patch where I slowly pitch up and then process this incoming signal of a Theremin with two comb filters with the pitch of filters being modualted by a step LFO (download mp3)?

Next Steps – Deeper with the Top 3

As I go into the fall I’m going to be spending a lot more time with Zebra and Alchemy. They are both extremely deep and very complimentary. They nicely cover the entire spectrum from pure synthesis to sample mangling. Absynth, which I bought in 2002, is the first virtual synth I ever owned so holds a special place in my rig. I’ll be doing some synth work with it as well but will focus heavily on using it as an effects processor.

Which Should You Pick?

If you have limited funds or time and just want to go deep with one synth, you can't go wrong if you pick one of the three mentioned in the previous paragraph. Again, Zebra is pure synthesis (no samples) and semi-modular. Alchemy is great at resynthesis and sample mangling so if you are into field recordings this is your best bet. Absynth is somewhere between the two and is a great pick if you want to work with extreme multi-segment envelopes and very interesting and unusually effects. I give them all 10/10 and the deeper you go, the more you’ll be rewarded.

If you are looking for a fantastic subtractive that can also be used as an effects processor Predator is fantastic choice. If you want a hybrid with subtractive workflow with visual feedbak, ElectraX is a good bet.

Controllerism with the Top 4

Now that I’ve further narrowed my list, I’m working on templates for various controllers to get even more expressive results with Zebra, Alchemy, Absynth and Predator. I’m using the Alchemy Mobile to control Alchemy on my computer, I’m working on a custom Lemur template for Zebra and Absynth. I’ll also be working on mappings for my Novation Remote SL and refining my AudioCube patches for these synths.

I’ll leave you with a video I did some time ago showing the use of one Percussa AudioCube face in sensor mode to play a note plus send MIDI CC info to control the XY of Alchemy.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

http://www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Blofeld Mind Map Sound Design Synth: ElectraX Synth: Largo

Crowdsourced Mindmap: Synthesizers with Comb Filters

Synthesizers_with_Comb_Filters

I love comb filters! Buying a Waldorf Blofeld a few years back caused me to start using them even more because it’s interactive display allowed me to visualize the shape of the filter and correlate that with an audio result. Waldorf Largo and Tone2’s ElectraX also offer this feature.

What is a Comb Filter?

I like the definition on p. 49 of the Waldorf Blofeld Manual:

A Comb filter is basically a very short delay that can be controlled in length and feedback. The delay time is so short that you can’t hear its individual taps but a colorization of the original signal created by peaks or holes in the frequency spectrum. The frequency of the colorization is set by the delay length, which is controlled in the Blofeld through Cutoff, while the amount of colorization is set by the Comb filter feedback, which is controlled in the Blofeld by Resonance.

To further illustrate this, I’ve included a screenshot below which has the same filter type in Waldorf Largo, but with VERY different shapes simply  y changing cutoff and resonance.

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What Do Comb Filter’s Sound Like?

Stay tuned for a future article on this with some video.

Crowdsourced Mindmap of Synths with Comb Filters

 A week or so back I was curious how many synths in my rig had comb filters and started to document them in a mindmap. I decided to take things a step further and crowdsource this on Twitter and Facebook and make an even more comprehensive map. The map is constrained to just synthesizers with comb filters that are in production. It also doesn’t contain FX plug-ins or processors that have combs.

Click here to view an interactive version of this mindmap full screen.

http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/public_map_shell/153682725?width=550&height=400&zoom=1

The Crowd

Be Combtastic

Now get out there and crank on those comb filters!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Official Web Site: www.MarkMosherMusic.com
Listen/Download Albums: www.MarkMosherMusic.com/music.html
www.ModulateThis.com

Mind Maps

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

What’s New with Tone2 ElectraX Synthesizer 1.2 Update

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My go to synth ElectraX just got even better with a beefy update that is free for registered users. If you are not familiar with ElectraX checkout this post Modulate This Exclusive: First Look at Tone2's New ElectraX Virtual Synth. Also, checkout this official video overview that was release after my review.

What’s New in 1.2

Rather than simply list the additions, changes, and fixes in a list, I took the time to create a mindmap and group and color code features so you can quickly wrap your mind around this update.

See map full-screen on Mindmeister

http://www.mindmeister.com/maps/public_map_shell/103121349/tone2-electrax-synthesizer-1-2-update?width=460&height=400&zoom=0

Links

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer

www.ModualteThis.com
Official Web Site: www.MarkMosherMusic.com
Listen/Download Albums: www.MarkMosherMusic.com/music.html

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

Tone 2 Releases The Vintage Soundset for ElectraX

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Tone2 has a history of creating soundsets that really take advantage of the vast features of their awesome synths such as ElectraX. Their latest soundset is “The Vintage Soundset” which goes fro $49 and I'm sure is no exception.

Vintage is an inspiring collection of 220 patches for ElectraX programmed by a team of professional sound designers.

With its oldschool synth sounds, phat basses, expressive pads, multi-layered sequences and dark atmospheres Vintage is packed with a rich blend of classic sounds, delivering the complete range from analog to digital with a fresh twist.

Vintage is suitable for Electronic, Pop, Techno, House, Soundtrack, Dance, IDM and a wide variety of other music genres.

Links

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.Modulatethis.com
patchlab.modulatethis.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

ElectraX Tips: Importing Sample Data, Creating Vocoder Patches, Creating Your Own Wavetables, and Saving Patches with Sample Data

I’ve started doing some sample-based sound design work in ElectraX. I’ve found a few handy convenience menus and templates that will save you some time.

Quick Import Sample

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First off, there is a quick import option if you want to use a sample as an oscillator source. Click File then “Quick Import Sample”.

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Then click the Load button to load the sample.

Quick Import Vocoder

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Follow the same process as for loading samples and select “Quick Import Vocoder”. This loads your source sample (vocals, drums…) into OSC2 of Synt1 which is auto-configured as the Modulator. Synt2 is auto-configured as the carrier with an Ultrasaw synth method for Osc1 by default.

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You can change the character of the synth sound by programming Synt2. I want to point out that ElectraX has no routings for processing and external audio source as a modulator in real-time. Nevertheless, being able to trigger modulator samples from keys is a pretty handy way to do vocoding.

Wavetable Creation
You can quickly resynthesize sample data and then use that as a wavetable controlled by PW (pulse width).  Change Osc type to “Wavetable”. Click the “Resynthesis” label to load an audio sample. PW1 now sweeps through the wavetable. In the screen shot below you can see I’m using LFO to modulate through the table. image

Below is an excerpt from the manual the describes how waveforms are imported based on sample length.

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Saving Patches with Wave Data
With many sample-based instruments, the waveform data referenced by the synth is stored externally in a folder making it necessary to extra steps to package up the patches and sample files to share with others.

I was excited to find that when a patch uses Sampler, Vocoder, and/or Wavetable synth types that the sample data is automatically stored in the patch (.fxp) when you do a “File->Save Patch”. Woot!

Rapid Patch Programing with Original Harmonic Content
While ElectraX isn’t intended to replace a full-on sampler, these features will allow you to quickly incorporate original harmonic content into your patches. You may find yourself reaching for your sampler less with ElectraX in your rig.

ElectraX Official Site

 

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Mark Mosher
Experimental Musician and Multimedia Artist
Boulder, CO

Artist Site: MarkMosherMusic.com
Tech & Technique Articles: MarkMosherMusic.com/category/modulate-this/
Podcast: SonicEncounters.com
Meetup: RockyMountainSynth.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

Tone2 ElectraX Virtual Synthesizer is Now Available

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Tone2’s brand new monster virtual instrument ElectraX is now available. I’ve been working with it in beta form since October and really love it. I made the credits by the way – woot! (once you install it, click the Tone2 label at the top of the synth to see the credits). 

I've already started writing custom patches and have been using ElectraX heavily for some new songs I'm working on. I plan on sharing some programming notes in the future. For now, wee my post “Exclusive: First Look at Tone2's New ElectraX Virtual Synth” for an overview.

You can get the final right now for $199 USD for either PC or Mac.  For links to sample MP3s, a downloadable demo, and more details, visit the official site.

Full disclosure – courtesy of Tone2 I will be getting the a copy of ElectraX but I don’t receive any benefit from your purchase.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: ElectraX

Modulate This Exclusive: First Look at Tone2’s New ElectraX Virtual Synth

Gladiator 2 is one of my primary go-to synths. I just love the sonic range and the way it cuts through the mix. Prior to Gladiator I was using Vanguard and I still use Slayer 2. Both Slayer and Vanguard’s audio engine were also developed by Tone2. So, needless to say I’m a huge fan of Tone2’s work.

I’m happy to report that Tone2 has been hard at work at a brand new monster synth called ElectraX (click images to show larger view).

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They’ve been running a closed beta with sound designers and recently sent me a copy to try and have given me permission to share this info on Modulate This.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
First let me say ElectraX sounds incredible. It is a 4 layer instrument and each layer is a complete 3 oscillator synth. So, it’s kind of like having the power of multiple Gladiators and then some. In my testing, even with 4 layers on, the synth was incredibly CPU friendly.

While ElectraX clearly inherits some elements from Gladiator, it is laid out in a different way that makes it more immediate and easy to program. Skins can be setup-changed by editing the ‘ElectraXskin.txt’ file found in the ElectraX folder (I switch skins for some interface snapshots below).

Each synth instance is accessible via a tabbed interface. Another great improvement is there is lot more animated visual feedback as you program. For example, the waveform display for each oscillator animates to show the effects of PW modulation. I also appreciate that almost all knobs and controls bigger making programming easier.

While the magic of Gladiator came from the innovative HCM synthesis engine (see this post), ElectraX offers a more familiar PW (Pulse Width) parameter for sweeping through harmonic content for modes that support it. The PW can then be modulated by a huge number of modulation sources. I think this approach allows for a less abstract and more familiar and predictable method for achieving a huge range of harmonic possibilities – especially when you consider you can combine and mix synthesis methods across so many oscillators and layers.

SYNTHESIS METHODS

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One thing I always wished Gladiator had was the ability to load my own samples as oscillator sources. I also wished there was a more immediate FM modulation method. Well my wait is over. Each oscillator offers a choice of 13 different synthesis methods which include 45 oscillator types!

  1. Virtual analog
  2. FM
  3. Samples
  4. Wavetables with re-synthesis function and the ability to load own waveforms
  5. Ultrasaw (up to 10 detuned OSC at once)
  6. Fractal (a completely new synthesis method)
  7. Phase distortion
  8. Waveshaping
  9. PWM
  10. Sync
  11. Noise
  12. Ringmod
  13. Vocoder

AUDIO ENGINE

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The audio engine supports psychoacoustic processing, polyphony, legato, glide mode, analog and quality settings.

FILTERS

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ElectraX has 23 dual multimode analog modeled filter types including:

  • 9 analog modeled filters with self oscillation
  • Lowpass/Highpass/Bandpass 12dB/18dB/24dB
  • High precision digital filters: Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass, Notch
  • Equalizers: LowShelf, HighShelf, Peak, Wide
  • Special types: Phaser, Comb+, Comb-, Vocals, Aliaser, Ringmod

Each filter has selectable drive model which include:

  • Tube
  • Soft
  • Fuzz
  • Asym
  • Crush
  • Shaper

LAYERS

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Each layer also includes:

  • Dual multimode distortion/waveshaper
  • 3 LFOs and a Step LFO
  • Four Envelope generators
  • Arpeggiator
  • Insert effect
  • Flexible modulation matrix

EFFECTS
There 18 effect types are:

  • Reverbs: Hall, Cathedral, Room
  • Delays: Delay, Delay band, Ping Pong, Multitap
  • Chorus, Ensemble, Phaser, Flanger, Rotary
  • Trancegate, Compressor, Ampsim, Equalizer, Surround Encode
  • Vocoder

FRACTAL SYNTHESIS

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One of the new synthesis methods is called Fractal. Fractal oscillators work with a new type of synthesis based on chaotic systems. According to Tone2 “Four different modes available each uses a mix of chaos and predictability to model its output”. They described the modes as follows:

  • Fractal1: Models a real crazy analogue circuit which randomizes between asquarewave, a sine, a sawtooth, noise or feedback. PW controls it’s double-minded mood. The tuning mostly follows pitch.
  • Fractal2: Can be sine, feedback, granular, screaming, flute or sawtooth. PW controls the level of chaos. The tuning is mostly predictable and rudely follows pitch.
  • Fractal3: Can be sine, square, bandlimited noise, granular or feedback. PW controls the level of chaos. The tuning is mostly predictable and rudely follows pitch.
  • Fractal4: Can be square, granular or lowpassed noise. PW controls the level of chaos. The tuning is mostly predictable and rudely follows pitch.

GLOBAL PARAMTERS

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Global parameters include a MasterFX processor, EQ (Low, Mid, High), Volume, and one of my favorite new additions “Mod Wheel”. Mod Wheel is very handy when you are doing sound design work from your laptop and don’t have a controller hooked up.

FACTORY PATCHES
One of my favorite things about Gladiator was the sheer number of patches that shipped with the synth and were available as add-on libraries. They are extremely well programmed and make for great starting points for tweaking as well. Even though ElectraX is still in beta, there were already a huge number of incredible patches that make use of all this horsepower.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I’ve only had limited time with ElectraX and have barely scratched the surface, but I’m pretty blown away. I think Tone2 has a real winner synth here and ElectraX is going to provide an even bigger harmonic range, and a potential for more complex sounds with more movement and expressiveness. They made some great user interface choices that simplify programming even though there are many, many more parameters to manage.

If you are a Gladiator user, there is enough similarity in the user interface that you’ll be able to hit the ground running with ElectraX. For new users, the wide range of presets and interface improvements shorten your learning curve and make the synth usable right after install.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

  • PC: Windows XP, Windows Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64, Windows ME; Intel Pentium4 compatible CPU with at least 800 Mhz; 512 MB RAM
  • Mac: Mac OSX 10.4 or higher; G5 or Intel Mac with at least 800 Mhz; 512 MB RAM

TECHNICAL SPECS

  • PC formats: 32-bit VSTi, 64-bit VSTi, standalone
  • Mac formats: VSTi, Audiounit; Univeral Binary
  • Supported samplerates: 44,1 kHz; 48 kHz; 88,2 kHz; 96 kHz; 192 kHz
  • Multicore CPU support; SSE2 support

AVAILABILITY AND PRICING
According to the official web site the synth should be available in December. No pricing or launch date was available – but I can vouch that this is not vaporware.

LINK

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com