I have a huge backlog with reading my favourite magazine “Computer Music”. Every month I’m looking forward to the next issue, but lately I have been too busy with my work, my family life and my participation in the online Artificial Intelligence course, so the latest 6 volumes were still wrapped in their cellophane packaging, waiting to be read.
But, Computer Music is not just a magazine to read, you have to consume it, to savour it. The beautiful prose it is written in makes me feel sorry for not being English. You also have to work with it. In fact it is more than a collection of workshops, it is a fountain of ideas. Finally, one the best things of Computer Magazine is the DVD, overloaded with goodies; free software, tutorial videos and samples.
Last week I had a short holiday. Actually I had to do my taxes, but I decided to postpone that and allow myself to unwrap the back issues and to test-drive some of the free synths CM gave away for free.
CM #172: Dirty Panda:
Just four sounds? Only Kick, High and Low Tom and a Percussion module are present; it’s just a beatbox. With good sounds by the way, but not versatile enough for me.
CM #173: XILS-Lab PolyKB II CM. Wow interesting name! But how do you tell your friends about this fantastic new synth that you’ve got? You don’t, because you haven’t.
The UI may give you the impression of good old-fashioned craftmanship, but in fact it is another resource-eater, I had to turn up my ASIO buffer size to 2048 samples (and accept an incredible amount of latency) to just hear some cracks and hisses after note number three. To me another downside of this kind of freebies is that you have to pick up a serial to make it work, which means registrating with a website. Of course they hope to offer you an upgrade to the real thing shortly, but I already have the bloatware uninstalled.
CM #171: But then, finally, I arrived at the Cakewalk Z3TA+. Again a name you can’t tell your mum about, but this is a great synth! And not a cut-down version, but the original as sold for $99!
Great sounds and a lot of presets to play with.
Another interesting synth I found on CM #169’s (Octobe 2011!) DVD: Cableguys Curve CM. This is, in CM’s words, “undoubtedly one of the best soft synths we’ve ever given away”. I think they are right, and I like the wave-form display, so you can edit your sounds by just dragging and dropping in the wave-form.
I can’t resist the temptation to recall my first software synth, that I obtained via CM: the Bizune.
Unfortuntely the group that made it is currently focussing on other plans (they also made beautiful music!), but you can still download the plugin from this site.