ProSound News - March 2010 - (Page 24)
Craig Anderton g
Steam-Powered Low End
In his Continuing Adventures In Software, Rich Tozzoli takes the low (end) road. t’s hard to believe Spectrasonics’ (spectrasonics.net) first bass software instrument, Trilogy, was released in 2002. This many years later, the company has released an updated big brother called the Trilian Total Bass Module. Weighing in at over 34 GB of acoustic, electric and synth basses, even Nigel and the boys would be proud of this big bottom. Using the same Steam engine that powers its successful Omnisphere synth, this offers the usual assortment of Eric Persing’s goodies: Arpeggiator with Groove Lock for instant bass line syncing to any RMX groove or MIDI file, integrated FX racks (with all the effects from Omnisphere), “Round Robin” sampling for more natural-sounding bass lines and even 64-bit native support (so you new Logic users can use all your RAM!). You’ve also got a cool Stack Mode and, of course, all the original Trilogy sounds are in there, and then some. The acoustic bass alone is worth the under-$300 street price. You can actually choose your own mix of the U-67 mic and the Direct (DI). There are also controls for the Release Noises and Time, as well as a Compressor/Limiter with Velocity Sensitivity. With its 8-part multi-timbral articulations, you can use the keyboard itself or a controller to instantly switch for example between sustained notes, harmonics and slides. With over 21,000 samples in a patch, the bottom line here is that this acoustic bass sound is #)$*_# good! Another cool thing about Trilian is that it’s completely integrated into Omnisphere. So if you own Omnisphere, you can open the sounds of Trilian inside it. All you need to do is use the Patch Browser and choose the Trilian Library in the directory. You could, for example, then choose a bass sound from Trilian and in Stack Mode and easily create a split with a nice Omnisphere patch. This is a very useful function that I hope other software manufacturers pay attention to. We folks out here using all this gear are, to be honest, overwhelmed with too much “stuff.” Any way that we can simplify our creative lives helps—and integrating one plug-in into another is a bonus—so thanks Eric.
As for electric bass sounds, there are more than 60 of them, including 4-, 5-, 6- and 8-string models, played by six different bassists. These are not just some hacks off the street either; the bonus “Bass Legends” section features Abraham Laboriel, John Patitucci and Marcus Miller. Included are sounds from instruments such as the Chapman Stick, 5-string Music Man, Fender Jazz and Lakland Rock-P Bass. You can choose from various techniques as well—Picked, Fingered, Fretless, Slapped, Tapped and Muted. There are some amazing harmonic bass sounds, too. The synth section is loaded; they’ve sampled over 300 sound sources from such well known models as the Novation Bass Station, ARP 2600, Roland TB-303 and SH-101, Taurus pedals and even a Metasonix KV-1000 Assblaster (what a great name!). Tweakers will love the new
ince their inception, DAWs had their own arms race going on, with each successive version piling on the features. From their humble beginnings as MIDI sequencers, programs added audio recording and editing, notation, virtual instruments, MIDI plug-ins, stretching, looping and more. While many welcomed these advances, others noticed that their computer was no longer quite as peppy, some operations were more sluggish, and on occasion, updates “broke” the increasingly complex systems until a new update came along to fix the previous update. Several companies saw these reservations as a way to enter the world of DAWs through specialization. For example, Ableton Live zeroed in on the groove/DJ market, and while the company has added DAW-type features, it has treated these more as significant enhancements for its core user base than a way to compete directly with programs like Pro Tools. Or take Sony Vegas, which after starting as an audio/video editing program split off into Vegas Video (with greatly enhanced video editing capabilities) and Vegas Audio. Vegas Audio faded into obscurity, but Vegas Video struck a nerve, going on to become a solid (and easy-touse) video editing program combined with exceptional audio capabilities. Now several new DAWs have hit the market, with each one aiming for a particular niche. Probably the one most like a conventional DAW is PreSonus’ Studio One Pro, but the company promotes it as offering power without the bloat. You’ll find several omissions: no video support, a very basic roster of virtual instruments (although you can use third-party devices), no notation and limited looping capabilities. But, you’ll also find some genuine innovations, like a mastering section that resembles Sony’s CD Architect on steroids. It ties in with Studio One’s song files so that if you create an album project, listen back, and then decide the drums need to be just a teeny bit louder in one song, you can edit the song while working in the mastering section. Then you can update and mix the file automatically as you work on your album project. Also cool: “micro views” of effects, so that even with a full console view open, you can tweak crucial processor parameters. Studio One Pro is like nouvelle cuisine—the portions may not be huge, but they’re done with style and taste really good. EnergyXT2.5 is competing for welterweight champion of the world, and while it’s arguably the most laptop-friendly, crossplatform “DAW” out there (including Linux with Netbooks), desktops can also apply. It’s super-fast and efficient; the feature set in-
Is the Age of Specialized DAWs Next?
cludes pretty much everything you would want (excluding video), such as sophisticated stretching and looping courtesy of zPlane’s algorithms, VST support, path delay compensation, several effects, a sampler/synthesizer, per-channel equalizer in the mixer, in-track MIDI editing, REX file auditioning and the like. But while it may seem like a big program, energyXT2.5 starts up pretty close to instantly, and everything about it is fast, whether you’re scrolling through windows or inserting devices. You can even use it as a VST plug-in within Windows DAWs. Clearly aimed at creative people on the go, energyXT2.5 feels somewhat like running a 90 MHz Pentium I-compatible program on a Core2Duo. Then there’s Propellerhead Record, which seems inspired by G. K. Chesterton’s famous quote: “Art is limitation. The essence of every picture is the frame.” As with their perennially popular Reason, the Propellerheads created a self-contained universe with (again!) no video support, but not even support for plug-ins and virtual instruments. In its basic state, Record is a DAW that emulates a hardware studio, right down to the faux SSL console and patch bay. (Of course, these are also the guys who invented ReWire, so if you want lots of instruments and effects, you can ReWire Reason into Record.) Using Record is an unusual experience, because it feels like working in a studio circa 1989 or so, even mimicking the workflow of that kind of recording experience—right down to being able to “varispeed” your entire project. As with the previously mentioned programs, it’s fast to load, smooth, efficient, and just about impossible to make crash—if you’re into stability, small is indeed beautiful. So are these just toys? Far from it. Some pros are taking a serious look at how they use software, and deciding they’re willing to forego little-used features in favor of a program that’s targeted to their specific needs. These programs aren’t for everyone; if your gig bounces among recording music, doing narration, laying down soundtracks, spotting effects to video, and printing out lead sheets for session musicians, look elsewhere. Conversely, those with targeted needs now have targeted programs. EnergyXT2.5 and Record in particular hint at what might be the next trend: à la carte-style modularity that starts with basic recording, then adds only those optional-at-extra-cost features you need (e.g., ReWiring for virtual instrument support via Reason, or adding a video window). If nothing else, these programs prove that the DAW world still has a few surprises up its sleeve. Musician/author Craig Anderton is executive editor of EQ magazine, and editor in chief of Harmony-Central.com.
“Juicy Filter” and “Power Filter” to really thicken up the bass stew. This was actually a hard review to write, as each time I called up a patch, I found myself writing a cue based around that sound. I’d be forced into doing a “Save As” in Pro Tools, and then I’d go off on a tangent to finish a piece. I’m currently writing some cues for an A&E show with a haunted theme, and—wow!— this plug-in is an inspiration monster. The arpeggiated synths, such as Apocalyptic Signs, Hells Disco and Instinctual Action are all one-key foundation builders (hey, I’m not too proud to write a one-key cue!). Overall, the Trilian is a dream come true for anyone seeking acoustic, electric or synth bass sounds. The integration into Omnisphere is not only intelligent but also incredibly useful. With the massive amount of sounds in here, you’d be hard pressed to not find what you’re looking for. Stepping back, sometimes it’s nice to just call up a punchy, clean, great-sounding acoustic bass and lay a simple groove down. If that doesn’t get you going, it’s time to put a suit and tie on and look for another line of work.
prosoundnews.com March 2010
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ProSound News - March 2010
ProSound News - March 2010
Table of Contents
HPMC Plays Parlour Game
Studio Showcase: 9WG Studios
Pluggin’ Into the Grammys
Finding Music’s Place on TV
Semiconductors in Audio
Sound Innovations: ADAM Audio SX-Series
Field Reports: Product Profiles
Out One Ear, and In Another
Live Sound Showcase: Black Eyed Peas
Live Sound Showcase
ProSound News - March 2010