The Soniccouture Piano

The Soniccouture Piano

By James Thompson  |  14.11.2014

Pianos are a Big Deal in the world of sampled virtual instruments. While on the face of it pretty straightforward, the sheer range of the instrument makes it a challenge to to capture all the sonic subtleties and then re-combine them into something with a realistic playing response.

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Which may go some to explain why we hadn’t made one before. Plus, there were all those Hang drums, glass armonicas and the such-like to do first.

But, this year, we did. We spent some considerable time thinking about pianos, and looking for the right one to record – we thought about Bosendorfers and Faziolis a lot, but in the end we were drawn back to where many people begin (and end) with pianos – Steinway. A model D.

But aside from the complex, rich tone, we had another reason for selecting a Steinway piano. We had located, in the UK, a very rare thing indeed – a model D grand piano with MIDI (smaller steinways with MIDI systems are quite common, but few dare to besmirch a Model D in such a way). How did this happen? Apparently, sometime in the 1990s, a rich banker with far too much money decided he would retrofit a PianoDisc MIDI system to his Steinway. We felt strongly that with a MIDI playback system we would be able to create very precise, smooth velocity layers, consistent from key to key. We would also have a perfectly silent room when recording – no shuffles, coughs, sniffs from the player to listen out for and compromise the recording. It would also enable us to run the recording solidly all day and well into the evening with having to allow for the player to rest, eat and all those other annoying interruptions.

BRITISH GROVE STUDIOS, LONDON

BG2

Once we had the piano (now located in Giller Pianos Suffolk barn) – we needed a studio. Peter Henderson, our engineer for the project, had long been singing the praises of British Grove Studios in Hammersmith, West London – Mark Knopfler’s no-expense-spared exploration of how to combine the state of the art with the vintage. www.getmetaz.xyz A 48 channel Neve with rack upon rack of Prism conversion, in one of the cleanest sounding rooms we’ve ever experienced. But with 5 solid days recording time, it’s just a shame the rates weren’t particularly ‘vintage’.

The Kontakt Instrument

Screenshot

There will be two versions of this instrument – a full ‘Pro’ version with 6 mic channels, weighing in at 50GB on disc (compressed), and a smaller LE version with one or two mic channels. Both versions have 21 velocity layers, intelligent anti-repeat, and a full set of real sustain pedal samples. Available Q1 2015

 

 

 

UPDATE: Available now!

 

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Geosonics 1.1 Update

Geosonics 1.1 Update

By James Thompson  |  14.10.2014

After many requests to update Geosonics with DAW-friendly automation parameters, and then some procrastination on our part – due to the size of that job – it has now been done.

So now you will get you a nice clean, labelled automation track in your DAW without any need for any additional fiddling around.

Maschine users will be pleased to hear that it is now very Maschine-friendly,

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After many requests to update Geosonics with DAW-friendly automation parameters, and then some procrastination on our part – due to the size of that job – it has now been done.

So now you will get you a nice clean, labelled automation track in your DAW without any need for any additional fiddling around.

Maschine users will be pleased to hear that it is now very Maschine-friendly, with 9 character naming for parameters etc.

Registered Geosonics users can login and download it from their account > Updates

In other Geosonics news – I will be discussing Geosonics 2 with Chris Watson on Thursday 16th October after he performs at  A New Age of Surround Sound in Guildford, UK. More news when we have it..

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Lorde + Son Lux: Drum Weapons Of Choice

Lorde + Son Lux: Drum Weapons Of Choice

By James Thompson  |  12.09.2014

Lorde + Son Lux + The Conservatoire Collection + Samulnori Percussion

Not a combination that I’d have predicted might work musically, or even one that I could ever have conceived of.

But I guess that’s the world we live in today. Where any old maverick NY-based producer can collaborate with a crazy kiwi siren using nothing more than some early-renaissance skin drums and a Korean percussion ensemble.

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Ryan Lott / Son Lux emailed me with a niggly NI Service Center issue which we won’t go into here. I googled him, and found the Lorde track, Easy (Switch Screens)

It caught my ear because of its stripped down, angular yet tribal beat. I said to Ryan I liked it, and he told me it was done with Soniccouture’s Conservatoire Collection and Samulnori Perucssion kontakt instruments.

Ryan says: ” Lorde tracked her vocals over the instrumental of the original version of the song Easy, which is on my record Lanterns. Then I adapted the song in response, and I knew it needed to be meaner. Her attitude on it was incredible. She did almost all her own vocal production, creating double and triple layers that were pitched-down and crazy-sounding. I was so inspired by it, I did most of the new version in a single sitting in the tour van between Berlin and Köln back in January. It was actually between the first and second shows ever (I didn’t have a band until recently)! I love the dusty, primitive and simple quality of the percussion in the Conservatoire Collection, so I started there. Those sounds have a lot in common sonically with the skins in the Samulnori stuff. I hacked into Kontakt and messed a bit with the tuning of the individual drums get the right tonal quality. On one of the drums, I did some extreme pitch manipulation to double the sub kick in special moments.”

Hear it here :

Available as a single track on itunes

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The Attic – Synths Now Available For Maschine

The Attic – Synths Now Available For Maschine

By James Thompson  |  24.08.2014

We’re happy to release the instruments from The Attic, available as presets for both Maschine 1 and 2 users. These presets let you quickly call up any of the Attic synths (including all three Synthi variants) quickly and directly from the Maschine hardware – and of course, we’ve mapped all the major controls for each synth to the Maschine controller knobs for some ‘hands on’ fun.

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We’re happy to release the instruments from The Attic, available as presets for both Maschine 1 and 2 users. These presets let you quickly call up any of the Attic synths (including all three Synthi variants) quickly and directly from the Maschine hardware – and of course, we’ve mapped all the major controls for each synth to the Maschine controller knobs for some ‘hands on’ fun.

The presets feature just the 10 main Attic Synths, not the 364 Kontakt presets included in The Attic Kontakt Player – with such hands on control you’ll want to create and save more of your own pretty soon. We’ve left the Sub-Type attribute empty so you can categorise your own presets, too (bass, lead, and so on).

We would have liked to have released them when The Attic was originally launched – however we were working with Native Instruments to try to iron out a small bug with the BANK naming in Maschine 2 – the Bank name appears as MASCHINE instead of ‘tHE ATTIC’. Unfortunately after all the trouble-shooting, this is something NI will have to work on fixing for a future update. This doesn’t change any functionality in practice, but we always strive for perfection. Stick to using the Mode/Types menu in Maschine 2 and all is well.

We’ve also taking advantage of a newer, simpler preset installation process in both Maschine 1 and 2, so you’ll be up and running in no time.

The presets can be downloaded free from the Updates Tab of your Soniccouture account.

The Attic Web Page

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Ondes v2: Sharper Look, Sharper Sound

Ondes v2: Sharper Look, Sharper Sound

By James Thompson  |  02.08.2014

Sometimes small improvements can make the biggest difference.

Ondes v2 remains largely unchanged from the original version, one of our most enduringly popular instruments. But look closely and you’ll see that the GUI is much crisper, more solid and clearer on the screen.

And most importantly of all, the sound is now much more authentic;  the different oscillator samples are completely phase-locked.

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Sometimes small improvements can make the biggest difference.

Ondes v2 remains largely unchanged from the original version, one of our most enduringly popular instruments. But look closely and you’ll see that the GUI is much crisper, more solid and clearer on the screen.

And most importantly of all, the sound is now much more authentic;  the different oscillator samples are completely phase-locked.

What does that mean?

Previously, each waveform sample was layered with the others so that you could blend the oscillator shapes as on the original unit ; this worked pretty well, but resulted in a slightly wobbly, phasey sound –  nice and fat, but not exactly like a real Ondes Martenot, which should sound like a single waveform. Phase-locking the samples together fixes this very nicely, taking the Ondes sound to a new level of realism.

FREE UPDATE

We’re pleased to say that Ondes v2 is a free update for all existing Ondes users. To update, it is necessary to download the entire product again from your account downloads page.

ONDES WEB PAGE

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