DiscoDSP HighLife

HighLife is a highly advanced sample player, that allows you to upload samples in

.wav (8 to 32 Bit), .aif, .mp3 and .raw format and play them back at any pitch.

This is especially useful if you take samples of your favourite drum synth and playback e.g. snare hits at different pitches. Also this feature enables you to layer pitched bass drums – a high one for the attack and a low one for the bottom.

The obviously most useful feature of the HighLife sample player is its ability to freeze soft synths. When using several synth tracks in your arrangement you might eventually run out of CPU power. If you don’t want to bounce down your synth-track because you want to change something later on, you might want to sample your synthesizer’s sounds and play them back as samples.

HighLife allows you to upload an entire VSTi and automatically take multisamples of your synth.

Also the HighLife has an edit-mode which gives the user total control of the wavetable in use.

Additionally you can make use of a rich effects section with some standard effects like chorus, reverb, delay and the ominous “daft” and “rock da disco” effects.

Highly recommended.

Flux Bitter Sweet

When it comes to mixing, beats often lack a sharpness that helps them cutting through the mix. You might try fix this with a compressor, choosing a fairly long attack-time, which lets the transients of the beat pass uncompressed – or you might want to give Flux’s Bitter Sweet a try. This special plug-in is not only pure eye candy but comes in very handy when handling drum-loops.

The Bitter Sweet basically enhances or diminishes the transient’s amplitude of a track and is very easy to handle. The “Bitter”-setting increases the transients, the “Sweet”-setting softens them.

Our advice would be to insert Bitter Sweet on tracks with drum-loops or on group-tracks with the sub-mix of the entire beat-section.

Although Bitter Sweet is mostly used on percussive tracks, you might want to check its effects on rather percussive lead or bass sounds as well. Interesting and unpredicted distortions might occur.

To download the plug-in you’ll have to register on the Flux website.

Gcomp

Most compressors only offer a gain reduction indicator, or – if more advanced – a gain reduction meter to indicate whether or not compression takes place. They let it up to your hearing capabilities to decide if you have chosen your settings right.

Gcomp offers a display that actually lets you see what happens to your audio signal. This is so far the only compressor we found which employs this special display, and thus is worth mentioning.

Since it’s all about sound anyway you have to decide for yourself if it’s compression behaviour satisfies your demands. You still could try Gcomp to find out the correct settings, and then use another compressor applying these settings.

Gcomp starts with the –20dB threshold by default. Don’t get irritated by that.

Gsnap

Gsnap is a nice little tool for all of you guys who want to sing but who’s singing lessons have been a while. Just insert Gsnap on your vocal track and switch on the notes of the scale your melody plays in. Adjust the “thresh”-control to narrow the tolerance and Gsnap snaps back any deviating tone into the harmonic grid.

We’ve tried this thing on sampled loops which had some unwanted tones in them, but it unfortunately didn’t work.

AM Freehand

Angular Momentum is truely a good name for free high quality VST synths and effects. We recommend all their plug-ins without any exception. In fact you probably could do with only AM plug-ins. It’s all there, from monophonic bass-line synths to highly customizable wavetable synths.

We chose to introduce the Freehand wavetable synth because of two facts which elevate this special device above the other great AM releases.

The first is its incredible good looks and the second its freehand feature. As you probably know, wavetable synths use wavetables (mostly samples of real instruments) to generate their sounds. AM Freehand has three wavetable oscillators which can actually be drawn freehand with your mouse. So don’t waste too much time studying the presets, but get creative and draw in your very own never before heard sound.

Also the three Oscs can be used for sound modulation purposes. You can switch each Osc from Osc-mode to frequency modulation (FM)-mode.

Of course AM Freehand has a built in set of effects such as chorus and stereo delay. It’s up to you whether you want to use them or not.

Polyvoks Station

Supposedly the Polyvoks is an emulation of a legendary Soviet FM synth. Well, since you eventually need an FM synth for those kraftwerkian Klingklang-sounds anyway, you might as well give this ancient device a try.

It has everything a good FM synth needs plus a set of decent built-in effects such as stereo delay and phasing.

Polyvoks only reaches an 8 voice polyphony (which is probably meant by the “poly” in the device’s name) which is not too much compared to recent standards, but absolutely sufficient in our opinion.

Its sound quality is really remarkable and quite unique. Besides it adds a little exotic flavour to your VSTi rack.

VS-1 Oscilloscope

VS-1 is a 3-oscillator analogue subtractive synth – which admittedly doesn’t sound too impressive nowadays.

If it wasn’t for the interesting looks of the interface we probably never had tried this thing, but tell you what: it sounds great. It has a very unique sonic edge to it, which will surprise you and make you look for places to squeeze the VS-1 in.

The VS-1 has a highly adjustable effects-section placed in the lower part of the interface. Unfortunately the VS-1 uses a lot of CPU-power, so this one is the perfect candidate for the freezing feature of HighLife.

INTRO

Intro is another wavetable synth which comes with 4 oscillators and 64 built-in waveforms. Of course this thing sounds good, but you can really give an edge to your sound creations with Intro’s Mod Matrix.

The Mod Matrix module is placed in the lower part of the GUI and offers a step-gate, an envelope, a modulator, an effects section and a midi-section. That means that you can create virtually every kind of sound without having to use an additional plug-in on the synth track.

This device is really complex so we recommend to study the presets first, to get a good hands on. Or just twirl some knob… you might come up with something interesting.

dblue Glitch

multiple effect plugIn

Camel Crusher

This effect plugIn is great when you want to give your bass drums or basses some boost. It will distort your sounds and therefore will make them dirty and cold. But unless you plan to produce some easy listening you should try it. It works in minimal as well as in complex arrangements. The presets provide a nice variety from just a little pressure to total nastiness.

Of course, you can use it for other instruments as well. We can recommend to feed it to vocals, for example.