Waldorf Nave: One Synth To Rule Them All?

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

The number of iPad synths available nowadays is truly mind-blowing. What’s more astonishing is that, while some see these merely as toys, the sound quality is often quite good. Or so I thought. You see, among all the little iSynths who would be king, there is one who stands a bit bigger, bolder, and downright more beautiful than the others: the Waldorf Nave.

This is a serious heavy hitter, packing a punch that knocks you out right from first boot with a slick animated intro. Then, you hear it. “I am Nave,” it says “and I do synth.” Indeed you do, and how!

Nave isn’t just easy on the eyes, though. It’s deep. Complex. It takes time to get to know. First of all, it’s a wavetable synth. So already, you know there is a lot going on under that pretty exterior. What’s a wavetable synth, you say? It’s different than all those other single, double, or even triple oscillator synths out there – it reads. Wavetables, mostly. With an oscillator, you get one wave. With a wavetable, you get a bunch of waves, stacked on top of each other, changing over time, producing a unique waveform with peaks and valleys jutting out all every which way. Confused? Perhaps this will help:

“The wavetable is in essence an array of N values, with values 1 through to N representing one whole cycle of the oscillator. Each value represents an amplitude at a certain point in the cycle. Wavetables are often displayed graphically with the option for the user to draw in the waveshape he or she requires, and as such it represents a very powerful tool. There is also the possibility of loading a pre-recorded waveshape as well; but note that a wavetable oscillator is only a reference table for one cycle of a waveform; it is not the same as a sampler. The wavetable has associated with it a read pointer which cycles through the table at the required speed and outputs each amplitude value in sequence so as to recreate the waveform as a stream of digital values. When the pointer reaches the last value in the table array, it will reset to point one and begin a new cycle.” http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Sound_Synthesis_Theory/Oscillators_and_Wavetables

Nave knows this makes for some interesting sounds. Give this girl a wavetable or two, and it will tell you all about them, forwards or backwards if you like. You can choose from an extensive bank of included wavetables (86 in all), create your own, share with others, load other people’s wavetables…the possibilities are really endless. There is even an onboard speech synthesizer, so you can make Nave say whatever you want, then use that as a custom wavetable. Editing these 3D wavetables on the iPad is a joy, as you can render them fullscreen, twist and turn them around in space. Sculpting with your fingers is more fun than with a mouse, though it’s not as easy as smudging the shape directly, which would be cool but not as precise I suppose. You still have to select areas and control parameters with faders, but it’s pretty intuitive, and the colorful interface is really what gives Nave its pizzazz.

Obviously, I’m impressed by the graphics, but the sound is what really blows me away. It’s thick. It’s tasty. It can be totally weird, in a great way. And it’s extremely versatile. You get leads, pads, percussive sounds, natch – but then there are atmospheric, alien, bowed metal, horror sfx possibilities as well. The presets alone number over 500, and include contributions from sound design rockstars like Smite Matter, Sunshine Audio, and Richard Devine (who created 95 patches).

Nave’s brain is a dual wavetable engine, with controls for both the wave (tuning, startpoint, speed, play direction) and the spectrum (transpose, add noise, brilliance). In addition, there is an oscillator section, with a special Uber-Wave function, which adds up to 8 tune-spreadable oscillators. The mixer allows you to balance the levels between these and offers ring modulation.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

Next there is a rich filter, envelope, and drive section. Following that is an assignable modulation matrix, pitchbend, mod wheel, and XY pads. You can choose between a regular keyboard, (which has a strange scrolling ability that might take some getting used to; while you hold a key you can slide left or right through the octaves), a ‘blade’ keyboard, which adds scale, key, and chord functionality, as well as assignable modulation to sliding up/down or left/right on a key, and, finally, an additional set of programmable XY pads. Then there is an FX section, with phaser, flanger, chorus, delay, reverb, EQ, compression, and an arpeggiator.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

If that wasn’t enough, they threw in a 4-track recorder (similar to Animoog) with an adorable reel-to-reel tape interface, timeline, and mixer (with pan!). You can also run Nave through Audiobus to an external recording app, sync with other devices using WIST, or put it into background audio mode and switch to another app to play on top.

Waldorf, Nave, wavetable synth, iPad

Phew. While I could possibly accuse Waldorf of packing TOO MUCH into Nave (I mean, it’s just a silly iPad toy, right?), I can’t think of anything they left out, at the moment. Maybe you should try it out yourself and let me know.

Download Waldorf Nave $19.99 

Arturia iMini: Migrating the MiniMoog to iPad

arturia, imini, minimoog

With iMini, Arturia joins the mobile revolution. It was the only thing to do, having all its other bases covered.

iMini is a faithful reproduction of the iconic Minimoog synthesizer, for iPad. It is based on Arturia’s TAE® technology which first brought the Minimoog to desktops with its Mini V software. iMini can share presets with its predecessor Mini V, and includes over 500 sounds created by “the top sound designers in the world.” Not sure if he was involved, but iMini already has the support of well respected sound artist Richard Devine.

On top of being compatible with Mini V, iMini supports CORE MIDI, allowing MIDI controller mapping, and WIST sync with compatible apps running on other iDevices. It is also part of Retronym’s Tabletop app environment. Through Tabletop, you can share sounds via Soundcloud, render to .wav, or Audiocopy/paste into another iApp. At this time, iMini doesn’t support Audiobus yet.

Not only does iMini pay homage to the great Bob Moog, but Arturia literally pays back to the Foundation:

To support Bob Moog’s legacy, we are donating a portion of each sale to the Bob Moog Foundation to support their work in science and music education via Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, their work to preserve, protect and share Bob Moog’s archives, and their vision to build a Moogseum in the coming years (Moogfoundation.org)

Check out the awesome promo vid and tutorial:

Arturia iMini requires at least iPad 2 and iOS 6.0 or later, and costs just $9.99


 

If that’s not enough info to get you moist and/or downloading the app already, head over to Arturia.com  for the full nitty gritty (they always have tons of in depth product info).

I Dream Of Wires: Hardcore Edition Trailer

I Dream Of Wires, modular synth documentary

I Dream Of Wires, a forthcoming documentary about modular synthesizers, featuring interviews with luminaries such as Chris Carter and Trent Reznor, has released an official trailer for its extended cut, ‘Hardcore Edition.’

This juicy 12-minute hardcore synth porn clip is but a sliver of the full 4-hour version of the film, which is available for pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD at idreamofwires.org.

Also for sale on their site is the exclusive IDOW edition batteryACID, a voltage controlled analog distortion module by hexinverter.net.

batteryACID, hexinverter.net, I Dream Of Wires

batteryACID is “loosely based” on the classic MXR Distortion Plus guitar pedal circuit. What makes this unit special for modular enthusiasts is that it comes in eurorack format, so it can be integrated right into a modular rig, and distortion can be modulated using a control voltage from another module. It also has a built-in compressor to keep those clipped peaks in check, which can be disabled if desired, or used on its own with distortion bypassed.

And now without further ado, here comes the trailer. Keep your pants on y’all.

“I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)” – 2013 official trailer.

“I Dream of Wires” (IDOW) is an upcoming, independent documentary film about the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer – exploring the passions, obsessions and dreams of people who have dedicated part of their lives to this esoteric electronic music machine. Written and directed by Robert Fantinatto, with Jason Amm (Ghostly International recording artist Solvent) serving as producer and co-writer, IDOW is set to receive it’s festival premiere, May 2013.

Preceding IDOW’s official theatrical release, we will be releasing this special, extended cut: “I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)” (IDOW-HE) will be released independently on BluRay / 2xDVD, and shipped to all IndieGoGo and pre-order customers, June 2013. IDOW-HE is for the hardcore modular synthesizer and electronic music fanatics, and will run approximately 4 hours long (!).

IDOW-HE is a strictly limited-edition item, available to order exclusively through idreamofwires.org from 2/11 – 5/31, 2013. It’s bound to sell out in pre-orders, so don’t sleep…
IDOW-HE BluRay / 2xDVD is available to pre-order now:
idreamofwires.org/order

“Themogene (I Dream Of Wires theme)”, from the forthcoming IDOW original soundtrack album by Solvent, is available to listen/download in its entirety via Ghostly International on Soundcloud:
soundcloud.com/ghostly/solvent-themogene

Additional music/sounds featured in this trailer: Container, Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), Richard Devine, John Elliott (Spectrum Spools/ex-Emeralds), Gert Jalass (Moon Modular), Richard Lainhart, Solvent, Jon Sonnenberg (Travelogue), Keith Fullerton Whitman.

“Who said that?” (in order of appearance): Brad Garton, Dean Batute, Maggie Payne, Bernie Krause, William Maginnis, Terry Pender, Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), Benge (John Foxx and the Maths), Vince Clarke (Erasure), Daniel Miller (Mute Records), David Kronemeyer, Jon Sonnenberg (Travelogue), Carl Craig, James Holden, Richard Devine, Luke Abbott, Tony Rolando (Make Noise), Flood, Trent Reznor (NiN/How To Destroy Angels), Dieter Doepfer, Dominic Butler (Factory Floor), Paul Schreiber (Synthesis Technology/MOTM), David Kronemeyer, Eric Barbour (Metasonix), George Mattson, William Mathewson (WMD), Tony Rolando, Eric Barbour, Daniel Miller, Drew Neumann, John Elliott (Spectrum Spools/ex-Emeralds), Andreas Schneider (SchneidersBuero), Eric Barbour, Scott Jaeger (The Harvestman), Andreas Schneider, Dieter Doepfer, Chris Carter (X-TG/Chris & Cosey), Charlie Clouser, Danjel Van Tijn (Intellijel), John Tejada, Drumcell, Legowelt, Alessandro Cortini (SONOIO/ex-NiN), John Foxx, Deadmau5, James Husted (Synthwerks), Paul Barker (Malekko/ex-Ministry), Container, Cevin Key (Skinny Puppy), Robert A.A. Lowe, Trent Reznor, Gur Milstein (TipTop Audio), Gary Numan.

idreamofwires.org
vimeo.com/idreamofwires
facebook.com/idreamofwiresdocumentary

NAMM NAMM NAMM

NAMM, NAMM Show Anaheim, music trade show,

This past weekend the music world met at the NAMM show to ooh and ahh over lots of shiny new toys. And sadly I was not among them. But! My buddy and talented producer Drew Skinner (aka Duskrider) was on the scene to capture some gear pics for the rest of us to fawn over.  Behold:

Moog Voyager, Moog 10th Anniversary Voyager, Moog gold voyager, gold, synth, NAMM, Drew Skinner

Moog 10th Anniversary Gold Minimoog Voyager

Moog Booth, NAMM, Bob Moog, Moog couch, Drew Skinner

I need this couch for my studio

Korg MS-20 mini, NAMM

Korg MS-20 Mini

Modular synths, NAMM

I really wanna get weird with Wiard Modulars

Koma, Modular, NAMM

Going into a Koma

Radial 500 series 

Analog Alien, Alien Twister Fuzz,

Alien Twister Fuzz from Analog Alien. Even the photo is fuzzy! Another boutique builder I have never heard of. I wonder if this is what aliens sound like?

And! Here are a few of my favorite NAMM blurbs from around the web:

Fender, Diamond Legend Cabronita, telecaster, diamond studded guitar, Yuriy Shishkov, NAMM

Via themusiczoo: The Fender Diamond Legend Cabronita, built by Yuriy Shishkov, could be yours for only $120,000.

Wheelharp, Antiquity Music, baroque synth, steampunk synth, NAMM

Via catsynth“There are analog synthesizers, and then there are instruments that are even more analog than analog. The Wheelharp from Antiquity Music falls in this category. The Wheelharp is an electromechanical instrument in which a performer accesses 61 bowed strings via the keyboard. There is a cylindrical version, as illustrated in the photograph below, as well as a standard linear-keyboard version. The instrument evokes the Baroque era in its appearance, both the reversed coloring of the keys and the details of the construction and wood finish. The sound of the bowed strings in response to pressing the keys is quite eerie. This video shows part of the mechanical system that drives the Wheelharp as it is being played.”

Also via catsynth: Synthesist extraordinaire, Richard Devine, performing bleeps and bloops on Make Noise modules at the Analog Haven booth.

Visionary Instruments, video guitar, NAMM

You should probably head over to catsynth.com sometime, they’ve got lots of quirky stuff from NAMM that is right up my alley, like this Visionary Instruments video guitar.

Via synthtopia: The Buchla Music Easel comes in its own suitcase for easy traveling. This little Electric Music Box holds a special place in my heart, as I once got to use one of the original Buchlas while at NYU studying electronic music synthesis.

The good news is this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the crazy new music tech out there, so we can keep talking about this stuff indefinitely. Care to share any of your fondest NAMM moments?

 

Chris Carter Talks Modular Synth In ‘I Dream Of Wires’

Chris Carter, Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey, X-TG, Desert Shore, Final Report

I Dream of Wires makes me moist for modular synthesizers.

I Dream Of Wires: A Modular Synthesizer Documentary, directed by Robert Fantinatto, chronicles the rise and fall of modular synthesizers and their recent resurgence in popularity. The film is currently in production, but they are sharing extended interviews with featured modular synth pioneers now on the IDOW Vimeo page.

I was excited to see posted the latest interview with Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey, Carter Tutti and X-TG. Lately, I’ve been basking in the glorious swaths of sound that form the latest release from X-TG: Desertshore/The Final Report, and was thinking how much I myself would like to have a chat with Carter. But it looks like IDOW has beaten me to the punch. Here, Chris describes his early DIY electronics building experiments that resulted in the famous Gristlizer, which was key to Throbbing Gristle’s sound. He goes on to tell of selling off all his modular gear, and gradually building his rig back up to the current modular digital/analog synth hybrid kit that was used on the aforementioned X-TG album.

Chris Carter: IDOW Extended Interview #9 from I Dream Of Wires on Vimeo.

Check out vimeo.com/idreamofwires for more extended interviews with synth noodlers like Richard Devine & Carl Craig.

Visit idreamofwires.org for more info about the film.

Buy XTG: Desertshore/The Final Report