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deCoda [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 19th December 2019
Version reviewed: 1.0.1 on Mac
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Please Note: This software has just been released. Therefore, my review is a concise introduction that focuses on what it is, why use/buy it, and first impressions. I did have a pleasure of doing a little beta-testing prior to release, but not enough to provide anything massive and in-depth. I sincerely hope my words prove to be useful. .. or at least. .. entertaining.;-).

INTRO
deCoda by zplane is a music practice and transcription software that enables users to swiftly learn and play songs on their instrument without being distracted by dealing with tech bloat.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Where's the software? Did they forget to include buttons, knobs, sliders, and menus? Nah! Everything is there, but zplane has cleverly arranged the interface to facilitate a fast workflow without the software getting in the way. It's clearly designed to help users get to the point quickly without being side-tracked. I drag-n-dropped a song into the empty window and POW. .. it loaded the audio file and analyzed it. I toggled between the light and dark view. .. I prefer the light, but it's nice to have that option.

WHAT I DIG MOST

Assistance: Help is available if/when needed and comes in various forms:

  • Convenient tool-tips ranging from a basic help overlay that is activated by hovering the cursor over a tool to detailed help by double-clicking into a region. These are accessible via the top of the IU menu bar inside the question mark.
  • Several video tutorials clearly demonstrate "how to get started" as well as a tour, navigation, etc.
  • Support staff at zplane is highly responsive and happy to assist.

Interface
As before mentioned, it took a little time to get used to the streamlined GUI, but soon after I appreciated a clean, crisp look and feel. It's like a new canvas awaiting some paint from a pallet that is so easy to reach. There is a top bar that expands to view loop-able/loopview parts (in waveform or piano-roll) and a bottom bar that features: Edit time, key, bookmark (saves favorite parts), metronome, transport, focus on/off, octave, and playback speeds/BPM. Sidebar menus reveal bookmarks, parts, editing, mixing, export, etc. There are three lines, a.k.a burger menu, that show current project, project history, open file, and settings. The controls, functions, parameters, and settings are unobtrusive, yet easy to access. There is no clutter; no overstuffed nonsense to get in the way of doing what we do — music.

Workflow
Lightning-fast! You simply drop audio music file onto the interface, let those amazing algorithms work their magic for a few seconds, and voila — music is deCoded! From there, parts can easily be reorganized and parameters can be manipulated as/if needed (Key, time signature, BPM, chords, etc.). The zoom feature is handy and easy to use.

Slow-Down
zplane knows how to change speed without pitch change. Again, their algorithms shine. deCoda can be slowed (or sped) to help users learn and/or practice parts at their own pace.

What About My Instrument?
Most audio software requires users to have both hands glued to the keyboard, but deCoda minimizes computer time and maximizer instrument time. A one-handed keyboard nav creates an convenient, compact, ergonomic way for users to manipulate the instrument (on your lap) and software. This saves time and unnecessary movement that puts your instrument at risk. So, keep that guitar (bass, piano, etc.) close by and play on using it. deCoda is a tool designed to help you quickly learn and play songs.

File Management
All loaded files are neatly stored, automatically updated, listed, and loaded without navigation through a maze of files and folders. Users we not be slowed down by traditional file management, i.e., naming, saving and so on.

Accuracy
Oh, those zplane algorithms!!! Key, time, BPM, and song parts are usually spot-on. And when they're not, they're close enough to provide a solid foundation to work from.

FEATURE REQUEST
I'd like clearer automatic note-by-note transcription for melody lines and solos. Then I wouldn't need to load that other app.;-).

WHO IS THIS FOR?
You, me, and every other musician that wants to figure out a song or recording.

WHO IS THIS NOT FOR?
The extremes, i.e., Mozart and absolute beginners. However, Wolfie would certainly have fun with it, and once beginners better understand their instruments, this would become an invaluable tool for them to better understanding other people's music and improve their skills without the distracting of computer stuff.

SUMMARY
Most software, especially audio transcription software, is cluttered with stuff that needs to be defined and explained in detail. deCoda is remarkably minimalist, yet extraordinarily powerful. It simply works well. What can I say about software that defines itself? When I think of deCoda, these words come to mind: Time-saving, elegant, clever, powerful, fun, educational, invaluable and indispensable. deCoda is what every software should be. .. it does exactly what you want it to do and doesn't get in your way. It doesn't prevent you from playing your instrument; it enhances instrument time. This is one fantastic tool. deCoda quickly became an indispensable tool in my studio, and I plan on keeping it in my dock until my ears fall off my head. If you have a need for audio transcription to help you reverse engineer some music, I strongly suggest you check out deCoda.

Nuance [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 12th December 2019
Version reviewed: 2.1 on Mac
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Disclaimer: I wanted to give this software a 4.5 rating. I do believe future revisions will push it up to 5.0. However, 4.5 is not an option. I had to choose between 4 and 5, so I went with 5.

INTRO
Nuance v2 by New Sonic Arts is an inspiring compact creative sampler with a fast, intuitive workflow. There's no bloat. It's light on CPU and heavy on performance. It more than lives up to its joyous promise of being quick, capable and fun.

INTIAL IMPRESSION
Upon the first launch, seasoned sampler users might find themselves a little unsure about how to navigate around the interface. Luckily, there are helpful hints that pop up and the GUI soon after becomes intuitive and extremely inviting. It's minimalist, but it does all the right things and does them well. It can also consolidate, simplify and streamline a user's setup by assuming virtual drum machine duties. It's got the pads and kit features, including multiple layers per pad, round robins, choke, etc. The Pad View enables users to load and/or construct kits. The Piano mode returns the user back to a standard sampler with standard keyboard assignment and mapping.

IN ACTION
If it's what's inside that counts, Nuance definitely has a lot going on under the hood as evidenced by its performance. If looks do matter, well. .. this is a fine looking piece of software. Check out the website. It's elegant and ultra-modern, just like their software's GUI. Side note of little importance. .. I like their logo. The tilted N encapsulated in a ring is cool and catchy. .. easy to see in the dock.

WORKFLOW
I've come to realize that there is no one way to flow that work. Users can keep it simple by dragging in single samples (simple instruments) or drums into the padview. In this way, the file browser and My Samples database becomes workflow central. Or, more advanced users can get a bit more complex by building their own multi-instruments and relying more on the map editor and detailed editing functions. That flow might look more like this:

1. Drag sample(s) onto the interface
2. Loop and key assign/map zones via pulling edges around
3. Switch to the Mapping View to set key, velocity range layering, multi-sampling, adjust start/end points, fades and looping in the wave editor.
4. Layer as/if desired
5. Globally edit Pitch, Pan, Volume, FX and modulation in groups or layers. Note: Modulation can be manipulated and then dropped in.
6. Assign to Cycle Groups for sequential round robin triggering.
7. Save.

Nuance fosters a super fast basic workflow; yet, the advanced features and power is as needed.

FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT IT
• Neat (compact), user-friendly interface with a truly "effortless workflow"
• Small footprint and CPU friendly
• Loads all the common audio files, and saves patches in its own format with an option to embed referenced samples
• Drag-n-drop in and out
• Inspiring and Musical
• Sounds great
• Simple, yet powerful layering, Amp Env, Pitch, Modulation, and FX
• Modulation is flexible and assignable via a drag-n-drop features into the Modulation Matrix or onto target parameters. For many, this might be a game changer.
• Step/Table Sequencer provides rhythmic, tempo-synced modulation and the XY Pad connects between the Assignment Manager and the Modulation Matrix.
• Round robins for more realism
• Built-in Choke feature for hats and other choke-able instruments.
• Batch edit
• Batch tag samples and filter for lightning browse/selection. The database neatly organizes a sample library within Nuance, which speeds up usage.
• Quick loading of sampler patches
• Helpful speech bubble hints = shallow learning curve
• Stand-alone and plugin versions
• Responsive developer
• Priced right.

REQUESTS*
• Pitch detection
• Advanced time compression/expansion
• Crossfading between Zones
• Key-Mapping by filename
• Random round-robin
• Transport and/or audition button for stand-alone version
• Name or color option for pads
• Detailed video tutorials.

HEARTFELT THOUGHTS
If you love the feeling of falling in love as much as I do, you'll dig Nuance. It's like the best chocolate imaginable. .. a few simple ingredients. .. smooth, tasty, and not too sweet. So far, I see many positives and endless potential. Hopefully, this honeymoon stage is everlasting.;-) Nuance is a piece of software that I've been searching for. .. inspiring, fun to use, and not an overly complex mess. I don't foresee myself outgrowing this fine software. Like any good relationship, I hope we grow together. Nice job, New Sonic Arts. You won my heart; hopefully, that leads to some beats.;-).

SUMMARY
Will it do everything the mega samplers like Kontakt, HALion, and MachFive does? NO! Will it do a better, faster job at the most important thing. .. help users make music? YES, I believe so! The full feature set of Nuance will not be as deep as the mega samplers, but it will blow away standard samplers. Nuance combines simplicity to enable users to work fast, but does not have the limitations of some simple samplers. The power is there if/when needed. This baby is streamlined and will sample circles around the big bloated beasts!! Nuance is cleaner, less confusing, and enables musicians, producers, DJs, etc. to focus on what matters instead of wasting time being frustrated. Without hesitation, I give Nuance two pulsating thumbs up. Check out the free demo.

Note #1: I'd also like to check out their other offerings, i.e. Granite (granular texture generator), Vice (loop slicer), and Freestyle (stage and studio).

Note #2: If you cannot live without pitch detection and advanced time compression/expansion, I suggest complimenting Nuance with Serato Sample. They make a great team.

VStomp Amp [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 12th December 2019
Version reviewed: 1.1.0 on Mac
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO
VStomp Amp by Hotone pronounced, "Hot One," is a collection of realistic modeled legendary amp emulations. The range includes: Marshall, Vox, Black Twin, Silver Twin, Mark, Baseman, Mesa Boogie, etc. The software uses the same tech found inside of their XTOMP multi-effect pedal, CDCM (Comprehensive Dynamic Circuit Modeling) system. Okay, I have no clue what that is, but I know it sounds great. Under the hood. .. I'm guessing they employed one of the following:

1. Miniature effigies of Jimmy Page et al.
2. Cutting edge algorithms for amps that also manipulate loaded cab IRs.

After investigating, I discovered that CDCM is a special kind of circuit that helps to emulate/replicate all the parameters and tonalities of classic amps and cabs to achieve "the closes possible characteristics" of the actual circuitry. Hey, it sounds great!.

HOW TO USE:
1. Launch
2. Select an amp
3. Select a cab
4. Add delay, reverb, and boost.
5. Play
6. Save preset.

VStomp allows users to combine a wide variety of amps and cabs to create a unique custom sound. It includes countless clean, overdriven, hi-gain, and bass tones. I'm more into a 60s vibe as of late, so I favor the clean tones. I found an good preset demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W3ZRn_luI4. It's good for a reference, but I think most of the examples sound better at home. .. less tinny. To quote Raphael Morgan from a KVR Audio post, "It sounds killer with Recabinet and some good IRs."

PROS
• Attractive, user-friendly interface.
• Fun to use.
• Sounds great.
• Nothing complicated, which = more playing.
• Built-in noise gate.
• Can be used as standalone (Mac OS X).
• Presets adjustable via MIDI controller in vivo.
• Priced right
• Free amp cabs frequently added.
• Enthusiastic developer with excellent communication.

CONS
• Needs more bass amps. Don't be stingy. Show bassists more love!
• Modulation FX
• VStomp is a bit buried in Hotone's website, but you can find it here: https://vstomp.hotoneaudio.com.

SUMMARY
There are countless amp/cab emulations out there. .. some good, some bad, and some are just plain ugly. VStomp is GREAT! In my opinion, VStomp nails the sound of the original hardware counterparts, especially Fender and Marshall. If you're looking for the deepest IR loader, look elsewhere. If you want to play and sound good for under $100, look here! VStomp is a software amp simulator that every guitarist and bassist should consider, whether you play a real or virtual axe. This thing rocks. Try the free demo. .. you have nothing to lose.

Note: If you pull the trigger, I highly recommend adding their Amps and Cabs bundle, which often goes on sale. This will ensure you have "all the real sounds of rock heroes past and present."

Harvest [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 3rd December 2019
Version reviewed: 1.04 on Mac
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO
Harvest is a MIDI plugin sequence generator that can produce note melodies, chords, and rhythmic patterns.

CHEATING?
Let's get right down to it with a pre-emptive strike against the opposition. Is using Harvest cheating? I'll answer a question with questions.

• Is using a word processor instead of a typewriter cheating?
• Is using a nail gun instead of a hammer and nails cheating?
• Is opening up a dictionary or thesaurus cheating?

Harvest doesn't complete a composition and market it. It's a tool, devised to "Unlimit your MIDI." Does it succeed? In my case, YES! Harvest has quickly become one of my favorite tools. The learning curve is shallow. In no time, I was up and running, navigating about and creating. In a word — INSPIRING!!! I particularly find it useful for developing unique melodic leads and basses. It's also great at tweaking melodies and blasting through songwriter's block via randomizing. Here's where I plagiarized my workflow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thEsZGnA7No.

WORKFLOW
• Open a couple MIDI tracks, one for Harvest and the other for an instrument that Harvest controls.
• Select number of bars, note length, and quantization
• Input notes or select from a list of preset keys (scales/mode) and chords
• Use metronome to tap-out notes (all notes will be in key as per key selection)
• Lock-in desired notes and ReGen/randomize the rest. .. almost like playing poker. .. keep the good cards and ask for a few new ones. Only with Harvest you can keep asking for replacement notes until you nail it!
• Press record to print onto instrument track.
• Edit and shape as/if needed.
• Add more layers if desired.
• Add FX to taste.

FAVORITE Features
• Neat, clean, inviting interface
• Easy to use; fun to use; fast; musical
• Demolishes songwriter's block
• Subtly teaches music theory
• Interactive Piano Roll
• Humanize for some swag and swing
• Stable
• Updated frequently
• Responsive developer with good customer support
• Excellent video tutorials
• Good price.

FEATURE REQUESTS
• Stand-alone version
• Increase number of bars to 32
• Drag-n-drop
• Note locking issue identified by KVR Audio Member, Saffran: "Only two options to lock notes, click one note at a time or all notes. If you have 30 notes and want to lock 2/3, that's 20 clicks. Why can't any of them turn into lasso selecting when ctrl-clicked?"
• Streamline CPU consumption.

SUMMARY
Harvest has quickly become an indispensable tool in my virtual toolbox. No regrets whatsoever. It's extremely musical. If you're a songwriter of any genre, check this out. There's a free version, Harvest Mini. If you dig that, step up to big bro. unique workflow for writing music. Thanks, Harvest Plugins, for developing this amazing audio composition software.

GrooveExtractor2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 28th November 2019
Version reviewed: 2.1.1 on Mac
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO
Groove Extractor by LeSound miraculously transcribes drum loops into individual general MIDI file instruments: bass drum, snare drum, closed hi hat, open hi hat/cymbals, and toms. Did you ever have a great groove, but wished you could substitute the kick, snare, etc.? Well, you can with this software. Use your "found" loops to get a track going. Translate into MIDI. Tweak as needed. Trigger your own kit. BAM!.

Groove Extractor features an attractive, user-friendly interface with a simple workflow that yields powerful results. The transport is basic, but includes exactly what's needed. .. no more, no less. In action, users either browse or drag-n-drop an audio file loops (or folder of loops) and allow the software algorithms to do the work under the hood. Within seconds, loops are divided into individual instruments on their own respective MIDI note numbers. Results can be exported, edited (if needed), copied, pasted, and manipulated endlessly into a creative bliss.

• Does it really work? YES!
• Is it perfect every time? NO! But.. .

Some loops are deciphered more accurately than others. It seems to depend on the recording quality, type of kit, and instrument positioning. Clean loops with instruments tonally where they should be = clean transcription. Yet, almost all transcriptions I demoed were useful. Some needed a little editing. Users can help processing accuracy by zeroing-in on the appropriate type of loops, i.e., Electronic, Acoustics, and Trigger (detects onsets). In my limited experience, I've noticed that acoustic "real" drum loops translated more accurately than electronic. I have a theory as to why. .. real drums instruments are easier to identify as they have a more distinct timbre and frequency range. Electronic drums, on the other hand, have a wider variety of tone and often share frequencies. For example, many electronic kicks and snares sound fairly similar except for a bit of added resonance or pseudo "snare" quality of the snare. In addition, acoustic drum loops are usually played by humans with human limitations, whereas electronic loops can be super human with no boundaries. However, some acoustic performances are complex with more percussion, and some electronic sequences are more straightforward and minimalistic. So, most of my hypothesis is pointless. LOL. Regardless of drum instrument type and performance, Groove Extractor earns its keep, cutting hours of suffering down to minutes of tweaking (if needed).

FAVORITE Features
• Clean, easy-on-the-eyes GUI
• User-friendly
• Fun to use
• Surprisingly accurate
• Good browser
• Great tool that saves time
• Note/velocity editing
• Tempo estimation
• Forward-thinking, responsive developer
• Good price.

FEATURE REQUEST
• Stand-alone version.

SUMMARY
I love this software. It's perfect for my workflow and will certainly help me complete tracks. I will no longer have to spend hours struggling to recreate the vibe of a groove in MIDI form. It does exactly what it claims to do, and the price is right! If my virtual house caught on fire, this is one of the first things I'd save from the blazing inferno. I give Groove Extractor two steady hi-hats up. Check it out! In the meantime, I'll check out the rest of LeSound's bundle to see if they are a one hit wonder or. .. much, much more.

Euphonia 2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 25th February 2019
Version reviewed: 2.0.3 on Mac
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO

Euphonia v2 by TB Pro Audio is an outstanding audio spectrum balancing plugin that subtly, but significantly works sonic wonders on tracks. It didn't take me long to appreciate the many benefits of adding this to my workflow. It's perfectly suited for mastering, but can also be used for restoration, re-mastering, sound design, and sculpting single tracks. Euphonia's original v1 interface was fun and inviting. I liked the original GUI as it had a bit of a vintage, lo-fi vibe, but this one sparkles with enhanced clarity.

The complex calculations are done behind the scenes, enabling the user to focus on the creative process — not mathematics. Soon after launching Euphonia, I knew it would become a permanent part of my music production. It's an excellent tool that fills a few vital important roles, most notably bringing the overall frequencies in line with the intended genre. This was something I once labored over when producing tracks, especially dance tracks. I would mix, master, press a test copy, beg a DJ friend to mix it in with other club music, and see how it matched up. It was all done by ear and/or guesswork. With Euphonia, there is less guessing and more smiling.

FAVORITE FEATURES

• Easy download, install, and authorization process
• User-friendly, gorgeous Interface
• Sounds great! The new version boasts enhanced spectrum matching. V2 creates more accurate filter curves even if the reference curve does not fit perfectly.
• Good price
• Innovative, responsive developer.

OTHER THOUGHTS

• There are two ways to capture audio. I prefer the off-line option, as it's much faster.

• The built-in curves are excellent, and v2 has custom reference curves, which will allow users to tailor the balancing for other genres and subgenres, i.e., Funk, Motown, R&B, Folk, etc.

• New zero delay operation mode. Very cool.

• There were some CPU spikes in v1, but I did not notice any with v2. The overall consumption is good considering the powerful processing that's going on.

• Audio files (WAV/AIFF) can not be instantly loaded as reference "fingerprints" — much faster and more efficient.

SUMMARY

The new, improved Euphonia is a handy plugin that is a must for anyone (eMusicians, producers, film and game scorers, sound designer, DJs, etc.), who are serious about making music that stand tall when compared to other tracks in its genre. It helps breathe life into music, not suck the life out of it! Tommy Zai gives Euphonia v2 two keenly balanced thumbs up. Thank you TB Pro Audio for creating such an essential plugin.

Note: This plugin will not take the place of mastering engineers, but it will help "set a solid (frequency balancing) ground for mastering." I stole this quote from an online comment.

Double Note: I recently reformatted my hard drive and reinstalled only the apps/plugins I love. This was one of the first re-installed.

Auto-Tune Pro [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 10th May 2018
Version reviewed: 9.0 on Mac.
Last edited by tommyzai on 10th May 2018.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Disclaimer: I waxed a little crazy on the details and wordage for this user review, but it's real and sincere. I could have trimmed this down, but I giggled and left most of it. ;-)

INTRO
Auto-Tune Pro is the latest version of Antares' world-famous pitch correction/vocal processing software, and it does not disappoint!* This update is significant and sophisticated, yet sleek and easier to use than it's predecessors. It boasts a redesigned/reorganized interface as well as several feature additions, re-additions, and enhancements that will surely allure new users and excite experienced pros.

GETTING GOIN'
The purchase, download, and authorization process is straightforward via an iLok activation. AU validation in Logic was successful (MacBook Pro), and I'm sure it works fine in other formats with other DAWs. Upon launch, the interface reveals the two modes — Automatic and Graphical (more manual). Automatic mode now has a two layer view:

Basic contains the most frequently used parameters
• Retune Speed (subtle pitch correction to total FX a la Cher, T-Pain, Kesha, etc.)
• Flex-Tune (adjusts reactivity/threshold in relation to pitch quantization of selected note(s).
• Humanize (helps to preserve performance of sustained notes and corrects robotic bends of shorter notes). Note: Formant
button and Retune Speed in Graphical Mode can be utilized globally or on specific notes to help reduce artifacts and preserve a
natural sound.
• Natural Vibrato (from smooth to a rapid quiver).

The advanced mode uncovers all the other cool parameters, many of which were found on the launch page of previous versions
• Create and tweak vibrato (rate, onset, etc.).
• Bypass (skips targeted notes) and Remove notes (correct targeted note).
• Create scales.
• Advanced MIDI stuff.

NOTEWORTHY STUFF
• GUI: The new redesigned interface is intuitive, fast, and looks great. The dual layer approach contributes to a smoother work-flow; it makes perfect sense and is inviting. The big stuff is all right there, neatly arranged, while the fine tuning and deeper programming features are easily accessible. Experienced users will undoubtedly find the new layout faster and more fun to use, and new users will enjoy diving-in without being overwhelmed. Note: Some features and functions have been relocated to the preference section and are customizable. This is especially useful in adjusting the Graphical Editing view and workflow.

• AUTO-KEY: Straight-away I was impressed with this sub plugin, which automatically detects the song key. It's a small sub-plugin that can placed on a track to detects the key and transmits the info to the Auto-Tune session. Music theorists might poo-poo this feature (then secretly use it), but the likes of me will be extremely grateful. I can quickly create sweet melodies and then spend a lifetime trying to decipher the key and chords. Auto-Key instantly gets me the info I need to determine my chord progression and modes, speeding up my creative process. It's accurate and extremely useful. At the very least it provides excellent info. Whether to adjust, tune, or preserve performance is up to the user. Note: Auto-Key might go between two detected keys, but those are usually just the relative major or minor, which share the same scale notes, so either is valid.

• GRAPHICAL EDITING: This page is customizable, cleaner, and easier to use for micro and macro note manipulation. It's visual for those who like to edit audio with their eyeballs; however, there are automatic features built-in to assist users. It does pitch, pitch-n-time, etc. The Make Notes feature provides a nice guide for adjusting the captured notes. The original and corrected pitch are color-coded. Number of Notes helps users determine the breadth of adjustment. In action, I noticed Pro has smoother scrolling than version 8, and the new zooming tools rock.

• CLASSIC MODE: The Auto-Tune v5 "sound" has been brought back. Many users were upset that v6 and beyond abandoned this feature. I've heard a producer say, "A.T. 5 was better than 8." According to an online forum poster blayz2002, "For me, v5 coming back is a game changer — v5 had a sound that people, including myself, fell in love with. After v6 (EVO) the code was improved but also lost some of the magic. The way it snapped into notes and cut through a mix." Well, good news, the quintessential Auto-Tune vibe is back and includes all the newer generation algorithmic improvements along with lower latency.

• ARA (Audio Random Access) support for superior integration in Studio One (I don't have S.O., but it's probably a cool feature if you do).

• SAMPLE RATE: Auto-Tune Pro now supports higher sample rates up to 192kHz.

• LATENCY: Super low when tracking a melody line.

• BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY: Auto-Tune Pro is compatible with v8.1, but not earlier versions.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND TIPS
• Requires iLok — some users prefer this added security; some not so much.
• Pitch correction is an essential production tool for anyone working with singers. Hey, there's no need to be ashamed. ;-) The end result is what matters, right? Pitch correction actually helps me to improve my singing in the same way that spell-checkers have improved my spelling. Besides, rarely has any singer in the studio nailed a track in one take. Producers have spent days comping, tuning, bouncing, punching, spicing and dicing to improve a vocal track. Using tricks of the trade is not new. The only thing that's changed are the tools.
• Real-time re-pitching via Advanced Mode > Target Notes > Side-chain (then select a function from drop-down menu). In vivo performances can be captured in Logic and probably other DAWs.
• Specific notes can be bypassed to preserve unique performances. Note: Notes can also be removed completely from processing, if/when needed.
• Auto-Tune is NOT limited to vocals. It can help create interesting, perfectly tuned instrument tracks. I recently rescued a solo violin performance. ;-)
• Results are most transparent and free of artifacts when the singer's performance is reasonably close to being in tune. The more out of tune, the more the results will sound "effected." Vibrato and slow slurs and slides between notes/phrases also present a natural sound challenge. Note: The vibrato seems cleaner and more accurate than before to my ears.
• Flex Tune certainly helps preserve a natural sound.
• I found it better to use Auto-Tune as the first insert (especially for vocals), followed by other FX. This way all the additional processing is in tune. Imagine an off-key delay beneath the pitch-corrected vocals. ;-0
• Choose the correct input type to increase pitch correction accuracy, i.e., Soprano, Alto/Tenor, Low Male (Baritone/Bass), Instrument and Bass Instrument.
• Set key and scale of the song for better accuracy. If not sure, get some help from the Auto Key sub plugin that comes with Auto-Tune.

FEATURE REQUEST
• AAX DSP support and compatible with hosts that only support VST-2.
• Polyphony.

THE GREAT DEBATE: AUTO-TUNE vs MELODYNE
Auto-Tune or Melodyne? This is a likely question many will ask, and it's a bit like asking which DAW is best. Which should you buy? Well, most pro studios answer this question by having both on hand. Two of my producer friends use Auto-Tune regularly and Melodyne for complicated corrections, wobbly vibrato, and transitions. If you can swing it, I highly recommend you do the same. However, if you're on a budget like most of us starving electronic musicians, you'll need to choose one or the other.. .

Sorry, I had a lot of info/suggestion about which to get, but I ran over the 10,000 character limit. ;-(.

SUMMARY
I highly recommend Auto-Tune Pro for anyone who works with digital notes and has a little money to spare. Antares clearly listened to users' feedback and responded by creating this slick, snappy new version that streamlines the tuning process and brings back the classic Auto-Tune sound as an option. I have a good friend who just updated and emailed me, "I used Auto-Tune on and off for years, but the workflow never quite clicked until now!" Other users complained about the previous version (v8) being a bit sluggish. I didn't think so until I spend a couple hours with Pro. It is faster and easier to use thanks to the Basic and Advanced modes. In addition, the Graphical Editing page is much neater and cleaner with more responsive zooming tools and viewing options. Antares has successfully managed to incorporate complexity and features without the bloat. BRAVO!! All-in-all, Auto-Tune Pro is well worth the initial purchase of $399 and is an upgrade no-brainer at $129.00.

*For the few who don't know, Antares are the cats who began the pitch correction obsession back in '97.

Tape Stop [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 29th May 2017
Version reviewed: 1.012 on Mac.
Last edited by tommyzai on 29th May 2017.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I did a search for tape player wind-up and wind-down effects and stumbled upon Tape Stop by kiloHearts. I picked it up, played nonstop for a couple days and wanted to share my enthusiasm in this mini user review.

Very simple, yet powerful – not many buttons or controls, but limitless in the sense that it spins-down and speeds-up whatever audio you feed into it. It's a fantastic tape transport effect emulation. I can feel the motor. I can hear the magnetic flakes jumping off the tape. Nice price. Useful. Fun. Use this wisely, and it could really spice up a track:

  • Tiny Footprint.
  • Fast loading.
  • Simple operation.
  • GUI couldn't be better. .. certainly doesn't get in the way. LOL.
  • Cool developer.
  • Priced right.

Ease of Operation = 10/10
Sound Quality = 9/10
Price - 9/10
Funness Factor = 10/10.

*I highly recommend this little gem. It does exactly what it claims and does it well.

Objeq Delay [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 17th April 2017
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Mac.
Last edited by tommyzai on 18th April 2017.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO
Objeq Delay is everything a virtual delay effects plugin should be — PLUS unique features that only Applied Acoustics Systems could deliver — combining a filter and acoustic resonators (objects) with a delay unit. This provides users with a wider palette of effects, timbres, and tones with crisp clarity. Repeats (from a tight slap-back to infinite) are free of the exponential mud that drag many units down. The interface is inviting and reveals a simple, yet effective signal/work-flow.

SIGNAL FLOW (Chapter 2 of the user manual provides a clear illustration)
The input signal travels through a low-pass/high-pass filter and acoustic resonators (the Object module), which makes the object resonate. The signal then enters a two stage delay (Pre and Echo). The resonances and delay are processed to the primary signal in real time. The signal balance is determined at the output via the Mixer module. There is also an LFO to help shape the pre-filtered tone — Types include: Sine, Triangle, Square, Random, and RdmRamp.

MODULES
1. LFO: This can be automated or tweaked manually. The modulation destinations include the usual suspects, i.e., chorus, flanger, tremolo, vibrato, as well as auto-filter modulation effects.
2. Filter: Filtered echoes for added fullness and movement. Sounds especially cool on rhythm guitar and other chordal things. The filter module provides flexibility by shaping the resonance of one of the objects selected.
3. Physical Object: Shapes the tone prior to delay (Beam, Drumhead, Plate, String)
4. Delay: There are two delay lines. The first is a pre-delay. It is used to create a delay between the dry signal and the filtered signal from the Object. This stage allows users to tweak the low and high frequencies and add acoustic object resonances. The second is a feedback loop that can create Echoes, hence the name.
5. Mixer: Balance, Output, Out/In.

Note: Each module may be activated or inactivated.

METER
The meter is located on the far right with numerical Db values and color-coding (green, yellow, orange, and red).

PRESET MANAGEMENT
The preset management system is conveniently located across the top bar. The presets themselves are very useful straight-up or serve as a great start-point for custom control — and they load super fast. I really dig the preset management — banks and programs can be accessed either by up one/down one or a drop-down menu. There is also a History arrow to help users. Auditioning sounds is fast and simple. I created a basic vocal loop and easily scrolled through the seven banks of programs (presets). In total, there are 226. ECHOES contain standard and creative delays, many of which have some filtering. MODULATORS contain wet and wild motion. On the subtle end there are chorus', flangers and tremolos; on the not-so-subtle end there are waves of sweeps and swells along with pounding pulses and bubbling flutters. RHYTHMIC LOOP MANGLERS contains alternation, wideners and other effects that are perfect for mutating incoming percussive loops into a newfound pulse of gyration. KICK TRACK ENHANCERS deliver extra pow, puff, punch, and wobble. SNARE TRACK ENHANCERS bring resonance and snap with overtones that range from plastic to wood. DRONES can be swirling and surreal. The combination of the resonator and LFO create otherworldly, evolving modulation for atmospheric, mysterious ambient textures. RICHARD DEVINE SIGNATURE designed a bank of presets that are geared (pun intended) toward cool, crisp metallic industrial, EDM, and soundtrack. There are several glitches and dreamscapes.

FAV THINGS
• Easy purchase, install, and authorization
• Clear, concise, well-written .pdf user manual for reference, but probably not needed.
• Neat, clean interface
• Intuitive preset management system
• Small digital footprint (about 10MB) with super low CPU hit (meter barely moves)
• Inspiring
• Musical
• Simple, yet powerful
• Cool developers
• Unique features that justify the purchase.

OTHER THOUGHTS
• The Objects provided are sensational, but I'm greedy and want more!
• Scalable interface?

SUMMARY
In addition to the pristine quality and all the things an electronic musical wizard would desire, this unit boasts features that set it apart. Nowadays, it's easy to find virtual delay that will sync to tempo, ping pong, slap-back, etc.; however, this plugin shines is in it's ability to combine a filter and acoustic objects with a delay. Even if another company released a plugin with this combination, it's unlikely they would do a better job at the modeling segment than AAS. How many electric piano plugins compare with Lounge Lizard? Objeq is perfect for anyone looking for a distinctive delay that is musical, inspiring, and sui generis (I recently learned this word and this is a perfect place to use it). I give this fine effect an affectionate double thumbs up — Love it! Thank you, Applied Acoustics Systems, for developing this effects gem.

PunchBOX [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 12th September 2016
Version reviewed: 1.0.1 on Mac
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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INTRO
PunchBox by d16 Group is the ultimate bass drum synthesizer, combining synthesis, sampling, and FX into a modular structure.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
As with all d16 plugins, this one has a cool name — "PunchBox!" The purchase, download, install, and authorize procedure is painless — without any dongles. The GUI looks like a vintage rackmount modular system. At first, it seems like there's a lot of parameters for a bass drum synth, but once you break it down, module by module, it's actually very straightforward, user friendly, and powerful.

▪ CLICK
▪ TOPS
▪ TOOLS
▪ KICK
▪ DISTORTION
▪ FILTER
▪ BITCRUSHER
▪ EQUALIZER
▪ LIMITER.

WHY THIS?
Finding the right bass drum is important in any genre, especially for EDM. Dance tracks live and die largely based on the pound of the beat. Producers, whether it be a million dollar studio or simple bedroom setup, endlessly search for the perfect kick. We look in sample folders; we scan synth presets; we experiment with effects. We may even layer sample, synths, and FX to create something unique to drive a beat. There are a few good bass drum generator synths on the market, and there are loads of sample libraries out there. I have a modest collection of over 100k bass drum samples, and I know a few producers who have much, much more! So, how do I find the perfect kick drum? My Typical workflow: Create a basic kick sound via synthesis, find a sample for layering fatness, and then use an assortment of effects to bring it to life. This process takes a long time and rarely nails the sound on the first try. Wouldn't it be cool to have it all in one place — one plugin? Enter PunchBox.

WHO IS THIS NOT FOR?
• Genres using a standard acoustic drum kit with corresponding (matching) snare, toms, etc.

WHO IS THIS FOR?
• Everyone else.

IN ACTION
This modular system plugin features sound generators that work independently and can be used in parallel. The center module, called KICK is the foundation of the sound. PunchBox provides a wide variety of 1100 samples and synthesis that features 909, 808, 606, and sine sources. This is where the meat of the madness is created. *It should be noted that user have a great deal of control over the sounds, especially the synthesis choices. From here, other modules can be employed to further shape/layer the sound — Click (short attack samples), Tops (high frequency samples), and Tools (longer mid-range samples). There are also built-in FX units that boast state of the art algorithms. Users can choose between bit crusher, distortion, EQ, filter, and limiter. Punchbox gives users lots of control over the amount of FX for each layer, and generators can be placed in any order via drag-n-drop. In total, there are over 800 presets created by a pair of infamous sound designers — Sound of Revolution and CFA Sound. The presets sound great out-of-the-box or serve as an excellent start point by which users can tweak and twist to their ear's desire.

FAVORITE FEATURES
• Flexibility and possibilities
• THE SOUND!
• Randomizer
• Multiple instances — multiple uses for this single instrument
• Drag-n-drop into DAW
• Clear, concise manual
• Priced right
• Great developer.

OTHER THOUGHTS
• Overall, the knobs and sliders are responsive and easy to manipulate; however, I have a little trouble toggling the Velocity off/on and Keytrack off/on. I contacted the developer about this issue, and they assured me it would soon be addressed.
• Browser is easy to use and reveals neatly labeled patches, but the way it scrolls from page to page might take a little time to get used to.

SUMMARY
PunchBox combines virtual analogue technology, high quality samples, and otherworldly effects to deliver a powerful, dedicated bass drum workstation. Despite the complexity and flexibility, it's fast and fun to create zillions of bass drums from scratch with this fine instrument. According to another, "[PunchBox is a] beautiful fusion of synthesis & sampling." I completely agree, and best of all — the sound is fantastic, which comes as no surprise for anyone who has used d16 Group's high quality drum machine emulations, i.e., Nepheton, Drumazon, Nithonat, etc.. All-in-all, PunchBox is another excellent release — these guys never fail to impress and inspire.