Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sonic Projects Stringer

Just a short note about another VSTi synth that I intend to review later, the Sonic Projects Stringer. It emulates 3 different string machines, Arp Omni, Logan, Weslon Symphony, and also does a Solina. I don't know much about these machines, so I'll have to get back with you to write about them in any kind of informed way. At this point, Stringer seems like a poor man's GForce String Machine. However, the sounds are very impressive to me, and once again I was sold by the Pink Floyd demos they did on the Sonic Projects web site. This is a very inexpensive device, and I feel like I should have no trouble finding songs to use it in.

Sonic Projects OP-X

I had been looking for an Oberheim VSTi for some time, given up, and then stumbled across Sonic Projects' wonderful OP-X rendering of the OB-X synthesizer. I was knocked out by their online sounds demos. Being a sucker for anything that sounds like Pink Floyd, I was impressed by the "Wish You Were Here" sounds it could do. The Van Halen "Jump" and Rush "Tom Sawyer" were just too much for me to resist. The OP-X was inexpensive compared to some of its close relatives from other companies, so I decided to give the demo a try.

The "Pro" version gives fine tuning ability for all the individual synth parameters, and when I say "individual synth" I mean every note you play on the OP-X has a separate signal path through an individual 2-oscillator synthesizer. It has 6 of these, and that is where the incredibly rich, "ballsy" sound comes from. I think the regular OP-X model is enough to get most folks going who are just trying to find a good classic analog sounding VSTi to play with, but the "Pro" model is really a fantasy come true. This is a VSTi with meat on the bones.

I have Minimonsta and ImpOSCar to compare it to. I think they compliment each other nicely. Each one has something the others don't. Throw in Oddity and you've got a sound arsenal as good as any 70's or 80's band out there.

OP-X comes with hundreds of preset banks, and one of my favorites is of course the "famous" bank. It has all the aforementioned sounds plus "99 Luft Balloons," and some Jarre stuff, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, you name it. OP-X makes an excellent Jupiter emulator and even has that characteristic Roland filter sound available. There are a lot of Roland patches that make me very happy here. It does some decent MiniMoog patches too, but not to surpass Minimonsta in my opinion. I still like Minimonsta for that Moog sound, but OP-X is extremely versatile, especially in Unison mode where it is monophonic but phat as phuck.

My only complaint about OP-X is that sometimes, if you slip and accidentally bump an adjacent key, the sound stops and you have a very noticeable silence. This only happens in unison mode, and may be something that I am doing wrong (besides bad playing.) Other than that, it is very solid, amazingly not too CPU heavy, and just sounds like a dream. The side-by-side comparisons on the website between OP-X and a real OB-X are really amazing.

Here's yet another VSTi for the arsenal, complementing well with other analog simulators for a niche that was once reserved only for that of musical royalty.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Little Bits is available now at The distribution process happens in waves as each retailer picks up the new release. Amazon has very good prices and offers MP3 music without copy protection. Something I didn't know at first is that amazon is set up to load songs into your iTunes player, if that is your preferred method.

I'm very proud of this release as it is very homogeneous in being all new and all synthetic. This material was born of simulators and CPU intensive synthesizers. I really get off by this kind of material. It seems like each release I have with tunecore, the more I want to dig in and build something new. My first two releases this year featured lots of older material, some simply remastered, others reworked completely, but basically older stuff that I had never released to a commercial market. This latest one is all new with the exception of the epilogue, Velvet Elvis, 9 songs that exist entirely in the digital domain, composed and edited entirely on a notebook computer.

This is probably my last album for 2008, though I just get more and more wound up to try something new with the tools that I've been using. I have been in talks with David Gilmore, of A Presence Called Fred, to do a guitar based album, but that would probably span into next year at my best estimate. David and I go back to at least two bands we've been in together, and he is an undiscovered master of the guitar as far as I am concerned. We did a cover of Black Sabbath's Iron Man That was pretty faithful except for the reggae drum patterns, and some of David's original pieces have been innovative and fresh to me. So there is hope for us on that front. Of course, I shall be writing synthesizer pieces for as long as I am able, so next year, hopefully we will have some more new material to share with you. It seems the spark of musical ideas has ignited here in Cedartown, and will not burn out for a while.