Bitwig has now released Bitwig Studio, a multi-platform professional music-creation system and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for production, performance and DJing and unlike Ableton Live, it will have a Linux version.
Following the success of Novationa€™s Automap Universal, (a protocol exclusive to Novation controllers, providing automatic and intelligent control of your music software), NAMM 2008 has seen the arrival of the eagerly awaited Automap Universal 2.0. Featuring a revolutionary 'heads-up transparent control GUI', Automap Universal 2.0 allows you to view all parameters simultaneously on your computer screen, as well as on an SL or SL COMPACTa€™s huge screens. As before, little or no user setup is required and control of your software can be customized just the way you like it, no matter what sequencer you use.
Automap Universal 2.0 is due for online release in February 2008, is fully backwards compatible, and will be available to all existing Novation SL and SL Compact owners. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission from Sonic State is prohibited. Software instruments are now becoming commonplace, but it's still an ambitious software developer who attempts to model an entire studio.
Hailing from a suburb of Grenoble, Arturia burst on to the music software scene with an ambitious first product, a bargain-priced soft electronic music studio which seems to fit into the same niche as Propellerhead's Reason (reviewed SOS March 2001).
This attractively designed program is essentially straightforward in concept, consisting of assorted sound and effects modules that you build into a custom rack. Surely the cheapest way into contemporary electronic music making for those who already have a suitable computer, Storm is tons of fun and produces an impressive sound.
Installation was quick and easy, and we were pleasantly surprised by the multilingual multimedia tutorial that launches after installation.
While we're on the subject of the Arturia web site, it provides lots of support for Storm users. The first thing you see on launching Storm is the Studio Builder screen, two empty 'racks' flanked by the available sound and effects modules. Eight knobs modify Arsenic's timbres, editing amplitude attack and decay EG, filter cutoff frequency and resonance, filter EG modulation depth, and filter EG attack and decay. Next up is Bass 52, a great-sounding if not completely realistic physical-modelling monophonic bass guitar synth similar to the Steinberg VB1 virtual bass. Equinoxe is an initially intriguing three-voice chord sequencer which would seem to be just the thing for producing techno triggered-chord effects. Kepler problems aside, producing chords the graphical way is fun: you can have a different chord on each step, or create a chord that plays for all 16. The mega eight-voice polyphonic Orpheus occupies two rack spaces and offers 'morphing' wavetable synthesis. Orpheus's synthesis section is initially hidden by a frosted door, which elegantly slides up to reveal the most comprehensive set of synthesis controls on a Storm instrument.
The Orpheus experience is further enhanced by the 'waveform control surface', a mouse-driven joystick.
Kepler is, at first glance, a fairly handy tool, in that it simplifies the process of providing a song's harmonic structure, by automating chord changes.
As mentioned in the main text, Kepler isn't always successful when transposing modules other than Equinoxe. Pattern programming is undertaken in a method familiar from classic Roland beatboxes, using the mouse to turn individual steps on or off. Tsunami is a real favourite, a pure 'synth' drum machine offering eight voices, four based on a noise generator and four based on an oscillator.
Using samples is likely to be an important part of the Storm user's working method; given the four-module restriction, samples could be the best way of filling out your sound.
H3O Plus is a four-track sample sequencer that has the appearance of a computer-based 'tracker' program, but is more capable than this might suggest.
If there's one thing we miss in Reason it's the ability to record audio directly, for song vocals especially.
As useful as it is, there are down sides to EZTrack, in that it can't record two mono tracks, and even if it could there appears to be no way to pan them separately.
Speaking of Scratch, this is one of Storm's least mouse-friendly modules, though a lot of care has obviously gone into its design. One stereo input for each of Storm's four modules, plus one for the main mix, is added to Cubase's mixer, giving Storm access to all the insert and send effects, plus EQ, available to normal VST Instruments.
One positive point about Cubase integration is that Storm modules that are playable over MIDI can be accessed from Cubase's Arrange window: just select Storm as a MIDI track's destination, switch to Storm and select MIDI playback in the normal way. Audio is routed to Storm's effects, a standard range of treatments and processors, via the synth, sample and drum modules' effect sends.
The creation of a Song via the main sequencer, from Patterns programmed into Storm's modules, couldn't be simpler: hit the record and play buttons in the transport, and change Patterns and knob tweaks for each module on the fly, using the mouse or computer-keyboard shortcuts, or via MIDI.
The only real difficulty comes if you'd like to edit a sequence in any detail, since there isn't much beyond cut and paste.
Interestingly, it's possible to change tempo and bar length for a single bar or a range of bars, across all sequence tracks rather than per track.
Songs can be exported as WAVs, AIFFs or MP3s, and because any Song exported is also automatically saved into Storm's Sample Library, it could be reimported to form the basis for further development in EZTrack or H3O Plus. Though Storm costs quite a bit less than Reason, they will inevitably both be considered by musicians considering a self-contained software studio.
While Storm is restricted to four sound sources and three effects per studio, a big plus for the Reason studio is that it's only limited by computer power.
Storm's sample players have no synthesis facilities, while Reason's sample module does, and Reason's sequencing is much more flexible, with both a matrix step sequencer and a conventional linear track-based sequencer which can record performances played from a MIDI keyboard. Storm's rather toy-like Scratch module is unique to it, but Reason's mixing facilities are far more sophisticated than Storm's.
A handful of improvements would change Storm from being a very good software studio to being a great one. These comments notwithstanding, Storm is a stable and most appealing product with many strengths, from a company who seem keen to continuously improve it; we're confident that they'll be addressing the program's weaker areas in due course. Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Color7 Music Editor is an audio-visual editing and recording software solution, which supports many advanced operations with audio data. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The company was founded in 2009 by a team of music enthusiasts with extensive experience in the music technology industry and a strong vision about new cutting-edge methods of music production, live performance and collaboration.
Novation tell us that RTAS and TDM plug-in support is now included, making Novation controllers the best solution for controlling multiple instruments and effects within Pro Tools LE and HD. The size of the window can be modified, as well as the degree of transparency, so a permanent view of the GUI is possible without interfering with your regular setup. Simply boot up an automatable plug-in and youa€™ll see at a glance how the parameters are automatically assigned to each control.
A simple browsing facility allows you to view mapped plug-ins by type, then quickly switch to control any one of them. So easy to use ANYONE can make music, yet so powerful it is used by professional musicians - UK number 1 hits were produced with this software! A nation famed for its letters, kisses, revolutions, good food, wine, garlic, bolshie farmers, chic women, stripy T-shirts, and software studios. In fact, Storm has been around since before Reason, but it's just made it to the Mac, being previously PC-only. As version 1.5 of Storm is ASIO-compatible, its audio can be routed through a wide range of hardware to the outside world, and audio can be recorded into it via the same hardware.
The program also offers conventional on-line help (clicking items summons help boxes), and Internet on-line help (clicking links in help boxes takes you straight to Arturia's web site and further information). There's a forum, a 'gallery' for showing off Storm compositions, and a growing set of hints and tips. You simply drag each module into a free space, which is quick and easy, but here's the rub: you can only include a maximum of four sound and three effects modules in a studio.
Arsenic is a monophonic bass-line synth á la Roland's classic TB303, with a 16-step sequencer display above a three-octave on-screen keyboard transposable over a six-octave range.
Square and triangle waveforms are available, and there's a pulse-width control which, unusually, works on both. Diatonic intervals (equivalent to the white notes, C-C, on a keyboard) are used to build chords on an unusual graphic display.
Equinoxe has a sound generator almost identical to Arsenic's, and the module's three oscillators each play a different voice, so it's possible to mix square and triangle waveforms in one chord.

Orpheus has a number of features that are significantly different from most other Storm modules. Manipulating the cursor in this window moves through the waveforms in the wavetables, helping to create organically evolving sounds. The instructions for enabling MIDI note input omit a crucial step: clicking the tiny 'MIDI Rec' button that magically appears when you've undertaken the first part of the procedure. Its two concentric rings of 12 coloured beads resemble an astronomical diagram, recalling Kepler's theories regarding planetary movements, while their function (the setting of the chords used for the program's transpositions) chime with his interlocking ideas about the frequency ratios of musical intervals.
Twelve major chords are selected by the outer ring of buttons, and 12 minor by the inner ring, organised according to the 'circle of fifths' relationship.
Arturia, in their web-based hints and tips, recommend you write in C, Kepler's base key; their preset Patterns are in C and work together in any combination, with any Kepler chord sequence.
All feature the same pattern-programming method and offer eight main sounds, and all but one have pitch and decay controls for each sound, movements of which can be recorded into a pattern. No names are named, but this is certainly what the kick, snare, clave and clap are reminiscent of.
However, when we changed from our normal 1024x768 to 800x600, the image slightly spilled off the screen. All sound well together, and using the variable pitch to create random or deliberate pitch changes during a Pattern adds even more of an exotic feel. The sounds are solid and reasonably convincing, though the samples are a bit on the crunchy side.
Tsunami can be unusual, industrial, subtle or cheesy — and the Patterns needn't even sound percussive. Not only can it be loaded with your own samples, it also time-stretches them automatically to fit the current tempo.
This is a sensible move, since many Storm users will probably be working with sample CDs providing just this sort of material (Arturia include a 40Mb starter collection of loops and hits, in addition to the program's presets). Essentially, you load one sample to each deck, whereupon its tempo is matched to Storm's current tempo. A colleague at SOS suggested that running it in this way might allow access to more modules — by launching more instances of the plug-in. The main mix includes module audio plus effects, so some flanging occurs due to mixed audio being slightly delayed in relation to each module's direct output.
We've heard reports of difficulty in running both on a 450MHz G3, perhaps because Storm is heavily Java-based and therefore relatively processor-hungry. Your keyboard, routed through Cubase to Storm, will be assigned to the target synth module, allowing you to program parts for it in Cubase, albeit with the usual plug-in latency issues. Each effect also has its own pair of sends, for routing some of its output to the other two effects you're allowed per studio. The chorus and flanger are similar, each offering width and feedback controls, but where chorus has a speed control, the flange has a display for setting the number of beats in a flange cycle (4-64), and also ensures that flanging is always roughly in time with the track. The ring mod is more of a vibrato inducer, but it can be driven to the clangorousness typical of ring modulation.
There's a track for each sound module, plus a 'mix and effects' track for mixer fader moves and effect knob tweaks. Certainly, Storm lacks an event or piano-roll editor, so if a recording goes wrong, you'll have to redo it.
Thus you have both a tempo track and a way of subverting the program's 16th-note, four-in-a-bar hegemony. In Storm's favour, it offers direct audio recording, which Reason doesn't, but Reason allows importing of custom samples into its drum module, while the sound sets of Storm drumboxes are fixed. This latter sequencer also offers event editing, which Storm doesn't have, but Storm features a tempo track, which Reason lacks. At the moment it feels slightly less than the 'professional'-level product it claims to be, because in some areas it provides less control than most professional users would expect. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents.The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers. This new editor not only can help you display a waveform image of an audio file, filter, apply various audio effects, format conversion but also can help you synthesize speech, extract CD track, do batch converter and burn new CD. They say that the mapping options available go way beyond those offered by existing HUI-based controllers.
An instant click and control a€?learna€™ function is also available for quick re-assigning of controls, or for creating your own controller map in seconds. Automap Universal 2.0 still supports standard MIDI protocol, but now also provides the same heads-up display and editing solution for quick and simple assigning of MIDI parameters. Comparisons with Reason are inevitable (see the Storm vs Reason box), but Storm has its own distinctive approach, as well as a lower price tag. Each sound module has pattern-sequencing powers, and up to 64 patterns can be saved for each (per song), in overwritable memory locations filled with varied and generally high-quality factory patterns. In common with all but one Storm module, there's no MIDI note input (though all synth modules can be played over MIDI), so you have to select a step by clicking one of 16 small buttons, use the mouse again to play a note on the keyboard, and click a tiny area between the keyboard and the step selectors to apply one of three levels of velocity, as opposed to the 303's fully variable 'accent' control.
Sonically, Arsenic offers a convincing TB303 simulation, but its pulse-width control, filter EG attack and separate amplitude EG controls, not featured on the original TB303, let you take the acid bass sound a bit further.
To create a part, you click in the display to input a note, which can be dragged to change its length or position. The user simply selects the required intervals, with the actual notes played determined by the chords selected in the Kepler module (see Music Of The Spheres box). For a start, it can record 16-step patterns of up to eight bars (rather than one bar) in length, and it allows note input from a MIDI keyboard, although this is automatically quantised to 16th-note resolution.
As with other Storm modules, most parameters can be automated or controlled over MIDI, via a fader box or the controllers on your MIDI keyboard, for example, which helps overcome the cramped feeling of operating via mouse. Nevertheless, Orpheus is a great synth, with an involving, evolving sound, though it would be better if it didn't hog two rack spaces and thus two of the four sound-module slots.
Kepler's 64 patterns each have eight chord-change steps, and since a step equals half a bar (two beats), Kepler patterns last for two bars. You can modify the tempo used to calculate the time-stretching, and also set a sample to automatically change pitch in response to a Kepler chord sequence. Samples can be freely moved and copied, and length can be changed, which makes the samples time-stretch to fit the new length. We successfully recorded audio via Sound Manager and our Digi 001 hardware (using Digi's ASIO driver), but found the experience a little disconcerting. In addition, there are no sample-editing facilities other than basic cutting and pasting of sections. Pitch doesn't remain the same when tempo changes, though: it goes up or down, just like a real turntable. Muting that channel in Cubase's mixer also mutes Storm's effects; to hear these effects within Cubase, turn each module's 'dry' control down and Storm's mix out routes just the effects returns to Cubase. Arturia say this is a particular problem with Cubase VST that isn't down to Storm and doesn't occur with other VST hosts, such as Logic Audio. Everything worked on our 450MHz G4, but perhaps the best approach, even for those with super-powered Macs or PCs, would be to write a track in Storm and import its parts as samples into Cubase. It might seem wrong to access processors such as the newly-introduced compressor via a send system, but the flexible routing makes allowances for this type of usage.
The dual delay, with feedback and cross-delay controls (the latter allowing each delay's feedback to interact with the other), is also sync'd to Storm's tempo. Distorsion (sic) has just a drive control, and the LPF simply offers cutoff frequency and resonance controls. Some extra help is afforded by 'Static Recording' mode; with this, you highlight one or more bars on one or more tracks and manually set parameters and pattern numbers, which are then fixed for the length of sequence highlighted. Better Undo facilities are offered by Reason, and Reason's effects are rather more flexible in use. For newbie, more humanistic settings are set up, and then newbie can deal with the multifunctional editor in few steps. This latest release ships with Novationa€™s new Nocturn controller, and will also be compatible with Novationa€™s ReMOTE SL and ReMOTE SL COMPACT ranges. Massive flexibility means that you can assign a potentially infinite number of parameters for each plug-in.
Once a a€?MIDI mapa€™ is created, it can be saved and recalled via the same map browsing facility, and refined and edited at will.
This is a fully featured, award winning music creation program - an entire recording studio INSIDE YOUR COMPUTER! Clicking 'Start' causes Storm to build a studio from your desired configuration, which takes a few seconds, and launch you into the Composition screen, the program's business end.

Enabling the classic TB303 acid slide (or adding a tie between two notes) is fiddliest of all: click between steps to be slid on a narrow strip between keyboard and velocity display. Slide or legato effects can be added, and vibrato and velocity edited with a Cubase-like controller edit strip. The oscillators can also interact, for further sonic complexity: both oscillator sync and frequency modulation are possible.
In all, the impression is of a simple software version of Sequential's VS vector synth, reinforced by the presence of a joystick controller similar to the VS's Waveform Mix joystick. This length is fixed, but you can have the same chord on several consecutive steps if desired. If you don't use Equinoxe, you don't need to use Kepler, but it would be best if specified modules could be made 'immune' to its transpositions.
Notwithstanding that limitation, Psion boasts a fine set of sounds which really respond to pitch and decay controls (especially that killer kick drum!). It's much easier to work with the image at this size, but it looks less sophisticated than the elegant miniature version you get at 1024x768.
All eight sound generators have level control and pan pot: noise-based sounds also have attack, decay, filter frequency and filter cutoff controls, while the pots for oscillator-based sounds essentially control a pitch EG that lets you set up a wide range of sounds, from TR808-like sub-bass kicks to '70s disco syndrums that go 'boooo'. We wondered at first how to balance their levels, but the answer is simple: grab the sample and drag it up or down to change its height. First of all, there initially appeared to be no way to monitor incoming audio, and the documentation doesn't clearly tell you how (click the 'Thru' button). On the up side, the size of the stereo sample EZTrack can hold is only limited by your computer's free RAM.
Once the samples are loaded, on-screen controls allow you to manipulate pitch for each 'deck' (ie.
Although selecting the plug-in version of Storm is just like selecting a normal VST Instrument (we were using Cubase VST v5 on the Mac), a miniature version of Storm doesn't appear within Cubase.
They suggest that sync can be stabilised by setting a loop in Cubase, and that after the loop point is passed once, the sync is OK. The same flexibility allows both serial and parallel processing configurations to be set up.
The reverb, new for v1.5, is simple in operation but can produce results that belie this simplicity. The unusual Sequence Filter features a resonance control, plus 16 variable cutoff-frequency steps which trigger in sync with Storm. Recording takes place from the current sequencer cursor position, so you could set up a loop to record a verse, move on to loop-record a chorus, and then copy and paste the two sections.
As regards ongoing expansion, registered Storm users benefit from Arturia's policy of placing new modules free on their web site. It's frustrating, when you're having fun creating a track, to realise that you can't easily add that extra synth line because you can't have an extra synth.
Add effects like reverberation, chorus, and echo, and burn it to a CD, post it on the internet, or e-mail it. In addition to displaying all your assigned parameters, the heads-up display also allows you to enter new control names, parameter ranges and step sizes. A growing library of maps will be available for free download and on-line help is also now included in the application.
The program is largely mouse-driven during pattern creation, but for other functions, including module parameter control, there are plenty of (computer) keyboard shortcuts. One distraction is that Storm's factory patterns start playing immediately you enter the Composition screen, and you have to clear each pattern before starting your own work.
There's no naming, though, and user presets are saved per Song, with new Songs having no access to other Songs' preset collections.
Also, 800x600 is not ideal for Cubase, which would be running on the same computer if Storm was used as a VST plug-in. Then there's the latency-induced slapback echo that kicks in when monitoring has been enabled.
EZTrack can also be used as a really long stereo sample-playback track, since any samples from Storm's Sample Library can be dragged into EZTrack's window.
Rather, Storm is launched in the background, linked to Cubase in a manner similar to ReWired applications such as Propellerhead's Rebirth. Surprisingly, we found this to be true, though we still encountered problems when bouncing a Storm-enhanced Cubase song to disk: the delay is there in the bounce. Allowing users who don't require the intervention of the Kepler module to disconnect it from specified modules should also be a priority. Open, create, and save audio files in any of the supported formats (you can also save any portion of a loaded file to a disk as a new file). A slight Band-In-A-Box feel is added by the Kepler module, which is always part of the studio. And any harmonic changes programmed into Kepler, to tell Equinoxe which chords to play, also transpose patterns being played by other modules, not necessarily to euphonic effect. There are no fancy chord options, and Kepler is only intelligent enough to decide whether thirds and sixths in Equinoxe should be major or minor; all sevenths (when programmed into Equinoxe) are flattened. For example, couldn't a multisampled tom be set up with keygroups that respond to different pitch settings?
Latency is adjustable in the 'Audio' preferences, but was only available in our case for Sound Manager, and the adjustment didn't help. Lastly, EZTrack audio can be copied or dragged to H3O Plus or the dual-'deck' Scratch module — very useful. It's possible to grab hold of either spinning 'record' and scratch it, and to help you accurately select a point from which to start scratching, the 'decks' can be stopped. Thus, Storm's contributions to the tandem track are created separately in Storm, which is sync'd to Cubase.
It's pretty sophisticated, with all the controls you'd expect, plus an intuitive, interactive display that provides good visual feedback of what the module is doing.
Overall, we think Reason is the more professional program, but it's all down to what you need and which approach you prefer. Creating an efficient sound library system wouldn't go amiss, and if Arturia can improve VST Instrument integration, many potential users will obviously be pleased.
Kepler's function is to automatically transpose pitched modules so that, in theory, their patterns always work together. We'd have preferred a fully chromatic Equinoxe, with perhaps Kepler offering sequencing of transpositions, rather than absolute chords. Between them, two well-specified LFOs can modulate a variety of Orpheus parameters — LFO 2 can even modulate LFO1's rate. One solution to the latency problem would be to enable Thru while setting your input level (externally — there's no level control within the software), if you're recording a real performance, disabling it for the actual recording. Edit audio files visually: cut, copy, delete selection, delete silence, paste, paste from file, mix, and mix from file. If you need monitoring during recording, additional equipment would be in order — perhaps a small stereo mixer. The audible effect is reasonably convincing, and deck activity can be recorded into a song, but for real fun, assign Scratch deck controls to MIDI controllers. Though the reverb is sonically not the most sophisticated, the clever interface ensures that you can get the best from it. Apply various effects: amplify, compress, delay, equalize, fade in and fade out, flanger, invert, normalize, phaser, reverberate, reverse, silence, shrink, stretch, vibrato, etc.
Then you can abandon the mouse and manipulate samples with something closer to a turntable feel — the ribbon controller on our Korg Trinity synth was ideal, for example. There's an input source select button in the manual's illustrations, but not in the actual software — perhaps it's a PC feature? Sadly, you can't control Scratch from the computer keyboard, which also would be better than using the mouse. You can choose an input in the Audio Preferences box, but this is accessed via the Studio Builder screen; audio and MIDI settings can't be changed from the Composition screen. Add and edit extra information to your audio files: album, artist, comments, copyright, genre, title, and year.

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