Today, Ableton and Max For Live have released Bengal, a new Max For Live-based, polyphonic, semi-modular FM synthesizer. Bengal features four operators, eight voices of polyphony, six FM algorithms, 20 editable sine wave harmonics (or one wavetable) per operator, six audio effects and a flexible modulation architecture centred on a graphically interactive virtual patchbay.
Here are some key points:
Although its component modules (operators, filters, etc) are all fixed, they can be patched together in any configuration you like in the giant Patch panel at the bottom.
Four identical operators generate their waveforms using a bank of 20 editable sine wave partials or a wavetable – over 40 are included, and external samples can be imported by dragging and dropping them directly into the GUI
Two multimode resonant filters – filter 1 offers a choice of five switchable types – Moog- style ladder Lowpass, regular Lowpass, Highpass, Bandpass, Notch and Comb.
Two LFOs serve as regular parameter modulators or additional FM sources, while both the six-segment Breakpoint envelope and ADSR envelope can be looped and curved.
Eight-step sequencer, outputting MIDI notes or modulation data, and featuring scale snapping, swing, and randomisation of pitch and velocity.
Six audio effects – reverb, delay, distortion, chorus, limiting and stereo widening.
Patch panel. Simply drag virtual cables from sources to targets – each connection point can accept multiple cables at once, feeding as many sources to each target as you like!
Visual Control Panel gives graphical feedback on the signal from any point within the synth, as set in the Patch panel.
(Here’s part three of Jacob Ostema’s excellent bass guitar tutorial series!)
In the final article of this series, I will be taking a look at going live with your bass rig. This can be somewhat difficult but very rewarding. It takes guts to get up on a stage and perform for a live audience, but there are ways to make sure the show is successful, and by making sure you have some sort of backup on stage you can reduce the risk of something going terribly wrong. In this article I will be going over some of the things I do on stage with my rig and of course, how to be prepared for the worst!
Visit The Guardian website and you can read a great story about the use of electronic music in UK schools. Ableton Live and Push are included, especially regarding Ableton’s recent Push 1 ‘amnesty’. Nice to see our friend Chris Woods from Ableton getting some press. Ableton has gone mainstream!
A limited number of tickets are now available for the SSR London Electronic Music Production & DJ Summer School, which runs from August 22nd to 26th. I’ll be teaching part of the Ableton Live sessions for this course!
The idea is that you’ll create a full track during the week, before learning how to play it live using pro DJ technology – so you get an overview of the entire creative process.
There’ll also be discussions and presentations about how to distribute and market your music online.
I love music technology gear, especially controllers and anything else related to the user experience. I’m more excited by a new MIDI controller than a posh mixing desk, for example. Naturally, I’ve always been curious about the Sub Pac S2, which is a seat back that transmits ‘club system’ type sub bass frequencies through your body as you mix, or watch a movie, or play a game. And – getting to the point of this review – there’s the more recent M2 model, a wearable version for those who need to feel more bass while they’re working or playing standing up! The SubPac principle is designed on the basis that we can’t always get enough sub without playing our music or games through an oppressively loud speaker system, which isn’t always an option for home use. The M2 arrives in a stylish box, and looks for all the world like some kind of body armour; bonus points for industrial design, and it’ll do double duty as part of your next superhero costume. The package includes the M2 itself, with straps, a hardwired control box which clips into position on the pack, a stereo minijack audio cable, a small printed manual, and the power supply. This is the first wearable music tech product I’ve tried…it’s not like strapping on a guitar.
SSR London are now booking for their next Patch-Building Friday, which takes place on June 17th, from 11.00-18.00. Places are very limited!
The point of these sessions is to build synth patches, samples, FX chains, drum kits etc etc, so you will have your own personal new, carefully crafted sounds and systems at your finger tips when you next sit down to make a track or meet up to jam.
Each session is loosely based around a plug-in, process or type of synthesis… but will be very open to questions, exploration and experimentation of all kinds.
This month’s session begins with an introduction to modular synthesis using Doepfer Eurorack hardware and Max for Cat’s Oscillot modular environment for Ableton Live, including examples of how the two systems can talk to each other.
The afternoon session features a talk/workshop from London-based Rebel Technology, who will be presenting their products, including the OWL system – The OWL Modular is a fully programmable digital audio device. With a sophisticated ARM Cortex M4 processor and plenty of memory, it delivers outstanding performance and audio quality. The platform is entirely open source and remarkably easy to program. A growing community of patch developers have created a diverse library of more than 100 effects.
Finally, Rebel Technology member, EAVI organiser and all eccentric tech music master Adam Parkinson will be presenting his Dane Law project which is made ‘by messing about with samples in Pure Data’ and involves a laptop-free live setup using a BeagleBoard.
Focusrite have announced an update to their incredibly popular Scarlett series of USB audio interfaces. These will be available from June.
The basic feature set for each model is the same, although there are significant tweaks in other areas – notably claiming Focusrite’s fastest USB performance so far, with roundtrip latency as low as 2.74ms.
Visually identifiable through a redesigned metal chassis and new metal gain knobs, the second generation of Scarletts also feature a more even gain structure, and increased headroom for the instrument input. Analogue protection circuitry has been added to inputs and outputs, guarding against power surges, and the entire range now operates at sample rates up to 192kHz.
Don’t forget, if you’re building your first rig, that each Scarlett purchase includes a licence for Ableton Live Lite.
Here’s the pricing info:
Scarlett Solo: UK – £84.99 / US – $99.99 (Studio Pack: UK – £159.99 / US – $199.99)
Scarlett 2i2: UK – £114.99 / US – $149.99 (Studio Pack: UK – £189.99 / US – $249.99)
This Friday afternoon (UK time) you can tune in and watch live streaming Ableton Live sets from a group of artists that includes three contributors to Ableton Live Expert – myself included.
Starting at 4pm UK time, there will be 30 minute live sets from the following artists.
Simone Tanda and Anna Lakatos
Jake Williams & Owain Wilson – Finishing Factory
Martin Delaney – mindlobster
Phelan Kane – Meta Junction Recordings
SPECIAL GUEST Joseph S Joyce – Default Position
Jake and Phelan have both contributed to Ableton Live Expert previously, and of course I’m the editor!
This will be a multi camera shoot, so you should be able to get a good close up look at how everybody works. This is not going to be one of those ‘just press play’ gigs. As far as I know there’ll also be follow-up interviews with each performer, and the sets will be available to watch later. But why not tune in live instead?!