Bring the noise

I want to make new sounds in my music. If physical modelling is to difficult, then I need new ways to create pseudoanalog sound, which probably means new software.

Propellerhead Reason. This is the one I use at the moment. It's very powerful and flexible, and has a correspondingly steep learning curve. There are two major problems - first, it lacks VST support, and second, it lacks audio recording capability.

To be able to use VST plugins would be extremely useful. However, I have to consider the difficulty of trawling through the thousands of available plugins to find good ones. Plus, the existing Reason modules are like the best of the VSTs.

I have a system whereby I compose the backing on Reason, dump the audio to WAV, and dub the vocals (and other sounds) in Audition. It may not be an elegant way of doing things, but it works.

There are features and modules in Reason that I still know little about - Malstrom is intriguing but very strange, and the NN-XT sampler can be used as a wavetable synth. I could just explore Reason more.

Synapse Orion. There's some good features here, and it is VST compatible, but it's more primative than Reason, and is oriented towards the techno musician, whereas I am more in the chillout/triphop/ambient scene.

Arturia Storm. Essentially, the same remarks as for Orion. Though the virtual minimoog is impressive.

Imageline Fruityloops. Again, it can use VSTs, but it's really a techno looper program, and I don't used loops - I like to have variation in repetition.

Native Instruments Reaktor. The ability to create my own analog synths and effects is seriously tempting, but I don't know enough about Reaktor's other features. Can it record multiple audio streams, is it friendly as a sequencer, and can the modules be wired together as easily as in Reason?

Applied Acoustics Tassman. Same sort of remarks as for Reaktor, except that the synthesis seems less geared towards the analog, which is intriguing.

Emagic Logic. I've used a demo of this - it seemed powerful, but with latency and crashing problems. Also, after version 5 it is only available and supported for the Mac, so there will be no upgrades for PC users like myself.

Cakewalk Sonar. I used earlier versions of this for years, when it was still called Cakewalk. It's more of a sequencer than a studio. There is the steep learning curve, and a reviewer has said it has become more loop oriented. But, it accepts VSTs, and I can easily get a copy.

Steinberg Cubase. Again, a sequencer with studio plugins. I used an early version of this years ago and found it very unfriendly. This though has apparantly improved, and yes, it is VST compatible. And as with Sonar, I can get a copy from the back of a lorry.

Well. It looks like I have the choice of exploring Reason further, or switching to Cubase. I think I'll do both, but stay with Reason for the next two or three months. I need a program I'm familliar with to make demos for K Twins songs, and backing tracks for the SFUK event.


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