The last couple of weeks have seen a few new bits and pieces, both hardware and software, find their way into the GTK Studio arsenal.
First up is a brilliant software emulation of the Moog Little Phatty synthesizer, a real powerhouse of a synth has the looks and layout of a Moog that is future thinking rather than retrospective. And the virtual version of this synth is called "Little One" and is made by Xhun Audio. Like it's hardware counterpart, it's a little synth and has the same minimalistic layout design, but it has a big sound that's very analogue in it's feel and resonance as well as an added 16-step sequencer and an effects section. Xhun Audio have done a fantastic job and it's going to be a synth I'l use a lot.
The next bit of kit is another software version of a classic synth, this time the Powertran Transcendent 2000. The Transcendent was designed by former EMS and Akai man, Tim Orr and was an affordable kit that you could build at home - the American synth company PAiA had a similar concept. It's alleged that the kit was marketed by Powertran because EMS didn't want their name to be linked to a D.I.Y. synth that would be of variable build quality. Well, the software version is the Anti-Transpirant created by German software house, TubeOhm and it comes with a free monophonic 16-step sequencer called the TO-STEPPER 16 A-T. The Anti-Transpirant is another great sounding virtual synth and has many added features from the original hardware version not least a delay and other routing options. Coupled with the TO-STEPPER 16 A-T sequencer, it's a great package and can easily do those long drawn out Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze repetitive sequences, but both units can be easily altered on the fly and so you get a far more dynamic and variable experience. Highly recommended.
I also got hold of some very interesting algorithm software synthesizers by noted VSTi designer Günter Hager, better known as HG Fortune. The HGF synths are more about soundscapes and effects rather than leads or basses - and they're all the better for it. They require you to explore their sonic potential, guided by some very wild, but also very useful presets. The name of the game with HG Fortune synths is about investigating each and every parameter. Expect to hear HGF synths alongside the Hollow Sun Music Laboratory Machines on the next Geigertek album.
We're not done yet :-) Good eBay delivered me the bargain of the century when I managed to snaffle myself a fantastic drum sampling program called Battery 3, made by German software house, Native Instruments. It's a total nightmare to install which if I were points-scoring type of dude I would penalise massively, but all said and done, it's quite simply awesome and has every tool required for producing some great drum sounds. It comes with a 12GB sound library and allows you to make your own kits once you've decided upon the sound you want. It uses a celluar system whereby you use a single cell for each drum/percussion sound. You can then edit those sounds within the cell or globally for every cell activated. It also has multiple audio outputs so that you can put the sounds through effects units with your sequencing lackage or send them to external hardware units. And talking of hardware, with a suitable MIDI interface, the individual sounds can be triggered by an external controller such as a MIDI keyboard or an electronic drum unit. I'm looking forward to patching it up to the D.I.Y. four pad electronic drum unit when it's built.
I've had a very pleasing hardware synth acquisition in the form of a Novation Bass Station Rack, bought off of a fellow EM artist. I already use a software version of the Bass Station that came with my Novation ReMOTE 61 SL MIDI keyboard controller, so I'm familiar with it's layout. But I wanted something that would be a more little hands-on, and when the opportunity arose to own a hardware one, I took it. I've run it through the studio system to get an idea of how it will sit with everything else and already I have to say it sounds amazing - the simple run-through I did has revealed that it has a lovely rich sound which holds the bottom end of the mix together nicely, and it is also capable of some very reasonable lead synth sounds. I'm looking forward to spending a bit of time with it over the next few days.
And last but not least, the second bargain of the week from eBay - a Digitech Vocalist II. The Vocalist II is a rack-mounted MIDI device to which you attach both a microphone and a MIDI keyboard which then allows you to actually play vocal harmonies. One of the most prominent users of the Vocalist II is John Foxx and this is where I got my desire to own one. It's quite an amazing piece of equipment and I will definitely be using it for the Impossible Men project and Geigertek, both in the GTK Studio and for live performance.