6 Unusual Plugins to Jumpstart Creativity

NI's Molekular
Sometimes the best way to get inspired is to get some new sounds to add to your productions, and the best way to change up your sound is to add a new plugin to your arsenal. Courtesy of MusicTech, here are 6 unusual and innovative VST’s that are guaranteed to force you out of your comfort zone and help you get inspired.

1: SYNPLANT

Synplant
According to its creators at Sonic Charge, the pur­pose of Synplant “is to move fo­cus away from the some­times in­tric­ate and dif­fi­cult pro­cess of sound syn­thes­is and in­stead let you de­vel­op sounds by simply us­ing your ears.” Instead of the usual array of filters and oscillators you’d find on most synthesizers, sounds in Synplant are generated by growing “seeds”.

Did we mention that you can delve into each seed’s DNA – again, actual DNA strand – and mess with it?

To call Synplant “unconventional” might be the understatement of the century.

2: Vurtbox

Krakli Vurtbox
How do you program a synth if you can’t tell what any of the controls are for? Well you start twisting knobs until figure out what everything does, or at least that’s what Krakli’s Vurtbox is trying to get you to do. The wonky GUI takes a liberal approach to organization, and apparently harbors some hard feelings towards things like labels.

The whole thing looks like someone has taken a synth and actually melted it down.

Half of the fun of Vurtbox is in discovering what everything does, and the weird discoveries you’re bound to make through random button tweaking.

3: Gargoyle

Krakli Gargoyle
Also from Krakli, Gargoyle’s GUI isn’t as confusing as Vurtbox’s, but the eye in the center can be more than a little unnerving. This little synth offers more than it lets on, with a surprising amount of modulation routing and control for a freeware synth on the more basic side.

While the Vurtbox might excel in happy accidents and incidental inspiration, Gargoyle’s strong suit is in designing weird textures and unsettling audio effects.

Both Vurtbox and Gargoyle are available for free download.

4: Alien Artifact

Hercs Music Systems' Alien Artifacts
For those who were excited by Vurtbox’s minimalist GUI, Alien Artifact will probably capture their hearts straight away. Clearly made for the more masochistic among us, Alien Artifact’s GUI consists of four buttons adorned with strange symbols, each accompanied by a pair of sliders with no scale markings or measurements of any kind.

Though Hercs Music Systems is no longer operational, Alien Artifact is still available as a free download from their website.

5: Relectro

Linplug Relectro
With Relectro, Linplug found themselves in the peculiar situation of developing a synthesizer that they later realized would be a lot better as an effects plugin. The result is an effect built on a synth’s engine, and one of the most innovative processing plugins ever made. It’s got a pitch section, compressor, and a full EQ, as well as the variable wave function, which allows Relectro to process each wave in the sound individually. Unfortunately, Linplug has discontinued Relectro, however the full version can still be downloaded here.

6: Molekular

Native Instruments' Molekular
Molekular is a modular effects unit that allows users to assemble complicated multi-effects by selecting from different blocks. The effects can be routed in a number of different ways, and a variety of different parameters can be modulated from a few different modulation sources, and at the end of the chain, the central matrix allows for even further sound morphing. As a result, Molekular is a highly musical effects processor and has the ability to really transform sounds into something entirely new. You can pick it up from Native Instruments‘ for $149, or included as part of the Komplete bundle.

Hopefully these unique plugins will help you get inspired! If you’re interested in learning more about music production, make sure to check out our courses! Feel free to contact us with any questions, or to set up a free tour of the studio.

History of the DJ Mixer

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While everyone knows that DJs use turntables for mixing and scratching records, DJ mixers have been criminally underappreciated over the years. The DJ mixer is the seldom mentioned piece of gear that usually sits in between two turntables in the classic DJ set up. What makes the mixer so critical is that it allows the DJ to combine multiple audio sources into one signal, and to fade between different audio sources with ease. If turntables and records are a DJ’s ingredients, then their mixer is their oven; sound goes in a mixture of parts, and is sent out to the speakers as a finished product (Well, actually that’s where the sound engineer steps in, but there’s just not enough room in this analogy for them).

Two turntables and a microphone,” might be the most famous saying in DJ culture, but what about the mixer?

Just like turntables, DJ mixers have evolved quite a bit over the past few decades. By the time the first DJ mixers were being developed, similar mixing interfaces had been around for a while for recording and radio broadcasting. The difficulty was in making a product that was portable enough for mobile DJs, but with the features consumers wanted and good sound quality.

One of the first mixers made for a DJ was a one of a kind piece named “rosie“, made special for DJ Francis Grasso (The guy who invented beatmatching) around 1965. Around the same time, Bozak was starting to make the first “commercially-available” mixers, however they weighed about 25 pounds making them inaccessible for mobile DJs.

bozakdjmixer

These first mixers featured knobs to control the individual channels volume, as opposed to faders which are far more common now. Some mixers today still feature knobs instead of channel faders, as knobs usually produce better quality signal and last longer, however they are more expensive than faders. As Mike Fotais, production manager for Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival, recalls, rotary mixers were too expensive for most, so it wasn’t until the use of faders that mixers were able to be mass-marketed to mobile DJs.

“An original Urei rotary DJ mixer was something I had never seen. It was like a unicorn,” he laughs. “It was like $3,000 in 1980s money. You didn’t even think about it.”

djm600

Where does the technology develop from here? For more, head to Cuepoint.

Want to see a mixer in action? DJ Rugged One is giving a free seminar tonight! RSVP:

Traktor Stems and Turntablism Workshop 10/9

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Recently Traktor has released a new file format called Stems where producers submit four parts or “stems” of a completed song, typically the drums, bassline, vocals, and melody. This allows DJs to deconstruct the music on the fly.

Combining a Traktor-certified D2 controller with a turntable, Peter O’Karma, aka “ESQ.” will show you the endless possibilities it creates, as well as how to make your own stems, and deconstruct other producers stems so you can use them in software such as Serato, Ableton, and even free programs like Audacity.

Peter O’Karma is a lawyer by day and a DJ by night. As DJ Esq he has managed Good Karma DJs, playing to nearly any type of occasion, from weddings to private events to, of course, nightclubs. As an educator, Pete has also been a part of a Malden after-school program teaching young people DJing and turntable skills.

O’Karma’s personable style and tremendous experience in all facets makes for a very educated experience in the vast realm of DJing and DJ culture.

Listen to a mix from Pete here:

Want to attend this Friday? Want a free goodie bag which includes one free vinyl? You should RSVP by clicking this highlighted link.

Does Akai’s New Keyboard Control Everything?

Ever wonder what MIDI keyboard is best? Both Native Instruments and AKAI are battling to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. We’re on our way to finding out which one deserves our attention!

Check out the video above as well as the create digital music blogpost for an in depth review of both the Akai ADVANCE and Komplete Kontrol.

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Want to learn how to DJ or Produce? Click here for more info on our courses.