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.

Designing Your Perfect Sound With Z3TA+2 and Ben Cantil

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The magic of today’s music lies in its ability to be created anywhere. With an entire studio’s worth of production capabilities stored on the hard drive of a compact laptop, the world is now the musician’s studio. Over the years, even synthesizers have found their way onto our laptops, providing nearly endless possibilities for effects, filters, and patches that are no longer limited by the physical space tangible synths take up. We’ll talk more about that tonight.

One such virtual synth, the Z3TA+2 from Cakewalk, is so customizable that it verges on daunting. Thankfully, Mmmmaven is lucky enough to host a free master class tonight with Ben Cantil, an artist and Berklee assistant professor who has worked closely with Cakewalk as a sound designer.

Cantil’s workshop will illustrate how exactly electronic artists can use Z3TA+2 to customize tracks and design unique sounds, all while relieving any potential stress that comes with learning a new software.

Z3TA+2 prides itself on its applicability to all producers, regardless of preferred genre. Whether you’re dreaming of gracing major festival stages with your big room house tracks or entertaining Berlin club-goers with deep techno, this virtual synth will help you get the exact sound you want thanks to its waveshaping capabilities, 2,000-plus presets, and customizable FX.

All it takes is an understanding on the user’s part to harness the total power Z3TA+2 has to offer.

RSVP here and stop by Mmmmaven tonight to learn all about Z3TA+2 and how it can help you craft your own unique sound. If you want to get familiar with the virtual synth in the meantime, download Cakewalk’s free trial and start discovering all it has to offer.

Are you completely new to production and looking to learn more about making music with programs like Z3TA+2? Schedule a tour of Mmmmaven’s school today.

Bass Synth Reviews from a Bassist: Novation MiniNova

They say big things come in small packages. Whomever said that could not have been more right about the Novation MiniNova.

Features

First and foremost – the MiniNova comes well endowed with a whopping 256 preset sounds with space to save 128 sounds. That’s a whopping 384 sounds you can have in your arsenal. The synth also comes with a 12 band vocoder, 3 LFO’s, as well as an arpeggiator.

All of your presets are separated by categories which allows you to choose which sound you need more easily!

Experience

As soon as I plugged in the MiniNova I was excited to test it out as i’ve been looking at this synth for a while now. Naturally I went to the bass section first. I was surprised. Some of the tones were fun and some were a little dark, but they all sounded great. It was the same vibe as I went through all presets. My favorite one is the “PowaChor” setting in the Keyboard section. I will admit some of the tones were a tad-bit silly, but if used under the right circumstance could be the difference between a good song and a smash hit. They keys are smaller as well, which could be a disadvantage to those who have been hands. Nonetheless, the MiniNova is still a fantastic synth.

Highlights

  • Extremely Easy to Use
  • An almost endless amount of great sounds for you to choose from.
  • Options to Animate or Arpeggiate each sound

Below you can watch the New Jack Swing legend Teddy Riley rip the Vocoder on the MiniNova like no other.

For the Novation MiniNova’s easy to use system, size, and sounds,  I have to rate this a 4.5 out of 5!

WANT MORE?

RSVP to our studio session: Subtractive Synthesis & Sound Design with Bass Station II today!

Ableton Live Meetup 8/21

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Interested in boosting your knowledge of Ableton?  On Friday, August 21st, the Mmmmaven Project will be hosting their FREE monthly Ableton Live Meetup.  These meetups allow musicians of all levels to fine tune their producing and mixing skills in Ableton Live with the help of Mmmmaven instructors and special guests.

These meetups are also a great opportunity to network with other musicians and get involved in Boston’s music scene.

Production Classroom

This month’s topics are:

Sound Design w/ Hardware Synthesizers in Ableton Live taught by Mitchell Owens, Berklee graduate, sound designer and electronic composer/producer from Durham, North Carolina.

Synthesizer petting zoo

Interested in learning to DJ or produce music with Ableton Live?  Click here for more information on Mmmmaven and available courses.

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