6 thoughts on “Software For Sound Design

  1. He pretty much covers what I got (and therefore use):

    * Logic (and all the beautiful builtin instruments that apart from the interface just making more sense to me personally converted me from a Cubse VST use back in the days to a disciple of Logic)
    * Live (although I must admit that I usually just do stuff like checking out MIDI hardware synths and sketching songs in there, then when I'm reasonably satistied with what I got export everything and take it from there in Logic; for arranging and mixing I cannot deal with the way it works in Live. If I had to choose just one DAW than it wouldn't be Live for sure, although some of the instruments are pretty nice and easy to use, e.g. Operator, DrumRack, Impulse, and not to forget Max4Live for the more academic stuff)
    * Reaktor (another program I do not nearly use as much as I ought to, these days I'd rather use my analog modular than patch something up in Reaktor. Also I do not ensembles you can download from the net, I just waste time playing with all that stuff, and in the end it does not fit my process of starting from scratch, i.e. no or very little presets and building everything from the most basic elements available as the idea comes into my mind)
    * for rich textures and strange effects I really like the Microwave Xt which after all is also just software running on a DSP
    * if I just need a specific "wordly" sound effect I normally just record something with a microphone and tweak the audio just a bit to fit into whatever it must fit into, no fancy plugins needed

  2. A very nice movie, I liked what he showed us. Still, I do have to wonder how much extra Ableton Live would bring into the mixture of software which he already owns.. A bit funny to see this quickly mentioned at the end 😉

    I'm fully into Live Suite 8, extended with M4L. Suite provides all the required tools I'd need (from instruments like Operator/Analog to effects like multi band dynamics). This is expanded upon through M4L which provides a wide range of tools itself (from its own multiband compressors to multiband delays, ring modulators, a 31 (!) bands equalizer, etc. right onto effects as an effect matrix and a multi combination filter (a very weird but very cool tool)).

    Although the real power here is easily overlooked. In short; M4L can produce .maxpat files (Max/MSP patches) and since it comes with the freely usable Max runtime… You now suddenly get the option to build external effects and rewire those right back into Live or vica versa. What is perceived as an extension to Live is actually a full DAW in its own with its own sound engine, priced at only a fraction of the full product (this discovery really blew me away).

    Imagine: One ReWire host (Live) and 4 ReWire slaves (Max patches) which send their stuff into Live yet can also easily communicate amongst themselves (send/receive messages can work across patches).

    One downside to all this is time. Sound design itself takes up a lot of time, actually designing your own infrastructure for it will cost you even more. But the results are so well worth it…

    When it comes to plugins I fully agree with the comments on Reaper. I don't use it myself, but the freely available Reaper plugins also give you a good basis to work with (from compressors, midi control right to plugs to send data across a network, all in all very powerful stuff).

    When I need some fast & easy ambience I'm a big fan of both Cosmogirl 2 and the P6-KX-Modulad v2 vst's. Very nice for ambience and spacial effects.

  3. I would disgree with the statement that Max/MSP is a DAW. It is a graphical programming environment which happens to include an audio and graphics engine (in the case of Jitter). As for buying M4L I went the other way round: First purchase Max/MSP/Jitter (at a student's discount which is about half the regular price) and then M4L. In retrospect I think I could have done without M4L. It's nice to be able to tightly integrate Max patches with Live and have a consistent GUI look and feel (side note: I really like the Ableton GUI toolkit, even to the point where I reconstructed some widgets in Qt), but most of the time I find myself just inside the Max patcher with no Live instance running in the background.

    What I do not fully understand however about creating "plugins" for Live: Why in the world don't they offer an SDK so you can write your plugins in, say, C++? It's extra work on their part maintaining and documenting the API, but I believe some people would use it to create some nice plugins. Of course you can always create AudioUnits (or VSTs if you're on Windows), but you don't get nearly the level of integration you have in M4L. It is a bit awkward to go the route of writing an external for Max in C and then including that in a M4L patch.

  4. The reason why I'd consider Max/MSP to be a DAW in its own is because it provides a lot more stuff than a regular programming environment would. Not merely talking about the sound and video engine, but all the included objects which are specifically aimed at sound and video processing as well. Like the oscillators (cycle~, saw~), the full fledged compressor (omx.comp~), a sequencer (seq~) which also can provide editing capabilities, envelope generator (adsr~), and so on. It provides everything a 'regular' DAW does, yet in modular fashion. So you'll have to piece some stuff together yourself.

    Personally I'd value M4L over Max/MSP but that's because Live is my main DAW. Its not just the integration which does it for me; its also the level of control you get to apply over Live (Live Object Model for example).

    As to the SDK; I dunno. It might be nice for the users, but as a developer things can become very restricting. I can see trying to keep things backwards compatible becoming an hassle. Personally I think they made a very smart move by trying to integrate something like Max, which has already had lots of experience with this stuff.

    I fully agree if you say that this makes it a more difficult to use your own code, but otoh I also welcome the flexibility. For example; you're not tied to merely Python or C or.. Max supports at least C/C++, Java & Javascript.

  5. Good point. The only reason I do not consider Max/MSP a DAW in the sense in which I always imagined one is that you cannot readily record a track of audio or MIDI, and also easily align further recordings. That's only a concern abou the interface you find when starting up the application not about the infrastructure: As a weak analogy I propose Logic's environment: At the end of the day every mixer (collection of channel strips), every MIDI instrument etc. is in some way part of the environment and you could very well start from scratch and build everything out of almost nothing. But then there is the arrange view, notation (which I also consider important for a full flegded DAW), the audio pool, tools for dealing with audio and MIDI regions by simply using the mouse and/or some keystrokes. Max essentially only gives you the patcher but as this is much more flexible and powerful than Logic's environment you can build virtually anything with it, even if it sometimes is painful, especially for people like me who grew up with procedural languages like C.

    Integrating Max is probably one of the best things anyone (not only Ableton) could do. When I first heard about the announcement that something like this was in the works I was really tempted to not believe it because it's so incredible (from a user's perspective) and I am not used to software developer's catering to the secret wishes of their users. But I remember that before Live even came out I read an interview with Robert Henke and he talked about his intimate relationship with Max. The gear listing attached to the interview included a C compiler and it was obvious that he created his own Max externals. So it is just coming full circle to include Max/MSP in Live which is something of a love child of Max in the first place.

    Certainly it saves them the trouble with building an API which is sufficiently decoupled from any API that they internally use and might be subject to change even between minor versions. Think of something like VST or AudioUnits. Just because the host software evolves and goes through major changes does not mean you have to throw away your plugin's code. If Steinberg could do it maybe so could Ableton. Although I guess it is better to prioritize features and bug fixes from which the majority of ordinay users (not developers, and not combinations of both) benefits. I certainly think this is the best way to go when in doubt.

    It's not more difficult to use my own code. It is really just one more layer to go (which would be there regardless but neatly hidden by the implemantation of a Live API). Why do you think you would be limited to C or Python? If Ableton released an SDK for coding in C++ for example, then you could always create bindings for other languages, such as Python, Common Lisp, Haskell, Lua, and whatever else is hip these days with people who actually bother to create such bindings. Nearly the same with Max: Externals are written (at least for the part that uses Max APIs) in plain C, but nothing stops you from creating something like the Java object which takes a program in language x and runs it inside a Max external while providing an interface between datatypes of both worlds. It's been done, but I am probably not telling you anything new.

  6. This video looks more like a commercial, than a way of working in sounddesign. I saw an other video of this guy before, when he demonstrated the openlabs keyboard all the time. Maybe he is just doing advertisement for the companys?
    There are a lot of very good opensource software for sounddesign like Csound, Supercollider and PD. Did anyone see him talking about those tools?

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