A short review of the LIRA 8 VSTi

While currently having the original SOMA Lyra-8 hardware here on my desk I was curious how the VST emulation created by Mike Moreno DSP might appear in comparison. The release is available in VST formats for Mac and PC under “Pay what you want or download for free”.

In case you never heard of the hardware Lyra, it’s basically a 8 voice drone synthesizer, providing some LFO and FM modulation capabilities plus a basic delay and distortion FX. It does not provide any Midi control but solely relies on manual interaction with it’s analog interface (plus some quite limited CV support). It also does not have any sort of filter, mod matrix or effect structure. However, it perfectly fits for different styles of experimental electronic and ambient music as well as all kinds of sound design e.g for film scoring and such.

The VST plugin resembles the overall appearance and usage concept almost identical to the hardware. All parameters are accessible via host automation in your DAW which indeed turns out to be really useful. To trigger the sensors, Midi notes C1 to G1 can also be used instead of clicking the interface. Since the original sensors are sensitiv to skin capacitance/resistance, I would have expected the plugin sensors to have some sort of velocity or aftertouch control accordingly but this is not the case.

Soundwise the plugin was a real surprise. While it might not stand an A/B test with its analog counterpart, it amazingly captures its overall sound aesthetic and gives instant gratification in this regard. Wobbling drones, shimmering soundscapes and fizzling FM weirdness – it can all do that and much more. But maybe even more important it is real fun to twiddle with and it appears to be very inspirational, exactly like the HW does.

What the plugin itself can’t give you of course is the tactile experience. Beside that there is an issue when it comes to tuning sounds. The oscillator tune parameters actually do have just very imprecise control given the huge frequency range across all octaves. This becomes even more of an issue if you try to finetune something in its FM sweetspot area.

Overall verdict: Highly recommended for all sorts of sound design or pure inspiration – if you can live with its constraints.

sustaining trends in audio land, 2021 edition

Now, after spending some time on digging a little bit more deeper into the current offerings and market situation in audio production I just wanted to briefly outline some of my personal summaries regarding sustaining trends but maybe outline also some new things I do see on the horizon.

The mobile audio evolution

To me this indeed looks like an ongoing trend for years now which simply does not stop. On the one hand we can see the whole software and especially the App market continuing and increasing in all areas and platforms: notebooks, tablets, smartphones and their respective eco systems accordingly. Where Ableton once started in providing an almost complete mobile music production approach in literally just a bag, Bitwig and others followed and now Apps are everywhere allowing any kind of recording and music or media production on the go. Apples recent move with the M1 SOC (System on Chip) approach fits perfectly into this trend by increasing the mobility even further in terms of power, size and efficiency. Others will follow this path for sure. Also we can see traditional music gear manufacturers going more and more into compact and battery powered solutions as well, such as the Korg Volca series or the Roland boutique thingies, just to name the two.

The retro cult continues

Companies like Behringer will continue to spit out analog HW clones like there is no tomorrow. Whether thats synthesizer reissues or blatant plain copies of vintage mixing outboard or modeled software – you’ll find everything and in almost all shades of quality and price. And I think this is a really good thing to have such a variety to choose from and also this will lead to some serious price drops in the overpriced used gear market in that area.

Modular madness

I don’t think this is part of the overall retro trend but a niche on its very own. In any case the modular synthesis thing is still gaining more and more momentum. There is a sheer amount of hardware options to choose from and meanwhile also quite a lot of audio interfaces and controller solutions are offering not only Midi but also CV support. Even in software land one can put his/her virtual hands on something modular. All in all, this looks and sounds like real fun and a great opportunity to spend a lot of time on (and money).

Look mom no computer

All those neat outboard DAW-less setups shown on YT: Some hardware samplers and grooveboxes here, some fancy retro synths there and fx stomp boxes all over the place. Well, “Look mom no computer” is of course absolutely wrong here because half of that stuff has tiny little digital displays and computers underneath you have to tinker with. Personally, I would prefer some neat “one knob, one job” analog interfaces plus a real full-blown DAW any day. However, definately a sustaining trend and a good thing.

Loudness war, quo vadis?

While it seems that LUFS finally made it and in fact has been successfully settled as a standard in the broadcast domain – in music production in general it has not. Todays audio mastering target levels are still insane and even some “engineers” continue to present converter clipping as the holy loudness grail to their YT followers. That really hurts. At least some of the big streaming sevices restricted target loudness levels to -14 or -16LUFS which gives a little hope.

ITB production finally took over

Now that even the last renowned mixing engineer has finally surrendered to the dark side in the box – at least for the recording and mixing part – the question remains, why this has taken so long. Was it for quality concerns? The time-to-market pressure to finally have total recall in all regards? Simple ignorance or fear? We might not be sure about the final answer but we do know that today almost everybody can run some media production tasks in a decent quality on his very own while having a low entrance barrier. And this is what I really would call the “game changer” of the last decade. Now, your skills are the limit.

Game of DAWs

There is really no trend in particular here other than the fact that we have the very same players on the board since a decade ago. Maybe Bitwig will aim for the crown from Ableton? It’s whole inherent synthesis and modulation integration make this comprehensive sequencer an instrunment on its very own and also it runs natively on Linux. All the other contenders improved step by step here and there but quite comparable. Maybe having build in mixing scenes and more convincing analog style summing is a thing which sticks a little bit out. So, on my own I wasn’t that much impressed about this very last episodes and now I’m looking forward to an upcoming but much more entertaining season, hopefully.

The pandemic impact

As we all know, the Covid impact on everything live performance related was and still is a sheer desaster. How this will evolve in the future is hard to predict but it is clear that there won’t be any back to normal any time soon if ever. That means this area must transform into the digital/virtual domain as well and most of the suppliers in exact this kind of areas are already the winners of the current situation.

Stay healthy!

 

Dub Taylor (Slices DVD Feature)

OMFG

(via)

Musikmesse 2012

Musikmesse 2012 starts in about one week, so what do you expect to show up there? Any rumours already out there? Further more: Are you visiting Frankfurt this time?

Related

Fairchild ad’s, early 1960s

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nice workspace

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WTF?

Check out “fuck yeah studio porn“!

retro vintage modern hi-fi

Definitely a must see Blog – check it out at itishifi.blogspot.com.

short links, June 2010 edition

Soccer world cup 2010: Seems there is a solution for the maddening Vuvuzela horn – Prosoniq released a realtime freeware filtering plug, Mac only, though. Look here and here.

Techno: A great video documentary is available about Richie Hawtins contakt tour. Cool setup, all with Ableton, btw.

Sound design: Simply a great Blog about sound design.

Gear p*rn: This Blog is all about.

Music: Cinematic Orchestra – an awesome and timeless fusion of music, see also on myspace.

Music video: Sebastien Tellier – WTF?