MicroBruto: a Max For Live simplesizer

Create, Music, Synthesizers

I have been watching demos and reviews of the Arturia MicroBrute and it seems like a very interesting synthesizer. It’s analog, cheap and flexible. But before even thinking about getting one, I wanted to “experience” the user interface. That’s why I decided to make the MicroBruto. ‘Bruto’ in Spanish can be translated as gross or stupid, but I have to clarify that the name does not reflects my option about the synthesizer. I just thought it was funny.

 

Arturia MicroBrute

Arturia MicroBrute

The MicroBruto

The MicroBruto is not an emulation, is just a digital synthesizer with controllers inspired by the MicroBrute. I tried to imitate the functions of the oscillator, the envelope, filter, LFO and most important: the modulation matrix.

Here you can see a screenshot:

MicroBruto

MicroBruto

The beauty of this synthesizer is that is does not need a manual. That’s why it is a Simplesizer.

You can get the device from the maxforlive.com page. HERE

HMH Mixer

Create, Projects, Synthesizers

This is an educational project I made to get a better understanding on mixing sound. Mixing is all about hearing but it’s always ok to  get a little help from the eyes; that’s the place of spectrum analyzers.  When mixing two sounds we have to be careful on how they interact with  each other in frequency domain. A bad mix may have moments in which certain frequencies get to loud or where one sound shadows the presence of other.

Being capable of detecting (and fixing) those problems of a mix requires training and talent. Since I don’t have to much training yet (lets not talk about the talent) I made this program to help me hear. The HMH (Help-Me-Hear) Mixer provides features that can help you in times of doubt. This is a screenshot of the interface:

HMHMix

The HMH Mixer was inspired by the youtube tutorial of dude837: Pfft~ is your friend where he explains the use of the pfft~ object in Max.

The program has can load two audio files (A and B). Use the “Open” button to load your files, and select “Loop” if you want your files to repeat when they end. With the level you can control the volume.

HMHMix_ChannelsWhen playing the files you can see a spectrogram of both files where the “x” axis is the frequency and “y” is the time.

HMHMix SpectrumBelow the spectograms we have a filter that is applied to channel B only. Later I will explain the purpose of this filter.

HMHMix Filter

At the bottom we have the master section where we can start reproducing the sounds and see the spectrogram of the mixed signals.

HMHMix FMaster

The master signal has 4 different play modes:

A+B Mix

This mode mixes the A and B sounds. What you hear is simply the sum of the sounds.

Overlap

In this mode the magic starts happening. This mode is controlled by the “Threshold” slider. Set it as low as possible and increase it gradually. As you increase it you will hear only the frequencies that the two sounds have in common. The first frequencies that are heard are the ones that once overlapped are above the threshold. These frequencies are the ones that overlap and have a high volume. If you play a kick drum and a bass, you will hear how they interfere specially in the low end. This is what we have to prevent when mixing.

Using the spectrogram we can determine if there are specific moments in which the overlap is higher.

B Auto

This mode uses the amplitude of the frequencies that overlap and applies a reduction (filtering) of the signal B. This acts as a frequency compressor. The reduction is controlled by the “Reduction” slider, the higher it is the more that the overlapped frequencies are taken from the B signal.

This is interesting because you can hear how the signal B need to filtered in order to reduce the overlapped frequencies.

A+B Auto

In this mode you can hear the signal of “B Auto” mixed with the channel A. This would be a kind of “very good blend” of the two sounds. The xix is not perfect, but listening to this will give you an idea of how it should sound if the common frequencies do not affect too much.

As I mentioned before, you can achieve this results by using a side-chained  frequency compressor. But I think that those kind of plugins would consume a lot of processing power in a DAW (correct me if I’m wrong). I would like to fix the mix problem by using the tools that are already available in my DAW, that are basically compressors and equalizers. That’s the purpose of the Filter in the B channel. I play with the filter in order to reduce the offending frequencies in channel B and reduce the overlapping. So once I have a decent sound using only the filter, I copy the setting of the filter to my DAW.

Feel free to play with the program and let me know if you have any suggestions.

Download

You can download the main Max patch HERE.

For Windows users. You can download an executable HERE

Developing Pure data externals in Visual Studio

Create, Music, Synthesizers

Some weeks ago I started learning Pure Data. I have known it for a long  time but I never used it since I made my music in other tools.

During the years I have seen amazing stuff  made using PD.  You can create 3D graphics, connect it with Arduino,  using OSC protocol and many more thing.

Connecting blocks with PD is very easy and the combination of text and wires makes it very effective. For example if you want to make a simple block that adds a constant to a signal you just need to type “+ 2″… amazing isn’t it?

In my case, PD is great to prototype and test algorithms, and the fact that you can create your own blocks using C language is great.

I was checking the developer documentation and the tutorials to create extensions. This one was very useful to understand how  the things work.

HOWTO write an External for puredata

However this document is platform independent  and I wasn’t sure what I needed to create and extension using Visual Studio. For that reason I made this small tutorial.

Compiling the hello world example.

The “HOWTO write an External for puredata”  contains the following code:

helloworld.c


#include "m_pd.h"

static t_class *helloworld_class;

typedef struct _helloworld {
 t_object x_obj;
} t_helloworld;

void helloworld_bang(t_helloworld *x)
{
 post("Hello world !!");
}

void *helloworld_new(void)
{
 t_helloworld *x = (t_helloworld *)pd_new(helloworld_class);

return (void *)x;
}

void helloworld_setup(void) {
 helloworld_class = class_new(gensym("helloworld"),
 (t_newmethod)helloworld_new,
 0, sizeof(t_helloworld),
 CLASS_DEFAULT, 0);
 class_addbang(helloworld_class, helloworld_bang);
}

Just put the code in a file named “helloword.c”.

In order to simplify the project creation I used CMake. Download the latest version and install it. Note: I have added the path to the binaries to the PATH variable.

You need to create the following two files.

helloworld.def


LIBRARY helloworld
EXPORTS helloworld_setup

This file is to let know the compiler that we are exporting the symbol “helloworld_setup”. The following file is the cmake project file. This one is going to make most of the magic.

CMakeList.txt


project(helloworld)

add_definitions(-DMSW)

set(SRC helloworld.c)

include_directories("C:/Program Files (x86)/pd/include")
link_directories("C:/Program Files (x86)/pd/bin")

add_library(helloworld SHARED ${SRC} helloworld.def)

target_link_libraries (helloworld pd)

Generating the project files

CMake files are very simple to understand, you define the sources (line 5), you add the includes and libraries directories (lines 7 and 8). The includes and the libraries are located in the folder of your PD-extended installation.  In line 10 we define that we are creating a shared library using the sources in variable SRC  and we also supply the helloworld.def file.

The new step is to open the command line. Note: you need to able of calling the compiler (cl.exe) from the command line. For that reason I use the shortcut included in the Visual Studio tools menu.

Once in the command line, go to the path where you have the files located and run the following command to generate the project files for Visual Studio 2010:  cmake ./ -G “Visual Studio 10”.  This will generate all the project files you need.

If you have problems following these steps, you can also refer to the cmake tutorial in HERE

Compiling and debugging your extension

Compiling is straight forward. Open the “ALLBUILD” project in visual studio and build the solution.

In order to debug you new extension you need to make it like any other DLL. You need to make PD use the DLL and attach the debugger. To use the DLL in PD you need to add the path to your debug DLL. You can find where the DLL is by looking at the project properties.

To add the path into PD go to File->Path menu and add a new entry.

After that you need to tell PD to load the DLL when it starts. In the menu File->Startup add the “helloworld” entry.

The next step is to configure the debugger. Since we are compiling a DLL we need to to configure the debugger to run PD instead. In the Properties of the helloworld project, in the debugging tab set the “Command” to the path of pd.exe and preferably the working directory to the same path.

Now just add a breakpoint, run the debugger and see it stop when you’re using your extension.

Hope this small tutorial simplify some steps for you. I’m planning to make a few more explaining other aspects.

Mocotron: a Monotron inspired Reaktor instrument

Create, Electronics, Music, Synthesizers

Today I made a small Reaktor instrument based on the Monotron Synth

I really like this small synthesizer because it sounds very natural. I love the analog sound.

This is my version:

You can download it from the Reaktor user library HERE.

This is how the model looks:

I have also uploaded demo sound to Soundcloud, but the MP3 file that I made sounds really crappy.

(Now I know why it is called LAME encoder)