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Chris

Airwindows is one guy: me! I am an audio hacker and computer programmer from way back. I seek only to continue my life up here in Vermont, inventing things and putting them onto the internet, sometimes for free and sometimes for pay. My hope is that people richer than me (i.e. most people) don't rob me. My other hope is for another cup of Aeropress. One out of two ain't bad!

Console3

Console3Demo is the latest Airwindows digital mix buss replacement. That’s right: replacement. It’s not an emulation of anything in particular, it’s not a coat of sonic paint to slap on weak digital recordings, in fact it tries its best to have NO sound of its own and none of the tones you put through it should sound any different.

So what’s the deal? Soundstage depth, sonic dimensionality, 3-D audio. That’s what. After two years of development it’s finally possible to update Airwindows Console.

If you want details on how it works, there’s a write-up on the Console2 post. You’re probably more interested in what’s new, and how it was improved.

Console3 is using the expanded word length introduced in the popular saturation plugin, PurestDrive. It does everything at ‘ludicrous resolution’, an 80 bit internal buss, and noise shapes the result to the CoreAudio buss. It was already a 64 bit internal buss. Seems people like what it sounds like when I push that even farther. Console3 is totally 80 bit resolution for its processing, like PurestDrive is.

Console3 also builds on a quality earlier Console versions had: opening out the clarity and transparency of the sound. It’s doing it through applying the Console process to audio near the Nyquist frequency. That is sample-rate dependent, so if you’re running 44.1K it might be more obvious, and if you’re at 96K or 192K you are basically ‘analogifying’ those beyond-air, ‘angels fly in the sky, I can fly twice as high, reading rainbow’ frequencies. In other words, I think at 96K you already have all the transparency and changes up there won’t be noticeable. But then I didn’t think PurestDrive was going to take off, either, so what do I know? Maybe running Console3 at 96K or 192K will be the latest in beyond-analog mix sonics.

It’s new, it’s literally everything I’ve been developing over the last couple years, it’s letting the DAW compete directly with large format analog consoles sonically instead of just trying to imitate them—and since it builds on a line of already successful plugins, there’s a lot of existing Console users who’re getting it for free. So… time to try and reach people who didn’t hear about it the first or second times around!

Console3 is $50.

Clicks

ClickSamples is three free examples from my ’32 Bar And Grill’ product, Clicks. This time instead of doing a variety of tracks from a single production at a set tempo, this is a broad range of tempos on a single theme!

That theme is ‘electronic dance music click track’. I think producing music of all sorts will be more fun and groove better if the click track is actually good and produces a compelling groove. These do! They’re a modified Jomox analog kick (and by that I mean, literally rewired my MBase II so the bass hits faster and harder like classic Roland kicks) combined with hats from ElectroHat (a $50 plugin) driven by a xoxbox.

These are really driving beats and easy to lock and groove to, and you can have the 120, 124 and 128 BPM versions free. If that’s all you do, then you’re welcome. They are 48K sample rate as that’s the max my Apogee RosettaAD will do, and they are trimmed to exactly 32 bars at the tempo specified, so they can be set to loop without issue. Just drag them into your project and go. Experience what the ’32 Bar And Grill’ concept means for groove!

The full collection is $10 at Kagi (160 meg zip file) and contains BPMs: 80, 90, 100, 110, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124, 128, 130, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 142, 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 170, 175, 180, and 185. When you count playing doubletime or halftime over these tempos, that covers a big range of possible tempos. Hope this is as useful to others as it is to me!




128_Jackhammer

Introducing 32 Bar And Grill!

128_Jackhammer is a collection of loops—Airwindows style. You can find an example of what I can do with these loops here. They’re ten bucks, not fifty like the Audio Units, and they don’t get updates, I just won’t repeat any of the files ever.

If you order these samples/loops, Kagi will give you the option to get a physical CDR backup mailed to you, and if you leave that turned on they will bill you another $10 for the physical mailed CD, so be clear whether you want that. If you just want the download (I’ve tested it) and to back it up yourself, remember to turn the Kagi CD option off. Because I allowed it, they defaulted it to on.

Why buy loops from Airwindows of all places? Because they’re special. I don’t mean that they are hardware synths run into an API 3124+ preamplifier (transformer balanced outputs!) run hot into a heavily padded Apogee Rosetta converter, even though that’s exactly what they are.

I don’t mean that they are original captures, totally fresh, not recopied among sample sets and reprocessed into a thin gray paste. Even though they ARE totally fresh captures through that hot analog rig.

What I mean is, these things are either live playing (drums captured through primitive two-channel miking, bass DIed through a custom box I wired up myself to give more aggressive tones), or they’re hardware synths sequenced… BY hardware. This is like old school grooves. They’re being driven off an old Kawai Q80 hardware sequencer. It’s often said that modern DAWs don’t groove like the old sequencer boxes and Ataris and such. This is true. The hardware doesn’t spend even one cycle thinking about hard drive handling, or running a screen, or powering the audio outputs. It does nothing but tick over the MIDI information, that’s all.

So, when you capture a minute of that at 48K (for a bit more air at a rate that’s video-friendly) you get a chunk of hardware groove. Then, in your DAW, you take that 32 bars and you loop it. The loop points are where you can do new things or throw in drops or breakdowns, and even if the DAW wavers a bit at those points it won’t matter because they’re transitions.

The live tracks aren’t going to be played like the greatest studio musicians are Daft Punking it up just for you. It’s all just me. But, I know for a fact there are 1-bar, 2-bar, 4-bar loops in there that’ll work, and rather than being sampled off an old record it’s multitracks. What’s there is there but if you know your sample chopping, you’ll be able to think of things to do, and you’ll be able to manufacture rock-hard beats on top of the machine-powered 32 bar kicks and sequences. You can gate stuff based on the A-flat psy bass. There’s a lot of stuff to do and it can sound as much or as little like the source tracks as you wish. There’s three different Kawai K4 pads, an Alpha Juno pad, the Yamaha FB-01 psy-bass, two live drum tracks… $10 for what’s there, as it is. Maybe you’ll ignore the Jomox kick, and loop my drum track real tight. Maybe you’ll trigger bass notes off MIDI and turn it into a virtual instrument, grabbing stray notes until you can play entirely unrelated melodies. These are all fresh tracks, raw original captures.

I have no idea if this is going to work. This world is different to me and it often seems like the products out there are pretty lame and recycled. EDM needed a new source of original sound. Jackhammer’s in A flat, and the filenames start with 128 because I foresee doing more of these, until there’s a big pile of files you can grab elements from. Beat comes first, you can always juxtapose stuff in different keys for effect. But I don’t need to tell you this, right? You know what this is. You can probably grab loops off the youtube video. If you want the 24/48 of everything, for $10, click this Kagi button. The more these sell, the more I’ll make.




PurestGain

PurestGain

PurestGain is by request of some friends who really liked PurestDrive! It’s a free universal binary Audio Unit and it’s a gain trim plugin. That’s all.

…well, unless you count that it’s running the same 80 bit internal processing buss that PurestDrive has, the same noise shaping to the CoreAudio 32 bit internal buss, the same total refusal to produce any quantization distortion ever, and on top of that since it’s a gain plugin it also is running a smoothing algorithm to completely eliminate zipper noise from adjusting the control, even.

So basically, this freebie is the most ultimate ‘analog’ gain knob anybody could ever want, because some people loved the sound of PurestDrive so much they wanted a simple gain control just as uncompromising, and I made it a freebie. If this proves useful or just makes you happy to know your gain trim is beyond reproach, try PurestDrive. And be sure to get either Ditherbox, or the freebie DitherTo, so you can audition this stuff while dithering to 24 bit for your monitoring and high resolution file making needs! Just because stuff can happen around the 32 bit float quantizing (which is a 24 bit word and a mantissa, remember) that shows up over 24 bit audio, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dithering every time you go to fixed point :)

ElectroHat

ElectroHatDemo is a universal binary Audio Unit plugin on a mission: it intends to take the place of samples and vintage drum machines, turning any old rhythmic sound into a crisp synthetic and very electronic hi-hat!

It will also do a decent snare if you like bright 606-style snares (look into Noise if you’re interested in something darker). The real heart of ElectroHat, however, is the hi-hats. This plugin gives you a huge variety (literally, 3000) of synthetic hat sounds each of which are adjustable for extra brightness. Pick between Syn Hat, Electro Hat, and Dense Hat and use the Trim to dial in the sound—pay attention to the nodes where the algorithm gets weird, as those can produce unique percussive sounds too—and use Brighten to control just how trebly the hat will be. Output Pad starts you off with a nicely attenuated volume. Don’t crank your hat too hard, it’s got a ton of sweet top end that should be treated with respect and can cut through any mix without getting in the way!

If you have trouble getting a track or software instrument trigger to work with ElectroHat, remember that you want to be feeding it the volume envelope of a hi-hat, as a source sound. For soft-attacked things you may want to increase the definition of the stick attack. Do that by using the free DigitalBlack2 plugin to gate your guide sound (route a sound to an aux to process it without altering the original tone if it’s audible in your mix) and then use the free Point transient designer plugin to add ‘pop’ to the attack. The video will show you how to do that, on even a muted synth bass playing psytrance 16ths! If you don’t like the way ElectroHat extends right up into the supersonic range, you can use the free Slew2 plugin to whack off the very top to your taste. This one takes amazing advantage of the broad range of Airwindows freebies to extend its usefulness.

Why trigger from audio tracks, rather than sequence stuff in DAW MIDI and softsynths? Because if your audio track is tighter than DAW MIDI because it’s recorded off a synth or drumkit using hardware sequencing (an analog drum machine, a vintage 808, an Atari computer, my Kawai Q-80 sequencer) then ElectroHat will be triggered off that tighter-than-DAW recording. DAWs hiccup at times, don’t always trigger stuff as perfectly as we’d like. ElectroHat can hit with sub-sample accuracy if the underlying track has that. There’s nothing else that can produce an ‘organic’, evolving hihat tone that is also totally electronic-sounding for modern music and tracks the groove that tightly. You can use this capacity to ‘sequence’ all kinds of things using just delays and echos from a simple guide track, all with hardware-sequencer tightness—the video shows you that, too.

ElectroHat can be the new go-to electronic sizzle! Its tones have huge variation within a range of crisp and bright synthetic tonalities with more character and smoothness than simple noise, it sounds a world apart from even round-robined sample triggering, and best of all it can groove like hardware because it literally inherits the exact timing of whatever you’re driving it with! Whether that’s recordings of a classic groovebox, or just you slapping your pant leg and micing it, the groove is perfect: and nothing is more important.

ElectroHat is $50.




PurestDrive

PurestDriveDemo is unusual, even startling. What’s the deal with suddenly putting out the simplest imaginable softclip/saturation… not even a safety clipper, ADClip does that… for $50?

It’s about the tone—and it’s about the R&D. PurestDrive is a sort of science project, and it’s using some Airwindows techniques at a level I’ve never before attempted, to produce a plugin that I can legitimately say is a mastering-grade softclip. No matter who you are or what you’re monitoring on, PurestDrive ought to deliver totally ‘analog tone’ with absolutely no thinning of bass, no leaching of depth, none of what even the most sophisticated digital plugins tend to do.

Part of the experiment is about just such sophistication. Consider a mixing board full of parts and op-amps and things. Now, consider a boutique pre, which might have a special gain stage with just one or two carefully chosen transistors or tubes, and which delivers a far more transparent tone than the full mixing board. Well, modern digital is the mixing board. All the things we do to fight aliasing, to model every little detail of a circuit, involve thousands or tens of thousands of math operations on the signal. In every single one, something is lost: word length is always limited.

Since we’re talking about digital word lengths inside the plugins that are floating point and 32 bits or more in depth, we might very well assume it’s okay and you can do all of that with no sonic cost. It’s easy to jump to that conclusion if you’ve literally never heard anything else, and since raw digital is still kind of spikey and too clean to feel ‘analog’. We trade off a little tonal purity for ‘analog color’ in today’s world, and consider it a win, unthinkingly.

Try the PurestDrive demo, and compare anything you’ve got to what PurestDrive can do. It runs on an internal 80-bit floating point buss, it does its math at that insanely high resolution, it touches the signal as lightly as possible to produce its sound, and it noise-shapes back to the DAW’s floating point buss when it’s done. It’s a proof-of-concept for a new sonic approach to digital that is largely subtractive, dependent on great A/D conversion, and dedicated to retaining depth of tone throughout the process. And it sounds different from other software saturations (even my previous ones) by sounding like nothing at all: totally transparent, with no tonal cues other than the saturation itself. There’s tricks to help resist aliasing but mostly it does that through subtlety alone—it’s not adding enough grit to include aliasing hash.

It’s not just a technology demo, though. If you use it on channels (where you basically can’t hear it) and then you also use it on the mix buss, you suddenly get a degree of clean headroom that sounds like French House: incredibly fat and punchy. This plugin alone, plus maybe a safety clipper, can give you a particular ‘loudness/fullness tone’ over the whole mix. Because of the raw simplicity of the code it’s highly CPU-efficient, so you can run it on huge mixes, and make them be astonishingly big with one plugin alone, without losing any richness of tone at all. And that’s just about unique for this type of plugin, which usually trades off a little depth for artificial color. Not anymore!

PurestDrive is $50.

Welcome to the completed site rebuild!

Here’s where I rebuilt the whole site in classier, searchable, organized form… and added thirty free Audio Unit plugins. A big day! (can you find them? They include some truly amazing secret weapons. I could tell you which, but then they wouldn’t be a secret, would they?)

SM57 Mod

I’m prepared to do this mod for people, but you can save money by doing this stuff yourself.

Be aware that in chopping off the ‘ribs’ of one 57 (not shown) with the tin-snips, the ring of the plastic grille cracked! I had to glue it back together and fasten it with the foil tape bearing the SM57 name, before it would hold the little plate securely. The resulting mic is fine, but it underscores the obvious fact that when hacking apart SM57s with tin-snips and pliers, you could just possibly break something.

Cheers! :)

ToVinyl3

ToVinyl3Demo  is a universal binary AU plugin to center and accentuate bass, such as you’d do for vinyl mastering or to make an electronic music mix more efficient over a large PA system. You can cut side-channel bass and tighten and control the extreme lows in the middle, with great-sounding Airwindows filters.

Also, ToVinyl 3 includes high frequency limiting—an invisible digital harshness control, catching anything you choose to do in a mix so that the mix intention shines through but translates to all situations (including lossy compression, which suffers when you throw a lot of supersonic highs at it). Try it out! You may be able to dial back other ‘harshness reducers’ and get more sparkle out of your mixes without edginess.

Lastly, ToVinyl 3 comes with a Groove Wear control. If used to do actual vinyl mastering, you should leave this off, but if the target is a digital format (such as Pono…) you might try it. It breaks up the extreme highs in a characteristic way, scrubbing off some of the fizz and focussing the midrange and presence. You can also crank it, for effect (such as on a submix or drum buss). Groove Wear isn’t available anywhere else and a lot of people really like it, so listen carefully to what it does, not just in the highs.

I suggest using ToVinyl after most things on the 2-buss, but before a final clipper. For instance, a very analog-sounding output section might be ToTape, into ToVinyl, into ADClip, into Ditherbox (and perhaps Voxengo SPAN for some terrific metering—I swear by Density Mode).

ToVinyl3 is $50.




Noise

NoiseDemo is a universal binary AU plugin for generating naturalistic environment noise, which you can use in sound design for video, or as a texture for music. You have four different tone shaping controls: a lowpass that can chase the envelope of the input sound, two highpass-related controls hooked to the guts of the noise generator algorithm, and a moving average at the very end which also affects dry signal.

The idea is that you can control the environment textures by putting something else underneath that might not be a great environment sound by itself, reinforce it with the noise and then filter both together with the ‘Distance’ filter (the moving average) for naturalness and to merge them sonically.

You can also use it as a terrific percussion broadener, like triggering a white noise generator and gating it along with the drum track but with much more sophistication and better texture. Noise will give you fantastic body and depth when used to do that trick, plus various controls that are immediately useful in an active mix context on such a track.

Noise is $50.

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