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MOTU debuts major upgrades to MachFive, MX4 at NAMM

updated 08:55 am EST, Wed January 26, 2005

MOTU MachFive, MX4 upgrade

last week unveiled version 2.0 of its instrument plug-ins, MachFive and MX4. MachFive Version 2, MOTU's universal sampler plug-in, will include unlimited parts per instance, a full-screen preset browser, a new modular synthesis architecture, keygroup layering with rule-based switching, larger sample and keygroup editors, a complete built-in mixer, LoopLab groove slice engine, sample time-stretching, and many other new features. Meanwhile, MX4 Version 2, MOTU's hybrid synth plug-in, will add more effects, more presets, a built-in pattern gate, a built-in arpeggiator and numerous additional modulation sources and shapers. MachFive v2 will ship in the second quarter for $400 (upgrade cost not announced), while MX4 v2 will ship the first quarter of 2005 as a free upgrade to version 1 or for $300 (full license).

The company offered a peak at some of the new features of MachFive Version 2, but said that more features would be revealed at a later date:

  • Stand-alone operation-- In addition to supporting all major plug-in formats on Mac and Windows, MachFive Version 2 operates as a stand-alone application, allowing it to be used with popular music applications such as Finale that don't host audio plug-ins. Users can also build Mac- or PC-based systems designed solely for large-scale sample playback via MachFive as the software front end for the system.

  • Unlimited parts-- Currently, MachFive Version 1 provides 16 parts. Each part can be loaded with a different instrument (preset) for independent sequencing on up to 16 different MIDI channels per instance of the plug-in. In Version 2, MachFive lets users add unlimited parts to one instance of MachFive, eliminating the need to open multiple instances when more than 16 parts are needed. The stand-alone version of MachFive can receive on an unlimited number of MIDI channels, while the plug-in version supports up to 128 separate MIDI channels per instance.

  • Full-screen preset browser-- As just one example of its entirely new graphics engine, MachFive Version 2's new preset browser fills the entire window with a semi-transparent, multi-column list for browsing soundbanks, preset categories and presets, making it much easier for users to find sounds.

  • Unlimited keygroup layers -- In MachFive Version 1, samples can be conveniently and flexibly mapped as keygroups across the entire 128 MIDI note range and 0-127 velocity depth. MachFive Version 2 adds a third dimension, allowing users to stack unlimited layers of keygroups in one preset. Think of Version 1 as providing only one layer per preset. Now users can build multiple layers per preset and use sophisticated "rules" for switching between layers in real-time. For example, a user could load various articulations of an instrument into several layers and use key switches to instantly change articulations (layers). Or they could use a modulation wheel to smoothly crossfade among several articulations (layers).

  • Enhanced Giga and EXS24 library support-- The just-mentioned layering feature allows MachFive Version 2 to provide much better support for the use of sample libraries in the Giga and EXS24 sample formats.

  • Expanded modular synth engine-- Under the hood, MachFive has a newly expanded, modularized synthesis engine that provides a host of new features. Two aggressive filters are supplied per keygroup, as are more LFO waveforms, pitch processing, time stretching, tempo synced multi-stage envelopes with unlimited stages and streamlined performance. Every synth parameter can be individually disabled to conserve CPU bandwidth.

  • Expanded envelope editor-- Fills the MachFive window and allows users to click anywhere on the envelope graph to create an unlimited number of envelope stages and then drag them to create any desired envelope shape.

  • Expanded sample and keygroup editors-- Both the sample editor and keygroup editor can be expanded to fill the MachFive Window for easier viewing and editing.

  • Built-in mixer--MachFive version 1 was designed to give users access to all of its features in one window. This instant-access philosophy lives on in Version 2. With one click, users can instantly view a full-fledged, intuitive, built-in mixer with channel strips, faders, pan pots, inserts and other customary mixer controls. This mixer is especially useful for stand-alone operation, where more sophisticated mixing is needed within MachFive itself.

  • LoopLab -- This powerful new groove slice engine lets users perform Recycle style loop editing directly within MachFive and their host application sequencing environment. REX files, Apple Loops or other loop material can be instantly imported into MachFive and then triggered directly from MachFive. Or they can be split into individual slices that are automatically mapped to keys in a MachFive preset. Rendered MIDI data that triggers the slices to faithfully reproduce the loop can then be dragged and dropped as a MIDI file directly into the audio sequencer host for further sequencing and editing of the loop.

  • Real-time time stretching-- Mono and stereo samples (keygroups) can be individually time-stretched to the extreme while maintaining their rhythmic accuracy and even pitch. Loops and other rhythmic material can be automatically stretched to sync their tempo with the host application tempo.

Meanwhile, MX4 Version 2 adds several new feature as well:

  • More built-in effects -- Version 1 provides chorus and delay. Version 2 adds a phaser, flanger, and reverb.

  • More factory presets -- Hundreds of new presets have been added, including many that showcase the new features.

  • Pattern gate - The Pattern Gate slices the output of MX4's synth section into programmable pulses locked to the project's tempo. Users have graphical control over the attack, sustain and release of each pulse, as well as a pulse editor where they can set the pattern length and click each of 16 pulses to enable or disable them.

  • Arpeggiator -- Creates elaborate rhythmic, tempo-locked arpeggiation effects.

  • Pattern sequencer/quantizer -- Applies cyclic, fixed steps to any modulated parameter in MX4, from oscillator sync to wavetable index to filter resonance. The result produces fixed changes over time, similar to a sample-and-hold LFO, except that the pattern repeats, instead of being random. Sixteen steps can be individually set to one of 128 different values. Length can be set between 1 and 16 steps.

  • Envelope follower -- Transforms the amplitude of any audio input into a control signal for use anywhere in MX4 as a modulator or shaper.

  • Lag processor -- This shaper provides variable attack and release times. Users can insert the lag processor as a shaper after any modulator. For example, it can be used to smooth out aftertouch response.

  • Invert -- Inverts the modulation source.

  • Transform -- Like invert, but with customizable response.

  • Sample and hold -- Quantizes the transition of any modulator to a specific rate or pulse. For example, if a user wants a stepped LFO effect, but one that sounds less random than the sample-and-hold LFO waveform, they can apply the sample and hold shaper to a shaped LFO, such as a triangle wave.

by MacNN Staff




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