Gear Talk
by on June 1, 2009 in Recent Activity

Here’s a forum to geek out about music tools, software, production techniques, etc. You can ask me questions in the comment window below, and I’ll try to answer as best I can, when possible. This idea was suggested by Brian McWilliams, who wrote:

“A lot of us ambient music lovers also end up dabbling in ambient ourselves and you are widely regarded for your engineering and gift with sound. For that reason, I think a lot of people might be interested to hear about your experiences and recommendations with gear. Even something like issues you are working out in your studio would be great to read about. As an example, I just found out that you worked on sound design for Camel Audio’s Alchemy. Would enjoy hearing your take on any of the above…”

So I’ll start by answering his question about Camel “Alchemy.” Alchemy is an amazing sample-mangling soft synth that incorporates several different resynthesis tools simultaneously, including granular, additive, subtractive and spectral resynthesis. My friend Tim Conrardy was working for Camel as sound designer and customer service. (Sadly, Tim passed away suddenly in late February, and we miss him dearly.) Last year, Tim asked me to contribute some raw samples to ship with Alchemy’s library, for which they paid me quite fairly. I had hoped to make some presets for the initial release of the program, but I got busy around that time and missed my deadline. So, this Spring I did manage to come up with some interesting sounds, and some of these should appear in the next revision.

Alchemy has a unique timbre due to its various digital mangling capabilities. Generally I find that it excells at creating more diffuse, abstract sorts of textures, rather than the sharp or discreet sounds that analog synths or straight samplers tend to make. Although it can get crunchy or edgy when desired, I find myself gravitating towards slowly shifting blurry sounds. It’s quite deep, and I consider myself a beginner in the earliest stages.

Feel free to ask any other questions, and I’ll try to answer when I can. – Robert

152 Responses to Gear Talk

  1. Robert Rich – Gear Talk | Drone Music Lab.

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