I was doing some coding on ValhallaÜberMod today, and ran ValhallaFreqEcho through two instances of UberMod in series. At some point, I hit “record.” This is what I got:
I’ll put up a more official introduction to ValhallaÜberMod in a few days. Many of the sounds that come out of it are subtle choruses and ensembles. Turn up the “OverMod” control, and it can enter the realms of the unsane.
I’ve been working long hours on getting the next Valhalla DSP plugin out to beta testers. Today, I decided to convert some of the parameters to use percentages instead of just going from 0.0 to 1.0. Apparently I goofed up the math. Here’s what got barfed out of the plugin:
This is NOT what the plugin is supposed to sound like. This is a nasty, brutal bug. So I’m going to include it as a mode, alongside all the non-busted modes.
To quote Brian Eno:
“Honour thy error as a hidden intention.”
Another Oblique Strategies quote, that is equally appropriate:
Things have been pretty quiet for the past few months here at The Halls of Valhalla. I’ve been hard at work on my new plugin: ValhallaRoom.
I’ll be talking about this new plugin in length over the next few weeks. A quick summary of what it does:
ValhallaRoom features several original reverberation algorithms, designed to produce tight and subtle room sounds, as well as larger hall sounds and huge ambiances
Unique Early reverb section allows user to dial in subtle and short bursts of early reverberation energy, as well as gated reverbs up to 1 second in length.
The Late section produces natural reverb decays ranging from 0.1 seconds to 100 seconds. The decay can be controlled in 3 adjustable frequency bands.
Both Early and Late reverb sections have adjustable modulation, to produce sounds ranging from lush chorusing, to subtle and natural long decays.
ValhallaRoom is true stereo. The Early and Late reverb sections are both stereo-in, stereo-out.
The goal of ValhallaRoom is to be a useful “workhorse” reverb, for subtle drum rooms that can be felt more than heard, lush halls, dense plates, and big ambient decays. The algorithm designs have been influenced by some of the “classic” room simulation boxes, as well as state of the art modern theory.
ValhallaRoom will be released in the next few weeks. Price will be $50 US. I’ll post progress reports to the blog.
I am coming down the home stretch on ValhallaShimmer. The past several weeks have involved tracking down and stomping out numerous bugs, improving the automation code, and implementing a secure copy protection system that is unobtrusive to the user. I still have a few more days of work, including sending the release candidate out to my beta testers. Thanks for your patience. UPDATE: ValhallaShimmer has been released. Go to http://www.valhalladsp.com/shimmer.html to check it out.
In other news, a patent I wrote was granted at the end of August:
The patent dates from my video game sound days, and was designed to produce better simulations of engine noise in vehicles. Not super relevant towards my current work, but something to put up while I am staring at Xcode.
My old friend David Hopper gave me a Korg Monotron yesterday. I’ve had an insane amount of fun getting R2D2 noises, FM drones, and rhythmic beats out of this little battery operated analog synth.
Today, I recorded a few short Monotron drones through ValhallaShimmer. I’m using 4 series instances of Shimmer, with 2 of the instances pitch shifting the feedback by +/- 12 semitones and +/- semitones. Here’s what came out:
For reference, here is the original Monotron track with no instances of ValhallaShimmer enabled:
ValhallaShimmer was designed to create a huge amount of sonic complexity out of any sound source. By using a simple sound source such as the Monotron and controlling only a few parameters (Pitch, VCF Cutoff, VCF Peak), you can make big sounds that are responsive to subtle sonic gestures.
In other ValhallaShimmer news, I ported the plugin to Windows VST and RTAS late last week. I need to add some optimizations to the Windows code, but this should allow me to release the Windows and OS X versions of the plugin at the same time. (UPDATE: Windows VST, and OSX VST/AU/RTAS released. Go to http://www.valhalladsp.com/shimmer.html to get yourself a copy.)
ValhallaShimmer is an algorithmic reverberation plugin. It is designed to produce BIG sounds, from concert halls, to the Taj Mahal, to the halls of Valhalla.
There are several reverberation modes available, to allow the user to dial in the preferred initial sound. By adjusting the Feedback, Diffusion and Size controls, the attack, sustain and decay of the reverb signal can be fine tuned. The modulation controls can be set to produce subtle mode thickening, glistening string ensemble-esque decays, and the distinctive random modulation of the older Lexicon hall algorithms. Two tone controls and the Color Mode selector allow the timbre to be adjusted from bright and glistening to a more natural dark decay, similar to that produced by air absorption in large spaces.
In addition, ValhallaShimmer has the ability to pitch shift the feedback signal. There are 3 pitch shift modes available:
Single, where the feedback is shifted up or down by the Shift value.
Dual, where the feedback is shifted both up and down (in parallel) by the Shift value.
Bypass, which turns off the pitch shifting (useful for “standard” reverb sounds).
By setting the Shift amount to +12 semitones, and the Feedback to 0.5 or greater, the classic “shimmer” sound is produced, as heard on Eno / Lanois productions for U2 and others. I have discussed the “shimmer” effect in great (excruciating?) detail in earlierblogposts, and applied the research to the architecture of ValhallaShimmer. The resulting algorithms allow for the classic shimmer effects to be generated with ease, as well as a variety of pitch shifted, evolving ambiences.
ValhallaShimmer is the end result of several years of research, and is highly optimized:
The core pitch shifting algorithm uses randomization to avoid the comb filtering artifacts that can be heard in simpler pitch shifters.
The code has been optimized for SIMD processors, in order to allow the complex algorithm to run while using a small fraction of modern CPUs.
The reverberation algorithm has been designed to work in conjunction with the pitch shifting, to allow for high levels of feedback without compromising stability.
The algorithm works well with cascading multiple instances, both from a signal processing perspective and in terms of the low CPU consumption.
I will be posting more sound examples during the week (earlier examples can be heard here and here). For now, here’s a sound file that showcases the use of ValhallaShimmer for deep ambient sounds. The example uses 4 instances of Shimmer in series, with pitch shifting on 3 of the instances (+/- 12 semitones, +/- 7 semitones, and +/- 5 semitones).
ValhallaShimmer has been released for OSX (AU, VST, RTAS) and Windows (VST). 64-bit Audio Units, 64-bit Windows VST, and Windows RTAS will be coming soon.
I was playing around with 8 instances of the new plugin, ValhallaShimmer, in series, processing the same harp loop used in the earlier example. Here’s what came out:
The sound hasn’t been edited – the fading in and out is a natural consequence of cascading multiple instances of this algorithm. This can be viewed as the Central Limit Theorem in action. In signal processing terms, this means that cascading a whole bunch of similar filters will result in an impulse response that approximates a Gaussian curve.
A single instance of the plugin as used to generate this effect sounds like this (with wet/dry mix set to 50%):
The plugin by itself can be set up to produce a Gaussian attack and decay, where the sound fades in over a few seconds:
However, cascading several instances produces a more dramatic version of the same effect. To me, it sounds very similar to the sounds obtained by extreme time stretching.
Progress continues on the plugin. It is in the hands of beta testers, and I am resolving the bugs that are coming up. I hope to make an official announcement in the next few days.
EDIT: I just made the first announcement of the new plugin, ValhallaShimmer. Check it out here.
The following clip shows some of the different modes of my upcoming plugin, ValhallaShimmer:
A brief summary of what is going on:
The clip begins with harp recorded in a fairly echo free environment
At 0:24, the mix control on the plugin is set to about halfway. The plugin is currently producing a fairly large reverb sound.
At 0:48, the feedback control on the plugin is turned up. This results in a much longer reverb sound. It is kinda subtle in this context.
At 1:13, the Pitch Mode of the plugin is set to “single,” with the pitch shift set at +12 semitones. This produces the classic “shimmer” sound that I have talked about in earlierblogposts, and that featured heavily in Eno / Lanois productions and many classic U2 tracks.
At 1:38, the harp loop ends, and the “shimmer” reverb decays away. Notice that the reverb increases in pitch as it decays.
In the next few days, I’ll be going into more details about the upcoming plugin. For now, I’m burning the midnight oil in front of the compiler.