We’ve got a new pack for you, Super Awesome Sounds, featuring samples of the Casio SA-20 Keyboard. This was my first instrument as a kid and thus has a very nostalgic place in my heart, so i recently re-acquired one and went nuts sampling its 100 patches and making instrument and drum racks for ableton live out of them (plus audio effect racks inspired by them), using the amalgamation of my accumulated knowledge over the years to create the most refined PerforModule instrument pack to date.
Since it seemed to fit nicely with his existing collection which includes quite a lot of 80s- and 90s-esque sensibilities, i’ve teamed up with Brian Funk to release the pack. We talked about it as well as various other random topics on his show, the Music Production Podcast. Many thanks to Mr. Funk for having me on, always an interesting and insightful time.
There is a free version of the pack as well as the full version linked below, which can be currently had for just $6 by joining Brian’s Music Production Club this month (along with a bunch of other cool stuff). That’s a sweet deal! The MPC is a great way to acquire a constant influx of goodies into your inbox every month for a very accessible sum, so that even poor, cheap bastards like me can afford it. It’s rad! The price for Super Awesome Sounds is otherwise $15, itself a tubular deal considering the vast assortment of wonderful gadgetry it contains within.
•Includes recorded samples of all keys of all 100 patches of the original keyboard.
•99 Melodic Instrument Racks.
•5 Drum Racks.
•Each instrument carefully custom-crafted with bespoke effects and parameter ranges.
•All sounds gainstaged for consistent playback levels.
•Start, End, and Loop points optimized to sample precision per slice.
•Expanded functionality far beyond that of the original keyboard patches.
•Help Info Text for Macros on mouseover.
•4-voice polyphony, in line with the original unit.
•35 standalone bespoke Audio Effect Racks + 2 MIDI Effect Racks.
•Macro Control Parameters Fine-Tuned Per Instrument_
The minimum, maximum, and default values for each parameter are carefully fine-tuned in an OCD fashion, to strategically optimize pleasurable end results and avoid any possibility of settings which are redundant or unhelpful. This makes all of the macros for each instrument unique, with each control operating slightly differently for each instrument, leading to a sense of reverent respect that highlights their quirky individualities.
•Speaker Bust: custom circuit drive, shaper drive, and signal flow optimized by ear and peak meter, per instrument. This can add quite a lot of perceived loudness while actually lowering the peak level.
•Top End / Tone: Custom Low-Cut, High-Cut, and complex Shelf and Bell Equalization optimized by average rms frequency analysis and ear, per instrument, presented in a single knob that can be used to morph between custom low or high boost, with neutrality in the center. Each of these has also been made into a Toner rack, so that the morphable 1-knob EQ shapes can be applied to anything, anytime.
•Attack customized by ear, according to each instrument’s waveform peculiarities.
•Release / Sustain / Tail: Custom decay, sustain, and release timings and curvature, optimized by ear, according to each instrument’s waveform peculiarities.
•Limit Quash Ceiling: Since these instruments can jump in level quite dramatically when overlapping multiple sustained notes, each rack includes a built-in limiter which let you set the output ceiling exactly where you want it. The ever-critical release value of the limiter has been pre-set for each instrument, optimized according to the waveforms for the most natural responivity. Some racks don’t have a macro for this to make room for an extra bonus control, but in these cases you can still unfold and adjust the threshold if needed. By default, the ceiling is set to -3dB, which allows for a good degree of dynamic flexibility while still keeping too-loud errant peaks under control.
•Bonus FX Macro Controls: Each rack includes one to two custom bonus controls, which affect a special effect unique to that one or only some of the instruments. Many of these are also included in the pack as standalone Audio Effect Racks which can be applied to anything, anytime.
Some example include:
•”Flutter”: the woodwind style instruments feature a “flutter” macro which instills volume tremolo, fine-tuned with optimized shapes, timings, and onsets differing for each.
•”Obnoxious” and “Sickly Sweet”: two different flavors of insane, sculptable distortion that can transform any instrument into a scorching lead.
•”Tremo-Room”: A leslie-esque tremolo coupled with room tone that lends a quaint, vintage vibe.
•”Piano Room” and “Saloon Room”: multiband reverb, with each bandpassed band pitchshifted slightly differently to evoke the chromatic rub that adjacent piano strings can sympathetically produce.
•”Δ Vibrato”: Triangular, digital vibrato. Because!
•”Creepy Delay”: Accordions can be pretty creepy, right, in that carvinal of horrors sort of fashion? A non-creepy delay would have been inappropriate, methinks…
•O.G. vs FullScale Playback: O.G. gives you the original gamut of notes sampled directly from the keyboard, ranging from F2 to C5. You can expand this range if you’d like, however, accessing the full range of General MIDI notes (from C-2 to G8). When doing so, notes below or above the original range will play pitch-shifted versions of the nearest note.
•Built-in Delay Layers: Some of the SA-20 instruments have a really weird and unprecedented responsiveness, whereby holding down a note makes it decay into silence forthright and yet the opposite action, pressing a note quickly and immediately letting go, allows the note to sustain out, also producing a built-in series of echo repeats. After much experimentation it was deemed ideal to record both types of key presses and to build the ability to fade between them into the rack (thereby enabling a pseudo “delay wet amount” control). These built-in delay lines have baked-in, nonadjustable timings, which means that you just have to deal with them and either use them or not, just like the original keyboard. However, if enabling FullScale Mode, the notes below and above the original range will have their delay times respectively time-stretched or time-compressed based on distance from the original tone… which can be interesting in its own way. For these instruments that have a built-in delay layer, an additional one or more custom-crafted delay line macros have also been added in to augment and supplement the original delay, with timing parameters that meld harmoniously.
•Ultra-high Quality, Space-Optimized Samples: The samples were all recorded and processed at 176.4kHz, enough to capture well beyond all of the perceptible ultrasonic noise and aliasing peculiarities contained in the original tones, allowing these instruments to be used in high resolution projects with a pristine audio landscape without compromise. Additionally, each sample bank has had all moments of useless silence manually stripped out to sample precision, resulting in no wasted disk space.
•Perfect Loop Points: With a neurotically fastidious attention to detail, the Start, End, and Loop points of sampler playback have been manually adjusted to sample precision, per note, per instrument. This results in as smooth as possible endless sustain when holding down notes, eliminating or minimizing the phasing and swelling artifacts that can occur when using crossfades to set loop regions on complex waveforms.
That’s it for today. Stay safe. Don’t take any shit from anyone, but also don’t shit on anyone.