z Gear Stories episode 43

Gear Stories 43 Making BRAND NEW Sounds / Making Classic Old Sounds!

Hey folks, It’s another edition of Gear stories for your enlightenment and enjoyment! Here are the rules… If you don’t want to get this once every month or so, let me know and I will unsubscribe you… but try it first… you might like it!

The ever popular “Deconstructed Song” will return next month, due to web site issues… so be patient with me!

This month, I am talking about two pretty new products, one very affordable, the other a bit more on the high end, but BOTH make amazing sounds in amazing new ways…

Part One… Izotope IRIS… Making BRAND NEW SOUNDS in a BRAND NEW WAY!

When you think about it, that’s a pretty big claim! Brand New Sounds. With the synthesizers and virtual instruments that have been developed in the last few decades, one could easily echo the sentiments of up and coming novelists who say there are no new stories… We have instruments like Omnisphere and Evolve that push the limits of the capabilities of synthesis and sampling. We have plug ins like Sound Toys that challenge convention and make new effects… so what does it take to say we can make brand new sounds? Have all the sounds that can exist already been heard?

Not by a long shot!

All it took was a completely new approach to sample manipulation and synthesis! Enter IRIS, by the good folks at Izotope that have brought us many of the great audio processing plug ins we know and love like Ozone mastering software, RX audio restoration, and Nectar vocal processing!

Izotope has never entered into the virtual instrument realm until now, and they did it in such a new way by combining traditional sampling with their unique take on signal processing… I hope I’m not sounding too academic here.

Let me put it this way… When they released RX for audio restoration, they introduced a brand new way to LOOK at sound! The picture of the sound in the graphic user interface was so different from any other that had come before, it was revolutionary! That same view is the way you look at the sound in IRIS!

Lets say you have a recording of yourself singing a single note… nothing special… you have made sure it’s in tune, and of a nice duration… then you can take that single sound file and drag and drop it into the interface of IRIS, and BOOM! iris automatically maps it to the right note on your keyboard and puts up a picture of the sound spectrum that shows detail WAY beyond what you would see looking at it in a window in Pro Tools. You see the wave form on many levels, showing all the overtones and dynamic intensity of the sound across the spectrum… and THEN, you can REALLY start to mess with it.

Here’s where things get unique… You can start to draw pictures in the spectrum… The filters of the processing are controlled by lines that you draw with your mouse! You can select various frequencies in the spectrum and filter them out or let them pass… It’s really hard to imagine until you see it, so you should watch the videos… they can be seen here…


But let me give you this one written description. In the preset menu, there is a sound called “Ghost Ship” I have no idea what the source material for it is, but in the screen, there is a little cartoon like drawing of a pirate ship… and because of what that filtering does to the original sample, the sound is chilling, and spooky, and modulates in a way that sounds downright Ghostly! (And even “Shippy”…) The texture is undulating, and would be perfect for film sound design in a scene where the ghost ship was just barely appearing out of a bank of fog, and you weren’t sure if it were there or not….

You can use three samples, each manipulated separately, combined simultaneously, to create complex textures and sounds that you have absolutely never heard before. And this is brand new technology… newly released. I have just begun to experiment with it myself, but it seems that you could take three samples and literally make hundreds of sounds… imagine how limitless the possibilities could be.

I must warn you, that if you are looking for a virtual instrument for your computer that has a nice piano, organ, brass, and string sound bank, then IRIS is NOT for you! They didn’t make it for that… though I imagine, you could do somethings that were reminiscent of strings or piano… I actually heard a sound in the “Glass” library presets that kind of sounded like a toy piano on prozac!

If you are looking for ways to create new and unique sonic environments for modern music, or for sound design to go along with visuals, then this is a MUST HAVE!

Iris has been made available for an introductory LOW price of $149, for a short time… but there is a bundle with a few extra libraries called “Glass” and “Wood” that can be had with it for an extra $50, coming to a temporary incredible sale price of $199! They are a totally worth it add on!

“Glass” is atmospheric and subtle… spooky and moody. “Wood” is aggressive, percussive, and full of sounds that are downright sonic bullying! They expand the palette of Iris nicely, and I’m glad I have both of them.

You must watch the demo videos. When IRIS was introduced to us at Sweetwater, instantly I wanted it! I could hardly wait until it was released! I know that if you are into creating sounds that express your own character rather than just grabbing the same sounds that have been used hundreds and thousands of times before, you will LOVE it! And right now, for a limited time, it is available at an incredible price!

Part Two: the Kemper Profiling Amp. Making Classic Old Sounds in a Brand New Way!

If there is one thing I know about guitarists it is the more sounds they can make with their guitars, the better! In the past, you had an amp that made a particular type of sound, and if you wanted to have a completely different sound, you had to have a different amp. For session guys, they had to haul around a Fender and a Marshall and a Mesa Boogie and who knows what all else to a session if you wanted to capture these different characters. It was a real drag!

Then came “modeling” in which amplifiers would imitate the sound of other amp with electronics. Line6 came out with the “Pod” and that opened the floodgates until it seemed every company was implementing their own brand of amp and effect modeling, each with varying degrees of success.

Just like with technology that becomes popular and often imitated, we became jaded because the cheaper versions of that technology are not very good, and it gives us a negative reaction to the term itself… Pretty soon, in some circles, “Amp Modeling” became a four letter word… (which made it really hard to pronounce!) And people have sought out the originals again, because the models never really measured up to the originals, which then takes us back to the original problem of hauling around a different heavy amp for every sound we wanted to get.

Then came the people from Kemper! Just like Izoptope taking a whole new approach to sampling/synthesis, Kemper has taken a brand new approach to amp modeling. Instead of trying to digitally recreate the circuitry of classic amps, they took a cue from the people who came up with what is referred to as “Convolution Reverb” Instead of modeling a reverb in a room, they actually recorded the reverb of a room by shooting an impulse sound through the room, and then electronically phasing out the impulse sound and then sampling the way that the room responds to that impulse!

Kemper applied that same concept to the Profiling Amp… When you get your amp, it comes with a nice selection of presets, but lets say that you have a classic amp that you got at a garage sale for ten bucks and somebody had taken razor blades to the speaker making it sound just right for the punk band you play with… but you are afraid a few more gigs and the paper will fall right off of the speaker frame… You can simply set up that amp and mic it up and connect it to the Kemper and follow the simple instructions and in a few minutes, the Kemper will have created a profile of that amplifier so accurate that if you close your eyes you will not be able to hear which is which! It even makes the amp respond to the players dynamics which gives you the feel and touch of the original amp… (That last bit has long been the complaint about “Amp Modeling” – it might come close to the sound at a certain setting, but it doesn’t respond like the original amp does to the variations in your playing)

The reason this works is because the way the Kemper created the profiles, it captures the way the amp responds to impulses, and then recreates that response to your playing, loud or soft… dirty or clean… You can add gain, or reduce gain, which you couldn’t really do with a great degree of accuracy on “modeled” amps.

One other absolutely SUPER Thing about the Kemper Profiling amp is that there is a community of players out there that are beginning to share their unique profiles. Shortly after its release, hundreds of users had already posted profiles of their amps that anyone could download for free! So now, you can take a HUGE truckload of classic vintage amps with you on your gig, in one hand! Many are saying that this is absolutely the best system that has ever been created for recreating amazing, classic amps.

And I want to make it a little more enticing for you, so from now until the next Gear Stories comes out, for anyone who buys a Kemper profiling amp from me, I will throw in the custom bag (which sells for $124) for free!

Take a look at them on our site and then give me a call and get yours on the way!


Until next time! I look forward to being of service.

Jon Gillespie, Sweetwater Sales Engineer
800 222 4700 x 1352
260 432 8176 x 1352 (outside the U.S.)
260 432 1758 FAX
[email protected]

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