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Step sequencers
odo seeq one

OdO's SeeqOne V2 is a fascinating sequencer synth, devoted to techno music, which produces rather wild, distorted, agressive and juicy sequences. 3 Osc, 5 filters, 2 Lfo, several effects like delay, distorsion, and five 16 step sequencers that can modulate almost everything. First-class interface.


dream sequencer

Dream Sequencer by Dream Vortex Studio is a little and easy to use 8 step sequencer with only 1 Osc, 1 envelope, 1 filter and 1 echo, but it sounds clear, clean, deep and works fine. Very good for 70's space music sequences (Tangerine Dream for example, as they say on the site). It is host synchronized, but, unfortunetly, it has no "hold" button.


capsuleCapsule by Mu-Station is a toy-looking 16 step sequencer, but it sounds good. One VCO with 7 waveforms with a nice "noise", 1 filter, sync mode, speed modulation, rather complete and separate editing for each step (tune, length, volume, pan). A delay gives some relief to the sequences that can be played in 4 modes : step, hold force, hold retrig and arpeggio. In order to edit each step, just click on the red circle with the number of the one you want to adjust, and all the parameters are on the middle circle of the soft... A cool thing.


Sequin by Andy M, is a small synthedit-made 16 step sequencer coming with 2 pannels that can be easily set. it has a pan and speed adjustment and an efficient "fat" button that produce clean, straight and punchy sequences and leads. No "hold" button.
Arlequin is the same thing, but polyphonic.


TS-404 alias Transistor Synth 404 is an old and efficient standalone TB-303-like 16 step sequencer. On the main panel you find 2 Osc, 1 Lfo, 1 envelope, 1 filter, 1 delay and 1 distortion (and more), but you can add other panels with exactly the same features, to make richer sequences. And it works rather fine... The machine is easy to use, and the sound is good. Unfortunetly, no recording tool in it. So you must use an external editor if you want catch the sound...

creakboxCreakbox Bassline by Bioroid is an old commercial emulation of the famous TB-303, and is free since the development stopped in 2004. Bad Boys modified it by adding a multimode filter, a drive, a bass and trebble boost, a disto and a delay. So it is a small monosynth with only 2 waveforms, and a 16 step sequencer that will please to the maniacs who want a software clone of the Roland's machine... Of course, it is much poorer than Rebirth, but it is vst...

Synths for noise
acousmodulesFirst, not an instrument but a whole site : Acousmodules offers dozens of multichannel instruments and effects around multiphonic music (made with synthedit). The GUIs are nice, well finished and everything is free. The man of those fascinating products and site is a musician who makes acousmatic music, and ever produces new things... He gives also many informations, and there is a lot of things to understand and learn on this site. Lastly, the site is in french and in english... Beautiful work.

KX-Synth-x16KX-Synth-X16 by KX77free is inspired by the EMS VCS3 (the Putney, close to the famous Synthi A) and adds some interesting features to it, like a nice modern interface, with a notepad, the ability to change the colour of the background, and especially polyphony, analogue sequencer. The 3 Osc with adjustable response curve and the filter can be controlled with precision from the keyboard, and 256 mini knobs have been added to the matrix. The original ASR envelope is extended to 2 ADSR envelopes, and most of controls have a numerical display for precise adjustment. This typically analogue engine delights lovers and connaisseurs of such mythic synths. Certainly the best free emulation of EMS style synths, that competes with commercial ones. A must have...

synthiaksSynthi Aks by Richard Brooks still beats most of other free emulations of EMS synths, although it is old and no more developed. It is unstable, but it is nice, because its Oscs sound with an analogical grain, rather close to the original machine...

vcs5Vcs5 by Richard Brooks too, has a good analogue texture, and produces amazing sounds close to the original machine, the Vcs3, mixed with a modulation matrix of a sort of ARP 2500. With 2 osc, 1 lfo, 2 envelopes, 1 filter, S&H section, and the matrix, it is unstable and has a bad interface, but it is a nice analogue sounding freeware...

audiobulb sophia

Sophia by Audiobulb is a little thing that is not easy to understand at a first glance, because it is not easy to find the parameters,  but it sounds very nice, and makes good useful noises and atmospheres.
http://www.audiobulb.com/  click on "create" at the top of the page. Or :

atlantis mimic
Atlantis by Jeremy Evers is not especially made for noise and fx sounds, but i think that it is better used in that way, because it has a rather harsh nature, and its random buttons produce some nice weird things... The synth is a monster, with 3 stereo morphing osc, independant width, phase, spread, chorus, tuning, volume, envelope and panning feed into two filters for each, a shaper, a multitap filtered delay, extended routing (almost everything can be modulated by almost everything else), and you can import your waveforms... There are also 2 LFO and 2 envelopes, 4 filters, 1 portamento, and 5 buttons for "randomising" parameters... Not the best sounding synth, but interesting for its unheard sounds.

basic64Basic 64 by De la Mancha is mentioned here only for those who like Commodore 64 and other old 8 bits machines... It is probably the best emulation of that sort of things, with 3 Osc and 4 waveforms, their envelopes, 2 sync Lfo, 6, 8 or 16 bits resolution, an arpeggiator, a multimode filter and so on...
http://lesitedeburnie.free.fr/Host/Delamancha-Basic 64.zip

noized-sineXNoized SineX by EYB, instead of too many synthedit-made bad little crappy noisy freewares, makes really good strange space sounds and other weird noises, with a good sound quality. It has 4 sine Osc with their own tuning, volume, envelope and velocity level, FM, 1 multimode filter, 2 Lfo, 2 envelopes, a 16 step sequencer to make evolutive sounds, and effects like 1 stereo delay, 1 reverb and 1 flanger... Site down, so take it there :



Proppellerheads' Rebirth became free in august 2005, and it is a real bargain, because it is a very good multi-instruments machine, a complete workstation : 2 TB-303, 1 TR-808, 1 TR-909, 1 distortion, 1 delay, 1 compressor, mixing tools, shuffle and so on. You can make complete pieces of music with a very good sound quality, and record them in wave format ! There is so much more to say about Rebirth : see on the Proppellerheads' site, where you will find more than 50 modules and around 4000 songs ! An absolute must-have without any limitation, but standalone... You must register before you download it. win / mac

dreamstation1DreamStation 1 by Audio Simulation is free since Dreamstation 2 appeared on the market, and it is a real bargain, because it sounds very good, powerful and fat.  It is a complete workstation, and you can make your own pieces of music with the integrated 32 tracks sequencer. A 8 channels mixing console is available and you can downmix your work in wave format. There are also effects like delay, chorus, phaser, flanger and reverb. The heart of Dreamstation 1 is the DXi2 synth, a good 3 Osc analogue polysynth. Like Rebirth, it is standalone.

lmmsLMMS or Linux Multi Media Studio is a free and open source clone of FL Studio : it can import FL files and looks a bit like it, with the same spirit and many identical features, like a beat and bassline editor, an easy-to-use piano-roll for editing patterns and melodies, an FX mixer with 64 FX channels, unlimited mixing possibilities with around 60 built in effects and intruments, synths, a version of the excellent ZynAddSubFX (coming with 400 presets), sample and sf2 players, automation and, cherry on the cake, vst import. Everything to make complete tracks that can be exported in wav or ogg formats... win / mac / Linux

msynthMSynth, by Matthias Mayrock, is a small studio with a sequencer, several synths, beat boxes with up to 32 pitchable samples and stereo pan, 1 effect rack with 4 stereo effects among 15 available, 1 mixer console with 4 stereo effect sends, 2 band equalizer and pan, pinao roll, automation, and everything is editable. You can make songs with up to 640 bars (16/32 notes per bar), and export them in wave format. The result is not the best you can get, but it is nice and really usable.

ThedreammachineThe Dream Machine, by H.G. Fortune, is a bit like the Wheel of Fortune series (X-Wheel of Fortune, XoF II, XoF 3, XoF 4, XoF 6), but it has no percussion section, and produces slow evolving soundscapes, and rich complex pads. It "is based on very slow running LFO being used for wavesequencing and sound modulations. There are three parts : Bottom (Bass), Back/Pad and Sparkles providing quite complex atmospheres. Each part has got a 24 step sequencer". In my oponion, it is more fascinating than X-Wheel... The free version can not load sf2, has less parameters, and can not help some voice samples to be heard, but these voices are pretty well integrated in the music... On the site, go to the "download" page, and look the other strange machines.

Absurd machines...
There are strange engines that make music by themselves when they are started, playing by their own hazardous logic. They surround you with more or less atmospheric noises. Love them or hate them.

semutaSemuta by Servovalve takes its name from a famous novel by Frank Herbert, and is exactly the thing described above : its looks like a Hi-tech and mysterious music box that can sound relaxing or irritating, depending on your sensibility. In fact, it contains 99 samples of varied noises, carefully choosen by the electro musicians who made it, and you can adjust tuning, triggering, speed (all 3 parameters can be randomized), and the number of sounds, up to 6 at the same time. But it is Semuta that plays and decides other parameters like effects, in a hazardous way. It can be set in a completely aleatory play mode, becoming a self-acting machine... You can also replace the samples by yours, and discover ever new worlds of ambient music. A fascinating must-have. Standalone. Requires Shockwave. Download : bottom of the page. win / mac
marteleurLe Marteleur, by Servovalve too, works in a similar way, but, like its french name lets you guess (the hammerman), it is made for percussive sounds, and is a sort of complex aleatory drum machnine. The UI is as Hi-Tech and mysterious as Semuta's one, and the 99 samples that are contained in Le Marteleur can also be replaced by yours. It produces rich and original rythmical structures, with varied electro-noise sounds, and plays two tracks simultaneously, that can be adjusted or muted separately. The parameters are esoteric, and you must search to understand... Standalone. Requires Shockwave. Download : bottom of the page. win / mac

soundborbSound borb by Tom Gersic is also an aleatory sample-based instrument, simpler and more monotonous, but interesting. You have control on almost nothing, and the principle is to let it play some samples simultaneously and successively, up to 15, producing more or less varied ambiences, depending on the loaded ensemble. And this is its main interest : with dedicated utilities, you can make your own Borb ensembles, and give them for download. On the second link, you will find around 50 of them...
elogoxa sunra

Sun Ra by Elogoxa is an hypnotizing strange machine that is described as an "Ambient texture generator, based on a dual synthesis engine (1 substractive oscillator + 2 wave players), completed with several randomization options and effects)"... It has a nice and mysterious GUI, and, like WOF, it can not be played, but you can use a keybord to influence the sound, and it is fascinating, though it is less rich than WOF.

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