FXpansion Tremor: Beauty and the Beast
As a sound generator Tremor supplies an in-depth arsenal of dedicated synthesis parameters, high quality effects and a specialised modulation system known as ‘TransMod’. It fuses the sonic punch of new sound design capability with old school analog. Tremor has eight synth engines as its drum/sound generators set out as mixer channels in the ‘Kit’ page which are programmed seperately in the plugins ‘Synth’ page to create Tremor’s unique and distinctive sonic timbres.
Engine’s & Synthesis: Each of the eight synth engines provide access to Tremor’s impressive array of sound creator tools, which include: A special FXpansion DCAM drum Oscillator complete with a bank of wave shaping tools such as – Pitch – Shape – PWM – FM. There is a dedicated ‘Membrane’ shaper to design the harmonic partials of a drum hit, three razor sharp envelopes comprising – Fast (FENV) having a fast attack of 0.5ms – Slow (SENV) with a slow attack of up to 5secs and an Amp envelope that is hard wired to the output signal of the engine in use. A mixer section controls the signal amounts from the Oscillator, a tuned Noise generator and Tremor’s excellent Sub Oscillator which can be set up to 3 octaves below the fundamental. A Filter and Drive section provides 2 distinctive filter types with which to affect frequency ‘Cut-Off’ and’Resonance’ emphasis with the option to saturate an engine’s signal with ‘Drive’ in either Pre or Post fader modes.
Linking Engines: Tremor also allows engines to be linked together up to a maximum of three seperate groups. Linking engine’s will create amazing multi-layered sounds, however, once linked, all the layers in a group will be affected by the same modulation tweaks. Nonetheless, this is a cool feature which adds further dimension to Tremor as an amazing sound design tool.
TransMod: Is a deep and powerful modulation system which animates sounds by targeting Tremor’s synthesis parameters with LFOs, step-automation, sequences and a bank of 4 real-time macro controls (discussed later) per engine. Using ‘TransMod’ is easy. You select the modulation source type – LFO 1 for example – from the bank of button selectors at the foot of Tremor’s ‘Synth’ page then simply tweak the knob or slider of the parameter you wish to modulate. Amounts of modulation per parameter can be controlled in either Uni-polar or Bi-polar mode by right clicking the TransMod source button and choosing from the polar mode options there. After assigning the source to a knob or slider, you can grab the outer portion of a knob and drag upwards to create an arc which adjusts and governs the dynamic range of modulation for that particular parameter. Options to remove modulations are available when you right-click the parameter knob or slider.
Tremor’s FX: A sound generated in any of Tremor’s Synth engines is further sculpted using up to three of the insert FX channels located in the FX sections. Tremor provides a wide range of effect type from: Compressors – Delays – Distortions to Chorus – Reverb and many more. Each effect provides a wealth of presets as well as detailed parameters which can also be modulated using Tremor’s ‘TransMod’ system. A further two effects can be inserted into the signal chain at Tremor’s Master Bus output stage.
A Word On ‘Graphs’: Tremor’s modulation capacity is extended even further using the plugins ‘Graphs’ section. Each engine can be assigned up to 4 different modulation ‘Graphs’ using modulation sources from the ‘TransMod’ section. Modulation values are physically drawn into a graph to affect an engine’s sound source. There are many options in the ‘Graphs’ section which provide a variety of subtle sonic variations as well as a bank of ‘Graph’ preset shapes to be called upon as inserts.
Getting Started – Preset Sounds: Tremor’s sonic potential is showcased in the included suite of presets by a team of elite sound designers. To the upper right of Tremor’s interface are 3 Preset choosers containing: Full Presets – Kit Presets and Drum Presets. A ‘Full Preset’ contains the entire state of the plugin: Kit – Patterns – Mixer – FX etc. ‘Kit Presets’ allow Kits to become interchangeable, meaning; if you like the pattern structure of a particular ‘Full Preset’ but wish to experiment with Tremor’s kit sounds you can by choosing from a collection of kits in the ‘Kit Preset’ menu. ‘Drum Presets’ will then allow you to tweak and customise kits even further by loading and replacing the individual drum sounds of a kit per engine. The option to load ‘Drum Presets’ is also available at the bottom of every mixer channel in the Kit page.
Pre-Mapped Synth Parameters: As mentioned earlier, selected parameters in Tremor’s synth engines can also be assigned to a bank of four Macros on a per engine basis. Each Macro will automatically feature as a tweak knob at the head of the synth’s mixer channel in the plugins Kit page. Tweaking and exploring these parameters provide a terrific amount of sound sculpturing capability directly from within the Kit page and the individual drum mixer channels.
Any of the Pre-Mapped Synth parameters can be mapped and controlled via an external controller using MIDI Mapping page. To hook-up Tremor to a controller device you must first activate Tremor’s MIDI mapping function clicking the icon found at the bottom right of the plugins interface. Next, navigate and choose the MIDI Mapping window at the top right of the interface. Simply select an automation slot and move a knob, switch or slider on your external controller. Tremor will instantly recognise the movement from your MIDI controller and will automatically connect the Synth parameter to your controller device. From here you can record your tweaking performances of the Synth parameters directly into the host DAW and refine to suit using your DAWs editing tools.
Sub-Outputs: The audio outputs of Tremor’s Kit page mixer channels can be assigned to any of the 8 available sub-outputs and configured as seperate audio input tracks in your host DAW where you can apply your own effects.
Sequencing In Tremor: The ability of Tremor’s step sequencer to provide many different ways of creating rhythmic variation within a single pattern is remarkable. Polyrhythmic structures are now possible using Tremors capacity to introduce lane loops within its sequencer window – a refreshing and truly impressive feature! – more to follow:
Pattern Window: Tremor’s sequencer is divided into 8 drum lanes representing the 8 sound engines of a full kit. Rhythm patterns can be created by clicking to add notes as step sequencer cells and right-clicking to delete notes in the drum lanes. The note lengths of a step cell can be adjusted from a value of 1 bar to a range of 1/64 triplets. Patterns can be created and saved individually or as banks containing up to 24 patterns per preset. Each pattern has MIDI note data already assigned and can be triggered using the 24 note range of: C-1 to B0 on a controller keyboard and piano roll.
Poly-Rhythmic Patterns: Now we get to it! This is a highly innovative and powerful feature within Tremor and one that is capable of creating endless variations of polyrhythms based on one pattern alone. The white triangles located to the far right of the sequencer can be dragged out and into the Pattern window to create seperate loop points in each lane of the sequencer. The white arrows act as individual loop markers and increase the repetition of a drum sound within the structure of the embodying pattern itself. Effectively, Tremor can loop individual sounds within a loop!
Inserts & Drag Edits: Tremor also provides an ‘Insert’ chooser menu from which a selection of preset rhythms can be inserted into the drum lanes. These pattern inserts are ideal for providing starting points when composing rhythms or for introducing fresh ideas into existing patterns. Patterns can be nudged left or right within the sequencer to create rhythmic variations and there is an option to dial in variable amounts of ‘swing’ to any pattern. All lanes in the sequencer are clearly labelled as per the 8 drum parts of a full kit.
Those familiar with FXpansion’s Geist will be at home with the concept of ‘Drag Edits’. Above the sequencer is a Drag Edit chooser with 3 options: Velocity – Repeat – Probability. When set to ‘Velocity’ you can alter the velocity value of a note by simply dragging up or down to increase or decrease its value. Choosing ‘Repeat’ allows you to create stutter effects in a sequence by dragging up or down on a note to determine the number of repetitions within the duration of the step cell. ‘Probability’ is another way of creating variations within a rhythm sequence in Tremor. It is a chance based function which allows a percentage value to be input within a sequenced note to determine if that note will trigger in the pattern or not. Again, ‘Probability’ uses the drag up or down to dial in the amount.
Tremor’s diverse output includes classic kicks, snares and claps, organic hats and body-shaking subs alongside futuristic zaps, scrapes and textures. It is much more than a synthesis percussion modeller. It may be viewed as an eight track sound design tool capable of producing multi-layered abstracts that exist only inside Tremor’s sound world deep as it is wide. As a drum machine, rhythm generator and sound design tool Tremor is born from both beauty and of the beast. It does not go quietly into that deep, dark night. It is demanding on CPU and needs a system capable of feeding its hunger. That said, the sound quality of Tremor is unquestionable. The versatility and depth of the plugins synth engines ranging from its warm resonant subs to the sonically crystal clear highs conjure everything you would anticipate in a high quality analog modeled synthesis plugin.
Brought to you courtesy of Soundwrx Digital