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Another new Tracktion release: ABYSS (by developer Dawesome) - 40% off over at AudioDeluxe (ends 12/9)

doctoremmet

Senior Member
So, Tracktion are running an extended 4th of July sale, and I happened to notice they released yet another new synth - after recently giving us their FM monster f.’em.

It is called ABYSS and has been developed by a “new kid on the block”, Dawesome (Peter V.)

This one’s interesting. A very nice looking UI lets you pick various “tone colours” from an indeed very cool looking and colourful “grid” and place a number of them in a 2D gradient, where you can sort of spectrally crossfade between them. There’s some modulation capabilities and that’s it. Refreshingly simple, and that’s what makes it weirdly attractive to me. Well, that and the fact that it is very much developed with a Roli Seaboard in mind. Plus, the demos sound kind of... nice? A bit like IRIS perhaps, some vaporwave-esque tones in there I think?

Anyway... I am curious if any of you have done some research, used the 90 day free demo or have perhaps bought this one. The developer has explained some of the architecture in the dedicated KVR thread, but I don’t think I have fully grasped the concept yet. I THINK I did see @Fleer in the comments? Any thoughts?

Any input would be appreciated. Colour me intrigued. Price (with 40% discount) is $77 - which may be a bit steep? (Ends friday July 9, 2021).

ADDED:
There is a way to still get a 30% discount (ends August 15, 2021). Check post #82 in this thread
 
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Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Well, I did get it and I do like it a lot as I love pads, particularly of the organic persuasion. And I also love its GUI, which is part of what I wish for in any synth: a visual user experience that befits its sonic signature. Very well done, this one.
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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Thanks guys. Would you say the sound and workflow brings something new to the table?
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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where you can sort of spectrally crossfade between them
@Fleer @Dr.Quest Is this a correct assumption? Or does that coloured 2D "strip" represent some other form of sound mangling? Is it "simply" a crossfade? Would love to have a slightly better grasp, but do not have the time to demo at the moment. Any input is much appreciated!
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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This is what the developer (Peter) posted on KVR, but I am having a hard time understanding this without having had any actual exposure to the synth yet:

“Thanks for the interest! The topic is a bit complex ... hence the answer is a bit long:

Every single tone-colour is a spectral model. These models have been derived from natural samples. This has a couple of benefits: the models capture the fluctuations of natural sounds, hence they sound very organic and have a nice texture. At the same time they are not fixed samples, but can be modified. In the current version you can add / remove detail, add "musical" noise which is specifically tuned to the tonecolour, increase the fluctuations or make the sound static like an oscillator voice. This is just the tip of the iceberg - the models are quite flexible and other parameters may be added in later versions (if there is interest). The underlying spectral model used in Abyss is based on my own research and is in many aspects different from the usual "STFT" or harmonic+noise+residual approaches.
Careful listeners here in the forum suspected that the engine is based on samples. That is also true to some extent: the spectral model is quite CPU intensive, but I wanted Abyss to be less demanding on CPU. Hence when you click / select any tone-colour the spectral model is rendered into a multisample, so when playing the synth these multi-samples are played back. With more and more CPU available I will at some point extend the technology to work directly on the spectral models. This will allow realtime modulations of the spectral model. But you can achieve this with ease in Abyss already today: simply put multiple variations of tone colours on the gradient - there is no practical limit on how many tone-colours you place on the gradient. In practice I have rarely needed more than a handful tone colours to make even the smoothest transitions.
The tone-colours are sorted into the 2D "surf" area with help of an "artificial hearing model". Based on this model sounds that are similar are placed close to each other and also have similar tone colour. However, your inner representation of sounds is not two dimensional! Actually the way our ears and brains resolve and understand timbre is quite amazing and fascinating topic, and an active area of research. We know for sure that our inner representation of sound has at least 20 dimensions, probably more. So any projection onto two or three dimensions will necessarily place different tone colours close to each other. This is bad for scientific approach of remodelling sound, but for creative sound design I think it is even a feature: the 2D map _roughly_ places similar timbres in proximity, but not with mathematical precision, hence you have many pleasant surprises. Also "surfing" the map is so speedy that you can "browse" through dozens of sounds in matter of seconds, which is fun and effective at the same time.

I hope this demystifies the technology.”
 

Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Seems a good description, but I haven’t played with it enough to guide you, dr. E, as I’ll only be able to do so next week. I got it on a hunch, visually and sonically, but I’m no synth buff I’m afraid. More like a preset pusher.
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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Cheers, much appreciated anyway! I may do the same, although I suspect Cherry Audio will release their take on the Memorymoog next week as well, and I did just get soundDUST’s Soviet Synthfundibulum as well. So I’m beginning to feel getting YET another synth would be ridiculous at this point. It’s the unique approach and the GUI that makes this one more attractive than the N’th “hardware emulation” I guess. I think this could be one of those instant-gratification instruments, especially when paired with my Roli stuff.
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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Interesting talk about the synth’s architecture, from the 38m time mark onwards. I STILL do not completely understand the concept yet, but getting there...
 

kgdrum

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Am I the only person that isn’t comfortable with Tracktion’s extremely limited time period that they offer introduction pricing?
I might be late to the party but it seems like it’s always a few days. For me with this one I’m just hearing about Abyss today, I need more time especially with a synth that utilizes new synth architecture.
I wish Tracktion gave people something like a 2 week introduction pricing on new products,I suspect they’d have more sales.
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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I hear you. On the other hand...
You CAN demo their stuff unrestricted for 90 days. They pretty much do a 40% / 50% off sale every four months (spring, 4th of july and BF), so arguably the only annoying thing could be you have to wait a month or maybe six weeks before you can grab one of their synths (after the intro price that is) after the trial period. Which isn’t THAT bad either ;)
 

Dr.Quest

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The cross fading is quite clever and sounds kind of mystical in a granular sort of way. I don’t have anything that sounds exactly like it and nothing with a workflow like this one. Seems worth it for the intro price for sure.
 

rrichard63

Perpetual Novice
This is what the developer (Peter) posted on KVR, but I am having a hard time understanding this without having had any actual exposure to the synth yet:

“Thanks for the interest! The topic is a bit complex ... hence the answer is a bit long:

Every single tone-colour is a spectral model. These models have been derived from natural samples. This has a couple of benefits: the models capture the fluctuations of natural sounds, hence they sound very organic and have a nice texture. At the same time they are not fixed samples, but can be modified. In the current version you can add / remove detail, add "musical" noise which is specifically tuned to the tonecolour, increase the fluctuations or make the sound static like an oscillator voice. This is just the tip of the iceberg - the models are quite flexible and other parameters may be added in later versions (if there is interest). The underlying spectral model used in Abyss is based on my own research and is in many aspects different from the usual "STFT" or harmonic+noise+residual approaches.
Careful listeners here in the forum suspected that the engine is based on samples. That is also true to some extent: the spectral model is quite CPU intensive, but I wanted Abyss to be less demanding on CPU. Hence when you click / select any tone-colour the spectral model is rendered into a multisample, so when playing the synth these multi-samples are played back. With more and more CPU available I will at some point extend the technology to work directly on the spectral models. This will allow realtime modulations of the spectral model. But you can achieve this with ease in Abyss already today: simply put multiple variations of tone colours on the gradient - there is no practical limit on how many tone-colours you place on the gradient. In practice I have rarely needed more than a handful tone colours to make even the smoothest transitions.
The tone-colours are sorted into the 2D "surf" area with help of an "artificial hearing model". Based on this model sounds that are similar are placed close to each other and also have similar tone colour. However, your inner representation of sounds is not two dimensional! Actually the way our ears and brains resolve and understand timbre is quite amazing and fascinating topic, and an active area of research. We know for sure that our inner representation of sound has at least 20 dimensions, probably more. So any projection onto two or three dimensions will necessarily place different tone colours close to each other. This is bad for scientific approach of remodelling sound, but for creative sound design I think it is even a feature: the 2D map _roughly_ places similar timbres in proximity, but not with mathematical precision, hence you have many pleasant surprises. Also "surfing" the map is so speedy that you can "browse" through dozens of sounds in matter of seconds, which is fun and effective at the same time.

I hope this demystifies the technology.”
I confess to not understanding very much of this, but it sounds like "spectral modeling" is something new. Are there other "spectral modeling" synthesizers that I might have heard of?

@Fleer compares Abyss to Iris and Pigments in terms of sound. Does that mean the algorithms are similar? Or is Abyss truly sui generis?
 

Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Don’t go that far, my dear. Not because it ain’t so, but because I still have to dive in next week. As for now I’m enamored with its visual and sonic preset prowess :)
 
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doctoremmet

doctoremmet

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I confess to not understanding very much of this, but it sounds like "spectral modeling" is something new. Are there other "spectral modeling" synthesizers that I might have heard of?

@Fleer compares Abyss to Iris and Pigments in terms of sound. Does that mean the algorithms are similar? Or is Abyss truly sui generis?
True spectral processing is at the core of IRIS2, Steinberg Padshop and Unfiltered Audio’s SpecOps plugin for instance. So there are absolutely “spectral filtering” synths on the market.

What I’ve understood from some of Peter’s written explanation is that the spectral modeling is at the heart of the “colours pane” that allows you to pick multiple “tones” (waveforms) and put them on the 2D “crossfading strip”. People were wondering whether those tones (there are ca. 2000 of them) are samples. This is apparently not the case. The tones are coded in the form of “spectral models” and once you pick a tone, the synth “renders” a set of multi-samples (waveforms) across the keyboard apparently. The tones can be shaped by dialing down the “detail” that’s in the spectral model - but only BEFORE the waveforms get “rendered out” it seems (so that’s not something one can modulate). Then there’s moving the “playhead” over the strip with tones (over time, modulated by LFOs or an envelope, or other controller - e.g. modwheel or other MPE-controlled CC), and applying a pretty regular sounding filter - and applying an envelope on VCA and that’s about it. So I wouldn’t say ABYSS is a very complicated synth, in terms of architecture, and it doesn’t resemble Pigments, Padshop et al in terms of features. Far from it, I’d argue - which for me is part of the appeal (I also OWN all of the others haha, so there’s that).

I think Fleer was trying to give me some “sonic ballpark” and mentioned Iris and Pigments as a sort of reference points (helpful!) and did not mean to imply this synth is on the same plane feature-wise. Which it isn’t nor does it aim to be.

Again, the main appeal seems to be the simplicity, the GUI, the fact it let’s you make your own expressive MPE patches fast, and the sound character. Which solely based on the few patches I hear in the demos is rather geared towards “organic sounding rather noisy rich pads”. Maybe it’s a one trick pony, who knows? That’s why I am gauging fresh users and I am trying to lure the developer himself to this thread ;)
 
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Fleer

Feeding the Trolls
Indeed, it does sound quite special on its own, best described as “organic pads and drones” somewhat similar to sonic aspects of Iris and Pigments. But I definitely wanted this in my toolbox as it sounds the part, looks the part, and seems much more straightforward than the two I mentioned. Glad to read that it’s even more special underneath by that dedicated developer.
 
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