I wiggled the Nyborg 12, here are my thoughts

Introduction

I have slimmed down my workspace by shedding some weight in terms of analog synth gear, but I still have a soft spot for physical knobs and I will always want a solid analog instrument on my desk.

On that note, I looked around for what my next analog synth should be, and there was one that really stood out for me, the Analogue Solutions Nyborg 12. The thing that caught my eyes, besides the well rounded specs, was the fantastic design and form factor. Like something taken straight from the set of a 50s sci-fi movie I pictured it towering on my desk with its LFO led slowly pulsing…

Right??? Yes, awesome indeed!

Still it’s a pricey piece of kit, so I wanted to actually ‘play’ it for a while to get a feel before I pulled the trigger, and here are my initial thoughts after wiggling with it for about 20min in the store.

Impressions

nyborg-12-rightYes, the design is fantastic, including the font and color scheme, size and slight inclination of the font panel.

Ergonomically it’s a great kit to work with. Knobs are large and easy to grip and the placement of the patch points along the top makes it easy to connect to the outside world without cables cluttering up the whole front panel.

(You really wish the Dark Energy from Doepfer would take a cue here…)

The whole unit is also a lot lighter in weight than you might think, which at first had me worried that it would tip over. Turns out the wider base is enough to support it though, and you can flip the front panel over and lay it down flat on your desk if that suits your taste.

Soundwise the filter (SEM style, 12dB, multimode) sounds every bit as nice as you would expect. Friendly, warm and creamy, especially the LP. It does lack some of the biting quality of a Moog style 24dB filter, but that’s not what the Nyborg is trying to deliver. If you want that you want another synth.

The oscillators I found to be very well behaved. Suffering perhaps a little from the same somewhat constrained qualities (a bit tame?) as I often hear in DSI instruments like the Tetra and the Prophet 12. (Yes, I know those use DCOs and not VCOs, but to my ears they sounded similar for some reason.)

The build quality was OK but not as stellar as Analogue Solutions like to tote on their website. Potentiometers felt a bit wobbly and the casing was not 100% sealed in the edges meaning dust could easily find its way in. Could just be that the unit I wiggled had stood in the store for a while and taken some abuse…

Conclusions

front-flatI’m sure there’s an audience for the Nyborg and that in the right hands it can and will sound great, but for me it was not that immediate fit that I had hoped for.

I had a hard time dialling away the metallic cleanliness which I did not expect to find in an all analog instrument like this, and the build quality just didn’t feel as solid as I had wished for.

Still, it’s a fantastic instrument if this is what your looking for, and there’s a good chance me and the Nyborg might meet again. Perhaps then the stars will align and it could be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship…


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How to cycle between open windows in Cubase (on a Mac)

I’ve seen a lot of people asking in forums and on other sites how to cycle focus between your open windows in Cubase. Since Cubase will process your keyboard shortcuts in the window that currently has focus, keeping track of where you are in the DAW becomes essential for a fast and smooth workflow.

On a PC you can step through an applications open windows using Alt+Tab, but on Mac its not that simple. So, here’s how I solved it for my setup.

First open up the Keyboard settings.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.56.49

Next witch to the Shortcuts tab at the top of the settings window.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.57.46

Next find the group called Keyboard, and the setting called ‘Move focus to the next window’.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.58.07

I  have it set to Command+=, which at least in my english installation of Yosemite does not collide with any other setting.

Voila! Your all set cycle through your open windows using the keyboard. One less annoyance to slow down your workflow.

5 Tips for a faster Cubase workflow. Spoiler: its all about the keyboard!

Recently I switched from Logic Pro X to Cubase Pro 8, and immediately saw my productivity cut in half. The reason? The loss of familiar keyboard shortcuts.

After working with Live and Logic for a few years I had gotten really comfortable not using the mouse to click around the UI, but after switching to Cubase suddenly all that convenience was gone.

Here’a a list of 5 immediate shortcut tips that will speed up your workflow if you find yourself in the same situation.

1. Find the key commands for zooming in and out in the project window

In Cubase this means G and H for zooming in and out horizontally and Shift+G, Shift+H for vertical zoom. Also, try Shift+F for setting the zoom to show the entire project. The same shortcuts also work in the MIDI piano roll.

2. Switch editing tools via the keyboard and not through the UI

By default, Cubase Pro 8.5 has the Select, Draw, Erase and so on set to keys 1-8. Only problem is they are not mapped in the order the Tools are shown int he UI toolbar. Using the Key Commands editor in the file menu you can change this to map to the UI.

Another useful tip is that you can hold down the Option key in the MIDI piano roll to momentarily switch to the Draw tool, making it faster to switch between drawing in notes and editing them.

3. Learn the shortcuts for transport commands

IMG_448732073Cubase has play start/stop mapped to the space bar, but there are a ton of other shortcuts to speed up your flow. Some of my favourites include Num1 to set the loop range to the current selection, Num/ to enable or disable loop playback and Num.  to return to 1.1.1.0.

As you can see the transport controls are usually mapped to the Numeric keyboard, so I got a USB 10 key from Goldtouch hooked up as a poor man’s DAW control surface. Highly recommended.

4. Learn to show / hide and switch between windows

In Live you have the Session vs. Arrangement view, in Logic the Mixer and Project windows, but Cubase probably has the most flexible windows management of all the DAWs I’ve tried.

The Media Bay (F5), Mixer (F3) and Transport panel (F2) are all mapped to the function keys, but you should also consider mapping the Key Editor to one of the F Keys.

5. Add, remove and toggle track configurations

You can use the arrow keys to navigate up, down and across the events and tracks in your project. When a track has focus, M and S will mute and solo respectively. Combine with the loop transport controls for easy playback focus and control.

You should also configure shortcuts for adding and deleting tracks, as well as hiding and showing them again. I have + mapped to insert a new Instrument track, and Numeric Clear mapped to removing the selected track.

Hopefully these tips will speed up your workflow and let you navigate Cubase faster. Do you have any other shortcuts that you can’t live without? Share them in the comments!

New Track: If you take my hand

Lately I’ve listened a lot to 80s synth pop, so when Native Instruments released the Neon Drive expansion for Maschine I immediately jumped on it. The track below was sequenced entirely in Maschine using only sounds from Neon Drive.

However, once I was done with the basic structure I got frustrated by the limited support for automation and mixing in the Maschine DAW, so I recreated the entire track in Cubase instead using the midi patterns from the Maschine project and the same sounds and presets. Super interesting and educational process btw…

This was supposed to be the February track, but I was delayed by the whole detour through Cubase… :) I’m thinking about adding a vocal track as well, but I also felt ‘done’ with it for now, so here goes.

Any comments and feedback is as always greatly appreciated.

Quick review of Neon Drive Expansion for Maschine

IMG_2971Native Instruments released a new expansion for Maschine today by the (as always awesome) name Neon Drive. Neon Drive promises ‘a cascade of lush chords, pads, enraptured melody, and distinct retro drums’ that will ‘teleport through 80s production techniques and arrive in the future’, and it certainly does not disappoint.

I’ve been dabbling in 80s pop sounds for a while now so getting this one was a no-brainer.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the included drum kits and one shots. The kits and individual hits really brings back the 80s in style, while at the same time feeling fresh and up to date. My favourite so far is the Neon Lights kit.

Moving on to the instruments, those sounds really good too. I’m especially impressed by the basses and the pads, not so excited by the leads. Don’t get me wrong, the leads sound good too, but you can cook up most of them in Massive without too much tweaking.

In all I haven’t been this excited about a Machine expansion since Pulswerk came out like 2 years ago and I really recommend you checkout this one if you are into synthpop, and especially the 80s / early 90s sound.

Neon Drive comes with:

  • 8 projects
  • 40 Drum Kits
  • 297 Drum Samples
  • 359 Oneshot Samples
  • 268 Patterns

Leave a comment if you have any questions.