Circle Update 2.1.3: Sample accurate modulation, crisper fonts, bug fixes. / Gavin Burke on June 26th


We’re delighted to have a new Circle update ready for download. You know the drill!

Download Now For macOS
Download Now For Windows

Change-log since 2.1.2:

Implemented new host timeline sync for modulations. This is enabled by turning on “host timeline sync” on the bottom bar “settings” page.

Fixed random crash in Live 10.

Defaults to “My Sounds” bank when saving a new preset.

Fixed automation not being recorded in Live and Pro Tools.

Fixed issue with host buffer sizes not being multiples of 32 causing crackles ( found in FL Studio 20 ).

Increased font size on preset display and other interface tweaks. Fonts now render crisper on macOS and Windows.

Fixed crash when sometimes adjusting the delay time in the bottom panel.

Fixed issue with a pitched hum coming from the noise channel of the mixer, this was apparent when the noise module was off, but the mixer channel volume for the noise was not set to zero.

Fixed timing display of arpeggiator, in previous versions the readout was incorrect when displaying BPM synced rates (eg. “2xbpm” was in reality “4xbpm” etc).

Fixed load error in Pro Tools 2018.

Circle 2.1.2 is here, with new presets and more! / Hugh on April 26th

Hey folks, today is a great day - Spring is here, and so is Circle 2.1.2!

The update contains a brand new bank, Analog 2018, where you’ll find 20 rich, multilayered presets which reimagine the retro sounds of the past, bringing them firmly into the present (and beyond). The bank was designed by Tokyo resident C. Shinya, AKA World Bro Sound, whose clear master touch is owed to a championing of Circle since its original release in 2008.

Alongside the new presets we’ve added several new improvements to let you access presets more easily…

- Filter by bank using the top preset browser.
- Keep track of the presets you use most by using the new ‘favourites’ section.
- Simply drag-and-drop folders into the bank browser to add new presets to Circle.

Favourites Screenshot

The update also includes various bugfixes and stability improvements, so make sure to update to enjoy a sturdier version of Circle in your music today.

Last of all, thanks again to the Circle beta testing group, whose efforts we continue to appreciate sincerely. If you’d like to gain access to pre-release versions of Circle, join the community and say hi, any time. We don’t bite!

Download Now For Mac
Download Now For Windows

- Added new ‘Analog 2018′ preset bank
- Fixed sample rate pitch change issue when not running at 44.1kHz
- Fixed crash in Pro Tools
- Fixed occasional silent preset load
- Fixed folder permissions issue on OSX
- Filter by bank in the top preset browser
- Drag and drop in new banks
- ‘Favourite’ presets section added

Circle 2.1.1 is ready for download! / Gavin Burke on February 8th

Circle 2.1.1 update

Since our last update, we’ve been working hard on getting Circle ready for the much anticipated public release of Live 10. We’re happy to announce we are fully tested and working in this latest version of Live. In the process, we’ve also fixed issues with Pro Tools. As always, we’d like to thank all of our diligent beta testers, whose help via our community site has been invaluable.

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks. We’ll also be sending out this update to our Splice users next.

Here are the download links:
Start OSX Download
Start Windows Download

Change-log since 2.1.0

- Updated to latest Juce 5.2 so that we could benefit from a fix that allowed Circle to load correctly as an AAX plug-in in Pro Tools 12
- Genereated both 32 bit and 64 bit version of Circle, so you should be able to load in 32-bit hosts ok.
- Reduced plug-in disk size.
- Updated AAX SDK to the latest version available.
- Added script to fix misnamed presets.
- Fix bug with VST and AU not opening on OSX<10.10
- Works with Live 10.
- Fix activation bug in Live 10.

Studio Focus: Tom Middleton / Hugh on February 2nd

Tom Middleton

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a classically trained electronic musician, sound designer, producer, DJ and remixer, known for pioneering ambient electronic music with Mark Pritchard as Global Communication, Jedi Knights, Secret Ingredients, Reload and Link. My best-known solo projects are as Cosmos and Modwheel.

I’ve toured and performed at clubs and festivals in 49 countries, to audiences as large as 125,000. In the last decade or so I’ve quietly transitioned into consultancy, psychoacoustic research, music and consumer psychology, sound architecture and sound branding. Examples of my current work include applying sonic science to create soundscapes for products, experiences, brands and spaces.

The last 5 years or so has been focused on the R&D of relaxation and sleep soundscapes, particularly in the hospitality sector. You can check some of the curated content I produce and playlist here.

What is your current studio set up?

It has been a mix of analogue and digital since the beginning, but these days I’d say I’m 70% in the box. I always add at least some processing in the analogue domain, using an old tape deck, esoteric outboard or pedals. I then record back in for stem mixing/mastering.

I’m also a big fan of recording in live performances of analogue and acoustic instruments to run alongside midi and automated processes, to add feeling, groove, personality and soul. To do this I keep synths, modulars, percussion and instruments around in the studio. I also head out with a Zoom H2N for location and field recordings regularly, gathering found sounds for original sound design.

A Macbook is the centre of my studio universe, and is packed with soft synths and plugins galore… All the usual suspects! I’ve also got a large collection of vintage synths, effects and drum machines. Beyond studio monitors, I also use a SubPac either attached to a Herman Miller chair or backpack version to physically connect with the low end below 120Hz. Coupled with a pair of Audeze LCD-Xs this is a great combo for balancing bass and getting into detailed sound design, with this extended frequency range.

Tom Middleton

When working on a track, what is your process?

My process is instinctive, emotional, spiritual, soulful, but very focused, depending on whether it’s a brief for a client or my own composition. Initiall, I follow that gut feeling, to capture those first pure emotional responses before they could get diluted or lost by geeking out in gear and processing! It happens to us all at some point, noodling and tweaking for hours on a kick, snare and hat combo.

Regardless of where the inspiration comes from or whatever sparks the idea, I go down a rabbit hole… Researching in depth, gathering reference sounds and music to create a playlist, sound palette or mood board. I then script or outline a narrative in detail, quite like visualising films with story boards. So I’m normally quite clear about the direction and have the essence and spirit of a track more or less ready to go in my head before recording anything.

Then it’s all about getting it out of my head into the box ASAP, so I quickly grab the acoustic, analogue and digital tools I need to preserve the spontaneity and keep the momentum flowing. Whether it’s, voice to midi, strumming, bowing, performing, hitting, I’ll do whatever is needed to get the notes and groove locked in. Reason is usually my go to for ‘preliminary sketching’ of midi parts, it’s fast as ****! After that, it’s all about refining the performances to add texture, tone, colour and ambience. This last part is one of my fortes, getting the background layer of atmosphere to add authenticity and set the scene.

Then I spend some time focusing on rhythmic elements, drum and percussion grooves, followed by developing and arranging parts, tweaking and automating or recording in human performance. I then write notes, add in sound effects and sound design elements to punctuate sections for added emotional drama and impact. Adding those subtle and minute sonic details goes beyond most ears, as you are probably unaware of what’s going on, but in context it all adds a unique flavour and makes what you produce unlike anything else.

Breaks from the process are essential, to give the ears a rest, and reenergise the body and mind. So is critically listen back to what you’ve created on a few different sets of speakers and devices. In the car is a good one!

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

Having learned the ropes on classic vintage Rolands (e.g. Aphex Twin’s custom modded SH101), Korgs, Arps, Yamahas, Moogs, Oberheims and Sequential Circuits, my approach to synthesis has always been building a patch from scratch as opposed to using presets.

So whatever the synth is I’m using, I’ll typically reset it to a sine wave, and start creating what’s in my head. I’m very lucky to have had that hands on trial and error experience using analogue synths from as far back as the late 80’s. I understand the physics and language of synthesis. So I find it natural and intuitive to move a slider or knob to get more or less exactly what I imagine and want. Whether this is physical or virtual, the results are usually what I predict.

However, I am a fan of the unpredictable, and striving to push the boundaries of sound design into the unknown… Alien sounds from other dimensions! This tends to happen in the box with digital processing as most of the physical and analogue processes and pathways are reasonably predictable. With the exception of the next generation of Eurorack module producers who are getting super creative in the last few years, with mind blowing next level devices for triggering, modulating, clocking, randomising and shaping. Just check Richard Devine’s Instagram. Say no more.

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

I must be lucky in that regard, I don’t really get it! I feel there’s so much music inside me still to get out. Not enough time in fact, and the ideas are accumulating at a relentless pace. But I would say, it’s always good to break up the day with moments to move, breath, do chores, cook. Get out of the studio. Go out and get culturally inspired. I guarantee if you go to a concert, club or festival you’ll get inspired. Even scanning internet radio, delving into curated Spotify playlists, auditioning and discovering new artists on Bandcamp, Soundcloud.

What advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Always tune your ears before mixing down by listening to tracks you’ve already heard on big sound systems. Critically listen to these on your monitors. Compare, contrast. Write notes. Play back in a car even so you can crank it up a bit.

Have a deep look at the sound with a spectrum analyser plug in and watch how the frequency bands move. Learn what’s going on in the low end, mid range and tops. Question if your mix has a similar balance to something you know works in a club and has been mastered well. I’d say don’t worry too much about slamming your track into a limiter. Try and leave plenty of headroom. Let your tracks breath. No need to turn it up in the box. Turn it up on the DJ mixer if you need to, and let a mastering engineer help you get those extra dB’s of level, sheen, depth and width.

I hope we’re finally way beyond the stupidity of loudness wars. If you listen back to almost a decade of electronic music, it’s mostly all slammed and clipped into digital limiters to create bricks of undynamic compressed noise. Nasty. What was the world thinking? Dynamic masters that capture performance nuance, detail, space and emotion are what we need.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

Quite a roadmap of releases and products this year - Vinyl LPs, EP’s, CDs, Cassettes, apps, skills… Stay tuned for updates.

What do you like about Circle2?

Simple and intuitive GUI, playable, fun, effortless turbo workflow, drag and slide colour circle modulation, impressive and authentic sound with personality, heft and girth. Four, yes four analogue classics or sick vector phase shaping oscillators, or over a 100 comprehensive wavetables - plus noise and feedback - thank you very tweakin’ much! I can extract imagined and unique never before heard sounds in no time with Circle².

Follow Tom Middleton

Take our Circle user survey to win a limited edition FAW t-shirt! / Hugh on January 8th

take the circle survey

We hope you had a healthy and refreshing holiday period this year! We have exciting plans in store for 2018 and want to get started. By filling out our Circle user survey, you will help us in deciding on everything from the style of preset banks to release next, to what features we need to fast track for development.
We’ll be selecting 50 limited edition t-shirt winners at random - just enter your email address at the end of the survey to enter the prize draw.

Take the survey here!

Circle 2.1 is ready for download! / Gavin Burke on January 8th

Circle 2.1 Ready

We’re delighted to announce that work on the next major Circle update (2.1) is now complete. We’d like to thank all our beta testers on in helping make this the fastest, most stable and simply best release of Circle thus far.

Stay tuned for more updates to Circle in the coming weeks!

Here are the download links:
Start OSX Download
Start Windows Download

Change Log:
- Fixed automation issues on both OS-X and PC
- Replaced all pop-up windows with new designs.
- Re-design of the activation flows.
- Fixed random crash in arpeggiator.
- Fixed random crash when assigning midi controllers to parameters.
- Fixed processor spikes when automating parameters.
- Revised the included factory preset bank.
- Added new presets to factory bank.
- Update parameter system so presets load faster
- Reduced GUI load times.
- Fixed Issue with Circle not seeing install folder, presets etc on Mac OS-X High Sierra.
- Fixed issue with some presets sounding silent, due to reverb not initialising correctly.
- Fixed crash when removing Circle from a track in Ableton Live 9.0 and 10.0.
- Fixed issue with Step Sequencer going out of sync with the host.
- Updated internal framework to JUCE 5.1.
- Added vector optimisations to the filter and cable connections.
- Fixed issue with sample rate not being set correctly in standalone.
- Fixed issue with BPM not being set correctly in standalone.
- Fixed issue with setup Midi controllers not being saved in standalone.
- Fixed issue with the velocity of the onscreen keyboard always being full velocity.
- Fixed an issue with automation freezing the host if active when you change a preset.
- Fixed a crash when you’re in midi learn mode assigning/un-assigning the same parameter multiple times.
- Fixed issue with installer not overwriting old plug-ins and standalone on OSX.
- Reduced the demo nag noise volume and the length of time it sounds.
- Fixed a crash when in midi learn mode and assigning/un-assigning the same parameter multiple times.

Studio Focus: Maelstrom / Hugh on September 18th


For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a techno and electro producer from France and also a DJ, I have worked in the past with labels like Gesaffelstein & the Hacker’s Zone or Veronica Vascika’s Cititrax, but lately, I have been focused on my own label RAAR that I started with Louisahhh about 2 years ago.

What is your current studio set up?

The central piece of my studio is a Midas F16 mixer, it gives me so many options and a great workflow as I can route any channel from the mixer to the computer, or from the computer to the mixer. then I have hardware synths and drum machines that are not always in use at the same time. The Elektron Rytm is also central, it’s one of my favourite machines ever, mainly because of its incredible sequencer. So basically, I have Ableton Live on my laptop that’s connected to Arturia’s Beatstep Pro, then the Beatstep is sending MIDI or CV signals to all of the other hardware devices in the studio, and all of the audio is routed to the mixer and then back to the computer.

When working on a track, what is your process?

Usually, I’m going to work on a basic structure with a drum kit, a couple of synths and fx, and then record it live on separate channels. Once that’s done, if needed, I will come back to it and add a few elements or fx and edit the recording to keep the best parts. Once I’m happy with the arrangement, I run the audio tracks back into the mixer and record the stereo mix because I like the summing of the mixer better than summing with software.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

For synths, I usually start from scratch and build patches until I get something interesting, although I have a few presets stored that I go back to often, on the Juno alpha for instance or on the Analog 4. For the drums, one thing I do often is to design drum sounds on the synths, record them and compress/eq in Ableton, and then transfer the results into the Rytm which can finally be layered with the inbuilt drum synths of the Elektron


If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

A good way to fight creative blocks is to unplug everything in the studio and try a completely new or unusual combination, like run a drum machine through a synth filter, or use a sequencer to trigger another one so that unexpected accidents happen. I also sometimes leave the studio for a few days or weeks and go back to working only with software - I recently got Arturia’s vintage synths collection and made a few tracks with only these sources.

What advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

My main advice is to use EQs - make sure to get rid of any frequencies you don’t need: there’s always some frequencies going on that you don’t necessarily hear but that will make your mix muddy if you don’t get rid of them. I always make sure that I only have the part of the spectrum that I need on any given channel, it really helps to get a clear and punchy mix with a lot of definition. You can always want to use that strange subby sound hidden behind a hi-hat sample of course, but it has to be a conscious decision so that you can control what’s going on in your final mixdown. Mixdown is key.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

I have a split release with DeFekt on a French label named Acid Avengers in October, then there will be a couple of electro influenced EPs early 2018 and probably new stuff on RAAR before next summer as well

Follow Maelstrom

Studio Focus: Unknown Archetype / Hugh on July 28th

Release Art

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Unknown Archetype is a collaborative project, between Roxy Tripp & Oliver Kucera. We joined forces in 2015 and write conceptual based electronic music. Although both our solo backgrounds are rooted in techno, this project experiments without boundaries, in different genres.

What is your current studio set up?

Oliver - At the moment my setup is running on an iMac with an RME Fireface 800 and Blue Sky speakers. I use Ableton for everything, but my actual setup always differs as I have a lot of different machines in the studio. I am a product artist with Roland, so I use a lot of their gear. I have the TR-707, SH-32, TR-8, TR-09, TB-03, A-01, TB-3, TB-03, D-2, RC-505, System 1m and a couple of BOSS pedals. I also have the Novation Circuit and Drumstation and Yamaha AN-200 and DX-200, which we use in a lot of our tracks.

Unknown Archetype | TRIPP (official video) from denial of service on Vimeo.

Roxy - Yeah he’s got all the cool toys! I work mainly using Ableton and VSTs. Native Instruments Komplete 11 being my go to tools more often than not. Machines are pretty new territory for me and I only have a Volca bass and Roland TR-8 at home. Right now we use Oliver’s space in Amsterdam as the main studio, for obvious reasons like the wider selection of gear and acoustically treated environment to mix down our work. As I’ve just relocated to Berlin, a second studio space is currently being put together here, so we will use both to work in eventually.

When working on a track, what is your process?

Roxy - We always start with the concept, so it’s pen and paper, writing down ideas, usually that will tie in somewhat with our main concept of Jungian psychology/psychology in general, symbolism etc. That’s the main source of inspiration and kind of a blue print to interpret into sonic ideas. Next, we will record the vocals, synth or drum pattern, that just depends on our mood at the time. As we don’t always get the time to work together in the same place we work a lot remotely; so plenty of file sharing and Skype calls.

How do you normally go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

Oliver - Our sounds can come from anywhere, we use machines, VSTs, iPhone apps or field recordings… And of course Roxy’s vocals. We use FX sparsely, opting for micro edits by hand for the vocal stutters to get the exact result we want. As stated before we work with concepts for the music, so that determines the direction we want to go with it. We always use Ableton to edit, process and arrange the sounds we source.

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

Roxy - So far, (touch wood) we haven’t experienced this as a collab… If anything we have too many ideas and we have to narrow them down. When we are physically in the studio together we really bounce off each other and get excited about the possibilities, in a pretty child like way. There’s not always much time together, so we make the most of it and work intensively; If we are tired of creatively piecing together a track we switch to tweaking the live set, mix downs, writing more concepts, discussing opportunities etc. In general I think a block is caused by forgetting the joy or intention in what you’re doing; in that case I’d say go out, have some fun and don’t force it.

What advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Oliver - We both agree the emphasis should be on the mix down, taking the time to make sure all the components are balanced. Critically listening back to the track and referencing on different speakers is an essential process. We use quite bold sounds in our tracks, so eliminating any clashing frequencies is usually the very first action to take with EQing, followed by spatial separation of sounds etc. There is also something to be said for leaving a bit of grit in the mix especially with the type of music we produce as we’re not fans of an over- polished end result, so we tend to bare that in mind too.

How did you link up with R&S?

Roxy - I contacted Renaat directly online and we just talked a lot about music initially. I heard he was in Amsterdam while I was there during ADE, so headed over to a party and introduced myself in person. So basically a bit of stalking. We stayed in contact and It wasn’t until a long time later we were signed or any music was released, but it was definitely worth the wait and determination to be on a label we both really love.

Oliver - I remember when we started our collaboration, we talked about how cool it would be to debut the project on a label such as R&S Records, we had it in mind since day one, so it was great that it happened and to be signed to them.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

Oliver - We have a single release “Into Ether” that’s fresh out on R&S now, which tied in with our debut live show at Kompass, Gent (29th July).

Follow Unknown Archetype


Circle² in Reason 9.5 / Hugh on July 25th

Reason users - don’t forget that VST plugins are now compatible with Reason (9.5), so now Circle² can be loaded into the rack as you would any other inbuilt instrument. You can even still patch audio and CV as normal!


Check out Reason 9.5 here.

Studio Focus: Simo Cell / Hugh on June 22nd

Simo Cell

For our readers who are not familiar with you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Simon, I make music as Simo Cell. I have been DJing for 10 years and producing music for 6; I have released EPs on Livity Sound, Brothers From Different Mothers, Wisdom Teeth and Fragil Musique. My style is a mix of bass music, experimental techno, and electro.

What is your current studio set up

I share a studio with Tite (half of Society of Silence). He has tons of gear that I can use whenever I want. The list is so long that I won’t be able to name all the synths. I mainly work on my computer via Ableton. I would say 90% of my work is done with a computer.

Then I plug my computer into analog effects to have a more organic sound. Aside from that, I use the Universal Audio Apollo 8 Soundcard, a Monome as a midi sequencer, a Pocket Operator PO-12, a Roland Space Echo, a Dynachord delay, a PCM reverb and a saturator called Culture Vulture to give the sound more warmth.

When working on the track, what is your process?

I don’t have a premise when I start a new tune. I just choose a BPM between 80 and 150, depending on my mood. Then I start by writing drum patterns. I select a kit drum on Ableton or a kit I made myself, and I create a rhythm with sequencers. I let the sequencer do the main job, and select the best ideas. The goal is to write a lot of different patterns. Then I plug synths or audio plugins, and I jam with arpeggiators and sequencers. I try to build delicate ambiences and play a lot with effects to sound design. When I have 2 or 3 solid loops with melodies, synths, and drum patterns, I try to write a full track. I always work on 2 or 3 projects at the same time to keep a fresh mind.

How do you usually go about sourcing and designing sounds for your music?

I use synths and audio plugins, then I use a lot of FX, nearly always in the same way (grain delay, delay, tape echo, frequency shifter….). Sometimes I try new FX and see what happens. The goal is to tweak the sound, to make mistakes and to select the right ideas. Sound design helped me a lot to develop my signature.

If you experience a creative block in the studio, do you have any particular rituals that get the inspiration flowing again?

When I experience a creative block in the studio, I just stop making music during one week or so. It’s essential to let it go sometimes. It’s not a big deal if I can’t finish a track.
Otherwise, as I said, there is a lot of gear at the studio. It’s a real luxury to be able to try new machines at your convenience. If I’m stuck with a sound, I can switch a computer on and toy with it. Even though I use my computer most of the time, it’s a real security for me to know that I have other options just in case. Everything is about confidence.

Simo cell artwork

What advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Being a DJ helped me a lot to understand how to build a track. The structure of the track is very important; you need to build tension.

Another essential feature is the mix-down. A good mix-down makes a huge difference in the club. Using Eq is the key. Drums are very important, kick drums need attack. And you must avoid conflict in the low-frequency area by side-chaining the sub. A bit of spacialization is important in the high-frequency area, but not too much. I don’t have so much advice to give because it is mainly instinctive.

What’s up next for you, any releases in the pipeline?

I just released an EP on Brothers From Different Mothers last week, and I’m currently working on a new EP for Livity Sound.

Follow Simo Cell


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