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 http://community.circlesynth.com 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


Five Must Try Circle² Techniques / Hugh on June 10th

Must Try

1. Vinyl stop FX

Circle²’s Echo effect module can be used to create vinyl stopping style FX. Firstly, load up any basic bass patch then set a continuous arpeggio running (by selecting Hold and pressing a sequence of notes). Next, turn on an LFO and drag it’s modulation circle to the time parameter of an ‘echo’ effect - turning the ‘echo’ mix slider up to full. Hey presto - instant turntable scratching style FX! For further refinement, experiment with the Echo delay time and LFO modulation rate settings.

2. Self oscillating filter

When some analog filters are used with extremely high resonance settings, they begin to self-oscillate, becoming their own sound source… Circle²’s analog modelled filter behaves in the same way, so make sure you know how to harness this technique! Firstly, set up a new patch with no oscillators turned on, then turn on the filter and push the resonance to full. Lastly, assign a randomised sequencer to modulate the filter frequency. Go ahead and layer with oscillators for an out of this world sound.

3. FM synthesis

All Circle² oscillators can also be also be used as modulators… That is - extremely fast LFOs. For FM synthesis (frequency modulation), we turn on 2 sine oscillators, then drag the second oscillator modulation circle to control the coarse tuning of the first. Next we set the coarse tuning of oscillator 2 to -24, and its level to 0. Now experiment with different oscillator shapes and tuning settings.

4. AM synthesis

Circle²’s oscillators can also be used for AM (amplitude modulation) synthesis, where one (or more) is simply used to modulate the output level. We use exactly the same setup as in the previous FM example, however the modulation circle of Oscillator 2 is this time dragged to modulate the Output level. Again, experiment with tuning levels and wave shapes - AM can have some really crazy results!

5. Synthesising drums

Let’s start with synthesising a kick - we simply use a sharp decaying envelope to control the pitch of an analog sine wave oscillator, and the frequency of the noise oscillator. Next we’ll synthesise a shaker loop using filtered white noise. Firstly, we turn on both the noise oscillator and the Arpeggiator (in sync mode at a 1/4 rate). Adjusting the frequency up, we turn on a bandpass filter. Finally, we assign a sequencer to modulate the filter frequency for added rhythm.

Studio Focus: Edmondson / Hugh on May 31st


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

Hallo, I’m Sean - I produce music as Edmondson and run a little vinyl series called Lissoms. I’ve previously released stuff on Hypercolour and emf, as well as a few remixes here and there. Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and living in Berlin.

What is your current studio set up?

I know it’s common to modestly say you have a simple set-up and then reel off a comprehensive list of gear, but I currently use just a laptop, Akai midi controller and a pair of Adams A5X’s at home. I’m lucky to also share a studio with a few others, so there’s a wide array of gear coming and going. At the moment I’m dabbling with the Elektron Analog Keys a lot.

When working on a track, what is your process?

I sample a lot so it’s usually chopping and arranging in the beginning, and I usually rely on this to set the precedent for the rest of the tune to follow. I just track out an 8 or 16 bar loop and if I can let it go for a few minutes without needing to do much I’ll progress with it. The best ones fall into place in a couple of days but most get drafted out several times and (often needlessly) tweaked over a couple of months.

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

I do a lot of searching on YouTube and in Facebook groups, there’s a load of super nice sources primarily for hip-hop producers which can lead into a YouTube vortex of sampling gold. For drums and textures I use a Zoom H1 mic, and I have a couple of go-to soft synths I run through the midi controller which I run through some effect chains for the more non sample-based projects.

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

Do something else! I still struggle to recognise when I’m making progress or making something worse. I think I’d advise avoiding the internet in general when you’re not feeling productive - we’re almost the guinea pig generation for having this galaxy of time-wasting devices at our fingertips, and despite the plethora of tutorials and potential sources of inspiration it can be difficult to apply any of it if you’re in a rut. For me personally, exercise or drinking seems to be the best way to reset your creative approach.

Much of your work has a distinctly lo-fi aesthetic, though we’ve learned that a lot of your workflow takes place in-the-box. Do you have any tips for our readers that want to achieve this kind of sound using software?

Sourcing samples or creating sounds with plenty of character and warmth is probably the best way to start. I don’t use much in terms of plugins so I find creative filtering and distortion can throw up some of the most interesting results. I picked up a cool free thing by Klanghelm called IVGI which is really nice for treating drums too.


We loved the first two releases on your Lissoms imprint. Can you tell us a bit more about the concept and plans for the label?

Thanks a lot! The concept is pure self-indulgence I guess, I wanted to create an outlet for my music so that I could make the kind of records I would be excited about finding. I found myself, particularly when living in London, kind of at the 50% agreed stage with a few labels and would often end up second-guessing my ideas and instincts when trying to finish projects. I wanted to remove all of that, so even if the music itself is flawed or not quite where I want it to be at the time, it’s a pure and personal product of the time it was written.

What’s up next for you?

I have an EP coming out with Man Power’s MeMeMe imprint in Autumn, 3 tracks and a remix from someone I respect massively. I’m in the process of finishing LLL003 & LLL004 for Lissoms, and the first should be ready to go in Autumn too.

Berliners can catch me at about:blank on the 28th of June for the Hypercolour & Friends party.


Edmondson FacebookTwitterSoundcloud

Lissoms FacebookWebsiteSoundcloud

Circle² x Academy 303 (Barcelona) / Hugh on May 9th

Due to its demystifying interface and instantly accessible workflow, Circle² is renowned within music tech educational circles as being the one of the most effective synthesis teaching tools. We spoke to Jesus Del Cerro - who heads up the Academy 303 music tech school in Barcelona - about how their students use Circle² to become synthesis experts.

Academy 303

Firstly, please can you tell us a bit about yourself and Academy 303.

Academy 303 is the only Ableton Certified Training Center in central Barcelona. We offer a wide range of personalized music tech and production classes in both English and Spanish, catering to all levels of ability. We normally limit our class sizes to 5 students - this enables our students to receive a lot of personal tuition - we’re proud that this means our students tend to learn fast and thoroughly.

In addition to Ableton live, we offer many specialized courses in different techniques tools and musical styles. Our mission is to provide training to a professional standard, so you can develop your creativity and turn your passion for music into a profession.

Academy 303

How do you use Circle² at Academy 303?

We use Circle² to teach synthesis in all of our Ableton Basic / Pro courses. We love the minimal interface and unmatchable visual feedback that Circle² provides - having tried almost everything on the market, whether it’s for beginners or experts, we feel that Circle² is the best synthesizer for teaching and learning. It’s amazing how fast our students become familiar with complex modulation - the possibilities are infinite!

In which ways does Circle² work particularly well as a tool for learning synthesis?

The concepts of modulation are very easy to understand using Circle², due to simple the drag and drop routing options, alongside the visual feedback / single pane user interface. Furthermore, the analog and wavetable oscillator possibilities are massive, meaning many different styles of sound can be achieved.

Academy 303

The world of synthesis can be quite daunting at first, do you have any tips for those just starting out?

Always keep experimenting and don’t stop having fun! Sometimes the best realizations come from happy accidents, so never be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to synthesis.

Thanks for your time, Jesus!

Studio Focus: Kalawila / Hugh on March 25th


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

Hi! My name is Robin, and I’m a third-year student of radio production at the Stockholm University for the dramatic arts. When I ́m not doing that, I make and play techno under the alias Kalawila. Sound takes up a lot of my time.

What is your current studio set up?

I actually produce from home, since I don’t have the privilege of having a studio, and up until recently I didn’t have much of a “setup” at all. I made my first records with an old iMac, the basic Logic 9 software, and four or five external plugins that kept crashing, so I could only work for 10 minutes at a time before the computer went OAIGFJNAOIGNAIOEGABEUGABEFCA. It sounds odd, but I also think limitations is your best friend when doing something creative.

I make most of my music with samples and field recordings since I have access to microphones & recording equipment at my university. For instance, I might go down into the huge university garage and bang on a metal container, record it, then twist & turn it inside out with effects on my computer at home until it sounds like something completely different, like a magnetic frog or something. I have a small array of analogue synths as well, like the Korg Volca series, and a Semblance from Analogue Solutions, but it’s only recently that I’ve been getting into hardware. The most important thing about hardware for me is that it needs to be intuitive and easy to understand when you’re starting out. Otherwise, it’s just going to be intimidating.

When working on a track, what is your process?

It really differs. For my first records, I decided to take real newspaper headlines and make music that I thought described that scenario. For instance, my first record is “Slagsmål utbröt på Mount Everest”, which is Swedish for “A brawl broke out on Mount Everest”. Or my latest record, “Ensam kamphund tog Pendeltåget”, which means “Lonely fighter dog rode the commuter train”. I thought those were funny scenarios to try and paint. I’m really inspired by computer games as well. For instance, the other day I came across a spell called the “Hyper kinetic position reverser.” I have no idea what that means, but I started making a track about it. I don’t have any musical background with playing an instrument, so I try to come at it from a different angle.

Recently, I’ve been adding the drums at the very end because they don’t stimulate my imagination that much, they have a much more apparent function. And I ́d like to keep the track from having a function for as long as possible. The perfect scenario would be if the finished track isn’t “dance music”, but rather music that makes you want to dance. Those are two different things.

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

It’s really fun how easy it is these days to make a tangible recording unrecognisable from the original. Just that part is sometimes enough for me. So you can just go in your bathroom, take a metal object and bang it on the thing that dries your towel. Let it resonate, record it, and then sit for hours and basically mistreat the sound in every possible way imaginable; apply filters, stretch, distort, do everything possible on a computer. Later, when I start applying delays is usually where a song or rhythm starts to take shape. I trust my intuition a lot, I can hear instantly if a sound fits into my musical universe.


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

I actually had my most serious one recently, where everything just sounded like absolute garbage, and I felt pathetic every time I tried making a track. That’s not good. However, during those kind of times I’m fortunate that music isn’t my full time job. If it was, I would have felt super stressed, but now I just focused on other creative stuff, one which ended up being a radio theatre piece. Focusing on other things, in turn lead me back to fiddling with music in a naive way. Feeling naive is big part of the fun for me, and if I’m not having fun, whatever I’m doing at the moment just ends up being really shitty, so whenever I get bored or frustrated I do something else. I guess what I lack in work ethic, I make up for in versatility.

Mixing down can often be frustrating when starting out in production, what advice would you give for getting tracks ready for the club?

Master the EQ. I’ve noticed when mixing tracks with more experienced studio friends, that a lot of work just goes into “cleaning up” the track and making sure each element has it’s place and isn’t disturbed by other elements. Also, I don’t use any reverb at all on the elements that are typically the loudest in the song (like drums). When you play the song at a club, you can really take advantage of the fact that the room gives you a natural reverb, rather than adding another reverb to the fictional one you added in the song.

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

I’ve almost finished my next record “Lönnmördare fick betalt i frimärken EP” (Assassin got paid in stamps), and I’ve decided to start releasing friend’s music on my label as well, which I think is really exciting! The two next ones will be by my good friends Birds ov Paradise and Dorisburg! Tracks that I’ve been playing out for a while now, that really just need to be heard by more people.

Follow Kalawila


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