Introducing: Vector Phaseshaping Synthesis / MartinFAW on July 18th

We recently revealed that Circle2 will contain a new oscillator based on state-of-the-art research in digital synthesis. This week, we’d like to share more information regarding this exciting new module and describe how it creates its rich, complex, characteristic sound.

Our new oscillator utilizes a cutting-edge technique called Vector Phaseshaping Synthesis (VPS). Jari Kleimola, Victor Lazzarini, Joseph Timoney and Vesa Välimäki from the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering and National University of Ireland introduced this style of synthesis in their 2011 paper. Our team at Future Audio Workshop collaborated with Victor Lazzarini and Joseph Timoney on bringing this new technology to a software synthesiser for the very first time.

The core idea behind VPS is simple: the oscillator takes a pair of sine waves with specified frequencies and glues them together at a specified time. Via its two parameters - which control the frequencies of the sine waves and the location at which they are glued together - a VPS oscillator provides direct control of the waveform’s intricate harmonics. By varying these parameters, a VPS oscillator can create a wide variety of rich sonic textures that range from clean, crisp tones (perfect for sub-bass) to distorted leads (perfect for melodies) and thick rumbles (perfect for heavy basslines).

If you take another look at the teaser image from our previous blog post, you’ll see this process in action: In this example, each cycle of the VPS waveform consists of a higher frequency sine wave glued to a lower frequency sine wave. In contrast to many existing synthesis techniques (which create new sounds by adding several sine waves on top of each other), a VPS oscillator joins different sine waves end-to-end. What’s more, by assigning control of the oscillator’s parameters to one or more of Circle’s modulation units, our new VPS oscillator can create dynamic timbres that morph and evolve through time.

A key difficulty with implementing a VPS oscillator in a digital synthesizer is an unwanted auditory effect known as aliasing, which is a form of audio distortion that can lead to incorrect pitch replication. In recent months, the research and development team here at Future Audio Workshop have collaborated with the original inventors of the VPS oscillator to help find a solution to this problem and to ensure that our new oscillator produces pitch-perfect output for a wide range of parameter choices. As well as implementing this new methodology in Circle2, we will also be publishing our work in an academic paper (with the catchy title “Spectral Properties of VPS Waveforms with Applications to the Implementation of Bandlimited Oscillators”) to help drive future innovations on the VPS technique.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be revealing more details about the VPS oscillator, including hosting an interview with the authors of the upcoming academic paper to discuss their inspiration for designing the VPS oscillator, the difficulties that they faced along the way and how they went about finding a solution to the difficult problem of aliasing.

Circle is currently available for a reduced price of only €49/$69. If you purchase Circle from our download store today, you’ll also receive a free upgrade to Circle² on release day, so there’s never been a better time to join the ever-growing community of Circle users worldwide.

Read how Lars Hammerschmidt reworked Circle’s interface design / MartinFAW on July 11th

Looking back at Circle 1, what was key in the design of its interface?

I think the design language of Circle 1 is a good mixture of a flat, minimalistic approach and a detail-oriented simulation of textures and shadows. The way that Circle balanced these elements is very attractive. But we thought that it was slowly but surely the time to overhaul certain elements, especially structures that gave the user the feeling of handling a device from the physical world. Circle certainly used this technique sparingly, so that the interface surely can’t be described as skeuomorphic, but we felt that some elements were out-of-date in contemporary interface design.

What was your approach for the redesign?

Our goal was to construct a flat design with even brighter, more distinct colors. In doing so, we were able to improve Circle’s most prominent features: the clarity of the arrangement of the interface and the ease of figuring out the synth’s capabilities. Designing a synthesizer to be simple is a difficult task since it is a complex application in which many elements are dependent on each other. After breaking down the interface into its small components and reworking certain parts, everything has to fit together again as a whole. For making Circle² the best synthesizer in terms of intuitiveness, the interface design doesn’t just have to look good, but has to feel good to the musician.

Can you give us examples on details that were reworked?

The most distinguishing design elements in Circle are the circles that control the synthesizer’s modules. If you look at Circle 1’s interface, these circles come in different sizes: For example, the circle to manipulate the filter’s cutoff has a larger diameter than the filter’s resonance control, which resembles the look of common hardware synthesizers. This allusion to physical synthesizers didn’t make sense for us anymore and has been exchanged for a flatter, contemporary design language. We found that on a screen, a flatter design enables the human eye to grasp all information much more speedily and comfortably.

Did you have different approaches for users who just discovered Circle² and existing Circle fans?

Circle 1 was already great in bringing an order to the complexity of a synthesizer, which is why we kept most features where they used to be. The interface will therefore already be familiar to existing Circle users. The greatest change will be in the experience of the synthesizer: Using Circle² will look and feel better, which will make using it a lot more fun. For new users, we hope that the Circle’s message has even more impact: By being focused on simplicity and intuitiveness, Circle will assist you in your creative flow when making music.

Thanks Lars, we’re excited about releasing Circle² with its beautiful redesign soon!

Have a look at Lars Hammerschmidt’s portfolio over here.

Circle is currently available for a reduced price of only €49/$69. If you purchase Circle from our download store today, you’ll also receive a free upgrade to Circle² on release day, so there’s never been a better time to join the ever-growing community of Circle users worldwide.

Listen to a preview of the new Circle² oscillator / MartinFAW on July 5th

Are you excited to hear about the new features that Circle² has in store?

Circle² contains a brand new oscillator that is based on cutting-edge research in digital synthesis. This new technology - which gives you direct control over waveform harmonics - has never before been implemented in a digital or analogue synthesizer.

To give you a sneak preview, we have uploaded an audio clip that showcases the oscillator in action. Stay tuned to our blog for more information about the technology - including our accompanying academic paper, for those who are scientifically inclined!

Circle² is coming soon! / Gavin Burke on June 13th

Circle is coming soon!
Since its release, Circle has gained respect for its ease of use, great design and powerful sound engine.

For 2014, we decided to make Circle even better.

Our team has been working hard to design and implement several new features, modules and effects to extend the spectrum of sounds that Circle can produce. We’ve also redesigned Circle’s interface - all while retaining our familiar, minimalist look.

We’ll be revealing more details about the project over the coming weeks. Stay tuned and subscribe to our Facebook page or Twitter feed for more info.

Get ready to say hello to Circle².

Circle 1.1.8 Beta OSX & Windows Ready For Download / Gavin Burke on June 3rd

Circle 1.1.8 Beta ready

We have a new beta of Circle ready for testing on OS-X & Windows

Fixes in 1.1.8 Beta:

- Midi Controller assignments were not being saved or displayed in the bottom panel.

- A change in the latest version of Window 8 meant that activation was no longer working.

- Circle AAX should be recognised and load ok inside Protools 11 on OS-X.

Download Link:
Circle Beta 1.1.8 OS-X Beta 4

Circle Beta 1.1.8 Windows Beta 4

Testing Circle on Function-One sound-system… / Gavin Burke on April 18th

Circle Tuning

Last week, we got out of the office and spent some time testing Circle on a Function-One sound system. Function-One systems are installed in some of the worlds leading clubs, such as Berghain here in Berlin. This testing allowed us to get a better picture of how Circle’s algorithms sound in a live club environment.

Circle 1.1.7 Beta OSX Ready For Download / Gavin Burke on April 17th

Circle 1.1.7 Beta

We have a new beta of Circle ready for testing on OS-X, Windows to follow tomorrow.

Fixes in 1.1.7:

- Audio and midi settings are now correctly saved. When you now relaunch Circle having previously made changes to the audio and midi settings, the settings are recalled correctly.

- An error in the version numbering was causing audio unit evaluation was failing. This is now fixed.

- Tweaks to the fonts and text colour on the audio/midi settings page.

- Host BPM sync works again.

Download Link:
Circle Beta 1.1.7 OS-X

Circle Beta 1.1.7 Windows

Circle on SoundCloud / Gavin Burke on April 14th

We now have a playlist of tracks that contain Circle on SoundCloud. Great to see the diversity of the styles of music and the different ways people are using it.

Free Circle Sounds: Eclipse by ProximaIV / Gavin Burke on December 30th

Circle Eclipse Bank

From Sun-Ra to Pink Flyod, musicians have been looking to the heavens for inspiration in their music. Sound designers also have been inspired, realizing its lonely beauty in sound, through atmospheric electronic evolving sounds. We are happy to present this free bank of space inspired sounds to you, designed by Proxima IV.

Download link:
Eclipse Circle Bank by Proxima IV

Install Instructions:
Copy unzipped folder to the “Presets” folder in the Circle installation directory on your hard drive.
Copy the contents of the unzipped “Wavetables” folder to the “Wavetables” folder in the Circle installation directory.

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Circle & OSX Mavericks / Gavin Burke on December 30th

Circle Mavericks

Circle is currently experiencing issues with Activation under OSX Mavericks, where by once you enter your activation code, the error “Invalid Activation File” is displayed. We have issued a beta version with a fix for this, available for download from here:

http://www.futureaudioworkshop.com/betaforum

We will continue beta testing over the coming days and once we are happy that the issue is fixed will will release the full 1.1.3 version. Please send any further issues found into us at via our support system: support@futureaudioworkshop.com

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