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  • Anderton
    started a topic DIGIDESIGN TRANSFUSER - NOW WITH CONCLUSIONS!

    DIGIDESIGN TRANSFUSER - NOW WITH CONCLUSIONS!

    Well, I wasn't expecting this...but then, I sort of was. It seems like Digidesign has gone through some major changes lately, specifically, implementing "Elastic Audio" (which finally allowed Pro Tools to do serious looping and stretching), and acquiring Wizoo's instrument division, now known as A.I.R. (Advanced Instrument Research). Clearly, Digi is trying to position Pro Tools as not just a tape recorder emulator, but also as a compositional/remixing platform. In that context, Transfuser - their latest RTAS virtual instrument - fits right in to this new direction.

    A little bit of backstory: Wizoo supplied instruments for Steinberg, such as Virtual Guitarist and Xphrase, as well as M-Audio (KeyRig, Latigo, and Darbuka) but they were also big in content, doing quite a few sample CDs and libraries. In fact, my "Technoid Guitars" sample library for HALion was done through them. They also picked up some of the engineers behind Creamware's SCOPE system, and set up shop in Bremen, Germany prior to being purchased by Digidesign. So Transfuser didn't some out of nowhere; it fits into what Wizoo had been doing for years prior.

    This Pro Review is unique as it coincides with the introduction of a preview version of Transfuser that is being made available for free, and works for three months. That was a bit surprising, as most time-limited demos run for a month; but I think Digidesign is betting that after three months, you'll be hooked. And based on my experiences so far with Transfuser, I think that's a wise bet. Meanwhile, this will make it easy for anyone with a Pro Tools setup to participate in the Pro Review, and make comments.

    If you haven't downloaded it yet, you will need a Pro Tools setup (M-Powered, LE, or higher) and an iLok, as it won't run without authorization. As to links so you can download it or find more information, the main landing page is:

    http://www2.digidesign.com/transfuserpreview/index.cfm?ref=transfuserpreview_hc

    From there you can go to the download link, as well as get more information about Transfuser.

    Short form is that Transfuser is a groove-oriented instrument with a drum sequencer, phrase sequencer, the ability to create loops via real-time slicing as well as convert loops to MIDI grooves, mixing, processing, and quite a bit more. A lot of it is oriented toward real-time manipulation as well as groove randomization and processing; it's very much a complete instrument by itself. If I had to draw an analogy, I'd say Reason meets Xphrase - if Xphrase had not been discontinued and was now up to version 27.

    If Transfuser was released as a stand-alone instrument, I'm sure it would do well. In fact, I predict that quite a few people will buy the cheapest version of Pro Tools they can find just so that they have a "shell" for running Transfuser.

    I've attached a screen shot to kick things off. Note that I had to reduce it to fit the "no more than 900 pixels wide" art requirement for HC; in future screen shots, we'll focus on specific parts of Transfuser, which will let us do full-size shots.

    As to the genesis of the screen shot, what happened was I opened up Transfuser, and there was a big blank space that said "Drop Track or Audio Files Here." Well, okay, so I did just that, from the browser on the left. I dragged in a drum pattern, and a drum machine appeared...then dragged in a bass loop, and a phrase sequencer appeared. And then I started editing drum sounds...and then I realized I should probably launch the Pro Review!

  • Pirx
    replied
    Hello,

    it's been some time, but your review is still great source of inrofmation. Thank you!
    I've been using Transfuser since two days - I'm a complete newbie. And I'm totally confused about one thing… I thought I will post my question here, although I've already post it at DUC, but no aswer yet…

    So, when I drag a loop from Transfuser's browser, let's say one of the keyboard, guitar or strings loops, I got in the track list a track with slice seq and slicer syn modules. The question is: what to do to make it phrase module?? I want to alter notes pitch. Want to use the particular (for example guitar) sound, but change the melody of the loop.
    I'm sure I'm missing really basic concept of Transfuser. Trying to figure this out, but no help around yet...

    Leave a comment:


  • IDR_AZ
    replied


    (There, Now Thats Out Of The Way)


    WOW is the best word that describes this music creation power house!

    Literally so cool that I didn't want to post cause I want Transfuser all to myself

    THIS PROGRAM DELIVERS ON EVERY LEVEL

    Thank You, AIR YOU GUYS FREAKIN ROCK

    Leave a comment:


  • gazi
    replied
    Thanks Mr. Anderton for the really good review!
    I'm really interested in Transfuser but don't have the possibility to test it since I haven't got Pro Tools LE yet.

    This VI is looking really good in every aspect and I am sure it will really improve my work once I switch to Pro Tools 8.

    But one thing I couldn't get from any of the ressources on the internet:

    While programming drum tracks often times I microtune individual drum hits.. i.e. I push them a little from their position on the grid. Like 2 to 9 ticks in a regular midi editor. But individual hits in one direction other hits possibly in the opposite direction.
    This gives a more natural groove and human feel to the drum tracks.

    Is it possible in Transfuser's drum sequencer to move individual drum hits from the static grid and thus "microtune" the groove?

    Many thanks!

    Cheers
    Gazi

    Leave a comment:


  • Sofine
    replied
    Fantastic, in-depth review Craig. Much appreciated. I've been using Transfuser for around 2 months now (on and off as time allows) and find it inspiring and easy to operate. Stand out feature for me is "Beatcutter", which is a fantastic effect that offers short-cuts to many contemporary electronic music fx-tricks. Also, using this in conjunction with the gater and the pumper, you have landed in Justice-DJ Medhi-Daft Punk compressed-glitch land, with the minimum of effort. Load up a loop of your song, play with these effects in realtime for a few minutes while recording the output in ProTools, listen back to your recorded transfuser output and pick the best bits, and hey presto, you have a great selection of fills and breaks for your tune.

    Simon.
    www.simonfine.ie

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    We've reached the point in this Pro Review where I feel I know enough about Transfuser to offer some conclusions. This doesn't mean the thread is closed; if I discover any significant features I missed I'll include them, and certainly, if any of you have questions, comments, or music you want to post, please - go right ahead!

    The bottom line is that Transfuser lives up to Digi's hype 100%, but in some ways, exceeds it; the live performance aspects are hugely cool, and the content has some beats that are simply outstanding. When Digi refers to live performance, it almost seems like a "Oh, and it does live performance too" kind of afterthought. But the engine that powers Transfuser clearly was built with performance controls in mind. Will people load Pro Tools LE on a laptop just so they have a host for Transfuser? I'd be willing to bet that some people will indeed.

    The quality that impressed me the most was operational seamlessness. No matter you do, it's almost impossible to make Transfuser hiccup. If you saw the video in the previous post, you know what I mean: To pitch shift over a dozen instruments all at once while keeping the tempo constant, then jumping back down again, is pretty impressive. You can drag in content, add instruments, even make live performance assignments on the fly - the music never stops. And M.A.R.I.O. is a very cool addition to Transfuser's - or a live performer's - bag of tricks.

    What's not to like? Some find the interface off-putting at first, feeling that it's cluttered. Actually, given the amount of functionality packed into each module, I'm surprised it's not far more cluttered than it is. The only complaint I have is the point size of some of the lettering, which could have been made larger without affecting the aesthetics; and there's no excuse for having dark blue letters against a black background. It may look cool under the low lights of the studio, but onstage, all I can say is I hope that if there's a Transfuser 2.0, there's more attention paid to readability.

    But really, that's about it for complaints. Some might bemoan the lack of any kind of synthesis (like the Thor and SubTractor synths found in Reason), but that's only a concern for those who expected Transfuser to do everything - dude, you're in Pro Tools! Just insert your virtual synth of choice, and run it in parallel with Transfuser.

    And speaking of Pro Tools, we haven't touched on integration too much between the two, but that's only because it's exactly what you'd expect: Transfuser becomes instruments you can feed to different buses, with tempo sync to the host.

    Finally, there's the matter of price. A sample library containing the type of content included with Transfuser would probably run around $70-$100, so you can think of Transfuser itself as an instrument that costs a couple hundred bucks or so. That's pretty righteous, and definitely flies in the face of those who consider Pro Tools an "elitist" platform. It's clear that Transfuser isn't just "another virtual thingie" for Pro Tools, but another step in a new direction for Pro Tools - one that slants it toward being a compositional, not just recording, environment.

    And that's an important move: Digi has been at the top of the heap for a long, long time, and not without good reason. But if they're looking over their shoulder, they see programs like Ableton Live gaining significant market share, Sonar solidifying its hold on the Windows platform, Reaper picking up fanboys, and Apple doing stunning things like putting out the Logic Studio package for $500. (Think about it: For only $200 more than Transfuser, you get not only a DAW, but a zillion plug-ins, Mainstage, a ton of content, and more.) But as the competition heats up, it seems Digi isn't resting on its past, and Transfuser is a good indicator of that.

    What has mystified me during this Pro Review is that lack of participation; I've kind of felt like a voice in the wilderness, even as a I watch the page counts increment (so I know people are reading this). The AIR guys stopped by early on, then disappeared to work on their next projects. A few users have posted about how much they like Transfuser, but that's been it. Why?

    Well, I think I have an answer: The downloadable free trial. If you try it and don't like, you're not going to hang out here. If you do like it, you're going to be making music with it. And the biggest factor of all: Transfuser is easy to figure out. In a lot of Pro Reviews, people come to ask questions - will it do this, will it do that, how do you make it do this, etc. But really, Transfuser is pretty obvious, which is actually somewhat surprising considering all that it does. The lack of discussion isn't just limited to this thread: I looked all over the net, and this thread is far and away what's referenced the most. Even Pro Tools-specific blogs have very little about Transfuser, past the "I like it a lot, good stuff" kind of comments.

    I'm hoping that some Transfuser users will circle back here after they've used the program for a while, and offer some insights and not-so-obvious tips. Until then, let me sum up by saying if you're into grooves and you use Pro Tools, Transfuser delivers the goods at a more than fair price. But even more importantly, it's fun!!

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    The attached image shows the final part of the Master section. This is pretty straightforward: You have Transport controls for play and stop (which of course can run in tandem with Pro Tools), a metronome on/off option (the metronome level is set in Preferences), pitch control to raise or lower the overall pitch, master volume control, and metering.

    There are two unusual aspects here. One is that you can record the metronome output into a Pro Tools track, even though you can't record it in Transfuser. This makes perfect sense if you want to do overdubs early on in the process with Pro Tools, while still having Transfuser doing its thing.

    The Pitch control maintains the tempo in the face of pitch changes, and pitch changes affect all instruments, including drums. As a result, you can change pitch on the fly without messing up the rhythm - nice.

    In fact, it's so much fun there's an attached video that shows the pitch change thing in action. You'll see me change the pitch up an octave, then use Alt-click to zero it again. Then the pitch will go down an octave, and be zeroed again...I really like the whole real time aspect.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    This isn't really something to record performances - you have Pro Tools for that, right?!? - but think of it more as "instant resampling" as you can capture Transfuser playback from its main audio output.

    The attached image shows the recorder section, which is pretty simple: play, stop, and record buttons, along with a drop-down menu that lets you specify a record time of 1, 2, or 4 beats.

    So what is that "Import As..." dialog box doing there? Well, this is the really cool feature of the recorder: You can drag it into an existing Transfuser Track Synth module and replace whatever's in there, or drag it into an empty space and create a new instrument - this is what calls up the "Do you want to slice it, stretch it, or load it onto drum pads?" dialog box.

    This is a very, very cool feature because you can do something like combine a drum and percussion part by recording them, then creating a single instrument with the combined part.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    The Master Section has two send FX sections. These are the same as the other effects sections - four possible effects, in series or parallel. The difference, of course, is that if you want to apply the same effect (e.g., reverb) to multiple instruments but save CPU power, you can send them all to a single send effect rather than have an effect inserted in each instrument.

    Incidentally, we haven't looked at the GUI for too many effects but the attached image shows not only the send effect 1 section (circled in red), but the GUI for the compressor effect.

    The FX2 section, and the Insert effect section (which allows placing an overall master effect on the overall output) are both identical to the FX1 section described here so we won't spend any time on them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    That's about it for the Controller section, so let's look at its neighboring Master section.

    Anyone who's worked with a sequencer lately is likely aware of the concept of "groove templates" that allow adding timing changes to straight quantization, such as swing, or "leading" or "lagging" the beat. Transfuser has a couple ways of dealing with this.

    Referring to the attached image, the area circled in red is the master groove section. You can choose from five templates: 1/16 swing, 1/8 swing, 1/4 swing, "laid back," and "ahead." However, you can also import an existing Pro Tools groove template, so you're not limited to only those five options. Note the slider below the "groovemeter"; it lets you apply an amount from -100 to +100.

    So what happens at the target? Check out the area circled in blue for the answer. Each instrument has a choice of groove sources: The Master groove, or the same options as the master groove section with the addition of 1/32 swing and random. An additional knob controls the amount of groove.

    So you could, for example, specify a maximum amount of groove effect at the master, but dial it back on each instrument to whatever degree you like. However, what I've generally found is 1) a little swing is a Good Thing (even a little bit makes a big difference), and 2) I like applying the same amount of swing to pretty much everything, so the timing doesn't "fight" among the various instruments.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Face it...what's something that DJs can use without a crossfader? Well, of course Transfuser has one.

    Here's how it works. Check out the attached image; the area circled in red is where you choose the output bus assignment for an instrument. As you can see (if you can read the dark blue against black lettering...) there are eight output buses and a cue bus, which of course, can terminate in Pro Tools.

    The crossfader (X-Fade) is circled in blue, and crossfades between bus 1 and bus 2. Wish list alert for Transfuser 2.0: It would be cool if the "Bus 1" and "Bus 2" labels to the left and right of the crossfader respectively had drop-down menus so you could crossfade between any two buses, not just 1 and 2.

    And yes, you can assign the crossfader to a MIDI controller, as well as set a minimum and maximum range.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    The Trigger pads in the first image can send MIDI notes between 48-71 to Sequencer and Synth modules, and like the Smart Knobs, can target multiple instruments. Perhaps more importantly, they can trigger patterns (or stop patterns that are playing), again in multiple Sequencer modules.

    The second image shows the assignment options for the trigger pads. The significance of using trigger pads for pattern selection as opposed to the keyboard pattern select notes is that a single pad can trigger different patterns, whereas the keyboard selects the same patterns in all instruments.

    As with the keyboard, only those instruments set to the same MIDI channel shown in the display to the right of the virtual keyboard will respond to the trigger pads.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Now let's turn our attention to the controller section Virtual Keyboard, as shown in the first image. Note the section circled in red: In the Slice Sequencer (or all sequencers, for that matter), you can store 12 patterns and recall them by clicking on the sequencer's small virtual keyboard. However, you can also switch patterns on all instruments simultaneously by clicking on the Pattern Switch section of the controller section keyboard (circled in blue), which can of course be triggered from an external MIDI keyboard as well.

    In the second image, the section that's circled in red shows the note range and channel section of the virtual keyboard. Now, follow closely...

    The section circled in blue lets you specify a note range for a particular instrument; just above the circle, you can see the MIDI channel to which the instrument is "listening." If this matches the channel next to the virtual keyboard, and you play on the keyboard within the specified note range, then the keyboard key will trigger that instrument.

    For example, suppose you have three instruments, all tuned to the same MIDI channel; one has a note range of C2-C2, one D2-D2, and one E2-E2. If you play C2, the first instrument will trigger. If you play D2, the second instrument will trigger. If you play C2, D2, and E2, all three instruments will be triggered.

    Or take it one step further: We've already shown that you can load up a bunch o' instruments. One group could be set to channel 1, and another to channel 2; by switching the virtual keyboard's MIDI channel assignment, you could play one group from the keyboard, then switch over and play the other group from the keyboard. And of course, the virtual keyboard can be driven from a physical keyboard, thus affording more hands-on control.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Continuing on with the hands-on control theme, let's take a look at the Controller section shown in the first image.

    On the left side are six "Smart Knobs" that you can assign to Transfuser parameters, and can in turn be tied to MIDI controllers. The second image shows what happens when you right-click on a knob: The "Learn CC" option appears, so you just wiggle your MIDI hardware control of choice, and the knob responds to that hardware control.

    However, note something else of interest: Along the bottom, you can see that a parameter has already been assigned to this Smart Knob. You can in fact assign multiple parameters to one knob, even to the point of, for example, having one Smart Knob control all filter cutoffs in all instruments.

    But how does it do this, as the instruments are on different MIDI channels? Easy: The Smart Knobs are "above" MIDI, and talk directly to the instruments they control.

    Leave a comment:


  • mchenetz
    replied
    I am really using Transfuser a lot. I find there are so many ways to use it. The real-time capabilities are extremely useful and expressive. I have a Novation SL Remote that i use. The mapping of controls is extremely easy and it makes it very intuitive to implement a hardware control. The only thing that i can compare it to is the NI Kore in terms of control. I will definitely put up some examples of some of the ways that i use Transfuser and some example clips tp help illustrate it's capabilities. I strongly believe Transfuser is to good a tool to overlook.

    Mike

    Leave a comment:













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