Post Magazine

January/February 2024

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REVIEW 33 POST JAN/FEB 2024 reviewed Dawesome's Abyss synth awhile ago. The company also has a synthesizer called Novum. It's one of the most innovative synths I've re- viewed so far that is capable of anything from very musical sounds to sounds that belong in the special e©ects department. Novum is a granular synth, meaning it takes a sample and runs it through what I'd call a grinder. It comes with a big num- ber of presets and source sound waves, but can also take your own sound files as a foundation for the six granular wave- forms that form the basis of its patches. Tracktion, who sells this beast, also sells preset packs for Novum that range from the aggressive and cinematic to the love- ly and bright. At the heart of Novum lies the possibil- ity to "decompose" a single sample into six independent layers. The keyword here is "independent," as opposed to synchro- nized in terms of adjustability. Even in synchronized mode, you can adjust quite a big number of parameters, so if you're in a hurry, or just being lazy, you'll stop there. That would be a pity though, because it's the ability to disable synchronization on a per-parameter and per-layer basis that makes this synth extremely powerful. After having had a few weeks to try out all kinds of stu©, I can safely say it's quite easy to create unique sounds. You'll find it harder to come up with patches like what you can create with your typical oscilla- tor-based synthesizer, because there will always be some degree of granularity. Experiences First o©, Novum's interface is so clear cut, you really can learn how to operate it as you go. Also, Novum always initializes/ starts in synchronized mode, so when you start using it, you can go with the all-layers-the-same parameters approach and then take it from there. Each preset, obviously, has its own six layers, and creating your own patches can be as simple as dragging individual layers to the layer zone from di©erent presets. You read that right! You can mix up layers from di©erent presets. Actually, you can also drag the envelopes of dif- ferent patches to the envelopes zone, or mix the two. If you're like me, you really want to create something from scratch, so I tried out di©erent things using Orchestral Tools' SinePlayer plug-in for the female choir, timpani, harp, felt piano and church organ audio clips. For example, I loaded timpani single hits, hit the C key on the keyboard for a few seconds and export- ed the region to audio, switched to the Novum plug-in, dragged the audio file to the patch zone, and waited between :03 and :06 to see the six layers appear, as by magic — or I should say by mathematics. By the way, I'm using Logic Pro X on a mid-2017 iMac with 40GB of RAM and the latest version of Ventura. Starting from my audio sources, I found that timpani strikes, strangely enough, gave a very pure sound to start with. Then I spent a whole week setting di©erent parameters with and without synchronization across layers. And I could have kept doing that for months to come and still end up with several patches ranging from the brutally ag- gressive to the out-of-this-world. That's what makes Novum so darn interesting for movie soundtracks, sound design and special e©ects. And that's all due to the fact that it's not only the timbres that you can mess with, but also the envelopes — up to an absurd level of flexibility. Modulation is another theme that goes into the extremes. Almost as a matter of course, Novum is MPE capable, but even with my ordinary keyboard, I had access to a nice number of modulators. Novum's speed and pitch are indepen- dent, and it has a unique "homogenize" feature that almost totally removes the granularity so you can end up with smoother textures — smoother than those that you can create with most granular synths. Verdict You're not going to use Novum for percussion or short notes, like those you get from playing a piano. This synth is for serious cinematic work and for ambient music. The granular engine just begs for endless shimmering, reverb tails that span the globe and more massiveness. It's great for creating soundscapes — a la Dune or Blade Runner — and for spe- cial e©ects. It's also an excellent choice if you're into experimental music with synthesizers. Novum sells for $179 USD and is available for download. If you want to first try it out, the developer gives you a generous 90-day trial period. DAWESOME'S NOVUM SYNTH BY ERIK VLIETINCK ERIK@ THECONTENTGAME.COM A LOW-COST SOLUTION FOR CREATING SOUNDSCAPES, SPECIAL EFFECTS & EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC I VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: Dawesome PRODUCT: Novum PRICE: $179.00 WEBSITE: products/novum

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