Who says every music production tool has to be either a traditional DAW or Ableton Live?
Not Renoise, for one. I’m running out of things to call it. Modernized tracker? Tracker on steroids? Music production tool from an alternate history in which conventional DAWs were ignored and everybody just kept on using trackers? How about this: a gem that a tiny development team somehow keeps making more awesome with regular updates with misleading names like “point 8.”
So, what does “2.8″ give you? A couple of OS compatibility fixes and one new delay effect? Wrong. New in this release is a massive set of improvements. 64-bit is in there, but in terms of day-to-day use, the workflow improvements may be what really matters. (Okay, I usually cringe when I see “workflow improvements” in a press release, and here I’ve gone and used the same phrase. Let’s just say it’s “more awesome to use.”)
- 64-bit for everybody (Mac and Windows in addition to existing Linux support), so you can access more than 4 GB RAM. A bridge plug-in lets you use 32-bit instruments and effects, and there’s 64-bit ReWire support.
- Pattern Matrix now lets you alias and clone pattern slots. It’s a powerful arrangement feature that’s a bit different than similar block arrangement or clip launching features in other tools (both because of Renoise’s approach to patterns and clips, and this ability to use those aliases to create structure). Expect some follow-up.
- Collapse tracks and groups (see image below), giving Renoise some of the screen economy that made trackers famous. Route those grouped tracks, and use pattern effects across grouped tracks (also something relatively technique).
- DSP multitap delay. (Yes, there’s that, but also…)
- DSP repeater (“stutter”) effect.
- DSP Exciter.
- New pattern effects: Tremolo, Auto Pan, Set Envelope Position. (That last one sounds like it could be pushed into some insane places.)
- Meta Mixer lets you combine modulation signals. (It’s really a meta device – imagine combining what Ableton does with Devices and Reason does with Combinator and CV devices.) Improvements to other modules, as well, both aesthetically and in parameters.
- Improved editing in Sample Editor, including destructively rendering slices to individual samples, and editing features typically associated with waveform editors rather than tools like this. My favorite: cross-fading loop creation, which previously required jumping out to another tool (Peak, SoundForge, etc.)
- More performance: Hyper-threading on new Intel chips.
- More spectral views and editing, more envelope editing views, Favorites for devices.
And there’s a lot more, as well.
You've got to love the ultra-compact track collapse feature - ideal for 11" MacBook Airs or Linux netbooks.
You also get features like this: “up to 34 DSP devices can be addressed via pattern commands 1xyy-Yxyy.” Power users know instantly what that means musically. The rest of you – well, don’t worry, other parts of Renoise will gradually level you up to that kind of ninja insanity. And Renoise is humanizing things, as well: “Logical mnemonics for pattern effects from A to Z instead of cryptic numbers.”
Will everyone drop everything and use Renoise? Odds are, no: this tool remains an acquired taste (though don’t dismiss until you’ve given its unique workflow a try). But, then, that’s part of the joy of this: it’s not an “industry standard.” It’s just an incredibly terrific music making tool that proves that not all music making tools need to look identical.
Now that I share the same home city as the developers, I think I owe you more information from the inside. Stay tuned.
Renoise 2.8 is a free update for current users, and an insanely-low 58 € new.
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