Synth-ify Your Life

5. Stutter Edit
A single MIDI note message brings all these variations to life at once. This is truly unlike anything you’ve worked with before.

Izotope — Stutter Edit

While it may have been a little difficult to determine if Iris was an effect or a synth, there is no question that Stutter Edit is an effect. Well, it’s an effect that can be played by MIDI notes, so maybe that makes it a synth. But is doesn’t generate any new sound on its own. So, yeah, it’s an effect – that you play.

Stutter Edit is a MIDI controlled effect that came from the mind of artist BT (Brian Transeau), and makes his signature stutters easy to duplicate. Rather than creating sounds from oscillators feeding filters, envelope generators, or arpeggiators, Stutter Edit mangles audio from another source to create entirely new musical ideas.

Stutter Edit can be just a little tricky to set up because it both receives audio from another source and MIDI information from a MIDI controller or from a sequencer. To make setup a little easier, there is an online help file that walks you through the necessary procedures for a variety of DAWs such as Live, Logic, Pro Tools, SONAR, Reaper, FL Studio, Digital Performer, Studio One, and Cubase/Nuendo. Once you get the hang of it, and get a handle of the signal routings, you’ll feel right at home.

With Stutter Edit, audio routed to the plug-in is totally unaffected until a MIDI note is received. The “gesture” is the term used for the specific effects that are going to alter the sound when that MIDI note is received by the software. Each gesture can activate a single effect or a number of different effects simultaneously. There are a large number of modules (Stutter Edit’s term for specific effects that can be called into play), and they can be controlled over time in a number of different ways.

To offer an example, a single gesture might take place for any duration between a sixteenth note and two bars (latch mode is available as well). It could, perhaps, cause a small portion of the audio to stutter while having the slices jump from right to left audio channels, and sweeping a bandpass filter’s cutoff frequency and resonance. It’s this ability to have several parameters altered at once that gives Stutter Edit its flexibility and power. In addition, a Stutter Edit bank can put up to 127 different gestures into your hands at one time (one for each MIDI note number). Keep in mind that Stutter Edit can be used on a single track or a single sound, a group of sounds, or even an entire project. With all of this power to create entirely new sounds, you should have plenty of inspiration.

Stutter Edit comes with 35 different preset banks that include more than 800 gestures, so there’s plenty of fun and games to keep you inspired. If you’re at all interested in glitch-style sounds (that are being used in more and more pop music genres), you need to check out this program. As an electronic drummer, it seems built just for us. You can play beats and mangle them at the same time. There’s really nothing like it. I’ve used this program extensively to create amazing rhythmic textures that I then resample and use as one-shots.

Try Before You Buy

Each of these programs can be downloaded as a demo version to explore both the factory presets and create your own sounds and effects. At the very least, you should see and hear what these great programs can do and how they might fit in with your musical projects. You won’t be disappointed!

Alchemy — Camel Audio: camelaudio.com ($249)
Iris — Izotope: izotope.com ($249)
Predator — Rob Papen: robpapen.com ($179)
Stutter Edit — Izotope: izotope.com ($249)
Zebra 2.5 — u-he: u-he.com/cms ($199)

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