Special CD Offer

The band Darkroom is closely affiliated with Expert Sleepers, and they recently released a new album, "Some Of These Numbers Mean Something".

We're offering all Expert Sleepers users (past, present and near future) the opportunity to buy the CD at the massively discounted price of £4.99 (UK & EU)/£5.99 (rest of the world), including p&p. Those prices are UK pounds - the once-again strong dollar makes this particularly cheap for our USA-based customers.

Read more about the band and the album at the Darkroom site: www.darkroomtheband.net

If you'd like to pay full price for the album (which of course would be fantastic for all concerned), go here or buy from your download retailer of choice (e.g. iTunes).

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, send payment via PayPal to payments@expert-sleepers.co.uk, including enough information for us to validate you as an Expert Sleepers customer (i.e. your serial number, order number, or the email address you used when purchasing) and of course your mailing address.

UPDATE: This offer has expired.

MidiNull v1.0.0 released

MidiNull is a simple utility plug-in, created in response to the requirement identified in this post on the Ableton forums.

It's a VST instrument that passes through audio unchanged, and does nothing in response to MIDI.

It's free, and is a Mac OS X VST only.

Augustus Loop v2 now released - skinning competition extended

Augustus Loop v2 is now officially released, and available for purchase.

Read the what's new page here, and download it from the downloads page. Remember you'll need a new licence manager too.

With regard to the skinning competition - in retrospect it wasn't reasonable to ask people to make skins using the beta release, so I'm extending the submission deadline until November 24th. Get going on those skins!

DP? OK

I just got a chance to check all the current (commercial) Expert Sleepers plug-ins running under Digital Performer 6.

The good news is - they all work fine.

w00t.

Some notes on the skinning competition

Some people have mailed me with questions about the skinning competition, so I thought I'd put all the answers up here, in case anyone else has a wonderingment about it.
  • I expect people to send me fully constructed skin bundles (like the examples). However I'm willing to accept just a pair of images that replace the images from the default skin, which can be combined with the default gui.lua script.
  • The maximum size of the GUI is 1024x512 pixels.
  • The background image doesn't have to be a small tile, as it is in the default GUI. It can be a single image that spans the entire GUI. Remember though that you need to round up your image to the next power of 2 size (e.g. if your GUI is 400x250 pixels, a background image would need to be 512x256 pixels).

Augustus Loop v2.0.0 beta (Windows VST) released

The Windows VST version of Augustus Loop v2 is now available - see the post below for more general details on the beta.

You can download the Windows version (and an updated manual) here:

Augustus Loop Skinning Competition!

We have three free licences (or upgrades) for Augustus Loop v2 to give away, and all you have to do to have a chance of winning is submit a new skin. Skins will be judged on aesthetic merit and/or interesting new functionality.

Email your entries using the Contact Us link below.

Closing date for entries is Monday 27th October 2008. Judge's decision is final. No cash alternatives.

Augustus Loop v2.0.0 beta (OS X) released

We're proud to announce a public beta release of Augustus Loop v2, a major update to our popular tape echo/looping plug-in. Only the Mac OS X (AU and VST) versions are available right now - the Windows VST version will follow soon.

For new features in v2, see the what's new page.

You can download the beta here:

You can also download example skins and scripts for use with v2.

Please note that Augustus Loop v2 uses a new serial number from previous versions, so if you have a licence for v1.8 or earlier it won't work with v2, and the plug-in will operate in demo mode. It is not yet possible to purchase licences for v2.

Please post comments and feedback on the forum.

Darkroom - Some of These Numbers Mean Something

My band, Darkroom, released our 8th album on Friday. As you might expect, Expert Sleepers plug-ins feature heavily in the mixes, particularly Augustus Loop.

You can order the CD from Burning Shed, or buy the download from most online retailers e.g. iTunes.


From the press release:

Darkroom's new album - Some Of These Numbers Mean Something - is their 8th to date, and marks the 10th anniversary of their first (Daylight) released by 3rd Stone in 1998.

The original brief for the new album was: guitar under a microscope. In places it's the heaviest Darkroom album yet, but also the most accessible, combining 70s space rock, 80s Sheffield electronica, 60s guitar instrumentals and 90s post rock.

Mixing classic synthesizer & guitar tones with contemporary post-production, this album combines improvisation with carefully crafted and layered arrangement, and rewards repeated listening.

From Santana & Tangerine Dream to Cocteau Twins & Tortoise: file under ambient stadium rock.

Mystery visitors

Like many website owners, I use Google Analytics to track my traffic, which I routinely check. I noticed something quite unusual this morning - this site saw a huge spike in visitors on September 23 & 24. Interestingly, these were "direct hits" i.e. rather than following a link, these visitors had simply typed "expert-sleepers.co.uk" into their web browser. This leads me to suspect a print publication - except that these visitors come from all over the globe. Which means we're dealing with a) a print publication with outstanding international distribution, or b) an online publication which doesn't hyperlink sites it references, or c) some other kind of media e.g. radio, tv, or a podcast.
Can anyone enlighten me? What was published on September 23 that referenced Expert Sleepers? Post a comment on the blog, or email me, if you know.

Augustus Loop v2 approaching completion

Something of a milestone today - feature development work on Augustus Loop v2 is done, at least for the AU version. So all that remains is to make some presets, write the documentation (itself a not inconsiderable task) and then enter the world of hurt that is the VST and in particular Windows versions.
Stay tuned for a probably public beta of AL2 sometime soon.

Brian Eno on Expert Sleepers

Apparently all-round music legend Brian Eno is something of a fan of Expert Sleepers plug-ins, and was kind enough to write me this rather nice review.

Instruments that sound good inspire better music, and it's a struggle to make music with bad-sounding instruments, irrespective of how talented you might be. Software instruments are no different: although they are usually discussed and sold in terms of their 'features'  what really makes you return to an instrument repeatedly is the much more elusive factor of inspirational sound quality.

I don't know enough about programming to understand why some software tools fascinate you while others make you want to get another job, but I do know that when I use anything by ES I get excited by what I'm hearing. These tools have the sonic richness of great analogue instruments - with the features of innovative digital ones.

- Brian Eno

OSC coming to Expert Sleepers plug-ins

In case anyone's interested (and I know at least one person is): starting with Augustus Loop v2.0, Expert Sleepers plug-ins will support OSC.

Open Sound Control (OSC) is a protocol for communication among computers, sound synthesizers, and other multimedia devices that is optimized for modern networking technology. Bringing the benefits of modern networking technology to the world of electronic musical instruments, OSC's advantages include interoperability, accuracy, flexibility, and enhanced organization and documentation.

The plan is to roll this out to the entire plug-in range eventually. If you need OSC in your favourite plug-in sooner rather than later, let us know!

I'd like to acknowledge Ross Bencina for making available the open source library oscpack, which has made it much easier than it could've been to get OSC up and running in Augustus Loop. Thanks Ross!

Augustus Loop planning

After much thought, I've decided that, despite the beta that was available a while back, the next version of Augustus Loop will not be v1.9.0 after all, but v2.0.0. So, apologies to those who were getting excited about the v1.9 features, but I think you'll be even more pleased with v2.0, which will have a whole load more new features in it, in part focusing on removing any possibility of clicks and pops from bad loops or sudden changes (e.g. when using Clear Loop).

One new feature that I'm very excited about is a whole new implementation of the Freeze Loop function, which IMHO has never quite lived up to expectations. I have that working already and it's awesome. Really.

I'll also use this message to announce that I'll be putting the price up a bit, mainly because v2.0 is a major upgrade, but also because of the continued weakness of the dollar against the pound (my prices are fixed in $ but I live in the UK so I receive the money in £). However my current plan is to continue my policy of making the upgrade price simply the same as the difference in prices of the two versions, so nobody buying the plug-in shortly before the new version is released will lose out. To put it another way - don't wait for the new version! Buy it now! Now!

Taking the Leopard plunge

I finally did it - I installed OS X Leopard on the Expert Sleepers development machine. So far so good, and I'm impressed with the genuinely useful enhancements in OS X, and in the new XCode.

Even better, Augustus Loop appears to have built without too much trouble and (from a brief test) appears to run fine in Ableton Live.

So hurrah! Onwards and upwards.

Augustus Loop v1.9 beta expired

The Augustus Loop v1.9.0 beta 1 expired today. There will probably be another beta soon. In the meantime, please use the latest v1.8 version from the downloads page.

Augustus Loop v1.8.1 (AU) released

This is a small bug-fix release, aimed mainly at users of Logic Pro. Changes:
  • Fixed a problem where Augustus Loop's GUI would stop Logic's Key Commands from working.
  • Fixed an issue which could cause Apple’s AU validation tool (as used by Logic) to run very slowly when validating Augustus Loop on OS X Leopard.

Augustus Loop v1.9.0 beta 1 released (AU only)

We're proud to announce a public beta of a new Augustus Loop release. This is quite a big one. Changes:
  • Augustus Loop’s GUI is now fully skinnable and scriptable.
  • MIDI behaviour is now scriptable.
  • Added Record Offset feature, which helps with latency problems in live situations (see this thread).
  • Fixed an issue which could cause Apple’s AU validation tool (as used by Logic) to run very slowly when validating Augustus Loop on OS X Leopard.
You can download the beta here:
Please post comments and feedback on the forum.

Latency Fixer 1.0.2 released

Latency Fixer v1.0.2 fixes a problem where the correct latency would not be applied when recalling a preset.

Augustus Loop v1.8.0 released

Changes in version 1.8.0:

* New 6-in 6-out configuration of the plug-in, allowing audio to be routed through external processing either side of the virtual tape.
* Fixed an issue that could cause a crash in Logic 8 when opening a song containing multiple instances of Augustus Loop with their GUIs open.

Clocker v1.0.0 Audio Unit released

This is the first AU version of Clocker.

Clocker v1.0.0 Mac OS X VST released

This is the first Mac VST version of Clocker. AU version to follow.

Crossfade Loop Synth v3.0.5 released - Windows VST

The Windows version of Crossfade Loop Synth is now released. Go get it from the downloads page.

New plug-in: Clocker 1.0.0 released (Windows VST only)

A brand new freebie plug-in for you today: Clocker.

Enjoy!

(Though I'm afraid it's Windows-only right now, sorry. Rest assured this is not the beginning of the end of Mac support from Expert Sleepers. It's just a quirky little thing someone asked me for and they wanted it on Windows. If I get enough (any at all!) requests for a Mac version, it'll follow eventually.)

To Leopard or not to Leopard?

I just wanted to follow up on the post below, in which I said I'd be moving to Leopard once 10.5.2 came out.

Basically, I didn't, and I'm glad I didn't. It seems a lot of people are having severe problems with audio performance in 10.5.2. There are also problems with 10.4.11 (which I'm using) if you have the latest airport software installed (which I do), but fortunately turning off airport seems to fix it (well, perhaps 'fix' is being a bit generous - 'stop the audio problems at the expense of any wireless network connection' would be more accurate).

So, I'm waiting for 10.5.3. At least.

Meanwhile, I'm not getting any more reports of compatibility problems between Expert Sleepers plug-ins and Leopard, so it's looking pretty good on that front. Do let me know if your experience is less favourable.

Crossfade Loop Synth v3.0.5 beta released - Windows VST

The first beta Windows version of Crossfade Loop Synth is now available - v3.0.5 beta.

You can download it here, and the manual is here.

Augustus Loop v1.7.3 released (Windows only)

v1.7.3 now works on systems which do not have SSE2, notably certain Athlon processors (SSE is still required). Systems with SSE2 continue to use an optimised version.

Augustus Loop v1.7.2 released (OS X only)

v1.7.2 fixes an issue which would cause the VST version to crash if the AU version were not also installed. It also further improves the plug-in's resilience to font installation issues.

Augustus Loop v1.7.1 released (OS X only)

v1.7.1 is a minor bugfix update, addressing an issue on certain systems which have had the system fonts moved or uninstalled.

See also this page.

Augustus Loop v1.7.0 released - Windows/OS X VST & AU

We are proud to announce the release of Augustus Loop v1.7.0. Changes for this release:
  • First Windows version.
  • First Mac OS X VST version.
  • New GUI.
  • Fixed various filter problems. In particular, the filter cutoff was being limited to about 2kHz - now the full range up to 8kHz is usable. Therefore, this version may sound different to previous versions at the same settings. A preferences setting is provided to revert to the previous behaviour, which may be useful if you have to re-visit an old mix after upgrading.
  • Added ‘Tape Stop’ feature.
This is a free update for owners of the previous version. Download from the downloads page.

Augustus Loop v1.7.0 beta 2 (Mac VST) released

The first ever Mac VST version of Augustus Loop is now available for beta testing. Features are the same as the earlier 1.7.0b1 (AU).

You can download it here.

Augustus Loop v1.7.0 beta 1 (AU) released

I've just posted the first beta of the new Augustus Loop. The main new thing is the new GUI, which has been re-implemented using the same technology as the other plug-ins. This is what's going to enable a Mac VST and Windows VST version of Augustus not too far in the future.

Other changes:
- The filter has been fixed. Previously the cutoff frequency was limited to about 2kHz, even though the knob goes up to 8kHz. Also it was possible to get nasty artefacts when using extreme filter LFO settings. Note: this does change the sound of the plug-in, if you were using cutoff frequencies above 2kHz. A global preferences setting to retain the old behaviour has been provided for people who need to use the new version to go back and revisit an old mix.
- A 'Tape Stop' button has been added. This is great for 'finger on the turntable' type effects.

Right now I'm very keen to hear from people who are experienced with previous versions of the plug-in, to find out if the new GUI has introduced any major issues.

You can download it here.

Expert Sleepers and Leopard

I thought it was high time I put up some sort of statement about Leopard compatibility.

The current situation is this: all Expert Sleepers plug-ins are currently officially untested in Leopard. I have no reason to suppose that they won't work, but you never know. I've had a couple of reports of problems, but I get that all the time on all OSs (and the problems are almost always resolvable, and due to local installation issues). I've had more reports of the plug-ins working fine in Leopard.

So why officially untested? I've been waiting for Leopard to be a bit more stable before moving to it. It's a small operation here and I don't have the luxury of multiple Macs to test different configurations, and I need to keep my development machine stable at all costs. Based on the vibe on the web so far, I'm glad to have avoided 10.5.0 and 10.5.1.

Therefore, the current plan is to wait for 10.5.2 and then move over development (and therefore testing) to Leopard at that time.

If anyone is using Expert Sleepers stuff on Leopard, I'd love to hear of your experiences, positive or otherwise.

Blog now supports comments

I've enabled comments in the blog, so if anyone's actually reading this and feels like leaving a comment on these posts they can do so. Fortunately RapidWeaver makes this very simple, taking advantage of the free service offered by Haloscan.

Crossfade Loop Synth v3.0.4 and v2.1.6 released (VST only)

The VST version of Crossfade Loop Synth has been updated to v3.0.4. The older v2 Crossfade Loop Synth has been updated to v2.1.6.

This version fixes a crash that could occur when loading a preset file in the host app with the Crossfade Loop Synth GUI hidden, as reported in this thread.

Welcome to the new Expert Sleepers website

Welcome to the new-look Expert Sleepers website (built with RapidWeaver, if anyone's interested).

As well as looking nicer, this one has an important new feature - a blog (with RSS feed) for news and product updates. If you use any Expert Sleepers plug-ins, I recommend subscribing.

Merger v1.0.2 released

Merger has been updated for stricter requirements of recent Logic auval versions.