Derek Johnson homes in on dedicated Atari software developers Electronic Cow, who, fortunately, haven't been affected by the EU ban on British beef...
There can be few software developers for the Atari platform as busy as Electronic Cow, at least in terms of how much new software they produce. They just can't seem to stop coding: the last time we discussed updates to their established software (Snippit Synth, MIDI Arpeggiator and Sound Chip Synth) there were hints of new products to come. And they have now arrived.
First up is EC909, just the thing for STE/TT or Falcon owners who wish they could emulate analogue drum machines on their computer, in a manner similar to Steinberg's ReBirth RB338 on PCs and PowerMacs. The software is equipped with 16 original TR909 sounds (including bass, snare, toms, rimshot, clap, and cymbals), with various controls, including pitch, volume and attack shape, and a rather familiar user interface.
EC909 can create single‑bar patterns (in real time on the Falcon), and then export them into your direct‑to‑disk recorder or sample editor as AIFF or AVR format samples. Both 8‑ and 16‑bit formats are supported, as well as mono or stereo options. The program can even generate a MIDI File from your pattern, which can then be loaded into virtually any MIDI sequencer. You're also provided with tempo and bar‑length controls, MIDI triggering for drums and pattern playing, on‑line help (using the ST Guide utility — see the 'ST Guide' box) and an 8‑page manual. Guidelines are even given for replacing EC909's drum sounds with samples of your own.
There are two versions of EC909 — one for the STE/TT, and the other for the Falcon. Due to a lack of digital audio hardware, EC909 won't run on an STFM.
Also brand new from the 'Cows is Scribble Synth. No prizes for guessing that this is another software‑based synthesizer (like Snippit Synth), but it offers something a little different. Scribble Synth is a true additive synthesizer, where you actually draw in frequency envelopes with the mouse! Your mouse‑scribbles — of which there can be up to five per sound — are transformed into 2D frequency‑spectrum plots by the software. Both low‑ and high‑frequency bandwidths can be defined, and up to 20 bands can be included in one 'scribble'. These plots are then placed in the time domain, and Scribble Synth interpolates individual envelope shapes for each frequency band.
As for results, the software can produce strange sci‑fi warbles, time‑based pitch and filtering effects, and frequency‑modulated sounds, as well as some really deep bass sounds.
Scribble Synth's main features include: AVR/AIFF/SPL format 8‑/16‑bit sample export at any sampling rate up to 50kHz, digital audio playback of sounds on the Falcon and STE/TT, MIDI sample dump, on‑line help (again with the ST Guide utility), and a manual.
Squash It! is another forthcoming program from Electronic Cow, but it's still very much at the beta testing‑stage. I'm told it should be ready for a July release. The software offers intrigung sample manipulation options, allowing you to load a sample (8‑ or 16‑bit, mono or stereo, AVR, AIFF or raw sample data, or a MIDI sample dump) and apply sundry bizarre algorithms to it. Choices include:
- Squash, shuffle, and stretch.
- Inside out, invert, compress, expand, explode, and granularise.
- Digital delay, low‑pass filter, and envelope shaper.
- Posterize, smooth, sharpen, and blur.
- Low‑frequency, amplitude, phase, and ring modulation.
Squash It! is expected to run on any Atari (1Mb RAM minimum). An STE/TT or Falcon is required for audio playback, although the editing facilities are available without audio playback if you're using an STFM. This program's price is yet to be announced, while EC909 costs £25 (plus £2 postage) and Scribble Synth costs £16 (plus £2 postage). Electronic Cow's software is now distributed by Floppyshop, although Electronic Cow can still handle orders; check out the Cow's web page for demos and more news.
Address: Floppyshop, PO Box 273, Aberdeen, AB15 8GJ.
Tel: Credit Card Order line: 01224 312756.
Fax: 0181 962 5050.
Web: dspace.dial.pipex.com/electronic_cow /cownet.shtml
Just a quick note about ST Guide, the widely used shareware hypertext system for Ataris which provides the on‑line help for Electronic Cow's software. This little desk accessory (which can also run as a program) is compact (it takes only 42k of memory) and compatible with all TOS‑based machines. Check your favourite PD/shareware library, or log on to Interactive ( www.compulink.co.uk/~inactive/so... ). Full registration details (for ST Guide and many other shareware packages) are available on this site; benefits include a master disk containing the latest version and support utilities, plus 'a nice warm feeling knowing that you've supported ongoing ST‑Guide development!'.