Metasynth from U&I Software is uniquely visual in its approach to synthesis and sound design and is newly updated for macOS 11 with some new features.
It’s one of those pieces of software that stands outside of our usual experience of music software and so tends to run a bit under the radar. Metasynth uses images, photos, colour and collages to synthesise sound and generate samples. It’s sound design through art and visual expression and results in genuinely unique sounds and possibilities.
Metasynth has been around for a very long time. It’s been used over the years by Aphex Twin and can be found in all sorts of futuristic movies such as The Matrix and games by the likes of Blizzard Entertainment. It’s creative, weird and probably not for everybody. But it is fun to play with regardless of whether you get anything useful out the other end.
Metasynth comes with a number of tools:
- Image Synth: This is where you can paint sound, transform visuals into synthesis with near-infinite customizable micro-tonality. It samples, sequences, changes and manipulates through an extraordinary interface of shape and colour.
- Image Filter: This page applies dynamic stereo filters that can create a huge range of effects to blur, shape, sculpt and affect the sound.
- Spectrum Synth: This pulls out harmonics and lets you rearrange them for completely new sounds.
- Effects Room: You’ll find the usual effects here but also granular and envelope based processing that can produce some pretty unique outcomes.
- Sequencer: Compositional space in a quite traditional piano-roll form where you can render out finished musical phrases and loops.
- Montage Room: An arranger of audio files, rendered loops and compositional sections.
Xx coming soon
Another feature that’s in development is the ability to use Metasynth as a virtual instrument. Xx is a standalone MIDI sequencer and compositional tool designed to be used with Metasynth.
It’s a very different compositional environment that can seem very daunting to someone used to a traditional DAW. It’s probably best to not think of it in those terms and instead step into the demo version and just see what an afternoon of exploration reveals.
This video from Benn Jordan is immensely helpful in getting to grips with what it’s all about:
Metasynth is for macOS only for £268.
More information from U&I Software
- U&I Sotware website.