New Gear Spotlight: MOTU Digital Performer 9

Upgrade features new synths, new plug-ins, and a shiny new interface
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Digital Performer 9 has arrived, and it’s stocked with new features, including instruments, plug-ins, and a host of productivity enhancements. MOTU even changed the default look of the GUI to a more sleek and modern one—although you can keep the old look if you want.

Fig. 1. Three of DP 9’s new plug-ins: MegaSynth, Masterworks FET-76, and MultiFuzz.NEW PLUG-INS

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Three subtractive-synth processing effects for guitar and bass highlight DP’s new plug-in offerings (Figure 1). MegaSynth is the most fully featured of the trio, with a visually programmable interface replete with knobs, switches, and virtual patch cables. Play a guitar track through it and it can generate square wave, octave, and sub-octave synth tones, in up to four simultaneous voices. Alter the sounds with LFOs, a Pattern Modulator, adjustable envelopes, and pair of lowpass filters.

The other synth processors, Micro G and Micro B are dedicated guitar and bass processors, respectively, and are similar to MegaSynth, except they have simplified controls, and are designed to look like virtual stomp-boxes. In addition to generating the same waveforms as MegaSynth, they can also give you cool filter sweeps that are triggered by gain.

If you’re into fuzz, you'll love the new MultiFuzz plug-in, which is a replication of Craig Anderton’s classic QuadraFuzz distortion kit. The guitar signal is divided into four separate bands and distortion is applied to each, producing big and heavily sustaining sounds. Couple this with one of the new synth processors, and you can create monstrously fuzzed-out synth and guitar tones.

Also big news in DP 9 is the inclusion of MOTU’s flagship synth, MX4. Now all DP users can access this versatile virtual synthesizer, which is equipped with a hybrid synth engine that can produce many types of synthesis including FM, AM, subtractive, wavetable, and more. Its sound set has been enhanced with a bank of 120 contemporary EDM sounds programmed by keyboardist/synthesist Erik Norlander.

DP 9 also adds the MasterWorks FET-76 dynamics processor, which is modeled from the legendary 1176LN Limiting Amplifier. Use it for drums, bass, vocals, and virtually any source that needs to be compressed.

Fig. 2. You can now view audio tracks as either waveforms, a spectrogram, or both.PRODUCTIVITY

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The Sequence Editor now offers two ways to look at your audio: the standard waveform display, or a spectrogram that shows the frequency content of the audio (Figure 2). You can choose to view (and edit in) one or the other, or stack them so you can see both simultaneously.

Longtime DP users will appreciate the new Floating Plug-In Windows option. In past versions, plug-in windows would move behind new windows that opened, which could be annoying. That’s all in the past now, as you have complete control over whether plug-in windows float or not. You can set their status with a global preference, or on a plug-in-by-plug-in basis.

Other productivity enhancements include exporting of Quick-Scribe scores as MusicXML files, which can be opened in Sibelius, Finale, and any notation applications that support that format. MIDI Learn has been added to audio plugins, making it easy to link knobs, faders, and buttons on your MIDI controller to plug-in parameters.

DP 9 also adds Automation Lanes in the Sequence Editor; Retina display support; a new Create Tracks window with lots of convenient options; search fields for Chunks, Markers, and Plug-in Preferences; Muting of MIDI notes with the Mute Tool; and a new Project Notes field that allows for unlimited text entry on a project.

Watch for our full review in an upcoming issue.