Csound for Live Masters Volumes 1 Review

A few days ago I posted about the new “Csound for Live” instruments from Dr. Richard Boulanger and company. After some time with them, I thought I would do a brief review of these great FREE tools which can expand your Live performance setup immensely. Today I will cover the instruments in the Masters Volume 1, a powerful package of 6 unique instruments and effects. These instruments are designed to run inside of Ableton “Live” (specifically inside an add-on package/bridge application with Cycling 74’s “Max/MSP” calling “Max for Live”) and will only work in that configuration.

Masters Volume 1-


The Additive 10 is a spacey, wobbly additive synthesizer created by Iain McCurdy. This synth has got some very cool functions, like the Partial Amplitude mixer (for control of each of the first 10 partials) and the corresponding Partial “Spacing” knob (which controls the distance of the partials from one another). When you start playing with these controls you realize just how powerful they are. A beautiful clean pad lead can become a dark soundscape very easily with these simple tools.

Additive also features a handy low pass filter with envelope controls and a simple LFO with an “onset” knob. This is a great synth, I could see it being very popular with the glitch-hop scene.


Oh yeah! The first effect in the Masters Volume 1 is a doozy. AlgoSplice is basically a buffer slicer effect, taking input audio, and then chopping it up in time depending on certain user-defined parameters. It is a very simple device, but its usefulness should not be ignored. There is an added “reverse” function also, that offers realtime reverse audio of the incoming signal.


This is another audio slicing effect, but this time you have to load your audio clip into the instrument itself. This offers a whole other range of controls, but loses the tempo-based functionality of the previous tool. Because the sample is loaded into the plugin, you do not have host based tempo control, making this a more free-wheeling approach to audio slicing and chopping. This makes more sense in BeatMangler, because it creates much glitch-ier sounding of an output. A wild tool, no question about it.


SimpleGranular follows a similar principle as the BeatMangler, but it simply controls the grain rate and size, and playback speed of whatever sample is loaded into the buffer. An eccentric tool, but great for dark and noise sound design and experimenting with sonic deconstruction…


The SpectralMincer is a sort of combination of the SimpleGranular and the BeatMangler. It allows for playback control, time control and decimate controls. Not much to say about this one, that hasn’t already been said of first two, but it’s also a cool sound destroyer.


The SpectralMasking effect is the final piece of the Masters Volume 1 package from Csound for Live. This time, we have a Spectral Filter tool, which you can feed any signal into. “This plugin analyzes an audiostream and filters out all of the frequencies that fall below an amplitude [sc] level you control” explains the Csound product page, as well as the ability to pan the effect to certain amounts on either side. This tool has a darkness to it. Its more than your simple filter.

Do not sleep on these tools. They are really easy to use, and a fun alternative to your standard, out-of-the-box plugins.

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