Raphael Radna releases Xenos, a FREE synth plugin for macOS and Windows.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, experimental, and even a little crazy, Xenos might be for you.
I should maybe tweak that last sentence, given the fact that, as noise makers, we’re all a little bit crazy by default.
Xenos takes a slightly different approach from most synths we feature by utilizing Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis (DSS). DSS is an algorithm created by the Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis, who pioneered Musique Stochastique, merging music, technology, and mathematics.
The DSS algorithm is founded on the concept of probability distributions. This form of synthesis applies random variations to repeating wave cycles, driven by a series of random walks that control parameters like duration and amplitude.
Xenos has a very plain interface, which is good because it makes it easier to grasp the concept of DSS. Synths that are outside of the norm in any way often provide a great learning experience whether you use them regularly or not.
The interface has three sections: Pitch, Amplitude, and Global.
The Pitch and Amplitude sections contain their respective random walk controls, and the Global section includes controls for the Amp Envelope, Quantization, and Segments per wave cycle.
Raphael Radna put together a very helpful overview video that explains and demonstrates the function of various controls. For example, how the Pitch Width slider increases/decreases the pitch range of the voice. Or how the Amplitude Gain slider functions as a loudness control.
You can choose the type of stochastic distribution applied from the Distribution box. The various types are random number generators that produce different probabilities influencing the random walk differently. In turn, they significantly impact the wave produced and the sound you create.
If you listen to the musical works of Iannis Xenakis, much of it is fairly wild, in sections at least. Even pieces that sound slightly more traditional have an unsettling quality, and Xenos captures that untamed character.
Xenos isn’t a synth you hear and instantly know where you want to use it; it won’t slip straight into your Huey Lewis and the News cover band (well, probably not). But everything has its place, and it already has me wanting to learn more about Iannis Xenakis and DSS.
If Xenos doesn’t provide enough craziness for the day, check out Sick Beat Betty!
Xenos is available in AU and VST3 formats for macOS and Windows.