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NanoMods

Mighty miniature modules!
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Spread the word!

Kontakt version:

£3

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"Ultra-affordable pocket-money Kontakt instruments utilising samples from a range of classic and vintage hardware synths in a very straightforward common interface... the Grit Filter sounds fabulous. At this price all the NanoMods are well worth your attention"

CM 9 out of 10Computer Music logo
Computer Music magazine, May 2014

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Intelligent controls pack a ton of creative power into a handful of knobs. Thousands of possible tone combinations!

Each NanoMod focuses on doing one job well

Glitch button for instant, musically-randomised inspiration

Two convolved "character" filters, MS20 and Wasp, for powerful analogue warmth
The idea behind NanoMods is a deceptively simple one: take a series of rich, powerful analogue waveforms and pack them into a small, clever sound engine that takes all the effort out of dialling up your own classic patches. The result is a miniature synth module that's dead easy to use, but which has got it where it counts: in the sound.
"The potential of these NanoMods is amazing… the whole point is that synthesis is more rewarding when the initial waveform has integrity. No amount of matrix modulation can save a tepid PCM wave from boredom. The great thing about your creations is I'm always trying to control and tame this rude and characterful big wave instead of trying to wake the bloody thing up!" Harvey Jones, NYC producer and composer
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Each NanoMod aims to fill a specific sonic niche – pads, basses, strings and so on – building into a collection of fresh and focused sounds for your music. As we release more of them, and the collection grows, you can pick and choose the NanoMods you want. They all share similar simple but powerful interfaces, allowing you to dial up your own tones swiftly and efficiently using clever controls that actively help you get the results you want.

Each of the synth-style NanoMods starts with two blendable source waveforms sampled from hardware analogue synths, chosen for a specific sonic task (like pad sounds, or string machines). The aim is to choose two waves that complement each other and sit at either end of the spectrum of sounds the NanoMod is tackling, so that blending between them yields a whole host of intermediate starting-point sounds with the simple twist of a dial.

Drum-style NanoMods start with eight non-blendable source waveforms, chosen to represent a wide spread of the type of sound they offer (kicks, snares, cymbals etc). These are entirely original sounds synthesised here in our lab, and feature extra-long decay tails to allow you to tailor the sounds' decay to your personal preference.

This sound-palette is then modified by a carefully-crafted interface which replicates 90% of the functionality of a typical polysynth using only a fraction of the controls… because NanoMod controls are intelligent! For example, turning the Sweep knob adds resonance to the filter (simple) but also checks the position of the Envelope knob and, based on where you've set that, adjusts a hidden Filter cutoff envelope to a curve that's most likely to compliment your Envelope setting (that's the intelligent bit). This means that, with short envelopes, the Sweep control gives you a nice squelch; on longer, sustained envelopes, it goes for a classic resonant filter-sweep; on square-style organ envelopes, it adds a little harmonic key-click effect… and again, it does it all with one single twist.

"The 'intelligent' controls cross-reference each other to operate a range of behind-the-scenes settings aimed at optimising the character of the sounds. There's also a similarly intelligent 'randomise' button onboard."

CM 9 out of 10Computer Music logo
Computer Music magazine, May 2014

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All the other controls are nifty like this too: the Envelope knob morphs between five typical synth envelopes, giving you blips, tines, swells, reverses, organs – and a thousand intermediate shapes too. Punch dials in compression and distortion to rough up your sound. Glow brings in chorusing and ambient reverb; Shimmer brings modulation effects to add movement to pitch and amplitude, and at higher levels adds in some slapback delay for even more richness; and Warmth tinkers with a variety of behind-the-scenes elements to bring some analogue-style instability to your sound. In each case, one control handles multiple jobs simultaneously and sensibly.

In the drum-style NanoMods, some of the controls are drum-specific – for example, there's a Bend control in place of the Glow knob, and a sweepable peaking EQ instead of the Warmth dial so you can accentuate certain frequencies for extra-powerful beats.

Right in the centre of the NanoMod control panel is the filter bank: two filters running in series, giving access to a huge range of timbres. The Grit Filter is a static filter with 16 cutoff points, convolved from two switchable classic analogue models: the MS20 and the Wasp. We created 16 custom impulse responses of each of these filters being driven hard, with a hefty nudge of resonance, to ensure a warm and gritty sound that teeters on the verge of distortion, covering cutoff settings from 100Hz through to 12kHz. You can give your patches the thick warm grunt of the MS20 or the raw edge of the Wasp at the click of a switch. Then, below those controls, is a continuously-variable 4-pole resonant low-pass "Smooth Filter", wired to the Sweep knob, and of course fully automatable in case you want to get advanced with your filtering possibilities. The Grit Filter and the Smooth Filter can be used independently (by setting one or the other to Bypass) or in conjunction for some really powerful filtration madness!

NanoMods feature our Glitch control, which randomises all the parameters in an intelligently musical way – so you're more likely to get a sound you like, rather than just a noisy chaos. Clicking the Glitch button is a great way to break a creative block, spark some inspiration, or generate an intriguing new starting point for tweaking.

NanoMods may be small, but they're growing… in number at least. Keep checking back for the latest additions to the NanoMod library!
NanoMod #1: Rich Pads
Kontakt version:

£3

Rich Pads takes naturally rich analogue waveforms and stacks them up for a seriously beefy, warm sound. Like all NanoMod synth units, it's based on two blendable custom waves.

Wave 1 is a smooth, lush triangle-based pad sound, thickened by gently detuning multiple oscillators. Being triangle-based, it's harmonically easy on the ear, ideal for woodwind-type pads and for filling the background of a mix without pushing itself forward.

Wave 2 is a massive sawtooth sound, generated from two oscillators being mixed and then pushed through the SuperSawtor for a "supersaw" style edge. It's ideal for string-type pads or Roland-inspired blankets of sound, and has plenty of harmonics for the filters to bite into.

Blending between these two source sounds gets you everything from the kind of subtle pad that you only miss when you mute it out of the mix, through rich, chorussy strings, to full-on overheated synthscapes!
NanoMod #2: Cool Reeds
Kontakt version:

£3

Cool Reeds blends a fan-operated acoustic reed organ tone with a tensely harmonic synthesised pulse-wave, giving you a whole spectrum of pipes, reeds and eerie textures.

Wave 1 is a classic warm fan-based reed organ tone, taken from ShelTone. It has a bit of organic instability, a bit of crackly antiquity, and a typical reed-organ soft attack dynamic that we've left in place. Blends that favour this will have an acoustic, "realistic" air to them.

Wave 2 is generated from multiple detuned and layered pulse waves, and was synthesised to give a larger-than-life synth reed timbre. It has a strong harmonic presence and is much thicker than Wave 1, so this is the end of the dial to turn to when you want a bigger, more aggressive sound.
Cranking up the Warmth control and slowing the Shimmer can yield some great out-of-pitch ethnic reed sounds, while typical synth patches suddenly acquire a more organic texture. Background drones or melodic lines, soft washes or squawking bagpipe chanters; even full-on grinding organ patches – it's all here!

TIP OF THE DAY: Try layering multiple NanoMods with different settings in one Kontakt instance for enormous mega-synth sounds! Or combine two different complimentary NanoMods – for example, to add sawtooth warmth to a Cool Reeds pad.
NanoMod #3: Kick
Kontakt version:

£3

Kick is a go-to box of kick drums, designed to offer up everything from massive subby thumps to snappy funk-friendly thwacks in one neat little package. Simply clicking the Glitch button yields kick after kick, each unique! Use it to find your perfect kick drum sound, or combine it with other NanoMod Drum units to build a whole NanoKit. Like all NanoMod drum units, it's built around eight custom waveforms.

Wave 1 is a processed variation of the classic Yamaha MR10 kick: tight, thick and powerful, with an addition synthesised decay tail for greater versatility. An excellent all-round starting point.

Waves 2 to 5 are taken from a Vermona Syncussion analogue drum synthesiser. Two of them closely emulate typical unprocessed 808 and 909 kick sounds; the other two are more extreme variants with stronger settings of the Drive and Attack controls. Go here for both "classic" and unusual analogue kicks.

Waves 6 to 8 come from a circuit-bent digital Roland R5, with careful use of the glitch matrix, analogue distortion and drive circuits to roughen the digital sound. These are perfect for more aggressive, modern and unusual sounds.

About the demos:
Demo 1 is a simple drum loop with Kick providing the kick drum sound. It runs through each of the base waves in turn, so you can hear what they sound like unprocessed. These are your raw materials!

Demo 2 is the same drum loop played for a bit longer, except that this time we hit the Glitch button once every bar to generate new, unique, random kick sounds. We didn't edit this to cut out the duds, so what you hear is a good indication of the range of sounds Kick can make, and of the "hit rate" of the Glitch control in generating useful "keeper" drum sounds.
NanoMod #4: Hot Brass
Kontakt version:

£3

Whether you want liquid lead sounds, mournful trumpet solos, or sizzling brass sections, Hot Brass is ready for you. It also excels at saxy pads and 'boney basses.

Wave 1 is a rough, raucous synth brass sound closely based on the Yamaha patch manual "Brass" sound for the CS10, though we created it on a CS30 and added a second oscillator, a touch of modulation, and some pitch slop. Think of it as Brass Behaving Badly, and go to it for unconventional brass sounds, raw-edged stabs and leads, and full-on synth patches.

Wave 2 comes from the Korg Lambda's Brass section, with gentle detuning and the Lambda's wonderful "Chorus Phase" ensemble effect engaged. It has a mellow, smooth tone, rich depth and movement, and natural stereo spread. This is perfect for warm pads, darker toned synth patches and full ensemble brass sections.

Blending gets you everything in between: turn the dial left for grittier, right for smoother, or just hit Glitch and let the NanoMod do the work!
NanoMod #5: Analog Bass
Kontakt version:

£3

Our fifth NanoMod brings the power of the NanoMod interface to the cornerstone of your mix: the bass. Analog Bass transitions smoothly between thick, subby basses that underpin your kick, through to aggressive, raw-edged bass tones, taking in a whole load of squelchy, punchy territory along the way.

Wave 1 is a cutting, aggressive tone based on a square wave from our SH7. It's been hard-synced to a variable pulse wave to introduce both some timbral variation and a dose of raw, edgy attitude. The result is great for high-pass filtering, giving the "character" filters a lot to chew on and maintaining a strong mid-range presence in the mix.

Wave 2 is a combo effort from the modular system of a mildly distorted Triangle wave and a sine sub-oscillator pitched one octave below. This is a much rounder tone with a lot of low-end energy courtesy of the sine, making it perfect for subby basses, mellower sounds, fretless or upright-style patches or simply for underpinning your mix.

Around 2pm to 3pm on the Blend dial is a nice sweet spot that gets you the midrange bark of Wave 1 but with all the extra grunt of that sub-sine from Wave 2, while the Punch control really comes into its own here, warming and squashing the tone. Pump those cones!

In the demo you'll hear some typical patches that we rolled in no time using the Glitch button as a starting point. There are even a couple of polysynth-style stabs and pads in there, just to show that you don't have to stick to basses if you don't want to ;-)
COMING SOON: Even more Nanomods! Watch this space….
  • Kontakt .nki sampler instrument for Native Instruments Kontakt
  • Sampled at full 24-bit
  • Requires NI Kontakt version 4.2.3 or later (including Kontakt 5 and above)
  • Not compatible with Kontakt Player