Retro Synth is a virtual synthesizer plugin for creating synth leads, pads, basses, and other sounds. It features four different synthesis modes — analog, sync, table, and FM.
Analog mode is a two-oscillator VA synthesizer, perfect for recreating Moog-inspired sounds. Sync mode is similar to analog mode, except the second oscillator is synced to the first.
Table mode incorporates wavetable synthesis concepts, and is great for creating sustained evolving pads. Lastly, FM mode is aesthetically inspired by the Yamaha DX-7 and offers a basic FM synthesis with simplified operator controls and filters.
MainStage 3 includes all the instrument plugins (EFM1, ES E, ES M ES P, ES1, ES2, EVOC 20 PS, Sculpture, and UltraBeat) from MainStage 2 for maximum compatibility. The inclusion of ES2 is great because it still offers much more in terms of flexibility and customizability when compared with the new Retro Synth plugin. For more information on MainStage’s virtual instruments, click
An equalizer enables you to adjust an audio signal’s frequency balance. Channel EQ is the stock EQ plugin in MainStage, and it can be a useful tool for keyboard programming. While the art of EQ is something that should be discussed at length, here are a few ways you can use it in your programming.
high pass filter is an EQ mode that lets high frequencies above a user-specified cutoff frequency pass through. In music production, a HPF is often used to make a mix sound less muddy. In order to make room for the bass and kick drum, a HPF is often used on other tracks in a mix The same concept can be applied to keyboard programming. If you find yourself having to layer a few different sounds,
low pass filter is the opposite of a HPF. It lets low frequencies below a cutoff frequency pass. LPFs are useful for making sounds less shrill.
For less drastic changes,
low and high shelves can be used. **Peaking filters **can be used to make changes to frequencies that aren’t at the two extremes.
The screenshot on the previous page depicts the Channel EQ plugin in its default state. As you can see, there are eight bands. The LPF and HPF is disabled by default. From left to right, there is a HPF, low-shelf filter, four peaking filters, a high-shelf filter, and a LPF.
Cutoff frequency can be specified under the EQ display, along with dB amount and slope. Slope refers to the extremity of the EQ boost or cut. A higher slope will result in a greater amount of dB being cut per octave.
Channel EQ also includes a handy Analyzer that can be enabled in the lower left corner of the window. Pre mode displays frequency balance before EQ processing, and Post mode displays frequency balance after processing. The graphical representation can be useful for identifying things like resonant frequencies.
Reverb plugins simulate space, and can be used to give your sounds an environmental context. While the sound engineer will likely be sending the whole band through a reverb, you might find yourself needing to use a reverb plugin to achieve a certain effect.
MainStage includes a number of reverb plugins including EnVerb, PlatinumVerb, SilverVerb, and Space Designer. PlatinumVerb is probably the best compromise between a good sounding plugin and efficient CPU usage. Try to avoid Space Designer if possible, as it requires much more CPU usage.
Other Audio FX Plugins
MainStage also includes a number of standard plugins — compressor, limiter, delay, echo, distortion, etc. For more information on MainStage’s Audio FX plugins, click
here. MIDI FX Plugins
MainStage 3 comes with a selection of MIDI FX plugins. These plugins process incoming MIDI data in realtime, and a few of them are really useful for keyboard programming.
Chord Trigger is probably the MIDI FX plugin you’ll end up using most frequently. It provides you with an easy way to map complex keyboard parts. In the screenshot below, Chord Trigger can be used to map the bottom staff to the top staff. While this is a simple example of Chord Trigger, you’ll get to see and program more complex examples in the following chapter.
Harp Gliss Trigger and Auto Patch Advance. For more information and to see the rest of our scripts, click here. Other MIDI FX Plugins Arpeggiator, Modifier, Modulator, Note Repeater, Randomizer, Transposer, and Velocity Processor are the other MIDI FX plugins included with MainStage 3. These plugins aren’t used as much in keyboard programming, but you might find a use for them in certain situations. For more information on MainStage’s MIDI FX plugins, click here.