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Music

Zynaptiq's Morph Explored

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

In today's saturated market of audio plugins it has become increasingly difficult to find something truly unique. Many of my recent articles have centered around exploring some of the more interesting and well done programs available and this article is no different in that respect.  

The subject plugin of this tutorial, however, is one that is likely the most interesting in terms of sound design and packs the most mystique and possibility within an easy to use interface I have seen.

Zynaptiq's Morph is really like none-other available. It is simple to use, inexpensive and can create incredible and unthought-of sonics in the matter of seconds. 

Morph takes two streams of audio and combines their various sonic characteristics to form a hybrid of the two inputs. This hybrid—not a crossfade, but a melding of time, amplitude and frequency attributes—can be heard throughout any of the numerous transition points available and can be manipulated in a number of ways unique to Morph's parameters.

Set-up is minimal.

Setting it up is fairly easy and the method is slightly different depending on the DAW being used.

Above, I'm using Logic X. I've created two audio tracks, the first has Morph instantiated on it while the second has no plugin and is being sent to no output. The sidechain of Morph is set to this second audio track so as to receive both audio streams.

The Interface

The most noticeable aspect of the interface is the central X-Y pad. This is really the meat of Morph and serves as both a traditional and morphing crossfader. In each of the corners is an A or a B which corresponds to the incoming audio channel. 

By placing the X-Y puck over one of these letters, one will hear that particular audio stream post formant shift ...more on that later. 

Moving the puck horizontally produces a more-or-less standard crossfade between the post formant signals, while moving the puck vertically shapes one input into the other based on time, frequency and amplitude considerations.

The Morph interface.

To the left of the X-Y pad is a drop down menu where one can choose between five possible morphing algorithms, each with its unique pros and cons depending on input material. 

Classic provides a high frequency resolution while offering a lower time resolution. I've found Interweave to be the most useful across the board. It offers a higher time resolution than Classic while not skimping too noticeably on frequency concerns. 

Tight is designed for time resolution and is the best option for transient heavy audio such as percussion. The Classic (LL) and Interweave (LL) are low latency versions of their above mentioned counterparts. Both drop sonic resolution to a degree in order to increase their time sensing capabilities.

The Algorithm dropdown menu.
Directly below the algorithms is Morph's processing section. The Amp Sense control is the most dynamic of the bunch in that its function is dependent on the above selected algorithm type. 
For the two Classic selections, it acts as a type of limiter and adjusts the maximum output amplitude of the morphed sound. In the Interweave and Tight modes, raising the Amp Sense will not only attenuate high level input, but also drop lower level input which can help to create a higher level of clarity in the output.

The Formants area allows for formant shifting—the shifting of the resonances of the signal across the frequency spectrum—up and down. This allows one to darken or brighten the output without altering its pitch.

The complexity slider is basically a resolution knob and dictates how much complexity goes into morphing the two inputs into one another. The manual gives a good analogy; if the output can be seen as a computerized hybrid of inputs—think of video effects of one person's face morphing into another's—the Complexity slider would dictate the number of polygons used to create that visual output.

In Use

The best part about this plugin is playing around with it and getting lost in the rabbit hole of possibilities it offers. One can easily just start throwing audio at it, play with some sliders and algorithm choices and create completely unique and strange new sounds at every turn. 

Below, I have a few examples.

This is a synth recording morphed with an African tribal vocal. It is pretty reminiscent of a vocoder, but it is much more dynamic in that it retains all of the synth filter sweeps, etc.

This is the same synth performance matched with a drum loop.  Although shorter in length, you can still hear the key change of the synth. The swells are not as prominent here, however.

Didgeridoo and a tiger growl. This is probably my favorite example in terms of the unique factor. You can see how easy it is to throw random audio together and get something incredibly interesting.  

Bubbling water and an electric bass. This one turned out quite a bit different than how I envisioned initially with it sounding better with the bass playing more of a gate roll than a sonic texture.

The Jury

Signed, sealed, delivered, this plugin takes about ten-minutes to learn fairly well and makes it incredibly easy to find and swap combinations of sounds to create completely unique sound effects and musical timbres. 

The only real drawbacks I saw were that it was pretty taxing on my CPU and I would like to see the Zynaptiq crew try to implement real time MIDI instrument input in later versions.

That said, for ease of use, price point and uniqueness factor it is pretty spot on as is.

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