Camel Audio – Alchemy 1.5 Review
James Mazur is a freelance producer, engineer, sound designer and composer situated in West Yorkshire operating as Refinery Audio Production Services. His journey began during his time at university studying Music & Sound Technology where he joined Factory Street Studios and was privileged to work alongside engineer and producer Alex Eden. James has established himself as a dedicated, versatile sound engineer and continues to develop and expand his skills and knowledge in the audio industry. His portfolio includes working with clients such as The National Media Museum, The Northern Film School, The Northern Guitar Show and Visual Artist Micah Harbon orchestrating a range of projects such as experimental sound design, recording and producing artists and audio post-production.
Camel Audio’s Alchemy synthesizer brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘playtime’. Having just released version 1.5 Camel Audio have added some great new features and improvements. Alchemy has been around for several years now and has already gained a strong reputation amongst its users.
Camel Audio presents Alchemy as a ‘synth powerhouse’ and rightfully so bringing additive synthesis, virtual analog, sampling, granular and spectral synthesis all into one plug-in. Essentially, Alchemy provides access to both a complex synthesiser and a powerful sound design platform.
With an enormous bank of presets Alchemy allows you to quickly access extremely detailed and diverse sounds which if made from scratch would take hours to re-create.
The latest 1.5 version brings the new browser window which allows fast and precise navigation to presets by narrowing the search using up to six search categories. For example, if you need a dirty great stonking dub-step lead sound you can highlight keywords in each category to filter out what you’re looking for.
If you’re like me and your musical ideas are spontaneously manifested out of the volatile eighth dimension, only to be lost within a matter of minutes, then the last thing you want to be doing is rushing to the computer, booting up your DAW, and to be cycling through endless presets only to find that it’s too late and the idea is lost.
The new browser makes finding the right sound easy.
Additionally the browser contains many other search related functions including; a rating system, tags, and comments. The more you use alchemy and become familiar with the content the more you can customize the browser engine to compliment your work flow.
Alchemy 1.5 also brings better optimization and performance as well as new content and improvements to its iOS support including a polyphonic pitch bend.
Alchemy’s interface is both simple and complex at the same time. It all depends on how you want to use it. The interface is split into three main panels.
The patch browser is primarily for the purpose of accessing sounds and instruments. You also have access to performance controls, an arpeggiator and effects. These controls at the bottom of the browser screen are great for live performance DJing allowing for quick and easy manipulation in between changing presets without having to change panels.
The Simple panel presents most of the same controls found in the performance window on the browser page. These controls include filtering, resonance, tremolo, reverb and the remix pad. The remix pad allows you to control multiple effects parameters simultaneously by selecting and dragging the cursor around the number box.
The advanced panel is where you can access Alchemy’s full potential and go into immense detail when shaping your sounds. Alchemy supports up to four different source sounds. These can be imported samples of your own or existing sounds supplied with Alchemy. Each source sound bank contains its own set of sound shaping controls allowing for very detailed and complex results.
Additionally there is a twin filter section, modulation, LFO, AHDSR, MSEG, Sequencer, ModMap, XY-NSEG controls and a master control section with even more controls.
The sound of Alchemy is endless and therefore almost impossible to define.
As an instrument it provides access to a huge selection of presets, each preset can be distorted, warped and transformed into something completely different and unrecognisable. Even if all the controls and functions were stripped away you would still have an incredibly powerful multi-instrument sound system at your disposal. If I was to describe the overall feel and vibe of the presets I would definitely say that there is a darker, deeper presence amongst them.
For sound manipulation, Alchemy is a sound designers dream. If you were to load a sample onto a channel in any DAW and attempt to re-create some of the more complex effects that Alchemy can produce then you would probably have about 20-30 plug-ins in the chain. Alchemy is a great tool for any sound designer saving much time and capable creating complex and original sounds within a very short space of time.
If you’re a composer or a sound design then this is a must and if you are both, then you should probably already have it by now! Alchemy has so much to offer for.
Alchemy’s updated interface with the new browser panel makes it very appealing to both the experienced and in-experienced user. Even though the advanced panel offers more detailed functionality and might put off the in-experienced user, there is still so much room for experimentation just from using the simple panel and browser panel. The more you use Alchemy the easier it gets to navigate.
Alchemy is a well worthy investment. The functionality, sound library and quality of sounds available are second to none.