Morph 2.0 is an extremely fun, and intuitive little tool for creating out of this world soundscapes, weird twists on beats and melodies.
Pros – New design and good-sounding algorithms – Light on the CPU
Cons – iLok 1 not supported
Zynaptiq bought Prosoniq back in 2013, and Morph2 is a continuation of their promise to maintain and develop the original products. Morph is a real-time audio morph plugin, designed to seamlessly shift audio from one sound to another, and allow everything in-between.
Morph 2 is a simple affair on the outside – the main element of the plugin being an X-Y window that enables the user to drag between one sound and another. It’s clearly laid out, and in the Tron-style black background neon colour swatch that synaptic has adopted for most of their plugins
There are some extra controls for processing – the amp sensitivity, which adjusts the level of the output sound – so if something is too prominent, or ringing, you can lower this, and it will smooth out the dynamics somewhat. The formants knob shifts the frequency of the formants that you’re wanting to work with. Directly in the middle, the formants are not used. There’s also a simple reverb that can add a bit of depth to the sound you’re processing, if needed.
So it’s a very simple looking plugin, but looks deceive. All the impressive stuff is beneath the surface. For those of you that are not familiar with morphing – It’s not just clever crossfading between two sounds (although that is included in this plugin). There is some serious mathematics taking place. Zynaptiq describe it best in visual terms; it’s like the plugin takes a wire frame of both sounds, and then bends the frame to smoothly change from one to the other – using the formants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formant) of the sound. There are 5 algorithms to choose from – 2 updated classic algorithms from the original, and 3 new ones, that each excel when working with slightly different audio material. two of them are low latency, intended for live use.
The plugin comes in two variations, SC (Sidechain) and non-SC, to deal with the environments of all the major DAWs. There’s detailed set-up instructions for each DAW, and with no fuss at all, I was up and running in both Ableton and Logic no problems.
Once up and going – you load audio into the 2 appropriate channels, and you’re off and away, morphing to your hearts content between the two sounds.
With this, I found that there’s no science to finding something that works. It’s a case of loading up sounds, then seeing how they contrast or complement each other. Some easy start points are contrasting something with a lot of transients (drum beat) with a pad. You can shape between the two to create a rhythmic pad or tonal beat. Combining a melodic instrument with an atonal sound source is often rewarding – creating an unusual timbre that weaves into the recognisable instrument. Using vocals with found sound, or pads, can create the alien/angel voices that are so useful in sound design. Really, there are no limits, it’s just trial and error, with your own creativity as the boundary.
As a plugin, Morph handles everything very well. With other morphing programs I’ve had the pleasure of owning – they’re either non-realtime (create the sound, then wait for it to bounce) or there are a lot of artefacts, aliasing, digital noise, as the computer struggles to compute everything in real time. Zynaptiq have done a grand job here by creating a plugin that makes the complex computations of morphing seem very easy – relatively light CPU with not many digital artefacts. Well done!
Here’s a video of Morph in action:
Conclusion Morph 2.0 is an extremely fun, and intuitive little tool for creating out of this world soundscapes, weird twists on beats and melodies. I imagine that creators with a focus in sound design would get the most use out of this little plugin. All the focus is on the morphing – there are no bells and whistles (aside from the reverb, which is nice, but very basic) to flatter the morphed content. The only hesitation I would have is over the iLok copy implementation, which even though it is better than it used to be, is still potentially painful (I couldn’t put the license on my old iLok 1, for example. Had to put it on a new one. $50, if you haven’t got one). I prefer storing my licenses on the key, but for Morph having an actual iLok 2 is not mandatory. The plugin also supports a software authorization.
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About The Author
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.