After solidifying its position as the world’s most powerful amp modeler for guitars, Break the Stars demonstrates how any electric instrument – from violins to cellos and synthesizers – can benefit from the device’s exceptional sonic power and timbral flexibility.
HELSINKI, FINLAND, September 20, 2022 — Neural DSP, in concert with guitarist extraordinaire and noted media composer Michael Baugh, today announced the release of “Break The Stars,” a collaboration between exceptional musicians led by Baugh and Neural DSP’s Quad Cortex floorboard amp modeler.
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“Break The Stars” is five exhilarating minutes of intense and expert musicianship around Baugh’s Arabesque-meets-metal imagining, but the true epiphany here is how all of the stringed instruments on the track — Grammy-nominated Tina Guo’s assertive cello, Rusanda Panfili’s virtuoso violin, multi-instrumentalist Anna Sentina’s bass, and Baugh’s electric, fretless and acoustic guitars — are played though Neural DSP’s Quad Cortex, the most powerful floorboard amp modeler on the planet.
The Quad Cortex, whose six cores (4x SHARC+ and 2x ARM Cortex-A5 running at 500MHz each) allow it to run four amplifier models, stereo reverbs, and a plethora of other effects — simultaneously — has become the ne plus ultra modeling processor for guitarists of all genres.
But as brilliant as “Break The Stars” is as a composition and performance piece, its use here illustrates that it’s not just for guitars. “If an instrument has an output, and a musician wants to test the limits of their sonic imagination, they will want to get to know the versatility of the Neural DSP Quad Cortex,” says Dan Davies, Chief Marketing Officer at Neural DSP.
Sonically speaking, Baugh, a Prestige Award and World Folk Vision Award winner, says his encounter with the Quad Cortex changed everything. “Normally, I’m a bit skeptical of digital modeling when it comes to guitars. But the Quad Cortex isn’t simply emulating the sounds I want — it is the sounds I want.”
At the same time, the Quad Cortex offers the kinds of practical features that offer a working musician and composer like Baugh huge benefits. “These sorts of processors tend to be geared towards the metal guitarists, who are often looking for an aggressive and less organic sound out of their amplifiers, whereas as a session guitarist and film composer, I need something that I can use for everything. I don’t want to have to have ten different things for ten different sounds, so the Quad Cortex has a very practical aspect for me professionally. As a session player, the Quad Cortex has probably saved me 20 hours in a month on just the acoustic guitars alone.”
In fact, Baugh, who received an MA in film composition from ThinkSpace Education and the University of Chichester, paid the Quad Cortex the ultimate compliment: “After I got the Quad Cortex, I sold all of my guitar amps,” he says. “All of them. All I need is the Quad Cortex, for everything.”
“Break The Stars” was assembled using the workflow of the moment for music production: Baugh, Guo, Panfili, and Sentina, supported by pianist Sabina Baugh, a sought-after piano teacher, all worked from their respective home studios, adding their parts to the composition’s outline Baugh recorded using
Steinberg Cubase Pro software, the song’s ever-larger session file moving between locations via Dropbox.
“I’d heard Rusanda play through the Quad Cortex, and I knew what it was capable of for violin, so I approached Neural DSP and said why don’t we do something that will show off what else the Quad Cortex can do,” he recalls. And that’s what happened, as each musician pushed the limits of their talents and instruments through the processor.
Baugh’s seamless and soaring glissandos on his fretless guitar and Ebow electronic sustainer trade off blazing 16th notes with his conventional electric guitar and a pickup-equipped nylon-stringed acoustic. “A nylon-stringed guitar can be a nightmare to record just right, but with the Quad Cortex, I had a preset, with some nice reverb and room ambience, for it ready in a few minutes, and it’s one I’ll use over and over again in the future,” he explains. The other musicians had similar experiences, with Guo’s cello transformed into a metal monster for some of her passages, and the “White Tiger Fire” preset on Panfili’s violin living up to its profile name.
Baugh’s fellow musicians on “Break The Stars” share his enthusiasm for the Quad Cortex. Violinist Rusanda Panfili was already a Quad Cortex user, so she was able to step right into the remote workflow for the project.
“I was searching for the right sounds to adapt to this track and I ended up creating four unique presets that were perfect for this project,” she explains. “The Quad Cortex gives me endless possibilities of creating sounds to not only express myself but also to literally reinvent myself in terms of sound expression.” Panfili says the sonic possibilities that the Quad Cortex extends to electric violins are endless — “from super metal to very spacey ambient,” she says. “It’s incredibly inspirational.”
“Everyone was inspired to try new things, new approaches, new sounds,” says Baugh, who recently used the Quad Cortex on two film trailers he scored that are due out in 2023. “The Quad Cortex literally redefines the word ‘versatile’ — anyone and any instrument can use this device. I’ve even put synthesizers through it. The only way you could achieve this diversity of sounds and inspiration in the past was in a studio with dozens of amplifiers and hundreds of pedals. Now, all you need is the Quad Cortex.”
For more information on the Neural DSP Quad Cortex, click here. For more information on Michael Baugh, click here. For the full ‘Break the Stars’ video, click here.
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