At the 2010 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif., MOTU announced a major upgrade to Ethno Instrument ($395), its world/ethnic virtual instrument software for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista. The Version 2 upgrade offers more than double the size of Ethno's included sound library of instruments, loops and phrases. Significant new features include preset searching, microtonal scales, time stretching and more.
Version 2 offers a 21 GB library with new sounds from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Balkans, the British Isles, Latin America, Australia, and many other locations around the globe. Featured sounds include taiko drums, large African drums, thirty new instruments from India, hundreds of urban India loops (in the style of the movie Slumdog Millionaire), Balkanish voices, Arabic voices, Persian voices, an extensive new collection of gongs and bells, extended cymbalum, and more.
To find sounds quickly, Ethno 2 lets users browse presets by geographic region or instrument category, or by a new search feature, in which users type in an instrument name or other text phrase and all presets with that text in their name instantly appear in the browser list. Users then simply click to audition sounds, without having to close the browser, for fast previewing and loading of sounds into separate parts. Version 2 now supports unlimited parts, so users can quickly build ensembles of instrument sounds, loops and phrases, with no limits on the size of the ensemble.
Ethno 2 also offers users access to the rich and exotic world of non-Western tuning and scales. Users can browse dozens of microtuning presets from all over the world, organized by world region or by scale type, and then play authentic non-Western tempered scales of any size (from five tones to 24 tones) via any standard MIDI controller. The supplied microtonal presets were developed by a world expert in microtuning and conform to the Scala open file standard (.scl) for microtuning. Users can visit the Scala Website, browse thousands of microtuning files, download them for free, and simply drag and drop them into Ethno 2 to add them as user presets. Scales can be freely applied to any instrument presets, allowing users to mix and match microtuning scales with sounds from anywhere around the globe. For example, a microtuning scale from Thailand could be applied to a Celtic harp sound from Ireland.
Version 2 extends the time-stretching capabilities found in Version 1 with enhanced, state-of-the-art audio processing technology licensed from the famed IRCAM institute for advanced research in Paris. According to MOTU, users can speed up, slow down, or match tempos of loops and phrases with unprecedented audio quality, even with extreme changes in speed, either faster or slower. Time stretching presets are provided for various types of material (vocals, percussive, etc.) to further maintain excellent sound quality at all tempos.
MOTU states that Ethno Instrument V. 2 will ship in Q1 of 2010, and that it will offer an upgrade path for Ethno V. 1 users.
For more information, watch the video "NAMM 2010—MOTU Ethno Instrument Version 2," in which MOTU's Jim Cooper demonstrates the key new features in Ethno Instrument Version 2, and go to MOTU's Website.