PSP Audioware L’otary Rotating Speaker Plug-In
The music really does go ’round and ’round
by Craig Anderton
Hey, I love my readers…you’re who support me. So I’m going to save you some time: if you’ve been searching for a plug-in that sounds just like the rotating speaker “whose name dare not be mentioned,” your search has ended. This is it, and it does more than expected – check out the demo.
However if you want to know why I came to that conclusion, feel free to keep reading.
THE ROTATING SPEAKER
Mechanical signal processors are really hard to emulate. Modeling a guitar pedal’s circuit or a digital synthesizer is one thing, but mechanical objects—plate reverbs, talk boxes, rotating speakers, and the like—are very challenging because of the large number of variables. With rotating speakers, it’s not just about the speakers and cabinets; distortion comes into play, as well as the acoustic by-products of a mechanical systemand room ambience.
L’otary nails that sound, but doesn’t stop there. It reminds me of why I liked the design philosophy behind IK Multimedia’s SampleTron that emulates the Mellotron—it emulated the funkiness of a real Mellotron, but gave you the option to dial back the funkiness to have a “perfect” Mellotron—e.g., no tape hiss, no flutter, etc.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Supported formats are VST 2.4, AU, AAX, and RTAS, for Windows XP or better or Macs at OSX 10.8 or above, and L’otary uses file-based copy protection. See the web site for detailed system requirements.
- L’otary models the rotating speaker elements independently —the drum, horn, distortion, and ambience. If you want the typical rotating speaker sound, it’s here.
- The drum and horn rotation speeds are independent. Although they open to correct defaults (I’ve researched rotating speaker speeds), being able to make them faster or slower independently opens up new possibilities.
- The Tremolo/Chorale lever function also nails what you’d expect, and makes the correct transition from slow to fast. You can alter the horn and drum inertia .
- Separate mic models for the horn and drum include distortion and filtering (highpass for the horn, lowpass for the drum).
- The Amplifier section is particularly worthy of note because it provides the distortion options possible with “the real thing.”
- L’otary simulates the mechanical noises associated with rotating speakers, but you can turn this all the way off if desired.
- A Setup parameter chooses direct amp sound or one of five mic positions. This is important, because how an engineer decided to mic a rotary speaker cabinet could make a major difference in the sound.
- There are global controls for Width, Mix (I always did want some direct in with the rotating speaker!), Mechanical Ratio to accentuate clicks while de-emphasizing motor and rotation noises, bass reflex port signal amount, and crosstalk.
- There’s a low-CPU mode but the much-higher CPU consumption mode offers only a slight sonic advantage. Choose low CPU mode until the final mix (or render the track with the effect).
- The MIDI implementation is comprehensive. In addition to MIDI Learn/Forget, you can store MIDI profile (not just program settings) for later use, specify the channel over which CC messages will be received, and identify incoming MIDI messages.
- There’s a nifty rotating speaker speed display. It won’t help you write a better song, but it’s great eye candy. Then again, that may help you write a better song .
- You can’t control multiple parameters with a single MIDI controller.
- Chiropractors will see a drop in business due to fewer people hauling around rotating speaker cabinets.
PSP Audioware is one of the software industry’s better-kept secrets, but they’ve been earning a solid reputation among plug-in connoisseurs since the days of products like the Vintage Warmer. Although there are many rotating speaker emulations on the market, including versions in amp sims, I’ve never used anything that’s both as accurate and versatile as L’otary.
Is it worth $99? Download the 14-day, fully functional demo and decide for yourself. The bottom line is that L’otary is a premium-quality plug-in that delivers a difficult-to-deliver sound. -HC-
Demo video (with a very convincing section starting at 1:13)
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.