Press Release

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Release Date: 6 August 1997

CONTACT: Carla Scaletti / +217-355-6273 / FAX: +217-355-6562
Symbolic Sound Corporation / PO Box 2530 / Champaign IL 61825-2530 / USA
PRODUCT INFO: 1-800-972-1749 / /

New Kyma Software at AES in New York

Granular synthesis, Analog emulation,

Real-time spectral analysis/resynthesis

September 97, Champaign, IL - Sound designers will be able to generate huge washes of sound using granular synthesis, emulate both the sounds and the sequencing style of voltage-controlled analog synths, morph from a male to a female voice, and cross human speech with animal sounds using new tools developed by Symbolic Sound Corporation for the Kyma Sound Design Workstation. You can see and hear Kyma at the upcoming 50th anniversary Audio Engineering Society Convention at the Javits Center in New York, 26-29 September 1997 by visiting Booth #387.

New features and improvements include:

Granular synthesis: Excellent for generating sonic backgrounds and textures, granular synthesis is described by Curtis Roads in the June 1997 issue of Keyboard as clouds of sound created by streaming or scattering acoustic particles in time and in space. Roads likens granular synthesis to a precision spray jet for sound, where each dot in the spray is a sonic grain.

Using the new Kyma software, you can generate sound clouds of from 60 to 240 simultaneous grains in real time. You have a choice of synthesizing the grains (specifying waveform shape, envelope shape, density, frequency, and controlling the amount of random jitter in each parameter) or of granulating a sample, or even granulating the live input.

All parameters of the grain clouds are controllable in realtime by means of MIDI continuous controllers, virtual faders on the computer screen, algorithmically generated controls, or other audio signals used as control signals.

Analog-style synthesis and sequencing: There is more to the "analog sound" than the detuned oscillators and ringing filters you can patch together graphically in Kyma. Analog-style sequencers contribute at least as much to the appeal of voltage-controlled synths as do the sounds themselves.

With Kyma's AnalogSequencer module, you can nest any number of sequencers within each other (creating sequencers of sequencers) and set up feedback loops between sequencers. Sequencers can also be synchronized to external audio signals, MIDI note events or the MIDI timing clock.

Kyma's AnalogSequencer module does not try to emulate the look or functionality of any specific vintage sequencer; instead, it provides a means for building iterative and recursive control structures by allowing you to connect software modules in arbitrary configurations (i.e. hours of mind-bending fun).

The basic "note events" are generated from user-provided sequences of Pitches, Velocities, Durations, and DutyCycles. Every element in a sequence is "hot", meaning you can alter the sequences as they are playing using MIDI faders, a Virtual control surface, or another sequencer module. In addition to "note events", you can send updates to any continuous controller as part of the sequence. The Gate parameter starts and stops the sequence; Step lets you step the sequencer using a trigger, an audio signal, or the MIDI timing clock; and Rate allows continuous rate changes to the sequence. The start and end points of the loop (as well as Gate, Step, and Rate) are all "hot", meaning that they can be controlled by MIDI faders, the Virtual control surface on the host computer, or another sequencer.

Real-time graphical spectrum editor: Imagine a wave editor but in the frequency domain. Time goes from left to right, frequency is displayed on the vertical axis, and amplitude is displayed as color (with the more intense colors like yellow and green indicating higher amplitudes). Select harmonics using your mouse and hear the selection in real time. Selectively zero the amplitude of specific harmonics. Use the mouse to redraw the frequency or amplitude envelopes of individual harmonics. Use the PitchWheel to scrub across the spectrum. Copy subsets of harmonics and paste them into new modules. This tool is to timbre what wave editors are to waveforms.

Tool menu: There are new high-level tools and virtual devices for sound design and manipulation including:

All new documentation (over 550 pages of tutorials, reference and examples) While this does not make for a particularly compelling live demo, it is essential information for exploiting the full potential of a system as open-ended as the Kyma System. The new manual is written in a conversational style and is full of examples, screen shots, sound design tips, tutorials, and an extensive index, all of which make it something Kyma users might even enjoy reading. The manual is available separately, and it is an excellent way for potential Kyma users to find out, in detail, what Kyma's capabilities are and whether it will suit their needs.

Plus: a file organizer that lets you quickly preview any Kyma sample or analysis file, graphically-drawn envelopes, speed-ups and shortcuts made to the user interface, a MIDI input monitor, and other improvements to make the process of sound design in Kyma 4.5 quicker and more intuitive.

Kyma can also do true spectral morphing (not to be confused with crossfading), a vocoder with 22-88 bands, live spectral analysis & resynthesis, cross-synthesis, additive synthesis with 100 - 450 sine wave oscillators (synthetic spectra or spectra from analysis), Shepard's tones (the endlessly rising glissando illusion), and more (for additional information see

Kyma Background

Kyma is modular, software-based audio synthesis and processing accelerated by DSP hardware. Sound designers use a graphical signal flow editor on the screen of either a Macintosh or PC to specify how to synthesize and process the sound. The signal flow diagram is turned into a program for the multiple-DSP Capybara hardware (which connects to the host computer via PCI, NuBus, ISA, or, for laptops, a PC card).

Who Uses Kyma?

Kyma is being used in live performances and by sound designers in music, advertising, film, computer games, television, toys, radio, theatre and other immersive environments to design and perform custom sounds that would be difficult or impossible to obtain in any other way.

Symbolic Sound

The Symbolic Sound Corporation designs, produces, and markets hardware and software for digital audio. The first Kyma system was delivered in January 1991, and since that time, there have been five major software upgrades, two hardware upgrades and ports from the original 680xx Macintosh platform to Windows machines and PowerMacs. The sixth major software upgrade, Kyma version 4.5, began shipping in August, and a new PC card allowing Kyma to be run on Macintosh and PC laptop computers will ship in October.

For additional information
Contact Symbolic Sound Corporation
Toll free: 1-800-972-1749 (US)
Voice: +1-217-355-6273
Fax: +1-217-355-6562