Press Release

Release Date: 17 July 2000

CONTACT: Carla Scaletti / +1-217-355-6273 / Email:
Symbolic Sound Corporation / PO Box 2549 / Champaign IL 61825-2549 / USA

Kyma.5 Shipping with Over 1000 New Presets

1029 Sounds and Effects in the Sound Library, 369 Sound Design Modules, a Sound Browser, a Timeline, and Editable Control Surfaces Featured in New Release of the Award-winning Sound Design Software

July 2000 Champaign, IL - Symbolic Sound Corporation is now shipping the newest release of the award-winning Kyma sound design software – Kyma.5. Dubbed "Recombinant sound" for the open-ended way you can cross-modulate the parameters of one sound with another, it's like a laboratory for creating modifying and hybridizing new "audio life forms".

The new release includes a searchable Sound Library containing over one thousand new sounds and effects. These are the "built-in factory algorithms" or "plug-ins" of Kyma. In the new Sound Browser, you can search the library, audition the sounds, and even combine sounds with each other in various ways. For example, you could select a granular synthesis algorithm and audition it through various different kinds of reverb algorithms, doppler-shifts, or spectrum modifiers right in the browser without even opening an editor.

New Features

Kyma.5 provides a new, high-level Graphic User Interface between the powerful Capybara sound computation engine and the sound designer, making it easier for beginning Kyma users to design complex sounds right out of the box and streamlining the entire sound design process for experienced Kyma users.

New features include:

Extensive and Extensible Sound Library – Locate, get info on, play, and test combinations of all the sound-related files on your disk using the new Sound Browser. You can try out different effects and combinations right in the browser without opening an editor. Kyma comes with over 1000 examples in its sound library, but more importantly, you can immediately begin modifying and adding to the sound library, saving a finished sound and the process by which you arrived at a sound (so you can re-apply that process to some other sound in future projects).

Virtual Control Surface – Kyma users can design their own virtual devices and custom multi-level virtual control surfaces without having to write a single line of code. Kyma does an initial layout for you automatically. If you'd like to make changes, you can do it by graphically adjusting the positions, ranges, names, sizes, and types of widgets – no programming required.

Preset Lists – Every sound or effect in the Sound Library comes with its own list of presets that you can modify or extend. Instantaneously switch between presets by tapping a switch on the Motor Mix or selecting a new preset from a menu.

Rolling the Dice – Sometimes the quickest way to explore the possibilities of a synthesis or processing algorithm is to step through some random parameter settings. Rolling the dice can be an efficient way to stumble upon parameter combinations you might never have tried on your own and to discover new synthesis and effects settings that have never been heard before.

Hardware Control Surface – Kyma.5 includes software support for the Motor Mix™ worksurface from CM Labs – turning it into an integrated MIDI controller for Kyma. When you play a sound in Kyma.5, the sound's parameters are automatically mapped to MIDI faders on the Motor Mix for you. Not only that, but each parameter name is displayed on the Motor Mix's LCD scribble strip just above its MIDI fader. If you've saved a preset for that sound, the motorized faders on the Motor Mix automatically jump to those preset positions as soon as you play the sound.

Timeline – A new timeline window lets you graphically mix and sequence your sounds in time. Control the sound parameters live from MIDI, record your fader moves, or simply draw the control in the editor. Live and automated controls can be slaved to one another, scaled, inverted, offset and otherwise transformed. Kyma's timeline is different from a MIDI sequencer or a DAW in that each bar in the Kyma timeline represents a synthesis or processing algorithm – not a MIDI sequence or disk track. It's as if new synthesizers and effects boxes appear in your studio for exactly the amount of time you need them and then disappear as soon as you are through with them.

Drag & Drop Effects – If you want to apply an effect to one of the sounds in your timeline, just drag the effect's icon and drop it onto the sound you want to process. No editing required!

Multichannel Spatialization and Panning – Assign sounds or effects to specific channels or specify the location of a virtual sound source in space. Do live panning and spatialization with up to eight channels using MIDI continuous controllers. Kyma timelines will automatically mix to suit your current speaker configuration. For example, you could mix at home on a quad setup and, without making any changes, play that same timeline in a large studio with a 7.1 Surround setup. If you create a timeline in your home studio using 5.1 Surround, you can take it on tour and play it anywhere, even if some of the venues can only supply stereo playback.

Conveniences – Conveniences like fly-by help, color-coding of sound sources, sound modifiers, and control signals in the signal flow editor, as well as other improvements to the user interface add to the general sense of the system's responsiveness and intuitiveness.

Optimizations – Numerous software optimizations have resulted in more efficient use of the DSPs and memory – meaning that Kyma users will be able to squeeze even more realtime sound out of their Kyma systems using the new Kyma.5 software.

Real world applications

Kyma is being used for sound design in film, advertising, live and recorded music. Listen for Kyma in these recent projects:

Two recent radio spots done by The Tape Gallery in London for Magnum "it'll make a man of you" ice cream feature Kyma morphs by sound designer Pete Johnston — one of them from a sweet-voiced choir boy into a low-voiced Barry White sound-alike and the other from a vacuous lady with a posh accent into a tough guy with a Cockney accent.

On the sound track of and the rest is silence..., a film produced for Dutch television, sound designer Peter Flamman used Kyma to do time-freezing on orchestral scores, creating a striking and poignant effect.

Doug Masla of One- O- Eight Music & Sound in Venice California used Kyma-granulated snare hits, guitar and synth processing, frequency shifting and general mangling, as well as FM and additive synthesis on the music for "TV Guide's Celebrity Dish" a new cooking show hosted by morning network TV personality Mark McKuhen and featuring movie and television celebs cooking their favorite food on the "Food Channel" Network as well as in international syndication.

Researcher John Platt is using Kyma to prototype "the third generation of hearing aids" — hearing aids of the future that will act as sophisticated digital signal processing devices rather than the old turn-up-the-volume style hearing aids of the previous generation.

Low Res/Crank was part of the Plug Research Showcase at this year's Sonar Festival in Barcelona using some of the Kyma-tized sound-designs of Danny Zelonky.

Sound designer Joe Lawrence used Kyma for "unearthly" sounds on Futurity's new sound library CD Metropolis Science Fiction Toolkit.

Sound designer Bill Rust's guitar/vox vocoding, vocal freeze-framing, bizarre re-synthesis of drum loops, and Doppler-ized atmospherics can be heard on BT's album Movement in Still Life. Rust's Kyma madness has also infected Sasha's Live in Ibiza on the track called 'Fibonacci Sequence'.

Carlos Alberto Augusto used Kyma in the music and sound design for the new Portuguese play Supernova, including one scene where an actress sings by the waterfall and the waterfall morphs into an accompaniment for the singer.

Two-time Emmy nominee Jeff Boydstun used Kyma for Triffid and monster sounds in Roger Corman's The Phantom Eye (AMC).

John Paul Jones used Kyma for subterranean layers of granulated machine, animal and human cries on his Zooma album and world tour

Ben Burtt and Matt Wood used Kyma to assist in the sound design for the pod race and sub scenes in Phantom Menace.

The new THX trailer played before every film in THX certified theaters was done by sound designer Marco d'Ambrosio who used Kyma to generate the swarms using additive synthesis.

and many others. (For up-to-the minute Kyma user news, visit the Eighth Nerve online newsletter.)


Winner of an Electronic Musician magazine Editors' Choice Award for 1998 and featured in the March 1998 Wall Street Journal Entertainment Technology insert, Kyma is a modular, software-based audio synthesis and processing environment 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).

Kyma provides modules for granular synthesis, sample granulation, analog-style synthesis and sequencing, cross-synthesis, alternate tunings, true spectral morphing (not to be confused with crossfading), highly intelligible vocoding, live spectral analysis & resynthesis, cross-synthesis, additive synthesis (synthetic spectra or spectra from analysis), Shepard's tones (the endlessly rising glissando illusion), and more. (For additional information see

The Capybara-320 Sound Computation Engine is a multi-processor hardware accelerator for the Kyma software sound design environment. The Capybara 320 provides a minimum of four DSPs (expandable to 28) with multi-channel I/O, synchronization to external clocks, and 96 MB of sample RAM (expandable to 672 Mb) in a low-noise, rack-mountable package connected to a desktop or laptop Macintosh or Windows PC.

Sound designers for music, games, film, and advertising have been using the Kyma software environment (commercially available since 1991) to design unique sound synthesis and processing algorithms that they can then fine-tune or perform in real time using the Capybara hardware accelerator (without having to rely upon the memory or processing resources of the host computer for sound generation.)

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 seven major software upgrades, three hardware upgrades and ports from the original 680xx Macintosh platform to Windows machines, PowerMacs and to laptop PCs and Macintoshes.


Kyma.5 sound design software is now shipping and comes with over a thousand presets in its sound library!

For additional information: Symbolic Sound Corporation / P.O. Box 2549 / Champaign IL 61825-2549 / USA
Voice: +1-217-355-6273 Fax: +1-217-355-6562 Toll free in the US: 1-800-972-1749
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