AIR “The Riser” Review

The Riser HeaderMost of the Pro Tools Users have already used plugins by AIR Music Technology. The brand is known for plugins like AIR Chorus, Lo-Fi, Multi-Delay, which all ship with ProTools since version 9. Now they released a brand new instrument to add suspense, hype, drama and movement to your production: the Riser.

The Riser is an instrument with one purpose in mind: create rises, falls, sweeps, swells, fades based on sound synthesis – not sample based. For years, this was done by using tons of tools like noise generators and changing pitch over time. Now you can have it in one plugin and I can already tell: if you’re into sound design or composing this is a remarkable addition to your toolbox.

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Inteface & Workflow

The plugin comes in 32-bit and 64 bit version of AU, VST, AAX. Unfortunately RTAS format is not supported, so Pro Tools native user up to version 10 won’t be able to use it without third party plugins. With it’s pink, green and blue colors it has a very retro-futuristic pew pew look and this look could be transferred to its sound, but note that this is still up to you. Though I felt blind in some way – this was because the interface is not giving you any response about your created sound and misses any realtime visual feedback.

Screenshot - theRiser Overview

The sound you extract out of the plugin is based on three generators working in tandem: sweep, noise and chord. First, decide what oscillator you use and then start to route the shapes on them. Each of the shapes affect the oscillators in various parameters like control volume, frequency and oscillator shape. These parameters have a simple progression curve, to change them over time, with an adjustable start and end point as well with LFOs.

Screenshot - theRiser Generators

You can modulate your sound with two LFOs. One runs free, while the other is tempo-synced. Underneath each curve you find a crossfader which routs the parameter to the LFOs – this provides additional modulation if needed. Additionally there is a third LFO which controls the “Pumper”. The Pumper works like a sidechain based ducking effect, which comes from Hybrid 3, with variable rates in the host’s tempo.

Screenshot - theRiser LFOs

Underneath the level knob of each oscillator the “Filter” button sends them to the filter section. Beside the standard filter controls – cutoff and resonance – an impressive amount of filter modes will satisfy your needs. On top of that you can add different distortion characteristics for more gritty sounds.

The Decay section is an interesting one: it says what it does when the transition ends. For example it’s possible to create a “vinyl-stop”, more evolving, fast and slow ends. For that you can control how volume, pitch and filter decrease overtime. These are very basic parameters, but straight to the point as every other part of the interface. A tempo synced delay plus reverb with for presets and rudimentary setting options can be set on top. If you need more advanced controls, add separate effects.

Now you may ask yourself how to determine the transitions to your session. AIR solved this problem by the use of a MIDI keyboard. With various keys you can set the length of the riser based to bars. This means that in lower octaves it acts in a slow and long way and in higher octaves it’s possible to shorten the rise or fall up to 1/16.

A massive, additional feature is that every button you can click on, is routable to an external MIDI controller. Just imagine what nice sounds can be created by changing the OSC waveforms, LFO rates or effect presets on the fly! This really gives a feeling of performance to the sound and is not possible by just using the mouse.

My Impression

After you set your basic shapes, effects and oscillators, it’s just a case of having fun using it! There are 300 categorized presets to start from. It’s a real sound designer’s tool in case of the synthesis, but without thousands of parameters. This is the reason why you can get creative in designing your sound, but without nerding too much. The control options are all very useful and really easy to understand. It’s always a dangerous thing to reside too long on a step, when you got too much possibilities. Therefore “The Riser” is capable in producing useful results quicker than any other riser plugin I know. I even believe that it is the only one . Huge time savers are for example the invert and swap functions: by reversing the sound generator controls with or without effect controls, this gives you the possibility to try out variations very quickly. To spit out something you wouldn’t have considered, the random button is the function to name.

Screenshot - theRiser Presets

The Riser is an affordable, lightweight synth with basic control options which makes it especially useful for beginner, without losing sound quality. And be sure – the Riser delivers what it promises: transitions!

Go to the AIR Website, download the demo and start uplifting!

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