Caustic Song file (optional):
Have been using Hexen for a little while and Caustic for years. Over the next little while I'll do some detailed comparisons- there are many similarities and differences that are interesting to note. I learned an awful lot thru this exercise, about both programs.
Although I've written several songs in Hexen, I decided to try to recreate one of the demo songs that came included, DEMO 4, in Caustic. I found some of the textures interesting, especially the arp sound.
I attached the Caustic file. To hear the original you'd need to install Hexen from Google Play.
I'll start from the sequencing. Hexen has some really cool and complex sequencers, quite a few. You won't however find any piano rolls here, this app is not the one to use for things like orchestral pieces.
Starting with the arp texture, it uses a "Tech" sequencer which is interesting. It has controls for total steps, note steps, notes set using sliders, a main gate setting as well individual note gates (Gates control lengths), what scale and Root you want to use, shift settings which allow you to move the entire sequence to one step before or after. There is a master slide setting which allows you to slide/glide all notes (steps) or you can use the individual note gate settings to only glide specific notes. While Caustic can replicate this pretty closely it's not nearly as easy.
All sequencers in Hexen are fed by a Clock module which has six outputs. Each output can be set for a Beat or multiples/divisions, for example: Beat ×/÷ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 14 or 16. This is a really handy feature, you can simply slow down or increase the speed of any individual sequencer with a few clicks without affecting others. You can have more than one clock module running and actually sync and/or control one clock with another.
Caustic, in this respect, is far more cumbersome. You have to to open the main dialogue and change the tempo to get the same results, plus if you've already used several instruments changing the tempo affects them all, not just one. On the flip side, in Caustic you can enter Tempo changes in the main song sequencer, you cannot in Hexen.
In this case, after the Tech sequencer it feeds into a VCO similar to to Caustic's modular Waveform Generator. Both have 4 oscillators - sine, saw, ramp and square. A few differences here:
- in Caustic you can create certain combined waveforms such as halfway between a sine and a saw and even automate them, in Hexen you can but you'd need two VCO modules both feed by the seq and combined in a mixer module. Even then you could not replicate the advanced automation Caustic allows.
- in Hexen the Pulse wav is a square when the PWM knob in the module is centered but you can change it to to different ratios by dialing it left or right. In Caustic you would need a seperate Pulse Generator.
Also, although at first I came fairly close to replicating the arp texture, I could hear a very subtle difference in the timbre which led me to a discovery about Caustic. More on that next.
Upon investigation I realized the ramp wave in Caustic's modsynth Waveform Generator was the reverse of Hexen's. While they sound very similiar they are slightly different. It ramps upwards from left to right ( in Caustic) vs one that ramps down (Hexen). Both programs have scopes which is how I came to that discovery.
However, the Subsynth in Caustic produces the downward ramp. See attached file. When you play it you can see and hear the difference. First you hear the Modsynth for 4 beats then the Subsynth. Although similiar there are noticeable differences.
The up ramp has a more distinct 5th overtone whereas the downward has a stronger third, has more bass content and is louder. You can see in the mixer levels the Subsynth that even though the meter is slightly lower it sounds louder than the Mod.
You can see the ramps by looking at either Modsynth. You won't hear much difference in a phone speaker but should be able to with decent headphones or external speakers.
Caustic Song file (optional):
Hi, what about the effects and the various synths? What are the differences between caustic and Hexen?
This is Hexen? https://play.google.com/store/apps/dev?id=6646022341419403545
Hi Daniele. Effects wise, Caustic has quite a few more. Noticeably missing in Hexen are EQs. I will say the Reverb 2 in Hexen is more pleasing to my ear. The several in Hexen are good though, I particularly love the Grain effects, not a comprehensive granular synth but still very cool.
There aren't alot of instruments in Hexen. The sampler isn't nearly as good and seems geared more towards live performance and is nowhere near as flexible although there's a radio module that has tons of stations the you can sample from on the fly which is... "kinda fun", I think for some it could be really useful. It also has a "tape" module which allows you to record any or everything in the rack as well as loading wav files for play back. Long ones, I've loaded over 5 min long files. You can load as many as your processor allows and they can all be synchronized. Personally that's not really important to me, if I need a few audio tracks I want to layer with stuff from Hexen I'd more likely export the audio from Hexen and do the rest in Zentracker or Zenbeats, they're pretty powerful IMO, even the free versions. I should do a review of those as well.
The instruments that really stand out in Caustic are pretty much all of them. Again, Hexen is a little different and since you likely know Caustic pretty well I'll try to focus on what Hexen does differently.
The PAD module in Hexen is very different. There are 109 pad textures available from numerous synths:
●E-mu PROTEUS (3)
●Ensoniq ESQ1 (2)
●Ensoniq SD1 (2)
●Ensoniq SQ1 (1)
●Ensoniq SQ2 (1)
●Ensoniq SQ80 (1)
●Kawai K1R (2)
●Kawai K3 (2)
●Kawai K11 (2) ●Kawai K5000W (7)
●Korg 01W (5)
●Korg M1 (5)
●Korg M3R (3)
●Korg MS2000 (1)
●Korg NS5R (3)
●Korg TR-RACK (2)
●M-Audio VENOM (4)
●Roland JD990 (2)
●Roland JV2080 (6)
●Roland SC88 (7)
●Yamaha A1NX (3)
●Yamaha DX7 (3)
●Yamaha FS1R (6)
●Yamaha MU90R (2)
●Yamaha SY22 (9)
●Yamaha TG77 (3)
●Yamaha TG100 (10)
●Yamaha TG500 (2)
●Yamaha TX81Z (2)
●MISC OTHER (3)
The PAD textures are quite good but seem to be mono single samples that keep looping and only one sample for each pad. That means some have limited usefulness in terms of note range, especially those with an inherent "pulse" in them which dramatically speeds up or down based on the note used. If I really, really like one I record the pad sample and export the wav, load it in the PCM, find the loop in the loop editor then use the long key press on the PCMsynth Level button to load it into the wave editor. Then I use the Tools tab Load Loop command and the Edit tab Crop function and save the wav file. Then load the sample and make multiple copies, one for every 3 semi-tones over the range I want to use the pad and I sequence it Caustic. I very rarely do that usually I just find pads for whatever ranges I need in Hexen.
The drum seq is also very different based largely on the 808. You can only technically have 4 drums in each drum module but can run as many modules as you want. The are 16 drum categories like kick, snare, hats, claps etc. but the are many sub-options like 58 bass drum variations. They can be randomized and seq in many ways, for example using a external seq module you could switch one drum type for another, for example a kick to maracas, or switch the specific kick being triggered.
Last for now another few quick things I'll elaborate more on later. I like that the Decay on the ADSR envelope lasts about 8 seconds. More than I need but the odd time I find Caustic's not quite long enough (although there are usually workarounds, just more time consuming).
There are around 11 VCF filters, probably around a similiar amount to Caustic, a few based on specific instruments (Roland, Moog). There are quite a few types of clocks and Sequencer modules - I really like the Lotto and Fish sequencers, fantastic for random ambient stuff which I love doing. Hopefully I can throw up a piece on YouTube soon.
The manual is worth looking at of you're interested:
Ah ok so caustic remain the best. :)
Unfortunately I can't download Zenbeats, while zentracker. I haven't a Huawei smartphone.
Caustic is a tool, like a hammer. But sometimes you want a saw. There are times when travelling to new places we learn more about our own comfort zones.
Did you mean you don't have an android phone? I have a Samsung.