Requirements

An Intel processor is the minimum cpu to use Crystal on a Mac (or a better than 1GHz cpu if you're on a PC). Crystal is rather cpu-intensive. Simple semi-modular synthesizers have already been done. My goal with Crystal was to offer something more. So, by its very nature, it will require more cpu than a basic virtual analog synth.

After you download and install Crystal, start up your virtual instrument host and load Crystal into your song. Try out the presets that come with Crystal to get an idea of the kinds of sounds you can make with it. As you're listening to the presets, note that some of the pads, ambient, and atmospheric presets take a while to evolve, so be patient: hold down a note and wait for it to develop. By the way, when you listen to the "Tempo Synced" presets, turn your song tempo up to a dance tempo of 140-150 in order to get them to sound snappy. Also, note that the "Swell" programs are tempo sync'd, so hit the note on the "1", and the sound will climax on the "1" of the next measure. The patch names that end with "MW" are setup to do something interesting when you move your mod wheel, so be sure to wag it around when trying out those patches.

Crystal on Facebook

You can get a lot more out of Crystal if you join us on Facebook. Discuss, ask questions, and share ideas with other Crystal users.


Download Crystal 2.5

You can verify the version of Crystal you're using by clicking on the logo in the upper left corner of the Crystal editor window. To get the precise version number, use Get Info in the Finder (mac) or right click, properties->version (windows). Current version number:

  • Windows Version: 2.5.0
  • Macintosh AU Version: 2.5.2
  • Macintosh VST Version: 2.5.2

Yes, Crystal is free.

You can find additional patches for Crystal on this website (click on the "Patches" link at the top of the page). See the "User Guide" section to learn how to create your own patches, and visit the "Demos" page to listen to examples of music people are making with Crystal. And, be sure to check this web site frequently for news and updates.

Download Crystal for Windows
If you don't see anything when you unzip this file, be sure to turn on the display of .dll files: Go to "Folder options" in windows explorer, select "View" and turn on "show hidden files and folders". You'll then see the Crystal.dll file.

Download Crystal 2.5 for Mac OSX 10.5 or later.
Depending on your Safari preferences, the installer may not automatically run after you download it. If not, just double click on the installer to install Crystal.

Note that when using the Audio Unit version on the Mac, Crystal 2.5 requires a host which supports Cocoa plugins. Almost all Audio Unit hosts on the Mac do support Cocoa plugins, but if you're using an old version of your host and having trouble getting the plugin window to display, that might be the problem.


Installation Instructions

Windows

  1. Download the windows version of Crystal. The name of this file is Crystal.dll
  2. Copy this file to your VST Instruments folder. See the documentation for your VST host for the location of this folder.
    Optional additional steps:
    Crystal includes 128 patches and 8Mb of sampled waveforms built-in. For additional patches and waveforms, follow these additional instructions:
  3. Within your VST plugin folder, create two folders and name them exactly like this:
    • CrystalPatchBanks
    • CrystalSoundFonts
  4. For additional patches, download Crystal patch bank (.fxb) files and put them in the CrystalPatchBanks folder. You will then be able to load those patch banks using your VST host. Alternatively, you can use Crystal's patch bank browser to load them. See instructions for Crystal's patch bank browser here. You can find patch bank files for Crystal by clicking on "Patches" at the top of this page. More great patch banks can be found by joining the yahoo discussion group (See "join the Crystal discussion group" above) and visiting the files area
  5. For additional waveforms, download the 20MB SF2 ROM by clicking here.. Copy this to the CrystalSoundFonts folder. Place any other soundfonts in this folder as well. These soundfonts will show up on the Oscillator Type menu for each voice.

Mac OSX

  1. Download and run the Crystal installer.
    Optional additional steps:
    Crystal includes 128 patches and 8Mb of sampled waveforms built-in. For additional patches and waveforms, follow these additional instructions:
  2. Within the <system disk>/Users/<your user name>/Library/Application Support/Crystal folder create two folders and name them exactly like this:
    • CrystalPatchBanks
    • CrystalSoundFonts
    If the Crystal folder doesn't exist, create it and then create those two folders inside it.
  3. For additional patches, download Crystal patch bank (.fxb) files and put them in the CrystalPatchBanks folder. You will then be able to load those patch banks using your host application. Alternatively, you can use Crystal's patch bank browser to load them. See instructions for Crystal's patch bank browser here. You can find patch bank files for Crystal by clicking on "Patches" at the top of this page. More great patch banks can be found by joining the yahoo discussion group (See "join the Crystal discussion group" above) and visiting the files area
  4. For additional waveforms, download the 20MB SF2 ROM by clicking here.. Copy this to the CrystalSoundFonts folder. Place any other soundfonts in this folder as well. These soundfonts will show up on the Oscillator Type menu for each voice.

New Features in Version 2.4

20 Megabyte sample ROM

You may now download and install 20 Mb of multisampled instruments for Crystal, thus making Crystal a full-featured rompler. Download the mac version of the sample ROM here., or Download the windows version of the sample ROM here..

Here are the installation instructions:

After you download and uncompress the sample ROM (be sure to check "use folder names" in winzip when uncompressing), you'll have a folder named CrystalSoundFonts, which contains three folders, named Ethnic, Orchestral, and Synth, each of which contains one soundfont (.sf2) file.

On windows, put the CrystalSoundFonts folder into the plugins folder where you have Crystal.dll. On OSX, put the CrystalSoundFonts folder into the <system disk>/Users/<your user name>/Library/Application Support/Crystal folder. When you start your host, you'll see a third section on Crystal's Oscillator type menu, which will include the sample ROM sound fonts. The samples are organized into Ethnic, Orchestral, and Synth categories.

Here is a bank of 50 example patches which demonstrates usage of the sample rom soundfonts.

Soundfont management enhancements

Crystal 2.4 provides hierarchical organization of your soundfonts. If you put the soundfont files in a tree of folders, that tree will be reflected in Crystal's oscillator type menu as submenus. Use this feature to organize your soundfonts into categories which are easy to navigate from within Crystal.

Patch export

Crystal 2.4 offers the ability to write patches to a .fxb file from within Crystal. This export feature works on .fxb files which are stored in your CrystalPatchBanks folder. See the Crystal user guide for instructions on how to create your CrystalPatchBanks folder. Note also that these feature only works with .fxb files which were created with at least version 2.3 of Crystal.

To use this feature, select a patch you would like to write to a .fxb file, choose a bank from the patch browser on the Modulation page, and choose the patch in that .fxb file you would like to overwrite from the "Write" menu.

Enhanced Audio Unit host compatibility

The Audio Unit version of Crystal fixes compatibility problems with Metro, Rax, and Digital Performer.

New Features in Version 2.3

Ring modulation

Each voice may now have ring modulation applied. To turn on ring modulation, press the "Ring/FM" button in the oscillator section of a Voice page (the button will show "Ring"). To turn on FM instead of ring modulation, press the button again (the button will show "FM"). To turn off both ring modulation and FM, press the button again so that it returns to its "unlit" state.

Patch breeding

Patch breeding enables you to create new patches which are combinations of existing patches. To use patch breeding, select "Breeder" from the upper menu in the "Patches" section of the Modulation page. Select a father patch and a mother patch. Optionally select an amount of mutation, which will introduce a degree of randomness which is not directly derived from either the father or mother. Then press the "Breed" button to create a new patch. (Caution: you can sometimes get unpleasant sounds, so be ready to press Breed again or choose "Reset" from the utility menu if that happens).

Key tracking modulation source

This source uses the keyboard note to control modulation targets. For example, make a filter cutoff higher as you play higher notes on the keyboard.

Modulation matrix mute buttons

Each row of the modulation matrix now has a mute button which may be used to suppress that modulation routing. This is very handy when programming patches and you're trying to isolate the effects of various modulations.

Legato portamento option

This option, which may be enabled from the utility menu (next to the "Poly" button) causes portamento effects to only occur when notes are played legato.

Legato mono option

When this option is enabled from the utility menu (next to the "Poly" button), playing a second note in mono mode will not cause a new note to retrigger. Instead, the pitch of the first note will jump to the pitch of the second note. This can be used for interesting trills and arpeggios.

Hierarchical menus

The Oscillator type and Modulation matrix target menus are now hierarchically organized to make it easier to make selections from these menus.

Variable polyphony

When polyphony is turned on, there are now 2 levels of polyphony available. Press the "Poly" button once to turn on normal polyphony mode. In this mode, a total of 12 voices are permitted. To enable more voices, press the button again and the button label will show "Poly24". In this mode a total of 24 voices are permitted. Press the button again to turn off Polyphony.

New fatter sound

Crystal's sound has been beefed up to give a fuller tonality.

New Features in Version 2.2

Note that version 2.2 includes many new presets. If are upgrading from 2.1 and have songs which rely upon the old 2.1 patches, you can download a bank of the 2.1 patches on the Patches page

Hard sync

The oscillator section of each voice now has a Mogrify control. This parameter will eventually control different things depending on the context, but for this release it controls a hard sync when the wave form type is set to SawSquare or WarmSaw. Hard sync gives the sound a gritty edge. As examples, check out the "Full House" preset in the Vintage section and "Mushroom" in the "Motifs" section.

Wave shaper

The filter section of each voice now has a Shaper control which imposes a soft wave shaping function on the voice before the filter is applied.

Reverb

The delays on the mix page can now be used as a Reverb. To use a delay as a reverb, set its filter type to "Reverb". When in this mode the Feedback parameter will control the room size for the reverb, the Delay Time parameter controls pre-delay, and the Filter Frequency parameter controls a low-pass filter for the reverb. The Presets menu in the Delays section of the Mixer page has options to set each of the 4 delays to reverb. For example, to use reverb choose "Delay 1 Reverb" from the Delay Presets menu, then send one or more voices to Delay 1 using the Delay Send controls at the top of the Mixer page. Note that the reverbs are in pairs, so if you'd like a stereo reverb, set delays 1 and 2, or 3 and 4, to Reverb mode, pan them (1 or 3 to the left, 2 or 4 to the right), and send to both delays of the pair.

Patch Bank Browser

The Modulation page now has a patch bank browser, which enables you to browse through saved banks of Crystal patches and import them with the click of a mouse.

To use this feature, place some .fxb files which contain Crystal patches into a folder named "CrystalPatchBanks". If you don't have any Crystal patch banks yet, you can find some at:
http://www.greenoak.com/crystal/patches.html

On windows, put the CrystalPatchBanks folder into the plugins folder where you have Crystal.dll. On OSX, put the CrystalPatchBanks folder into the <system disk>/Users/<your user name>/Library/Application Support/Crystal folder.

Once you have Crystal patch bank files installed, you can browse through them by choosing them from the Banks menu in the Banks section on the Modulation page. Once a bank has been chosen from the Banks menu, the names of the patches in that bank appear on the Patches menu which is below the Banks menu. Choosing a patch from the Patches menu imports it into Crystal so you can immediately hear it.

The left and right arrows below the Patches menu allow you to step through the patches forward and backwards. If you add new bank files after you start Crystal, choose "Banks" from the Banks menu to refresh the list of bank files in the menu. You can "undo" the import of a patch by choosing "Revert" from the Utility menu (next to the Poly button).

New Resonant Low Pass Filter

Version 2.2 introduces an additional resonant low pass filter which may be used on voices and delays. This filter, called XResLoPass, provides a richer tone for those times when you want that squishy, liquid sound.

Master Limiter

There is now a master limiter on Crystal's output. This is useful if you get carried away with feedback or resonance parameters and want to avoid blowing out your monitors.

Resonant high pass filter

The places in Crystal where you can add a filter (the voices and the delays) now have an option for a resonant high pass filter.

More soundfonts permitted

You can now have up to 1024 soundfonts in the CrystalSoundFonts folder.

Miscellaneous enhancements

You can now rename a patch by clicking on the parameter display below the Poly button, and then typing in a new name.

The utility menu under each envelope editor has new choices. These are useful for arpeggios, wave sequences, or gating.

Version 2.2 has various performance enhancements, including automatically shutting off the delays when they are not in use.

ctrl-drag (cmd-drag on mac) of an envelope point to simultaneously drag all the points now shows the value for the selected point in parameter display instead of the last point.

right-click on slider shows value in the parameter display. This is an alternative to alt-click.

Inverse pulse shape added to envelopes. This is a new shape which you can use for envelopes. With this shape, the line from the point starts towards the next point with the value of the first point. Then, half way to the next point, the value drops to zero before rising again when the next point is reached. This is very useful for arpeggios. See "Phased to Meet You" preset for an example.

The envelope shape menus have a clue appended to the "curve positive" and "curve negative" menu items to help you remember which direction each of those choices goes. Curve positive has a "-<" to remind you that curve positive starts out flat, then curves upward or downward (depending on whether the next point is above or below the first point). Curve negative has a ">-" to remind you that curve negative starts out curving upward or downward (depending on whether the next point is above or below the first point) then finishes flat.

Richer sawtooth waveform. The The SawSquare and WarmSaw have an improved oscillator to give them a more analog-type sound.

New Features in Version 2.1

Patch Selection menu

Crystal 2.1 now has built-in patch selection, including "step up" and "step down". These are the right and left pointing arrows on either side of the parameter display in the upper left part of the Crystal window. Clicking on these will select the next patch up and down in the current bank. Next to the "step up" button is a downward pointing arrow. Clicking on this will present a menu that allows you to choose any patch in the current bank.

More modulation envelopes

Crystal 2.1 now has 6 modulation envelopes.

More Modulation matrix slots

Crystal 2.1 now has 6 more slots in the modulation matrix for a total of 12, divided into 2 pages, so you see 6 at a time. Switch between the 2 pages by clicking on the "1" or the "2" in the Modulation Matrix section of the Modulation page.

New Features in Version 2.0

Wave Sequencing

What it is:
Crystal 2.0 has 8-stage wave sequencing, meaning you can vary the waveform to be used for an oscillator among 8 different pre-defined sampled waveforms. There is a "Wave Sequence" section in the preset patches included with Crystal which has 10 examples of patches which use Wave Sequencing.

Here are the instructions for creating Crystal patches which use wave sequencing:

  1. Select one of the unused presets at the end of the presets menu.
  2. Go to the voice 1 page and set its oscillator type to one of the pre-defined samples (the ones in the 2nd section of the oscillator type menu, starting with Sync and ending with Vinyl).
  3. Go to the modulation matrix on the modulation page and pick an unused row (where the source and target are set to "Off". Choose "ModEnvelope1" for the source and "Voice 1 Wave Sequence" for the target.
  4. Go to modulation envelope 1 and set all the shapes to "Flat" from the menus on the right.
  5. Now, move the points in modulation envelope 1 to select waveforms at various points in time. The parameter display will show you the name of the waveform as you move a point. I'd recommend snapping the points to a time value by holding down the option key (alt key on windows) as you drag a point around. Note that you should set the first waveform in the modulation matrix so that it matches the waveform you selected in the oscillator section of the voice page (otherwise you'll briefly hear the waveform indicated on the voice page when a note starts to play).
  6. Use the Wave Density control (in the Oscillator section of each voice page) to control the crossfade time for each wave. The maximum cross fade time is 5 seconds, so watch the parameter display as you adjust the Wave Density. You don't want the crossfade times to be longer than the sequence step times in the modulation matrix (otherwise, the sequence will seem to skip steps).
  7. Have fun. Things to try: copy the modulation envelope to the voice amplitude or filter envelope and then make the filter or amplitude change in sync with the wave sequence. Modulate 2 voices with the same wave sequence, but detune one voice and pan the voices left and right.

Program morph

What it is:
There is a new modulation target: Program morph, which when modulated, morphs between two programs: the one immediately before this one in the preset list, and the one immediately after. See the "Morph" preset as an example. Select "Morph" and move your mod wheel up and down while holding a note. The program will morph between the "Morph source 1" and "Morph source 2" programs. Parameters which can vary continously (basically all the parameters in the modulation matrix target menu) will vary while you hold down a note. Other parameters, for example envelope settings or oscillator type, will vary when you play the next note.

Program Morph is a modulation target like any other, so you can modulate it with a variety of things, including LFO's. If you use an LFO though, be careful that the LFO in use has similar settings in the two source patches. This is because the LFO parameters will morph just like all the other parameters and you probably don't want the LFO that is controlling the morph to be morphed radically during the morph.

You do have to pay some attention to the differences between the 2 source patches to get glitch-free morphing. Avoid differences which don't have "in-between" values. For example, delay filter types are chosen from a menu, so you may get a click when morphing between 2 patches which have different delay filter types, as the morph jumps from one menu selection to the next.

Program randomize

What it is:
This feature builds random programs as a way to create new sounds. If you have some patience and try it over and over, you may occasionally get something interesting :-). It differs from the randomize and genetics features included in sequencers in that it keeps the Crystal envelopes from becoming garbled.

Be careful when using Randomize. It is possible to get wild feedback loops. If you get an unpleasant screech, choose Reset from the utility menu, which is just below Randomize.

Random square shape LFO

What is is:
Sometimes called sample and hold, this is an LFO which jumps to a random level, stays there for a random amount of time, then jumps to another level. The SaturnScape preset uses this to vary the FM index of voice 1 in interesting ways. To get this type of LFO, choose "Square" for the LFO type and turn up the RandRate and RandMix controls. RandRate controls the randomness of the times between jumps. RandMix controls the randomness of the levels.

More waveforms

What it is:
Crystal 2.0 has 10 new pre-defined sampled waveforms. The presets in the "Wave Sequences" section demonstrate some of these new waveforms. Watch the crystal web site for new user banks which also use these new waveforms.

Sample import

What it is:

Soundfont is a file format created by EMU. Files of this type contain sampled instruments which may be played by soft synths like Crystal.

Crystal 2.0 can import uncompressed SoundFont samples, thus enabling you to expand the list of available waveforms in Crystal. To import soundfonts, create a folder called CrystalSoundFonts and put some .sf2 files into that folder. On windows, put the CrystalSoundFonts folder into the plugins folder where you have Crystal.dll. On OSX, put the CrystalSoundFonts folder into the <system disk>/Users/<your user name>/Library/Application Support/Crystal folder. When you start your host, you'll see a third section on your Oscillator type menu, which will include the sound fonts.

There are a number good places to download soundfont files on the web. Try http://www.hammersounds.net or http://www.thesoundsite.net. On windows, VSampler (http://www.vsampler.com) may be used to create your own soundfonts. There are also a number of good commercial sites that sell excellent sound fonts, including http://www.soundfonts.com and http://www.sonicimplants.com

Crystal imports key and velocity mapping from SoundFonts, so you'll get full multisampled sounds. The purpose of this feature is to expand the variety of waveforms in Crystal, but the intention is not to make Crystal a full-fledged sample player. So, there is a limit of 110 soundfont instruments that can be loaded into Crystal at once. Also, while samples, key mappings, and velocity mappings are imported into Crystal, other settings, such as envelope settings and effects are not. So, after you import, use Crystal's envelopes and effects to mold the sound to your heart's desire.

Also note that the quality of soundfonts can vary, so don't be surprised if you get some soundfonts that loop when they shouldn't or if you sometimes hit notes that are out of tune.

On the mac, you'll need to add to the memory allocation for cubase to accomodate the sound fonts. Add up the sizes of your 4 largest sound font files in the CrystalSoundFonts folder and add three times that number to the memory allocation for cubase (or whatever your host is) using Get Info in the Finder.


That's it, and be sure to watch http://www.greenoak.com/crystal for all the latest Crystal news, patches, tutorials, reference manual. etc.