You may not fully understand this free stochastic synth plugin, but it might not matter

Xenos free synth plugin
(Image credit: Raphael Radna)

Back in the late 1960s, a composer by the name of Iannis Xenakis began his research into the concept of stochastic synthesis, a tone generation technique that uses probability distributions to manipulate digital samples.

If you’re struggling to understand exactly what that means, you’re not alone, but the good news is that Xenakis’s Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis (DSS) algorithm has now been implemented into a free synth plugin, Xenos, that appears to be relatively easy to control.

There are three main sections - Pitch, Amplitube and Global - with the first two of these offering a choice of ten stochastic distributions with up to two parameters each. There are also “first- and second-order random walks” (nope, us neither), a variable number of segments per wave cycle and variable amplitude envelope.

Xenos offers 64 voices of polyphony and supports parameter automation. Despite its complex engine, the interface is pretty streamlined, so we’re hopeful that it could reward experimentation (even if you’re not quite sure what it is you’re experimenting with). There’s a quick start video below.

The synth was created by Raphael Radna and can be downloaded now from his Github page. It runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU formats and, because it’s open-source, you can also download and tinker with the source code.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine