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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2019 » September » 04


The Sega Genesis gets a bit-accurate, FM synth remake: chipsynth MD

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 5:28 pm

The Sega Genesis, aka Mega Drive, was more than just a beloved game console. It was also a powerful FM synth – seriously. And now you get an accurate, powerful version as a plug-in, in chipsynth MD from Plogue.

If you’re a Sega fan, you know the sound of this instrument from the sunny, sparkling, high-energy game soundtracks of the era. So, for you, yes, there’s a bit-accurate emulation of the OPN2 YM2612 chip and SN76489-compatible square wave core (SPSG). There’s even a recreation of the crunchy lo-fi sample playback.

You get the authentic sounds of the Sega hardware, modeled with bit-for-bit accuracy – but a deep interface you’d expect from a modern plug-in. Or you know, just sit back and listen to some classic Sega game scores. (Also, you will have to account for some lost musical productivity when this makes you want to play Sega games again.)

If you want to hear those vintage soundtracks the way they were intended to be heard, there’s even a VGM player. For Sega game fans, this is your new iTunes.

Whoa – if none of that meant anything to you, think of it this way: this is a 6-part polyphonic recreation of the 4-voice FM synth with a stupid amount of sound controls and grungy retro sample playback as a separate feature.

Listen to the new sounds you can get out of it:

But it doesn’t sample the Sega. It’s a loving recreation from the folks at Plogue, who have gotten deep into this sort of hardware recreation.

Standalone, VST2 (Mac, Windows), VST3 (Mac, Windows), Mac AU, AAX, all 64-bit. NKS support, which means it’s all playable directly from Maschine and Kontrol S- Series keyboards.

https://plogue.com/products/chipsynth-md.html

It’s oddly entertaining just watching them work with their test rigs to make this happen:

And for a full tour, Cockoo takes the software for a test drive:

This is the second of the chipsynth line, following a recreation of the lo-fi Yamaha PortaSound line. Put the two together, and you have two unique takes on FM.

Top image:

“Happy 26th Birthday Sonic the Hedgehog!”by MKöpke is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The post The Sega Genesis gets a bit-accurate, FM synth remake: chipsynth MD appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

‘My home got raided seven times’: the Criminal Justice Act 25 years on

Delivered... Ed Gillett | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 2:21 pm

Labrynth promoter Joe Wieczorek looks back at a career of antiestablishment mischief-making, and the moment 25 years ago when British dance music was politicised

Joe Wieczorek, long-time rave promoter and serial thorn in the side of the establishment, is marking the 25th anniversary of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJA) by cheerfully miming the insertion of a solemn legal document into a sensitive part of a policeman’s anatomy. The founder of the east London rave Labrynth, Wieczorek remains one of dance music’s most unique characters, all spiky irreverence, Cockney enthusiasm and relentless disdain for authority. Many of his peers have settled comfortably into rave’s middle age, but Wieczorek gives the impression that the culture’s real value lies in putting powerful noises out of joint.

“We employed someone called Brian: Mr 10%,” he remembers. “Drove a turquoise and grey Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, and he’d managed to get ‘the Right Honourable’ and ‘Sir’ put on his driving licence, so his sole purpose at Labrynth parties was to front the police when they showed up.”

Related: The month's best mixes: blood-pumping beats and meditative techno

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KORG NTS-1 is here: A pocket ‘logue voice as $99 DIY kit

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 2:21 pm

KORG is kicking off a new product line – the DIY-focused Nu:Tekt – with a $99 screw-together instrument. And it has the same programmable guts as you find in the prologue and minilogue xd, complete with SDK.

The Nu:Tekt NTS-1 is funny to describe, in that it represents different things to different people. For the very few of you who are actually audio programmers, it’s something special … but it might also be of interest if you just want an inexpensive sound toy or particularly like operating a screwdriver. Let’s break it down.

If you just really love using screwdrivers: Yes, this is a kit. There’s no soldering involved, if you need the smell of hot solder flux more than the calming grip of a Philips head.

But if you do enjoy a bit of assembly, you do get the NTS-1 in pieces you screw together. If you love screwdrivers but also have … misplaced all of them (I feel you), there’s even one in the box.

If you want an amazing pocket instrument for $99: Holy crap. The NTS-1 is very possibly the most synthesizer per dollar I’ve seen. KORG actually don’t even really describe how powerful this is in the press release, sheepishly saying it’s “inspired by the MULTI engine” on the prologue and minilogue xd.

So, you have something that’s small and has some onboard jamming features, like a KORG volca, but with the audio depth of their flagship instruments. And it’s even cheaper than a volca – even if you’re the one doing some of the final assembly, and the case and fit and finish are a bit more ‘rustic.’

It actually is the guts of the ‘logue voice. See the developer section below; the NTS-1 retains compatibility with the prologue and minilogue xd.

So that means you get the single oscillator from the ‘logues, plus a multimode filter, a single envelope generator, three (!) LFOs, and three (!) effects processors – reverb, delay, modulation.

You can play that, volca style, using an onboard arpeggiator. Or you can connect MIDI input. Or there’s an audio input, too, making this a very handy pocket-sized effects units for other gear.

For those of us who love collecting little sound boxes, like the Pocket Operators, volcas, Twisted Electrons, and our own MeeBlip, I can see the NTS-1 doing double-duty as an effects box and extra sound source. Life is getting pretty darned good for us – you can literally put together a full studio of gear for the price of one high-end Eurorack module, you know.

That’s already worth a hundred bucks, but the really interesting bit is that the NTS-1 is supported by the ‘logue SDK. This means you’ll be able to load custom effects and oscillators onto it, almost app style.

There are 16 custom user slots for loading your own oscillators, plus 16 slots for custom modulation effects, 8 reverb effects slots, and 8 delay effects slots.

That’ll be fun even if you aren’t a developer. As a non-coder, you probably don’t want to mess around with GitHub and the SDK, but KORG is planning a librarian and custom content page you’ll be able to use on the Web. which will eventually be here:

https://www.korg.com/products/synthesizers/nts_1/librarian_contents.php

And if you are a developer, well –

If you’re a developer: This just solved two problems for you in getting into KORG’s SDK for the ‘logues. First, it makes your price of entry way cheaper. (And even developers I know who own the keyboards are considering buying this, too, because it looks like fun.)

Second, if the NTS-1 takes off, the installed base of people who can make use of your creations also expanded.

The SDK here supports both custom oscillators and custom effects, as with the full-fledged keyboards. Check out the dedicated SDK page:

https://www.korg.com/us/products/dj/nts_1/sdk.php

Full details:

  • Ribbon keyboard
  • 1 digital oscillator, 1 multimode filter, 1 EG, 3 LFOs
  • Multiple effects: Mod (chorus, ensemble, phaser, flanger), delay, reverb
  • Minijack audio in and out
  • Minijack MIDI in jack
  • USB port (definitely necessary for loading custom programs, but I think also supports USB MIDI – I’ll check)
  • Runs on USB bus power (< 500 mA)
  • 129 mm x 78 mm x 39 mm / 5.08” x 3.07” x 1.54”
  • 124 g / 4.37 oz
  • USB cable, manual, and screwdriver in the box

The NTS-1 ships in November. I’ll definitely try to get one. US$99.

https://www.korg.com/us/products/dj/nts_1/index.php

The post KORG NTS-1 is here: A pocket ‘logue voice as $99 DIY kit appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Where is NI headed? Some official and unofficial answers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 12:31 pm

Native Instruments has responded to our request for more clarity on recent layoffs and how this impacts their future plans. Other sources tell us there have been deep cuts into teams managing products, marketing, and design.

As I wrote late last night, NI has publicly stated they’ve cut 20% of their workforce. I should clarify that that number represents the layoffs executed just on Thursday of last week. Multiple sources have confirmed additional layoffs over the summer push the number closer to at least 150 rather than 100. This includes a leaked departure of the existing desktop TRAKTOR team in July, and additional product owners and designers, including the previous Director of Design.

This isn’t entirely a shock, though the scale and concentrated timing may be. It does seem cuts at NI were a long time coming. Native Instruments has a massive and complicated array of products, many of them now legacy products, and an over-complicated structure around them – both from a marketing and organizational standpoint. I think it’d be tough to find anyone to disagree with that, even in a week when people’s emotions are riled up by watching major layoffs.

And this isn’t just about the business – there’s a direct line to your experience using the products. If NI has too many products and a complicated organization that makes it hard for people to work together, that impacts users. It means it’s tough to execute new ideas and make the tools you use better.

It also stands to reason that even in any significant reorganization means staffing changes and cuts. The questions customers and partners might ask then is – why these cuts, why so deep, why now, and what’s the plan going forward?

The picture I’ve gotten from Native Instruments officially is convoluted. NI says they’re working on an integrated platform, but the cuts have hit UI, UX, design, and engineering, and late in the apparent timeline for whatever project that would be. We’re also now in year three of NI’s push to get us to think about services, but we’re not much closer to understanding what that’s supposed to mean than when we started. Here are some landmarks in that timeline:

March 2017: NI acquires Metapop, founded by former Beatport CEO Matthew Adell. Adell becomes Chief Digital Officer.

October 2017: EUR50 million in investment from a private equity firm focusing on digital services growth.

January 2018: NI reveals Sounds.com.

August 2018: Adell is out as Chief Digital Officer. (I believe this role also is eliminated at the same time.)

July-August 2019: Roughly 150 people, or 30% of the workforce, laid off. 20% are cut on August 29 in a single day.

The Thursday round of layoffs are part of a string of changes through 2019, many as high as Director level – including, to be fair, some hiring as well as firing. The main question I had is, beyond CEO / co-founder Daniel Haver and Chief Innovation Officer / President Mate Galic, who is running the new product effort, now that existing leadership of Traktor and Komplete are gone and the Chief Digital Officer is almost a distant memory.

That person appears to be Nicholas Goubert, who has this year gone from VP Digital Services to VP of Products to – as of this month – Chief Product Officer. Streamlining the organization under a single product leader instead of separating digital/services from the organization at least makes sense. It means NI is realigning themselves as a services-driven company.

The obvious parallel would be to a company like Adobe, although while Adobe offers extensive services, it has kept a bunch of complex product teams and silos. In fact, that parallel itself may be apt – Adobe’s complexity reflects the fragmented and specific needs of designers. Musicians are even more particular, which speaks to the difficulty of this process. (And… I’m not sure all of you are entirely in love with Adobe, either.)

The business of being NI is selling stuff to us music makers, though, so – what service? Do we want it?

Here are official answers from NI to CDM. They don’t give me a much more solid grasp of what they have in mind or how they intend to execute it. (And as you see in the timeline above, they’re effectively announcing the business structure in September 2019 that delivers the services they first talked about at the start of 2017.)

But they at least confirm that they’re not exiting hardware or the DJ market, contrary to rumors, and that the future services are intended to connect to products you use now. Note that saying “we’re committed to Komplete” doesn’t also mean something like Reaktor. Those silos actually appear to remain. I’d be optimistic about something like Reaktor, which powers tons of sounds and products. So I don’t think you should panic about any major products, based on what we’re seeing here.

CDM: If Native is building a new platform, why were resources cut?

NI: Our new organization aims to break down functional and brand silos that have developed over time through the continuous expansion of our portfolio. Given our broad spectrum of products and the overlap between roles, it means that certain areas of product development are affected more than others by the redundancies. In the past, we have simply been doing too much at the same time and this strategic change as well as internal remapping of talent will allow us to move forward in a more effective and collaborative way.

With the focus on a platform strategy, do users need to be concerned about support for and investment in existing products?

We are fully committed to our existing brands Komplete, Maschine and Traktor. The reason why we are focusing on a platform strategy is actually to improve the experience for all users of our products. We strongly believe that by improving accessibility and usability of our portfolio, we will be able to provide an enhanced and more cohesive experience, both for existing and new customers. Rather than releasing more and more products, we want to ensure that users are getting the most out of our current products through a connected and unified experience.

Will Native Instruments continue to release integrated hardware?

Creating deeply integrated experiences between hardware and software remains at the core of our vision. However, we want to deliver more value to users of our hardware by implementing new features in the software that will allow for a better overall experience of our ecosystem.

What about the future of Traktor?

We continue to be fully committed to our DJ platform Traktor and its passionate users. Also within the DJ domain, we are focusing on improving the software experience, building on the creative and modular legacy of Traktor for both desktop and mobile. Supporting this, we are also continuing to evaluate the right accompanying hardware products. In fact, Traktor users can expect a new hardware controller this year.

Okay, so the most we can come out of this is, Traktor hardware and products remain. The leaked firing of the Traktor desktop team suggests that future Traktor products will take a different form, and won’t be based on the legacy Traktor codebase (which is what powers Traktor 3).

Other than that, we mostly have to wait.

I wish the new teams at NI the best. Before the layoffs, I’d heard from the current Metapop team, wanting to show what they’re working on. And with SoundCloud failing to deliver innovation for creators, and Alihoopa dead (the Propellerhead-created online music making service, later spun off), there’s a vast space for someone to show a way of using social features for music making.

However, I can only echo the overwhelming buzz I’m hearing from the larger community. Large layoffs are unsettling, not only because of the people lost, but because of the presumed disruption to the organization. Some talent in music tech is very specific – and the departure of these 150+ NI employees over recent months has competitors eager to hire. (Behringer went as far as posting their headhunting call publicly; other companies – inside and outside this industry – are being a bit more discreet.)

For now, what Native Instruments are announcing is mainly layoffs, not products. Their main job now, to regain trust after a shaky end to this summer, would be to turn that begin to say how this relates to the people who rely on them.

I know a lot of you are deeply invested in this company – some even in your businesses as partners as well as in your music making careers or passions. I’ll do my best to keep you informed.

The post Where is NI headed? Some official and unofficial answers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Go Inside Berlin Atonal With This Unfiltered And Personal Photo Gallery By George Nebieridze

Delivered... Derek Opperman | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 11:26 am

The post Go Inside Berlin Atonal With This Unfiltered And Personal Photo Gallery By George Nebieridze appeared first on Telekom Electronic Beats.

Stereolab: ‘There was craziness in getting lost and dizzy’

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 10:37 am

Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier pick their favourite tracks and reflect on two decades of pioneering electropop

Stereolab aren’t on the same page about why they’re touring again after a nine-year hiatus. “We’ve got seven albums coming back out...” says Tim Gane. “For the money,” Lætitia Sadier says simultaneously. They are the core duo of one of the best bands of the turn of the century: blending lounge-pop, punk, tropicalía and political poetry, they stuck out like a sore thumb during the Britpop era.

As Gane says, most of their albums are being reissued. But the pair were in a relationship for 16 years, separating in 2004; they weathered the sudden death of their bandmate Mary Hansen, and years of touring that Sadier describes as “crushing and exhausting”. So perhaps her deadpan cynicism has a grain of truth.

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Native Instruments cuts 20% of workforce, moves to ‘platform’ strategy

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Sep 2019 12:15 am

Native Instruments last week cut 20% of their workforce, as part of a “One Native” strategy that is leaving some customers and media uncertain about the direction of the company and its products.

Here in Germany, news of the layoffs spread quickly. On top of a handful of layoffs over the past couple of years, roughly 100 staff were cut in a single-day reorganization. Over the course of Thursday, those employees learned the news, most in the Berlin headquarters. With cuts this deep, news spread to social media, but in absence of a public statement, there was little to report.

Native Instruments delivered a statement to CDM on Monday, included unedited below.

It’s murky on details about products, however. I am in touch with NI about the reorganization, and requested more clarification from NI and its executive team. I haven’t yet received that information.

The summary, as we wait:

Revenues continued to grow for NI through 2019, so any snap analysis you may have read online that this is in response to financial trouble are likely misguided. NI says they made these cuts as part of a refocused emphasis on a “new, unified, and fully integrated platform” coming next year, and what it terms their “One Native” strategy.

So, NI has silos and divisions in their organizational chart that don’t fit their future product plans. This has happened in NI’s portfolio before, for those of us who have followed the company for many years.

The challenge is, the current cuts NI is making – across Sales & Distribution, Marketing & Product Management, Administration, and Engineering, according to the statement – reduce some of the talent inside the company. They have an ambitious plan, in other words, and now with fewer people remaining, all reorganized into new teams. I expect that will raise some questions among both customers and partners in their third-party ecosystem about their ability to deliver.

It’s also unclear what this platform will be. It’s not sounds.com, exactly – the press statement says it will “include” elements of that. It may also include technology or elements related to recent acquisition Metapop, a collaborative online space for sharing tracks and holding competitions. The statement says this online service will connect the company’s “existing ecosystem of … software and hardware” to some kind of “centralized online platform.” For those invested in current products, though, that doesn’t provide a lot of clarity – least of all when some of the people developing those products you use were just laid off.

To state the obvious, this has come as a blow to many in the tight-knit community around music production technology. These are partners and friends to basically anyone working closely with this industry. The tools in question are an intimate part of music making for many of you.

I will keep asking questions in the hope that we get a clearer picture of where Native Instruments, the organization, and NI’s product lines are headed in the future.

I’ll share answers as soon as I have them, as accurately as I can.

Here is NI’s initial statement:

Native Instruments centralizes organization and reduces global headcount to focus on platform strategy

Berlin, August 29, 2019 – Native Instruments, the world’s leading provider of software and hardware for computer-based music production, announced today a plan to centralize their global business operations, which includes a headcount reduction of 20% across all locations. The key reason for this difficult decision is to create the right organizational setup to focus on the development of a new, unified and fully integrated platform on which the company’s entire portfolio of products and services will be available next year. This change comes despite growing revenues in 2018 and the first half of 2019, but as a response to an increasing cost structure due to the company’s previous divisional setup and multi-brand approach.

“Today is a very emotional day for the Native community. We’ve been driving innovation in music creation since the 1990s. First through software instruments, then by expanding to an integrated ecosystem with complementing hardware and now by creating a unified platform experience for the modern music producer,” said Daniel Haver, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “To make this transformation successful, we needed to adapt our strategy, including a centralized functional setup that can support our vision of ‘One Native’. Unfortunately, this also means we had to make some tough decisions and part ways with a number of employees. This has been the hardest part of this transformation,“ he added.

Global headcount reduction of 20%

As a consequence of the company’s newly centralized organization to focus on its future strategy, Native Instruments had to make the difficult decision to reduce its workforce by around 100 employees across all sites. With most of the affected employees located at the company’s headquarters in Berlin, the departments that were impacted by the consolidation include Sales & Distribution, Marketing & Product Management, Administration and Engineering. All employees were informed about these changes on Thursday, August 29, 2019. The company regrets the impact this has on their employees, their families and the community. In addition to severance packages and outplacement services, Native Instruments has also established contacts with other Berlin-based companies that are currently looking for highly qualified personnel.

“This was the most difficult decision we had to make in our entire history, as our past successes have been enabled by the work of some of the best and most passionate people in the music industry. We thank all employees for their commitment, hard work, and their high degree of loyalty to Native Instruments. We are fully committed to doing all we can to take care of our employees impacted during this difficult time,” said Daniel Haver.

New platform starting in 2020

Recognizing changing customer behaviors worldwide, the aim of focusing on a unified platform strategy is to create an expandable commercial and technological basis for future growth in the digital music production area. For that, a new platform is currently being developed with the goal of offering new ways of accessing the company’s core products and services, as well as complementary ones from third-parties. The centralized platform will also include the company’s expanded portfolio of loops and samples, which is currently part of sounds.com, and will launch in 2020. The company’s previous divisional structure, functional and brand silos, did not allow for a successful implementation of this strategy up until this point.

“Customers today are expecting a seamlessly integrated experience when consuming and accessing creative goods and services. We are confident that we can offer music producers worldwide a unique and premium experience by connecting our existing ecosystem of award-winning software and hardware to a centralized online service,” said Mate Galic, Native Instruments’ Chief Innovation Officer and President. “In the past, we expanded in different product lines, which was also reflected in our organizational structure. Our platform vision, however, requires a much more collaborative approach, having all parts of the company work together towards one common goal.”

The post Native Instruments cuts 20% of workforce, moves to ‘platform’ strategy appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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