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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » analog


Nerdseq portable will put a sampling tracker in your hand

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Mar 2020 10:02 pm

Sampling and modulation and sound generation all come together in the Nerdseq Portable – fully standalone, original tracker hardware for live performance and production.

Yes, there are two standalone tracker devices out this week. They’re both from independent makers. They’re both fully integrated hardware that run on their own. And if you want to go tracker mad, you can even use them together. Both are due later this year – virus-influenced production delays willing.

The Nerdseq Portable has its lineage from the Eurorack module of the same name. But as a handheld, this thing is a bit like a Game Boy on steroids – or a computer crammed into a paperback book-sized powerhouse.

It’s a sequencer. That’s the tracker bit, to be sure – this looks like 90s software on its 480×320 color IPS screen. It does have “nerd” in the title. Think fast editing, as quick as your thumb on a boss in Metroid. And it supports polyrhythms and probability and dividers and multipliers and more.

It’s a sampler. Capture and play polyphonic stereo samples (actually stereo, not mono as on the Polyend), with 150 seconds sample time and pitch support. That can be captured both from your sequence itself but also an external input. So actually – let’s linger on this a moment, in that this is a more powerful sampler than a lot of standalone hardware from major manufacturers not to be named here.

It works with MIDI stuff. You can actually use this as a MIDI sequencer if you want – there’s full-blown polyphonic sequencing and recording per track with support for everything (clock, NRPNs, aftertouch, CC, program changes…) So, again, this is more capable than a lot of more obvious stuff out there.

It does modulation. Part of the whole appeal of trackers is not just sequencing notes and rhythms, but everything else – wavetables, retriggering, LFOs, effects, and more. This thing is deep.

It connects to your Eurorack and other gear. Nerd-Sound-Adapter modules work here, too, so you can still integrate the handheld with a Eurorack modular – like a very powerful satellite to your modular rig – and work with CV/gate.

It has a nerd button. Of course it does.

So how is this different than the modular nerdseq? Well, basically this is as much a more powerful sequel as it is a handheld version of the original nerdseq. You finally lose some of the restrictions of the first model – more buttons, visual feedback, and crucially massively expanded sample memory.

Or to look at it another way, having talked to Thomas, this is the culmination of years of feedback from Nerdseq users. I think it looks friendlier and more capable – and the form factor means it can go anywhere. Or you can squeeze it next to any other gear you want to sequence.

Wait so with this and the Tracker, which should you get? Neither, dummy, they’re not shipping yet.

But these do represent a different approach. The form factor isn’t just aesthetic; it means different use cases and audiences. It’s not that nerdseq is for chip music people – it’s more that you’ll have controls under your thumb and it takes up less space. nerdseq also comes closer to the feeling of tools like LSDJ – or if you’ve never touched those before, again, it’s still about focusing on the tracker itself.

Polyend’s Tracker lacks stereo samples, but expands to more performance and editing features that make it feel like a cross-breed with what you’d expect from Maschine, MPC, or an Elektron box (for example).

Or put the two together. (Yo, dawg, I hear you like trackers, so I — wait, I’m being told by someone under age 35 that I should cease making references to the Xzibit Yo Dawg meme in 2020.)

Due this summer.

Official site: https://xor-electronics.com/nerdseq-portable/ [with more specs – and they’re impressive; this is no toy!]

No videos yet, but – for all of you who whine “I don’t know if I was impressed by the demo video,” I have a solution. You will definitely not be impressed by this video. (Creator Thomas hasn’t been able to go see his video demo person! You know – social distancing. So if you yell at him, really, you’re saying human lives don’t matter.)

Okay, actually I love it, because it keeps with the bossa nova theme that is subtly threaded through this week on CDM.

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Exquisite paintings, with analog signal and modular gear as brush

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 Jan 2020 11:15 pm

Working with image signal instead of sound remains to many an undiscovered country. One artist is producing beautiful meditations on analog video – and charting his work.

Christopher Konopka treats the Eurorack modular as a canvas, carefully producing slow-moving, richly organic work. He calls them “emotional abstractions” – and relates the experience of navigating new textures to that of our perception of time and memory.

You can watch this, along with musings on what he’s doing and how the patches work, in an exhaustive YouTube channel. It’s some mesmerizing inspiration:

Oh yeah – so how do you remember work, when it exists as ephemeral combinations of knobs and patch cables? Christopher has added one obsessive layer of digital organization, a data project he calls “broadcast-research.” Using scripts and code he shares on his GitHub, he automates the process of recording and organizing texture output, all in open source tools.

So there’s a meeting of digital and analog – and Christopher even suggests this data set could be used with machine learning.

(Hot tip – even if you’re happy to let your own creations disappear “like tears in the rain” and all that jazz, you might poke around hit GitHub repository and fork it as you’ll find some handy recipes and models for working with these tools for other projects. It’s done in Go + Bash command line scripts + free graphics tools FFprobe, FFmpeg, and ImageMagick, which are great alternatives to getting sucked into Photoshop glacially loading and then crashing. Ahem.)

The hardware in question:

Lots more – including an artist statement – on his site:

https://github.com/cskonopka/broadcast-research

ImageMagick is genius, by the way – time to do another recipe round-up, a la (see also comments here):

Previously, related:

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Behringer’s first 11 Eurorack modules are here – and they’re even called System 100

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 16 Jan 2020 6:44 pm

Behringer promised to recreate the Roland System 100 modular system, and they’ve done that – with a system they call the System 100.

There’s no pricing or other details yet; everything is in a system.

There’s not a lot to say, because spec-for-spec, this is the same as a 1975 System 100. It’s just been scaled down to make sense as Eurorack and (presumably) to keep the price down.

Roland oscillators are … well, pretty vanilla now given other options. But there are useful utility modules, a particularly interesting phase shifter, and all the other features that made the Roland system popular in the first place.

On some level, it’s a shame no one is copying the charming look of the original System 100 – or its distinctive keyboard hub. Even Roland aren’t attempting that. But of course that would mean a higher price tag, and it might not fit as readily into a Eurorack system.

But these should be expected to be solid sellers, even before knowing the price – because Behringer have done a complete set, and it looks like fit and finish and so on are dead-on. Also, Behringer have a leg up that even Roland didn’t have with their own modular additions – I suspect a lot of people will do exactly what you see in the video, and couple Behringer’s rack-mountable, patchable desktop synths with these modular add-ons. The Neutron and its ilk made an obvious entry level for selling people up to more modules.

Say what you will about Behringer, but if other makers didn’t offer that option, that’s on them.

Of course, what you don’t get here is new ideas – so as with all the remakes debuting in 2020, the best advice to any independent maker remains, make something that isn’t from the 1970s … for example. I’m not sure even the 1970s had as many announcements from the 1970s as this week.

Again, still no pricing or availability, but here at least are those stills so you don’t have to pause through (why, Behringer, did you do that, exactly?)

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Sequential’s Pro 3 is a new Prophet, while the others clone – so how does it stack up?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 15 Jan 2020 2:06 am

One person who isn’t just copying Dave Smith is – Dave Smith. Sequential are back with the new Pro-3, a flagship mono/paraphonic synth instrument.

Okay, to be fair – a Sequential synth (or Dave Smith Instruments synth) is always going to give you certain predictable elements, if in different combinations. But the Pro-3 at least continues the evolution and refinement of that line. And it offers an extraordinary amount of depth as a result – in the sense that you could really just play with this thing a … long … time … happily so …

The Pro 3 is right in line with the Pro line – the Pro 1 and Pro 2 monosynths, that is – but with some new ideas thrown into the mix. With that in mind, let’s first talk about what just went away – the Pro 2, the previous flagship monosynth. And in some ways, the Pro 2 is likely to be missed – for its uniquely accessible oscillators and architecture, and its 4-voice paraphonic mode.

The Pro 3 is pretty irresistible, though, in that it does three things:

  1. Builds a new architecture around three of everything – three oscillators (2 analog + 1 wavetable), three LFOs, and three filters to choose from to keep it fresh.
  2. Acts as a central workstation, with a powerful front panel sequencer (building on the Pro-2) and now CV integration so it fits in with modular.
  3. Costs just US$1599.

And that last one is a big deal. A producer can easily save up for this one instrument and wind up with a massively flexible powerhouse for sound design, with sequencing built in. Sequential’s stuff has managed to get more powerful but less expensive, and yet you still get something that feels luxurious, boutique, and – well, personal, in a way a big mass-produced thing might not.

This is Dave. As far as we know, no one has yet cloned him or his team.

Some highlights:

Dual digital effects – again, you can do a whole lot right on this one keyboard, but without menu diving as you might on a digital workstation

A 32-slot mod matrix for loads of modulation

Analog integration – four CV ins, four outputs, dedicated gate output – all running at audio rate (take that, MIDI!) and all assignable from that powerful mod matrix

Classic Sequential analog oscillators, times two

One wavetable oscillator for the edgy digital spice when you need it, for the third oscillator – 32 tables of 16 waves each, with wave morphing, so a lot of spice

Three vintage filters to choose from – 4-pole low pass (a la Prophet-6), 2-pole state-variable (a la Oberheim OB-6) for continuously moving between low-pass + notch + high-pass,

Analog distortion, Drive control on the filters

And all of this combines with a sequencer, included on the keyboard so the workflow is integrated. That includes ratcheting, input via both real-time and step-input, and works with both MIDI and CV (and analog and MIDI clock, too).

Plus, the sequencer integrates with the mod matrix – noticing the pattern here? That justifies the inclusion of a sequencer on the keyboard, because then integration is already done for you. Instead of spending your time programming, or working to assign your sequencer to your instrument, you can get right into playing and sequencing.

(I say all of this because – I just read some concerns from a colleague, and this is essentially my answer.)

So sure, you get 3-voice paraphonic mode instead of 4, but as deep and wild as the Pro-2 was, the Pro-3 seems deeper and wilder.

The SE edition, if you have extra money and want something more collectible. Also – tilt-up panel is definitely cool, whether or not you crave wood.

Heck, in this giant wave of polysynths, the Pro-3 is a pretty damn good argument for getting back to monosynths again.

And you know the package will be plenty luxe, as per usual Sequential standards. If you want it to be even more so, you can spring for the Special Edition, for US$2099. That includes a tilt-up control panel and “full, premium-grade walnut trim.” I’m sure it’ll be a collectors’ item, but I’m tempted to just buy a stand to tilt this up and then go with a nice bottle of bourbon while I invite friends over for some Pro-3 jams, you know?

A little birdie told me some close friends of CDM might have worked on this beautiful beast, and I know it’ll be at NAMM, so I will send our espionage network out to learn more.

But even in this deluge of synths, the Pro-3 looks really lovely.

More on the somewhat complicated endless stream of DSI/Sequential instruments can be perused in the PDF chart they put together. Basically, if you want a really cheap 4-voice, find a used MOPHO X4. The Pro-2 was all digital oscillators, but you did get more of them – 4x + 1 sub oscillator, meaning a used Pro-2 should still be on your radar if you’re thinking Pro-3. And then there are the very excellent polyphonic Prophets.

More at Sequential (formerly DSI aka Dave Smith Instruments):

Previously:

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KORG have new hybrid/analog mixers, made with Greg Mackie and Peter Watts

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 14 Jan 2020 4:27 pm

Surprise – the best product news from KORG this year might not be a synth. Their new mixer looks like the one we’ve been waiting for.

Let’s face it – it hasn’t been a great time for mixers. The mixing class divide has only grown. So there are some excellent high-end analog boutique and live-oriented digital mixers that you can’t afford. And then at the entry level, there’s been the race to the bottom that sees armies of clones and dropping quality without much innovation. Those you can afford, which is a good thing, but there’s not much to be passionate about.

KORG have gone back to the mixer design team that made a lot of stuff that producers and live performers really love as much as mix engineers. That means bringing in Greg Mackie and Peter Watts.

I don’t want to get too excited too fast – especially not knowing the street price. But at least on paper, this looks like promising stuff.

The KORG SoundLink comes in very reasonable looking 24- and 16-channel models. They’ve got nice, compact form factors that are nonetheless packed with features. And then they have DSP and KORG effects.

So you get the MW2408 (24-channel) and MW160 (16-bit) – analog mixers with digital control and DSP from KORG.

Looking at the layout, features, and the people behind it, I’m very, very interested. Some highlights:

HiVolt mic preamps – and keeping in mind Peter Watts worked on the Trident preamps that everyone is trying to copy

Mute groups – even on a compact mixer. (YES.)

Independent musician phone outputs, with dedicated knobs so your musicians can hear what they’re doing and control their own outputs. (YES, again.)

Built-in KORG effects and easy-access DSP. All your dynamics and reverb and EQ and spectrum analyzers and essentially what you’d expect on your computer DAW are now also in your mixer. The surprise is, it looks like there’s not too much menu diving – thanks to dedicated buttons to assign these. There’s even a test tone generator.

And yes, it’s Greg Mackie – that Mackie – who perhaps more than anyone has bridged the gap between what musicians and mixing engineers want and the mixer design and engineering that delivers. That sounds like marketing copy, but once you get past the influential early studio consoles, and very practical mixers for studios, most of the design of mixers used by musicians and producers has some ideas borrowed from Greg.

Peter Watts is an equally legendary engineer, and seeing the two of them with KORG’s own input – I think that’s a big deal.

If the price is within reach, I think it’ll be a hit. I mean, if it’s in reach, this is the one I would be looking to buy.

I have loads of questions, as I didn’t get complete specs on this, so I’m inferring a lot from the images (click through for bigger ones). Stay tuned for some answers.

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KORG add two more Nu:Tekt kits: headphone amp, valve overdrive

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sat 11 Jan 2020 3:17 am

KORG are adding to their inexpensive, easy put-them-together kits with a headphone amp and valve overdrive.

The Nu:Tekt line came out first with the NTS-1. That’s still the most exciting Nu:Tekt, in that it’s pretty close to having a voice from the ‘logue line – and since it supports the ‘logue SDK, you can run a variety of downloadable third-party oscillators and effects on it, some of them free.

The valve overdrive and headphone amp are not really anything like that, but they do look like fun and useful tools, and they’re still delivered as a kit.

There’s no soldering or anything advanced on these kits – as far as assembly, they’re the musical equivalent of those snap-together model airplanes for children. But on the other hand, they’re the opposite of a lot of our consumer society today. You still handle the parts and put them together.

OD-S Overdrive kit parts. All photos courtesy KORG.

And while that’s just busy work, KORG are keeping with the idea of customization with each of these products, which is interesting – especially from a big music gear brand, and not just a boutique operation. The customization takes different forms on each of these two new products.

Short version:

  1. There’s a tube-based overdrive effect
  2. There’s a tube-based headphone amplifier

…and each lets you modify parts to customize its sound, if you so choose.

OD-S Nutube Overdrive

KORG have been pushing their all-new, all-analog Nutube tubes, made with Noritake Itron Corporation. They’re small, energy-efficient, and stable compared to vintage tubes, but offer similar sound.

So just as the NTS-1 put a ‘logue synthesizer voice into a compact kit, so does the OD-S give you quick and easy overdrive access in your own little overdrive pedal. And that’s appealing to synthesists and guitarists alike, I think.

Part of what makes this interesting are the controls. There are two gain knobs instead of one. There’s input gain, as you’d expect, but also TUBE GAIN, which adjusts the load on the tube – so you get a second timbral control to color the distortion, in other words. And there’s a switch with two overdrive types / ranges – low and high.

But what’s customizable about it?

Well, that’s the fun part – this thing is built to be modified. As KORG explains:

For advanced users who want to customize their tone further, the modification-friendly layout allows you to change out discrete components to create your own unique pedal to match your desired tone and performance. The possibilities are endless. Circuit diagrams are readily available in the download section.

Of course, if you’re advanced enough to do that, you could also just build your own overdrive from scratch. But the nice thing here is, your basic layout is done, you’ve got a housing, you’ve got that cool, modern tube, and you can just swap out parts. That puts you in the role of the engineers finishing and tuning a design rather than trying to start one from scratch.

HA-S Nutube Headphone Amplifier Kit

On the headphone amp, you also start with the Nutube, but apply it to a warm headphone amp. (Blah blah “audiophile” something something. Hey, if it sounds good, I’m in.)

KORG have included a switch so you can choose whether or not the tube adds harmonic content. That gives you an option of a colored or clean sound; hopefully the clean sound is useful for monitoring applications.

But as with the OD-S, you can make modifications:

For further sound modification, we have included two OP amp options for the output: the premium audio oriented “MUSES01” and the industry standard “NJM4580”, both from JRC. These can be easily replaced so even the most purist audiophiles will be able to customize and adapt the sound of their HA-S to their heart’s content.

For advanced users who want to customize their amplifier even more, the circuit diagrams are readily available, making it really easy to change discrete components and make your own and unique headphone amp matching your desired tone and performance, the possibilities are endless!

To me, this doesn’t look as generically useful as the overdrive – I’d prefer my headphone amp to be as neutral as possible, and I’m not particularly interested in modifying it, especially if I need to monitor a mix for production. I realize that probably means I’m not the target demographic anyway.

But they’re both nifty ideas, and they demonstrate that KORG are up for sharing kits containing small but tasty bits of their tech. There’s not any other big maker doing anything like this, and it builds on work KORG has already done, like making hackable analog instruments and releasing their MS-20 filter circuit.

It also shows that hackable and open can be made manageable by focusing on a particular area. That seems to broaden appeal of those sorts of modifications, and brings music gear back full circle to an era when manufacturers posted circuit diagrams as an expected part of documentation.

CDM is awaiting final availability and pricing on these products. Let us know if you have other questions for KORG.

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ARP/KORG reissue the ARP 2600 semi-modular synth – and an ARP documentary to watch, too

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 10 Jan 2020 7:47 pm

As expected, we’re getting a limited-run, faithful recreation of the ARP 2600, one of the best-known semi-modular instruments of all time.

It’s 1970 all over again.

In a partnership between Japanese manufacturer KORG, who now have the ARP brand name at their disposal, and ARP co-founder David Friend, “ARP Instruments” is back as a maker. There’s now an arpsynth.com website, and the press release actually says ARP on it in big letters rather than KORG. It’s technically speaking still a KORG product, but it seems KORG are leaning hard on the authenticity of what they’re making, and the fact that they worked with ARP veterans.

Branding aside, the actual product really does look, sound, and operate effectively like the original, with only some minor affordances to modern convenience. So yes, there’s of course USB and MIDI DIN I/O plus XLR audio output – we aren’t Cro-Magnon humans here.

But otherwise, what you get is a 1970 package – and a strange realization that what was an advanced synthesizer a half century ago is still a powerful workstation today. (Well, hey, the violin and piano have lasted far longer than 50 years.)

Some of those features:

  • ARP 3620 duophonic keyboard (the improved model)
  • Tons of oscillators, envelopes, filter, amplifier – something that could well give a Eurorack kit of the same price a run for its money
  • Audio preamp for input
  • Ring modulation, lag and voltage processors, envelope follower
  • Clock-able switch (which now can also work with USB + MIDI)
  • Aux mixer, plus parallel-wired multis
  • Sample and hold module, signal inverters
  • Spring reverb tank
  • Built-in monitor speakers
  • Integrated carry case

Maybe the 2600 was just ahead of its time. With normalled paths for signal, and even 3.5mm minijacks (1/8″) – just like modern Euro, but from 1970 – the 2600 almost looks like it was made for today’s market.

It’s got flexible envelopes, tunable noise, solid 4-pole filters with -24/dB rolloff, and it’s just eminently playable, thanks to all those easy-access sliders.

And maybe that’s a good thing about all these recreations. They give hands-on access to some of the best designs of the past, and force new designs to compete – and genuinely improve on what came before. That’s always been the case with acoustic instruments, who likewise benefit from high-quality makers and not only cheap clones.

Or at least, that’s the potential if musicians educate themselves about these instruments and imagine new ideas, rather than just blindly following old brands because they’re established.

There’s already a preorder available, for US $3,899.99, with shipping next month. Happy Valentine’s Day to … someone with a generous partner.

That sounds high, but it’s notably below the price of digital workstations like even KORG’s OASYS not so long ago, even before accounting for inflation. And many Eurorack rigs start at least that high. It’s also vastly preferable to trying to buy aging, increasingly expensive and increasingly non-working historical models – see Reverb.com pricing, which is higher than this. Synths just don’t last like violins do. (I can’t find an original ARP price to know what it’d be in modern dollars … a lot.)

That said, if you want a free fix of ARP history, KORG and Reverb have teamed up on an excellent documentary that all of us can watch for inspiration in our own patching and sound design.

And we can gawk at these pretty pictures KORG sent over, too.

Also, I would definitely buy this and make R2-D2 noises before spending even more on a full-sized R2-D2 droid.

http://www.arpsynth.com/en/

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“Yes I Did” is a witch-y anthem, and more genre-bending, feel-good Sky Deep creations

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 28 Nov 2019 2:50 pm

With a background ranging from soul to porn and roots spanning from LA and NYC to Berlin, Sky Deep delivers something unique and brilliantly affirming.

Sky Deep is a DJ/producer, but also – well, a lot of other things. She’s an award-winning indie/queer porn film producer. She curates a festival. She tours with the amazing Peaches and dances in that insanely high-energy stage show – which you can catch in some fleeting bit, somehow avoiding Facebook’s draconian censorship. She’s a vocalist, a guitarist, an MC, she makes music that is quirky and honest and fresh and not stuck in genre-perfectionism.

And she can hit an earworm head-on, in overlooked gems like her latest “Yes I Did,” which gets an accompanying happy-queer, witchy-good video. (This seems worth showing just so that it’s clear that Berlin is not populated only by emo people hanging out in car parks clad in black, as certain techno promo photos might have you believe – as though Germany were perpetually black-and-white, like the beginning of Wizard of Oz. I mean, some days feel like that, for sure, but not so much as to completely obliterate the spectrum of visual light. One hopes.)

If that hasn’t already grabbed you, check the Electrosexual remix on the EP release from June, which seems absolutely mix-friendly.

For more catch-y, positive, oddball pop, check “Swerve” and its fun video of roller skating:

What I enjoy as much as the song and video is the story of how she got out of a creative rut through synth gear and roller-skating:

Right before I made ‘Swerve’, I was in the middle of a creative block and in the process of changing my whole music production workflow. I was rebuilding whilst seeking inner inspiration. Luckily for me, I’ve got some really loving and generous friends in music.One in particular, let me borrow her SE-02 while she went on tour. I spent a couple of weeks learning the new machine and created kicks, snares, hi-hats and basslines for my sound library. Later, I borrowed another friend’s OB-6 to finish the rest of the track. I was inspired by good times and I remembered back in the day roller skating to the basslines of 90’s Californian hip-hop. That’s what inspired me to connect further with my dear family friend and roller skate enthusiast on the artwork, music video and Swerve T-shirts.

Those are two very excellent synths – the Sequential (Dave Smith/Tom Oberheim) OB-6 poly and the Roland Boutique / Studio Electronics analog SE-02.

More on that story in the premiere post from earlier this year:

But beyond that, it’s great that she used sense memory and something personal and emotional, and … you know, what’s better than roller skating for freeing up that physical feeling in music?

Here’s a great mix demonstrating just how eclectic her tastes can run:

It’s worth checking Sky’s other cultural inter-connections, too. She’s been part of a renewed interest in once-forgotten gay black composer Julius Eastman, including joining a performance ensemble reviving his work:

And even as laws and social media moires in our own home country the USA threaten to gag free expression, Sky is part of a sex-positive filmmaking movement here in Berlin. Even mighty VICE are taking notice:

Berlin’s Porn Scene Is Open, Experimental, and Endlessly Fun [VICE]

And in 2017 she was part of a well-worth-reading panel for Mixmag on combating discrimination and harassment in clubland:

INDUSTRY FIGURES TELL US HOW TO COMBAT SEXISM AND HARASSMENT IN DANCE MUSIC

Check her official site for more:

https://www.skydeepofficial.com/

Feature photo: Alexa Vachon.

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Behringer 303 clones revealed: $199 street

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 Nov 2019 4:31 pm

Behringer’s analog remake of the 303 is now out in the open – a $199 set of red, blue, and silver synths called the TD-3.

On one hand, this might be the least exceptional of the low-cost Behringer synths, in that there are a lot of 303 remakes around already. There are boutique models, things called “Boutique” from Roland, the open-source hardware x0xb0x and its ilk (which even served as a template to open source music hardware generally), and plug-ins and software emulations galore.

On the other hand, the same thing makes the TD-3 newsworthy. It’s a synth everyone knows, and it’s now US$199 street. Get ready for a lot more acid — that’s for sure.

So what did Behringer actually do?

The TD-3 roughly approximates the TB-303 layout, without being slavish. And Behringer says they’ve recreated the essential analog circuits, down to the matched transistors.

It’s easier, then, to describe what’s new – apart from seeing a Behringer logo instead of a Roland one.

There’s a distortion circuit, which Behringer says is modeled on the DS-1. That presumably means a BOSS DS-1. And that’s actually the ballsy move here; Behringer has tangled with Roland before over BOSS.

The sequencer functionality borrows the 303’s interactions, but there’s more here – an arpeggiator, 250 user patterns x 7 tracks, and an intriguing ppq (parts per quarter) setting.

There’s also more I/O, bringing this more in line with a hacked/modded 303 than the original. You get USB, MIDI, and filter in / sync in / CV out / gate out, in addition to the original’s basic sync features.

Behringer are offering this in three colors, which otherwise are functionally identical – so TD-3-BU, RD, and SR are blue, red, and silver, respectively.

It’s really the price that’s the big deal, at US$199. That mainly hurts the Roland TB-03, which has a street of nearly twice that. Now, I don’t much expect anyone to dump the TB-03 – it sounds great whether it’s analog or not, it’s got a delay/reverb this lacks, and it runs on batteries. For that matter, I don’t know that people will dump any of their existing 303 emulations.

But for someone picking up the 303 who doesn’t have one, it’s going to be tough to compete with Behringer.

On the other hand, Behringer now joins a lot of low-cost, cool synths. Synthtopia compares the TD-3 with the KORG volca NuBass. I don’t know if that comparison came from Behringer, but the KORG seems like a totally different animal – different sound, different features, different workflow, and you know, a volca.

https://www.behringer.com/search/Behringer?text=TD-3

My question is – who’s going to use some strange bass sound to invent a new musical genre? It feels like we’re due.

I know, I know – “Karplus-Strong Techno” is really not a thing like acid house.

Okay – can someone make that a thing?

The post Behringer 303 clones revealed: $199 street appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This video makes it easy to mod KORG’s ultra-cheap monotron for analog CV

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Sep 2019 12:38 pm

Punk, inexpensive analog, anyone? The KORG monotron is an easy choice for modding for your synthesis needs – and now this video makes the process easier.

There’s still nothing quite as cheap in analog synthesis than the instrument that (arguably) started the trend – the KORG monotron and its variants. You can pick one of these up for about $50 or less even new – and you might even rescue one from a friend’s collection.

But while the monotrons are fun to play with, they’re a bit limited as far as integration with other gear. You get an aux input, a headphone jack output, and – nothing else. And those tiny controls and ribbon will challenge your dexterity.

A mod, then, is the perfect answer, because then you can jack in some analog control from other gear. That now not only includes Eurorack modular, but gear from Moog, Behringer, Arturia, semi-modulars, sequencers, you name it. CV is starting to be as ubiquitous as MIDI, and allows for direct, simple control with voltage.

People have been modding this for a while, but Extralife is here with a video that makes it much simpler.

He writes:

I’ve just finished up a video on modding the Korg Monotron for analog CV input. I have found some other descriptions of similar mods online, but so far as I know I’m the first to document the build on video or provide PCB layouts, so while monotron hacks may be old hat, I think this brings something new to the table.

Also visible in the video is the latest prototype of my ongoing
Eurorack sequencer project, the Super Sixteen! It is in the final
phases of development (it is open-hardware, open-source) — and I will
be sure to contact you again soon when it nears a major release.

Oh, please do, sir! That looks seriously cool.

Grab all the specs and so on for this project on his GitHub:

https://github.com/matthewcieplak/monotron-cv-adapter

And here’s the original project that inspired the idea, from the heady, innocent days of 2010:

http://www.dinsync.info/2010/06/how-to-modify-korg-monotron.html

Let us know how this works out for you, and what you do with it – or if y’all have other interesting hacks and projects you’re working on.

The post This video makes it easy to mod KORG’s ultra-cheap monotron for analog CV appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Erica’s Pico System III is a tiny, 450 EUR West Coast modular rig

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Sep 2019 6:08 pm

The newest Erica system is an exercise in minimalism – analog, fit in a single unit. The price and size are absolutely as low as you can go – but with some deep sound capabilities.

Here’s divkid talking to our friend Girts about this one:

Erica Synths had been telling me this was what they were working on, integrating their analog circuitry and custom design onto a single PCB. That allows the cost savings that squeeze all this power into a 450EUR box, even with case (400 without the case; tax extra for us Europeans as per usual law).

But wow, even knowing this was coming, it’s better than I expected. You get West Coast-style experimentalism, complete with the snappy, percussive sound of LPG (Low Pass Gates) with resonance, and a unique waveshaper and signature Erica Bucket Brigade Delay. I can see why West Coast sounds are catching on – they’re distinctive, and can produce expressive rhythms and timbres both for experimental and dance contexts. And they’re fun – in a way that makes sense in a modular interface, specifically.

Plus all of this is somehow squeezed into something that still has enough mixing and modulation to work well for live performance. It’s no accident that Erica is populated by musicians and runs their own festival – they clearly love making instruments that work live.

All of this does require some insane miniaturization, so if you like spacious layouts for your stubby fingers and clear differentiation of what does what, this is very much the opposite of what you want.

For those of us who like creative systems, tiny things, and staying on a poor experimental artist’s budget, though, it could be a revelation.

Great writeup in German on sequencer.de (for DE speakers):

The post Erica’s Pico System III is a tiny, 450 EUR West Coast modular rig appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Erica’s Black System II is a full-featured modular

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 9 Sep 2019 6:41 pm

Erica Synths have made a strength out of building a full catalog of modules – and their systems show off how complete that is, at a price that compares favorably.

The Black System is probably the most practical of these rigs, with a versatile selection that can cover a range of experimental or dance genres. (The Techno System I reviewed earlier tends more to the industrial techno sounds, indeed, focused on drums and biting synth sounds; the Dada Noise System for Liquid Sky was more to acquired tastes.)

The Black System II really is a reasonable buy, at least by Eurorack standards – that 2900EUR is nothing to sneeze at for musicians, but it could well save versus a bespoke modular system. And it’s also notable that it’s still less than some flagship keyboard instruments, with arguably a much deeper potential for exploration. (Well, depending on what you want – I mean, if I did have a magic fairy to make something appear, I would probably wish for this over some of those keyboards.)

But even if you never buy one of these Erica systems, I think it’s still a significant exercise for the company. Recall that the likes of Buchla, EMS, Roland, and Moog – not to mention later lower-cost options like PAiA and eventually Doepfer – all built complete systems.

Now, it’s marvelous that we have a marketplace in Eurorack of weird one-off modules or idiosyncratic grab bags of gear from small makers. But even if you plan to mix and match, it’s useful to have a module that came from a bigger picture. It adds to the value of assembling your own custom rig, that is, if you can add some modules that still had a pre-conceived idea of how they’d fit into a complete instrument, even if you then change what that complete instrument is.

And this particular lineup really is rather nice, from the joystick controller (also on the Dada Noise), to the Soviet-inspired Polivoks filter, to a stereo delay:

Black Wavetable VCO
Black VCO
Black Modulator
Black Mixer
Black Multimode VCF
Black Polivoks VCF
Black Quad VCA
Black Output
Black MIDI-CV
Black CV Tools
Black XFade
Black Dual EG/LFO
Black Octasource
Black EG
Black Stereo Delay
Black Joystick
2x84HP skiff case

There’s really all the basics you need for integrating MIDI and working with CV, shaping sounds, and mixing and output. Plus unique to this particular range, you can choose different flavors in different patches – both wavetable and simple analog VCO, both multimode and Polivoks filter, and so on.

Just remember, if this is too rich for your blood, you can also get the Polivoks System for 1400EUR or the adorable tiny Pico System II for 1120EUR. The latter you can even carry along with you on Ryanair for the truly cash-starved modular artist.

Check it out here:

https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/eurorack-systems/black-system-ii/

And see our CDM review of the Techno System:

The post Erica’s Black System II is a full-featured modular appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

One little MeeBlip meets one giant Hainbach wall of sound

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 12 Aug 2019 5:22 pm

Mobile synth, meet wall of synths with knobs bigger than your hand. I got to take our new MeeBlip geode for a friendly visit with the legendary Hainbach and his lair of huge vintage analog gear. Here’s what happened.

MeeBlip geode

Hainbach is my kind of YouTuber – his channel is a nonstop flow of creative use and misuse of vintage gear, from cassettes to test equipment, paired with thoughtful ambient and experimental music. And it’s clear his passion for that equipment is driven by an obsession with producing his unique musical sound.

I asked Hainbach if maybe we could show our MeeBlip synth and have a jam, and he invited me round his house – and this is the result. (That’s how the Internet should always work, I think!)

There’s not a whole lot of MIDI in his studio, so we made use of the inexpensive KORG SQ-1 step sequencer, which is also pint-sized like our MeeBlip. Most of the MeeBlip sounds you hear are dry, but there’s also some reverb and delay from the cult favorite Alesis Wedge.

For his part, Hainbach starts out with the lovely Roland SH-09 monosynth for that lush opening tone, then adds a cassette loop. But much of the sound is from the “wall of sound” full of test equipment. This oversized, gorgeous gear was – well, until we all popularized it online – pretty cheap to come by until recently. It’s now antiquated and past retirement age in industries like telecommunications for which it was originally intended – but as a synth, it can last forever. Hainbach has explained what it’s all about, and I’ve also previously described an open laboratory in Rotterdam specializing in the setup.

Bigger than a MeeBlip.

The fun part is really getting to put the two together. Hainbach is a focused listener and improviser, so he’s terrific to play with – and this is really one take, since he had to run to pick up his kid right after the shoot.

“There’s so much to play in there… impressively playable.” Thanks, sir. So we actually can compete with enormous vintage test boxes, I guess.

We are shipping now at meeblip.com:

MeeBlip geode

And you’ll find more on Hainbach’s Patreon subscription. Plus do check his music; it’s terrific, and also really enjoyed the couple of times I’ve seen him live.

The post One little MeeBlip meets one giant Hainbach wall of sound appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

One little MeeBlip meets one giant Hainbach wall of sound

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 12 Aug 2019 5:22 pm

Mobile synth, meet wall of synths with knobs bigger than your hand. I got to take our new MeeBlip geode for a friendly visit with the legendary Hainbach and his lair of huge vintage analog gear. Here’s what happened.

MeeBlip geode

Hainbach is my kind of YouTuber – his channel is a nonstop flow of creative use and misuse of vintage gear, from cassettes to test equipment, paired with thoughtful ambient and experimental music. And it’s clear his passion for that equipment is driven by an obsession with producing his unique musical sound.

I asked Hainbach if maybe we could show our MeeBlip synth and have a jam, and he invited me round his house – and this is the result. (That’s how the Internet should always work, I think!)

There’s not a whole lot of MIDI in his studio, so we made use of the inexpensive KORG SQ-1 step sequencer, which is also pint-sized like our MeeBlip. Most of the MeeBlip sounds you hear are dry, but there’s also some reverb and delay from the cult favorite Alesis Wedge.

For his part, Hainbach starts out with the lovely Roland SH-09 monosynth for that lush opening tone, then adds a cassette loop. But much of the sound is from the “wall of sound” full of test equipment. This oversized, gorgeous gear was – well, until we all popularized it online – pretty cheap to come by until recently. It’s now antiquated and past retirement age in industries like telecommunications for which it was originally intended – but as a synth, it can last forever. Hainbach has explained what it’s all about, and I’ve also previously described an open laboratory in Rotterdam specializing in the setup.

Bigger than a MeeBlip.

The fun part is really getting to put the two together. Hainbach is a focused listener and improviser, so he’s terrific to play with – and this is really one take, since he had to run to pick up his kid right after the shoot.

“There’s so much to play in there… impressively playable.” Thanks, sir. So we actually can compete with enormous vintage test boxes, I guess.

We are shipping now at meeblip.com:

MeeBlip geode

And you’ll find more on Hainbach’s Patreon subscription. Plus do check his music; it’s terrific, and also really enjoyed the couple of times I’ve seen him live.

The post One little MeeBlip meets one giant Hainbach wall of sound appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Deckard’s Dream could be your reality, with Deckard’s Voice

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 6 Aug 2019 12:14 pm

Deckard’s Dream is a lavish, 16-VCO beauty, inspired by the Yamaha CS-80 and Blade Runner. But now for the first time, it could also be a module – and one within reach.

Creator Roman Filippov is teasing the new invention with this image. And naturally, it’s called “Deckard’s Voice.”

Fiery the angels fell. Deep thunder rolled round their shores. Burning with the fires of Orc.

Somehow to me personally, this is more exciting than the original, but then I’m always biased toward distillations of things. What you will notice is that all the luscious Yamaha-driven sound design features are present. So that means the essential hands-on control of envelopes, all the filters, and modulation. This is a bite off the full-sized Deckard’s Dream, but it has the same personality and workflow, if not all those layers of sound.

Apart from a more compact size (and the chance of something you can afford without being someone like Trent Reznor), then there’s easy access to patch points. And the CS-ish design is really suited to a modular environment, so it’s easy patching into the LFO and pulse width modulation, brilliance and EG levels, and different waveform component outs.

That’s relevant, because I think you can get a thick CS sound design without necessarily needing so many voices. For their part, even Yamaha made a monophonic CS-15; there’s still a lot to do with that single voice and modulation, especially with this much in the way of timbral and envelope control.

I imagine just as the flagship has been a luxury item, this could rapidly become one of the more sought-after voice ideas out there. It’s complete enough to start to have its own identity, but compact enough to still make sense as a voice inside a modular.

Of course, this could disturb some people, convinced that such a replicant might take over human studios, overthrow humans, trigger dangerous amounts of GAS in our already damaged Earth environment.

To that I say, of course —

Modules are like any other machine, are either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a hazard, it’s not my problem.

(“Too bad my credit card won’t live, but then again who does?” No?)

Deckard’s Dream site

The post Deckard’s Dream could be your reality, with Deckard’s Voice appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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