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


Dreadbox meets Sinevibes, in compact Typhon analog synth + sequencing + fx

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 26 Jun 2020 5:08 pm

Those gnarly Dreadbox analog oscillators and filters keep popping up in new places. This time, it's a collaboration with Sinevibes - and it makes for a compact, jam-friendly, portable synth for 349 EUR.

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Time travel through polyrhythms: King Britt’s Back 2 Black, on repeat

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 19 Jun 2020 4:58 pm

Production legend, accomplished live electronic musician, and inspiration and friend King Britt has been deep in his lab again. So hop in the polyrhythmic time machine, as you may want to set its controls to "loop."

The post Time travel through polyrhythms: King Britt’s Back 2 Black, on repeat appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Make a 909 kick on the Make Noise 0-Coast, and more drum modeling fun

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 28 May 2020 5:01 pm

Forget even all the music that was made with it for a second. How the sound of a TR-909 kick was made can open new doors.

The post Make a 909 kick on the Make Noise 0-Coast, and more drum modeling fun appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Make Noise 0-CTRL is the controller-sequencer followup to 0-Coast

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 5 May 2020 5:56 pm

There have been few surprise hits in the world of patchable instruments like Make Noise's 0-Coast. But they just might have another hit - a tabletop, patchable, clockable controller-sequencer. And it's adorable - and US$399.

The post Make Noise 0-CTRL is the controller-sequencer followup to 0-Coast appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Moog’s free Mother-32 update reminds us, engineers can do great stuff from home

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 1 May 2020 3:43 pm

It’s an uncertain world out there for music gear as in other industries – but isolate engineers, and you’ll at least get some code that helps musicians play.

Maybe that sounds obvious. But as our societies and economies and supply chains and shipping all shut down in phases around us, well – there’s always stuff like sending out firmware downloads!

Firmware updates are terrific because they keep your customers busy and you can ship them now over the Internet without running into weird new shipping problems. So it’s really important that the Mother-32 semi-modular synth gets all this good stuff in a free download this week:

Multiple sequencer directions

Improved and expanded clocking options

CV-addressed sequencer control

Selectable swing intervals

New pattern change behaviors.

Ability to ignore MIDI clock or start/stop messages

Improved LED visual feedback

Options to auto-save and write-protect patterns

Selectable analog clock input and output resolutions

Completely rewritten sync and timing engine

Note completely rewritten. This means both having the engineering forethought to make something that can be updated, and the kind of skill and employee retention that lets someone do this work.

I’ve tended to ignore some of the variety of gear to talk about particular instruments that get this kind of update, and obviously not just from Moog. It’s not going to make sense for every product, but it does give you an indication of a manufacturer’s commitment.

This is part of what has kept electronic musical instruments from becoming commodities in the way a lot of other tech has. We’ve seen a wide range of ups and downs in the industry in terms of who can attract and retain talent. Music really requires engineers who understand or at least can communicate with musicians – and we have to woo them away from companies like defense contractors who can pay a lot more.

I know making payroll and paying budgets is going to be tough for our industry like so many others. But let’s hear it for all the people in our business who do everything from pack and test our instruments to try to describe complicated music gear in press releases to designing and building it. There are small Eurorack and kit makers where all of those people are one person. There are bigger employers.

If anything gets us through this wild ride, it will be those people. So I hope you all both stay safe and stay supported – and stay in touch.

Oh, and mess around with step sequencers and make grooves in good health, of course!

https://www.moogmusic.com/products/mother-32

Hat tip to Synthtopia for being on this news and a lot of news, generally – speaking of people-powered operations!

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Polyend Medusa synth-controller gets deeper powers, sleeker skin, lower price

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 24 Apr 2020 6:57 pm

Polyend’s Tracker may be getting all the attention, but the company’s Medusa – an expressive controller and synth combo – just got another batch of improvements. And that builds on one of the more unique and versatile pieces of electronic instrumental hardware around now.

To entice would-be Medusa owners, the latest edition is nire affordable ( 699€ / US$799) and has attractive, minimalistic new letter.

To add to what the Medusa does, it’s got a new firmware with some big features.

It’s not just about finding the new shiny; there’s reward in instruments that grow and evolve with you over time. It’s a two way street; smart makers add depth and respond to users, too.

Medusa was interesting from the start in that it is multi-dimensional. It’s a collaboration between makers (Polyend and Dreadbox), it’s a controller and a synth, and it has analog circuitry (noise and oscillators and filter) but also digital innards (wavetable sounds and digital control and modulation). Of course, it has to then add up to more than those, or you get the dreaded “shampoo plus conditioner in one / shampoo and body wash” effect where it’s trying to be too much at once.

That’s where the digital side comes in. There’s no question the analog sounds are edgy and rich, but with firmware upgrades, you’ve gotten more wavetables, more control, and – crucially, a better and better controller.

Since this thing is long and made of metal, it’s most useful when it also works as a controller for other instruments. And that’s what this firmware 3.0 is all about.

More modulation: as has been often requested (including by me, for instance!), now the Medusa has a random wave LFO.

More controller features:

MIDI Local Off option lets you use the MPE pads to play another instrument while an external controller (or sequencer) play the internal sound set.

That is actually a big deal – because it is pretty common that you might start building sounds on the Medusa, but then want to have a live performance where you use it with something else (like a software or hardware modular rig). Now you can do that and still trigger/sequence/tweak the internal sound engine.

Use envelopes and modulation for control. The Medusa’s grid is expressive and sends MPE, it’s true. But now the powerful LFO and envelope system onboard also spits out MIDI CCs for other gear.

CCs are displayed on-screen. If you are sequencing some elaborate control, you’ll appreciate that there are CC numbers shown on the crisp Medusa screen.

As Jacek from Polyend points out, “With all the LFOs and ENVs being sent out as MIDI CC communicates and the Grid controller working in the MIDI Local off, Medusa becomes a much more potent modulation source/external sequencer/MPE controller. Especially bundled with our Poly2 for Eurorack systems “

It’s also a powerful system for use with VCV Rack, for people like me, I might add.

These are renders of the new hardware, matte black anodized aluminum.

But the firmware is for everyone – including new preset packs. You won’t get the nice new lettering, but all existing Medusa owners can use the new firmware.

The Tracker is really cool, but there are reasons to pay attention to its lesser-known sibling. Medusa is still the box you want if you want a deep synth – and its analog + wavetable + rich hands-on modulation and envelope system is still like nothing else out there. Plus, it remains one of the most unique MPE polyphonic expressive controllers available – and one of the few under a grand that has differentiated pads.

I am literally off to spend some days with this now.

Everything is at:

polyend.com

More videos of the (original edition) in action:

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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/

The post ARP/KORG reissue the ARP 2600 semi-modular synth – and an ARP documentary to watch, too appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

“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.

The post “Yes I Did” is a witch-y anthem, and more genre-bending, feel-good Sky Deep creations appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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?

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