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


Behringer go nuts, plan to clone every historic synth, drum machine

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Dec 2017 6:19 pm

The ARP 2600, Octave’s The Cat, the Synthi VCS3, Korg MS-20, the Wasp, the 909, the 808, and more… it seems Behringer are going to make cheap versions of just about everything.

In placeholder product pages on their site, you’ll see a whole bunch of remakes of historic classics, from synths to drum machines, Synthi to Roland. Product images aren’t there yet, but a lot of these will ship as keyboard instruments.

Also, in what could disrupt the boutique-heavy modular market, Eurorack versions appear to be planned for many or all of these.

Products:

Synths and Samplers at Music Tribe

Drum Machines

Pricing and availability aren’t there, either, but the timing now suggests that NAMM is coming – and Behringer seem to be in the habit now of pre-empting rivals by teasing stuff before they announce it. (Whether that’s meant to take the wind out of the sails of rival press events, or spook competitors, or amp up would-be customers, or a combination, tough to know.)

The models:

Synthopia break down the synth side of this, bringing together specs and including some videos of the original models:
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2017/12/13/behringer-teases-arp-2600-wasp-synthi-clones/

But there are drum machines there, too: 808, 909, “999,” an apparent Linn Drum clone (LMX) and Oberheim DMX (OMX here). Synthananatomy.com has a run-down of those:

http://www.synthanatomy.com/2017/12/the-next-bomb-has-burst-behringer-teased-5-new-analog-digital-drum-machines-lmx-omx-rd-999-rd-808-rd-909.html

Some of the product names get slightly scrambled, but others don’t.

Of course, this also means Behringer are now getting into remakes of products whose creators and original brands still exist – KORG, Roland, Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim, and so on. It’s not unexpected – they’ve got access to inexpensive analog filters and oscillators that exactly replicate the originals.

But it does suggest a shakeout is about to happen in the business, especially if these prices are disruptive. Will customers still be willing to pay more for independent makers (let alone other big brands)? Will the availability of cheap remakes make it tough to bring out new designs – or, alternatively, will it effectively mandate coming out with something new to compete?

For now, we’re in the position we so often are with Behringer: speculating, as the brand gets way ahead of everyone else with a teaser, long before the specifics of price and design emerge. And that seems to be part of the design.

But this story may not end here. It’s possible giants like Roland and KORG could find legal reason to go after Behringer, depending on how the products are presented. They might also find other mechanisms in marketing and sales to take action.

You’ll find specs on Behringer’s site. Let us know what you think.

ARP image (CC-BY) Rosa Menkman.

The post Behringer go nuts, plan to clone every historic synth, drum machine appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

KOMA’s pedals are discontinued, but leave a mighty 7-year legacy

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Dec 2017 5:53 pm

KOMA Elektronik are discontinuing their BD101 and FT201 pedals after a final limited run. 7 years ago, these products launched an upstart boutique brand.

The BD101 analog gate/delay and FT201 state-variable filter/10-step sequencer were released as two pedals in the now-distinctive KOMA white, way back in 2011. They launched that name in Berlin as the company’s first two products. Now, KOMA says they’ll use up their last parts in one final production run, not expected to last too far into January.

And seven years is a pretty decent lifespan for any product. But these particular pedals accomplished a lot – not only heralding the arrival of KOMA, but part of a generation of gear that marked a new age in boutique, independent devices, often emphasizing analog and underground sounds. Now much of that has been swept up in the Eurorack phenomenon, but it has surely included desktop gear, too.

KOMA for their part have gone on to a range of influential gear, a massive artist following, and even a music label, event series, and community space in their native Neukölln, Berlin. As recounted in the press release:

Over the course of their seven-year existence, the BD101 and FT201 have gone through four production runs, including a 50 unit special black edition and a special edition for Scottish post rock band Mogwai. Their sonic signature can be heard on a ton of records, and its signature white enclosures can be found in top notch recording studios as well as on stage with amongst others electronic musicians Alessandro Cortini, Pole, Addison Groove, Henning Baer, RAC, Jimmy Edgar and more rock oriented musicians like Lee Ranaldo, Vessels, Chvrches and a bunch of noise music legends!

Now, KOMA can take that know-how and make room for new machines. (The press release teases some new things to come. It’d be great to see more pedals, of course!)

CDM has managed to be there for some of this history, like the Musikmesse video I shot (really badly) in the back of a van, since KOMA couldn’t afford a booth at the time. That video makes it into the press release:

Jimmy Edgar walks through those pedals in his studio:

And we’ve had some fun Kodak moments with these things over the years:

Find the pedals back at KOMA – or go pay them a visit at their new community space for music electronics, Common Ground:

www.koma-elektronik.com

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Waves give you the old-school VU meter your DAW is missing, for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 24 Nov 2017 7:28 pm

Funny thing about those old analog mixing desks: the VU meters gave really good visual feedback. Now you can add that to your modern DAW, for free.

In the latest “here’s free stuff because we want your e-mail address” play, Waves are giving away a handsome VU meter with simulated needle. And it’s not just some twee retro touch: the way these meters respond to audio signal is actually often easier to see.

Mixing is all about listening. But there’s no shame in giving your ears a little extra reinforcement. I’m actually very suspicious that metering is part of what’s to blame as people have trouble mixing on computers. You’ll hear comments like people moving from one DAW to another to improve how a mix “sounds” – which is peculiar, given most DAWs literally mix by adding together numbers, and most DAWs even share the same mix accuracy in terms of how those numbers represent. If you and a friend add two and two, one of your fours isn’t more awesome than the other one, so you get the point. (Also suspect: these very often involve Ableton Live, whose meters I find a bit hard to see, even after Live 9 refurbished them a bit.)

Now, of course, it’s (very) possible people just don’t know how to mix. But then, if you’re learning mixing, this kind of visual feedback may be even more useful to newcomers – and old-timers will appreciate its familiarity.

While we’re on the topic, you might also consider mixing down in the superb (and almost weirdly inexpensive) Harrison Mixbus, which includes lots of sonic and usability features from traditional consoles – metering included. It even runs on Linux.

Harrison Mixbus

In the meantime, though, have fun with turning back the clock for free with this:

https://www.waves.com/plugins/vu-meter#

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What happens when you make a 100-oscillator synth?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Nov 2017 7:05 pm

Look Mum No Computer has been at it again – building his own 100-oscillator synth, bestrewn in knobs and lights, just because he can.

Mental:

There are actually two plotlines here, which you might miss in the video, hyperactive as it is.

First, there was the initial trip down into the basement of Ghostix Labors, a one-man circuit bending / sound circuit building shop. It seems his studio is – seriously – “in the dark caves under the old castle” in Schwerin, Germany (near Hamburg). I think “don’t be afraid of the bats” isn’t actually a joke.

So, Ghost Labors had a lot of 555 chips to unload, and then… actually, nothing happened to those chips, not yet.

But an idea was born, and Mr. No Computer returned to build a massive experiment in over-engineering.

It’s not just 100 oscillators, but 100 voices – each oscillator gets its own filter. And in case that’s not enough, there’s a routable LFO. The blinky lights visualizing the behavior of the oscillator, too, in that it’s all one circuit, so it’s both showy and meaningful.

And you get a lot of knobs. And it sounds a lot like things like the Swarmatron, so I suppose we’ve learned that more oscillators really is better.

Via enmoreaudio.com

The post What happens when you make a 100-oscillator synth? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here’s how Bastl Instruments improved on their Knit Rider sequencer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 27 Oct 2017 11:45 pm

While a lot of other modules are making sequencers that behave more like a computer, Bastl’s Knit Rider keeps to the hardware feel. And it just got better.

Apart from having one of the best pun names anything ever had, ever, Knit Rider’s appeal is being able to pack lots of complex sequencing features into a compact, hands-on interface – look ma, no display! So yeah, you don’t have a “tiny computer in a module” – though there’s an argument for that. You get buttons. And those buttons have sub-steps, so you aren’t stuck with 16-step patterns.

I asked the uncannily insightful Václav Peloušek for some insights into what’s new. They listened to their various friends playing this one, and adjusted. In a word: feel.

We especially focused on how the sequencer feels by adding swing and random variation of trigger length, and making the timing core very solid. The performance aspect has been always important for the concept of the sequencer, and while at first we focused mainly on the live sequencing, now we have adjusted the UI to also work well while being occupied by playing other instruments.

Sequencing is important. Through sequencing, we can make driving, exciting music, like … well, like… Hey, in reward for reading CDM, you know what? You’ve earned this. Let’s go.

$#(*&$#, yeah.

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/modular/knit-rider/

The post Here’s how Bastl Instruments improved on their Knit Rider sequencer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Koma just unveiled a whole patchable analog effects toolkit

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 12 Oct 2017 4:33 pm

Koma today revealed a sequel to their crowd-funded smash hit Field Kit. And it’s a whole bunch of patchable effects, for €249 (€219 for funders).

Inside that box, there’s a load of different effects to play with:

  • Looper
  • Frequency Shifter
  • Sample Rate Reducer / Bitcrusher
  • Digital Delay
  • Analog Spring Reverb

Yeah, you read that last one right – there’s actually a physical spring in there for reverb. Behold:

Looping of course means that you could make the FX a hub of performance. And in addition to the other digital effects, that frequency shifter opens up some really interesting possibilities.

So, whereas the first Field Kit depended on you attaching contact mics and working with the mixing functions, the Field Kit FX actually has a lot more sonic possibilities included right out of the box. There’s still a companion book to go with it, and of course this is already intended as a clever

But, for a kind of “weirdo modular effects toolkit” in a case, you also get a bunch of tools for applying these effects, by mixing and sequencing them:

  • 4 Channel VCA Mixer
  • 4 Step Mini Sequencer
  • Envelope Generator

All over the place, you’ve got various patch points. That’s a chance to connect to other analog I/O – which certainly includes Eurorack modulars, but these days a lot of other gear, as well, even desktop units from Novation, Roland, Arturia, KORG, and the like.

And there’s a new 4-Channel CV Interface for bringing it all together, meaning you can come up with pretty elaborate modular connections.

4-channel CV interface for communications with other gear – now not just modular, but a lot of new desktop stuff, too.

In fact, for under three hundred bucks, the whole thing looks a bit like either a shrunken Eurorack modular or a tabletop of analog and digital effects merged together for patching.

Now, this is still definitely geared for advanced users. There’s no MIDI. And the CV routing, while powerful, might be overwhelming to newcomers – for instance, there’s not a single, simple trigger in to clock that sequencer. (That’s not necessarily a criticism – the various CV options mean loads of creative flexibility. But it does probably mean this box is more for people who want to get deep into patching.)

Watch the overview video, natch:

FIELD KIT FX – CV Controlled Multi Effects Processor

The post Koma just unveiled a whole patchable analog effects toolkit appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Dreadbox Hades analog monosynth is yours to assemble, or not

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Oct 2017 5:38 pm

Dreadbox, purveyors of gnarly electronic synths and effects, have come back with a modular-friendly analog synth, which you can assemble – if you dare.

The core synth itself is simple – just a single-oscillator synthesizer, to which you can add two suboctaves for lots of low end bass punch, and three waves (pulse with width, double saw with width, saw). In the tradition of Dreadbox and their love for edgy distortion, you can add some angry sounds with the drive circuit and 3-pole resonating filter.

And, mostly, you’re likely to appreciate this thing for its modulation and patchability. There are some 13 patch points, which you can use with Eurorack or other analog circuits, external audio input, a triangle and square wave LFO, and two separate envelope generators.

You can stick this on your desk and patch into stuff. Or you can bolt it into a Eurorack.

Now, here’s the somewhat bonkers bit. If you’re sensible, I think you’ll just buy this thing pre-assembled, and think hard about finding space in a Eurorack. It’s a nice 250€ buy.

Or, if you’re a bit bored, you’ll DIY the kit version. It’s all through-hole parts, so it’s not a difficult build. It’s just a lot of them. Expect to … free up some time to put this together.

Also cute but not totally practical, they’ve decided that the box is a case. And it is kind of a nice cardboard box. I mean, sure, why not, but … it’s not so much a selling point as it is a cute way around the fact that it doesn’t have a case. It doesn’t have a power supply, either, so figure that into the purchase price.

Don’t get me wrong, though – I think this thing is terribly clever as a synth. And Dreadbox are making some utterly genius distortion, based on the couple I’ve played with.

If you’re looking for a cheap buy that’s fun to patch into other stuff – really desktop or Euro – this isn’t a bad buy at all. And maybe save yourself the time on the busywork of assembling the kit version, and put that time into making a nice wooden case for the assembled version.

Though, while we’re at it, technically every product I’ve ever owned has come with a free enclosure / kid’s playhouse / pencil case / advanced part storage / tiny spaceship for paper people … uh, you know, box.

Also, you can turn a lot of the manuals into really ace paper airplanes.

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KOMA are about to get deep into Eurorack – starting with power

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 15 Sep 2017 6:25 pm

Okay, first, a power product sounds like about the most boring music tech news ever. But the kids at KOMA have found a way to make modular power exciting.

And of course, because anything involving electricity sounds cooler in German than in English, meet STROM.

First, the video – which turns what seems a dull, technical topic into exciting launch video. Seriously, more fun to watch than that iPhone X announcement (uh, for me, anyway). Let’s let KOMA’s Wouter explain – in a lab coat!

KOMA are embarking on a deep dive into the world of modular Eurorack – which I hear the young folks really love at the moment. First, there was a case system. Now, there’s a power system. And both are nicely affordable.

And since power is what gives you noise, power matters.

I asked KOMA’s Wouter what makes this product different. Answer: “The Strom is cleaner than any of the competition for a way lower price with very low ripple, great safety features with the fusing and the short circuit protection!”

We’ll get some of our modular boffins on this to check.

The other important detail here is not what this is, but who it comes from – KOMA’s engineer Robert has been the lead on all digital products, and did the programming work on the epic, legendary Komplex Sequencer.

Looks like KOMA are on their way to another big market hit. Hope to visit them soon – and their growing Common Ground community space.

http://koma-elektronik.com/

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Here’s how MeeBlip can get you started with hardware synths

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 12 Sep 2017 12:12 am

We made MeeBlip because we love getting our hands on sound and playing with synth hardware. But for people not totally used to working with this kind of gear, there can be lots of questions.

So, here’s a guide to adding MeeBlip triode to your setup. If you’re thinking of getting ‘out of the box’ and away from your computer for the first time, or you’re just curious about some details of the hardware, we can share some answers without you having to even ask.

And, of course, if you’re thinking we’re doing this now while there’s a $99.95 supersale on, you’re totally right. But hey, that’s another way for us to get synthesis into your hands – and keep making new instruments.

You folks in the MeeBlip community have done an amazing job shooting hands-on video, so we’re able to illustrate this story with your contributions. (Feel free to add tips or questions; we can build this over time.)

Why would you want to do this?

Okay, apart from having some extra toys, why would you want a dedicated synth in the first place? MeeBlip for us is about having sound with a particular personality. It’s there when you want a unique bassline, or as an extra voice for other synths. It lets you get hands on with some knobs, without the usual decision overload of a computer. It’s a chance to learn about synthesis and MIDI.

Oh, and it’s open source hardware, so if you are curious about how synth code and circuits work, everything that makes the triode function is available online, and can be shared and modified free.

Of course, now there’s a lot of cool and inexpensive hardware that does this. But we think MeeBlip sounds different, it’s a simple and compact way of getting huge bass sounds, and it’s about as inexpensive as anything you can find – even from much bigger manufacturers. And the fact that it’s open source means you’re helping contribute to an open hardware ecosystem.

Okay, so you’re sold, but want some more information on how to get going. Here’s what you need to know:

Get a MeeBlip and power

MeeBlip ships with a universal power supply (some budget synths charge extra for this or make you buy batteries). That can be plugged in anywhere, provided you have a physical adapter for the region you’re in.

Get connected

MeeBlip triode is a MIDI device, meaning it receives messages from a computer or music hardware, for notes and parameter control.

You’ll need a standard MIDI cable to make that happen, plus an appropriate interface if you want to connect to a computer, iPad, or other device. (We use the iConnectivity mio for USB MIDI connections on iOS and desktop.)

Get something to generate notes

Since the triode is ultra-compact and lacks a keyboard or touch input, you need something to send it notes.

You can use any keyboard (or drum trigger, or other controlled), provided it has a MIDI output. Then just play in what you want.

You can use other hardware. Novation’s Circuit, Roland’s TB-03, and Arturia’s BeatStep Pro are all convenient MIDI step sequencers, useful for programming melodic lines. (Using MeeBlip with the TB-03 makes it easy to add extra bass and dirt to the 303 sound, by doubling its line on the MeeBlip. Circuit + MeeBlip gives you some crisp synths and drums, combined with the MeeBlip’s bass.)

Using that USB MIDI interface, you can also use computer software, of course. But with the addition of Apple’s USB Lightning adapter, which now also supports power passthrough so you can charge your device at the same time, you can use an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. (This adapter was introduced with the iPad Pro, but it works with any Lightning-equipped iOS device. What you’re looking for is specifically termed the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter, pictured here – see our hands-on test.)

With cool sequencers like Modstep, you don’t even need a computer. (Modstep even works out of the box with all the MeeBlip’s parameters, so you can, for instance, draw in filter and modulation changes.)

What you need for sound

MeeBlip triode has a stereo minijack connection for audio. This means you can plug in a pair of headphones and immediately hear sound in both ears.

You can use the same connection to output to a mixer, PA, recorder, computer, whatever. Just make sure you have a stereo cable, not the mono cables often used on modular synths. These stereo cables are y-shaped at the opposite end – with jacks for left and right. Since the signal is on both jacks, you can leave one hanging and just plug in the other.

You’ll need some sort of audio interface in order to record. Behringer makes a mixer with a built-in USB interface, for one dirt-cheap solution – that way, you can plug in a couple of pieces of gear, mix the outputs, and record via USB back to your computer.

Play

Okay, now you’ve got it all connected – give it a play! (Our manual covers the process, but you just need to make sure whatever is sending notes is transmitting on channels 1-8, and set the appropriate channel on the MeeBlip.)

Jam, twist knobs, and enjoy.

Try automating parameters with MIDI CC

MIDI Control Changes (CC) are special messages for adjusting sound parameters, not just notes. All of the MeeBlips knobs and switches (and a few not on the panel) are controllable in this way. So instead of twisting knobs around, you can automate those changes externally.

What else?

It’s easy to dial in a lot of sounds right away. But when you’re ready to go deeper, triode also offers extras like wavetable mode, for various edgy sounds. Extreme parameters can also make more experimental sounds – and that’s before you add effects.

There’s even a Web-based editor-librarian that you can use to try, store, and share sounds – and it’s free. (It surprised even us, coming from another fan of open source tools.)

The fun is really combining MeeBlip with other stuff. And because it’s open, if you want to get really deep, you can learn how it works.

We hope you’ll pick up one of this manufacturing run before it runs out. What else would you like to know or explore? Let us know, and we’ll try to help you out.

MeeBlip triode is shipping worldwide for US$99.95 through Tuesday night.

https://meeblip.com/

MeeBlip triode [shop]

The post Here’s how MeeBlip can get you started with hardware synths appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Gallery: Inside the gear-packed hall of Moscow’s Synthposium Expo

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sat 2 Sep 2017 9:25 am

Gear Acquisition Syndrome has come full force to Russia. Both live stages and the gear Expo at Synthposium in Moscow last week made that clear.

The Expo was just one room – nothing near the sprawling event that was SuperBooth in Berlin – but it was just as appealing. Indeed, there was something lovely about having hands-on displays around the corner from live acts, as artists and festivalgoers intermingled, advanced electronics engineers and total newcomers alike getting to learn something. There was a similar feeling at the jam session demo room hosted by Schneidersladen at Berlin Atonal festival the week before. Moscow explored a disused wine factory; Berlin, a power plant control room. Vive l’après-industrie!

And oh yeah – kids love synths. Of course. Let’s have a look – or scroll to the end to find out who the juried winners were.

You can read my pocket guide to Russian boutique makers – one that’s sure to be updated.

New Russian music electronics you’ve never heard of, from Synthposium

Here, via the mainly official photos, you get a sense of the whole event. And it was international, not just restricted to Russia – meaning for many of those guests, it was their first visit to the country (from KORG’s Tatsuya Takahashi to the team from Bastl Instruments).

And the award winners…

Synthposium also hosted a juried competition for the most outstanding products of the show. As the first such competition in Russia, it’s noteworthy in itself – and I fully endorse their winners.

The moment of truth, pictured…

The first ever Russian awards devoted to music technologies are set to take place, with an expert jury giving recognition to the most creative engineers of musical instruments and devices.

Six nominations and winners:

The best eurorack module
Brand: SSSR Labs
Model: Matrixarchate

The best synthesizer
Brand: Black Corporation
Model: Deckard’s Dream

The best processing / fx gear
Brand: VG Line
Model: 12bitcrusher

Heritage Preservation
Polivoks.Pro

Renewed production
SOMA laboratory

Popularization: educational initiative
Playtronica

synthposium.ru

Photos by: CDM, Synthposium, (last shot) Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich.

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New Russian music electronics you’ve never heard of, from Synthposium

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 1 Sep 2017 8:04 pm

Moscow’s Synthposium was more than a runaway, hyper-nerdy festival. It also brought together Russia’s fledgling boutique music gear maker scene.

Avid modular enthusiasts will know some of these builders – or, in the case of Polivoks, the storied Soviet brand they resurrect. But some one-person electronics builders were in public for the very first time, in advance of even stock to sell. Tucked beneath the vaults of a former wine factory, the project had a show-and-tell feeling. Framed by conventional instruments (balalaikas, even) in one corner and big-name electronics along one wall, tables were bestrewn with crazy modulars.

Alongside the likes of Roland and Czech boutique Bastl, it was the Russian builders that will surely be of most interest to international audiences. A lot of these makers just couldn’t afford the trip even to Berlin’s SuperBooth, instead coming from round the corner in the Russian capital or perhaps by high-speed Sapsan train from St. Petersburg.

Here are some favorites.

Make: ПРИБОР [Russian-only VKontake page]
Home: St. Petersburg
Owner: Vladimir Kabanov

So my personal two favorites each come from St. Petersburg. The first is ПРИБОР (Pribor – translates basically as “device” or “appliance”).

Vlad’s little boxes add gnarly processing, drawn from a pile of post-Soviet chips, from filters to phasers. In fact, you could almost skip the Eurorack entirely and just make chains of these for your favorite guitar or synth. With our MeeBlip, this was pure gold. I’m literally planning a trip to St. Petersburg just to grab some of this.

There’s a video on YouTube:

Vladimir told me he’s actually opposed to the idea of posting demos, preferring to give people a bespoke taste of what to hear, but you can catch some sounds on his site above… or wait until I sell enough MeeBlips to buy a few.

Make: Zvukofor Sound Labs
Home: St. Petersburg
Owner: Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich

Experienced engineer/musician/jack of all trades Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich is full of new engineering ideas.

The Color Amps are beautiful sounding DI box / amps for instruments and synths. They don’t just amplify: they add natural compression, warmth, character, dirt, and in a wonderfully particular way. It’s like having the ability to fatten up sounds with a precise dial that says “get dirtier this way” – particularly since there are several variants from which to choose. Again, we tried it with the MeeBlip (as referenced in his report below), and I must say, the results were so thick and lovely I was almost frightened.

Reaper seems to be the unofficial crown champion of the DAW scene here, so little wonder that one of his other creations is a clever OSC-powered template for Liine Lemur. (Sorry, translation: you get iPad control of Reaper that’s arguably better than even the combination of Apple’s own Logic with the iPad.) I can’t wait to get my hands on this one, as I’ve been using Reaper more lately.

Binder

See his report:

Small report from Synthposium

Oh, also — a vintage typewriter and telephone as MIDI controllers. Nice.

Make: Polivoks Pro
Home: Moscow
Owner: Alexey Taber, Alex Pleninger

Fans of Soviet era synths, this is one you’ve heard of. But it was great at Synthposium to see the Polivoks reissue as a cornerstone of a revitalized synth scene in the former USSR, centered in Moscow. The one and only Vladimir Kuzmin, creator of the original, worked on this spectacular recreation – which, now with more consistently reliable parts, finally really gives that original genius its due.

I hadn’t gotten much chance to talk in person at Superbooth, so it was really an honor to be in the presence of this team in their home city. I have gotten a chance to hear this instrument, and frankly, it’s one of the coolest synthesis machines I’ve ever gotten to use, packed with possibilities.

Make: Soma Synths
Home: Moscow
Owner: Vlad Kreimer

The LYRA-8 and LYRA-4 “organismic synthesizers” are spectacular, alien-sounding analog synths, 8-voice and 4-voice, respectively. These oscillators combine with FM modulation and synthesis algorithms for eerie, science fiction-y goodness. They’ve been available since last year, but it was wonderful getting into their soundscapes – and I think this goes nicely with the futuristic-but-dirty-but-futuristic sounds of this Russian synth landscape.

Make: SSSR Labs
Home: Mytischi, Russia (near Moscow)
Owner: Dmitry Shtatnov

Shtatnov is a musician and engineer alike, and his SSSR Labs are a don’t-miss line of Eurorack and other goodies (even VSTi). The new Matrixarchate module won the show’s Eurorack competition for its magical routing powers.

https://somasynths.com/

Make: Black Corporation [Deckard’s Dream], Sputnik Modular
Home: Tokyo
Owner: Roman Filippov

Roman is another of the geniuses of the synth world – once based in Moscow, now off in Tokyo. (That “Sputnik” name still keeps Brand Russia in the electronics.) And if he’s gone far to the east of Moscow, his creations for Sputnik Modular are more like what would happen if the West Coast modular scene kept going west – with a fresh take on Buchla’s creations.

But it wasn’t the Sputnik stuff that was the main feature of Synthposium, but his other dreamy creation, as the ominous Black Corporation.

Black has one main product here. Deckard’s Dream is an 8-voice analog polysynth capable of making, among other things, nice Blade Runner sounds for you. It’s loosely inspired by the Yamaha CS-80 but a nice enough invention of its own. At US$1,199.00 (US$349 kit), it’s a dazzling display of luscious sonic texture, and after a few minutes playing with it, I’m totally hooked.

http://www.deckardsdream.com/

http://sputnik-modular.com/

Make: VG-Line [find them via SSSR Labs or Facebook
Home: Moscow
Owner: Vyacheslav Grigoriev

VG-Line is a prolific one-handyman sonic electronics shop. When owner Vyacheslav Grigoriev isn’t repairing and modernizing gear, he’s making new stuff – including parts like his own MIDI equipment and DACs, or products like 909 and 303 clones (including a very nice variant on the x0xb0x 303 clone).

At Synthposium, the 12bitcrusher stole the show for sound processing, with some delightfully glitchy and grimy effects.

But I think for most of us, we’ll recall Vyacheslav’s answer to the question “what would an iMac full of synth modules be like?” See, pictured.

Some old videos of his work:

And that crusher:

Plus, have a look inside at the chip with that beautiful red “CCCP” chip:

Make: Synthfox [site on VK, Russian only]
Home: Moscow
Owner: Nick [actually don’t know his last name!]

I want to describe the goodness of these modules, but I think this image does it best:

There’s loads of smart stuff here – including a vertical sequencer – in the works. And I love this DIY attitude.

@playtronica hands on at @synthposium

A post shared by CDM (@cdmblogs) on

Make: Playtronica
Home: Moscow
Owner: Various

Playtronica is Russia’s answer to DIY boards like Makey Makey – but with a much more musical bent. Their Playtron lets you add MIDI-friendly touch to anything, among other accessories – and they had a clever DIY relay board for lighting in prototype form, too. (Plus Jekka, one of the collective, had a fantastic performance at the start of their festival.)

Bonus round – Pribore

Talked to this crew, and I’m intrigued. Basically, it’s a not-yet-available Russian ultra-compact Bluetooth MIDI controller. Charge (or use) via micro USB, and then use it wirelessly if you choose. They showed it mapped to Reason. You get transport controls, plus assignable encoders and a couple of assignable triggers. It seems like the kind of thing I might keep in my laptop bag at all times.

Sorry, no other information – will get that when it’s ready. (Doesn’t quite fit with the other stuff here, but worth mentioning.)

More:

http://synthposium.ru/

The post New Russian music electronics you’ve never heard of, from Synthposium appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here’s a closer look at Moog’s new Subsequent 37

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 29 Aug 2017 5:24 pm

The folks at Moog are nothing if not persistently obsessive. They’ve upgraded the original Sub 37 for improved sound and playability. Meet the Subsequent 37.

Basically, the Subsequent 37 isn’t a new synth – it is a Sub 37, only what Moog say is a better Sub 37. (And someone must have given themselves a well-deserved pat on the back when they thought of the name.) So, it’s the same two-note paraphonic (erm, duophonic… actually, let’s not get into that debate) … two-note synth that you know from before.

Only now it sounds better, and you get some extras.

What’s updated:

Double the mixer. Moog tell us that you get twice the headroom of the mixer from the original, which they say “allows you to create a wider range of classic clean tones in both mono and duo performance modes. It also allows for greater distinction between notes in duo mode.”

Ladder filter gain staging. Moog tell CDM: “Because of the changes to the mixer, we were able to hit the filter harder. The Ladder filter was reshaped to boost harmonic saturation and analog compression, resulting in an overall richer low end.”

A newly-tuned multidrive circuit. Moog: “Because of the clean headroom in the mixer and the changes to the filter, we had to make changes to Multidrive. In the process, we found that increasing its range was extremely useful and musical. In the end, you are now able to get far more overdriven sounds than in the past.”

A new keybed. “The new keybed is faster, smoother and more balanced in feel overall.”

A new software plugin/editor for easily creating and managing sounds. Right of the gate, this supports the Subsequent 37, but Sub 37 owners won’t be left out. Moog tell CDM a new version is coming soon. They tell usL “In the interim, owners “can” use the Sub 37 editor, however, the included Sub 37 presets are not optimized for use in the Subsequent 37 and will not perform optimally.”

Here’s an audio comparison, starring musician Cory Henry (of Snarky Puppy), Chief Engineer Cyril Lance, and … an oscilloscope:

The Subsequent 37 is at US$1499 – and as such, if you want a Moog synth and you’ve got that budget, this is probably the one to get. Also, I think it’s telling that while others chase the storied Minimoog, Moog themselves have moved on to new things. There are a lot of playing options to explore on these two-note instruments that produce possibilities and sounds that may be a bit fresher. It’s funny to think that price was once considered the affordable end of the spectrum – but you know what you’re getting. Not only do the Moog instruments sound great, their build quality is unlike just about anything in the industry.

Perhaps with that in mind, Moog shared a look inside the build process and factory. That factory is a special place; a huge part of this instrument really is made in Asheville, North Carolina, right where the Moog engineers are.

The post Here’s a closer look at Moog’s new Subsequent 37 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Radical electronics on a grand scale: Berlin Atonal in its fifth reboot year

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Events,Scene | Thu 10 Aug 2017 2:22 pm

Berlin’s idea of a summer holiday is a bit different: shroud yourself in black, retreat into a giant concrete bunker, and prepare for an onslaught of experimental sound and light.

But that’s Berlin Atonal Festival in a nutshell. It’s what Tresor entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann calls “a platform for radical ways in electronic music … in an industrial cathedral,” a packed-solid schedule of music and media art in the hulking abandoned shell of the power plant above the techno club.

This film affords probably the best insight into that

And now, Atonal is at an interesting inflection point. While the festival had its roots in the former West Berlin, 1982-90, it got a fairly significant reboot after a 13-year hiatus. So, sure, Hegemann himself carried over from the festival he first started. But a new curatorial team, a new context, this whole, uh, computer thing that happened, the reunification of Germany, the transformation of Berlin into international capital, the explosion of techno – these are non-trivial changes. That’s to say nothing of the move from a fairly conventional club (SO36) to a DDR-constructed behemoth that is literally used to record reverb impulse responses.

And the festival that once hosted the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten now treats listeners to a brand of experimental music that, while still adventurous, is starting to become commonplace in the festival circuit.

But maybe that’s the state of “radical” electronic music in general, certainly in Europe and the islands of media art chic around the globe. A fifth year festival isn’t going to be a shock that the first-year one is. But more than that, there’s a brand of violently sensory, retina- and eardrum-blasting but intelligent and high-concept experimental festival fare. And it’s grown popular. That popularity also transforms at least a circle of people making it. Their sound may be distorted and aggressive, but now it’s out of the tiny basements and blown-out crap PAs, and onto expensive speaker arrays, surround sound. There are sound technicians, even.

I’m of the opinion this doesn’t make experimental sound less experimental – on the contrary, it ups the acoustic and optical firepower and precision available to artists, which gives them a wider spectrum to exploit. It inarguably makes it less underground, but it also need not destroy underground aesthetics – and I think artists being able to eat is a good thing.

Of course, the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed yet. So I’ve watched curators cherry-pick their favorite acts from past Atonal, then import them to their own festival the following year. But that’s in something of a bubble, centering around Berlin (and London, and Amsterdam, and other capitals) in Europe, and festivals like MUTEK in the Americas (now a kind of pan-American festival franchise, in fact). It’s to the point where I can’t recall which festival discovered whom.

That consistency is easy to criticize, particularly for anyone jealous of Atonal’s grand spectacle (as a curator), cool crowds (as an audience member), or artist opportunities (for music and media art makers). But on the other hand, for this circle, it can begin to allow refinement. Audiovisual works in particular benefit from repetition and iteration, as you rely on multiple media to mature in parallel, collaborations to deepen. And a certain oneupmanship among lineups can drive artists to hone their craft.

This leaves us the question, what makes Atonal special?

Well, the obvious edge is its space. The artists interviewed aren’t kidding: you can’t imagine how big Kraftwerk is until you enter. It’s bigger than cameras can capture, vaster than words can convey. The Atonal organizers have found a way to tune the experience for listeners center stage, amazingly stopping it from turning into mud. And artists are adjusting their sets, too. But I agree with Sam Kerridge – it’s a unique pleasure to wander the space. Festivals are so often a pre-packaged, linear experience, a proscenium blasting a pre-determined significance to a packed crowd. In Kraftwerk, you can explore a set the way you would an art museum after closing. You can stand under the stage. You can find a sweet spot by a wall where reflections transform your perspective. You can find yourself gazing in complete stillness at some installation. And Atonal combines this with Ohm (the former battery room of the power plant, an intimate tile-walled affair) and Tresor (the basement, with its famous metal-bar booth).

That says something about Berlin as it is now, citywide, year-round. It’s too much music, and it’s dark and industrial and sometimes monotonous. But you’re free in that overabundance to chart your own way, to come and go in a music culture that seems to have no beginning, middle, or end.

Photo: Helge Mundt.

And this year, Atonal seems poised to build on what the festival has constructed after four editions. In short:

Back to experimental music’s roots. I always have a historical bias, so this is what I’m excited about. For both Atonal and The Long Now (two Kraftwerk-based festivals sharing some of the same curators), attendees are treated to a mix of historical concert music / new music / historical works and new commissions. In this year’s Atonal, it’s Stockhausen‘s turn. His 8-channel spatial OKTOPHONIE is inspired by the sounds of warfare (a tradition itself with threads back to Italian futurists). Stockhausen collaborator and director of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kathinka Pasveer, leads that recreation, and younger composers will try out the system, too.

Rashad Becker + Ena on those eight channels should be especially good. But it’s nice to be treated to Karlheinz, too – having heard Cage and Reich recalled in this space, I can’t wait.

New stuff. There’s too much here to mention, but it’s fair to say this year’s Atonal promises more emerging artists and premieres, and might be one of the breakthrough festivals in 2017 generally. I’m curious about the “composed live act” of Chinese performance artist and composer Pan Daijing, the collaboration of Renick Bell (live coder) and Fis (sound designer). Sophie Schnell (PYUR) I’ve followed since her first AV show, and she has a unique and sensitive approach to her solo audiovisual work – this seems one to watch. Turkish-born Nene Hatun has a Rumi-inspired work.

I’m keen to see LCC (Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda) plus Pedro Maia; these Editions Mego-recorded artists are at the top of their synth game, and it’ll be spectacular to see them on this grander scale.

One sure-to-be-poingnant moment is Argentine-born installation artist, instrument builder and clarinetist Lucio Capace, who will have a trio doing a remembrance of the late experimental legend Mika Vainio.

There are also just a lot of new live shows. There’s a reason curators scout out Atonal for talent; there are few chances to see this many new AV works anywhere. (Another chance this fall will be Prague’s Lunch Meat; I’ll be there, too.)

Another easy bet: go see anyone Japanese. Thanks to collaborating with the New Assembly festival in Tokyo, Atonal is fresh with a bunch of legendary Japanese talent not normally seen in Europe. (I’d like CDM in general to get a little closer to the Japanese scene, and since I can’t always jet over to Japan, this will be a nice shortcut.)

All stars. Okay, and there’s more Puce Mary, more Roly Porter, more Shackleton, more Emptyset, etc. etc.. But with new premieres and such from these artists, there’s a reason to bring the all-star quasi-residents back. Some possible highlights – the combination of Shackleton’s music, Anika‘s voice over, Berlin artist Strawalde, and live visualist Pedro Maia is on my must-see list – partly because that combination sounds like it’ll either be transcendent or a cluttered mess, and that uncertainty ought to be why we go see stuff. Emptyset is doing something with architecture – and architecture is what Kraftwerk is about.

We’re Northern Electronics fans around these parts, so a program by the label’s Jonas Rönnberg aka Varg is a must on Sunday.

I’m skipping the DJ lineup, but it’s also really robust.

Photo: Helge Mundt.

Some free sounds

Can’t fly to Berlin? (or, uh, walk across the river as you don’t work for Ableton or Native Instruments?) Fret not.

The Wire has a special, free download of a number of wonderful live recordings from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

And, okay, basically these are all favorites here – note Peder Mannerfelt, PYUR, Ena, and so on returning in 2017.

It’s their Below The Radar Special Edition

Alessandro Cortini “Perdonare” 0:04:56
A Vision Of Love “Rose Transept” 0:06:49
Marshstepper “When Misfortune Confounds Us” 0:10:23
Felix K + Ena “Live At Berlin Atonal 2016” 0:03:55
Pan Daijing + JASSS “April” 0:05:23
Abdulla Rashim “Live At Berlin Atonal 2014” 0:04:49
SUMS “Budapest” 0:04:52
Peder Mannerfelt “The Theory” 0:04:41
Orphx + JK Flesh “Light Bringer” 0:04:42
Caterina Barbieri “Human Developers” 0:12:41
PYUR + Fis “The Pact”


Below The Radar Special Edition: Berlin Atonal: Force Majeure

https://berlin-atonal.com/

The post Radical electronics on a grand scale: Berlin Atonal in its fifth reboot year appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Percussa’s new Kickstarter project wants to be the brain of your modular

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 Aug 2017 5:44 pm

What if you could merge the patch-ability of modulars with powerful digital DSP – not just circuits? The Percussa SSP is the latest entry to try just that.

It was inevitable: modulars, at first resurrected precisely because they had simple circuitry and knobs in a predictable space, are starting to get computational powers. This isn’t just cramming a computer in a Eurorack. The Percussa uses embedded processing power, in the form of the increasingly ubiquitous ARM architecture – this is what makes your smartphone, your iPad, your Nintendo DS, your Raspberry Pi, and your Canon PowerShot all work.

And that’s the brainpower – lots of open-ended number crunching, sound processing capability. The quad core engine, which will support Percussa’s own stuff as well as third-party C++ code (opening this up to a community), could run loads of effects or oscillators all on a single module, all in parallel. And it’ll run audio at high bit resolution and sample rate.

Oh, yeah, also – clouds of oscillators. (This is cloud as in sound, not cloud as in Internet, unlike this recent Roland Cloud offering.)

Last week, I had a look at another take on the post-PC sound machine – and if that one looks like it was imagined by a guitarist, this one appears to have been envisioned by a lover of embedded computers and Eurorack.

Export to hardware, virtual pedals – this could be the future of effects

While there is some open-ended potential, that’s not to say that this is an empty canvas. There’s a lot of sound capabilities there already. Out of the box, you’ll get some instant capabilities – more depending on how much crowdfunding revenue comes in.

Percussa plans a 3D morphing wavetable oscillator, a sampler, an LFO for modulation, filters, a step sequencer, and building blocks for signal processing.

If that’s not enough, other virtual modules could become available in time – including third-party ones.

And the SSP is looking like a handy hub for a modular rig – and very possibly a replacement for a computer – thanks to SD card recording, loads of patchable I/O, and MIDI and USB (both a device port and a host port, so you can connect various USB gear).

Now, of course, you might still wonder why you wouldn’t just use an iPad or a computer. But there is still a lot of patching possible here, meaning of course the idea is to mix this with other modules. It’s Eurorack ready with 14 inputs.

Stretch goals feature more – there’s already MPE (expressive polyphonic control of MIDI) as one feature. I do kind of hope they get to the 3D accelerated graphics.

Percussa provided some images here. More details on their Kickstarter page.

It looks great, though I do have to wonder – do you really want something like this in Eurorack form, or do you want essentially a dedicated sound computer to take a different form factor (one that might well include some patching)? That is, does this look like the hub of a Eurorack setup, or just a sound machine on its own? (Of course, this could be either of those things to different people as-is – but as we do delve into the post-PC age, all these questions get asked anew.)

Combining this with your analog gear could look something like this:

More details. The project doesn’t come cheap – you’re looking at around 1.5 grand – but looks like over a dozen users are ready to take the plunge, even sight unseen and unheard, in advance.

Percussa Super Signal Processor Eurorack Module

The post Percussa’s new Kickstarter project wants to be the brain of your modular appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Skinnerbox get their hands on Roland’s SE-02, which isn’t a Minimoog

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Tue 25 Jul 2017 11:59 am

Our friends Skinnerbox get their hands on Roland’s SE-02 – the Boutique series collaboration with Studio Electronics. Just don’t call it a Minimoog clone.

So, while we wait for Roland’s SH-010, here’s a different take on the Boutique range. That is, really the only thing the two devices have in common is the cute little Boutique form factor.

Everything else represents two different angles on what Roland is doing with synth hardware today.

The SH-010, TB-03, and TR-09 are all digital models, like the AIRA range. They incorporate Roland’s own proprietary circuit modeling technology, and a bunch of corresponding digital features.

The SE-02 is about analog, and about collaboration – Studio Electronics are a small American maker working with the Japanese giant, whereas the AIRA and other Boutiques come out of Roland’s in-house design and engineering teams (if a hipper, small group of them).

But it’s also worth noting something else the SE-02 isn’t. It isn’t a Minimoog clone. And as such, you get something that’s inexpensive, like the Behringer Model D, but without trying to be a copy of the original Moog.

The SE-02 wouldn’t exist without the Minimoog, and it does copy the panel layout and look and feel of the 70s classic. But it’s better understood as a Minimoog-class synthesizer rather than a direct clone. A Yamaha grand, by comparison, is closely related to a Steinway Model D piano, but they aren’t the same instrument. And indeed, the Minimoog is so influential as to warrant a class of similar instruments that represent a variation on the theme.

That means the SE-02 has its own sound. And adding something like a dedicated LFO and delay are pretty major additions to how you’d play the synth (if not uncommon ones).

Skinnerbox are some of the musicians I most admire for their knowledge of instruments and their uniquely musical chops in live performance of dance music, so they’re the perfect people to do a hands-on review. A Minimoog is also part of their regular gig. Here we go:

And speaking of Skinnerbox’s live work, let’s enjoy their new live version of their single “Gender” – proof that you can do elaborate arrangements live (but you knew that):

And here we are playing together earlier this year:

Images courtesy Skinnerbox. Keep up with them on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/myskinnerbox/

The post Skinnerbox get their hands on Roland’s SE-02, which isn’t a Minimoog appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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