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


Now your smartphone can livestream with proper audio and more, using this new Roland gadget

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 9 Jan 2020 5:26 am

The GO:LIVECAST promises to transform your smartphone from a craptacular lo-fi hassle into an all-in-one multitasking studio.

Webcasting, livestreaming, livecasting, broadcasting, recording, podcasting … let’s drop all the buzzwords and put this into one category. You know the drill: if you’re a one-person show, or you’re on the go, there’s a lot to juggle. And going mobile means doing exactly that – juggling.

The smartphone should be a great solution, until you realize it isn’t. Sound is the main issue, in that it’s a chore to get past the internal mic – even worse if you need to mix, say, voiceover and an instrument. And then the other tasks you have to solve tend to multiply from there.

The funny thing is, these problems now span a big group of people and use cases, blurring together “casual” and pro. Let’s not ever use the word prosumer again – this is really about mobility and autonomy. Smartphones have given us the promise of recording and broadcasting in all places. And people are doing it, regardless. The question now is, will we get tools so that the creation process isn’t frustrating and the results don’t look like crap.

Roland is one of the companies most aggressively vying to fill that use case, and crossing traditional audio production with new consumer uses. (See also: Zoom/Samson.)

GO:LIVECAST does aim to solve a lot of your problems, and it looks like it might pull it off.

Roland’s GO:MIXER is already a solid solution for mobile audio mixing, and if it’s just audio you’re dealing with in your smartphone recording, it might already be enough. But GO:LIVECAST also lets you easily integrate multiple audio feeds with your stream, and has an ambitious list of other functionality:

Add in audio inputs. No more relying on the internal mic on your phone. You get multiple ways of merging your phone’s high-quality imagery with (finally) higher-quality sound:

  • Built-in mic. (Roland claims this captures “high-quality” sound, so we’ll have to compare their hardware with popular phones to find out.)
  • External XLR input so you can use a proper microphone.
  • Stereo line input (for your synth or instrument or an external mixer, etc.)

Plus, there are actual knobs for adjusting levels, not to mention a reverb option for if you want to sing.

Monitor what you’re doing. GO:LIVECAST has the headphone jack that your phone now probably doesn’t, and the ability to monitor the other audio inputs, too.

Trigger titles and media. Radio has long had “soundboards” for triggering audio buttons or sound effects or IDs. This is that for not just sound, but also titles, photos, and videos, since you need this capability for AV generally. It appears the push-buttons on the device integrate with Roland’s app.

There’s some pre-built content (ewww) or you can make your own libraries (oooh).

Multi-camera support, with phones! You can use wifi to add a second camera, not only with the app, but even – didn’t expect this part – with the hardware.

Photo: Roland.

An app to solve all those problems logging in, starting, and monitoring. Anyone who’s tried to do a live stream knows this agony, especially as one person. There’s dealing with logins for streaming services. Then you have people commenting and want to respond. It’s a major pain bouncing between different interfaces.

Roland says they solve all of this with their app. The app logs you into popular services. (That’s YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch plus other “major” options – have to find out which.) And it lets you handle the camera and other features alongside checking comments in-app.

There’s in-camera mirroring so you can see yourself, and automatic switching between portrait and landscape modes (another major pain). There’s even a skin filter (took me a second to work out what they mean – I think as in the skin on your face, though some of these features are controversial elsewhere, so we need to see how they implement that.)

I/O: Runs on USB power, connects to Android and iOS devices, stereo minijack line in, XLR and 1/4″ TRS phone input with phantom power.

I’m a little concerned about those buttons and having them locked into Roland’s app. And it’s annoying that Roland is still on microUSB and not USB-C (though they have an adapter cable in the box). But the functionality looks useful, especially if paired with the existing GO:MIXER.

It all looks great – will it deliver? Roland definitely has the right idea. I’m keen to test this to see if it delivers on its promises.

And actually, far from being experienced pros, I think as musicians we’re even more desperately in need of help. Music making doesn’t necessarily prepare you for video production tasks. It makes you more demanding of sound quality, but you also have to deal with, you know, trying to play music and be inspired at the same time, leaving little bandwidth for streaming headaches.

Roland’s GO:MIXER was great, which gives me hope. And the basic features here really do look useful. Plus Roland in general – via their Edirol brand – have been on top of these kinds of production needs at the mid- and high-end, too.

I’m sure there are other streaming tools around CES this week, too. Stay tuned.

Check Roland’s product page, meanwhile:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/golivecast/

The post Now your smartphone can livestream with proper audio and more, using this new Roland gadget appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Tesla just added music-making tool Trax to their car dashboard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 27 Dec 2019 1:05 am

Update your Tesla, get a (simple) DAW. Trax 0.1 has simple percussion, melody, and step-sequencing and arrangement tools for the car dashboard.

You get pads and a keyboard for playing, a small selection of instruments (pad, synth bass, TR-808), and basic step sequencing and arrangement tools. It looks for all the world like a really simple iPad app, but you will notice the Tesla touchscreen has a fair bit of latency compared to an Apple tablet:

Engadget has the story, though I suspect they got some coal sent to them from Apple for saying GarageBand isn’t professional. (I think it is; I know Apple believes it is. But I digress.)

Tesla puts a music-making app in your EV

My car is the S-Bahn, but maybe someone out there has a Tesla and can tell us how export and other features work. The “0.1” in the version suggests they might add more in the future if people like this thing.

It’s part of the Tesla 2019.40.50 Update, in time for the holidays.

I, uh, do have a driving license if someone from Tesla wants to think of me as a powerful music tech influencer to try this out. Uh huh. Totally.

So why the heck would you want a DAW in your car? Well, Tesla are adding lots of gee-whiz features to their software to show off, obviously. But presumably as Engadget speculates, maybe this is ” a way to capture a flash of musical inspiration while you’re sitting in the parking lot.”

Or mainly to show off your fancy car, as you’re still more likely to use an iPad or iPhone or even Android smartphone with better latency and vastly more storage. That said, it’s nice to see Tesla thinking of music-making as something to add – on that note, I agree with the first tweet.

Now, just give us the ability to hook the dashboard arrangement tool to the car horn, and think we’re really talking.

The post Tesla just added music-making tool Trax to their car dashboard appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Hey Metronome: this $1 iOS app doesn’t threaten privacy or require online access

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 23 Dec 2019 7:13 pm

Now you can get hands-free metronome features while you practice and play – without worrying about privacy or needing signal.

Hands-free music makes sense. If you’re an instrumentalist, it means the ability to use your music gadgets along with your instrument, without taking your hands off the keys, string, bow, and so on.

But there are some issues with the way major tech providers generally provide voice recognition.

Big corporate Internet-powered online assistants pose some real privacy risks. For just one example, The Guardian surveyed the use of human contractors and other privacy worries around big five Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – with a particular focus on Amazon. That may not be a big priority for musicians. But as I wrote when Roland adopted some (otherwise very cool) Amazon Alexa features on its digital pianos, those consumer concerns will bleed over in music manufacturing as the two industries partner.

Oh, yeah, and another problem – what if you don’t have any signal in your studio? Lots of musicians practice when touring, or in basements without cell phone reception or wifi.

Audiokit, the makers of friendly and open source developer tools for music and audio, have a solution. Their app ‘Hey Metronome’ uses voice recognition that works on the device, rather than connecting to the cloud. And given you’re using simple commands, that makes sense. You can set meter and tempo or even tempo and range simply by saying “Hey metronome, set tempo to allegro” or whatever bpm or time signature you want.

The iPad version is also looking really nice.

For musician users, you get a one-buck music app that’s likely a must-have. For developers, the code is open source – and if you’re learning how to develop apps, it also represents a simple app you can use to learn to code. (Audiokit promise a “free coding tutorial series, teaching students and enthusiasts how to build their own music app.” Looking forward to that!)

Synthtopia gets the first scoop on this, and say that the developers plan more voice-controlled music applications in the future. That’s thanks to a partnership with speech recognition experts KeenASR Research.

By the way, if you’re a developer, KeenASR has an on-device voice control SDK (it’s also right on GitHub). It works on Android as well as iOS; Audiokit is focused exclusively on Apple platforms (iOS, macOS, tvOS, and Apple Watch).

https://keenresearch.com/

Grab the app on the App Store, of course:

AudioKit Hey Metronome [iOS App Store]

Previously:

The post Hey Metronome: this $1 iOS app doesn’t threaten privacy or require online access appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

L7 is what the Loop Station would be like as an iOS app, not hardware – and now it’s just $4

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Dec 2019 4:22 pm

For years, musicians have asked for software to do what the BOSS RC-505 Loop Sta­tion does, and make looping easy. The Audiokit L7 does just that.

Okay, before this sounds like it’s an emulation of the RC-505 with some fake pedals and knobs and such, don’t worry – they didn’t do that. Coming from the makers of iOS sound framework Audiokit, the L7 has the sort of simple, standard visual interface you’d expect from an app, not hardware. So you get high-contrast visuals and waveforms and all that.

But they did adopt the RC-505 looping workflow, combining it with the convenience of touchscreen, visual interface, and – so long as you’ve got an iPad or iPhone handy, always-available mobility. (Heck, since this makes sense as a dedicated device, it might even be worth picking up a cheap iPod touch so your phone doesn’t do double duty.)

So you layer loops successfully as you play – the magical Loop Station formula. The difference is, now you can also layer effects easily on top of that, without losing track of what you’re doing (since there’s more visual feedback on both audio layers and effects).

Step one: layer loops as you play, Loop Station style.
Step two: add effects to each layer, and perform with them live.

And yes, if that seems like a missed opportunity for Roland/BOSS – it is. (There’s still time. They have to call this L7, not Loop Station, so Roland still has an opportunity – plus Audiokit don’t support popular Android phones.)

Meanwhile, Audiokit are a model for other developers. You buy the app once – no ads, no subscriptions, no in-app purchases, no nonsense. US$19.99 is the regular price, which seems reasonable – major caveat, I haven’t tested it fully yet. But they’ve got an intro price on for US$3.99, which basically means you shouldn’t wait for my review. (That’s the point where I start to just pay four bucks to save the trouble of waiting for a promo code.)

And wow, the features definitely show they’re listening. I can’t wait to give this a spin on the iPad.

+ Record up to 16 tracks
+ 8 ef­fects per track + mas­ter ef­fects & in­put ef­fects
+ Pan
+ Re­verb
+ Tremo­lo
+ Tem­po de­lay
+ Pitch shift (± 12 semi­tones)
+ Comb fil­ter
+ High pass fil­ter
+ Low pass fil­ter
+ “Voice ­tune” (inspired by Auto-tune) with 144 dif­fer­ent scales, con­trol amount & speed
+ Au­to­mat­i­cal­ly trig­ger ef­fect changes hands-free
+ Vari­able loop length with auto-stop
+ Mute / un­mute in­di­vid­ual sec­tions of a track
+ Over­dub tracks
+ Save ses­sions and ex­port wave files and mixdowns to use in your fa­vorite DAW
+ Im­port au­dio from any file for­mat (wav, mp3, aiff, m4a, etc.)
+ Au­diobus com­pat­i­ble
+ Sync with oth­er apps us­ing Able­ton Link
+ Works with most USB au­dio in­ter­faces
+ Best with wired head­phones

Hardware is still desirable in a lot of situations, but I bet a lot of people will just do both.

US$3.99 on the App Store, starting now. Check out this app, their other work, and their stuff for developers, on their site:

https://audiokitpro.com

Here is, I hope, a great looping performance (I am embedding this from 40,000 feet on Japan Airlines, so you’ll find out probably before I do what happened):

iPad Pro is how I would use this – and it looks really great in large format.
Effects look even more usable on iPad.
Of course, having this in your hand is also great.

What do you think? Got a looping app (or hardware) you prefer, and want to hold it up against this? Let us know in comments.

The post L7 is what the Loop Station would be like as an iOS app, not hardware – and now it’s just $4 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch prove music can be multiplayer fun, too

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 6 Dec 2019 12:00 pm

In many, many languages, the word for “playing” music is the same as “playing” a game. So it’s fitting KORG has invaded the Nintendo Switch console with music-making – and that you can share with friends.

The translation of KORG Gadget to Nintendo’s Switch handheld is mostly novelty and fun convenience – you’re probably still going to find the iPad version easier to use solo. But where the Switch stands out is some of its multiplayer, collaborative twists. Since on key feature of the Switch (though not Switch Lite) is TV output, you can jam on a large screen or projection image. It’s the old gaming split-screen mode, like in Mario Kart and (back in the day) Goldeneye. Combine that with the “this is just for fun” feeling you get from holding a game console, and you get something you probably wouldn’t get quite so easily with other platforms. This is literally something you might bust out at a party.

The team at online tool Splice decided to give the mode a workout, and produced a video and short blog piece sharing their experiences:

Now, of course, instruments, bands, choirs – all of these provide the same social experience. And none of those things is going away, either, judging by the ongoing market for sheet music, acoustic instruments, accessories, education, and conferences in those fields (really, look it up). So maybe it’s not about production replacing traditional music. Maybe it’s more that we have this new form of musical activity – electronic production – and so far, we haven’t had a good way to share it.

Ever tried to work with a friend in something like Ableton Live? You can easily jam together by adding extra synth gear or drum machines. But using the actual tool Live often means “fighting” over the controls, because both the mouse/keyboard interface and things like Ableton Push tend to assume a single user. (Push will even regularly override other controllers and inputs, but I digress – this isn’t just a Live problem, but a limitation with the computer/user metaphor generally.)

So it seems like a small thing, but even this crude setup shows how you might think about this differently.

More from KORG on Gadget as used for educational purposes, and demonstrating its multiplayer features. (By the way, I was consulted, via New York’s Dubspot, with Rockstar Games on how to make a handheld gaming platform work in music education. The idea has been floating around – but today’s Switch is far better as a choice than the then-current Sony PSP Rockstar was using – sorry, Sony.)

English subtitled, go further into that classroom. I will just assume that in Japan it’s normal for all music teachers to wear lab coats.

Oh, and – another thing. Gaming in general offers an alternative paradigm for how we think about widespread access to music creation, and difficulty level. Not to harp endlessly on Amazon this week, but part of why I was triggered by their keynote was how tired the “everyone can make music without any skill or effort” refrain was.

Gaming has had to tackle this perception, too. But consistently, actual gamers ask for experiences that last. That might be a so-called “casual” game that still sucks up time and ramps up difficulty, or it might be punishing “hard-core” games. But one thing gamers have generally resisted is games that play themselves – which is why the “AI makes music for you” model is so screwed up. (The exception perhaps proves the rule – some mobile games now leverage the data on your usage to essentially squeeze money out of you, leaving the user doing little. Most everyone hates this, and even Apple and Google have had to intervene by changing the underlying business model.)

So back to multiplayer music – Korg GADGET doesn’t take out any of the fundamental work of music production in any other tool. What’s fun about it is making mistakes, screwing up together with other people. And even though theoretically someday this could work online, you can also see in the video that there’s something invaluable about being in the same room together with friends.

I personally think as music production does reach further and further around the world, it’s less and less likely you’ll need to connect online just to find someone else. But of course online multiplayer is there, too, when you want it – still with the large-scale visual feedback of splitscreen. It’s also not hard to imagine that soon the Twitch video streaming phenomenon will grow bigger in music, with some early first indications of crossover already.

Just look for installed base. The iPad is the assumed go-to for this sort of idea, and has its own jam-friendly Ableton Link protocol for just this use case. But iOS has limitations of its own, and it’s clear there are some different ideas possible even where you wouldn’t expect it, on Nintendo Switch.

I think there’s a lesson here for being creative with computing platforms, or even offering devices with video out – people do still own TVs and projectors.

Alternatively, print out this story, stick it in a file folder with your taxes, and tell your accountant that yes, you do need to deduct the cost of a Nintendo Switch. You’ve got just a few shopping days left until the end of the year if you want that to get taken off your tax bill for 2018.

You’re welcome. (Oh, you might want to redact this last bit. Guten Morgen, Finanzamt!)

The post Watch KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch prove music can be multiplayer fun, too appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here are the best Black Friday deals for electronic musicians

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Thu 28 Nov 2019 7:08 pm

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Black Week – with so many to choose from, here are our favorite tech deals for music makers.

Got a deal?

Found a deal you want to share with other folks? Offering a deal yourself (as a developer, manufacturer, record label, whatever)? Tell us about it here:

CDM Turkey Tracker submissions

Our offers

Well, first from us – deals on the synth hardware and record label side projects of CDM!

MeeBlip geode synthesizers are $129 plus free shipping, anywhere. Through Monday.

MeeBlip thru5 kits are $9.99 (50% off!) – while supplies last. We expect to sell out before the deal ends end of day Monday.

Establishment Records on Bandcamp. All albums in our catalog are now 70% off through Monday evening. Plus look forward to new stuff from our spin-off record label in 2020 – some exciting plans in the works now. Enter code wearblack.

Software

Everything at Reason Studios is on sale for what they call “Rack Friday,” with discounts on Reason (now with AU support on Mac!) and lots of Rack Extensions – up to 90% off. https://www.reasonstudios.com/shop/deals/ – through December 2.

Ableton have 25% off Live 10, upgrades, and packs, meaning if you put off upgrading, now is the sign.

Arturia’s V Collection 7, full of basically every software recreation of classic electronic instruments you could imagine, is down to 299 $/EUR, along with other upcoming Arturia deals to watch. Also, even something like this sounds cooler in French. Behold: Obtiens la V Collection pour une prix exclusif Jusqu’au 5 décembre 2019. Ne rate pas cette occasion. Obtiens-la pour 299$/EUR. Ah, we sounds so crass in English, by comparison. Touché . https://www.arturia.com/black-friday-19

iZotope has discounts on software plus their Spire Studio hardware. Probably best of these is the $49 bundle of Elements Suite, DDLY, Mobius Filter, and Trash 2. Everything is on sale, though. Also great – the Music Production site (with Ozone 9 Advanced, Neutron 3 Advanced, etc.) for $399 and the bargain-basement-priced, awesome-sounding, light-on-CPU PhoenixVerb for $39. Through 12/6.

Output’s instruments have an extra 25% off – meaning the bundle of everything is now $/EUR 599.

puremagnetik’s unique collections of sounds and instruments are 50% through November 30, including some wonderful plugin instruments. Enter code BLACKFRIDAY19. Get a little granular after Thanksgiving dinner.

Eventide’s Anthology XI – the equivalent of a studio full of Eventide gear – is a full 75% off, for $499. That compares well to getting it via subscription, and it’s an outstanding deal. There’s also the excellent Elevate suite for 50% off. See the holiday sale page. Full disclosure: I live off the Anthology. The Eventide folder if it lived in the real world would have had its name worn off by now.

Time + Space have a rotating set of deals from a whole host of vendors. It may even be worth checking some of these deals versus the original developers.

On the same lines, pluginboutique.com have a bunch of deals on various vendors, and some of these discounts are exclusive, so comparison-shop if you’re stocking up. 50% off Softube or a stunning 80% off Soundtoys looks brilliant. On the Softube side, you can’t go wrong with the company’s amp simulations, for instance, and Modular add-ons are discounted, too. For Soundtoys, LittlePlate and EchoBoy Jr. are secret sauce for me, so I would absolutely endorse those two as they’re indispensible (or full EchoBoy for a little more).

Waves are letting you stock up with code BF50 at checkout, plus free plug-ins to choose when you spend more than $50.

Harrison’s new AVA plug-ins are 4-for-the-price-of-1, at $89 for the lot. See the AVA product page. These plug-ins I don’t know yet, but Harrison’s stuff typically sounds great.

Tracktion’s software is up to 65% off. That includes their DAWs, but also things like the MOK Waverazor and SpaceCraft instruments. Tons of inspiring stuff – code MIX2019 – through end of day December 4. https://www.tracktion.com

Cableguys do great stuff and they have their only sale of the year as this – “Until Cyber Monday, 2nd December 2019, the ShaperBox 2 Bundle of five powerful Cableguys effects – TimeShaper 2, VolumeShaper 6, FilterShaper Core 2, PanShaper 3, and WidthShaper 2 – is only €79 / $89. That’s a 50% saving compared to buying all five Shapers individually (€155 / $180).” https://www.cableguys.com/shaperbox.html

Kilohearts has deep discounts on their stuff through December 9 – https://kilohearts.com.

Metric Halo’s indispensible software, including SpectraFoo and the like, is on a sale up to 70%. https://www.mhsecure.com/mhdirect/home.php?cat=26 They’ve also got early access pricing on their hardware.

Mobile apps

cykle is a really cool step sequencer for iOS; it’s now 40%.

All of the superb Bram Bos iOS apps are on sale for $3.99 (or local equivalent), for some excellent synths, drum machines, MIDI tools, and more. See his developer page on the App Store.

The Atom piano roll (looper/sequencer, AUv3) is on sale for 50% off for iOS. It’s maybe your best bet for AUv3-compatible sequencing at the moment.

Some of our favorite synths/effects, Elastic Drums and Elastic FX, are 40% off until the end of the week. Check https://mominstruments.com.

Imaginando’s controller apps are the ones I’ve been using most lately on iOS, and they’re right now all 40% off. Through December 2.

.

Hardware

Erica Synths’ have 20% some of our favorite modules – the Fusion Series. https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/eurorack-modules/by-series/fusion-series/ Through Saturday.

Also over in Riga, there’s the wonderful, independently-operated Gamechanger Audio. Their exceptionally unique Plus and Plasma pedals are 20% off, which is about as good a way to spend money as I can imagine. Check out their shop – https://www.gamechangeraudio.com/shop – through December 2. It’s a pretty big deal to do this as an independent maker, too – they admit they’re working 14-hour shifts to get the gear out – so do reward them!

Arturia hardware is on sale, so head into your local store (or order from them). That’s up to 50% off MiniBrute (and its rackable 2S sibling) and the unique DrumBrute. DrumBrute for 349 $/EUR is pretty astonishing and maybe reason to overlook even those remakes everyone else might be grabbing.

ROLI is running an insane discount of up to 50% off a lot of their Seaboard and Blocks hardware plus plug-ins. https://roli.com/black-friday-deals

Sweetwater has $300 off that Solid State Logic SiX we’ve all been coveting. It’s still the most expensive compact mixer you can buy, but … well, it’s a little more tempting, and come on, it’s still a chance to own your own little SSL.

Sweetwater also has a bunch of Universal Audio bundles and deals on their site. But maybe best is –

Moog Mother for $100 off.

Perfect Circuit also has a bunch of hardware for up to 40% off. That includes Moog DFAM for $100 off.

Visualist tools

Learning TouchDesigner? Stanislav Glazov has his superb tutorials on sale. 30 % Discount for all TouchDesigner Courses till 3rd of December. Use promocode 3DOFF at https://lichtpfad.selz.com/

garageCube are again celebrating “Mad Week” with 20% off software and 10% off hardware. Head to https://www.garagecube.com/product/ through December 2. This includes upgrade discounts, so it’s worth checking even if you’re already a customer.

Music labels

Big Semantica Records fan, and they’re 30% off with code blackfriday2019 on Bandcamp.

Florian Meindl as I said is doing some of the finest quality techno production out there, and now you can get all his tracks for 9EUR (really). Just go to an album page like this one – https://florianmeindl.bandcamp.com/album/nonlinear-times-remixes-black-asteroid-jeroen-search – and you’ll see the option.

Total Black records in Berlin obviously needs a Black Friday discount; they’re 70% off. Use code blackfriday.

Beautiful Seoul-based Oslated Records is 70% off, with code blackfriday.

I know a lot of indie labels must be doing Bandcamp sales, so do get in touch.

That covers Bandcamp, but see also Beatport for some deals – code CYBERSALE nets you as much as 50%, and you can use it twice before it expires on December 3.

Feature photo (the shopping cart) (CC-BY-SA-ND) Wim Bollen.

The post Here are the best Black Friday deals for electronic musicians appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Eventide’s iOS effects are quietly becoming must-have tools

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 18 Nov 2019 6:35 pm

Without anyone really making much fuss about it, we suddenly live in an age when we can run effects more or less however we want.

Eventide is a company known for hardware first. But they’ve taken that DSP power and moved it to a variety of platforms. So you can buy a reverb box, or a whole advanced studio rack, or you can buy something like the H9 that’s a stompbox-style pedal that runs whatever effects you like. Or you can buy desktop plug-ins – outright or by subscription.

The breakthrough is that Eventide have quietly taken some of their best-known effects and offered them as iOS apps. They run both on iPad and on iPhone (with a single app purchase). They’re not the cheapest effects out there, but they’re vastly more affordable as apps – enough so that you could buy a midrange new iPad and these apps and still save some money versus a lot of comparable hardware.

Wait – doesn’t that threaten Eventide’s business model? Well, no – recent years have shown that the trend has gone somewhere else, that delivering software renditions may actually generate more demand for hardware. (Look at the free modular platform VCV Rack and giveaways from Eurorack manufacturers like Befaco and Erica Synths for an example of how that dynamic can play out.)

The truth is, once you know an effect, you can be comfortable using it in multiple contexts.

Anyway, these apps are terrifically useful on the go. They’re great if you’re playing with iPad or iPhone synths and generators and want to add effects – including if you’re familiar with the desktop renditions. And they make nice try-before-you-buy versions of these tools if you’re thinking of investing in hardware.

Let’s review what’s out there. There are now some five effects apps, and the stable is growing. (There’s also a controller app for the H9 stompbox.)

iTunes links / US prices:

Blackhole Reverb, the company’s signature “ambient” reverb, is vital for all sorts of creative sound designs – or just making enormous synthetic sonic caverns for your sound. US$19.99.

Ultratap Delay is one of the more unique multi-tap delays around, capable of various sounds from futuristic elaborate echoes to more conventional reverbs. (In fact, I keep replacing other tools with this one in the plug-in version.) US$14.99

Also – galloping. Like a horse. Well, listen. (Note that I can just swap to other Eventide videos – it’s the same algorithms under the hood.

MangledVerb is newer and perhaps deserves more attention – combining Eventide’s wild reverb with distortion is a genius idea. You can launch something into space and then… destroy that space. I already loved it as a plug-in, but it’s suddenly logical to have that ribbon with touch. US$14.99.

Rotary Mod is a strong Leslie speaker emulation, but since you can now run whatever you want through it, has loads of other instrumental and production applications, too. US$7.99.

MicroPitch is a fine resolution pitch shifter and harmonizer, based on the H3000. But like the others here, it’s also a creative instrument, and Eventide is all about this world of delays and pitch shifting that inevitably leads to an “I just fell into a wormhole” trip. Just trust me on this – grab it, turn some knobs. US$9.99.

Blackhole Reverb is the one most people might be inclined to go for, but I might suggest even starting with MicroPitch to get the hang of Eventide’s pitch world – and MangledVerb to work with a unique reverb. All of these are exceptionally good, though.

Just having these around makes the iOS ecosystem more powerful – but you could also toss these on an iPad and use them in the studio. They’re a perfect fit for Eventide’s performance-oriented, exploration-minded controls.

I think the lesson for the larger industry is the potential use of making DSP algorithms so flexible. Even with so-called “cloud-based” services and whatnot, I can’t think of another effect maker that currently offers this kind of choice across platforms. It’ll be interesting to see whether Eventide remains that edge case or if others try something similar.

But for the mangled/delay addiction, well, you can sort of never get enough.

https://www.eventideaudio.com

I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a while; it’ll be funny if I wake up to a new Eventide app tomorrow after doing it.

What about you – how are you managing the various Eventide plug-in and hardware and now app options? Do you swap between those platforms? Got favorite iOS effects apps of your own – and maybe I missed something and there are others doing cross-platform work like this? Let us know in comments.

The post Eventide’s iOS effects are quietly becoming must-have tools appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Listen to ambient sound from around the world, recorded with a 4’33” app

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 31 Oct 2019 6:31 pm

To anyone who says there are too many music makers in the world, maybe you aren’t aware of how much sound is in the world. Crowd-sourced iPhone recordings and the ghost of John Cage are here to set you straight.

First, there’s the app – the 4’33” app is an official, licensed app that makes field recordings to the exact specifications of John Cage’s infamous score as premiered in 1952 by pianist David Tudor. And yes, that means it even comes in the score’s original three movements – a fun fact you should definitely share at parties. (Hey, where did everybody go?)

The app has been out since 2014, courtesy John Cage Trust and publisher C.F. Peters. (Yes, C.F. Peters still owns the rights to a score that contains … nothing.) It’s $0.99 – a small price to pay for… well, for a new way of perceiving all the sounds of the world, maybe?

What’s really astounding about this is not so much the app, though, as the collection of sounds the app has made worldwide. And that has grown in the half decade since the app’s release. You might expect them to all be clustered around New York, San Francisco, and London, but instead six of the seven continents are represented. The iPhone microphone is pretty decent at recording a general monophonic ambience – a fancier stereo recording would do better, sure, but the phone somehow makes a representation of how we perceive and remember those spaces. So you can have a charming journey around the planet and its sounds.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

4’33” App for iPhone [App site and interactive map with sounds]

The post Listen to ambient sound from around the world, recorded with a 4’33” app appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru]

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 15 Oct 2019 10:58 am

Alexander Zolotov, genius creator of SunVox and other tools, strikes again. This time, you get a donationware “fractal” drum synth capable of producing some four billion unique sounds.

Each drum sound starts with an 8-character code, from which the synth generates the sound via “fractal algorithms.” It seems we may need to talk to him more about what the heck is going on here, but the results are gorgeous, metallic textures with richly varied possibilities.

You just navigate with the simplest controls a drum synth may have ever seen: next, previous, and (for editing the codes) edit. (There’s also a LCK button to “lock” a particular drum hit you like so you don’t lose it as you randomize the rest.)

Because there are eight characters spawning all of the sounds, you can copy or paste presets as plain text and share with others.

The drum synth is also playable. You can record individual hits and export them for use elsewhere (as in your favorite hardware drum machine). You can just finger drum in real time. You can control the synth from MIDI. You can export full recordings.

For now, this is only available on mobile platforms, but I’m trying it out on both iOS and Android. And as usual, Alexander has packed this with features – and this can be a sketchpad for his excellent, omniOS-compatible tracker, which also impossibly costs just a few bucks:

  • three types of keyboards for live drumming: on-screen buttons, PC keyboard, MIDI input;
  • six additional processing parameters + control of all parameters via MIDI;
  • real-time audio recording to WAV (32-bit);
  • export to: WAV (one file or a set), SunVox (samples + effects in one file), text clipboard;
  • iOS: Audio Unit Extension (AUv3), Audiobus, Wi-Fi export/import.

I mean, wow. Donationware / pay what you will.

https://warmplace.ru/soft/fbits/

The post Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru] appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 Oct 2019 6:32 pm

Okay, so you got the message not to rush into macOS Catalina. But we didn’t talk about the new iOS and what it means for musicians using iPads and iPhones in their work. Let’s explain.

What’s the hurry?

With iOS, just as with macOS, the main message is – don’t rush. Moving to grab a new OS the day it’s out is crazy. There’s virtually no case where you need to stay that current for music making. At the opposite extreme, never upgrading the OS is also problematic in most cases. You’ll eventually miss out on newer features in your favorite apps, and can even create security vulnerabilities if you wait long enough. (Since an iPad or iPhone is definitely connected to the Internet, that’s a serious issue in a way that it wouldn’t be on, say, a vintage KORG MS-20 hardware synth.)

iOS does pose an additional challenge: it’s practically impossible to roll back after upgrading. So take your time, leave some weeks for the bugs to be ironed out, and make sure you’re not upgrading right before going onstage with your iPad as a live instrument.

Okay, with all of that out of the way – iOS 13 doesn’t appear as though it will cause any long-lasting incompatibilities with music software. iOS 13 brought some major changes, particularly on the iPad, but those are gradually getting smoother out – in particular with the iOS 13.1 release.

Fixes are here or inbound

iOS 13 got off to a somewhat rocky start for music, but Apple are fixing issues and redeemed the OS, according to various developers with whom I’ve spoken.

There are two specific areas I’ve been tracking.

Bluetooth MIDI. iOS 13 does in the short term introduce some connectivity issues with working with MIDI over Bluetooth and discoverability. I’ve seen sporadic unconfirmed reports of this, plus an official statement from KORG that their wireless devices that work over Bluetooth MIDI are presently incompatible. (That’s microKEY Air, nanoKEY Studio, and nanoKONTROL Studio.)

Apple did make changes to some Bluetooth security permissions, as the company seems uniquely focused on security and privacy as issues. (See also: macOS Catalina.) I would presume that may be the reason for this.

KORG says they are working on a fix, though. Wired connections are also a workaround. There seems to be no evidence this will be a long-term issue, just something that requires some short-term fixes.

Inter-App Audio (and Audiobus). This one I think probably impacts more people – but there’s actually good news here.

Starting in iOS 12.4, software like Audiobus might encounter an issue where routing audio between apps ceased working when operating in the background (or interrupted by a call, etc.).

Anyway, it’s not so important now. These issues are fixed, both on iOS 12 (12.4.2+) and iOS 13 (13.1+).

Audiobus remains a great way to route audio between apps. And the migration to AUv3 from the original architecture is – actually okay, as well. I spoke with the developer of Audiobus and Loopy about how that transition will go earlier this year:

Other issues. iOS 13.1 delivered a bunch of fixes to various unexpected behaviors, and developers are following suit. (Bleeding edge, advanced apps like Moog’s Minimoog Model D and Model 15 saw some issues, which have since been resolved, CDM has confirmed.)

There are also some reasons to genuinely look forward to iOS 13, particularly in that it finally adds real file management (with Files), though it’ll take some time for developers to update their tools.

Bottom line

I’m not here to bash Apple releases or to be a cheerleader. The question is what will allow you to focus on making music. Right now, from Apple, that’s looking like macOS Mojave for the rest of 2019, and iOS 12.4.2+ or 13.1.

iOS 13 is a reasonable update at the moment if you’ve got some time to make adjustments. You don’t need to grab it right this instant, but you certainly could if you’re not sitting backstage about to play live on Bluetooth MIDI controllers.

Love it or hate iOS, I think it is plainly inaccurate to claim that Apple isn’t looking at these issues. We can say objectively they are attempting to fix issues identified by third-party music developers – as they should, as any OS vendor should. You don’t have to love the results, but you can’t say the process isn’t happening.

And on another level, I think it’s equally fair to say that Apple’s iPad is unmatched if what you’re looking to buy is a dedicated touch tablet. Sure, Windows is a player with its Surface line for running Windows software with some touch capabilities, and you will definitely even prefer a Surface if you want to run desktop-only software like Ableton Live or Reaktor.

But there’s no reason to change the evaluation of the iPad as a platform. Their low-end models are already powerful enough to run a host of live music and audio apps, with a growing range of pro-quality tools from the likes of Eventide. (That in itself is a big enough story to talk about separately, since it makes Eventide’s effects accessible and affordable like never before. There are other examples, too – but this one is particularly plain.)

If we missed something, do sound off in comments – developers or users – as we’d love to hear your experience and pass it along.

The post You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 10 Oct 2019 6:19 pm

It started with some feedback from a musician and music theorist to a developer. What happened next: this powerful set of Android music tools evolved some new rhythmic chops.

Android doesn’t get a lot of musical love, despite its popularity. But while the assortment of apps is a fraction of what’s available on iOS, some of the choices that are there are real gems. That opens up possibilities in case you prefer Android as your smartphone (some of which already get into tablet sizes), or if you’ve picked up an inexpensive Android tablet.

In this case, CDM reader Jon Stubbs had bought the Planet-h line of apps, and decided to get in touch with the developer about some additional rhythmic features he wanted. The results exceeded his expectations.

I’m recently back on Android myself with a Huawei phone and I do have a tendency to, uh, collect devices, so I found this fascinating. Jon asked if we would reprint his review. And it has everything I love – engineering and music theory meeting to let you do more with music-making. Here’s Jon:

Exploring rhythm

As a life-long learner, composer, performer, teacher and tinkerer, I’m obsessed with exploring new rhythms. It’s not just a pursuit of odd-for-odd’s-sake. Rather, I love hearing and crafting compositions where delightfully unusual rhythmic elements are presented in a blanced and compelling context.

This obsession began with the humble triplet and the music of Zimbabwe. I studied jazz and was accustomed to the well-worn rhythms of swing and triplets. Later, I found my way into the community of Zimbabwean music, where I was surprised to hear entirely new triplet-based rhythms; and where even the triplet grid itself has a “swing” that is refreshingly different from the even “grid” of western music.

Around that same time, I started creating quintuplet (5 steps-per-beat) grooves using a couple of drum machine apps. These apps forced me to fake the beat divisions using 16th notes, but I was still able to get my feet wet. Then I discovered the wonderful Metronomics app by John Nastos, which allowed me to delve into more unusual ideas. [Ed.: That app, dubbed a metronome for “real musicians,” is available on macOS, iOS, and Android, all three – you can also run it on Windows or Linux in an Android emulator.]

The grooves I eventually made with quintuplets, septuplets and nonuplets were serious fun – especially when using the technique of starting out with ordinary rhythms but then shifting them to fit the new subdivisions. The results are glitchy grooves with a new flavor of “shuffle”; these beats are quite natural sounding after only a few listenings.

A Simple Favor

From time to time, I’ve submitted requests to mobile app developers that they expand their step-rate (steps-per-beat) options to allow for greater exploration of new rhythms. Though my requests mostly go unanswered, I have had a few successes. However, no developer has met my requests with as much enthusiasm and determination as Andreas Graesser of Swiss-based Planet-h.com. The scope and quality of his G-Stomper Producer app are massively impressive, giving the user immense creative and sonic freedom.

I originally asked that he add quintuplets and septuplets to the existing step-rate options. He responded saying, “I have room for six more options”. We settled on expanding the step rates to include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 steps-per-beat! He made this change for all four apps in the G-Stomper lineup.

We worked together on ways to integrate time-signatures so that they look and act the way experienced musicians expect them to. For example, most mobile apps treat 6/8 (if they include it at all) as equal to 3/4– (3 beats, each divided into 2 or 4 steps) but 6/8 should actually be two beats with triplets (3 or 6 steps per beat). It is the same with 3/8, 9/8, 12/8, where the dotted-quarter note is the actual beat (and NOT the quarter, nor the eighth). Andreas had to make a few special cases to reveal more information than a typical time-signature would allow, yet without making it hopelessly confusing for seasoned users of his apps. He found an elegant set of solutions.

Andreas puts great care into the documentation– which is essential for this feature-packed, deep software. The docs were updated to clearly explain the new features. We both had very specific ideas about how to communicate things. We even debated over how to format a table. When there were a couple of button labels that were unclear to me, Andreas quickly adapted the docs to make things more clear. It was a fascinating and fun process.

G-Stomper apps

The apps in the G-Stomper product line include:

All of these apps provide slightly different features, approaches, and workflows. Yet they all use the same expanded system for step-rates and time signatures. It’s worth mentioning here that every step can be individually shifted by 32 micro steps (separate and apart from the timing system).  G-Stomper Producer provides the most flexibility by providing the aforementioned step-rates, 1-16 steps per bar, 1-8 bars, all on a PER TRACK basis. That means the kick, hat, snare, (or user samples) can all have their own timing setup. The other G-Stomper apps use a more standard groovebox approach with rhythm settings applying to all the tracks of a pattern. I like the flexibility and power of Producer, but I also appreciate the ease of workflow in the Studio, Rhythm, and VA-Beast apps. There are several best-in-class features in all of the apps, but rather than list them here, you can try out the demo and discover for yourself. 

If you’re an Android user and maybe you thought Caustic was the only game in town, you owe it to yourself to check out G-Stomper Producer. There’s a whole world of new sounds and rhythms to explore!

Jon Stubbs

www.jonstubbsmusic.com

G-Stomper Producer is available for $12.99 USD via Google Play or Amazon. A free demo version is also available.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

Planet-h website:

https://www.planet-h.com/

This story was edited from an original version on Jon’s site, with permission:

https://jonstubbsmusic.com/2019/09/25/g-stomper-producer-review/

The post Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Sep 2019 7:03 pm

So, you’ve got a plug-in or a hardware synth – and you want to control part of the sound with a physical knob or some iPad modulation. One clever iPad app and an open source scheme could make what happens next happen faster.

Early 1980s MIDI still gets the job done in a lot of ways. But then you hit this problem of mapping. Let’s say you’re an app developer, and you want to support a whole lot of different synths. (You know, like your customers may have been reading CDM and Synthtopia and Sonic State and bought, like, everything.) Your time is valuable, so you don’t want to spend all of it mapping gear.

Users, of course, have the same issue – from controllers to desktop software to apps, we often find ourselves having to manually create templates.

Developer Eokuwwy Development (aka Steven Connelly) faced this challenge with the app MIDI Mod. MIDI Mod is clever stuff, and worth a separate article – it gives you a ton of modulation options you can use to control gear, and then the ability to modulate the modulators internally (routing an LFO to the modulation that’s then routed to your synth). So you can get a bunch of elaborate changing, morphing sounds on whatever you choose.

The breakthrough from Mr. Connelly was to establish a standard schema for defining all those parameters to control. Got a Roland System-8? A Behringer Neutron? Yamaha Reface? BigSky reverb pedal? Moog Minitaur KORG volca sample IK multimedia Uno? Even other iOS apps? He’s got all of them. (Here’s a list.)

Other developers have done things like this before. (Native Instruments Maschine, for one, had similar mappings – though unfortunately, the engineers working on this support were to my knowledge included inthe layoffs last month.)

This developer is going one step further, by releasing the entire schema on GitHub for manufacturers and developers. And it could be relevant to anyone – someone making a hardware synth, a Web-based tool, an iOS app, desktop software, whatever.

As a user, you may not necessarily need to know how this works – only that it allows makers of software and hardware to make more stuff compatible, and work more consistently, faster. But the basic idea is, this not only defines a consistent way of defining parameters, but tools for automating testing and supporting control. (There are even just-added tools for generating specs from CSV files and HTML documentation from specs .)

Got a synth you want supported? Make the document once, and then – once they provide support for this schema – other tools will be able to work with your tool, check for errors, and even generate code and documentation. It’s a JSON schema, plus a whole bunch of useful examples. iOS developers should be able to get going really fast – even using Swift – but it’s pretty clear to everyone else, too.

I remember this conversation going on for at least a decade, even specifically talking about “wouldn’t it be nice if there were a JSON schema” for this. The reason is, Web developers do this sort of work all the time. It’s just that these were in the form of APIs for Web applications that … uh, stole all your data from a weird online survey that then sold that data to foreign spies or whatever the heck has been going on for the intervening time. I’m kidding, mostly – okay, most of this sort of JavaScript work is more like boring day job stuff.

Isn’t it about time that we applied that intelligence to music?

I don’t know that this particular implementation is perfect, but it is open source, it has everything I and others I had talked to wanted for such a thing, and so it seems time to put it out there.

(Yeah, maybe like minijack MIDI, we can all talk about this now, rather than wind up with two competing formats. Just a thought.)

I know there have been similar discussions to add this sort of functionality to a future version of MIDI. But this particular kind of schema doesn’t require anything in the MIDI spec itself – it’s only built around it. So this is something that works with MIDI 1.0.

Developers, have a look and let us know what you think. Maybe you can add to that list of apps supporting this.

Users, well, you don’t have to wait – you can check out MIDI Mod now, if you have an iPad. (And I better take the opportunity to make some docs for all our MeeBlip synths.)

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-schema

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-specs

MIDI Mod at the App Store

Developer site and a lot more info: https://eokuwwy.blogspot.com/

The post What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Sep 2019 3:10 pm

Get ready for some tablet patching. A developer has revealed a port of popular open source modular environment VCV Rack to the iPad.

Synth Anatomy gets the scoop on this one. New Zealand-based developer Vitaly Pronkin has been working on a project that promises to put the free rack synthesizer platform on the iOS app store soon.

The most encouraging thing here is probably seeing an easy interface for adding modules from VCV and third parties. That would open up an additional platform for developers’ modules.

Don’t get too excited too fast – this is best seen as a proof of concept, especially since it forks an earlier version (0.x rather than 1.0). But it could be a good indication of performance on Apple’s tablets, and might well be the basis for a more polished, finished project.

VCV Rack 1.0 is licensed under the GPLv3, which generally is not allowed on Apple’s App Store. (There are some loopholes, as we discovered when licensing the iOS port of Pure Data, libpd – but that has to do with the fact that Pd itself is under a more permissive license, and patches, for instance, are not compiled.)

Another way to go if this is what you want – try running Rack on a Surface or similar Windows tablet. That also allows greater compatibility with your usual audio tools than you get from iOS, and without Apple’s App Store restrictions.

I’m still happy with Rack on a PC, where it can take advantage of some unique performance enhancements, and instead externalizing control. (Playing live, I don’t really want to be re-patching at all, but that’s me…)

Check out the full blog post – there is also an interesting note on an abortive port to the Web and JavaScript and some embedded hardware:

miRack is coming to iOS

The other ports: https://github.com/mi-rack/Rack

The post iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

KORG are making Pokémon metronomes and tuners

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sun 8 Sep 2019 11:30 pm

If there was any doubt that KORG wants to be the Nintendo of music brands, here’s yet another partnership with the iconic game maker – but it’s sadly only skin deep.

Yes, it’s true, you get insanely cute Pokémon metronomes and clip-on pitch tuners. But there’s a missed opportunity here – whereas Teenage Engineering recently made full-on Rick & Morty Pocket Operators, KORG are only changing the paint job on their hardware.

The mind reels at the possibilities. You could have a Tamagotchi-style creature on your metronome. Or you could use Pokémon Go-style real-world capture to find synths for KORG Gadget. (Hang around Kottbusser Tor, Berlin to snag a rare Eurorackosaur; get a Prophetee 5 in Berkeley, California.)

Okay, I guess this may not help you with violin practice. (Maybe some gamification element to music learning?)

The point is, KORG continue to play on their relationship with gaming. So even if it’s just a cute tuner or metronome for kids, I think they’ve been very clever continuing to associate fun with their music tech. And fun is supposed to be part of the point, right?

The tuners (Pitchclip 2)

The metronome (MA-2-PK/EV)

The post KORG are making Pokémon metronomes and tuners appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Arturia’s KeyStep just got way more useful

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 14 Aug 2019 3:03 pm

Arturia’s KeyStep was already appealing – a mobile MIDI keyboard with sequencer and arpeggiator. But the 1.1 update improves some details and adds major new musicality.

Let’s look at this in detail – though the sequence length and arp octaves alone already have me sold.

A ton of power is now available on the fly, as you play.

Three new features are now available from the KeyStep’s physical controls, as you play:

Sequence length. Hold Record, and press one of the MIDI Channel keys, and you set length of the sequence on the fly. This actually works from 1 – 64 steps, just by pressing a few keys in sequence.

Quantized tempo adjustment: Now you can hold shift and turn the tempo knob to move by increments of 1 bpm. That lets you round off bpms from the tap tempo or quickly dial in a bpm without winding up with something weird. (127.62, anyone?)

Arp Octaves: With the arpeggiator running, you can now shift notes you’re playing up or down the octave. (The Arturia site is a little unclear on this – it sounds like they mean just shifting the arpeggiator up and down by octave. It’s actually cooler than this.) So hold Shift+Octave + or -, and whichever notes you’re playing will be arpeggiated up or down by octave. Hit the +/- key multiple times for multiple octaves. I can’t think of anything that works quite like this; it’s really cool and performative, because it’s all on the fly.

You’ll need the editor to access some new features.

Three modes are available in the updated MIDI Control Center software editor (so not onboard, but something you set in advance):

“Armed” clock. This gives you the option of using external sync, and passing it along, but controlling the KeyStep’s sequencer with the play button. There’s now a new parameter for switching on or off Arm to Start, which determines how the KeyStep responds to external clock.

Off is the original mode – the KeyStep Pro will just run or pause or stop with your external clock signal. But switch this to on, and the KeyStep lets you start and stop the sequencer as you see fit. You still pass the sync on to other gear. So for example, you could keep your drum machine running with the master clock, but turn on and off the sequencer on the keyboard, stop and jam for a second live, or whatever.

Pattern and Brownian Randomness. You can set randomness to Brownian Motion (“drunken walk) or “Pattern,” which creates randomized but repeating patterns. Pattern Mode is borrowed from Arturia’s MicroFreak synth.

Change LED brightness. Finally. No more blindness.

I still would love to see a KeyStep Pro, akin to the way the BeatStep Pro built on the original BeatStep. It’d be terrific to have a keyboard with some knobs for parameter controls. Having to use tiny DIP switches to set sync modes is a pain. And obviously there will be limits to how much Arturia can do with key combos (which already mean a little time spent cracking the manual), or software editor options. It’s not hard to imagine something that expanded this with extra features.

But for now, the KeyStep stays nice and compact – and you could always add a little box with some faders or knobs, since it is so small. Plus, even with some of its rivals, Arturia has a serious edge:

  • The keys feel great.
  • There’s MIDI DIN support for external gear.
  • There’s a standalone option (including a dedicated power plug).
  • It works with USB when you need it – no drivers required. (Hello, Linux/Raspi, etc., in addition to mobile, of course)
  • Its power consumption is low enough to work with iPad, etc., without additional power.
  • It’s stupidly affordable.

I think that with the additional performance options, this is the one to beat.

https://www.arturia.com/products/keystep/details

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