Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): Access denied for user 'indiamee'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872

Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872
Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » gear


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.

2020 = 303 + 808 + 909, literally

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sat 21 Dec 2019 7:37 pm

As many have observed (even before Roland themselves caught on), the year 2020 is the sum of 303 + 808 + 909.

So 2020 means some serious techno (and acid techno), and auspicious dates to celebrate March 3, August 8, and September 9. Mark those techno calendars.

If you want to consider the zodiac, you may need a different year. Japan’s Juunishi is derived from the Chinese zodiac, and 2020 (which starts toward the end of January) is the Year of the Rat. Then again, it is associated with wealth, so – business techno? Consider also charm, persuasiveness, artistic talent, and creativity meaning all techno fits.

The closest year of the rat to the Roland machines in 1984, which is a little late. On the other hand, here’s some Cybotron for that year, just so you’re prepared.

Photo (CC-BY-SA) Alexandre Dulaunoy.

The post 2020 = 303 + 808 + 909, literally appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Kijimi, key planet in new Star Wars flick, is named after the synthesizer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sat 21 Dec 2019 2:35 pm

J.J. Abrams, mega-nerd – not only is the Star Wars writer/director a scifi fan, but synth fan, too. No spoilers here, but his love of a certain synthesizer comes out in Rise of Skywalker‘s script.

Kijimi is the lush polysynth from Black Corporation, also makers of Deckard’s Dream (the Yamaha CS-70 homage) and assorted modules. Kijimi, the creators say, doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a name that struck them, and one originating in Japan, the country in which the company is headquartered.

But J.J. apparently liked the name, too. The Star Wars boss is a known Black Corporation customer himself – you can spot him in a photo posing on the balcony of Black’s Shibuya, Tokyo offices. (Hey, wouldn’t you blow your Disney money on synths if you were in J.J.’s position? Oh, wait – it was a gift. Man, it’s good to be the king.)

Here’s the next round of nerdy meta-references – hang on. So the Kijimi is based loosely on the rare 1970s polysynth, the RSF Polykobol. Fans of Battlestar Galactica will immediately recognize Kobol as the legendary ancestral home of humanity, sought by the exiled fleet of the surviving colonists. (Sadly, much like J.J. buying his Kijimi before you could, the Cylons got to Kobol first. Uh… spoilers, sorry. From 1978, though.) So the French synth makers named their synth after the planet.

J.J. just turned the tables. While synths have been named for spacecraft before – I believe including the Moog Voyager – now the space franchise takes a name from synths. Kijimi isn’t just a passing reference, either – it’s evidently (no spoilers) a prominent planetary setting in The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams is co-credited with the story and screenplay, so he gets both the synth and its placement forever enshrined in Star Wars canon.

A Reddit user potted the reference even before the film came out, let alone before Black Corp acknowledged the connection:

I would include a photo of the planet Kijimi, but I don’t have an official press pack for Star Wars, and Disney lawyers frighten me. I will be going to see the movie, though – John Williams inspired me as a kid that being a composer was cool, and Star Wars was possibly the first movie I ever saw, in greatly shortened form on my parents’ sound super 8 film projector.

All I want for Christmas, meanwhile, is a Kijimi – I visited Black in Tokyo this fall, and it’s just a splendid splurge instrument.

So none of this story makes me jealous, in regards to either synth or Star Wars. Why, does it make you jealous? No. We are cold, stoic unfeeling walls, definitely not in any way responding to any element of this story. Good.

Full-blown Kijimi costs US$3749, but if you’re willing to put together the (elaborate) kit, that drops the price way down to US$999. So basically, don’t subscribe to Disney+, and it’s yours. You can pirate th — mmm..–dskklsggggrrrh — mmmm, my throat — jeez, Disney lawyers can even do force chokes?! (As if I’m not going to the film and to Galaxy’s Edge and seeing twenty more Marvel things in theaters this year. Uh-huh.)

The post Kijimi, key planet in new Star Wars flick, is named after the synthesizer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

KORG starts a new instrument division in Berlin, focusing on sustainable “things that matter”

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Dec 2019 10:38 pm

Former KORG Chief Engineer Tatsuya Takahashi is leading a new division in Berlin, alongside COO Maximilian Rest. And it sounds like a different kind of synth business.

It’s not clear just what exactly KORG Germany will do, apart from design instruments in Berlin. But the fact that “Tats” and Max are in charge, and that they’re writing some lofty mission statements, is enough reason to take notice. And they’re hiring, too, largely across engineering roles – mechanical, electrical, and software.

Tatsuya was at the engineering helm at KORG through some of the most innovative synth industry accomplishments of recent years. That includes the monotron and monotribe series, which helped kick off a boom in affordable modular and compact synths, followed by a string of volca hits (beats, bass, keys, sample, kick, fm), the collaboration with open source magnetic snap-together kit maker littleBits, the ARP Odyssey and MS-20 remakes which helped push the historical clone concept, and the fresh monologue synth.

Then Tats went to Yadastar, the independent marketing company that ran the Red Bull Music Academy program before Red Bull pulled the plug. And what we got from Tats was interesting, but nowhere near as accessible as his work for KORG – the Granular Convolver, for instance.

Well, now Red Bull’s loss is the synth world’s gain, because Tatsuya is back full-time with KORG. (He continued consulting for the company in the interim, as I understand it.) And he’s bringing with him collaborator Maximilian, who has long been a champion of making more sustainable products and reflecting on issues like labor practices. Max has also run his own independent business making modular and timekeeping pieces, E-RM; I’m unclear on what its future will be as he steps into the role at KORG.

So, what we get is a new enterprise that these two promise will engage both in new instruments and partnerships, and investigate “things that matter” and are made sustainably. With some flux at Behringer, ROLI, Native Instruments, and others, they may find some talent becoming free agents, too.

Team building is a big deal, and it’s worth noting that all those KORG products were possible because of collaborative, team-driven engineering efforts. So this talk of collaboration is itself compelling – even as some of Tats’ own private projects like audio-rate triggering a TR-808 are also rather cool and I suspect may figure into this, as well. (One of my highlights of 2019 was definitely making loud noises in a Latvian warehouse and then partying to Tats’ set!)

From their statements –

Tatsuya is CEO and says the company will make instruments with a core team “but also through per project partnerships and collaborations. “

Maximilian talks about sustainability and getting out of business as usual: “We will only market the things that matter, because the key to our way of great business is to respect each other as humans and the resources of our planet.”

More, plus job applications:

https://korg-germany.de

The post KORG starts a new instrument division in Berlin, focusing on sustainable “things that matter” appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

ARP 2600 will return with KORG, says Jean-Michel Jarre

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Dec 2019 4:43 pm

KORG will remake the iconic semi-modular subtractive instrument in 2020, or so says Jean-Michel Jarre.

The ARP 2600 is the legendary semi-modular synth from the 70s. It’s the instrument that made the sound of R2-D2 and a ton of music in the rigs of everyone from Orbital to Herbie Hancock. Software emulation has some advantage here, in that there were so many variations. But before Behringer was fighting with … uh, well everyone else … Moog raised alarms about the ladder filter copy in ARP’s 2600.

http://www.vintagesynth.com/arp/arp.php

And that brings us to Jean-Michel Jarre’s 2600 reflections:

I’m here in Japan, where I haven’t seen much of KORG this trip, so I can’t tell you whether Jean-Michel Jarre just broke an NDA. (I am guessing that answer is ‘mais oui.‘ But, uh, what are you going to do to the guy? At least this time a legend leaked the news, and not some random German dealer.)

Maybe the most interesting parts of what Maestro Jarre says – the year 2020, the original filter design, and “cheaper”… well, cheaper than eBay.

I’m sure someone somewhere prefers the later variants to the original, but there you go.

If you’re wondering why this particular synth, that’s presumably the ongoing partnership with ARP co-founder David Friend. This also seems to have been part of the plan from the beginning, but with KORG and Behringer possibly each remaking the 2600, we may see multiples of this once-rare semi-modular synth.

I’m not as worried about the endless remakes of vintage synths, even if it does threaten to make us perpetually relive the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I would ask instead this:

Historical parts, new whole: Will synth makers find a way to leverage the historical work on new instruments? It’s unclear exactly what form that would take, and so far it seems on the surface like the recreations compete with new engineering. But it remains a question.

Back to the future: Will the push toward historical analog finally motivate more radical designs? We’re seeing plenty of that in individual modules or software, but (understandably) integrated desktop synths may not seem the best venue to take chances.

There is a feeling that the high-tech push is framed as automating out musicians entirely (let’s use AI to make the music! let’s choose what you hear!). And that gets contrasted with the idea that electronic instruments only become retro (let’s make this look like NAMM 1981 and put wooden side panels on the wooden side panels so it’s even more ‘warm and so you can play an instrument everyone’s heard of even the people who have never heard of it!’).

I don’t think it’s that bad. But part of why these things could come in waves is, the feeling that that’s where we’re at might easily make some people rebel and go somewhere else altogether.

The gorgeous cover image has a whole text from it and comes from a great Flickr account (CC-BY-ND-SA rockheim)

I know you’ve always wanted to read about the ARP in Norwegian.

While looking for that, it’s worth noting that the DIY efforts to clone the 2600 have produced some lovely results. Hey, at least the DIYers will now turn to new designs, perhaps.

The post ARP 2600 will return with KORG, says Jean-Michel Jarre appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer unveil Eurorack Go case; what does it mean for the rest of modular?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 13 Dec 2019 6:48 am

Behringer’s anticipated moves into Eurorack are arriving – with a Eurorack case to get you started. There’s no price, but the product does look a lot like an existing competitor.

Behringer had already teased that they were planning low-cost entry into Eurorack modules, largely cloned from Roland’s decade-old vintage analog line. Behringer promised prices around fifty to a hundred bucks, deeply undercutting the prices of Roland’s own system 500, made in collaboration with boutique independent manufacturer Malekko. Those modules haven’t shipped yet, though.

Making a case as an accessory is a no-brainer for Behringer, given their desktop synths are already made to fit Euro cases and power. So, now we get Behringer’s own case entry.

And, no surprise, it looks … very familiar, based on an existing product in the market. Here’s a video with a run-down, plus a look at some modules.

What we know: it’s very close in design to the Tiptop Audio Mantis case’s unique form factor, handle, and stand design, minus some important details – more on that in a moment.

You get 2 rows of 140 hp, power supply, (+/-12 Volt and +5 Volts at 3 A), and a carrying handle that doubles as stand.

Significantly – it’s bigger (30% bigger) than the Tiptop offering, despite the “go” moniker, and it appears to lack the extra fold-out stands Tiptop added which may provide more stability on the Mantis. Of course, if you want more space, bigger also means more of that.

What we don’t know: the price.

Judging from comments on social media, to say nothing of sales of past products, for all those users who care about originality, a lot of other users really don’t. They either are unfamiliar with the other brand and product, or are familiar but don’t care so long as they get a cheaper price. (This is presumably the same logic that now has us flying cramped airplanes with no seat recline and no food and no luggage allotment because some fares appeared a little cheaper on an online search.)

But it’s also clear that Behringer critics and fans alike both are going on the assumption that the Behringer product will be the vastly cheapest offering, even though Behringer haven’t announced a ship date or price.

I mean, is that a fair guess? Maybe, sure. But the fact that Behringer doesn’t even have to announce a price before people assume it’ll be the cheapest is relevant. The Mantis isn’t terribly expensive, either, at 339EUR. Will Behringer be a little cheaper? Half the price? I don’t know.

Behringer is now able to make copies of shipping products, and then without shipping anything or announcing a price, it can already encourage customers to defer purchases of competing products.

Behringer now to almost everyone equates as the low-cost option. They now own the very idea of cheap – even before they ship anything.

Who’s to blame for this? Well, in part, the very people trying to attack Behringer’s brand reputation. Even as Behringer sometimes attacked its critics, all the buzz – the people complaining about them, the people defending them – cemented the idea that whatever had the Behringer name on it would be cheapest. That’s not to say you shouldn’t criticize companies. It is an illustration that you have to watch the perception of your message, especially if you’re criticizing a company as a competitor.

I think there are some takeaway lessons here for anyone in the industry wanting to compete:

  1. Don’t only play to customers on originality. There’s significant historical precedent for this in business. Apple Computer, for instance, infamously made a lot of noise about Windows “ripping off” their OS (in the form of the first versions of Windows). The upshot was that they inadvertently telegraphed to users that Windows was a good copy of the Mac, instead of focusing their message on why the Mac was a better choice and … well, the rest is history. Customers should hear a message about value, not just about what is or isn’t a ripoff.
  2. Assume most musicians now own some Behringer. Related to (1) – don’t shame Behringer customers, because at this point just about everyone has something the company has made, even if it’s some simple mixer or someone decided they couldn’t resist a Moog or 303 clone. Guilting users about gear is not a good strategy, ever. That said –
  3. You can reclaim cheap – and “shippingness.” Competing always works better than complaining. There are plenty of affordable products, plenty of original new products, shipping now. I do hope we don’t see the market just become high-end stuff for rockstars and then Behringer stuff for everyone else, because frankly, that’d be stupidly boring for those of us who love variety and are on a non-rockstar budget. So if Behringer now owns the notion of cheap or value, that is partly the fault of anyone who lets them claim the word. And customers love stuff they can get their hands on now – meaning if you’re shipping something and Behringer isn’t yet, that’s obviously an opportunity.

In fact, I think it’s telling that you’ll often now hear people say Behringer started the idea of cheap analog. That shows that many (all?) competitors lost control of the narrative. KORG’s original monotron line, for instance, remains one of the cheapest mainstream electronic instruments ever, as does their extensive volca range.

We need to get out of this echo chamber, which means to stop allowing conversations to become polarized between two sides. So let’s get back to the facts.

As far as Behringer Go – and whatever modules may ship – we have to wait and see – how’s the price, what’s the actual quality of the thing in use.

But you don’t have to wait for inexpensive options. Take a look at the Tiptop offering – and tons of stuff from Eurorack originator Doepfer, including cases. There are also products like the ultra-portable Pico from Erica Synths, or more recently the Crea8audio line (which also features the NiftyCase, with audio and MIDI integration built-in).

And that’s to say nothing of the many desktop and software options, which for some people are a better starting point anyway, something lost in all this hype about wires.

But surely the thing that really will burst the Eurorack bubble is if it stops attracting fresh customers – because it is an ecosystem. In a world of unsustainable growth, it’s also one area that is reasonably positive – people discovering advanced sound synthesis.

Affordable modules and cases to get people started are ultimately something the modular market needs – and has already started to figure out. Handled carefully and competitively, the entry of Behringer will be a net positive.

The post Behringer unveil Eurorack Go case; what does it mean for the rest of modular? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Hello, piano: Roland just added Alexa to their digital keyboard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 13 Dec 2019 5:19 am

Roland’s latest play for making digital pianos commonplace: add the popular Alexa service, and sell on Amazon.

Roland’s GO:PIANO is their consumer-focused line, touting beginner- and family-friendly features. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated iOS and Android app that promises to teach you ear training and score reading – there’s a reason that pic has an iPad on it. It’s a shame the styling is pedestrian, because otherwise this is more futuristic than some of its competition.

Add to that Alexa integration. Strangely, the press release I got suggests maybe you want to order a pizza with Alexa after finishing practicing.

I’m guessing any household that sees Alexa as a selling point already has a device to do that. Here, I’m guessing this is more about two things – one, adding voice control and music integration using Amazon’s tech, and two, selling through Amazon’s channel.

Alexa commands let you call up sounds directly, instead of paging through them with buttons. And – maybe more useful – you can also use voice control for hands-free metronome operation (start, stop, tempo change, change beat). You can also listen and play along to Amazon Music and other supported streaming services.

So, this may give a glimpse of what future business models look like – offering sheet music, karaoke versions, backing tracks, and full songs all together. Sheet music was and still is a major part of the business for many songwriters, so while this may be foreign if your last album was a violent noise record with Satanic verses recited by your cat, for other more mainstream artists …

Wait, I’ve lost my train of thought. Alexa, play karaoke version of “Hail, Satan, and stop working I’m sitting on your keyboard and want to cuddle, meow, die die die blood pain meow.” I would totally get down on that jam.

The catch to all of this isn’t really whether or not this gimmick is a good idea, but that the current Silicon Valley tech wars are likely to bleed over into the musical instrument channel.

That’s unlikely to ease controversies – some music artists have been unhappy with how Amazon streaming impacts their business, and protested labor practices and work with controversial US government programs targeting immigrants. And with any of the new voice tech, there are concerns like this:

Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments [Bloomberg]

But I don’t think any of these concerns are things the music tech industry can simply opt out of. So reasoned debate may be exactly what it needs. And it’s good at least to see companies like Roland working to make their products stand alongside other consumer goods – even if you switch off the Alexa features and stick to playing it like, you know, a piano.

https://www.roland.com/us/products/gopiano_go-61p/

Also, just saying, Roland is the only company for you when you need a piano to match your new Tesla CyberTruck:

Hey, Roland had a few years’ head start on Tesla, too:

https://www.roland.com/global/promos/piano_design_awards/winners/grand_prize/

The post Hello, piano: Roland just added Alexa to their digital keyboard appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MeeBlip Black Friday: thru5 kit for $9.99 and geode synth $129

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Nov 2019 8:47 pm

Overwhelmed with music toys? We can get you a bass synth that sounds like no other – plus a way to connect all your gear for $10. Happy Black Friday to you.

geode: $129 synth hardware, ships free

First, there’s our very own MeeBlip geode hardware synth. It’s just US$129, and this week only, we’ll ship it to nearly the whole world for free. There’s not another bass synth that sounds like it, in 2019 or 1979 or any other year. Plug-and-play USB connects MIDI and power with one connection – even to a smartphone (with adapter). The sound itself features biting oscillators and a crunchy analog filter.

So if you’re looking for a little sonic inspiration and a unique bass sound for yourself – or as a gift – now’s the time to grab this. Sale lasts this week only.

MeeBlip geode synth [MeeBlip Shop]

thru5: US$9.99 MIDI splitter kit

It wouldn’t be Black Friday deal without a ridiculous offer for a limited time, so we’ve gone one more for you. Our thru5 MIDI splitter kit is easy to assemble, and splits one MIDI input to five outputs, so you can connect all your gear.

And for this week only, it’s yours for just US$9.99 – a perfect Secret Santa gift or stocking stuffer or Hanukkah present for someone you know who’s handy with a soldering iron or wants to learn. Or it’s a way to get your studio in order for a winter cleaning.

Shipping if you’re just buying thru5 is $3.95 to USA, $5.95 international, varies in Canada. (Free with orders above $99- so, for instance, you could add in a geode!)

thru5 MIDI splitter kit [MeeBlip shop]

Hurry! These deals end on December 2 – or while supplies last!

For more background on these products:

The post MeeBlip Black Friday: thru5 kit for $9.99 and geode synth $129 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer adds a 4-voice Moog; here’s everything they’re cloning now (late 2019)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Nov 2019 2:41 pm

Behringer will remake the rare Wasp and now just announced a 4-voice paraphonic Moog clone. Having trouble keeping track? Here’s a recap.

Behringer radar

With so many remakes now shipping or teased, the hard part may be just keeping track what Behringer are doing, what’s available already, and what’s coming. Let’s step back and just review what products are currently available or inbound. Competitors should ignore this list at their own peril.

This is what Tom Whitwell at the former Music thing (then a blog, now a modular brand) called the Behringer “photocopier.” But whereas that until recently was a disparaging remark, fans of the brand now eagerly follow these cut-rate remakes. So while I say “clone” rather than the company’s preferred “authentic reproduction,” there’s no doubt that the intention is to do these as remakes.

What’s remarkable is how many of these synths came from 1979 alone, or within a year or two.

Oh yeah, also – despite the company’s claims, while this hardware is far cheaper than most of the used equivalent originals, there are often inexpensive alternatives of new or similar instruments. So let’s get into both what Behringer is offering, and whether you might consider other options before spending your hard-earned scratch:

Behringer RD-8

Based on: Roland TR-808 (1980, and not, sadly, the Soviet rocket RD-8)

List/street: $524.99 / $400

New features: What Behringer added here mostly was in the sequencer, which like the other remakes has some more advanced features. There’s also a sort of envelope follower called the Wave Designer.

The competition: Arturia’s DrumBrute Impact is actually cheaper, at around $300. It’s got fewer outs, but an advanced sequencer and a distinctive sound. Roland’s TR-8S or even a used buy on a TR-8 give you faders and additional effects (plus on the TR-8S, the ability to load your own samples), and could still be a worthy upgrade – with effective TR modeled sounds. Roland’s Boutique TR-08 on the other hand looks comparatively lean versus the Behringer, and it’d be nice to see the company that made the original 808 respond with something more competitive at the entry level. You can have my TR-8S when you pry it out of my cold, d– actually, my hot, sweaty, fader tweaking fingers.

Behringer TD-3

Based on: Roland TB-303 (1981)

List/street: $224.99 / $150

New features: The arpeggiator is the main addition here, plus a distortion switch, but basically this is a bare-bones 303 clone – at an insanely cheap price.

The competition: There are loads of 303 remakes out there, analog and digital. Roland for their part has the Boutique with a very useful delay and semi-useful distortion (theirs with an actual knob, not just a switch). But to my knowledge, the only real competition at this price is a software plug-in. Or get a KORG volca series synth for a different sound; even the volca bass is somewhat refreshingly not a 303. Oh yeah, or think about a two-oscillator bass synth, but I’m biased. Yes, of all of these – here is the one where Behringer can be expected to totally own a category, maybe to the point of us winding up with way too many acid tracks in about a year.

Behringer Model D

Based on: Moog Minimoog (1970)

List/street: $449.99 / $300

New features: As with the others, this is mostly about squeezing this in the Eurorack chassis, but there’s also a new overdrive circuit. Just remember, like the original, you have to give the analog circuits time to warm up.

The competition: You can get a surprising number of capable synths these days for $300 or even less, but a Minimoog remake from Moog will certainly be a luxury item. That said, if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get something like the Moog Sub Phatty for around $500 on a Black Friday sale – with keyboard. It’s not a Minimoog model D, but it also moves into some new sonic territory, and you get the feeling of owning an actual Moog. That’s not to sneeze at the Model D – this thing has made a big impact, and maybe its biggest competition comes from Behringer itself, with the also inexpensive (and far more patchable/open-ended) Neutron.

Behringer Odyssey

Based on: ARP Odyssey (1972)

List/street: $749.99 / $600

New features: Digital multi-effects are the main edition here, plus the arp/sequencer and onboard storage and digital I/O on the others. The Odyssey is also a keyboard synth, unlike the other Eurorack things in this list —

Competition: – but it goes up against KORG’s Arp Odyssey reissue, made in collaboration with the synth’s original creators (if at a higher cost).

Behringer MS-1

Based on: Roland SH-101 (1982)

List/street: $494.99 / $400

New features: These are the most sensible additions of the bunch. Behringer chose to add the thing the 101 owners modded themselves; namely, FM and waveforms (plus MIDI, of course). Actually, that begs the question of why Behringer didn’t add the 303 sound mods to that remake, but – hey, maybe someone else also wants to remake the 303 now, too? I’m sure 303 remakes will never die.

The competition: Behringer on this one did what Roland didn’t do – make a remake of the 101 with full-sized keys and a standard handle option for keytar-style playing. Roland chose to go with the tiny Boutique format. On the other hand, the SH-01A is a four-voice instrument, which winds up being really useful in conjunction with its triggers and sequencer. Now if Roland would just offer that in a full-sized keytar option, it seems like they’d have a hit. I might still buy the SH-01A for something small and four voice, though. (Don’t send letters. I know I like small things and digital synths more than some of our … readers. Ahem.)

Behringer VC340

List/street: $899.99 / $700

Based on: Roland VP-330 (1979)

New features: Just the usual I/O additions – and they cut off an octave on the keyboard to save space.

The competition: For once, Behringer is the more expensive option, believe it or not (apart from an astronomically pricey original VP-330). The Roland Boutique VP-03 is a solid unit at a fraction of this price – it seems new hardware stock is mostly gone, but they fetch around $300 used (without the keyboard, so around $400 with). Sure, it’s digital, but the sound is good; mainly it’s down to whether you want to save some money. Roland’s JD-Xi is also a vocoder for $500 and is a far more flexible and powerful synthesizer, though the design has all the charm of something it looks like you’d find on sale in a Guitar Center on the Death Star. (Dunno, maybe Kylo Ren had this keyboard in the emo rock band he played on the side while studying the Dark Side.)

If all you want is a vocoder, even the Roland VT-4 box is an option for only a couple hundred bucks; its predecessor the VT-3 you might be able to get used, like, for free. Now, maybe an analog recreation is more serious but… well, I leave it to you to decide how serious you want to get about a vocoder/string synth unitasker. But yes, Behringer are the only ones with something really like the original.

For that reason, this is kind of the most rational of a lot of the choices here. But it’s a vocoder/string synth, so “rational” depends on whether that’s something you need.

Further out – clones inbound

Behringer POLY D

Based on: Behringer Model D, basically

Price: Unknown

Shipping date: unknown

New features: This is what happens if you take the Model D, put it in a new case with a keyboard, and make it 4-voice analog paraphonic (there’s just one filter) instead of monophonic. And it probably tips Behringer’s hand as far as what you should expect from the other models here – they’ll gradually translate the Eurorack-case monophonic models to 4-voice models with keyboards, since they’ve already plucked the low-hanging fruit of what people most recognize in vintage brands.

As with past Behringer outings, though, they’re teasing some time before they’re shipping. The risk: people might defer purchase of their products. The more likely outcome: people might defer purchase of competing products.

Behringer PRO-1

Based on: Sequential Circuits Pro-One

Preorder price: $350

Shipping date: unknown

New features: Arp, sequencer, Eurorack chassis – you’re seeing the pattern. There’s also a “drone mode” switch.

The competition: It’s a bit painful when Behringer takes on small, independent makers like Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim. The new Sequential (formerly Dave Smith Instruments) has lots of beautiful new designs. But if you’re on a $350 budget, you can get the wonderful Evolver or Tetra, for example, unique and original Dave Smith-designed sound modules. Or save up your money for a more advanced polysynth based on the ideas behind the Prophet series. Or there’s the Pioneer AS-1, which is a single-voice version of the Prophet-6. I think these come closer to the 21st century vision Dave’s got, and they’re worth supporting for that reason. Oh yeah, and you can buy them now, rather than waiting on the PRO-1.

Behringer WASP DELUXE

Based on: Electronic Dream Plant (EDP) Wasp (1978)

Preorder price: $300

Shipping date: unknown

New features: Behringer went with a desktop sound module and didn’t reproduce the membrane keyboard edition of the first Wasp. This otherwise mostly looks like that hardware, though. It does MIDI and USB now, like the other stuff here.

The competition: There’s not really another Wasp remake that I know of, or anything that close. On the other hand, the Arturia MicroFreak is also a digital-analog hybrid, does way more in sounds, and comes with an innovative keyboard, so to me it’s a better (and more forward-thinking) use of your $300. There’s also the feature-packed Behringer Crave for $50 less than this, available now, so it’s hard to imagine preordering unless you’re really a die-hard fan of the original.

Check the history of the original, though; there were tons of interesting variations.

Behringer UB-Xa

Based on: Oberheim OB-X (1979)

Status: Unknown

I’m not sure we’ve had any news of this one since it showed up at Superbooth in the spring? Anyone?

And the rest…

If you’re KORG, Roland, Polivoks, Black Corporation (maybe their CS-80 Deckard’s Dream, maybe Kimiji) … it seems like Behringer is coming for you, or wants to. See previously:

Also, now they want to get into VST plug-ins?

Fear of clones?

It’s clear at this point that the Music Tribe (Behringer) is leveraging both analog circuitry and some chips that allow it to inexpensively reproduce popular models. And they’ve built a bigger team to do engineering alongside their own manufacturing operation in China. I think they’ve even taken to using the word “clone” in passing on social media.

Because these are now clones of fairly ancient products, this product strategy in itself wouldn’t make the company controversial. Rather, it’s Behringer’s aggressive strategy in regards to competitors, press, PR, and intellectual property that have made it divisive in the synth business. As I noted last week, that includes the recent move of registering trademarks actively owned by competitors. Not only does KORG definitely own and actively use Mono/Poly, but we’ve confirmed even the Polivoks name is registered and used on an active product.

There’s also a deeper question here, and it’s not just about Behringer. As both analog and digital synthesis has become more affordable, will we use that inexpensive power to make new things, or recreate old ones? So far, Behringer has demonstrated that recognized products like the 303, 808, and Minimoog go more viral in social media than new synths. And so far, companies like Roland and other original brands who made this products haven’t succeeded in stopping Behringer from naming and dressing up their products to look like the vintage products. That opens the door to even other manufacturers easily undercutting historic brands and smaller boutique makers on price.

But it’s unclear, once synth fans have stocked up on well-known items like the 303, whether this cheap remake trend will be sustainable.

In the meantime, back to new things.

The post Behringer adds a 4-voice Moog; here’s everything they’re cloning now (late 2019) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Op-ed: KORG has transformed synthesizers by letting them run plug-ins, says Sinevibes

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 8:47 pm

No new ideas in synthesizers? Not so, says independent developer Artemiy Pavlov. He was excited enough about KORG’s direction that he’s written about why he thinks it changes music tech for the better.

The Ukraine-based coder who releases under his Sinevibes brand is someone we’ve followed on CDM for some years, as a source of very elegant Mac-only plug-ins. Making those tools for one company’s piece of hardware (one that isn’t Apple) is a new direction. But that’s what he’s done with KORG’s ‘logue plug-in architecture, which now runs on the minilogue xd and prologue keyboards, as well as the $100 NTS-1 kit. As long as you’ve got the hardware, you can run oscillators, filters, and effects from third-party developers like Sinevibes – or even grab the SDK and make your own, if you’re a coder.

Now, of course Artemiy is biased – but that’s kind of the point. What’s biased his one-man dev operation is that he’s clearly had a really great experience developing for KORG’s synths, from coding and testing, to turning it into a business.

This is not a KORG advertisement, even if it sounds like one. I actually didn’t even tell them it’s coming, apart from mentioning something was inbound to KORG’s Etienne Noreau-Hebert, chief analog engineer. But because it impacts both interested musicians and developers, I thought it was worth getting Artemiy’s perspective directly.

So here’s Artemiy on that – and I think this does offer some hope to those wanting new directions for electronic musical instruments. This is labeled “Op Ed” for a reason – I don’t necessarily agree with all of it – but I think it’s a unique perspective, not only in regards to KORG hardware but the potential for the industry and musicians of this sort of embedded development, generally. -Ed.

Artemiy diagrams the idea here.

In early 2018, for its 50th anniversary, Korg introduced the prologue. It wasn’t just a great-sounding synthesizer with shiny, polished-metal looks. It introduced a whole new technical paradigm that has brought a tectonic shift to the whole music hardware and software industry.

Korg has since taken the concept of “plug-ins in mainstream hardware synths” further to much more compact and affordable minilogue xd and Nu:Tekt NTS-1, proving that it’s more serious about this than even I myself thought.

If you thought the platform just lets you load custom wavetables and store effect presets, you have no idea how much you’ve been missing! This is also for those who have been waiting for something that really looks to the future – and for anyone wanting to scale down their rig while scaling up their sonic palette. For me, as a control freak, I can now imagine new features from the moment I touched the synth – even though it’s someone else’s product. 

Here are five ways Korg’s plugin-capable synths completely change the game for all of us, described both as before and after:

Artemiy explains this as a meme.

1. Personalization

Before. When you buy a synthesizer, all the features inside are what the manufacturer decided it should have. Each customer gets the exact same thing – same features, same sound.

After. With Korg’s hardware plugin architecture, the “custom” is finally back to “customer” – as you can configure the oscillator and the effect engines to your liking, and make your instrument unique. Fill it with the exact plugins you want, make it tailored to your own style. You have 48 plugin slots available, and chances are nobody else on the planet configures them the way you do.

2. Versatility

Before. While we do have digital and analog instruments with very capable synthesis and processing engines, to really get into more unusual or experimental sonic territory, you almost certainly need extra outboard gear – often a lot of it, which means more to transport and wire up.

After. The plug-ins now allow you to expand the stock generation and processing capabilities way beyond the “traditional” stuff, and have a whole powerhouse inside a single instrument. Just by switching from preset to preset, you can have the synthesizer dramatically shift its character, much as if you were switching from one hardware setup to another. Much less gear to carry, less things to go wrong, literally zero setup time.

Here’s what I mean, just with currently-available plug-ins. How about a sound-on-sound looper, or a self-randomizing audio repeater, right inside your synth?


And how about running unorthodox digital synthesis methods, in parallel with a purely analog subtractive one?

3. Independence

Before. With almost all gear, you are completely at the mercy of the manufacturer regarding what’s available for your instrument (aside from sound packs which still obviously can only use the stock features).

After. Not only you decide which engines your synth has, cherry-picking sound generation and processing plugins from independent developers, but you can also grab the SDK and build whatever you want yourself. [Ed. See below for some notes on just how easy that is.]

4. Longevity

Before. While some manufacturers might update their instruments with some major features from time to time, to be brutally honest, most won’t. Typically, just a couple years after initial release, you can consider the feature set in your synthesizer frozen… forever.

After. At any time in the future, you can erase some or even all the plug-ins on your synth and install different ones. So it can stay fresh and interesting for years or even decades, without you having to buy new hardware to get a new sound. The scale of your capabilities will actually only keep increasing as the selection of third-party plugins continues growing.

For example, say you have two different live projects. A single instrument can now represent two entirely different sets of sounds, using plugins and presets. In just a couple of minutes you can fully clean your Korg and reload it with a whole new “sonic personality” – no installers to run, no activation hassle, just transfer and go.

5. Range

Before. High-end features almost always command high-end prices, or a high level of coding experience to be able to work with that open-source firmware (in the rare cases when it’s actually available).

After. The ticket price for entry into this world of user-configurable synthesizers is Korg’s tiny and super-affordable monophonic Nu:Tekt NTS-1 (around $100), and it still has 48 plug-in slots just like its bigger brothers. Speaking of the bigger brothers, at the other end of the range we have the flagship 8- or 16-voice polyphonic prologue ($1500-2000), and 4-voice minilogue xd in both keyboard and desktop versions ($600-650). There’s now a plug-in-capable synth for everyone.

Which KORG do you want?

So, which one to choose? Each of the models has its unique advantages and unique ways it can integrate into your existing setup – or create a totally new one. [Ed. I’ve confirmed previously with KORG that all three of these models is equally capable of running this plug-in architecture. There’s also the fourth developer board that Artemiy doesn’t mention, though at this point you’re likely to get the NTS-1.]

NTS-1 is probably the most quirky of the lot, but is also surprisingly versatile for its tiny size. First, it can be easily powered off any portable battery, and second, it has a stereo input that lets you run any external audio through up to three different plugin effects, silently making it “the stompbox of your dreams.” 

The mid-range minilogue xd doesn’t have an external input, but does have a very compact and portable body, and a note sequencer. The sequencer can be used together with the arpeggiator for extra-long evolving melodies, but also has 4 parameter automation tracks – with all this data stored per each preset.

The key feature of range-topping prologue, aside from its incredibly pleasant-to-play keybed and sleek all-metal controls, is the fact that each of its presets can be constructed out of two completely separate, split, or layered patches – meaning that you can load two oscillator plugins at the same time.

Developers, developers, developers

How easy is it to develop your own Korg plugin?

First of all, I can tell you that running my own algorithms on a hardware synth was something I have dreamed of for years. Apart from a very unlikely collaboration with the manufacturer, or digging deep into someone’s rare open-source firmware, I figured the chances of actually doing that were zero.

Luckily, Korg has made it so much easier for me and you, that you would almost be guilty for not giving coding your own little plug-in a go. Allow me to give you a first-person example of what it took to get started.

Korg’s loque-SDK is a collection of source code files and a toolchain that runs via the command line in the terminal app. For each type of plug-in, Korg provides a sample – there’s a simple sine oscillator, there’s a delay, a filter, etc. – and the best way for you to start is modify one of them slightly.

You don’t need to do much. For example, make the sine oscillator produce a mix of two sines, one running an octave above the other. You’d simply multiply the second sin() function’s argument by 2 and add it to the first one — that’s it. That’s exactly what I did, and I was hooked instantly.

Now you build the plugin using the “make” command, and install the file onto whichever of the synthesizers in the family you have. You do that via its “sound librarian” companion app into which you simply drag and drop your plugin while the synth is connected via USB. 

https://github.com/korginc/logue-sdk

Now go

All this said, I hope this has changed how you look at Korg’s plugin-capable synthesizer architecture. Because, and I am really confident when I say this, Korg did go and change the whole industry with it.

https://www.sinevibes.com

https://www.sinevibes.com/korg/

minilogue + logue SDK

prologue + logue SDK

The post Op-ed: KORG has transformed synthesizers by letting them run plug-ins, says Sinevibes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Osmose is a new “augmented” keyboard, from Haken and Expressive E

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 8:02 pm

The dream of a keyboard with expansive expression, not just organ-style key-plunking, now sees a new integrated instrument. And the maker of the Haken Continuum is involved.

Expressive E, who had made single three-dimensional controllers, partnered with Haken Audio in order to make this full keyboard. Each key has three-dimensional control, in a mechanical design they’re calling Augmented Keyboard Action. You can strum, you can add vibrato, more detailed legato, or add layered notes – all this good stuff, minus having to just play keys and twist knobs or turn wheels.

We’ve seen three-dimensional keys before, at least as limited-run (or one-off) inventions. And we’ve seen various touch-style keyboards (like those from ROLI), and pads with multi-axis input (like those from Roger Linn and Polyend).

What we haven’t seen, though, is a mass-produced three-dimensional mechanical keyboard (that is, with individually articulated keys). And we haven’t seen very many instruments with integrated sound engines. The Osmose is both.

Inside – custom sensor/actuator technology that interacts with 3D keys for more tangible, mechanical feedback than touch-based designs afford.

Haken’s role here was to contribute their powerful EaganMatrix Sound Engine, which is already designed to be integrated with hardware and is built around three-dimensional expressive control as input. This is the same engine previously found on the Continuum Fingerboard and ContinuuMini. You get physical modeling, additive, subtractive, FM, virtual analog, granular and spectral synthesis models, for various acoustic and electronic sounds, plus loads of presets. (There was a reason I was complaining lately that Roland needs to move its sound engine forward.)

The difference is, if you didn’t much like the undifferentiated ribbon of the Continuum, now you get something with keys on it. So for keyboardists and pianists, you don’t lose the investment of learning to play your instrument – or centuries of music composition.

This custom engineering costs money – the Osmose will be US$/€1799. (Funny, it was only a few years ago when that counted as “mid-range.”) But they’ve found a novel solution to ramping up production. Early bird buyers reserving before December 31, 2019 will get a massive 40% discount, so that it only costs USD/EUR 1079. And you don’t have to put up all of that right away – they’re taking just $299 as deposit. That’s more reasonable than the usual Kickstarter deal.

Specs on this instrument:

  • 49 full-sized keys
  • MIDI controller, with MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) and MPE+ support
  • 24-voice polyphony, layered and split modes
  • 8 encoders, 9 buttons, pitch stick/modulation stick
  • Color LCD
  • 2 continuous pedal inputs (assignable)
  • MIDI in, out/thru
  • USB type B (okay, actually odd not to see USB-C here on a futuristic instrument but – then again, it doesn’t much matter)
  • 24-bit D/A conversion
  • Mac/Windows editor for creating and editing EagenMatrix sounds and assign the 3-axis key movements

Here’s how it works as a MIDI controller:

and some artists getting hands on:

More:

expressivee.com

http://bit.ly/333d1gG

From the past – remember this? The Hyperkeys had a similar idea, but seemed never to make it into real production.

The post Osmose is a new “augmented” keyboard, from Haken and Expressive E appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer attempt to claim trademarks, including marks actively in use by KORG, Polivoks

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 19 Nov 2019 4:37 pm

Behringer appears to be staking out every historical synth brand it can. That’s leading to some historical synth names – and some names very much already in use by someone else.

SYNTH ANATOMY gets the scoop on the trademark filings, which cover a significant variety of historical brand names. These range from the obscure to the classic KORG Mono/Poly instrument.

Behringer Submitted Trademarks For Over 10 Synthesizers Including The MONOPOLY [synthanatomy.com]

Coming from MUSIC TRIBE, the corporate entity that makes the Behringer brand, these registrations include the Blue MarvinKobolPolykobolPolivoksSynthexTridentQuadraSourceProdigyLoganPro-16, and Pro-800. (Those are just the ones SYNTH ANATOMY unearthed.) While not covered in these filings, Behringer also this week teased a Wasp remake.

Notably, KORG – original makers of the Mono/Poly – do make a Mono/Poly iOS app now, and presumably might remake it as they have the MS-20 and ARP Odyssey. Polivoks, the legendary Soviet brand, is now made by Russia’s Elta Music and even a remake by original Polivoks engineer Vladimir Kuzmin, also under the original name.

There’s no actual product news here yet – and the registration of these marks doesn’t necessarily mean that a trademark will ever get used. You can read the International Trademark Association’s explanation of “trademark trolls” and “trademark bullies” – but short version, trademark law does let you do this:

Trademark Trolls: Here to Stay?

MUSIC TRIBE have been aggressive with trademarks in the past. The company is now locked in an evolving legal battle with the original family owners of the Auratone brand in the USA, and MUSIC TRIBE lost an EUIPO court case over that trademark to the surviving family members of the original Auratone founder.

Reaction from other synth makers, though, suggests to me that a lot of engineers are more excited about creating new instruments rather than only remaking the past. The Mono/Poly was a classic, at least, but it seems dubious that the future of electronic instruments will be decided in a trademark court.

If you do know more about the status of these trademarks or this or other relevant cases, of course I’m happy to hear from you. I will get back to making weird new things under… well, new names, I think.

The post Behringer attempt to claim trademarks, including marks actively in use by KORG, Polivoks appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Nov 2019 10:04 am

Apple has a 16″ MacBook Pro that improves performance, adds a bigger, better display, and makes promising changes to the keyboard – without increasing price. Next question: should you upgrade?

Apple’s flagship laptops still command a price premium: standard configurations are US$2,399 and $2,799, which can be punishing for cash-strapped musicians (especially in other countries once accounting for currency and cash). Figure budgeting at least $2599 for 1TB storage, and then the $2799 standard price point bumps processor speed and graphics.

But as before, what you get in exchange for the luxe price is some luxe hardware. That’s always been especially true of the display. Even big fans of the price/performance ratio on PCs have got to concede that Apple ships some big, bright, color-accurate, gorgeous displays.

And the 16″ revision does three things:

  1. It sweetens the display deal with what might be the best laptop display on the market.
  2. It improves the performance-to-price ratio with upgraded specs for the processor, graphics, and battery. But maybe most importantly –
  3. It fixes the damned keyboard. (Or at least first impressions suggest so.)
Now with an Escape key – and while the Touch Bar is standard, improved keyboard performance means there’s not really anything in particular to gripe about, we hope.

The keyboard had held a lot of people back. The butterfly-action keyboard on past models prompted some complaints about key travel, and worse, were subject to reliability problems. I was unable to attend the press preview for the new Apple laptop, but journalists more experienced with those issues are so far impressed – Dieter Bohn for The Verge and Roman Loyala for Macworld each have their first hands-on impressions. Apple are confident enough that they’re dubbing the new keyboard Magic Keyboard, in a nod to their well-liked Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad (all the way back to the Steve Jobs era, actually).

You still get the Touch Bar whether you want it or not. But it’s no longer at the expense of a dedicated escape button (it’s back), and the fingerprint sensor now also gets its own dedicated control. Plus even the inverted-T directional keys are back.

Having tested the old keyboard, I have to say this is the MacBook Pro I would save up for. But I think the most encouraging thing about this is it means Apple was listening to complaints from pro users.

Also encouraging – you get more ports. You’ll still need adapters for a lot of gear (or a hub), but with USB-C evolving, having four USB-C ports that also double as Thunderbolt 3 (yeah, all four of them) makes this a machine that’s easy to connect.

Computers have largely caught up with the needs of most musicians, meaning all these extra performance specs won’t matter to anyone. But producers pushing the envelope should appreciate the new machines. All images courtesy Apple.

We’ll need a full review before we can judge the on-paper specs, but so far the indications are positive.

  • Ninth-generation CPUs (6- or 8-core, depending on model) from Intel – these will be great for running things like modeled synths (hello, VCV Rack), as well as CPU-native operations for visuals and so on.
  • 100 watt-hour battery (that’s the biggest battery approved to fly in the USA), for longer battery life
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5000M GPU with 4GB VRAM, option for 8GB

This is new generation AMD stuff, made just for Apple, though that also means it’s tough to make a direct comparison. As in past models in this line, it’s middle of the road stuff. Just remember that Apple likes to choose balanced GPUs as far as heat and power draw; they’re not making gaming laptops with big fans.

The relevant factor there is, you still don’t get to take advantage of NVIDIA-specific instructions and acceleration. I guess we’ll see if Apple are able to push Adobe to finally optimize Creative Suite for the Apple GPUs. (Right now, CS uses NVIDIA CUDA optimizations, and suffers quite a bit when it comes to performance on AMD chips. Of course, Apple will be happy if you use Final Cut Pro, at least on the video side.)

You can load up to 64GB of memory, though that’s overkill for even some sample playback applications and as usual is a fairly expensive build-to-order.

Speaking of nice options for deep pockets, you can also add an 8TB SSD. Please don’t drop this machine when riding your helicopter.

But to me, it’s really the display and slick form factor where Apple continues to reign supreme. And, wow, that new display –

  • 16‑inch (diagonal) LED‑backlit display with IPS technology; 3072‑by‑1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Wide color P3 / True Tone
  • Refresh rates: 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, 60.00Hz

So everything is great, and you should go buy this – well, maybe.

The Catalina factor

Now that Apple has successfully responded to MacBook Pro customer feedback, let’s see how they handle complaints from developers. Developers I talk to are still venting widespread frustration with glitches under macOS Catalina – and Catalina is installed by default. These go beyond just eliminating 32-bit code and adding expected security improvements. Many developers I’ve talked to tell me that the major changes made to the OS are producing unexpected glitches and challenges.

I wish I could be more specific – Apple, for their part, infamously emailed developers to ask them to stop being so negative in their communication. But I can say this: Apple changed a lot of security features at once, and then shipped that OS on a strict timetable. That introduces a lot of variability, because it doesn’t leave a lot of time for even Apple to respond to developer and user feedback, let alone their third-party ecosystem.

16″ is the one to watch

I think the 16″ machine is likely to be a great choice in the long run – just maybe not today. As with new OSes, patience is a virtue.

If you can keep dust away from the keys, it’s even worth considering a refurb 15″ model for significant cost savings, which is what CDM contributor and friend David Abravanel just did. (Since we don’t live on the same continent, he’s safe from me showing up every day with croissants to see if I can torture test his new baby.) The 16″ model is almost certainly better, but if you get a great deal, that’s another matter. And a new Apple launch is likely to flood the market, especially since there’s no price increase here.

The 16″ model does look like the new sweet spot for the Mac. I would just wait a little bit to get some detailed reviews of the new laptop, and to wait as Apple inevitably works on any bug fixes for this new machine generation and/or macOS Catalina. Plus third party developers are working really hard on support, meaning even a couple of months from now, you can expect a smoother Catalina switch experience than now.

By then, maybe we’ll see this keyboard rolled out on the more affordable, more mobile 13″ model, too.

And Windows laptops remain an option. With more and more music software offering essentially identical experiences across OSes to end users – even in a growing number of cases, on Linux – we’re in a competitive landscape for laptops for music and live visuals.

But that’s a good thing. And it’s great to see a new laptop from Apple that promises to be genuinely inspiring again – and what users actually want.

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/

The post 16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Nov 2019 10:04 am

Apple has a 16″ MacBook Pro that improves performance, adds a bigger, better display, and makes promising changes to the keyboard – without increasing price. Next question: should you upgrade?

Apple’s flagship laptops still command a price premium: standard configurations are US$2,399 and $2,799, which can be punishing for cash-strapped musicians (especially in other countries once accounting for currency and cash). Figure budgeting at least $2599 for 1TB storage, and then the $2799 standard price point bumps processor speed and graphics.

But as before, what you get in exchange for the luxe price is some luxe hardware. That’s always been especially true of the display. Even big fans of the price/performance ratio on PCs have got to concede that Apple ships some big, bright, color-accurate, gorgeous displays.

And the 16″ revision does three things:

  1. It sweetens the display deal with what might be the best laptop display on the market.
  2. It improves the performance-to-price ratio with upgraded specs for the processor, graphics, and battery. But maybe most importantly –
  3. It fixes the damned keyboard. (Or at least first impressions suggest so.)
Now with an Escape key – and while the Touch Bar is standard, improved keyboard performance means there’s not really anything in particular to gripe about, we hope.

The keyboard had held a lot of people back. The butterfly-action keyboard on past models prompted some complaints about key travel, and worse, were subject to reliability problems. I was unable to attend the press preview for the new Apple laptop, but journalists more experienced with those issues are so far impressed – Dieter Bohn for The Verge and Roman Loyala for Macworld each have their first hands-on impressions. Apple are confident enough that they’re dubbing the new keyboard Magic Keyboard, in a nod to their well-liked Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad (all the way back to the Steve Jobs era, actually).

You still get the Touch Bar whether you want it or not. But it’s no longer at the expense of a dedicated escape button (it’s back), and the fingerprint sensor now also gets its own dedicated control. Plus even the inverted-T directional keys are back.

Having tested the old keyboard, I have to say this is the MacBook Pro I would save up for. But I think the most encouraging thing about this is it means Apple was listening to complaints from pro users.

Also encouraging – you get more ports. You’ll still need adapters for a lot of gear (or a hub), but with USB-C evolving, having four USB-C ports that also double as Thunderbolt 3 (yeah, all four of them) makes this a machine that’s easy to connect.

Computers have largely caught up with the needs of most musicians, meaning all these extra performance specs won’t matter to anyone. But producers pushing the envelope should appreciate the new machines. All images courtesy Apple.

We’ll need a full review before we can judge the on-paper specs, but so far the indications are positive.

  • Ninth-generation CPUs (6- or 8-core, depending on model) from Intel – these will be great for running things like modeled synths (hello, VCV Rack), as well as CPU-native operations for visuals and so on.
  • 100 watt-hour battery (that’s the biggest battery approved to fly in the USA), for longer battery life
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5000M GPU with 4GB VRAM, option for 8GB

This is new generation AMD stuff, made just for Apple, though that also means it’s tough to make a direct comparison. As in past models in this line, it’s middle of the road stuff. Just remember that Apple likes to choose balanced GPUs as far as heat and power draw; they’re not making gaming laptops with big fans.

The relevant factor there is, you still don’t get to take advantage of NVIDIA-specific instructions and acceleration. I guess we’ll see if Apple are able to push Adobe to finally optimize Creative Suite for the Apple GPUs. (Right now, CS uses NVIDIA CUDA optimizations, and suffers quite a bit when it comes to performance on AMD chips. Of course, Apple will be happy if you use Final Cut Pro, at least on the video side.)

You can load up to 64GB of memory, though that’s overkill for even some sample playback applications and as usual is a fairly expensive build-to-order.

Speaking of nice options for deep pockets, you can also add an 8TB SSD. Please don’t drop this machine when riding your helicopter.

But to me, it’s really the display and slick form factor where Apple continues to reign supreme. And, wow, that new display –

  • 16‑inch (diagonal) LED‑backlit display with IPS technology; 3072‑by‑1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors
  • 500 nits brightness
  • Wide color P3 / True Tone
  • Refresh rates: 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, 60.00Hz

So everything is great, and you should go buy this – well, maybe.

The Catalina factor

Now that Apple has successfully responded to MacBook Pro customer feedback, let’s see how they handle complaints from developers. Developers I talk to are still venting widespread frustration with glitches under macOS Catalina – and Catalina is installed by default. These go beyond just eliminating 32-bit code and adding expected security improvements. Many developers I’ve talked to tell me that the major changes made to the OS are producing unexpected glitches and challenges.

I wish I could be more specific – Apple, for their part, infamously emailed developers to ask them to stop being so negative in their communication. But I can say this: Apple changed a lot of security features at once, and then shipped that OS on a strict timetable. That introduces a lot of variability, because it doesn’t leave a lot of time for even Apple to respond to developer and user feedback, let alone their third-party ecosystem.

16″ is the one to watch

I think the 16″ machine is likely to be a great choice in the long run – just maybe not today. As with new OSes, patience is a virtue.

If you can keep dust away from the keys, it’s even worth considering a refurb 15″ model for significant cost savings, which is what CDM contributor and friend David Abravanel just did. (Since we don’t live on the same continent, he’s safe from me showing up every day with croissants to see if I can torture test his new baby.) The 16″ model is almost certainly better, but if you get a great deal, that’s another matter. And a new Apple launch is likely to flood the market, especially since there’s no price increase here.

The 16″ model does look like the new sweet spot for the Mac. I would just wait a little bit to get some detailed reviews of the new laptop, and to wait as Apple inevitably works on any bug fixes for this new machine generation and/or macOS Catalina. Plus third party developers are working really hard on support, meaning even a couple of months from now, you can expect a smoother Catalina switch experience than now.

By then, maybe we’ll see this keyboard rolled out on the more affordable, more mobile 13″ model, too.

And Windows laptops remain an option. With more and more music software offering essentially identical experiences across OSes to end users – even in a growing number of cases, on Linux – we’re in a competitive landscape for laptops for music and live visuals.

But that’s a good thing. And it’s great to see a new laptop from Apple that promises to be genuinely inspiring again – and what users actually want.

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-16/

The post 16″ MacBook Pro, a better MBP at 15″ prices, as Apple responds to user feedback appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Game Boy music classic Nanoloop is coming to two dedicated mobile gadgets

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Nov 2019 10:27 am

Nanoloop, the ingeniously simple pocket music-making tool, is being reborn. Two new dedicated pocket hardware devices promise to do what once required Nintendo’s Game Boy.

Nanoloop began its life as a home-brewed cartridge for the Nintendo Game Boy. The software shipped in the same physical format as classic games like Legend of Zelda – on a cartridge. That allowed the title to take advantage of the distinctive chip synth in the mainstream gaming hardware.

And Nanoloop was an instant hit, helping drive the explosion of the chip music scene. While some musicians swore by Nanoloop’s leading rival, Little Sound DJ [LSDJ], and its 90s-style tracker interface, Nanoloop stood out for its distinctive graphical design. Minimal elements onscreen belied powerful editing features, and opened up music-making to artists drawn to that aesthetic and way of working.

If you really want to be a purist, you’ll continue to run Nanoloop exactly like that, on the vintage hardware. And of course, there are also mobile OS versions now available, though they lose the tactile feel that’s part of the whole draw.

But now there’s a third way – run Nanoloop on new, dedicated gadgets, not made by Nintendo. (Not that Nintendo needs to worry about the competition – the target market here are typically rabid enough fans that they already own and extensively use Nintendo Switch!)

Incredibly, there are two separate projects inbound that offer new ways of running Nanoloop. Nanoloop’s own developer is building hardware designed just for music makers to run his creation. And separately, a project to make new hardware that runs the original cartridges includes the Nanoloop synth, built-in.

I mean, I kind of want both. (Santa Claus, if you’re listening…) Here’s the scoop:

Analogue Pocket

We have fewer details on Analogue Pocket, but imagine a sleek, black remake of the original, with a high-density display in place of the original lo-fi one. It isn’t a software emulator as such – it actually plays the original Game Boy cartridges from all the different generations (Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance). Those afternoons spent around the flea market are about to get way more interesting, then.

In place of the original specs, though, you get modern features – as though you stepped into a mirror universe. So the display is 665ppi and 1600×1440. The battery is lithium-ion with USB-C charging. There’s an SD card slot.

What’s potentially interesting to music users is that the developers have a built-in version of Nanoloop. That seems to be the newer Nanoloop 2. I don’t yet have information on the Analogue Pocket’s sound engine, though, which will be crucial detail for chip enthusiasts wanting to use this as an instrument. Even Nanoloop developer Oliver Wittchow told me he’s trying to learn more about this device.

One thing we have been able to confirm – Oliver says the creators tell him the Analogue Pocket will have correct audio pin compatibility. That means the nanoloop mono cartridge – nanoloop 1 – will be compatible with the new hardware.

Meanwhile, Oliver is designing his own hardware around his app. That’s less interesting to mainstream gadget and gaming press, but even more interesting to us. And Oliver is making progress.

Nanoloop Hardware

I covered the nanoloop hardware project and its Kickstarter campaign earlier this year:

What makes it special is really its hardware matrix design, with gamepads – it’s a never-before-seen hybrid of light-up physical grid and gaming-style joy/directional-pads. Or to put it another way, it’s the love child of a Game Boy Advance and a monome, part modern gadget, part nerdy DIY contraption.

And goddamn, son, this thing sounds sweet. Check out the update from late October:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/734721310/nanoloop/posts/2665107

He’s dumped the dorky LEDs for a svelte, retro-futuristic set of dots on the main display – very nanoloop. The sound is exceptional, and it fits in your palm.

There’s also a post reflecting on form factor. The horizontal option seems to me a clear winner, and it’s stunning how much he’s fit in so small a space. It really for me outdoes even the tiny Teenage Engineering OP-Z in terms of economical user interface. I look forward to playing the two as a duo, though.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/734721310/nanoloop/posts/2628067

Don’t take my word for it, though. Follow the Kickstarter campaign and check out his sound demos, as Oliver has produced a unique instrument for lovers of tiny electronic musical things. If you’re feeling eager for this to arrive, I am, too, so we’ll keep you posted on how the work is coming.

Image at top: “Nanoloop in C” by v8media is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The post Game Boy music classic Nanoloop is coming to two dedicated mobile gadgets appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

« Previous PageNext Page »
TunePlus Wordpress Theme