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


Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jan 2018 8:22 pm

Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s poopular line has one answer to that.

The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.

Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).

So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.

This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.

Work with the R-07 and your smartphone (hey, trousers have two pockets for a reason?), and the device expands in power. First, there’s remote control functionality. You can stick the R-09 where you want it to go – especially important if you’re using that built-in mic – then record and play and manage recordings and set levels wirelessly, over Bluetooth. (They’ve even got a nifty Apple Watch app.)

The R-07 can also stream audio from the record to your phone, via Bluetooth. And refreshed technology can mean the fidelity of that is higher than you might expect. That’s thanks to new tech from chipset maker Qualcomm called aptX. Basically, it’s a higher-quality codec optimized for improving sound quality while simultaneously improving low-latency reliability. There’s a good writeup on Android Authority covering both aptX and aptX HD variants. (iPhones don’t support aptX natively, but some dongles do; I don’t know yet if the R-07 will be compatible with those.)

You can also use Bluetooth to monitor your R-07 with Bluetooth wireless headphones – and again, if those headphones support aptX, you’ll get higher-quality, lower-latency sound. (Now we’re beginning to see some added tax to living in the Apple ecosystem, since it seems Apple is going their own way with this.)

Apart from the phone features, the R-07 looks like a darned cute little pocket recorder – like one that would actually fit in your pocket. It also solves a really big problem that may be more important than wireless operation or how it works with your phone, and that’s that it has some features to prevent you accidentally recording at a volume that’s too high.

Each time you record, the R-07 actually makes not one but two recordings – one at full level, and one at a lower level. So when the full-level recording clips, you can go back to the lower-level recording that has more headroom – even just for the portion that clips. If you’d prefer this process to be automatic, something called Hybrid Limiting automatically splices in the lower-level bits you need. Neat. I’m curious to try this in practice.

(This is hardly a pro or consumer issue. For instance, I was once in a taxi racing to the Philadelphia airport and learned my taxi driver was frustrated with Zoom’s recorders because he kept clipping his recordings when he was playing drums with a heavy metal band. This is probably potentially relevant to half the world’s population. There you go. And obviously, pros and consumers have all screwed this up at one time or another.)

The R-07 can make two simultaneous recordings—one at full level and another at a lower level with increased headroom. If there’s unexpected clipping in the main recording, you can replace that section with a portion of the lower-level backup recording. Hybrid Limiting can even handle this automatically, so you get all the safety of limiting with none of the downsides.

Features:

Stereo WAV recording, up to 24-bit/96 kHz
MP3 recording, up to 320 kbps
Included stereo mics
One-touch access to scene setups (oh, lord, having done a lot of menu diving on Zoom devices, this is welcome)
microSD slot
USB connectivity, with USB class compatibility (so you can mount it on any computer, mobile device)
Jacks: headphone out, mic/line in (that’s a stereo minijack – it disables use of the mic, but it means you can use the R-07 for external line recordings, like from a mixer in a show)
Powered by two AA batteries or USB bus power
Black, white, or red, optional bags available

With the splashy marketing materials and a launch this week at the Consumer Electronic Show, it’s clear Roland hopes this recorder will reach out to a wide, wide audience. Hope we get to try one.

Watch the overview here:

More:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications/

The post Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jan 2018 8:22 pm

Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s poopular line has one answer to that.

The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.

Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).

So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.

This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.

Work with the R-07 and your smartphone (hey, trousers have two pockets for a reason?), and the device expands in power. First, there’s remote control functionality. You can stick the R-09 where you want it to go – especially important if you’re using that built-in mic – then record and play and manage recordings and set levels wirelessly, over Bluetooth. (They’ve even got a nifty Apple Watch app.)

The R-07 can also stream audio from the record to your phone, via Bluetooth. And refreshed technology can mean the fidelity of that is higher than you might expect. That’s thanks to new tech from chipset maker Qualcomm called aptX. Basically, it’s a higher-quality codec optimized for improving sound quality while simultaneously improving low-latency reliability. There’s a good writeup on Android Authority covering both aptX and aptX HD variants. (iPhones don’t support aptX natively, but some dongles do; I don’t know yet if the R-07 will be compatible with those.)

You can also use Bluetooth to monitor your R-07 with Bluetooth wireless headphones – and again, if those headphones support aptX, you’ll get higher-quality, lower-latency sound. (Now we’re beginning to see some added tax to living in the Apple ecosystem, since it seems Apple is going their own way with this.)

Apart from the phone features, the R-07 looks like a darned cute little pocket recorder – like one that would actually fit in your pocket. It also solves a really big problem that may be more important than wireless operation or how it works with your phone, and that’s that it has some features to prevent you accidentally recording at a volume that’s too high.

Each time you record, the R-07 actually makes not one but two recordings – one at full level, and one at a lower level. So when the full-level recording clips, you can go back to the lower-level recording that has more headroom – even just for the portion that clips. If you’d prefer this process to be automatic, something called Hybrid Limiting automatically splices in the lower-level bits you need. Neat. I’m curious to try this in practice.

(This is hardly a pro or consumer issue. For instance, I was once in a taxi racing to the Philadelphia airport and learned my taxi driver was frustrated with Zoom’s recorders because he kept clipping his recordings when he was playing drums with a heavy metal band. This is probably potentially relevant to half the world’s population. There you go. And obviously, pros and consumers have all screwed this up at one time or another.)

The R-07 can make two simultaneous recordings—one at full level and another at a lower level with increased headroom. If there’s unexpected clipping in the main recording, you can replace that section with a portion of the lower-level backup recording. Hybrid Limiting can even handle this automatically, so you get all the safety of limiting with none of the downsides.

Features:

Stereo WAV recording, up to 24-bit/96 kHz
MP3 recording, up to 320 kbps
Included stereo mics
One-touch access to scene setups (oh, lord, having done a lot of menu diving on Zoom devices, this is welcome)
microSD slot
USB connectivity, with USB class compatibility (so you can mount it on any computer, mobile device)
Jacks: headphone out, mic/line in (that’s a stereo minijack – it disables use of the mic, but it means you can use the R-07 for external line recordings, like from a mixer in a show)
Powered by two AA batteries or USB bus power
Black, white, or red, optional bags available

With the splashy marketing materials and a launch this week at the Consumer Electronic Show, it’s clear Roland hopes this recorder will reach out to a wide, wide audience. Hope we get to try one.

Watch the overview here:

More:

https://www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications/

The post Roland R-07 wants to be your next recorder – and your phone’s friend appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Elastic FX lets you route and morph 32 effects on iOS, for $7

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 5:23 pm

It looks a bit like what would happen if an iPad, a KAOSS Pad, and a plug-in folder had a love child. It’s the new iOS app from the makers of Elastic Drums.

Elastic Drums already had won fans as the indie-developed drum synth / production app released by Mouse on Mars. And inside Elastic Drums, you had a powerful range of effects. So, at some point, lead developer Oliver Greschke had the idea of taking all those effects, and making a standalone multi-effects processor for the iPad.

The result you get, though, is a fully spec’ed-out sound processing powerhouse for iOS: Elastic FX. If you were already using Elastic Drums, you’ll like these effects, too – but now they’ve been reworked, and provide stereo processing (not just mono). You’ll find new effects, too, plus all-new routing options and feedback.

And if you haven’t used Elastic Drums before, Elastic FX promises straight out of the gate to be one of the leading options for processing effects on the iPad.

There are 32 available effects, including modulation, pitch, distortion, filter, delay, reverb, and more.

From those 32 effects, you can assign to one of four effect units.

It’s that four-effect unit that opens up more possibilities. Choose how to route between effects, add feedback, then adjust parameters all at once via X/Y pad (KAOSS-style). That X/Y pad also has phrase recording and automation, of 1-8 bars in length.

There’s additionally a master effects section (which adds 3-band EQ, compressor, and stutter).

From there, you’ve got a load of options to integrate this with your mobile studio:

  • Audiobus 3, Inter-App Audio for working with other apps’ audio (in/out)
  • A built-in audio player so you can quickly audition effects
  • Ableton Link support for jamming and sync, plus time-synced phrase playback and tempo-synced effects (like the delay)
  • Save, load, share user presets
  • MIDI, MIDI learn for parameter control
  • MIDI program change for changing presets

Intro price, iPad only: 7.99€ / US$6.99

http://mominstruments.com/efx/

Demo videos:

And check out this synced-up automation:

The post Elastic FX lets you route and morph 32 effects on iOS, for $7 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 4:31 pm

The tiny, 80 Euro, 8-bit Kastle synth from Bastl just got better. A 1.5 revision updates the case, sound, and features.

First off, in addition to batteries, you can now run on micro USB power.

The case is updated, too. It’s fiberglass instead of acrylic for added durability, and has a slick black matte finish, plus better patch points.

And then there’s sound. Bastl Instruments say they’ve done a total rework on the sound engine, improving smoothness, ranges, and anti-aliasing performance.

Two sound engines running in parallel deliver three new modes: formant synthesis, noise mode, and tonal mode. Plus there are the existing phase modulation, phase distortion, and track & hold modulation, each with new improvements.

Formants: Inspired by the 1865 Helmholz synthesizer, you get combinations of harmonics / vowel sounds.

Noise: This glitchy mode comes from granular playback of a piece of code that’s run from the sound chip – basically an edgy ultra-digital glitched-out wavetable/granular source.

Demo here:

More:

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/instruments/kastle/kastle-v1-5/

I’ll be in Brno, CZ Friday and Saturday this week and catching up with team Bastl, if you’ve got questions for them.

The post Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

BlipCase mobile music gear storage is now half off (USA, CA)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 1:21 am

You’ve got the gear. You’ve got the gifts. Now … a place to put it, on the go, or setting up onstage. That’s BlipCase, and in December it’s just $39.95.

BlipCase ships to the USA and Canada in time for Christmas, as long as you order by December 18. (We ship internationally, too, but shipping costs are most affordable in North America.)

Buy now – in stock and shipping – $39.95

You can read our introduction last year when we introduced the system:
BlipCase is a custom solution for toting your compact music gear

And here are some images showing the variety of gear that fits inside:

Buy BlipCase

The post BlipCase mobile music gear storage is now half off (USA, CA) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How BeatMaker caught the iOS music trend before it even started

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 11 Dec 2017 6:39 pm

It was one of the first apps to define what mobile music making on iOS could be. We talk to its creators to understand the story behind Intua BeatMaker.

CDM’s mobile editor Ashley Elsdon has always been ahead of the curve in understanding the potential of mobile music making. The clue is right in the name of his ground-breaking block “Palm Sounds” – started back when Palm devices were state of the art and iOS didn’t even exist yet. Those Palm gadgets included some all-in-one production tools, but BeatMaker took advantage of Apple’s generational boost in power and multi-touch interface. And that journey starts even before Apple had an App Store, let alone an iPad and a cadre of music making tools running on desktop-class architectures. No one has really told that story until now – and Ashley is the person to investigate. -PK

Before even the introduction of the iPad or even the App Store, BeatMaker 1 helped define the iPhone as mobile music platform. From there, it’s grown continuously in feature set and community, with BeatMaker 2 and now BeatMaker 3 each representing not just incremental, but ground-up new apps and radical landmarks in functionality. Ed.: You might look at those older releases if you’ve got a ‘vintage’ device running an earlier OS.

Following BeatMaker 3’s release, I wanted to understand direct from the developers how that journey took place. I was curious what had driven them and how they’d made decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. Hopefully you’ll find Intua’s responses as interesting as I have. Intua developer and co-founder Mathieu Garcia responds.

Ashley: What was it that first made you think about developing BM1, and how did you go about making it happen in a pre-App Store world?

Mathieu: Back in 2006, I was an IT consultant and was sent for a mission in London. The company was looking to create a “proof-of-concept” app that would allow VoIP calls on the iPhone. At the time, months before the launch of the App Store, you had to go through all kind of homemade toolchains and rough documentation. It was pretty interesting project, and one of my tasks was to reverse-engineer the audio layer of iOS 1.x. By the end of the project, they gifted me the development iPhone. During the flight back home, I looked at this futuristic phone and thought it would be pretty nice to write a small drum machine on it, just for the sake of it.

Luckily I had a couple of free days ahead and basically spent them reverse-engineering, designing and coding this modest drum-machine called “BeatPhone”. I would be sleeping only a couple of hours a day and barely eating. It was a really creative “rush.” I connected with a very nice IRC community of hackers / devs; George Hotz was one of them.

At the time, third-party apps were distributed on a platform called “Cydia,” that was installed automatically after jail-breaking. Ed.: For those not familiar with this process, basically you’d hack an exploit in the phone, allowing custom, non-authorized open source software to run its own application installer on the device. Apple was routinely patching these holes, with hackers rushing to stay one step ahead.

Every day, new apps would be made available. I can imagine that a lot of now-established iOS developers started during this period, too. So I uploaded “BeatPhone” in there. It looked pretty horrible, to be honest, and was barely usable at first. I had a blog, too, with install instructions, dev updates, etc. People would reach out, sending encouragement emails, asking for new features, etc.

Before the iPhone was even announced, some close friends organized a meetup in Barcelona to brainstorm around a touch-screen based device for music production. It was tricky, since we were not living in the same place, but we kept exchanging for a couple of months. Work and budget came in the way as well. Two of them, Colin and Vincent, who would later become co-founders of INTUA, were part of the project. We attended the same engineering school back in Paris, and we knew each other pretty well.

Anyway, a couple of months later, I decided to show them the app “BeatPhone”. During that time, it was evolving quickly. The interest for music creation apps was growing steadily. In a couple of weeks, this turned from a complete hobby side-project to my daily activity. I think I reached somewhere around one million hits on the blog. Vincent and Colin came over in Geneva, I introduced them to the unofficial SDK/toolchain, and naturally, we started brainstorming and designing a new app. UIKit wasn’t even a “thing” at the time, but we had a good friend working on a cross-platform OpenGL widget library for a few years now. We ported it to iOS, and still today, we use this framework.

We also wrote an audio engine from scratch, we made blueprints — it was so creative. A few months later, in March 2007, I think, Apple made the big announcement: the App Store was launching in July – perfect timing. We quickly set up a company, got the official SDK, and started adapting the existing code. We were immensely productive and BeatMaker 1 was made available two days after the initial App Store launch. We thought, oh well, at least if we can cover just the basic cost of a modest lifestyle, that’d be great! We had no idea about sales, and I think 15 days later, someone from Apple gave us a call, congratulating us and giving us the first numbers. It was very unexpected. It was becoming real! That was it, we were now convinced we could really continue working on BeatMaker. We quickly went back on the whiteboard and start planning features ahead. INTUA was now a real mobile app company.

What was the reaction to BM1?

Amazing, really, at least from people who had bought the app. We would get daily encouragements, some super nice fellows reached out, and we naturally started working on artists kits, sound packs, etc. New opportunities would open almost every week, press would reach out, etc. That said, it was still very “niche.” Most artists and producers wouldn’t even consider sketching out a few beats on the iPhone. It made no sense to them, and honestly we could understand why, knowing the limitations of the devices. At the same time, people started sharing their tracks, or even full albums with us, entirely made on iOS. It was taking off; it was clear it would take time for the platform to be really considered as “viable.” The community involved was very supportive, and that really drove us in the right direction.

After BM1, what was it that helped you to form the ideas around BM2?

Basically, we thought BM1 was focusing too much on the drum aspect and had no real track/instrument paradigm. Limitations are good, but you really had only 16 pads for your track. We looked at what was available on iOS and started scratching our heads, brainstorming a lot. This was maybe only a few months after the initial BM1 launch. We looked at desktop software, too, and decided it made sense to follow the multitrack path, while also focusing on the sampling aspect. It came pretty naturally to improve the existing BM1 drum sampler layout, and complement it with a keyboard sampler. Adding a more advanced sequencer, people would be able to compose full tracks. Originally BM2 had no audio tracks and was designed for iPhones. The iPad came out and gave us even more room for improvements while also focusing on bringing meaningful features.

What did you want to achieve with BM2?

Trying to bring a solid new app on the iOS world. For us, innovation is paramount. The feature set had to be powerful and [not something users had] seen elsewhere. We knew big names from the industry had a growing interest in developing for iOS, so we absolutely needed to be one step ahead. BM2 was feature-rich, sometimes maybe even too much. The learning curve was a bit steep but after a while, people started finding crazy (genius) workarounds, tricks, and ways to compose. Basically, you got to invent your own workflow to materialize your idea in the app.

Keyboard Sampler Interface v3

BM3 was a big step from BM2. How did those ideas come about, and how much did user input help you to make decisions?

It was really important for us to address all the workflow issues and discrepancies BM2 suffered from. The idea was to bring something new not only in terms of features, but also on the UX [user experience design]. Again, we like to start fresh while improving concepts that have proven to work well. It was clear BM2‘s strongest points were the sampling and chopping capabilities. This time, we decided to look a bit further than the software world and see what modern gear had to offer. After all, the iPad is a controller, too. Before even hitting the whiteboard once more, we went on our own forums, collected all the feedback (positive & negative), and printed it. We would constantly read and get back to this huge pile of paper — a goldmine, really. The more we were reading it, the more we would grasp what people expected: a concept that would blur the line between a controller and an app. Digesting all of this information took time, but we did not want to rush anything and be sure to come with a novel design. It took us around three years in total.

One thing you haven’t done is move out from iOS, either to Android, or indeed to the desktop. Can you imagine BeatMaker as a desktop DAW?

It’s the next logical step, since more and more of our users are asking for BM3 on their Mac or PC. Competition is tough on desktop platforms, and I don’t see BM3 ever replacing the big DAWs out there, and that’s not what we have in mind, anyway. Our users want to transfer their productions back and forth to their studio/computer, without ever getting into manual file transfers and things like that. Offering the same feature set on the go or back at home is what we can provide. We do have a Mac version for internal development and to make the life of sound designers easier, but this isn’t quite what we want to release to the public. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year INTUA makes its first move to the desktop world — it’s a really good opportunity for us.

As for Android, well, it’s a tough one. If we can’t provide a similar experience on it, then we’ll keep waiting until it gets a bit more unified. There are so much devices out there, it could really become a nightmare to ensure the app works correctly on all of them. However, I think [Microsoft] Surface / Windows Universal Windows Platform is to look for! Ed.: That’s Microsoft’s family of touch-equipped hardware laptops and tablets, plus the means of targeting traditional desktop Windows users and users of a variety of hardware platforms at the same time – even including things like Xbox and HoloLens.

CDM: What does the future look like on iOS for Intua?

Intua: The latest iPads and iPhones are often benchmarked against laptops, and I think this says a lot of what’s coming next. Also, some of the frameworks we use to develop on macOS and iOS are merging into a single entity, so clearly, Apple is blurring the lines between both worlds. It’s ambitious to ever consider replacing laptops with tablets, but they can surely complement each other.

If we look back, iOS has evolved so much in the past couple of years; iOS 11 brings file management a step closer to the desktop experience.

On the audio side, well, Audio Units V3 [plug-in support] was a huge milestone, and our users love integrating their favorite synths and effects directly into BM3. This is a real creativity booster and gives a new dimension to mobile production. It’s even bringing devs to connect, which is great! We’ll keep working on iOS, for sure, and staying in line with Apple’s products and technology is something we actually enjoy doing – especially since the introduction of the “pro” iPads (and now iPhones).

If you could give new iOS developers a piece of advice, what would it be?

Be sure to bring something unique to the user. Competition is tough and there are so much synths, effects, DAWs out there that you need to differentiate yourself in a clever way. Being close to the community is also paramount — understanding how your users create with your app is something to look for constantly. As developers, we often focus on testing part of the app; it’s a very methodical approach, but testing it as a whole entity is a completely different thing. Your users do, so
keep listening to them and make sure you don’t break their creativity with a clumsy interface. Even the smallest detail can become a productivity killer.

That said, iOS is a land of opportunity; you see indie devs “living” along big companies such as Korg in the music app charts — this is pretty unique!

What would you change about iOS, if you could?

Luckily, iOS 11 was released not so long ago, but one aspect would be a more streamlined way to manage and transfer files to and from the device. Also, on the hardware side, we need more storage space! Samples, projects, exports, archives, etc. will eat space very quickly. The latest iPads and iPhones come with better storage options (but you pay the price), so I guess it’s going on the right direction.

 

All three versions of BeatMaker are still on the App Store – BM1, BM2 and the latest BM3).

The post How BeatMaker caught the iOS music trend before it even started appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Why Soda could finally make you take DJ apps seriously again

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 4 Dec 2017 4:56 pm

Soda for iOS is the first DJ app that is whatever you want it to be – with fully customizable interfaces, powerful specs, AU plug-ins, and Ableton Link.

The need for something new

Let’s be honest: we’re not exactly at the high water mark for DJ software. Even vinyl (not digital vinyl – like the stuff you hurt your back carrying) seems to be on a stronger upswing than DJ software. The Pioneer CDJ reigns supreme, to the extent that you can get laughed out of a club when you show up with a computer.

And software, instead of seeming innovative, is looking awfully rigid. You’re generally stuck with pre-fabbed interfaces and hardware mappings. Innovation seems to be slowing. And then there’s the laptop itself – requiring a separate audio interface, driver configuration, and physical space in the booth that often isn’t there.

Tablets running iOS and Windows could offer solace. But so far, iOS and Windows touch-based apps have focused on entry-level users, either to avoid cannibalizing high-end products (TRAKTOR, Rekordbox) or in an attempt to attract casual DJs.

Your way, right away?

A new DJ app called Soda goes a different direction – it’s built from the ground up to be a series, flexible app, but on a mobile/touch platform. It comes from the developers of the Modstep sequencer/production tool and Ableton Live controller app touchAble. And as a result, since those developers work… in my office – I’ve been watching it evolve from the very first sketch and have gotten some hands-on time with it. And much to my own surprise, it’s made me reconsider the value of touch DJ software at a time when I’d more or less written it off.

The basic idea of Soda: let the user tailor the DJ software to their needs, instead of the other way around.

First, how many decks do you want? You can choose from one to an absurd eight.
How do you want to mix? You choose: switch off sync and use pitch, or turn sync on and let everything be automatic. Time stretch to keep things locked to key, or use pitch to change speed. And when sync is on, you can even choose what quantization you want for tracks – just like launch quantization of clips in Ableton Live.

What should the screen look like? Vertical decks? Horizontal decks? Effects controls? Library? Instead of giving you a handful of pre-selected options, Soda ships with a complete interface editor, so you choose what you see and how, and every element on the screen can be moved and resized.

Do you want to focus on the screen and touch? There’s a color waveform display, which you can cue and zoom with your fingers.

Do you prefer MIDI controller hardware? Every single element on-screen can be MIDI mapped, opening up endless custom MIDI configurations.

Effects work more the way they do in traditional production tools. You get two send effects chains, with five internal effects (Delay, Reverb, Phaser, Flanger, EQ 3) and Audio Unit support (AUv3). And you can browse both the iTunes music library and new Files support on iOS 11.

Cue points and loop points are more powerful, too – you get 16 per deck and per track, you can name them, and cue points can be both cue points and work for loops.

From there, you have all the features you’d expect – recording, playlist management, key and BPM detection, compatibility with all iOS-compatible (Core Audio/Core MIDI) audio and MIDI devices, cueing, and split cable support (in case you don’t have an audio interface for separate cueing).

But let’s back up: this is generally more powerful than a lot of desktop DJ software available now. Certainly, it bests the deck and cue capabilities of leading tools Serato and TRAKTOR, and that’s before you get into the interface customization capabilities.

Here’s the key: endless customization of the UI, and modules for decks, effects, and more.

Promo video:

There’s also a video walkthrough from the beta:

Who’s this for?

I’m not suggesting iPads will unseat CDJs any time soon. But Soda doesn’t have to do that to be a radical new solution. I can see a number of use cases here:

On-the-go prep and mixing. For one, you’ve finally got an ideal mobile app for preparing music and practicing on the road. It’s also ideal for that situation where someone asks you for a DJ mix and… you’re not near decks. You get an interface that’s tremendously customizable, and the ability to differentiate that mix by adding effects and the like. Plus, while you can’t sync cue points this way, iTunes support means you can sync libraries with a desktop machine to bring into Rekordbox (for use with CDJs) or other DJ software (if you must).

Mobile computer replacement for DJing. Laptops are awkward in a booth, especially if the DJ software maker (cough) locks you into unwieldy, big controllers. But an iPad or Windows tablet is far easier. And you could pair Soda with some compact DJ controllers, like Faderfox.

Hybrid sets. Here, Soda really excels. The flexibility with decks and audio effect support make Soda a powerful DJ add-on. And Ableton Link support means you can wirelessly sync to live sets on a laptop running Ableton Live … or a laptop running Reason, or an iPad running Modstep, or whatever. There’s no MIDI clock support for running Soda alongside, say, an Elektron Octatrack, but developers say that should appear in an update soon.

Live sets and sampling. Of course, who says this is really even a “DJ app” in the conventional sense? With all that loop and name-able cue support, eight decks, and effects, you could use Soda with stems or backing tracks for your live set, or think of the “decks” as samplers. It could be an ideal production tool on iOS.

The iPad should be a great platform for this app, particularly with the rich app and effect ecosystem there. But if you prefer Windows, Soda won’t necessarily be wedded to iOS forever. The core software is developed in C, and is largely platform agnostic, with Windows support planned (and already privately tested). As Microsoft improves Surface and other partners deliver tablets and hybrids, that could be a strong option. It’s doubly encouraging not to be locked to one vendor, given Apple’s recent shaky OS quality and frequent updates.

Stay tuned – I’ll do a full hands-on / review soon. I’m also very interested in custom controller support, so we’ll talk about that soon – and possibly enlist some of the CDM community, if you’re interested.

For now, the app is a measly US$9.99 – for an app that (at least in some categories) objective bests alternatives costing many times that.

Developer site:
http://www.soda.world/

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Deep knowledge and free sounds for the PO-32 pocket drum machine

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Nov 2017 6:51 pm

Teenage Engineering’s PO-32 is a powerful drum synth, literally in a calculator form factor. Now you can learn more – and update its sounds – from YouTube.

I do mean literally install sounds from YouTube. You see, the PO-32 uses a bizarre and clever update mechanism where it can absorb signals from sounds – meaning you can play the video and load sounds onto the hardware, a bit like those evil alien hypnosis tricks in old scifi movies.

Teenage Engineering and their PO-32 we already knew were great – and the hardware is well under a hundred bucks. But it takes the singular epic powers of music technologist Jakob Haq for us to unlock still more greatness.

First, the “EPIC” (his words, though I agree) review + tutorial:

Next, get some sounds. There’s The haQ attaQ TeQno TroniQ drum pack, for instance, with 16 new sounds and 4 “techno type” pattern chains:

But there’s more. As of this writing, he’s got a playlist with some seven sound banks, by genre. Good stuff:

Genius stuff. More on the product:

https://www.teenageengineering.com/products/po-32

And you can find a bunch more links in Mr. Haq’s videos – including, not to be forgotten, that important Patreon link so you can support his work.

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GarageBand on iOS adds powerful sequencer and a lot more sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 1 Nov 2017 6:27 pm

Apple’s music production tool gets a new step sequencer for rhythms, sound libraries, and Eastern touch instruments – plus it looks good on the iPhone X.

The first thing to know about GarageBand is, it’s everywhere. Apple’s generous availability of its serious, beginner-friendly producer tool means theoretically anyone with an iPad or iPhone might wind up using it. And that makes this potentially the biggest entry point to music software available (though it’s tough to say how exactly how many people take Apple up on it in practice).

For newcomers, the main reason this update matters: you get a convenient new interface for programming rhythms, some new touch instruments, and a bunch of new sound libraries.

For more advanced mobile users, none of that may be exciting, so let me put it this way: GarageBand is right now probably your best starting point for hosting Audio Unit (AU) plug-in instruments and effects. In fact, this update allows the use of full-screen interfaces, so you can use all that screen real estate – especially nice if you’re on, say, an iPad Pro. Moog’s Model 15, which I’ll write about separately, just added support for extensions to the AU format that allow rescaling, so now you can put that big, tasty Moog interface across the whole screen, then use GarageBand for recording and arrangement.

Here’s what’s new:

The new Sound Libraries browser interface. And… yeah, that beat-oriented one sure looks like a Novation Circuit. Just sayin’. Flattery?
Anyway, you can select and download the sounds you want here so you don’t use up all your precious storage space.

Sound libraries. Now, you get an iTunes-like interface where you can choose libraries to install. That’s increasingly the norm across desktop software, and it’s even more essential on mobile devices with limited space. (I’ve uninstalled quite a few apps, just because they had enormous libraries attached to them.)

Apple is touting a bunch of new libraries to choose from, as well. They all include some combination of loops, sounds/presets, and touch instruments. There are also new Drummers, those automated percussion arrangers we’ve seen in Logic – now with Pop, Songwriter, and Latin styles.

Sound libraries include a variety of different options, including presets for Apple’s powerful Alchemy.

Naturally, this covers the bases you’d expect, from pop/rock and instrumental selections to dance production. They’re all free to download. (These just come from Apple, not third parties – but then once you’re ready to grow, of course, you have the rest of the iOS music ecosystem.)

Also worth noting: when you migrate projects back to GarageBand or Logic on the desktop (including sharing with someone else), the sounds come with the projects.

Guzheng adds some Chinese flair.

The new koto sounds especially terrific. Some creative abuse might spark some new music styles, too, outside of recreating traditional Japanese music.

New Asian Touch instruments. GarageBand’s music production tools are okay, though they’ve got a lot of competition. One place where Apple really shines – and the thing that’s fun to play with even if the rest might bore you – is their touch instruments. They’re just a lot of fun. Now you get, from Japan, Koto and Taiko Drums, and from China, Guzheng.

Clearly, both the Chinese and Japanese markets are growing, especially in mobile, which may be relevant here. But these are also clearly ready for anyone who wants these sounds, too.

Some tips here:

Installation required. To save space, these aren’t all there by default. Using that new Sound Library feature, you can install some of the optional choices (Japanese Traditional, Chinese Traditional).

The instruments are found in different spots. Once installed, you’ll find the Koto and Guzheng added as icons under “World,” the Taiko Drums under “Drums,” then “More Sounds > Japanese Traditional.”

Set the scale. There’s a scale selection option so you can constrain the notes you play, for authenticity or … not.

Record away. Even if you’re not a big GarageBand user, it’s fun having instruments like this – and those based on Alchemy and other instruments in Logic – available when you tether your iPad to your desktop, too. So try the new audio driver available in iOS 11 to record, or try a tool like studiomux.

Beat Sequencer. Yes, you can polyrhythm. Loop start and end per part lets you set up different loop lengths. And the overall sequencer ranges from 16-64 steps, making this whole feature more powerful than it might first appear.

Beat Sequencer. This is just a step sequencer for the drum parts – one that’s kind of overdue in GarageBand. It’s very easy to approach for new users, though.

If you want to dive in deeper, there’s more hidden there:

Tap for more settings per row. Here, you can determine playback direction/random steps, and customize the kit sound and step length.

Choose additional options for the Beat Sequencer.

Save patterns. Record to a song, or save directly in the pattern browser. The latter is nice if you want to make a bunch of patterns on the go, then import them for arrangement later.

Live audition. You can audition different kits without stopping the sequencer and hear the results live.

Step edit. There are actually a lot of per-step edit functions: Velocity, Note Repeat (for sub-step rhythms), Chance (the likelihood it will play), and Loop Start/End.

Note Repeat lets you slide your finger across steps to add sub rhythms. It’s pleasantly addictive.

16-64 step length. The pattern length can be extended, too. Oh, and this is interesting: it automatically copies steps when you expand.

To me, this sequencer is probably the best feature in the update.

iOS 11 support. So, that convenient Files thing – you can now use that to use a Mac-style file system on your iPad and iPhone, at last.

Taiko drums on the iPhone X. Image courtesy Apple.

iPhone X. Yes, the GarageBand interface has been adjusted so it looks great on that ultra-high res display on the iPhone X. Or so I’ve been told… I’m still on a 6S.

For Logic users. In addition to porting your projects back to GarageBand on your Mac, you can open them in Logic, too.

Logic Remote also gets some updates: chord strips on iPhone displays for touch control, not just on iPad, and Super Retina support on iPhone X.

It has to go to eleven. There’s just one catch: you will need iOS 11. I’ve had some pretty significant reliability issues on an iPhone 6, and confirmed those with some other developers and testers. (I’ve just updated to 11.1, and hope that fixes this.) So, serious mobile music producers, you might want to sit on this for a little bit. (I’ve heard fewer reports from the iPad, but you’ll want to make sure all the apps you use are 64-bit ready, as the update drops 32-bit support.)

Compatible hardware: iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, and iPod touch (6th generation). You just have to be happy with iOS 11.

GarageBand is available for free today on the App Store.

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Korg will bring their Gadget music studio to the Nintendo Switch console

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 31 Oct 2017 7:30 pm

KORG have long embraced their Japanese neighbors at Nintendo by bringing music apps to handheld gaming platforms. Now it’s Nintendo Switch’s turn.

With the added power of Switch, spring 2018 promises to give the Nintendo platform the same box of virtual instruments and effects and sequencing tools we’ve come to expect on iOS. So all those drum machines and synths and sound processors and song creation and arrangement features make the leap.

But because Switch is both a handheld and something you can use on your couch with a TV, expect two modes of interaction. In addition to being able to switch between Zelda and music making, you can port that Switch at home and make music on the couch. We’ll have to see how comfortable that is with these gaming-style controllers, but it could make an interesting new alternative to parking in front of Netflix.

A close partnership with a boutique Japanese developer has enabled Korg’s long track record on mobile. Detune Ltd. have brought a lot of KORG’s iOS and gaming titles to life. That includes the KORG DSN-12 and KORG M01D for 3DS (available as digital downloads), and even cartridges for earlier Nintendo cartridges, but also iOS titles like KORG iDS-10 and iMS-20 for iPhone and iPad.

Detune have done a lot of non-KORG titles, as well. And it’s fair to say they’re steeped in game and music culture, having put out gaming soundtracks and app-only compilations made with their own instruments. I’ve met the developers, and they’re avid musicians as well as music geeks. Check them out:

http://www.detune.co.jp/

Here’s that tweet:

And a closer look at their first display:

And some video:

Yes, we want it. But oh wow do we ever want this damned t-shirt. FIGHT ON DAW – whatever that means!

Japanese journalists got their hands on it – Japanese only:

Famitsu

4gamer has a lot of photos — here are a couple of especially good ones:

The post Korg will bring their Gadget music studio to the Nintendo Switch console appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pharrell Williams will take a leadership position at ROLI

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Oct 2017 8:40 pm

The maker of futuristic musical interfaces gets new direction, new co-ownership, and of course a sound pack from the pop star.

UK startup ROLI continues to break from the path of the conventional musical instrument maker. There are the instruments themselves – the spongy spaceship-deck piano that is the Seaboard; the small, touchable, square wireless mobile music interfaces BLOCKS. And then there are the splashy investments, the focus on pushing forward technology, the chic London office and manufacturing, and — well, now this.

Pharrell Williams, the polymath producer and chart-topping popstar, will join ROLI.

The star joins ROLI founder/CEO Roland Lamb.

There are several things happening here at once:

1. He’s becoming Chief Creative Officer.

2. He’s investing – which makes him a co-owner.

3. (Of course) he’s making a sound pack (“studiopack”) for the app, based on his song “Happy.”

https://roli.com/stories/play-happy-by-pharrell

#3 – the problem here, and maybe with Williams himself, is the short lifespan of pop. “Happy” would have been huge had it come to ROLI’s platform earlier. Now, it’s fun, and goes nicely with this announcement, but remember that Guitar Hero and their ilk able to incorporate pretty much all major pop music ever and eventually still lost steam. On the other hand, this isn’t Guitar Hero or Rock Band. We’ve seen abortive attempts to create hits with mobile remixing before, but if Williams brings some popstar friends with him – and ROLI play on their ability to make the experience tactile with their hardware accessories – maybe they can make this a success.

More immediately is the impact this appears to offer for ROLI the firm. Adding Williams means connections to the pop music world, and other artists. That was huge for Beats, and has been significant to many other startups. And … it can also backfire, as it did with Tidal. But at least ROLI has a product, and a unique one.

This also means Mr. Williams is bringing ROLI cash. With forward-thinking, research-heavy products, that seems something that could benefit the company. Musical investment – see SoundCloud – can be slow in generating returns. To do things that are genuinely futuristic requires looking pretty far down the runway, in a way that car-hailing apps or chat tools may not.

The company says in a statement they hope the collaboration will “accelerate the arc of innovation.”

Money and connections to popular music may well be essential if ROLI will achieve wider reach. And we haven’t yet seen a pop-instrument collaboration quite like this. It comes the same week as a major investment deal announced by Native Instruments, one which also promises to chase the consumer space and new ways of producing music. (More on that in a separate story.)

The ground around music making is shifting. The question is to what – and whether these sorts of gambles will pay off, or if they’ll go the way of other celebrity-tech dreams in music creation.

roli.com

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Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Thu 28 Sep 2017 6:50 pm

Deerful is the singer-songwriter imagined by mobile developers, found in real life. She’s not just another producer, but an earnest lyricist.

You can follow Emma on her YouTube channel, crooning covers to Game Boy accompaniment or deftly playing with a Novation Circuit in place of guitar. And now she’s got a full-length LP to her name, called Peach, released on London indie label wiaiwya (CD/vinyl/download).

Ed.: With Emma’s unique take on music production with apps and mobile gear, we turn over interview duties to the writer who turned us on to her work – and who foresaw just this kind of creative application for such tools. Ashley Elsdon, recently joining CDM and helming our Apps channel, having built the influential Palm Sounds blog on mobile tech, understands the advantage of mobile instruments, apps, battery power, and simple design empowering creativity. So, he’s the ideal person to lead this conversation with fellow UK resident Emma Winston. -PK

I’ve been following Deerful for some time now. Mostly people who make music with the kind of gear she’s using tend to electronic and dance genres, rather than the kind of singer-songwriter material she’s creating – producing more melodic output than you might associate with apps and mobile gear. And I’ve found her lyrics quite unusual, and her musical voice unique.

So, I took the opportunity to ask her about reflect her creative process, how tools fit in, and her sources of musical inspiration.

CDM: How do you make the decision to use a particular technology or instrument in your music?

Deerful: I am actually not very logical or rational about this. Almost every instrument I own, I own because I fell in love with it. (I think the only exception is the [KORG] Electribe 2 I use live – it’s a bit of a pain, but I absolutely could not find a practical alternative which wasn’t wildly expensive.) Consequently, my gear collection is pretty quirky. Nobody needs a [Teenage Engineering] OP-1 or a Pocket Operator or a [Critter & Guitari] Septavox or a Game Boy, but I adore all of them, and it makes me even more excited to make music. It’s also because I feel like a lot of staple gear can be covered by software much more cheaply, so if I’m going to buy hardware, I want it to be special.

You seem to use a lot of mobile gear in your music. Is that a conscious choice?

It’s more that I really love miniature things, and also producing in bed and on the sofa. I definitely like not having to think about wires/speakers. It’s cool to be able to get down ideas with very little gear, but I think it’s more that the tiny, compact, quirky gear I gravitate towards is often mobile, rather than that I consciously look for mobile gear.

Being able to run off batteries also helps when I’m dealing with a live sound engineer who’s never seen an electronic instrument before and wants to have as little to think about as possible, but again, a lesser consideration!

How do you approach the writing process in technology terms? Do you start with a device or a specific technology, or does the song / track come first and the technology support it?

It depends. Sometimes the song comes first, and I’ll decide later exactly how it gets made or arranged. But if I have absolutely no ideas and a deadline to meet, my first recourse is always to pick up a device and see where it takes me. Something always comes from it.

This also varies from device to device and app to app – Korg Gadget, for instance, is an app I pretty much always go to when I already have an idea and want to flesh it out fast – I use it pretty much entirely as an ultra-fast DAW. The Pocket Operators are the opposite – I think of them primarily as idea-factories and a jumping-off point.

Aside from Gadget, do you use other iOS, or indeed Android apps? What’s your motivation for using them? How differently do you find using apps from using hardware?

I definitely use Gadget more than anything else. It’s funny, because I see people talking about it as a groovebox app that’s best for looping, and that’s not how I use it at all. It essentially replaces Ableton for me when I don’t want to haul my laptop around, or if I need to get something that sounds fairly polished together fast and don’t have much time to do lots of production on it.

For actual idea-generation and more groovebox-type applications, my favorite app at the moment is Studio Amplify’s KRFT; it has a really nice interface that’s flexible enough not to just lock you into endless looping, which is what I feel like a lot of iOS apps veer towards. (They also have a more stripped-down free version called NOIZ, which is fun). For more experimental stuff, I love Samplr. I made my first EP mostly in Nanostudio, so that one’s worth a shout-out, although I’ve had a bit of a break from it since – it was the thing that was finally both flexible enough and un-intimidating enough to stop being scared of trying to produce and actually do it.

Every app is different, just as every piece of hardware is different, which is one reason I find the idea that one is somehow inherently better than the other and that you have to pick to be extremely strange. The fastest thing I can do to generate ideas when I’m stuck is switching to a new interface, whether that’s on a touchscreen or on my laptop or boxed up as a dedicated synth. It depends how I’m feeling and where I am and what I need.

I don’t own an Android device entirely because of the relative lack of music apps. I’m really hopeful that will change as their issues with audio improve – mobile music was a huge part of getting me into production and I would love it if that experience was available to more people on a platform with broadly much lower-cost hardware. I said this in an iPad music forum once and people were amazingly defensive about it. As far as I am concerned, all access to music-making is good, and if the 70% or so of smartphone users who own an Android device had a music market as rich as the App Store available to them, I would be stoked about it.

If you could design an app that would be perfect for you, what would it look like and what would it do?

Terrible response, but it would honestly just be Ableton optimized for a 10” touchscreen. Ableton, if you’re reading this, I’m your mobile market.

How do you approach writing lyrics? Do the lyrics come as part of your overall inspiration for a track, or is that something you find separately? What makes you feel like you have a great lyric?

I have recently started referring to myself as a singer-songwriter-producer, because honestly that’s what I am. I’m a songwriter who tells my own stories in performance, but does it with a box with buttons on it instead of a guitar. The lyrics and the song itself and the details of how it’s put together are equal parts. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord sequence – sometimes they’re simultaneous.

It’s very much a symbiotic thing. I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the abstract and the specific in my songs – describing moments and fragments of time in detail, but without so much specificity they become alienating.

Who are your influences musically, and who do you find inspiring in terms of technology and approach to process?

The Postal Service was the band that started me out wanting to make electronic music, and I still adore them. I feel like there’s still this idea that electronics are not particularly well-suited to singer-songwriters, which I find so strange because it gives you so much opportunity to design, right down to the sonic building-blocks which make up the song. It becomes part of the storytelling, and I think the Postal Service did that in such a beautifully tactile and warm way. I can literally point to the sample that comes in at 0:28 of ‘Nothing Better’ as the moment I realized I wanted to make electronic music myself – it acts almost like a third vocal melody but also this kind of plaintive emotional punctuation, warm and bit-crushed and sad.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that’s come out of the label PC Music over the last couple of years. I feel like a lot of what they’re doing is almost the polar opposite to Deerful, which is an almost embarrassingly honest project – they’re very self-aware, very detached, very cool, all things I’m not. A lot of people seem to respond to their artists as if the whole thing is completely ironic, but I hope (and believe) it’s not, because they’ve released some of the most intensely joyful pop music I’ve ever heard, and I desperately want that intensity of happiness to be real on some level.

EasyFun’s “Full Circle” is the track I’ve had on repeat for the last few days. It’s hyper-fun EDM-pop, but there are all these odd details thrown in, strange pitch-shifted samples, bizarre non-functional harmonies that are thrown into the chord and never repeated, weird, unnatural reverb tails and a lead vocal that’s chopped up and treated like a synth. I don’t sound anything like EasyFun, but I really want to get to the point where I can marry full-on unashamed fun with bizarre experimentalism in a similar way and have it all hang together.

In terms of process, I also find Grimes hugely inspiring – she made Visions in three weeks, in GarageBand, because it was what she knew, and she smashed it. She works fast when she needs to, but she knows when to zoom in, when to work on detail, when to really hone in on sound design and tone and tempo. (There’s a great interview where she talks about using samples of dentist drills to add aggressiveness to an 808 in ‘Venus Fly’, and it’s something I never would have even thought of.) I find her confidence and adaptability and willingness to move between pop and noise really impressive. It seems like she’s never held back by limitations or expectations; she just ploughs in and makes what she wants to make and it’s always brilliant.

Finally, let’s talk about your new album. When you set out to create it, what were your specific inspirations? What were you looking to achieve and how successful do you feel you’ve been?

Stylistically, Emily Reo’s gorgeous fuzzy alt-electropop has been a huge influence on all my releases so far (I also accidentally stole the album title, Peach, from one of her songs – it genuinely was an accident, but I think it probably speaks of how much her work has lodged itself in my creative brain.) I credit her music with finally giving me the push I needed to start writing and performing myself. Owen Pallett’s songwriting and storytelling has also always been a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure if that really comes through in the resultant album – I wish it did!

What was I looking to achieve? God, I’ve no idea. Everything is an experiment and an exploration. Everything I release, I do so having no idea how anyone’s going to react to it, and being excited to find out. It’s a brilliant lesson in exactly how bad at mind-reading I am. In general people seem to have liked it; I’ve no idea how it’s sold, and from an artist perspective that doesn’t really matter. When I listen to it now three months after release, I hear a lot I would do differently – I’m very proud of it but also excited to move on to the next thing!

CDM: Thanks, Emma!

It’s been an enlightening experience talking to Deerful. It’s shed light on her music and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to whatever the ‘next thing’ is she’s got planned, and also understanding how it was put together.

Deerful’s latest ablum can be found at wiaiwya and is available as a download, CD, or vinyl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why would you want to do this?

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

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

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

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

Get a MeeBlip and power

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

Get connected

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

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

Get something to generate notes

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

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

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

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

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

What you need for sound

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

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

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

Play

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

Jam, twist knobs, and enjoy.

Try automating parameters with MIDI CC

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

What else?

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

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

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

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

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

https://meeblip.com/

MeeBlip triode [shop]

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

What you need to know about the Roland Boutique 101, 808 remakes

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 8 Aug 2017 8:02 am

Roland keeps adding to its Boutique series remakes of its classic back catalog. Here’s the scoop on the new SH-01A (SH-101) and TR-08 (TR-808).

Having done some research with Roland and had a little hands-on time, here’s what we know so far.

They’re $349. US$349 means these are really competitive.

They’re digital models. Yes, Roland again are revisiting their analog past with digital remakes. But that’s producing hardware that’s affordable, low noise, and that runs easily off USB or battery power. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re perfect remakes. I heard some legitimate authenticity nitpicking about the TB-03, for instance, but those had to do with specific behaviors programmed into the new hardware that people didn’t like. The problem wasn’t analog or digital; it was more about human taste. (Given differences in taste, and variances in the originals, that means I suspect the remake game will continue a long time.)

Roland (via Japan) have also confirmed to CDM that they went back to the original SH-101 and TR-808 hardware to make new models of the originals. These are still assembled from the same proprietary analog circuit behavior modeling, but into a new finished product.

Upshot: these won’t sound exactly like the SH-101 PLUG-OUT for the TR-8, or the 808 model on the TR-8. I got to hear both new models enough to say they sound pretty darned good, but comparing them to the first-generation AIRA or to the original analog Roland classics will take more time.

For all the hang ups on those kind of detailed sonic comparisons, though, I think usability is actually where these things are differentiated.

Both have all the controls of their original predecessors. So Japanese – you get all the controls of the full-sized original, but scaled down (and slightly adjusted accordingly). And this is really what sets apart the Boutique line from the first-generation AIRAs. The Boutique line give you more or less the historical controls, if shrunk in size. Speaking of shrinking:

All the controls feel better than the earlier Boutique range. The knob caps on the TR-08 feature a ribbed, easy-to-grip surface and a smaller diameter. They’re still not for big fingers, but they’re a lot easier on the hands than the TR-09. (I know; I own one.) The SH-01A is improved over the previous synths, too – instead of sharp faders, you get a tapered design and better texture. It’s less painful and more fun. There are other touches, too, like a textured paint finish on the SH-01A; somehow with just minor adjustments, everything feels and looks a little better. (I still like the TB-03 and TR-09, but they’ll get a little jealous.)

The SH-01A has four voices. If you want to use the 01A in “classic” 101 mode – one oscillator – you of course can. That’s “mono” mode. But there’s more: Poly mode for 4-note polyphony, Unison mode stacking those four voices into a really fat (and very Roland) sound, and Chord mode for four-note chords. The chordal mode is especially nice to combine with the sequencer. It’s really like having four SH-101s.

101 patch memory! Now you get 64 patch memories for SH-01A sounds. Take that, analog.

The SH-01A’s sequencer is brilliant. The sequencer works over CV/Gate, MIDI, and USB. Even better, you can trigger the SH-01A externally – so take the trigger out from the TR-08 (or TR-09, or the rim audio out of another instrument like the TR-8), and you can make unique musical patterns. This is part of what defined the original SH-101, and now you can combine it with the SH-01A’s chords and so on.

In other words, the SH-01A does everything the 101 did. It just adds the ability to see what you’re doing on an LED, and to use chords as well as individual notes via the same sequencer paradigm. And it adds MIDI/USB to the trigger in – but you can still use the trigger in.

And the SH-01A has more than a sequencer. The 101’s arp modes, legato, and glide options (plus modulation) make for lots of additional playing flexibility.

That SH-01A paint is nice. No official word yet on whether we’ll see limited runs of the alternative SH-101 colors (red, blue), but I can say there’s a nice texture to the paint for the first time. (Yeah, so, after you get involved with talking to industrial engineers and working on manufacturing, you notice these things.)

Sub steps and real-time entry on the TR-08 make it more fun to program. Sub steps give you rhythmic subdivisions of steps (16 each) for fills, rolls, and complex rhythmic patterns. Real-time entry lets you tap in parts without changing modes.

There’s a useful trigger out. Select by track, then send a trigger to … the SH-01A. Or other gear, of course – modular or desktop.

There’s a compressor on the TR-08. I really want this on the TR-09. (Dear Santa: firmware update?) But the TR-08 gets a useful compressor for the kick and snare. That can give you some really booming kicks; I tried it and it’s nicely transparent and … when you want it, aggressive.

Individual outputs are available over USB. The TR-08 works the way the TR-09 does. You get only stereo out (or split mono out); for more outs, you can parts separately over USB. I’m sure this will get some complaints – it’s nice for computer users, but means the market is still open for those wanting standalone hardware with lots of outs, especially if you want to use them live. (It is just $349, though, remember… and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been able to live with this on my TR-09. Ducks…)

Put them together with the trigger and enjoy. It’s the trigger out – to trigger in from TR-08 to SH-01A that’s really fun, because you get not just sync but the ability to create patterns by triggering individual steps. (That is hard to say in words, easy to see in a video.) You can also use the TR-09 this way.

We’re getting them soon, but… not sure when. Roland haven’t announced shipping dates yet. Expect these to be tough to get at this price. But we’ll have more hands-on time with them so you’ll be ready to make the most of them and compare them to what else is out there (including from Roland).

Now, more pics. Video/audio coming shortly.

Hands-on videos from Roland, featuring Mathew Johnson:

And round up some artist interviews:

Official product pages are now up:

https://www.roland.com/global/products/sh-01a/

https://www.roland.com/us/products/tr-08/

Also, if you own an AIRA TR-8 drum machine, you’ve now got a powerful way of triggering external samples via MIDI (including on the Roland SP-404SX / new black SP-404A). Our explanation of that:

Roland updates AIRA TR-8 so it can trigger samples, MIDI gear

The post What you need to know about the Roland Boutique 101, 808 remakes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Zoom figures out mixer + interface + recorder is exactly what we want

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 4 Aug 2017 6:47 pm

Let’s skip the specs and get straight to the point: this should be a product category. Zoom’s new box is a mixer, audio interface, effects, and audio recorder in one.

And that’s significant, because across genres from electronic to traditional instrumental, people need to do all these things. You need to mix signals. (Now, even electronic musicians are fairly loathe to play with just a laptop and nothing else.) But you also might need to connect a computer. But you might want the mixer to still be a mixer when the computer isn’t there.

And then, above all else, you need to be able to record the damned gig. You know, like, just in case you don’t totally suck.*

And that’s what this is.

It’s a mixer. that can record up to 14 tracks at once, or play 12 tracks at once. (The first two channels are Hi-Z for an instrument, and 1-8 offer 48V phantom power for power.) It’s about as small as it can be but still has full-size connections and actual faders.

It’s a headphone monitor with five outs with mixes you can customize and save.

It’s a click track source with a metronome built in.

It’s an audio interface when your computer or tablet or whatever is there. No drivers needed, so it works with iOS, Raspberry Pi, whatever. Four outs, so you can do 4-channel mixes or a separate monitor mix and stereo to the PA. It works as an A-D converter, too, with latency adjustments.

It’s a recorder. Automatic start/stop. Load projects via USB, or just take the SD slot out. Connect a footswitch if you want to start recording that way.

And it’s got compression and effects. Built-in compression control for 1-8. (Zoom’s compression used to be awful on its early recorders; they’ve fixed that.) And there’s delay and reverb.

So it’s the session recording, mobile recording, practice tool, live performance tool your band / solo electronic act / ensemble needs.

$599. Available in September.

I’ll probably get one. And kudos to Zoom, too, for their video recorders, which similarly understand life for the musician in the age of the Internet.

But if competitors are smart, they’ll get on this category, too. Because I believe it really will be a category. (A 6-channel version of this that fits in a backpack would also be lovely.)

LiveTrak L-12 [zoom.co.jp]

* Actually, I’ve some bad news for you: probably now that you have the recorder with you at all times, you will suck all the time. Seriously. The thing that made those live gigs so great was the fact that some idiot didn’t understand how to use your recorder, or you forgot the batteries, or you didn’t have the right adapter cable.

Then again, be positive. Probably, one day when you least expect it, you will play once more at that level of genius, spontaneity, and innovation, right before you accidentally drop the SD card from LiveTrak L-12 in a river full of piranhas.

There you have it: the LiveTrack L-12. Gee, why don’t manufacturers let me write their ad copy for them?

The post Zoom figures out mixer + interface + recorder is exactly what we want appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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