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

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.

The post Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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.


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.


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:



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.

PPG Infinite’s touch morphing could make it soft synth of the summer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 31 Jul 2017 5:47 pm

Over the weekend, PPG mastermind Wolfgang Palm let slip his latest creation: PPG Infinite. In previews for iPad, we see an innovative touch synth full of morphing and wave shaping tools.

There are two videos. The first one … uh … well, mainly involves hearing some sounds and staring into the void of space. (True fact: this is what normally happens inside my brain when I look at my to-do list on a Monday.)

But the second video actually reveals plenty – way more than just a teaser. And even from these screenshots, the “Infinite” name suggests that PPG took basically everything they’ve ever done and built a fresh synth around it.

There’s vocal synthesis (à la their Phonem app and plug-in).

There’s wavetable synthesis, with fingers gliding through representation of waveforms, as per the original PPG Wave synths and PPG’s first app, WaveMapper. (Palm is the inventor of wavetable synthesis.)

There’s also the new functions of their follow-up synth WaveGenerator, with more ways of generating and navigating and shaping waves.

And then it seems there’s more.

If you blinked, you may have missed something, so let’s get some frame-by-frame replay. Infinite sees synth wizard Palm teaming up again with designer Cornel Hecht (who also provides the spacey background music for these videos).

Here, we get a unique-looking synth architecture, one that adds loads of touch-accessible morphing modes for combining sounds, as well as something called the “noiser” – which appears to be a spectrally-shaped noise source.

And at its heart, there’s the functionality that made the first PPG app such a breakthrough on the iPad, the ability to “touch the sound” by scanning and morphing wavetables with 3D and 2D views. That visual seems now greatly expanded as a central user paradigm, and it seems to me that it could be reason to see iPads running this app alongside beloved hardware synths in the studio or onstage.

Of course, the other Palm apps have also now been available as VST/AU plug-in, so I hope we’ll see that for this, too. (No reason to choose, either – you might use your iPad to shape presets, then loads those into the plug-in when it comes time to track and arrange and finish tracks. I need to research whether multi-touch computers on Windows can support touch gestures for plug-ins – not sure on that – but even with a mouse, this looks fun.)

Let’s have a look:

Touch is central to the UI. These morphing options look especially nice and accessible, even if you aren’t ready to delve into every nitpicky detail of the architecture and sound design:

A glimpse of the architecture, including simplified oscillator controls and these morphing and noiser options:

The oscillator interface really appears to shine via touch interaction:

A closer look at those controls:

The presets are suggestive of the combination of two or three of the previous instruments from PPG – and indicate some diversity of possibilities with this one, from vocal-ish presets to percussion to pads, bass, leads, and all that business:

For those so inclined, it appears you can get really deep with mapping by key range and matrix-style modulation:

I love the LFO interface, both for its advanced parameters (for going deep) and clever touch adjustment (for quick play):

Stills don’t do it justice, but as in the other PPG apps, it’s really getting your grubby fingers on the 3D waveform view that looks like fun. Combine that with some new vocal synth options, and … sold.

It’s about time for an exciting new soft synth, especially with Alchemy having disappeared into Logic and most of the headlines covering hardware. And for all the depth and diversity on the iPad, this could be one that stands out on that platform – not least if it’s paired with desktop plug-ins so you don’t disrupt your workflow.

Ready, Wolfgang. Watching for this one.

Stay tuned to CDM for this one, with team coverage by myself and Ashley (Palm Sounds).


The post PPG Infinite’s touch morphing could make it soft synth of the summer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Welcome to Palm Sounds, Newswires, and a new CDM chapter

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 11 Jul 2017 6:45 pm

Ashley Elsdon is now bringing Palm Sounds’ obsessive, superb content of mobile music to CDM. It’s the first of several new channels launching this summer.

Palm Sounds, Ashley Elsdon’s forward-thinking mobile music blog, launched 11 years ago, was ahead of the curve. Before the iPhone (hence the “palm” name), before gadgets like littleBits or the KORG monotron, Ashley already understood how important portable gadgets could be for music. He has also been a leader in talking about how music tools can adapt to new audiences, including people with different learning and physical abilities.

So, as we work out how to keep CDM ahead of what’s coming in the next years, adding the vision of someone like Ashley.

Palm Sounds + CDM

Starting today, Ashley’s up-to-the-minute coverage of the latest mobile technology – iOS, Android, and mobile gear – is available on CDM. That channel is called “Mobile.” We’ll also look forward to some long-form writing from him, as we’re lucky to gain his expertise not in mobile music but in expanding accessibility for music, as well. (He’s done great work, for instance, with groups like Heart n Soul, a UK charity expanding the arts for people with disabilities.)

The Mobile channel should be everything Palm Sounds has been, only – if we do our job right – even better.

You’ll still find eleven years of great information at palmsounds.net – but tune into CDM with Ashley for what happens from now into the future.

Newswires and a full recode

Partnering with Palm Sounds is just one of a few steps we’re taking today.

The first stories published to createdigitalmusic.com came before Twitter, YouTube, and the iPhone were even public, before The FaceBook turned into Facebook. We have to continue to adapt to keep this a place that helps you explore all that’s new in music technology.

So, in addition to the “Mobile” channel, we have a second newswire today called “Gear.” It’s a home to the expanding world of music technology, from Eurorack modular to software to DIY projects. The main “Stories” channel remains the long-form analysis you expect from CDM (music and motion), with “Gear” bringing you faster updates on everything else.

And of course, we want your submissions – new stuff you think is cool, plus your own DIY and open source and crowd-funded and self-made projects and ideas. CDM is about nothing if not keeping up with cool and crazy stuff from readers.

We’ll be adding additional editorial contributors and features beyond just the Gear area as the summer goes on. And you’ll notice spots in navigation for our collaborative projects on hardware (MeeBlip) and on a music label (Establishment). So, naturally, watch this space.

Enabling all of this, we’ve recoded the site from the ground up, with the help of Web developer Hallvard Kristiansen, featuring an ongoing design collaboration with Marijn Degenaar. Right now, it may look mostly the same, but this is a platform that allows us to add features and fix bugs.

Over the coming days and months, we’ll work with that platform to do even more.

In the meantime, enjoy, and do send feedback – what you like, what you don’t, what breaks on different platforms. I’ll be reviewing that more or less round the clock this summer. It’s like my holiday at the beach, sort of – but it’ll be worth it.

And thank you for helping keep CDM going after almost 13 years.

Now welcome, Palm Sounds. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The post Welcome to Palm Sounds, Newswires, and a new CDM chapter appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Audio Damage are bringing their plug-ins to iOS – and more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 10 Jul 2017 6:59 pm

We’ve come a long way since the early days of apps on iOS, which brought a handful of interesting experimental noisemaker toys and some simple standalone tools. Now, you’ve got powerful DAWs, full-blown synths and effects – basically, the same sort of virtual studio you get on your desktop.

What you tend not to get is the selection of plug-in tools that would complete your desktop arsenal. And that’s too bad, both because it’d help you to finish tracks, and because plug-ins might be really useful in a live situation – even if you aren’t quite set to ditch the desktop/notebook in studio workflows.

Apple introduced Audio Units for iOS, bringing their desktop plug-in architecture to mobile, but developers haven’t been terribly quick to embrace it.

That makes it news that Audio Damage is making a big plug-in play. On Friday, Audio Damage rounded out their offering by adding Dubstation 2 to the list, following up Rough Rider 2 (compressor), Grind Distortion, and Eos 2 (reverb).

You can use these as plug-ins in other software (like Cubasis or Modstep), or fire them up standalone. And note that they’re significantly cheaper on iOS than desktop – $5 for most of these means you’re basically taking off a zero from the end.

Rough Rider is free on both desktop and mobile.

Audio Damage’s Chris Randall tells us he intends to port all your favorites over, instruments and effects alike. Next up: Phosphor, the alphaSyntauri clone.

You can also expect a couple of iOS exclusives.

With apps like AUM, AudioBus, and various live performance tools, iOS badly needs a tempo-synced live looper for live performance – and it seems we’ll get that from Audio Damage. That would be some terrific news for live iOS use, so you can bet we’ll be watching for this one, as looping is essential to how a whole lot of people play, irrespective of genre or instrument.

It’s also worth observing that Audio Damage’s path may be one for the future – modular hardware, desktop software (plug-ins), and mobile (plug-in/standalone) are all parallel pathways for development. That doesn’t mean every tool is in every place; that wouldn’t make much sense. But for something like the Eos reverb, you now see the same algorithms and code reused on all three. (Yes, Eos is Eurorack.)

There’s a lot on iOS to keep up with, of course, and watching the App Store every day is a chore.

If only there were a way to stay on top of the news.

If only…

Well, we can keep dreaming. And… you might… want to refresh CDM, too. Like, this week, for instance.

Here’s a look at those lovely interfaces, made with the care we’ve come to expect from Audio Damage:





Kudos to Chris for clever technology adoption, keeping quality high, and staying attuned to musicians’ needs – as well as remaining engaged with that community online.


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Groovebox, a music app rigorously designed to give you a place to start

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 16 Jun 2017 8:49 pm

There are two stories about this app, and which one you care about depends on who you are.

If you’re still someone trying to get into music making, the important thing to know about Groovebox is, it’s never going to leave you stuck for inspiration with a blank, silent screen. The moment you add a drum or synth part, you also get a pattern going. There’s a groove there immediately, and it’s up to you to tailor it to suit your taste.

If you’re a more advanced user, you might assume the story ends there. But this app does actually have something to offer you even if you aren’t a fan of apps or presets.

So, let’s deal with these in turn. I got a chance to sit down with the folks behind the app in London just before the release, and we talked at length not just about the app but about the philosophy of such endeavors in general.


The latest “making music easy” app

We’ve, of course, been here before. A music making app promises to help take newcomers by the hand and get them started right away, before they get frustrated or lose interest.

There are a few things that set Groovebox apart.

First, even before we get into sound, it looks really good. So yes, on paper, there are other apps – including Apple’s own mighty GarageBand – that attempt the same thing. But too often those apps become a skeumorphic muddle, not only offending aesthetic sensibilities but putting off the very newcomers they’re meant to attract.

And this sounds great, too. You get a really nice drum machine (Drumbox), bass synth (Retrobass), and pad/lead synthesizer (Poly-8).


The key thing is, you never have to start from scratch with these instruments. Preset sounds and patterns instantly get you going, choosing a genre. (Those genres are direct and straightforward, in contrast to Apple’s sometimes baffling automatic “player” personas.) Now, that might be a little boring, but from there you can shuffle to a new preset, adjust melodies and rhythms, or completely change things up by drawing in new ideas. You can limit to tempo, key, and scale so things stay harmonious.



There are hundreds of presets in there to start, and the developers promise more. And you’re always free to tweak sounds and content, until in the end you might have something totally original – but without having to begin with nothing.

Now, that brings us to the more advanced audience.

Advanced features

Okay, you’re not a beginner. So, you’ll want to know that Groovebox is the latest app from Novation. That company has made a startup “within” the company. They’ve got a different office – in chic central London, rather than sleepy High Wycombe, where Focusrite and Novation live. And there’s a small team, allowing them to focus more like independent developers do. That team has changed names – from BLOCS to AMPIFY (continuing their trend of leaving out letters of short words). But the important thing here is that this team benefits from Novation’s experience level while remaining independent enough to be more agile.

I have some confidence in saying that because the developers have mercifully given us room to grow.

Everything is editable. There’s a full piano roll-style editor, so you’re never stuck with presets. Everything is tweakable, as far as the synths. There’s an 8-track mixer (more limited in the iPhone version).

And the reason I’m lavishing space on this app is, they’ve ticked all the other boxes – the stuff often left out of beginner apps.



Ableton Link for jamming and synchronization
Inter-App Audio
Full scale support for keys / major and minor modes
Ableton Live project export (fabulous)
iPad Pro screen real estate optimization
Works with Bluetooth speakers (that’s no small task, in fact, because of latency management!)
Rename, duplicate, delete projects

Novation also tell CDM that they’re working on other stuff you want – Swing, Chromatic support, MIDI input, and Sections. More instruments are coming, too.

The key here is scalability, and pricing is part of that.


On the design side, the app was created first for iPhone, so it feels native and not claustrophobic in the palmtop version. But then it was expanded, so it also fills up space on iPads up to Pro.

You get the app itself free. Then you can unlock expanded instruments (US$4.99) if you want more tweakability, or add soundpacks for a dollar or two. That’s not only a business and growth model, but also a way to serve two audiences.

Of course, this is interesting because there isn’t really a line between those two audiences. What if you’re totally new to music? You grab the app, and start working. But you’ve also just decided to buy an Ableton controller – and you need a simple way of syncing, so Ableton Link, which works over a wireless network, is the easiest solution.

In fact, my general experience is relative beginners have the least patience with complexities and workarounds – and they’re even more frustrated if an app refuses to grow with them.

My only real complaint here is, there isn’t a way to get a blank preset. These are three really lovely instruments (more on that in a moment), and I want to just make my own patterns for them – without the added step of deleting what’s there.

Plus, those presets really are just presets. I’d love that ‘random’ button to just slightlySkram app by Liine, which is a lot smarter about applying transposition and rhythmic variation. I wish Skram’s music theory smarts were combined with Novation’s cleaner UI.

Behind the scenes

There’s one other bit of this, though, worth watching. Novation have tapped Jerome Noel, one of the talents at Ohm Force, who worked on the awesome Quad Frohmage, Ohmicide and collaborative DAW Ohm Studio, before joining Novation. (He also worked on the hit Launchpad app.)

They’ve also worked really hard on those sounds (maybe a counter-argument to why they’ve gone presets rather than something generative.) “Discovering sounds and ideas is an important part of our ethos,” Ampify tells CDM. “We knew we needed human involvement with the sounds and patterns we supplied. As such, we have a content team lead by Tom Smeeton, and they work with many artists and sound designers to create our synth presets, patterns and audio loops.”

Exclusive to CDM, we’ve also gotten a glimpse at their design process. Here are some early takes, from the past couple of years of development (yes, that’s years). This really says to me why I’d watch this app: these early mock-ups look more like what other developers are typically shipping. That iteration could be richly rewarded, and it’s a testament to Novation’s ability to reach a larger audience in the cut-throat, low-revenue world of mobile apps.

Stay tuned.









All in all, this is one to watch. I’m not quite ready to work with it yet, but I’d definitely add it in with some of those coming features.

Download: https://itunes.apple.com/app/groovebox-beats-synths-music-studio/id1242847278?ls=1&mt=8
Tutorial Videos: http://www.ampifymusic.com/blog/

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Ableton have now made it easy for any developer to work with Push 2

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 9 Jun 2017 1:01 pm

You know Ableton Push 2 will work when it’s plugged into a computer and you’re running Ableton Live. You get bi-directional feedback on the lit pads and on the screen. But Ableton have also quietly made it possible for any developer to make Push 2 work – without even requiring drivers – on any software, on virtually any platform. And a new library is the final piece in making that easy.

Even if you’re not a developer, that’s big news – because it means that you’ll likely see solutions for using Push 2 with more than just Ableton Live. That not only improves Push as an investment, but ensures that it doesn’t collect dust or turn into a paperweight when you’re using other software – now or down the road.

And it could also mean you don’t always need a computer handy. Push 2 uses standards supported on every operating system, so this could mean operation with an iPad or a Raspberry Pi. That’s really what this post-PC thing is all about. The laptop still might be the best bang-for-your-buck equation in the studio, but maybe live you want something in the form of a stompbox, or something that goes on a music stand while you sing or play.

If you are a developer, there are two basic pieces.

First, there’s the Push Interface Description. This bit tells you how to take control of the hardware’s various interactions.


Now, it was already possible to write to the display, but it was a bit of work. Out this week is a simple C++ code library you can bootstrap, with example code to get you up and running. It’s built in JUCE, the tool of choice for a whole lot of developers, mobile and desktop alike. (Thanks, ROLI!)


Marc Resibois created this example, but credit to Ableton for making this public.

Here’s an example of what you can do, with Marc demonstrating on the Raspberry Pi:

This kind of openness is still very much unusual in the hardware/software industry. (Novation’s open source Launchpad Pro firmware API is another example; it takes a different angle, in that you’re actually rewriting the interactions on the device. I’ll cover that soon.)

But I think this is very much needed. Having hardware/software integration is great. Now it’s time to take the next step and make that interaction more accessible to users. Open ecosystems in music are unique in that they tend to encourage, rather than discourage sales. They increase the value of the gear we buy, and deepen the relationships makers have with users (manufacturers and independent makers alike). And these sorts of APIs also, ironically, force hardware developers to make their own iteration and revision easier.

It’s also a great step in a series of steps forward on openness and interoperability from Ableton. Whereas the company started with relatively closed hardware APIs built around proprietary manufacturer relationships, Ableton Link and the Push API and other initiatives are making it easier for Live and Push users to make these tools their own.

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ROLI now make a $299, ultra-compact expressive keyboard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Jun 2017 5:41 pm

ROLI are filling out their mobile line of controllers, Blocks, with a two-octave keyboard – and that could change a lot. In addition to the wireless Bluetooth, battery-powered light-up X/Y pad and touch shortcuts, now you get something that looks like an instrument. The Seaboard Block is an ultra-mobile, expressive keyboard for your iOS gadget or computer, and it’s available for $299, including in Apple Stores.

If you wanted a new-fangled “expressive” keyboard – a controller on which you can move your fingers into and around the keys for extra expression – ROLI already had one strong candidate. The Seaboard RISE is a beautiful, futuristic, slim device with a familiar key layout and a price of US$799. It’ll feel a bit weird playing a piano sound on it if you’re a keyboardist, since the soft, spongy keys will be new to you. But you’ll know where the notes are, and it’ll be responsive. Then, switch to any more unusual sound – synths, physical modeled instruments, and the like – and it becomes simply magical. Finally, you have a new physical interface for your new, unheard sounds.

For me, the RISE was already a sweet spot. But I’ll be honest, I can still imagine holding back because of the price. And it doesn’t fit in my backpack, or my easyJet-friendly rollaway.

Size and price matter. So the Seaboard Block, if it feels good, could really be the winner. And even if you passed up that X/Y pad and touch controller, you might take a second look at this one. (Plus, it makes those Blocks make way more sense.)



We’ll get one in to test when they ship later this month. But ROLI also promise a touch and feel similar to the RISE (if not quite as deep, since the Block is slimmer). I found the previous Blocks to be responsive, but not as expressive as the RISE – so that’s good news.

What you get is a two-octave keyboard in a small-but-playable minikey form factor, USB-C for charging and MIDI out, and connectors for snap-and-play use with other Blocks.

For those of you not familiar, the Seaboard line also include what ROLI somewhat confusingly call “5D Touch.” (“Help! I’m trapped in a tesseract and wound up in a wormhole to an evil dimension and now there’s a version of me with an agonizer telling me to pledge allegiance to the Terran Empire!”)

What this means in practical terms is, you can push your fingers into the keys and make something happen, or slide them up and down the surface of the keys and make something happen, or wiggle and bend between notes, or run your finger along a continuous touch strip below the keys and get glissandi. And that turns out to be really, really useful. Also, I can’t overstate this enough – if you have even basic keyboard skills, having a piano-style layout is enormously intuitive. (By the same token, the Linnstrument seems to make sense to people used to frets.)

Add an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 or later, and you instantly can turn this into an instrument – no wires required. The free Noise app gives you tons of sounds to start with. That means this is probably the smallest, most satisfying jam-on-the-go instrument I can imagine – something you could fit into a purse, let alone a backpack, and use in a hotel room or on a bus without so much as a wire or power connection. (With ten hours battery life, I’m fairly certain the Seaboard Block will run out of battery later than my iPhone does).

Regular CDM readers probably will want it to do more than that for three hundred bucks. So, you do get compatibility with various other tools. Ableton Live, FXpansion Strobe2, Native Instruments Kontakt and Massive, Bitwig Studio, Apple Logic Pro (including the amazing Sculpture), Garageband, SampleModeling SWAM, and the crazy-rich Spectrasonics Omnisphere all work out of the box.


You can also develop your own tools with a rich open SDK and API. That includes some beautiful tools for Max/MSP. Not a Max owner? There’s even a free 3-month license included. (Dedicated tools for integrating the Seaboard Block are coming soon.)

The SDK actually to me makes this worth the investment – and worth the wait to see what people come up with. I’ll have a full story on the SDK soon, as I think this summer is the perfect time for it.

The Touch block, which previously seemed a bit superfluous, also now looks useful, as it gives you additional hands-on control of how the keyboard responds. That X/Y pad makes a nice combo, too. But my guess is, for most of us, you may drop those and just use the keyboard – and of course modularity allows you to do that.

ROLI aren’t without computation (somewhat amazingly, given these devices were once limited to experimental one-offs). The forthcoming JOUE, from the creator of the JazzMutant Lemur, is an inbound Kickstarter-backed product. And I have to say, it’s truly extraordinary – the touch sensitivity and precision is unmatched on the market. But there isn’t an obvious controller template or app combo to begin with, so it’s more a specialist device. The ROLI instrument works out of the box with an app, and will be in physical Apple Stores. And the ROLI has a specific, fixed playing style the JOUE doesn’t quite match. My guess is the two will be complementary, and there’s even reason for JOUE lovers to root for ROLI – because ROLI are developing the SDK, tools, instrument integration, and user base that could help other devices to succeed. (Think JOUE, Linnstrument, Madrona Labs Soundplane, not to mention the additions to the MIDI spec.)

Anyway, this is all big news – and coming on the heels of news of Ableton’s acquisition of Max/MSP, this week may prove a historical one. What was once the fringe experimentation of the academic community is making a real concerted entry into the musical mainstream. Now the only remaining question, and it’s a major one, is whether the weirdo stuff catches on. Well, you have a hand in that, too – weirdos, assemble!


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Arturia AudioFuse: all the connections, none of the hidden settings

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Jun 2017 4:13 pm

After a long wait, Arturia’s AudioFuse interface has arrived. And on paper, at least, it’s like audio interface wish fulfillment.

What do you want in an interface? You want really reliable, low-latency audio. You want all the connections you need. (Emphasis on what you need, because that’s tricky – not everyone needs the same thing.) And you want to be able to access the settings without having to dive through menus or load an application.


That last one has often been a sticking point. Even when you do find an interface with the right connections and solid driver reliability and performance, a lot of the time the stuff you change every day is buried in some hard-to-access menus, or even more likely, on some application you have to load on your computer and futz around with.

And oh yeah — it’s €/$599. That’s aggressively competitive when you read the specs.

I requested one of these for review when I met with Arturia at Musikmesse in Frankfurt some weeks ago, so this isn’t a review – that’s coming. But here are some important specs.



Basically, you get everything you need as a solo musician/producer – 4 outs (so you can do front/rear sound live, for instance), 4 ins, plus phono pre’s for turntables, two mic pres (not just one, as some boxes annoyingly have), and MIDI.

Plus, there’s direct monitoring, separate master / monitor mix channels (which is great for click tracks, cueing for DJs or live, and anything that requires a separate monitor mix, as well as tracking), and a lot of sync and digital options.

It’s funny, this is definitely on my must-have list, but it’s hard to find a box that does this without getting an expansive (and expensive) interface that may have more I/O than one person really needs.

This is enough for pretty much all the tracking applications one or two people recording will need, plus the monitoring options you need for various live, DJ, and studio needs, and A/B monitor switching you need in the studio. It also means as a soloist, you can eliminate a lot of gear – also important when you’re on the go.

Their full specs:

2 DiscretePRO microphone preamps
2 RIAA phono preamps
4 analog inputs
2x Mic/Instrument/Line (XLR / 1/4″ TRS)
2x Phono/Line (RCA / 1/4″ TRS)
4 analog outputs (1/4″ TRS)
2 analog inserts (1/4″ TRS)
ADAT in/out
S/PDIF in/out
Word clock in/out
MIDI in/out
24-bit next-generation A-D/D-A converters at up to 192kHz sampling rate
Talkback with dedicated built-in microphone (up to 96 kHz Sample Rate)
A/B speaker switching
Direct monitoring
2 independent headphone outputs
Separate master and monitor mix channels
USB interface with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux compatibility
3-port USB hub
3 models: Classic Silver, Space Grey, Deep Black
Aluminum chassis, hard leather-covered top cover

Arturia also promise high-end audio performance, to the tune of “dual state-of-the-art mic preamps with a class-leading >131dB A-weighted EIN rating.” I’ll try to test that with some people who are better engineers than I am when we get one in.

Also cute – a 3-port USB hub. So this could really cut down the amount of gear I pack.

Now, my only real gripe is, while USB improves compatibility, I’d love a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C version of this interface, especially as that becomes the norm on Mac and PC. Maybe that will come in the future; it’s not hard to imagine Arturia making two offerings if this box is a success. USB remains the lowest common denominator, and this is not a whole lot of simultaneous I/O, so USB makes some sense. (Thunderbolt should theoretically offer stable lower latency performance by allowing smaller buffer sizes.)


And dedicated controls

This is a big one. You’ll read a lot of the above on specs, but then discover that audio interfaces make you launch a clumsy app on your PC or Mac and/or dive into menus to get into settings.

That’s doubly annoying in studio use where you don’t want to break flow. How many times have you been in the middle of a session and lost time and concentration because some setting somewhere wasn’t set the way you intended, and you couldn’t see it? (“Hey, why isn’t this recording?” “Why is this level wrong?” “Why can’t I hear anything?” “Ugh, where’s the setting on this app?” … are … things you may hear if you’re near me in a studio, sometimes peppered with less-than-family-friendly bonus words.)

So Arturia have made an interface that has loads of dedicated controls. Maybe it doesn’t have a sleek, scifi minimalist aesthetic as a result, but … who cares?

Onboard dedicated controls that don’t require menu diving include: talking mic, dedicated input controls, A/B monitor switching, and a dedicated level knob for headphones.

And OS compatibility

This is the other thing – there are some great interfaces that lack support for Linux and mobile. So, for instance, if you want to rig up a custom Raspberry Pi for live use or something like that, this can double as the interface. Or you can use it with Android and iOS, which with increasingly powerful tablets starts to look viable, especially for mobile recording or stage use.

Arturia tell us performance, depending on your system, should be reliably in the territory of 4.5ms – well within what you’re likely to need, even for live (and you can still monitor direct). Some tests indicate performance as low as 3.5ms.


Plus a nice case and cover

Here’s an idea that’s obviously a long time coming. The AudioFuse not only has an adorable small form factor and aluminum chassis, but there’s a cover for it. So no more damage and scratches or even breaking off knobs when you tote this thing around – that to me is an oddly huge “why doesn’t everyone do this” moment.

The lid has a doubly useful feature – it disables the controls when it’s on, so you can avoid bumping something onstage.

69*126*126 mm.

950 g

I’m very eager to get this in my hands. Stay tuned.

For more:

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Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 19 May 2017 5:56 pm

This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for.

Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other bits of gear you’ve got lying around the studio, to say nothing of apps.

There are some terrific iPad sequencers, like Modstep. But Steps is unique in that a) it’s really simple, b) it’s easy to dial in polyrhythms, and c) it runs on an iPhone.

So, for instance, I wanted to sequence my MeeBlip triode at a recent gig. Steps was perfect. The ingredients:

1. An iPhone (an iPod touch will also work)
2. The oddly named “Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.” It was introduced with the iPad Pro, but it’s even more useful on the iPhone – because you can plug your iPhone into both a USB accessory and power.
3. A MIDI adapter. (I used the iConnectivity mio.

Now, you’ve got an ultra-portable rig that has a sequencer. And you can expand from there.

Ableton Link support means you can wireless sync up to your computer. So in this case, I didn’t even connect my iPhone to my laptop – I just used another tiny accessory (a pocket-sized wifi hub) and connected both my PC and my iPhone to it. Sync was rock solid between Ableton Live, Traktor, and the iPhone – nice.

A recent update made some other tweaks and added Audiobus 3 support. So you can also imagine your mobile studio inside the phone, as it were.

Check out the product here:


Honestly, for all the deluge of apps out there, I find the apps I come back to number about a half dozen – and this one just rocketed into one of those slots.


The post Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bastl’s Dude is a €75 mixer in the space of four AA batteries

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 19 May 2017 5:09 pm

One of the many clever ideas packed into Bastl Instruments’ show-stealing Superbooth stand last month was a tiny, cheap line mixer.

Imagine starting with a battery compartment that holds four AA batteries, and building around that, and you start to get an idea of Dude. It’s tiny. It’s just €75 (slightly more for Europe with VAT). And it’s something a lot of you will likely want. Watch:

Dude isn’t without compromises. The big one is, it’s a mono mixer only – not stereo. So you get five inputs, but they’re all mono inputs. Now, a lot of the stuff you might plug in is mono, to be fair, but then you can’t pan those mono inputs, and you lose stereo information from compact gear that has its own panning or (more likely) something like a stereo delay.

If you can live with that, though, everything else here is really ingenious. It runs on batteries, but you still get up to +20 dB gain. That’s a big deal as a lot of tiny mixers are passive and really unsuitable for much more than mixing a couple of smartphone signals together.

You can power with external electricity if you want – like if you keep this in your studio.

There’s a knob for each channel, plus quick-kill mute buttons.

And you can plug in headphones to the minijack, meaning this whole thing is a way of taking a bunch of volcas or Pocket Operators or Bastl desktop gear or MeeBlip or whatever and being able to hear what you’re doing.

Seems that’s just in time for jamming in the park. I’m in. dude_prod_pic

To play us out, here’s some beautiful new music, too, on the Bastl-run label:




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Here’s how Mouse on Mars are using robots to expand their band

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Mon 15 May 2017 5:44 pm

Analog and digital? That’s just a small slice of the pie. The post-digital / post-analog world uses those two ingredients but adds others, like biological, photochemical, optical, and perhaps most importantly, kinetic.

Instead of electrifying screens and circuits, then, you can also make stuff move.

Mouse on Mars, in collaboration with the Sonic Robots project of Moritz Simon Geist, are making just such a collective – human meets robot. And it makes some sense not just in technological terms, but aesthetic ones. The German collaborative get as playful with robotic use of objects and percussion as they do in their own devilish experimental improvisations.

Here they are testing out those machines:

Our friend Oli, creator of Elastic Drums, also visiting the studio to see how apps and robots can coincide. That makes use of the drum machine app itself (as sequencer and sound source), plus percussion triggers in the physical world via IK Multimedia’s iRig Midi interface and the Sonic Robots actuators.

They’ve also been jamming away at Superbooth:

#mouseonmars #superbooth17 goodnight and see you soon again!

A post shared by Cuckoo (@truecuckoo) on

Those are the jams/experiments, but these are leading to finished musical output, too, like this track/video:

For his part, Moritz has continued making sculptures and installations, alongside his deep research investigations of the topic. For instance:

As I’ve said before, I love that this stuff is getting democratized. Getting everyone drum machines launched entire club cultures and countless genres. So why not make kinetic action something we all get involved in, too? We’ll be looking more at that as we talk further to Johannes Lohbihler and dig into the Dada Machines project:


The post Here’s how Mouse on Mars are using robots to expand their band appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 May 2017 12:25 am

Cobbling together a rig for documenting your work as a musician/DJ/producer/vocalist is, let’s face it, kind of a nightmare. Sharing your work could be a great pleasure – but it often feels like an extra job you have to work.

The iPhone (or more generally smartphone) has been kind of a mixed blessing. The software/sensor combination, while powerful and always in your pocket, are great. But nothing else about a phone is well suited to shooting anything above basic quality stuff – because you’ve got to hold the thing steady and capture audio effectively (sometimes multiple streams of audio).

So, a lot of musicians I find are turning to the GoPro. But it’s only natural that we’d see some more artist-friendly options (since those needs aren’t quite the same as, like, people snowboarding).

Zoom have some offerings that look appealing in the standalone/dedicated category – basically, coupling good internal mics and mic attachments with their own cameras.

If you want to use your phone, though, the solutions from IK Multimedia keep getting more complete.

First, there’s the app – updated this week. iRig Recorder 3 is available for both iOS and Android (meaning you can use some of these great new Android phone cameras, like Google Pixel, and you aren’t limited to Apple).

The banner feature is that you add video features to audio. That’s essential, as sound is sort of a second-class citizen on the dominant social networks – and you can’t get people’s attention with it if their device’s sound is muted. (You need moving pictures to snag their eyes, so you can presumably convince them to unmute.)

But there are other serious features here, too – including support for connecting the app to other apps, if you’re invested in the iOS app ecosystem for production. The redesigned interface now includes:


New audio effects: doubling the previous version, you now get a pretty serious arsenal of effects. You can change speed and pitch (useful for practice and transcription), add compression and EQ (essential), and even do creative stuff like morph or add reverb, chorus, and delay. This coming from IK, the stuff is likely to sound good.

Text and photo markers for precise editing. Pairs well with added video support, as does:

Export audio and video as separate files.

Now integrates with your (iOS) studio. For those who want to integrate with a workflow with other apps, there’s Inter-App Audio and Audiobus compatibility.

Export / share to anywhere. (iOS) Expanded in this version, now includes Airdrop, Messages, SoundCloud, Facebook, WhatsApp, DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, E-mail, Wi-Fi, FTP, iTunes File Sharing. Not on Android, but then file management is more direct on Android so it’s less important.


This is worth some separate look, but then all this is designed to integrate with IK’s line of audio accessories. Those are all illustrated on the product site below. This includes some handy accessories for holding your device steady, recording from a mic, connecting an instrument, or recording line signal.


I’ve got some gear from IK; I’ll try to put this together and do a proper test – which, truly, will be a real world one. That iRIG Duo is especially handy:

The post IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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