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


AKAI’s cute little MPK mini keyboard now has internal sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 18 Apr 2019 6:05 pm

AKAI’s MPK mini was already something of a sleeper hit – a simple MIDI controller keyboard that was small enough to be irresistible. But the latest revision makes it useful even all by its lonesome.

MPK mini play is what AKAI are calling the latest edition. It’s actually the second major revision of this unassuming little keyboard. The gamepad-style pitch/mod joystick had already packed in a bit more control features, in addition to the handy pads, banks, and a built-in arpeggiator.

But all of that was just for use with a computer, connected via USB. The “play” version will now work standalone. There are 128 built-in instrument sounds and 10 drum kits in the internal sound module, plus a crisp OLED display so you can find the sound you want. AA battery power means this is all at your ready without even power nearby. There’s even a built-in speaker so you can hear what you’re doing.

You can also make Favorites, which compile a Keys patch, a Drums patch, and settings for the knobs.

Heck, it’s even got a sustain pedal input and a headphone jack.

I’ll be totally honest – I tried to look up what sounds are in there, and couldn’t. I know the screenshot already has an 808 kit – sold yet?

It almost doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t think of another keyboard that could work as an iPad or computer accessory on USB power, then also a standalone jamming keyboard. Studio ready, picnic ready, too. Seems a good move in time for summer (Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

I gush only because the MPK mini is one of those things that you buy sort of as a throwaway, then wind up using more than everything else, just because it’s so small and convenient. It also has the advantage of taking up so little space that even when other gear in the studio competes for space, it has a way of staying by your computer keyboard instead of going on the shelf.

(Judge me by my size, do you?)

https://www.akaipro.com/mpk-mini-play-mpkminiplay

Midifan in China have a hands-on with more pictures / unboxing (worth looking even before you reach for Google Translate to try to work out what they’re saying, if you don’t speak Chinese).

The post AKAI’s cute little MPK mini keyboard now has internal sounds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free Downgrade turns Ableton Live into lo-fi wobbly vaporwave tape

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 17 Apr 2019 8:05 pm

Fidelity? High-quality sound? No – degradation! And if you don’t have a ragged VHS deck or cassette Walkman handy, these free effects racks in Ableton Live will sort you out.

Downgrade is the work of Tom Cosm, long-time Ableton guru. There are five effects:

Fluffer
Corrupt
Hiss
Morph
Flutter

— plus if you give him literally US$1 or more (you cheapskate), you get an additional Stutter rack.

Basically, you get loads of controls for manipulating downsampling, tape effects, saturation, distortion, modulation of various kinds, echo, vocoder, and more. It’s a sort of retro Vaporwave starter kit if you’d like to think of it that way – or an easy, dial-up greatest hits of everything Ableton Live can now do to make your sound worse. And by worse, I mean better, naturally.

Ableton have been gradually adding all these digital downsampling features (early on) and simulated analog tape and saturation effects and nonlinear modulation (more recently). Tom has neatly packed them into one very useful set of Racks.

Notice I say “Racks,” not Max for Live devices. That means these will mostly run on different editions of Live, and they’re a bit easier to pick apart and adjust/modify – without requiring Max knowledge.

Go download them:

https://gumroad.com/l/wmIbJ

The post Free Downgrade turns Ableton Live into lo-fi wobbly vaporwave tape appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Reason 10.3 delivers on VST performance promises

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 16 Apr 2019 5:11 pm

We’ve been waiting, but now the waiting is done. Propellerhead has added the VST performance boost it had promised to Reason users – meaning plug-ins now benefit from Reason 10’s patchable racks.

I actually flew to Stockholm, Sweden back in the dark days of December to talk to the engineers about this update (among some other topics). Short version of that story: yeah, it took them longer than they’d hoped to get VST plug-ins operating as efficiently as native devices in the rack.

If you want all those nitty-gritty details, here’s the full story:

Reason 10.3 will improve VST performance – here’s how

But now, suffice to say that the main reason for the hold-up – Reason’s patchable, modular virtual rack of gear – just became an asset rather than a liability. Now that VSTs in Reason perform roughly as they will in other DAWs, what Reason adds is the ability to route those plug-ins however you like, in Reason’s unique interface.

Combine that with Reason’s existing native effects and instruments and third-party Rack Extensions, and I think Reason becomes more interesting as both a live performance rig and a DAW for recording and arranging than before. It could also be interesting to stick a modular inside the modular – as with VCV Rack or this week’s Blocks Base and Blocks Prime from Native Instruments.

Anyway, that’s really all there is to say about 10.3 – it’s what Propellerhead call a “vitamin injection” (which, seeing those dark Swedish winters, I’m guessing all of them need about now.

This also means the engineers have gotten over a very serious and time-consuming hurdle and can presumably get onto other things. It’s also a development for the company that they’ve been upfront in talking about a flaw both before, during, and concluding development – and that’s welcome from any music software maker. So props to the Props – now go get some sunshine; you’ve earned it. (and the rest of us can tote these rigs out into the park, too)

Reason: what’s new

The post Reason 10.3 delivers on VST performance promises appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Reaktor adds front-panel patching, plus a modular you can use for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 15 Apr 2019 3:10 pm

For the first time in Reaktor, you now get patching right on Eurorack-style modules – and there’s even an edition you can use entirely for free. Reaktor Blocks Base is a free edition; Blocks Prime is included with the full version of Reaktor. Here’s a first look:

There are 50 pre-built racks, but this one steals our hearts – a Buchla Easel-inspired creation. BLOCKS PRIMES – Blocks Easel.

A higher level for Reaktor

Native Instruments got its start building a modular, building-block tool for making your own synths and effects (Generator, which grew into today’s Reaktor). So patching has always been part of the company’s DNA – to the point that Reaktor is still frequently used (as far as I know) for prototyping new tools internally.

But these are really development tools. Unless you’re part of a small group of people who get really fluent in Reaktor, you probably separate the “I’m building a tool” phase of work from the “now I’m making a track” or “now I’m going to try playing.” One nice aspect of Reaktor is that the interface acknowledges this: there’s a separate view for patching together your creation (the Structure), and a different view with all the bits with knobs you turn and so on (the Panel). And that’s often a good thing, as Reaktor ensembles now can get down to the level of DSP processing, meaning the Structure can be layers deep and expsnavie. This also makes sense in the world of the computer, where you’ll never run out of patch cords or modules or knobs or physical space – only CPU power or memory.

Hardware modular is normally designed differently. Modules usually aren’t just doing a simple task like mixing two signals; they combine a number of functions into a musical whole. It’s still a tool, and still only a component of a larger instrument, but that component is more likely to be higher-level – a particular kind of filter, a sequencer, a reverb – and with a pre-selected set of parameters you might want to control.

And most importantly, patching here is on the front panel. Patching in traditional hardware and software development happens under the hood, but patching a modular can be part of playing it.

The cool thing about Reaktor Blocks was that it added just this sort of interface, plus a bunch of amazing-sounding modules using the latest NI tech in analog modeling and digital techniques. And while other tools do this, too (VCV Rack, Softube Modular, Voltage Modular, and long before that Propellerhead Reason) – you didn’t have to give up any of the power under the hood. It’s still Reaktor, through and through.

The less-cool thing about Reaktor Blocks was that it forced you to dive into the Structure to change anything. And that just feels wrong – you lose that feeling of easy patching you get with hardware.

So that’s why today’s Reaktor 6.3 update is very big news, hiding behind a very small version number change.

You can patch on the front panel.

If you own Reaktor, you get front-panel patching and a bunch of modules for free.

If you don’t own Reaktor, you can get started with a set of 28 modules and a player that runs for free. (Speaking as an educator, that means I now can choose from Reaktor, VCV Rack, and Pure Data combined with Automatonism if I want to introduce patching concepts to people without making them buy a license first.)

Your Reaktor Rack

If Blocks got you thinking of Reaktor as a rack of modules, and not just a software display for patching, you’ll like the additions in this update.

Now when you first load Reaktor, you even get a screen that indicates that Native Instruments now understands that people use Reaktor in different ways. There’s “play”: some people just want to play pre-built ensembles – using the power of Reaktor’s ability to create anything, just letting, you know, someone else build it for them. (Hey, you can always go hack together these things later!) There’s “patch” – this is the high-level, musician-friendly modular level represented by Blocks and heavily influenced by Eurorack. And there’s “Build” – basically, Reaktor as we knew it before.

Despite the splash screen, the great thing about Reaktor remains that those levels aren’t actually segregated in any way, provided you have a full license and not just Player. NI are just helping you imagine, navigate, and use those different levels more easily. Each is always one click or one keyboard shortcut away.

It’s really the “Rack” idea that’s exciting. There’s a new “Ports and Wires” view right on the toolbar, and the ability to create a new Rack. Inside, it’s the Reaktor 6 and Reaktor Blocks you already know – so everything is just as editable as before. It’s just better organized if you’re into Blocks.

Tons and tons and tons of content in there – modules, example patches, tutorials, and so on. Even the free version has plenty to play with and use for learning.

The new Blocks modules – BASE

Blocks BASE is the 24-module starter kit, plus 35 preset racks. Even in Reaktor Player, you can modify and re-patch these tools, now totally for free.

It’s not a bad collection, either, with the tools from the excellent Bento Box collection. (This is roughly akin to VCV Rack’s “Fundamental” collection, but while VCV opt for Doepfer-style bread-and-butter options, Bento Box have a lot of character all their own – both sonically and in user interface.)

That includes:
VCA
SVF Filter
Crossfade
Mix
ADSR Envelope
LFO
Oscillator
CV Processor
Sample & Hold
4 Mods Sequencer
8 Steps Sequencer

For getting started learning synthesis, Base has you covered – without spending a penny. Here’s a free example on amplitude modulation.

Sinister Sauce, one of the examples included in the free edition.

There’s already a nice tutorial, with additive and subtractive synthesis, amplitude and frequency modulation, and some more far-out techniques covered – suitable for beginners but pretty interesting even to advanced users.

In fact, I’m going to force myself to build some interesting patches with just these, even though I have the full Reaktor license. They’re organized neatly into a subfolder, and I figure it’s a chance to improve my patching chops without being overwhelmed by options.

The new Blocks modules – PRIME

PRIMES is another selection of 23 modules. (If you really want, you can just have these for 99 EUR/USD, although I recommend you just get a full Reaktor license for $199, since it now includes PRIMES from version 6.3.)

It’s also a greatest hits of NI in a way – with the gritty distorted DRIVER filter, a sequencer from MASSIVE, Minimoog-inspired oscillators and filter from MONARK, and so on.

There’s a ton of stuff there – West Coast, East Coast, coast of the river Spree, no coast: filters, a “multiwave oscillator,” clock divider and quantizer, a cool formant-based morphing filter, various sequencers, a comb filter, Rounds delay and reverb and LFO, and a dedicated West Coast selection with filter, envelope, oscillator, and sequencer (though some of the other modules could be used in a West Coast-style way, too).

Flying Carpet, another tasty-looking example. Reaktor 6 users, this stuff will just magically show up when you update in Native Access.

And it’s a platform

Blocks has already seen widespread interest as a platform for making new modules; it’s a format that can have its own UI, with the innards built in Reaktor. That also means that developers with existing Reaktor creation skills can transfer them here.

Now we’re really seeing Blocks as a platform, where you might create and sell software modules for musicians. NI says they’ve got 200 modules on schedule for release in 2019, including some with a serious hardware pedigree – so far, they’re naming TOYBOX, Genki Instruments, Holonic Systems, ACL, and Michael Hettrick.

These all run inside Reaktor 6, but also Reaktor 6 Player. That’s also a big development – in the past, making stuff for Reaktor meant your customers had to shell out a couple hundred bucks for Reaktor. That’s a pretty limited market. And competing rack propositions for developers are similar: Softube Modular, Propellerhead’s Rack Extensions, or Ableton’s Max for Live all require users to buy licenses. Reaktor Player (and VCV Rack) remain the two platforms you can target where your customers only buy your modules.

There is one catch for now, though. The new Blocks format for now is only open to partnering developers, because of technical restrictions. Native Instruments says they’re exploring how they may expand this functionality to the Reaktor community and Reaktor User Library contributors in the future, however. We’ll stay tuned for more details.

All in all, this is a refreshing update, though. It’s actually nice that you don’t have to adapt to a significantly changed Reaktor 6. Your familiar modules are all there, the Reaktor features are all there, you can still drop in your favorite ensembles from years or decades ago. You just now can patch on the front panel and get a bunch of new modules and tutorials and examples.

I think the thing to watch will be whether NI over time can build this as a successful developer platform, and harmonize the contributions of its user community – including those who are happy to make weird and non-commercial modules available for free.

I’ll be sure to share more developments there and other resources into how to learn and use this thing.

In the mean time, we have a lot to play with. I’ve been really happy with the test builds and can’t wait to dive deeper.

Reaktor 6 Blocks Base

Reaktor 6

The post Reaktor adds front-panel patching, plus a modular you can use for free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Alternative modular: pd knobs is a Pure Data-friendly knob controller

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Apr 2019 10:02 pm

pd knobs is a knob controller for MIDI. It’s built with Teensy with open source code – or you can get the pre-built version, with some pretty, apparently nice-feeling knobs. And here it is with the free software Pd + AUTOMATONISM – proof that you don’t need to buy Eurorack just to go modular.

And that’s relevant, actually. Laptops can be had for a few hundred bucks; this controller is reasonably inexpensive, or you could DIY it. Add Automatonism, and you have a virtually unlimited modular of your own making. I love that Eurorack is supporting builders, but I don’t think the barrier to entry for music should be a world where a single oscillator costs what a lot of people spend in a month on rent.

And, anyway, this sounds really cool. Check the demo:

From the creator, Sonoclast:

pd knobs is a 13 knob MIDI CC controller. It can control any software that recognizes MIDI CC messages, but it was obviously designed with Pure Data in mind. I created it because I wanted a knobby interface with nice feeling potentiometers that would preserve its state from session-to-session, like a hardware instrument would. MIDI output is over a USB cable.

For users of the free graphical modular Pd, there are some ready-to-use abstractions for MIDI or even audio-rate control. You can also easily remap the controllers with some simple code.

More:

http://sonoclast.com/products/pd-knobs/

Buy from Reverb.com:

https://reverb.com/item/21147215-sonoclast-pd-knobs-midi-cc-controller

The post Alternative modular: pd knobs is a Pure Data-friendly knob controller appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Elektron’s Model:Samples just got more useful: change samples per step

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 3 Apr 2019 4:23 pm

Elektron’s Model:Samples was always appealing – some of the best bits of an Elektron groovebox, but with a smaller size and price tag. But one limitation might hold you back: six tracks, and only six samples? That changes with an update: now you can change samples inside a pattern. Sample locks are here.

1.02 shipped quietly on the 29th of last month; Andreas, our reviewer, got an early build. There’s not much in the way of documentation:

Sample locks functionality has been added. It lets you assign a specific sample on any step of the sequencer. It is possible to sample lock up to 26 different samples in each pattern.

But this is a big deal. Six parts with only one sample per part is pretty restrictive. Now, instead, you could take a sample, slice it into 26 bits, and then play the various slices. Or you could slice up melodies. Or you could add more complex percussion parts. The thing is, this is more or less exactly what you want – restricting to six parts can be genuinely musically useful (as more can get overly dense), but now each of those parts need not be quite so, you know, repetitive.

This release also includes a number of bug fixes. But sample locks might just be the thing that tempts us over to this device.

Keep in mind the 1.01 OS (as we tested) included some other improvements, including separate MIDI channel configuration (ideal for use with other gear) and simplified LFO locks.

I also like that the Model:Samples has a transfer utility for custom samples. Roland. Cough. TR-8S. Like any day now. Thanks! (and let’s not even start in on the volca sample’s awful sample loading mechanism… just no.)

Sure, it’s still not a sampler – no record capability. And yes, there are boxes that do more. And… well, if you’re on a budget, you should also check out used KORG machines. But this is still something unlike anything else at the price, with Elektron workflows and serious polyrhythmic capabilities plus lots of hands-on fun and great sound.

Release notes:

More:
https://www.elektron.se/products/modelsamples/

1.01 release notes

And definitely check our hands-on review. It’d be easy to dismiss this hardware, but I think Andreas really explains why it’s cool. (And yeah, I personally like it more than even the more-capable Digitakt.)

Review: can Elektron’s Model:Samples get everyone into hardware?

Our friends at Synthtopia got a demo of the new feature at Synthplex:

The post Elektron’s Model:Samples just got more useful: change samples per step appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Oops: April Fools’, at best, gave us stuff we actually want

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 2 Apr 2019 5:19 pm

Well, congratulations – you’ve survived another April Fools’ holiday. At worst, it can be unfunny and confusing. At best, though, it raises a different question – should we actually start dreaming up and making more ridiculous ideas?

Okay, I don’t necessarily want to be the grinch of April Fools’. And maybe now is not the right time to raise this – like, someone might say that it could have something to do with the fact that I attempted a product launch on the holiday, uh, yesterday. (What? That was me? Oh, yeah – it was. MeeBlip geode is not a joke. We are really making it. And um… yeah, that did wind up hitting some confusion, even though there’s nothing particularly April Fools-y about geode.)

While it’s had some glimmers of clever parody, the collision of April Fools’ with an attention-starved Internet has led to a noisy confusion of a bunch of people deciding to write parody press releases and videos, and the ideas can get repetitive. And it can confuse everyone about real news – not just ours. This year, the date came between two of the bigger synth and electronic music events of the year – sandwiched not more than 24 hours apart from Synthplex in the USA and Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany. (Yes, Messe is again a thing; even with Superbooth in Berlin stealing away modular makers, there’s a lot of musical instruments business outside modular, a lot of distributors in Germany, an entire industry around lighting tech, the music education business in Germany, and a competitive Messe organization slashing rates on booths, so expect it to stick around.)

But about the fake products we wish were real products … sigh, again.

Biggest culprit: KORG.

Yeah, okay, it’s probably not terribly practical for KORG to make a cassette volca. On the other hand, it’s not just the Rickroll video that’s tonedeaf to 2019 – lots of us have repurposed our cassette decks. I have a Yamaha multitrack sitting next to me in the studio wired up. People are making tape loops with Walkmans. There are tape labels. Bastl Instruments and Teenage Engineering, among others, have made digital decks that reimagine tape loops and tape playback. And having seen weird tape players show up on Amazon, I expect it’s not impossible to make new hardware that includes mechanical tape playback in it.

So the joke’s really on KORG here. Instead of getting pranked or sharing this because it was funny, literally thousands of people jumped on the idea of a KORG volcasette. (Obviously the biggest clue in – using KORG’s volca series nomenclature, it should have been KORG cassette or KORG tape. Just sayin’.)

The proposed features of this thing already exist on multitrack tape recorders, but the mind reels with other possibilities – looping, sampling, strange custom tape echoes… so to be clear, making a new multitrack cassette deck would be fairly silly, but making a compact instrument built around mechanical-magnetic tape ideas, that could get very cool.

And yes, of course there was the Ableton’s ReChorder – maybe the one amusing part of the parody there was, the awful music at the end does kind of remind me of some terrible demos of unusual instruments over the years. This one we can at least leave out of the instances of products people would want.

But even silly April Fools’ products can go viral – perhaps because we live in a world where brands are doing such strange things already, it’s not clear how you could make a joke that was any more absurd.

So, a HYPERX CUP MIX-IN pair of headphones shaped like two Cup Noodles containers and a fork had some of us … wanting instant ramen … and others actually wanting to try to buy the product. (Various blogs even picked this up assuming it was real.) I have a pair of Beats by Dre headphones in white that I suddenly want to mod to actually do this.

Useful? No. Possible to DIY? Yes. Tempting? Oh, indeed. (I’m sure some sort of ramen container housing could work.)

CUP NOODLES®
HYPERX CUP MIX-IN

Then there was this USB-C hub covered in legacy ports. Except… yeah, I definitely would buy something like that. (SCSI for old drives? Actual analog video? Tons of extra ports, or card readers?)

Sure, this is … not totally possible. But parts of it are and … you know you want it. Their ridiculous specs, though take any subset of these and you might be happy.

Thick, heavy, substantial styling.
Built-in 100Wh / 27000mAh airline-safe battery pack
2-in-1 speaker and space heater using the same front air vent holes (temperature depending on the number of active connections)
USB-C hub with a total of 40 ports
9 x USB-C
9 x USB-A
2 x microSD
2 x SD
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
1 x HDMI
2 x DisplayPort
1 x Mini DVI
1 x VGA
1 x Ethernet
1 x Modem RJ-11
1 x Optical Audio “Toslink”
1 x Firewire 400
1 x Firewire 800
2 x RCA
1 x Parallel Port
1 x Serial Port
1 x PS/2
1 x AT Port
1 x 3.5” Floppy Disk Drive

Hyper Releases The Mother Of All USB-C Hubs

Hey, there is a lot of bandwidth on Thunderbolt 3. I think this particular device might catch fire. But it is possible to have more ports.

Part of the reason this isn’t a joke: a friend urgently needed to pull files off a SCSI drive. I wound up looking back at Apple machines from just around the turn of the century, which in fact had every port you could imagine. The bronze keyboard PowerBook G3 Series, for instance, includes both USB and SCSI – and since it runs used for $200, you can actually buy that entire laptop to transfer data from legacy drives more easily than you can buy a modern SCSI adapter. (The adapters appear to be both more expensive and more scarce than the entire computers.)

Or for a more extreme example, consider the PowerMac G3 Series. This machine was everything Steve Jobs stamped out at Apple – boxy, with a beige slightly curved-out ID design language that mostly evolved under CEO John Sculley. But it sure had ports. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Miguel Durán.

Maybe you’ll rescue the legacy devices, but I do miss analog video – badly. And the notion of professional machines where you might actually connect various hardware, that bit still seems relevant. I love compact and friendly devices, but I also love choice.

And of course the only real joke is trying to figure out how to buy a USB-C device or cable … ahem … (to say nothing of those Apple cable prices).

Maybe the bottom line here, though, is that one person’s joke is another person’s dream. Some of the best, most creative ideas start as jokes. April Fools’ as far as I’m concerned in tech just needs to go away – it’s a day that adds noise and confusion to media that don’t need more of that, ever. But here’s another approach: maybe we should be willing to dream up absurd ideas the other 364 days of the year.

You know.

See any April Fools’ jokes you wish were real – and anybody up for actually making it happen?

Time to pick up a Walkman at the next flea market and start hacking; that’s for sure.

[Side note – unless you think I’m alone in this, The Verge has been pointing out April Fools’ as the (literally) Medieval time waster that needs to die. And Microsoft also banned April Fools’, which might itself seem like a punchline, except that … no, we really want you to be focused on your damned software, actually, so agreed.]

From readers

I’ll compile any good ideas from 2019 (or other years, if you remember) here. This one is better than any of the three I suggested. This parody doesn’t come from Native Instruments, so it’s possible this is even in the works but – the haptic TRAKTOR controller as a single deck makes loads and loads of sense. (Make it work standalone without a computer, please, if we’re dreaming…)

Thanks, Mark Settle:

The post Oops: April Fools’, at best, gave us stuff we actually want appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Oops: April Fools’, at best, gave us stuff we actually want

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 2 Apr 2019 5:19 pm

Well, congratulations – you’ve survived another April Fools’ holiday. At worst, it can be unfunny and confusing. At best, though, it raises a different question – should we actually start dreaming up and making more ridiculous ideas?

Okay, I don’t necessarily want to be the grinch of April Fools’. And maybe now is not the right time to raise this – like, someone might say that it could have something to do with the fact that I attempted a product launch on the holiday, uh, yesterday. (What? That was me? Oh, yeah – it was. MeeBlip geode is not a joke. We are really making it. And um… yeah, that did wind up hitting some confusion, even though there’s nothing particularly April Fools-y about geode.)

While it’s had some glimmers of clever parody, the collision of April Fools’ with an attention-starved Internet has led to a noisy confusion of a bunch of people deciding to write parody press releases and videos, and the ideas can get repetitive. And it can confuse everyone about real news – not just ours. This year, the date came between two of the bigger synth and electronic music events of the year – sandwiched not more than 24 hours apart from Synthplex in the USA and Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany. (Yes, Messe is again a thing; even with Superbooth in Berlin stealing away modular makers, there’s a lot of musical instruments business outside modular, a lot of distributors in Germany, an entire industry around lighting tech, the music education business in Germany, and a competitive Messe organization slashing rates on booths, so expect it to stick around.)

But about the fake products we wish were real products … sigh, again.

Biggest culprit: KORG.

Yeah, okay, it’s probably not terribly practical for KORG to make a cassette volca. On the other hand, it’s not just the Rickroll video that’s tonedeaf to 2019 – lots of us have repurposed our cassette decks. I have a Yamaha multitrack sitting next to me in the studio wired up. People are making tape loops with Walkmans. There are tape labels. Bastl Instruments and Teenage Engineering, among others, have made digital decks that reimagine tape loops and tape playback. And having seen weird tape players show up on Amazon, I expect it’s not impossible to make new hardware that includes mechanical tape playback in it.

So the joke’s really on KORG here. Instead of getting pranked or sharing this because it was funny, literally thousands of people jumped on the idea of a KORG volcasette. (Obviously the biggest clue in – using KORG’s volca series nomenclature, it should have been KORG cassette or KORG tape. Just sayin’.)

The proposed features of this thing already exist on multitrack tape recorders, but the mind reels with other possibilities – looping, sampling, strange custom tape echoes… so to be clear, making a new multitrack cassette deck would be fairly silly, but making a compact instrument built around mechanical-magnetic tape ideas, that could get very cool.

And yes, of course there was the Ableton’s ReChorder – maybe the one amusing part of the parody there was, the awful music at the end does kind of remind me of some terrible demos of unusual instruments over the years. This one we can at least leave out of the instances of products people would want.

But even silly April Fools’ products can go viral – perhaps because we live in a world where brands are doing such strange things already, it’s not clear how you could make a joke that was any more absurd.

So, a HYPERX CUP MIX-IN pair of headphones shaped like two Cup Noodles containers and a fork had some of us … wanting instant ramen … and others actually wanting to try to buy the product. (Various blogs even picked this up assuming it was real.) I have a pair of Beats by Dre headphones in white that I suddenly want to mod to actually do this.

Useful? No. Possible to DIY? Yes. Tempting? Oh, indeed. (I’m sure some sort of ramen container housing could work.)

CUP NOODLES®
HYPERX CUP MIX-IN

Then there was this USB-C hub covered in legacy ports. Except… yeah, I definitely would buy something like that. (SCSI for old drives? Actual analog video? Tons of extra ports, or card readers?)

Sure, this is … not totally possible. But parts of it are and … you know you want it. Their ridiculous specs, though take any subset of these and you might be happy.

Thick, heavy, substantial styling.
Built-in 100Wh / 27000mAh airline-safe battery pack
2-in-1 speaker and space heater using the same front air vent holes (temperature depending on the number of active connections)
USB-C hub with a total of 40 ports
9 x USB-C
9 x USB-A
2 x microSD
2 x SD
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
1 x HDMI
2 x DisplayPort
1 x Mini DVI
1 x VGA
1 x Ethernet
1 x Modem RJ-11
1 x Optical Audio “Toslink”
1 x Firewire 400
1 x Firewire 800
2 x RCA
1 x Parallel Port
1 x Serial Port
1 x PS/2
1 x AT Port
1 x 3.5” Floppy Disk Drive

Hyper Releases The Mother Of All USB-C Hubs

Hey, there is a lot of bandwidth on Thunderbolt 3. I think this particular device might catch fire. But it is possible to have more ports.

Part of the reason this isn’t a joke: a friend urgently needed to pull files off a SCSI drive. I wound up looking back at Apple machines from just around the turn of the century, which in fact had every port you could imagine. The bronze keyboard PowerBook G3 Series, for instance, includes both USB and SCSI – and since it runs used for $200, you can actually buy that entire laptop to transfer data from legacy drives more easily than you can buy a modern SCSI adapter. (The adapters appear to be both more expensive and more scarce than the entire computers.)

Or for a more extreme example, consider the PowerMac G3 Series. This machine was everything Steve Jobs stamped out at Apple – boxy, with a beige slightly curved-out ID design language that mostly evolved under CEO John Sculley. But it sure had ports. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Miguel Durán.

Maybe you’ll rescue the legacy devices, but I do miss analog video – badly. And the notion of professional machines where you might actually connect various hardware, that bit still seems relevant. I love compact and friendly devices, but I also love choice.

And of course the only real joke is trying to figure out how to buy a USB-C device or cable … ahem … (to say nothing of those Apple cable prices).

Maybe the bottom line here, though, is that one person’s joke is another person’s dream. Some of the best, most creative ideas start as jokes. April Fools’ as far as I’m concerned in tech just needs to go away – it’s a day that adds noise and confusion to media that don’t need more of that, ever. But here’s another approach: maybe we should be willing to dream up absurd ideas the other 364 days of the year.

You know.

See any April Fools’ jokes you wish were real – and anybody up for actually making it happen?

Time to pick up a Walkman at the next flea market and start hacking; that’s for sure.

[Side note – unless you think I’m alone in this, The Verge has been pointing out April Fools’ as the (literally) Medieval time waster that needs to die. And Microsoft also banned April Fools’, which might itself seem like a punchline, except that … no, we really want you to be focused on your damned software, actually, so agreed.]

From readers

I’ll compile any good ideas from 2019 (or other years, if you remember) here. This one is better than any of the three I suggested. This parody doesn’t come from Native Instruments, so it’s possible this is even in the works but – the haptic TRAKTOR controller as a single deck makes loads and loads of sense. (Make it work standalone without a computer, please, if we’re dreaming…)

Thanks, Mark Settle:

The post Oops: April Fools’, at best, gave us stuff we actually want appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MeeBlip geode is the monosynth we always wanted to make

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Apr 2019 7:09 pm

What we love most about synths is wild, weird, dirty sounds – and getting our hands on them. Our new MeeBlip geode focuses on what we think is the best of our synth line.

The goal, as always: make a box that’s easy to play, and that adds a unique sound and personality that doesn’t exist elsewhere. And then make sure it’s fun to twist knobs and make sounds. That’s geode – coming soon, with an intro price of US$149.95 (plus tax/shipping as applicable).

geode more than ever delivers raw, grimy digital sounds that cut as leads and rattle floors as bass, coupled with our signature, screaming resonant analog filter. Let’s have a listen to the sounds of this little box.

I constructed a whole track out of layered MeeBlip parts – each percussion hit, each synth noise. It’s all dry, apart from some EQ on the kick drum (just filtering out the very low end and some of the treble). I also made use of the LFO as a kind of impromptu pitch envelope.

For some longer timbres, here’s an ambient track made with just two MeeBlip geode parts, also recorded live and completely dry:

And as always, this is all about getting direct, hands-on control of each element of the sound (or sequencing each parameter via MIDI):

geode is the fourth major generation of the MeeBlip line created by engineer James Grahame (Blipsonic), as a collaboration with CDM. We’ve been humbled by the response – the original/SE, anode, and triode have all seen critical acclaim. And users have gotten creative, from mods and hacks (including using open source code and circuits), to musical uses in clubs and experimental shows alike.

MeeBlip geode is the culmination of all of the best features of all those different generations. It’s got the sound features and extra controls from the original (including bringing noise back), the anode/triode filter that remains unlike what’s on other synths, the most cutting waveforms, and all the subtle improvements James has cooked up over the years. It’s still compact, but expands to a palm-sized rectangle with more controls. It’s got great-feeling new knobs and some new tweaks.

And for the first time, we have USB MIDI support, so you can connect and power geode with any computer or compatible mobile device. (MIDI DIN is still there, so your gear from the 80s works, too.)

We think the result is a unique, boutique synth, whether it’s your first hardware or the latest of many. We hope you enjoy it.

To get James’ production line running again in Calgary – yes, your synths are hand-tested by the engineer – we’re starting geode as a preorder, for those who want to be first in line for our latest instrument. Order now and we’ll ship starting May 15-31. Available direct exclusively from us, shipped from Canada. (Taxes and shipping will apply for your area.)

Come visit us at MeeBlip.com – and let me know if you have any questions.

https://meeblip.com/

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Apple ships update it says addresses USB audio issues on recent Macs

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 26 Mar 2019 7:28 pm

An update to macOS Mojave yesterday promises to “improve reliability” of USB audio on recent Apple hardware, addressing a serious issue many users had flagged.

macOS Mojave 10.14.4 Update deals mainly with Apple News+, the (North American-only, for now) Apple subscription service, and Safari and iTunes updates. But buried in the release notes is this mention:

“Improves the reliability of USB audio devices when used with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models introduced in 2018”

I had heard anecdotally over the past week from macOS beta testers that they had seen the issue disappear after an update. This particular language is fairly tenuous. The symptoms as reported were specific only to Apple’s own hardware, not any other Mac or PC device, and it’d be more comforting to see this listed as a fix than improved reliability. There’s also been no official word from Apple or its partners about the source of the issue, though the culprit appears to be Apple’s own custom silicon which now includes the USB controller.

Apple often uses this kind of conservative language in release notes, though, so don’t read too much into that – we just need to test this.

It may be too soon to endorse buying the 2018 models until more test data comes in, but it’s at least safe to say, if you’re using USB audio and you have one of these machines, you should probably update your OS immediately.

Previously – and yeah, this is everything Apple makes:

Apple’s latest Macs have a serious audio glitching bug

What about OS reliability for sound generally?

While we’re talking quality issues and third-party hardware, Native Instruments experienced an issue with Windows updates to Windows 7, 8, and 10 causing TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 Mk2, MASCHINE STUDIO, and all KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series Mk1 devices to fail to be recognized. That issue, first made public on March 1, was already fixed by March 18.

There’s nothing particularly important about bringing that up, except this: while I’d like to see Microsoft (and Apple) make it easier for pro users to opt out of software updates, Microsoft does make it reasonably straightforward to roll back a problematic update to the previous version. Sure, you should backup regularly, but as restoring the backup of the operating system is rarely an easy affair, it makes sense for the OS itself to provide these tools. So in the case of this Windows issue, NI was able to advise customers to reverse the update. Apple hasn’t made a similar feature available.

I remain concerned about Apple’s present reliability for audio applications. And I think it’s fair to hold them to a higher bar, given the company tends to charge a premium for its machine and offer fewer choices, in exchange for greater responsibility for the integration of hardware and software. Third parties have told me that Apple have audio devices to test, and obviously the Logic and GarageBand teams all use audio interfaces just like the rest of us (in addition to the hardware people).

This isn’t about 90s-style platform wars. (Amiga! Atari ST!) No one wants to see musicians and audio makers having frustrating experiences with sound gear. I do hope Apple gets back on track and stays there.

What I can say across the board is this: audio and music users would benefit from more transparency, more detailed up-to-date information on tests, and more control over OS and hardware to avoid problems, on all platforms.

The post Apple ships update it says addresses USB audio issues on recent Macs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

SPICE is a one-stop modular distortion box – and it needs support

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Mar 2019 7:34 pm

Saturation, distortion, warmth, fuzz – it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back to machines. SPICE is a modular distortion on Kickstarter, suitable for Eurorack or desktop use alike – and it’s getting reader attention partly because it isn’t over the funding line quite yet.

The big picture for SPICE from Plankton Electronics is modular distortion in an integrated, multifunctional design, with sounds ranging from digital crushing to tube distortion, ranging from warm saturation to grimy fuzz.

That functionality you can then get however you like. Want the whole thing as a single desktop unit? Go for it – even if you don’t own any other modular. Want to take that same integrated unit and rack it? Done – as a 38HP Eurorack. Prefer individual modules? Want them assembled? Want them as DIY kits you assemble yourselves? Every option is here.

This is all partly the story of a tube from KORG – the Nutube. This new Japanese-made tube, drawing from fluorescent display tech, sounds like conventional tubes but has an atypically long life and dramatically smaller size. And it uses a tiny amount of the power of tubes – think 2%. That’s not the only distortion / saturation on offer here, but it does allow a full complement of distortion types without requiring a bunch of power or space.

So you get to choose which distortion you want:

  • Clean amplification and filter, no distortion (“boost”)
  • Soft clip saturation
  • Hard clip saturation / distortion
  • Nu-tube distortion – one or two at once (for double double your distortion, double double your enjoyment… etc.)
  • Transistor fuzz (strong clipping)
  • Stomp box filtered high gain distortion, guitar pedal style

Distortion? Yes:

And you can combine these in loads of different ways – which is where the modular bit comes in. You can choose digital or analog, mix and prefilter, or apply an envelope follower to shape the sound.

And, of course, there’s feedback – lots of it.

It’s technical semimodular in that it’s prepatched for a lot of functions, but you can modify it from there.

Sliced into three modules, you get a choice [links to Modulagrid]:
NUTONE VCA and distortion based on the Nutube
SPICEVCF including the analog filter (LP, BP, HP) with tons of CV control and XMOD to self-modulate the filter
ENVF envelope follower

The tube module looks excellent on its own, but mostly I think the draw here is the combined distortion toolkit.

So how much does this cost? You’ll get actual hardware starting around 25EUR, and kits for around 55EUR+. Assembled modules start around 85EUR and then the full modular system will cost you around 450-500EUR, all in. (Prices will be more with VAT … and please, no more lecturing me about how the VAT system works, readers, I live in Germany and own a GmbH; most of our readers are outside the VAT system and don’t owe this tax. They’ve explained all the different prices on their site.)

Spice as modules.

I wasn’t so familiar with this Barcelona-based team before, but they’ve done some really nice work – and have gotten input here from a lot of our friends in the modular and synth community, from Endorphine.es to Befaco to Olivier Ozoux.

And even before I heard from them, a couple of readers wrote hoping CDM would cover this project as they want to see it funded. I hear you – I do, too.

I also love this idea – their SPICE Metapatch software is a Web-era take on the patch book. Instead of drawing with a pencil, you store patch ideas in a Web interface. (It’s still just a picture, but it means you’re free from erasures and terrible drawing skills. Hold on… that projecting thing I do, sometimes, that might be happening again.)

Metapatch is a patch book, but in your browser.

There’s 10 days left. They’re past the halfway mark, so let’s see if the CDM bump helps them out.

Plankton Electronics SPICE – Modular Saturation Unit [Kickstarter]

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dadamachines doppler is a new platform for open music hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 22 Mar 2019 8:24 pm

The new doppler board promises to meld the power of FPGA brains with microcontrollers and the accessibility of environments like Arduino. And the founder is so confident that could lead to new stuff, he’s making a “label” to help share your ideas.

doppler is a small, 39EUR development board packing both an ARM microcontroller and an FPGA. It could be the basis of music controllers, effects, synths – anything you can make run on those chips.

If this appeals to you, we’ve even got a CDM-exclusive giveaway for inventors with ideas. (Now, end users, this may all go over your head but … rest assured the upshot for you should be, down the road, more cool toys to play with. Tinkerers, developers, and people with a dangerous appetite for building things – read on.)

But first – why include an FPGA on a development board for music?

The pitch for FPGA

The FPGA is a powerful but rarified circuit. The idea is irresistible: imagine a circuit that could be anything you want to be, rewired as easily as software. That’s kind of what an FPGA is – it’s a big bundle of programmable logic blocks and memory blocks. You get all of that computational power at comparatively low cost, with the flexibility to adapt to a number of tasks. The upshot of this is, you get something that performs like dedicated, custom-designed hardware, but that can be configured on the fly – and with terrific real-time performance.

This works well for music and audio applications, because FPGAs do work in “close to the metal” high performance contexts. And we’ve even seen them used in some music gear. (Teenage Engineer was an early FPGA adopter, with the OP-1.) The challenge has always been configuring this hardware for use, which could easily scare off even some hardware developers.

For more on why open FPGA development is cool, here’s a (nerdy) slide deck: https://fpga.dev/oshug.pdf

Now, all of what I’ve just said a little hard to envision. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of that abstract description, you could fire up the Arduino development environment, upload some cool audio code, and have it running on an FPGA?

doppler, on a breadboard connected to other stuff so it starts to get more musically useful. Future modules could also make this easier.

doppler: easier audio FPGA

doppler takes that FPGA power, and combines it with the ease of working with environments like Arduino. It’s a chewing gum-sized board with both a familiar ARM microcontroller and an FPGA. This board is bare-bones – you just get USB – but the development tools have been set up for you, and you can slap this on a breadboard and add your own additions (MIDI, audio I/O).

The project is led by Johannes Lohbihler, dadamachines founder, along with engineer and artist Sven Braun.

dadamachines also plan some other modules to make it easier to add other stuff us music folks might like. Want audio in and out? A mic preamp? MIDI connections? A display? Controls? Those could be breakout boards, and it seems Johannes and dadamachines are open to ideas for what you most want. (In the meantime, of course, you can lay out your own stuff, but these premade modules could save time when prototyping.)

Full specs of the tiny, core starter board:

120Mhz ARM Cortex M4F MCU 512KB Flash (Microchip ATSAMD51G19A) with FPU
– FPGA 5000 LUT, 1MBit RAM, 6 DSP Cores,OSC, PLL (Lattice ICE40UP5K)
– Arduino IDE compatible
– Breadboard friendly (DIL48)
– Micro USB
– Power over USB or external via pin headers
– VCC 3.5V …. 5.5V
– All GPIO Pins have 3.3V Logic Level
– 1 LED connected to SAMD51
– 4 x 4 LED Matrix (connected to FPGA)
– 2 User Buttons (connected to FPGA)
– AREF Solder Jumper
– I2C (need external pullup), SPI, QSPI Pins
– 2 DAC pins, 10 ADC pins
– Full open source toolchain
– SWD programming pin headers
– Double press reset to enter the bootloader
– UF2 Bootloader with Firmware upload via simple USB stick mode

See also the quickstart PDF.

I’ve focused on the FPGA powers here, because those are the new ones, but the micrcontroller side brings compatibility with existing libraries that allow you to combine some very useful features.

So, for instance, there’s USB host capability, which allows connecting all sorts of input devices, USB MIDI gadgets, and gaming controllers. See:

https://github.com/gdsports/USB_Host_Library_SAMD

That frees up the FPGA to do audio only. Flip it around the other way, and you can use the microcontroller for audio, while the FPGA does … something else. The Teensy audio library will work on this chip, too – meaning a bunch of adafruit instructional content will be useful here:

https://learn.adafruit.com/synthesizer-design-tool?view=all

https://github.com/adafruit/Audio/

doppler is fully open source hardware, with open firmware and code samples, so it’s designed to be easy to integrate into a finished product – even one you might sell commercially.

The software examples for now are mainly limited to configuring and using the board, so you’ll still need to bring your own code for doing something useful. But you can add the doppler as an Arduino library and access even the FPGA from inside the Arduino environment, which expands this to a far wider range of developers.

Look, ma, Arduino!

In a few steps, you can get up and running with the development environment, on any OS. You’ll be blinking lights and even using a 4×4 matrix of lights to show characters, just as easily as you would on an Arduino board – only you’re using an FPGA.

Getting to that stage is lunch break stuff if you’ve at least worked with Arduino before:

https://github.com/dadamachines/doppler

Dig into the firmware, and you can see, for instance, some I/O and a synth working. (This is in progress, it seems, but you get the idea.)

https://github.com/dadamachines/doppler-FPGA-firmware

And lest you think this is going to be something esoteric for experienced embedded hardware developers, part of the reason it’s so accessible is that Johannes is working with Sven Braun. Sven is among other things the developer of iOS apps zmors synth and modular – so you get something that’s friendly to app developers.

doppler in production…

A label for hardware, platform for working together

Johannes tells us there’s more to this than just tossing an open source board out into the world – dadamachines is also inviting collaborations. They’ve made doppler a kind of calling card for working together, as well as a starting point for building new hardware ideas, and are suggesting Berlin-based dadamachines as a “label” – a platform to develop and release those ideas as products.

There are already some cool, familiar faces playing with these boards – think Meng Qi, Tom Whitwell of Music thing, and Ornament & Crime.

Johannes and his dadamachines have already a proven hardware track record, bringing a product from Kickstarter funding to manufacturing, with the automat. It’s an affordable device that makes it easy to connect physical, “robotic” outputs (like solenoids and motors). (New hardware, a software update and more are planned for that, too, by the way.) And of course, part of what you get in doing that kind of hardware is a lot of amassed experience.

We’ve seen fertile open platforms before – Arduino and Raspberry Pi have each created their own ecosystems of both hardware and education. But this suggests working even more closely – pooling space, time, manufacturing, distribution, and knowledge together.

This might be skipping a few steps – even relatively experienced developers may want to see what they can do with this dev board first. But it’s an interesting long-range goal that Johannes has in mind.

Want your own doppler; got ideas?

We have five doppler boards to give away to interested CDM readers.

Just tell dadamachines what you want to make, or connect, or use, and email that idea to:

cdm@dadamachines.com

dadamachines will pick five winners to get a free board sent to them. (Johannes says he wants to do this by lottery, but I’ve said if there are five really especially good ideas or submissions, he should… override the randomness.)

And stay tuned here, as I hope to bring you some more stuff with this soon.

For more:

https://forum.dadamachines.com/

https://dadamachines.com/product/doppler/

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Moog teases spectral shift invention for Moogfest

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 22 Mar 2019 5:12 pm

Moogfest is inbound, and that means some new, limited quantity creation of the engineers at Moog. This year it’s a fascinating looking spectral shift module.

The packed festival season is inbound, and whereas that once meant bands and crowd pleasers, now there’s a lot of advanced technology and electronic music – from SONAR to Superbooth to MUTEK to GAMMA to Moogfest, among others.

And Moogfest with a renowned synth builder in the name, of course some of the hardware is also “headlining.” Moog this year haven’t even named their creation yet, but it seems there’s some spectral/vocoder (check the carrier knob) processing going on. They describe it thusly:

This year’s design (shown here patched into synthesizers from previous years’ Engineer Workshops) explores how electronic instruments create an analog of the human experience, speaking directly to the way in which physical circuits resonate within one’s self to create a “Spectral Shift”…

Well, watch:

I’m in another country this Moogfest, but if you splurge on an Engineer Pass, you get to make this and take it home with Moog calibration included. The lineup is filling out, too, with the likes of Daniel Miller, nd_baumecker, Jlin, Martin Gore, GAS, Mor Elian, and others (just to name a few favorites).

More:

https://www.moogmusic.com/news/moogfest-announces-initial-2019-lineup

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SSL SiX is a compact version of that legendary console goodness

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 20 Mar 2019 2:02 pm

Few studio consoles are coveted quite like the Solid State Logic. But SSL have had the clever idea of cutting this down to a compact, still pricey, but luxe desktop mixer. And SiX is a good indication the console is back.

Okay, this isn’t by any means going to be a cheap six-channel mixer. Think £999 +VAT, US$1499, €1199+”tax.” (Oh, yeah. I realize I have no idea what “tax” will mean for UK products in… nine days, possibly. Maybe you’ll just ship SSL some dry goods and penicillin in exchange for their mixer. Ack.)

But, you know, at that price we’re still talking something that’s in reach of a lot of independent producers. And it’s also in line with buying premium plug-ins, especially if you figure in the cost of hardware like UAD or a good audio interface. And instead of a picture on a screen of an SSL console, now you get the actual physical goods on your desk – with the actual circuitry, and no need to watch a DSP or CPU meter.

If you’re not tracking a whole lot of stuff at once, this might be perfect. It certainly makes more sense than renting a studio just to use a couple of channels on their desk.

And you get the full works of SSL stuff:

Two mic pres (SSL’s “SuperAnalogue” brand)
A one-knob version of the SSL channel compressor
Listen Mic compressor on the talkback (often used for creative effect)
Two-band channel EQ

I was skeptical at about the two-band EQ, but then SSL go into more detail – you can switch between shelf and bell curves with different center frequencies for each, so this two-band EQ is actually more versatile than a lot of three-band options. And SSL’s approach is basically, we’ll choose the EQ we think works musically for you, rather than you dialing it in.

There are also routing options borrowed from the larger consoles – two stereo cue buses so you can make independent artist mixes, main and alternate monitor outs (with a source matrix), and mono check, dim, and cut. The fader channels also have real PFL (pre-fade listen), and the Mute button routes to Bus B – which can also be a record send for your DAW, or can get routed into the monitor matrix.

And it’s really those routing options and details of the channels that might actually make this thing worthwhile in a project studio. Do I think some rich producers who have no idea how to mix will buy this thing for the brand alone? Of course!

But fitting intelligent routing options into a compact mixer and including SSL’s signature sounds – these are things I could imagine a mix engineer being happy to invest in.

See also the recent SSL Fusion, which costs about two and a half grand, but gives you SSL’s drive, EQ, compressor, stereo image, and Transformer in a handsome rack.

And there’s a message here: people are keen to buy hardware that lasts in place of software plug-ins.

So while this may not be the most sensible budget buy (uh… in case I need to state the obvious), it absolutely is an appealing design. And it’ll have quite a few people saying “mmmm, maybe I can get by with six channels and twelve-channel summing after all.”

https://solidstatelogic.com/studio/SiX

The post SSL SiX is a compact version of that legendary console goodness appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

deton8 is a little drum machine with loads of soul

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 19 Mar 2019 7:33 pm

Twisted Electrons move on from acid and chip synths to drum machines. And the deton8, for around three hundred bucks, packs a ton of personality and sound possibility in a cute, playable package.

Twisted Electrons made a name for themselves in fun little boxes and boards packed with 8-bit, chip music, and acid sounds. Those instruments all stand out for lots of sequencing features and hands-on playable options. So a drum machine is of course a natural next step.

But what a next step the deton8 is. Mixing samples and synthesis, 8-bit sounds and wavetable synth, custom kits, and a ton of control and performance, it promises to be one of the more fun packages we may see this year. There’s even a simple NES-style synth in there, so even though a compact bassline synth would be an obvious combination with this, you could even do a lot with just the voices in this hardware.

I’m terrifically eager to get my hands on this one. It’s now much clearer what deton8 is about thanks to a new video – and some tantalizing new details:

For live performance, what’s especially appealing is the sound knob, which has different characteristics for different sounds. That’s a lot more fun than menu diving to change sounds, or being limited to tweaking pitch and duration alone.

Oh yeah, even that decay knob is more fun than usual, since decay doubles as glitchy repeat “delay.”

And in keeping with Twisted’s legacy, this thing is packed with downsampling and bit reduction, which is a perfect match for drums. (Again, that’s especially live – there’s a reason those Game Boy parties got so wild. There’s something about squashing dynamic range and making things screaming and digital that can make people go nuts. I guess partying is about reducing bit depth, anyway, right?)

Stutter, reverse, retriggering, granular algorithms – there’s a bunch there to play and record. I imagine you might make this a primary instrument, or some icing on your existing drum machine … that you could use it for relatively subtle stuff, or go totally nuts.

And it’s eminently affordable. The deton8 is 255 EUR (that’s under US$300), or around 300EUR with VAT.

Here’s the full list of features. The big development was, at the last minute, Alex at Electron responded to overwhelming user requests to load your own samples. So that means in addition to multiple kits included in the box, you’ll be able to use a software editor to slice up and upload your own samples, as both loops and 1-shots – see screenshot.

(Dear Roland, please, please add this to the TR-8S, too! And … yeah, I can imagine the TR and Twisted Electrons would make a wonderfully psycho combo.)

Features:

USB-MIDI
Hardware MIDI
SYNC IN
SYNC OUT
16 patterns of 1-16 steps each
Chain up to 16 patterns in a row to make a song
8 Voices (Kick, Snare, Metal (hats), Clap, Can (tinny sounds), Tom, Nut (woody sounds), SYNTH (NES inspired triangle wavetable synthesizer, with arp that can be shaped to a square).
Two modes: Loop Mode (for breaks and melodic content, decay and tune is global) & Kit mode (individual tuning and decay per part)
Pitch and decay modulation per step on every voice
8 hands on Stutter modes: Beat repeat (with variable rate), Forward granular, Reverse granular, Pendulum granular (scratch), buzz/texture , random granular (noise generation), spin up, spin down
Forward & Reverse sample playback per track
Delay with variable delay time and pitch decay (upwards and downwards)
Ring mod effect with variable frequency
Global pitch shift
Copy/Paste patterns
Real time pattern recording with optional metronome
Tap tempo
Swing
Mute/Solo a track
Drive any voice into distortion
Sound variation knob for Kick (add sub), Snare (add noise/snappy), Hats (change texture) and Synth (arpeggiate)
Pump aka sidechain compression emulation (any track can “duck” the others for the pumping/breathing effect)
Pattern clean and randomize for accidental magical beats

It sounds like we should see a review unit in April. See you then.

Promo video for some more sounds:

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/deton8/

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