steps

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

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 …

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

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 …

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Maschine 2.6.5 makes it easier to manage ideas, routings

Ableton has accustomed a lot of us to the idea of having a grid of bits of ideas we can trigger and layer (among other similar metaphors in drum machines and the like). So of course that same functionality would make sense elsewhere. Maschine Jam took Native Instruments’ groove workstation into a different direction by focusing on how you generate, transform, and arrange ideas. Now that focus on workflow is finding its way into the whole Maschine family, both in the form of refinements to Jam and new functionalities elsewhere. So, as NI quietly rolls out Maschine 2.6.5, all Maschine …

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In the 80s, Keyboard Mag released sounds on flexi vinyl

Before the Web and SoundCloud, publications wanting to share sound examples – whether that was from artists, tutorials, or whatever – had to get creative. And so it was that Keyboard Magazine included flexible discs in the magazine, some time in the 80s. Based on a discussion from various Keyboard editor and contributor veterans, it seems there have been a number of attempts to digitize these over the years, along with lots of other useful content like those Brian Eno DX7 presets I shared yesterday. But the sheer content volume of a monthly magazine published starting around 1975, plus the …

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Get original DX7 patches made by Brian Eno in 1987

You can’t get much more 80s synth power than this: Eno. DX7. Keyboard Magazine. Yes, it seems there’s a magical synth site called Encyclotronic, full of patches and hardware specs and other goodies. And it seems that site has noted that back in 1987, Keyboard Magazine managed to extract some of his favorite patches for the Yamaha DX7 and shared them with readers. Sadly, Keyboard lacks any kind of exhaustive archive. (Believe me, having edited a book from their archives, I know – thar be dragons.) And because this was a paper publication, Mr. Eno didn’t share everything. So somewhere, …

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Summertime means less synth, more Synth Bike

Electronic musician – mad scientist – inventor LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER is taking his synth bike on tour, finally answering the question “how can I have more synth, but get exercise and a tan?” And for all of you stuck in a windowless basement studio, that means he can do his jam in places like the landmark Tempelhofer Feld airport in Berlin. It’s busking, with wheels. Synth shop Schneidersladen is another obvious destination: And the invention itself is just mental – a bunch of electronics strapped to a bike, with the advantage of mobile sound and even backpack recording, now …

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Sonic Robots' Glitch Robot.

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

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 …

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viktoria

Watch this crew go transhuman in the absorption chamber

“Well, it’s not really anything new” (or some variant) is a phrase heard at music and media shows perhaps as often as “I’m going for a smoke” or “where’s the toilet?” But this raises a question. Forget for a second what an audience thinks is new – sound or look or technology or whatever. What would get you to do something different? What would get you out of your comfort zone? What would get you to push yourself – even just a few steps? That’s been the idea behind all the collaborative labs I’ve gotten to organize, but for last …

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Inside Skinnerbox’s live sets, including a song they play backwards

“xobrenniks era ew olleh.” Skinnerbox, the duo of Olaf Hilgenfeld and Iftah Gabbai, are now so comfortable in their roles of playing live that they’re playing backwards to spice things up. (It seems there was some effort involved here – like, learning a song backwards in order that they had composed it the way they desired when reversed. I just find it oddly enchanting watching things defy gravity and roll across cymbals.) Playing with other people can feel like a mind meld. There’s a special discipline to working things out alone, to be sure. But it’s when you play with …

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ETC video synth is like the love child of Tumblr and MS Paint

We may be at the saturation point for sound synthesis and modular. You know what that means: it’s time for video synthesizers. East Coast American boutique darlings Critter & Guitari are diving into that field headfirst with their ETC video synth. Here’s how it works. Pick a background color. Dial in a mode – from various preset animation styles. Choose to leave accumulation on or not (whether those animations stack atop one another). Add an audio input if you choose for sound reactivity. Then adjust parameters manually, or use MIDI for automation (via scenes and CC automation). That might all …

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