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This Video Demonstrates How Akai’s New Keyboard Controls Everything

It’s a horse race. Two keyboards – one from Native Instruments, one from AKAI – really want to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. And we’re getting closer to find out if either deserves your attention. You’ve heard this story before. Sure, you have powerful software on your computer screen. But when you want physical control of those instruments beyond just playing keys, you’re left either manually mapping controls or reaching for your mouse or trackpad. So, over the years various solutions have tried to solve this automagically. There was Automap, seen in Propellerhead Reason and …

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This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …

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Akai’s Midimix is a $99 USB Mixer Controller With One Key Feature

Akai’s new US$99.99 Midimix is built on a simple idea – so much so that you could easily miss it. But one button makes it much more useful than its nearest rivals. First, the obvious: yes, it’s a MIDI controller with a mixer layout. So, there are eight line faders and a master fader, 3 knobs per channel (for EQ), and dedicated mute (switchable to solo) and record arm buttons, plus bank controls. That’s it – no extra functions, no confusing mappings. And then there’s one very obvious but clever button: SEND ALL. Hit SEND ALL, and you fire off …

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Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

MPC 1.8 Update Expands How You Play; Inside Look with the Developers

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important. And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart. That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming …

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Akai Analog Drum Machine, Revision 2 – And a Four-Voice Wolf Synth?

It seems Akai is staying in the analog synth business. Following the Rhythm Wolf – introduced quietly at Messe (literally, it couldn’t make sound), and then getting a mixed review here on CDM – they have both a second drum machine and a four-voice synth. Availability has leaked as July – which means again, we may not know how these actually sound until they ship. Let’s look at what we know. (Bookmark this page, as I will simply update information here as it comes in.) First up, the Tom Cat. It’s definitely a second take on the Rhythm Wolf – …

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How Akai Advance Could Best NI’s Komplete Kontrol in Smart Keyboards

Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success. Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just …

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Home Alone Remixed Live on Ableton, Launchpad; Mega APC Mashup

Home Alone (Ableton Live Remix) from Keenan Gaynor on Vimeo. It’s the holidays, a time for family, and to ponder when controller mappings meet one-shot clip triggering, cable TV, weird child neglect, and brutal violence against slapstick criminals. Yes, of course – it’s the time-honored tradition of Ableton Live and Home Alone. There’s the 2010 original remix on Launchpad. But, unlike the Home Alone movie, the sequel’s even better. Last year, Keenan Gaynor quietly updated the remix on a Novation Launchpad Mini. And clearly he’s picked up some better techniques in Live. (Pro mode, anyway!) So, even though the original …

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Loop points, at last. Side-by-side editing on iPad, too. Photos courtesy NI.

iMaschine on iOS Gets Smarter; How Apps Can Help You Make More Music

They may not be as powerful as their desktop counterparts. But by going with you, mobile apps can help you find inspiration and creativity in moments that would otherwise be lost. And mobile drum machine app iMaschine adds two subtle features that mean a lot more possibility – or at least takes a step in the right direction. iMaschine 1.2, released at the end of last week, adds integration for both Audiobus and Apple’s own Inter App Audio (the latter less-widely implemented, but used in popular apps like GarageBand). The upshot: you can now combine Native Instruments’ mobile drum machine …

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AKAI Rhythm Wolf Review: Analog Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Dance music, it seems, has come full circle. Techno’s roots began with affordable oddball hardware, abused into new genres. And now, the appetite for cheap little boxes that make grooves is back. But does “cheap” and “analog” always make for a winner? Well, not necessarily. But let’s find out why. This is the AKAI Rhythm Wolf. When we first saw it, it was clear people would want it, because physically, visually, it has the things you’d want – even before you get to the accessible price. There are velocity-sensitive pads for each part, coupled (cleverly) with x0x-style buttons for simple …

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Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing. Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks …

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