Stereoping Adds Knobs, Programming to Vintage Gear Missing Them [Video]

The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work. The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather …


A Trio of Unique, Colorful Effects Boxes from OTO Machines, Coming Soon

It’s not enough to just release sound hardware. You want something different, something with character. French builder OTO Machines did that with their Biscuit, a gorgeous combination of 8-bit crunch and analog filtering, then later turned it into a synth and step sequencer with nothing but firmware. But now it’s time for a follow-up, and instead of one sequel, we get three. There’s a 12-bit delay unit, a digital reverb inspired by some 80s classics that never get old, and an analog compressor/”warmer”. That neatly covers three bases of things many people want, and seem to target a nice space …

The POD that changed everything. Photo (CC-BY) Lauri Rantala.

Yamaha will Acquire Line 6, Major Innovator in Guitar Tech

Even in a big year for acquisitions – with Gibson acquiring Cakewalk, for one – this news comes as a surprise to many of us. Yamaha, the 1887-founded Japanese conglomerate with a stake in everything from golf carts to wheelchairs to jetskis to pianos, is acquiring Line 6, the independent California-based guitar and sound product manufacturer. Yamaha is a huge force in products for music and sound, without question, with an unparalleled design, manufacturing, and distribution apparatus. And music is at their core – look closely at those motorcycles and jetskis, and there’s a reason you’ll see tuning forks. Yamaha …


M-Audio, AIR Join Akai, Alesis, Numark at inMusic: Q&A With New Owners, and a Timeline

M-Audio honored its Midiman roots with an anniversary edition of their (quite useful) MIDI interface line. Photo courtesy Avid. So, you own M-Audio and/or AIR stuff. You want to know what this means as Avid sells those makers to a new owner, right? M-Audio and AIR (formerly Wizoo) this week end their time as subsidiaries of Avid, and take on a new life at a parent entity now called inMusic. (That company has been known to us for some time as the home of brands like Akai, Alesis, and Numark, among others.) There’s a business story here, of course – …


Avid Sells Off Consumer Side; Numark – Avid – Akai – M-Audio Becomes New Giant

M-audio, b-bye. A-kai, hell-o. Photo (CC-BY) Ludovico Sinz. Avid today announced sweeping changes in a changing market. Having gradually accumulated more businesses, the company now is selling many of them off, keeping its flagship video tool and Pro Tools audio products. Gone are the consumer/entry-level divisions – consumer-level Avid and Pinnacle on the video side and M-Audio on the audio side. Instead, Avid says it will be “more focused and agile” and will focus on the pro side of their business. The key here: most of Avid’s revenue is pro revenue. Combined, the divisions Avid is dumping pulled in just …

Alesis Vortex - 5

Keyboard Surprise: Keytar, Control Voltage, Touch Faders in New Models by Akai/Alesis

Imagine Also Sprach Zarathustra playing here, a la 2001. And note what this keytar has – a real pitch wheel, right on the neck. One is a keytar. One is a master controller with touch faders and real MIDI and — control voltage, for working with analog gear. Seriously. The keyboard controller market may have faded into a dull, gray blur of nearly-identical models, but under the Alesis and Akai monikers, there’s some fresh-looking variety. Love it or hate it, these are not the same keyboards you’ll get from anybody else at the moment. I got to meet with Alesis/Akai/Numark …


Inside Phaedra, the Analog-Style MIDI Sequencer for iPad

I’m not sure how everyone who owns an iPad uses it for music, but I find myself strangely drawn, more than anything else, to analog step sequencers. With MIDI connections – via a special interface or a standard USB MIDI interface connected via adapter to the tablet – you can even drive hardware. For me, the app of choice has been Little MIDI Machine. Developer Chris Randall has a new application in the analog-style sequencing category, though, called Phaedra. If you haven’t grabbed it already, you have until the New Year to get it for US$4.99 before the price jumps …


New Compact USB MIDI Keyboards from Alesis, KORG, and a Plea

The svelte compactness of a laptop poses a challenge for computer musicians: how do you play the thing? A typically-sized music keyboard kills the laptop’s portability and small footprint. That makes a compact keyboard a no-brainer. This month, both Alesis and Korg have new compact offerings, each USB-powered, small, and cheap. And as a side note, I see a very different product opportunity not served by either one …but more on that in a bit. Korg microKEY Korg’s microKEY fits 37 mini keys from the microKORG XL and microSTATION into a USB-powered keyboard. I actually quite like playing the microKORG: …


Remembering Keith Barr, Founder of Alesis, Lost Last Week

Photos courtesy Spin Semiconductor. I was stunned last week to learn of the death of Keith Barr, the founder of Alesis and a beloved, legendary engineer of music technology. He was 61. An analog engineer gone digital, he led the charge to make digital reverb and studio recording affordable, and even after his Alesis years continued to be one of music’s great engineering minds. Our condolences to Barr’s surviving family and to the countless friends and colleagues in the music industry and beyond. Our friend James Grahame, Retro Thing founder and himself an engineer (via Reflex Audio and others, shares …


Summer NAMM: New Gear in Videos, Photos, for Guitarists, DJs, Vocalists, Producers

Effect pedals on CDM? Heck, yes. Electro-Harmonix may have just stolen the show in Nashville with the Freeze pedal alone. Continuing our coverage with Nashville locals and musicians Tony and Jeremy, we have some hands-on videos, images, and impressions of the gear on offer. Don’t miss yesterday’s story on how the trade show helps Nashville recover from flooding. They offered a sobering picture of the state of the show, as well, but that didn’t stop them from finding good stuff to share. -Ed. Summer NAMM was never the size of its winter counterpart. We were still surprised by the poor …