zoomarq

Zoom’s weird frisbee groove machine looks fun in this Japanese video

The ZOOM ARQ AR-96 can be filed confidently under “wha?” in the annals of music tech. It’s a round, all-in-one groovebox with drum machine, loads of patterns and sounds, and synths. Oh yeah, and there’s a rechargeable, detachable doughnut/frisbee, uh, thing, which has velocity-sensitive touch sensors and responds to orientation so you can wave it around. Basically, it’s insane. But as at least one friend of mine suspected, it could also be insanely fun. No English-language reviewers could really do this thing justice. No, for that we turn to musictrackjp – who do better demos, anyway. Sure, 97% of CDM’s …

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zont1

Zont is a futuristic pocket synth that takes snap-in cartridges

Time to start singing about how we’re the operator with our pocket calculator again. The ZONT Synthesizer is an upcoming handheld instrument. And it’s what one designer imagines for the synths of the future. Apart from being tiny, you can change its function by snapping cartridges in and out – Game Boy style. And whereas we think of synths now as big, clunky boxes with wires coming out of them, the ZONT can either plug into a desktop dock for connectivity or connect wirelessly. We’ve had a chat with its designer to see what’s in store.

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Mikme-Microphone-Push-Button

Mikme, GoPro of microphones, is also serious about sound

Being simple and mobile has its advantages. I bet at least once, you’ve recorded some audio sample on your phone. But simplicity often comes at the expense of audio quality – the phone being a perfect example. An upstart hardware project wants to change that, with a crowd funding campaign that’s winding up its final days now. The Mikme is a small rectangular box, with a single button for recording. It’s wireless, with the ability to connect to mobile apps for tweaking and sharing. Now, your first impression, then, might be that this is a consumer product – convenient, but …

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IMG_4571

I Played the Oval Digital Hand Pan, And It’s Amazing

Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions. The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in …

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15_OPT

Hand Pan Percussion, Reimagined as Futuristic Musical Instrument

It looks either like a hand pan (if you know your percussion instruments) or a flying saucer sitting in someone’s lap. But Oval is actually a digital instrument, a physical object that connects to a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and then produces any sound you want. It’s also emblematic of how the scene in alternative instrumental controllers have changed. A few short years ago, something like this most likely would have seen a one-off prototype. Its natural habitat would be an academic conference (hello, NIME). Maybe you’d see it onstage, maybe you’d read about it. Nowadays, things are different. Just …

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Apple Watch Already Has a DJ App and a Guitar Tuner and Amp Controller

You’ll recall I predicated music app developers would try to do something with Apple Watch. (That was a relatively easy prediction, like suggesting that warmer months with longer periods of sunlight would follow the colder, snowier bits occurring in winter.) Well, the Apple Watch isn’t even out yet, and we’re already seeing a couple of apps – one for guitarists with a particular Bluetooth amp/speaker, and one for DJs. Since we first looked at Apple Watch, it’s become clear that the device isn’t in fact an iPhone on your wrist. Apple has chosen lightweight interactions – stuff to glance at …

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djqbert

This Record Sleeve Turns Into a Wireless Touch DJ Controller: DJ Qbert and Novalia

As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured. Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections. DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put …

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garageband_yosemite

Apple’s OS X Yosemite Proves Largely Wrinkle-Free for Music; GarageBand Updated, Too

Here’s a welcome change. OS X Yosemite (10.10 is a major update to a desktop operating system that brings with it almost no apparent headaches for pro audio. The normal advice applies. Backup your system before doing anything (even Apple’s Time Machine I’ve found does the job nicely). Time something major like an OS update for when you’ve got time to test, and to revert if you have trouble. (Hint: not in the dressing room before a gig.) And don’t rush to update – there’s nothing here that you immediately need for music work. But in this case, if you …

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wej

Cool Tricks Wireless MIDI Can Do Now, on Mac, iPad, and iPhone

I love wires. You might even say I dream of them. But it’s time to stop thinking of MIDI as being a wire. MIDI has always been transport independent; that is, it’s a protocol that can run over anything. Apple has been doing more than anyone lately to exploit that potential, building wireless MIDI capabilities into iOS and (with the upcoming Yosemite) OS X. Now, here’s where wireless starts to look appealing – when you go mobile. Bluetooth is now capable of more reliable, low-latency, easy-to-configure setup than before, which means you might want to wipe your brain of your …

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From Bluetooth MIDI to Easier, Faster Graphics, New Goodies for Creative Apple Development

Watching new operating systems is always a potent mix of “what new treats will we get?” and “what are they going to break?” Fortunately in this case, it seems Apple is mostly crossing items off users’ and developers’ wish lists on both iOS and OS X, though further details will come in coming developer sessions. Now, those are under NDA, but the wait for public information is unlikely to be long, now that Apple has announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite and an aggressive release schedule for both OS X and iOS 8. We also know a lot …

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