blue

See All the Synth Gear in Schneiders’ Booth in 1 Minute, 39 Seconds

You… might not want to watch this if you’re prone to motion sickness. The array of press releases and new gear at a show can be dizzying. But this is literally dizzying – though not boring. This is a fly-through of the bigger-than-ever 2015 Musikmesse Schneidersb├╝ro Superbooth, hosted by our friend Wouter of KOMA Elektronik and shot with an iPhone and Instagram’s Hyperlapse. There is just a whole lot of modular here. (Schneiders’ has a lot, but not even all the boutique makers here at the show.) And… it’s just plain cool. It’s blinky. It has lights. It has knobs. …

READ MORE →

Knobs, Encoders, and a Crazy-Powerful Step Sequencer: Latest Faderfox Hardware

If you want a tiny, well-built box with loads of encoders or knobs, Faderfox has you covered with its latest round of hardware. (Previously, too: faders!) But with the SC4, the Hamburg, Germany-based builder adds something else: a brilliant step sequencer you can use with software or standalone hardware. Faderfox has two new controllers this month – the knob-laden PC4, which is basically a bunch of pots, and the encoders-with-display SC4. Both work as general-purpose controllers. But the SC4 adds a step-sequencing firmware. The SC4 then becomes more than just a flexible, do-anything controller. It’s about the most step sequencing …

READ MORE →
monomeblur

Watch the Wonders of Grids, as monome Makers Defend Minimal Design

As electronic musical instruments have evolved, it’s been surprisingly easy to point to specific designs that lead others. Creators do often reach the same cluster of ideas at about the same time. But the specifics of how those ideas catch on have very often coalesced around one iconic instrument. Bill Hemsath’s layout, with Bob Moog, for the Minimoog became the standard for monosynth keyboards with knobs. Roger Linn’s design for velocity-sensitive pads, and eventually the MPC 4×4 grid, became the standard for drum machines. And Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain I think deserve credit for making the 8×8 grid the …

READ MORE →

Hear the MFB Dominion 1 Synth in an Epic, Triumphant Demo Song

Some demo songs say “I’m cheesy, please buy me.” “I’m trying desperately to sound like the current genre of the moment.” This one says something different. It shouts: “Greetings. I’m the Dominion 1. You might not know me – but you should. I am awesome. I am your new best friend. I am what you covet – I am what you shall have, because I will be yours. Together, we will triumph. We will quest together through the party times, and the world will go our way in ways that surprise even us. People will gather around us, and love …

READ MORE →
ay3

The Intellivision Synthesizer: Twisted Electrons’ AY3 is a Chiptunes Desktop Synth

8-bit, lo-fi digital, and chip music-influenced sounds have become interwoven with the sounds of modern synthesis. But make no mistake: the AY3 is what you get when you build a desktop synth with the soul of a vintage 80s game console. Made by Twisted Electrons, who make iPad apps and a Eurorack module, as well, the AY3 is synth hardware powered by a music hip of yore. Inside are two 8912 chips, combined for 6-voice polyphony, which give this instrument the same distinctive sound as classic game scores and other music made on the hardware. The 8912, you see, is …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

So Many Wires and Knobs: Enjoy Synth pr0n Goodness in Our NAMM Gallery I

Now, we get to transport you to the toy store of sound-making gadgets that is the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. James Grahame, the engineer behind MeeBlip, gets to show off his love of synthesizers in his photolog. And we see some of the big winners at the show for electronic instrument lovers: Boutique makers are doing more wonderful stuff than ever. It starts with modular, yes, but look for products in other areas, as well. We were thrilled to get to insert MeeBlip anode at Pittsburgh Modular and Studio Electronics, as they already had some of my favorite stuff …

READ MORE →

Critter & Guitari Cartoon Time: A Fanciful Animated Trip to Japan to Discover New Sounds

Amidst the drab gray-suit reality of the musical instruments industry, the tacked-on dubstep promotional music, here’s a rainbow-colored breath of fresh air. Critter & Guitari, the handmade American electronic instrument builder, are here featured in an adorable video that uses acid-bright, trippy animations to explore sound design comments. It’s like what sound lovers would watch, breakfast cereal in hand, all Saturday morning – young or old – given that chance. Even if you don’t own C&G gear (and this will certainly tempt you), you might find some fun ideas and you will absolutely be entertained.

READ MORE →

aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything

monome, the iconic grid controller that launched them all, has always been a device tethered to a computer. Without a USB connection to your machine, it is an attractive but functionless box. The latest monome project, the result of a collaboration between Brian Crabtree and musician Ezra Buchla (yes, there’s a relation) is different. It is a computer, with all the functions that entails, but in a box designed for sound. It has: A brain: Two of them, in fact – a DSP chip (BF533 blackfin, 533 mHz with 64 MB SDRAM) and an AVR32 for control. Audio connections: 4 …

READ MORE →

Inside Strange Sounds, Gear, Made in America: Richard Devine, Make Noise [Videos]

The lust for new sounds can take many forms. It leads some to reduce, forcing themselves to stick to minimal choices to channel their creativity. It leads some to reuse and recycle, repurposing old gear. But it leads some into a quest for arcane racks of gear, spaghetti tangles of wires and flashing screens alike, a buzzing laboratory of choices and possibilities. For this chapter in the story, we take a peek at the modular obsessed and toy-packed studios, with Richard Devine, Make Noise, and friends. The southeastern USA is a pretty summery place now, the day before the Fourth …

READ MORE →