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 …

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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 …

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Bolsa Bass: Critter and Guitari Bass, in Trippy-Cute Animation

Bass makes boys and girls happy, like sugar-y cereals and adorable cute animations. So, it seems only natural to round up the kids, pour yourself a bowl of Honey Smacks, and sit on the beanbag in front of the television set to watch the goodness of the boutique Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass in an adorable psychedelic cell animation. We’ve got the animation, the photos, the sounds, and the specs all here. The basic notion here: six synthesis modes switch between different sounds, while a sequencer (with MIDI in, out, and sync for integration with hardware and software) handles all …

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komakontrol

Koma Kontrol Surface: Touch Surface Hardware, CV + MIDI [Preview]

Sometimes, an idea is so beautifully elegant, it just seems obvious. That’s the feeling I get from Koma’s newest prototype. The Kontrol Surface is a touch controller device. In its Light version, it’s an X/Y touch controller with CV output. The Pro version adds MIDI so it works with both analog and digital gear, and ups the ante to three-axis X/Y/Z capacitive touch. Folks with MIDI gear will wait for the Pro version, but the Light edition already appears like it’ll become a must-have for analog/modular owners. Specs: 1 x CV output 1 x inverted CV output Manual gate output …

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Codanova, Visual MIDI Controller Maker, Closes Shop, Too

Stay with us here. So, yesterday, I reported a French boutique manufacturer of custom visual hardware unexpectedly closed shop and ceased all operations, and will shortly discontinue support of its products. Okay, you can now insert into the sentence above “Vixid, maker of hardware mixers,” or “Codanova, maker of hardware controllers.” That’s two boutique French VJ-fused gear makers shuttering at nearly the same moment. As far as we know, the timing of the two of them is coincidental. (If someone can explain why this happened at the same time, please do. It seems hard to believe there wasn’t some common …

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anushri

Mutable’s Anushri Bundles Sequencing, Drums, Synthesis, CV in One Hobbyist-, Modular-Friendly Kit

Call it the Mutable Fun Pack. The Synth Happy Meal. The Family Variety Bucket. The Anushri doesn’t have quite the sound design depth that Mutable’s Shruthi-1 does, but in its place, you get a whole mess of different features. It’s an analog synth, with an additional digital oscillator. It’s got its own step sequencer/arpeggiator. It’s got an 8-bit, bit-crushed drum machine. And it has analog connections for modulars in addition to MIDI, so modular lovers can put it into a Eurorack if they like. In fact, it seems to bring some of the compact, lovable features of Roland’s 101 and …

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Inside Koma Electronik, Boutique Maker: Studio Tour, Profile [Gallery, Audio]

Big or small, talk to many music gear makers, and you’ll find they’re in the business largely for love. But it’s still amazing just how many gear makers choose to go it alone. They build equipment in their flats and garages, hand-packing their creations and shipping it to a world of fellow musicians. Koma Electronik is just one of those in the worldwide scene of boutique hardware makers. We’re especially fond of their interfaces and the company of musicians they keep. So, following up on the video that showed what it’s like getting a demo in a van from Koma, …

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komavan

Hands-on with Koma’s Analog Filter/Sequencer, Gate/Delay, in a Van, with Champagne

Koma’s stuff is good. Really good. So good, you might even want to watch a hands-on video where I’m juggling a camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. Their stompable, playable analog effects show well even in the back of a van circling Musikmesse. How I came to see this hardware in the van is a story in itself. The trade show gig works like this: you pay an enormous amount of money for some sort of trade membership, then an enormous amount of money for a booth, an enormous amount of money to staff …

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preenfm_top

PreenFM, Open Source Hardware Synth: Behind the Scenes with the Creator

First revealed last month, PreenFM is an open source hardware synth. As the name implies, it’s an FM synth, with some very serious specs: up to six-operator FM synthesis with some nine algorithms, up to 4-voice polyphony (depending on algorithm), glide, selectable LFOs, modulation matrix, and preset banks with SysEx support. It’s all usable via a display and MIDI support. It’s also fully open source hardware; whereas early efforts often had commercial restrictions attached, PreenFM is free for use under the GPLv3 and Creative Commons. And it’s got a unique platform under the hood: the open source LeafLabs 32-bit development …

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ppiano_midi

Now with MIDI: Critter + Guitari Pocket Piano

The Pocket Piano remains one of my favorite boutique creations – a devilishly simple, irresistibly fun musical instrument. And now, in addition to other subtle tweaks it has received, it gets MIDI – see video above. We got to spend time with the Pocket Piano at CDM’s Handmade Music Lounge at Solid Sound Festival, presented by Moog Music; video from that coming soon, to remind us of the warmth of summer as we slip into fall. What does MIDI mean for the Pocket Piano? Send MIDI (controller): key presses as note messages Receive MIDI (sound module) all 88 notes of …

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