KORG SQ-1 Sequencer Does Everything: CV, MIDI, littleBits, USB [Details]

Analog or digital, clock or notes, it appears Korg’s new SQ-1 will do anything. It loves your MS-20, but also your volca series and your monotribe and your MIDI gear and your computer. In fact, with audio clock, it’ll support a product even Korg probably only heard about yesterday – those cute Teenage Engineering machines. The SQ-1 is the new compact step sequencer hardware from Korg. Way back when Korg first unveiled the MS-20 mini, I hoped for a remake of the SQ-10 to go with it. Now, instead of that lumbering behemoth, we got something much more practical. The …


Sync All Your Gear in One Box – No Jitter At All: Master Clock Teaser

Let’s admit it: what we all want out of sync is some magic box that just makes everything work. We just want to plug things in, turn a knob, and have everything sync up. Caveats: we want everything. (USB? DIN? MIDI? Modulars?) And, come to think of it, we probably then start to want to do other fun stuff like shift things around. That is, not all of us want to write technical papers on the topic. But fortunately, Maximilian Rest did write a paper on it. He then built a jitter-free MIDI clock. Well, it gets better. First, the …


Hands on with Dave Smith Pro 2: “The Most Useful Synth I’ve Ever Played”

Synthesist Chris Stack has had his hands on a lot of gear – and a lot of it with the Moog Music moniker on it. But every chance he gets, he’s bugging me about how in love he is with the Dave Smith Pro 2, the richly-appointed, nicely-overpowered monosynth on steroids as we described it earlier this summer. And he’s having a lot of fun, transforming it into a hybrid digital/audio “hub” – a sound source, but also a central brain for exceptional soundscapes. And in Chris’ hands, I’m certainly convinced, as this beast sequences beautiful frontiers of noise and …


Free iOS App Plays Synths Like MicroBrute, Analog Gear – Out of Your Headphone Jack

Your next modular input might just be an iPad or iPhone headphone jack. Control voltage inputs, once associated only with racks of modular synths, are now showing up on all kinds of synthesizers and keyboards. Arturia’s MicroBrute and MiniBrute are two very lovely, very affordable examples, priced less than most entry-level digital synths were just a few short years ago. And since all you need is a sound signal to modulate those inputs, even a phone or tablet app will do the trick. Developer Justus Kandzi, who came to one of our music app meet ups here in Berlin, has …


white whale Makes your monome Into an Amazing Modular Step Sequencer

It seems everyone is getting in on modular gear these days, thanks to the Eurorack format. But many of these modules are variations on a theme – new models of old classic modules, existing synthesis components and filters that have just been reborn as a module. monome white whale, shipping this month, is something different. Connect a monome grid controller to a modular, and suddenly that array of light-up buttons becomes a probabilistic sequencer. It’s live performance oriented in a way too few modules are. The results are surprising and lovely. The solution isn’t cheap – you need a monome …


Connect Your Brain to Synthesizers, with Desktop and Modular Creations for Brainwaves

Oh, sure, you can convert MIDI and clock and DIN and control voltage. But how about brainwaves? How about jacking your noggin straight into your synths and controlling synthesizers only with your mind? It’s not quite like The Matrix, yet, if that’s what you’re imagining. But some crafty Italian inventors/experimental musicians have already whipped up a working prototype of hardware that interfaces brainwave-sensing headsets to synthesisers via analog signal and MIDI. And tomorrow, the 26th of July, they’re putting their heads where their money is, premiering the whole system in a live performance. The boxes are designed to work with …


LegoTechno: Sliding Lego Blocks Make Music with littleBits, Maschine, Arduino

Keep watching: this LEGO sequencer, playing a littleBits synth kit, does something amazing. Sliding tiles around actually changes the sequence, all reading the blocks, in a terrific real-world, physical user interface. (Well, it certainly pleased the crowds at the Music Hack Day at SONAR in Barcelona.) And yes, this means the team we saw earlier keeps working on this. Intrepid hackers can use the just-barely-hidden Lua back-end of Maschine to do their own custom scripting. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the details:


littleBits Synth Kit Will Add USB Audio, CV, and MIDI; See Snap-Together Modular Live in NYC

littleBits has already won over some synth enthusiasts with snap-together modules you can combine via magnets, and a collaboration with KORG. But until now, the open source gizmos have been largely a world unto themselves. You could route audio in and out, but that’s it; any expansion was dependent on buying more littleBits modules. Over the course of this year, that will change. Already, there’s a US$36 Arduino module, opening up custom-coded functionality and computer connectivity. And by the end of the year, littleBits will add three modules that make the Synth Kit into more of a synth (or controller, …


Free Bass Sounds from Modulars: Ableton Live Sampler Instruments, Free Loops

Do you dream of wires but require some sounds … now? São Paulo-based sound house Spektro Audio has shared a lovely Live pack full of multi-sampled bass instruments, free. They set to work on a very tasty-sounding Eurorack modular, then put together ten Sampler-based instruments in Instrument Racks, complete with options for filtering, distortion, and the like. Using their CV Toolkit, they triggered that same modular setup from their Live set. No specifics on what’s in their rack, but you’ll spot some nice modules from some of our favorite builders: Mutable Instruments (is that Braids?), Tip Top Audio, and MakeNoise. …


Moog Werkstatt-ø1 as Solder-Free Kit for $329 – But Expect a Fight to Get One

It seems popular demand worked. Moog’s peculiar, brilliant Werkstatt synth was a huge kit as a workshop-only build for premium Moogfest attendees in April in North Carolina. And not only that, the design swept the Internet. It seems your pleas were heard, as the instructional project is turning into a product. Just expect it to be in “extremely” limited quantities, says Moog, at a handful of their boutique-minded US dealers. Because it’s solder-free, even including those through-hole parts, the “kit” aspect is largely putting it together. But it’s still a clever, rich-sounding, versatile single-oscillator analog synth with some semi-modular routing …