If you just want a nice MIDI keyboard, frankly, you’ve got loads of options. So Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol S-series of keyboards has got to do more. The 1.8 release that came out yesterday takes a step in the right direction, with enhanced scale and mode support and enhanced integration with both Reaktor Blocks and Maschine. And Reaktor Blocks might be the winner here. Reaktor Blocks. This is almost an afterthought in this release, but to me, it’s the nicest feature so … the heck with it, I’m going to talk about it first. You can now control the clock …
First, there was software – and mapping it manually to controllers. Then, there was integrated hardware made for specific software – but you practically needed a different device for each tool. Maschine Jam is a third wave: it’s deeply integrated with software workflows, but it can swap from one tool to another without having to change how you work.
What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.
In the march to fancy dedicated controllers and standalone hardware, something was lost – what if you just want a whole bunch of faders (and maybe some encoders with them)? German boutique maker Faderfox (the clue is in the name) seems to understand our craving. And they even appreciate our fantasy to show up at a gig, superspy style, with a metal briefcase. Wish granted: the Faderfox UC44, 16 faders and eight push encoders in a box.
For years, the criticism of laptops has been about their displays – blue light on your face and that sense that a performer is checking email. But what if the problem isn’t the display, but the location of the display? Because being able to output video to your hardware, while you turn knobs and hit pads, could prove pretty darned useful.
YouTube is a mystery – completely arbitrary videos getting down votes for no reason, arbitrarily angry comments, spam, conspiracy theories… well, one artist has decided, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Artist Arkaei has made a very respectable live looper performance using Ableton Live and Push 2. And rather than wait, he’s delivered it with its own angry comments. Call it con-troll-erism. (Uff, let me really apologize for that.)
In the latest chapter of “people on the Internet doing cool things for electronic music,” here’s a creation by Polarity. It lets you rapidly trigger effects parameters via MIDI. And if you’re a Bitwig Studio enthusiast, it’s available for free.
Master turntablist Shiftee has posted a sharp routine. It’s a clever product placement for Razer’s laptops, but – well, it’s more than that. It’s an ad for laptops in general, at a time when DJing has increasingly come to mean “showing up with a couple of USB sticks.” And it’s sort of an ad for being DJ Shiftee. So, we asked Mr. Shiftee to show us what was going on.
Wish granted, hackers. The full specification for Ableton’s Push 2 hardware is now online on GitHub, after passionate Live users clamored for its release. And there’s a lot. This isn’t just a MIDI specification (though that’s there). Every minute detail of how colors appear on LEDs gets covered. (The color “white” has its own section. Yeah, like that minute.) Every animation. The pixels that show up on the display. This isn’t just a guide to how to hack Push 2 – though it’s certainly that. It’s a technical bible on how Push 2 works.
So, we all know we’d like to get our hands on software music making with something other than the mouse. Now — how? How do you actually make that physical knob or button do something useful on screen, and at the right moment? There’s the brute-force method, manually applying MIDI learn. There are fancy dynamic ways of assigning controls. But the former is inflexible and requires extra work, and the latter means that you typically can’t “lock” every control where you need it. (That is, the automatic methods sometimes “outsmart” you to the point of not allowing you to do …