tinami

Tinami’s MIDI controllers look like Moogerfoogers, built to order

If only… If only that controller had encoders, instead of knobs. If only it had two more faders. You don’t need buttons. You do need buttons. Controllers are endless challenges in combinatorics and personal use cases. That makes the Tinami line of custom MIDI controllers one of the big news items this summer. Shown to the public at SONAR Festival in Barcelona, the gear is built to order using an online configurator. This isn’t the LEGO-style controller we’ve seen in the past: you order up what you want, and that’s what they build. But using a compact 4×4 grid, a …

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jakubmidi

A tiny iOS audio+MIDI interface, a huge DIY iOS MIDI controller

Everything about the iPad is about portability. Thinness. Ever-changing interfaces. Functionality hidden behind a pane of glass. But, hey, now that you’ve slimmed down your computational device, why not go hog wild with tangible controls and a sprawling DIY MIDI controller? That’s what Jakob Haq, the nearest thing to an iOS music celebrity we’ve got, has done with his rig. He’s got a video showing off a very simple, easy, friendly-to-everyone solution that fits in your pocket — versus a one-of-a-kind custom creation that will fit in your pocket if you’re wearing a camping tent. Let’s look at each of …

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roli-seaboard-block-and-touch-block-10-low-res

ROLI now make a $299, ultra-compact expressive keyboard

ROLI are filling out their mobile line of controllers, Blocks, with a two-octave keyboard – and that could change a lot. In addition to the wireless Bluetooth, battery-powered light-up X/Y pad and touch shortcuts, now you get something that looks like an instrument. The Seaboard Block is an ultra-mobile, expressive keyboard for your iOS gadget or computer, and it’s available for $299, including in Apple Stores. If you wanted a new-fangled “expressive” keyboard – a controller on which you can move your fingers into and around the keys for extra expression – ROLI already had one strong candidate. The Seaboard …

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audiofuse_in_studio

Arturia AudioFuse: all the connections, none of the hidden settings

After a long wait, Arturia’s AudioFuse interface has arrived. And on paper, at least, it’s like audio interface wish fulfillment. What do you want in an interface? You want really reliable, low-latency audio. You want all the connections you need. (Emphasis on what you need, because that’s tricky – not everyone needs the same thing.) And you want to be able to access the settings without having to dive through menus or load an application. That last one has often been a sticking point. Even when you do find an interface with the right connections and solid driver reliability and …

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spacedimensioncontroller2

Watch Space Dimension Controller tear up his live set

Jack Hamill, aka Space Dimension Controller, is another of those stand-out live electronic instrumental performers, able to involve lots of improvisation while still maintaining control and composure. No press play sets here – this is all perfectly conducted live performance. Note that that still doesn’t necessarily mean playing absolutely everything – it’s more about this hybrid of controlling elements from a compositional sense, maintaining some balance between what’s pre-composed and what’s made on the fly. Resident Advisor shot a lovely extended film with him: In the rig, Maschine Jam controls Ableton Live (and is handy for just such integration). I …

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tournage-keylab49-nuit-7

The new Arturia keyboards work with anything, under $300, with sounds

“Someone has introduced a new MIDI controller keyboard” ranks right up there with “an off-price mall big box retailer is now doing basic solid color tees.” It’s potentially still useful (as in, my luggage got lost in Dallas and I have no clean clothes), yet not exciting. But Arturia have deserve special mention here, because they have lately had a knack for giving users exactly what they wanted, apparently. At least that’s my impression as I notice the number of BeatSteps Pro and KeySteps cropping into rigs. MIDI controllers, like DAWs, tend to become boring because they have to be …

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ni_komplete-kontrol-1-8_chord-feature_a

Komplete Kontrol adds scales and modes, cooler chords, Reaktor Blocks

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 …

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console1

The $499 Softube Console 1 now looks like a great buy for producers

Softube’s Console 1 was an intriguing offering when it came out, but I suspect some people balked at the price – and simply didn’t know what it was or what it was for. Now, at five hundred bucks, the audience should be bigger. And Softube are working on making the “what is this anyway?” story clearer. So, what is it? Let’s back up. First, imagine a big mixing desk – like a big Solid State console. Now imagine what that console would look like a computer accessory. Obviously, you’d want it to be a whole heck of a lot smaller, …

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maschinejam_bitwig_big

Ableton or FL Studio or Bitwig, Maschine Jam integrates with everything

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.

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20160531-img_8891-till-bovermann

PushPull is a crazy futuristic squeezebox instrument you can make

PushPull will blow apart your idea of what a typical controller – or an accordion – might be. It’s a bit like a squeezebox that fell from outer space, coupling bellows with colored lights, sensors, mics, and extra controls. And you can now make one yourself, thanks to copious documentation. You may have seen the instrument in action in the last couple of years ago – gasping in the dark. PushPull Balgerei 2014 from 3DMIN on Vimeo. But with more complete documentation, you get greater insight into how the thing was made – and you could even follow the instructions …

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