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.
The ZOOM ARQ AR-96 can be filed confidently under “wha?” in the annals of music tech. It’s a round, all-in-one groovebox with drum machine, loads of patterns and sounds, and synths. Oh yeah, and there’s a rechargeable, detachable doughnut/frisbee, uh, thing, which has velocity-sensitive touch sensors and responds to orientation so you can wave it around. Basically, it’s insane. But as at least one friend of mine suspected, it could also be insanely fun. No English-language reviewers could really do this thing justice. No, for that we turn to musictrackjp – who do better demos, anyway. Sure, 97% of CDM’s …
Wheels were never as big as grids. Well – in this context, anyway. The arc was the spiritual successor to the monome from designer Brian Crabtree – ultra-high resolution encoders for turning, with lights, as continuous as the monome grid was binary. But despite some poetic, meditative videos the monome project produced, the arc was always mostly quiet on the scene. And then it disappeared, supplanted by other projects (like an entry into Eurorack). Now it’s back, on preorder.
Ableton’s Push hardware is making it onstage, but whether or not it suits that purpose for you, it’s an absolute godsend in the studio. Hands-on control of parameters, always-ready grid access to melodies and percussion, and tools for starting ideas from clips to sequences to playing live make it feel indispensable to those of us it’s won over. So, why not give it a handsome home?
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.
It’s about time to solve this power problem on music gear once and for all. Here’s the thing: USB has quietly simplified powering everything else. Look at your phone. Now, a USB cable not only means you can charge from your laptop, but also various travel adapters – and, crucially, from battery power. With mobile batteries getting steadily better, that’s huge. You can just pack a battery and not worry about finding a wall socket, for hours or (with high capacities) even days. And those batteries are getting better as products, too – you can buy some nice looking, nicely …
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.
We know an iPad can augment a music setup. But the question for many is, can it replace a computer? Arturia’s iSpark isn’t shy about what it accomplishes. It really looks a whole lot like the company’s drum machine on desktop, only remade for iPad. And it even works with the dedicated SparkLE controller – meaning you now can go pad controller + iPad as you could controller + computer. It also comes with Ableton Link, for easy syncing and jamming with other apps, other iPads/iPhones, and Ableton Live (in any combination).
It doesn’t have screens. There are no giant wheels or touchstrips. There’s no complex software integration, or built-in mixer, or pads for remixing. But what the DJ4 is is what you might be missing in other DJ controllers. It’s got the controls you need in a tiny, tiny footprint that won’t have you hunting for new luggage or scrambling around a venue to find a bigger table because your gear won’t fit in the booth. (Ahem, yes, you know who you are, giant controllers.) And unlike the increasingly branded, computer-tied world of DJ controllers, this one also works with anything …