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Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right. This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. …

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Why BeatStep Pro Could Become the Heart of Your Live Rig

The original Arturia BeatStep already looked good. Start with a compact drum pad controller, add some encoders for more control, then add a step sequencer that can control MIDI and analog gear. But the problem is, the execution of the sequencer idea is complex. It turns out you need even simple sequencers to do a lot. And so the original BeatStep, while still an amazing buy for a hundred bucks, was a little disappointing. It was just hard to actually sequence on the thing. You could get one sequence going, but that’s not enough for really playing, and simple rhythmic …

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How Akai Advance Could Best NI’s Komplete Kontrol in Smart Keyboards

Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success. Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just …

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Casio Crosses a Groove Box, DJ Controller With Millennium Falcon

It’s not quite clear what just happened at Casio’s Music Gear division. Last year, their XW DJ line included a pedestrian but perfectly innocuous-looking DJ/VJ controller in partnership with Vestax. Now, in an apparent attempt to corner the market of 12-year-old producers, they’ve made two crazy-looking things shaped like the Millennium Falcon. Not a little like the Millennium Falcon – nearly exactly like it, just short of turning its reflector dish into a knob. (Okay, it looks a little bit like a Roland Handsonic HPD-10, but the Casio has a narrower nose – which in turn squeezes the space for …

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This Record Sleeve Turns Into a Wireless Touch DJ Controller: DJ Qbert and Novalia

As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured. Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections. DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put …

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This iPad app (touchAble 3) just got a lot more powerful and usable, too. It now follows whatever you're doing with your hardware. So you can actually play, rather than squint at your gear and get confused.

Wish Granted: Ableton Live Control The Way You Wanted It

You want to improvise with Ableton Live. You want to reach out and turn a knob, and know what it’ll do. You want to be able to grab controls that have something to do with clips that are playing. Yeah, so Merry Christmas to us. Permit me being a little excited, as I am immensely grateful to the developers. It’s a rare case where you say “wow, I wish that this –” and then suddenly get what you asked for nearly before finishing the sentence. Just last month, we saw a way to get grids in order using LaunchSync, a …

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touchAble 3 Controls Ableton Via Wire, Mimics Live Devices on iPad [Gallery]

Let’s get straight to it: there are two big problems with controlling Ableton Live from an iPad. One, relying on WiFi means risking disaster if a connection is unstable for some reason (OS updates, wireless interference, gremlins and demonic possession, whatever causes that). Two, you invariably wind up with remote controls for some things you need, but not others. It’s like having a remote control for a TV with half the buttons missing. You wind up going back to the mouse just because you can’t work out any way to turn such-and-such knob. touchAble 3 fixes both problems. There’s loads …

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Lemur is Now on Android, Supports Cabled Connections; You Want This Touch App

Before there even was an iPad or iPhone, there was Lemur. The touch-based controller device was theoretically the first-ever consumer multi-touch hardware. Early adopters connected the pricey smart display via Ethernet to a computer, and wowed friends with flying faders and bouncing balls and new ways of doing everything from manipulating spatial audio to playing instruments. Then, the iPad arrived, and Lemur had a new life as an iOS-only app. For many of us, it’s alone reason enough to own an Apple tablet. But Apple tablets are pricey. Android tablets are cheap. And Android tablets are increasingly available in more …

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Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing. Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks …

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Knobs, Encoders, and a Crazy-Powerful Step Sequencer: Latest Faderfox Hardware

If you want a tiny, well-built box with loads of encoders or knobs, Faderfox has you covered with its latest round of hardware. (Previously, too: faders!) But with the SC4, the Hamburg, Germany-based builder adds something else: a brilliant step sequencer you can use with software or standalone hardware. Faderfox has two new controllers this month – the knob-laden PC4, which is basically a bunch of pots, and the encoders-with-display SC4. Both work as general-purpose controllers. But the SC4 adds a step-sequencing firmware. The SC4 then becomes more than just a flexible, do-anything controller. It’s about the most step sequencing …

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