This Wearable Necklace Mic Could Change How You Hear – or Record

Listening accurately is all about direction. It’s the power that lets you carry on a conversation in a loud bar, and hear where sounds are coming from. But for anyone trying to record sounds – or anyone who has impaired hearing – those sounds can be lost. Directional microphones can solve that problem, but they have an additional one: size. Some of the more directional mics are simply huge. That’s where Wear becomes interesting. Emmy-winning engineer and AV specialist Eric Rosenthal teamed up with designer and sound artist Michelle Temple, and they’ve created a new solution. (Rosenthal is an ITP/NYU …

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Vectr, the Wave-your-hands Analog Module, Just Got Crowd-funded

Wriggle your fingers above the light-up glow of the Hackme Vectr, and you can control sounds in space. The results are good for spooky sonic exploration – a less-temperamental Theremin – and apparently have inspired sound lovers, because the project reached its first crowd-funding goal. Through Thursday morning, January 9, you can get your own Vectr for about US$299-325 (or a fancy special edition for $399), estimating shipping in May. In this initial design, the focus is on analog control: 3-axis gestural control with LED feedback 30-second gesture sequence recording Sequence gesture playback, itself controlled by gestures It’s especially nice …

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UMIDI are Custom-Designed DJ Controllers, Built to Order [Gallery, Video]

umidi – The World’s First Custom & Visual DJ Controller from umidi on Vimeo. DJs, laptop musicians, and VJs may never agree on what layout is optimal for controlling their apps. With UMIDI, they might not have to. The Kickstarter-funded project has an ambitious goal: building whatever control you want, to order. Use a graphical Web interface to select a layout, and the producer will custom-machine a case out of aluminum, etching it with your own design, and adding the controls you want. The resulting hardware is USB class-compliant and works with any software, they say, and weighs under 3 …

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Palette Snaps Together Controls for Music, Creative Software

It seems everyone is thinking in LEGO these days. There’s littleBits, which snaps together analog components with magnetic connections. There’s Patchblocks, which connects digital modules you can then re-program onscreen. And now, there’s Palette, a set of controller blocks that snap together and connect via USB. It gives you knobs, sliders, and X/Y controls for manipulating any software – from music to apps. The crowd-funded project looks smart in both hardware and software design. And software easily extends what it can do – whether you’re playing a DJ set in Traktor or editing graphics in Photoshop. (Smart segues between those …

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A Case in Motion: AUUG Marries Wearable iPhone, Software, Cloud in Gestures

The next innovations in music and sound may come somewhere between fashion and instrument, between hardware, software, and service. The AUUG Motion Synth represents one idea of how to do that. In terms of hardware, it’s just aluminum – albeit aluminum in a rather clever configuration. Worn on your wrist, it solves the problem of how to gesture with an iPhone or iPod touch without … well, without dropping it. There isn’t any additional sensor; it simply uses the sensing already in the device. Then again, with Apple’s iPhone 5S, that may be what you want, and the presence of …

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Patchblocks: Modular Synth Units, Programmed Visually [Sounds, Gallery]

Patchblocks’ creator says he wanted this hardware sound construction set to be like a combination of Max, Arduino, Moog, and LEGO. And in a novel, crowd-funded project, you get a set of units that seem very much like that. “Modular” is the angle, like a variety of hardware we’ve seen lately. And the Patchblocks satisfyingly snap together via puzzle piece-shaped interlocks in acrylic. But perhaps the real story here is that each of these “blocks” can be programmed to do what you want, not in code, but using a Max/Pd-style visual patching interface. With just one block, in fact, Patchblocks …

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Jamming Without Wires: Thavius Beck, Hands on with the QuNeo Rogue

The freedom to go wireless means being able to take a controller and move about a venue or studio space. Visualists can eye their projections and lighting; musicians can check sound levels while walking around or more easily play with others. We’ve experienced this with iPads and the like. Now it’s time to do it with hardware. We covered the QuNeo Rogue in a look at two crowd-funded wireless projects late last month. But the Rogue now has just five days left on its crowd funding. KMI is at least no stranger to the model; they’ve shipped gear this way …

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Interview: Sheffield’s The Black Dog Branch into Controllers, With Crowd-Funded Gear

The Black Dog are titans of experimental techno and house, with a long record to match. (We reviewed – and praised – their latest album, Tranklements.) But you may not associate them with manufacturing hardware. As the landscape of crowd-funded music hardware grows, though, that’s exactly the venture they’re now willing to take, as the members of that group co-found a new, England-based manufacturing company dubbed Machinewerks. And the results so far already give insights into what they value in controller design and how they use those controllers in their music. They’re now well on their way to funding a …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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Multi-Touch with Your Current Keyboard, And How Expressive, Crowd-Funded Keys Stack Up

Augmenting keyboards with additional expression is a tradition that goes back nearly a century. Inventors have tried keys that bend and wiggle, add-ons from pulleys to ribbons, wheels and pressure sensors, and more – anything to extend the piano and organ beyond their on/off playing methods. But now, the Web has accelerated the ability to communicate and develop these ideas. Crowd-funded invention is becoming widespread. And that means we’ve actually seen several polyphonic touch expression schemes this year. Rather than just presenting papers at conferences, instrumental experimenters are going to musicians and trying to fund real products. American-born, London-based composer, …

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