Image: Licht Pfad.

TouchDesigner 099 does everything with live visuals – now on Mac, too

It makes things look prettier, with something called “physically based rendering.” It has crazy compositing and capture powers. It’s networked with Web support, talks to DMX gear, and intelligently handles all your MIDI gadgets and capture cards and everything else. It handles VR with HTC Vive. And that’s just a few examples of what is new or improved in version 099. TouchDesigner is a name you’ll see coming up regularly mentioned in projects. It’s an all-encompassing visual development environment, using a patching (or “dataflow”) metaphor, like Pd, Max/MSP/Jitter, vvvv, and others. That interface is one of the best looking zoomable …

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euro808

System 80 is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack

Wait… I don’t think I’ve ever basically said everything I needed to say in a story right in the headline before, but… yeah. This is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack. And for anyone disappointed that Roland didn’t do a TR-08 Boutique Series at NAMM, here’s one that is probably exactly as analog fans would want it. You get the layout of the original 808, if a bit miniaturized and squashed, but control-for-control an image of the original. You get independent outs for each part. You get CV I/O for connecting to other modules. It’s Eurorack. It’s 60HP. It looks …

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bitwig2

Bitwig Studio 2 lets you modulate and control like a bandit

Bitwig gets its first blockbuster upgrade since launch, in beta now. And the first look at this software suggests it’s continuing to deliver what an enthusiast audience wants – even if some of the revolutionary promise of the tool remains over the horizon. So, first, what it isn’t: it isn’t a complete modular environment. Underneath all the goodies Bitwig offers is a set of modules that provide its functionality. Bitwig’s developers have said eventually they’ll open that up to users, not just for their own development. And that’s be exciting indeed. But forget about big ambitions for a moment. The …

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The big'n.

Akai’s standalone MPCs revealed – and they could replace your laptop

Welcome to the post-PC drum machine age. After years of leaving fans of standalone MPCs in the cold, Akai have unveiled machines that promise the flexibility of computer software – minus the computer. Specs and photos went live on the Sweetwater website this morning with complete specs, and now are also live on Akai’s site. (I’m unaware of whether or not today was the date Akai intended to lift embargo, as CDM was never under one.)s http://www.akaipro.com/product/mpc-x http://www.akaipro.com/product/mpc-live The MPC Live is probably the one you want, in a compact form factor and with a not-insane US$1,199 street price. And …

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motherfer

The MotherF***** is the DIY delay-reverb box of your nightmares

If you want a nice, pristine, versatile delay/reverb, then … this isn’t it. It’s called the MotherF***er 2 for a reason. It’s the creation of Ewa Justka, engineer and musician born in Poland and based in London. (Ewa was also nice enough to co-host the MusicMakers Hacklab with us at CTM Festival this year, where she was a patient and inspirational guide for our artists in inventing all manner of new things.) And this pedal is all sorts of crazy in all the best ways. Keep watching, as there are actually a bunch of different possible sounds in there. And …

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noname

Arturia’s DrumBrute is a $499 hands-on analog drum machine

Boom! No, that’s not the sound of a kick drum – it’s the sound of the analog drum machine getting friendlier and cheaper the same way analog monosynths have. Arturia’s DrumBrute is US$499 (449€), and it’s loaded with hands-on sound controls and extra features. At that price and with all this stuff to play with on the front panel, this is guaranteed big news. The sound DNA come from Arturia’s other Brute instruments – so expect edgy sounds and, naturally, another Steiner-Parker filter. (That particular filter design has shown up on the whole family.) Here’s a demo video sent to …

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analogheat_angle

Elektron’s Analog Heat is a new distortion, filter, computer accessory

Surprise: Elektron’s latest isn’t a drum machine or sampler or sequencer. Analog Heat is instead a box you use with other stuff. And it has two missions. Mission one: add character to other sounds, via distortion, EQ, a filter, and modulation. Mission two: work with your computer, as an audio interface and as a way of adding that same analog business to software signals.

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arcmonome

A new arc and a new module from monome

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.

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reaktor

Reaktor Blocks works with modulars, Maschine, adds drums

Native Instruments keeps adding to Reaktor Blocks, the patch-and-play toolkit they’ve built atop Reaktor. And… it’s turning into kind of an awesome product in its own right. Reaktor Blocks 1.2 adds a bunch of the sort of stuff I think you or I would add to it were we in charge of the product. It’s suddenly got drums. It’s got a new sequencer that you can power with Maschine. It’s connecting via MIDI and CV to outboard gear and analog modular. In short, it’s something you actually want to play with.

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ribbon2

Eowave’s Ribbon 2 synth-controller is an updated classic

Amidst a bumper crop of new, multi-dimensional hardware, it’s a wonderful time for the expressive controller. But Eowave’s unique boutique instrument is one in the classic mold: a long, touch-sensitive strip that can act as a synth or controller. It’s now updated in a new model called the Ribbon 2.

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