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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, f*** minimalism, apparently. We’ve seen monophonic/duophonic synths. We’ve seen new analog keyboards. What we haven’t seen is analog keyboards that seemed to be designed when an inventory of pads and knobs exploded – in your face. And that’s what the new Arturia MatrixBrute is. It looks like a fake Photoshop mockup you’d see on a forum, perhaps. But it’s real. All real. Close your eyes for a second and let your retinas recover, and let’s sort out what is actually even happening here.
There are plenty of hardware step sequencers out there. But now Arturia has a compact entry friendly to keyboardists. This isn’t about dialing up melodies with knobs. It assumes you actually know how to find melodies on some keys. Clearly building on the success of the BeatStep Pro sequencer hardware, Arturia’s Keystep is a keyboard with both step sequencer and arpeggiator modes. And Arturia has given CDM an exclusive first peek, to share with you.
If you’ve been wanting to let your freak flag fly with keyboards, this may be some good news. Future Retro have teased a touchplate keyboard on their Facebook channel. It’s dubbed the FR-512, and comes equipped with both MIDI and CV out (with lots of separate patch points) – so fans of digital and modular alike may be pleased. Pitch and mod lie next to the two-octave keyboard. Oh, and it’s a sequencer/arpeggiator, too – check those controls above the keys. (Rest, accent, arpeggiator, etc.)
Synths: they’re fun to tweak and play. Modulars: they’re fun to patch. Arduinos: they’re fun to hack. Small things: they’re fun to carry around. Now, what if you got all of those things at the same time? That’s the thought behind the NS1nanosynth analog synthesizer. It’s either vying for the prize of tiniest modular synth ever, or most hackable tiny synth ever. If you saw one from across the room, you might just assume this was just another little project synth. And lately, that category, while generating lots of decent oddities, hasn’t had something that could stick as a hit. …
Do call it a comeback. The hardware sequencer, once a forgotten relic of the computer age, has returned with a vengeance. And the reason is simple: we need it. Sure, we might play with a computer, but we’ve fallen for other synthesizers and drum machines – a lot of it quite cheap, too. We want hands-on control so we can play live again, improvise with our hands rather than furrow our brows over a mouse and screen. And we might even have beloved analog gear and want it to groove along with everything else. Few companies represent the blossoming of …
It’s no step backward. Standalone hardware is now smaller, lighter, more affordable, more capable, and easier to use than before. So why not help focus on a live gig or creating musical ideas by getting away from the computer now and then? This video from Meta Micro Labs shows how easy it is to plug in and get going – even if you’ve never worked this way before. And it stars the MeeBlip anode, our own humble monosynth (co-produced with CDM), featuring our gritty bass sound with analog filter. The timing is right, as we’ve just put anode on sale …