05 Pyramid zoom

Pyramid is High-End MIDI, Analog Sequencer Gear with Effects [Gallery]

Maybe it’s because people have started collecting lots of gear. Maybe it’s a shift in how people play live. Maybe it’s just that we’re getting more than enough mileage out of our laptop as the machine for mixing and tracking and recording and mastering and managing our tour and our social network. Whatever the reason, boy, are we seeing a lot of focus on dedicated hardware – especially for live performance. The Pyramid, from oddly-named Squarp (Squarepusher + arpeggio?), looks like what would happen if Elektron decided to make its own standalone step sequencer without the drum machine. Or at …


OSCiLLOT is a $99 Virtual Modular Rig for Ableton Live – No Cables Needed

The renaissance in modular synthesis has sent a strong message. Open-ended sound design, made by connecting sonic capabilities, can inspire musicians’ imagination. Now, part of the joy of racks of modular gear is the chance to feel these connections in your hand – plugging cables, turning knobs. But that doesn’t mean that the required hardware is always the most convenient or accessible way to work. Why not have the same sorts of powers in your laptop, too? And why not work in an environment that is itself already modular? And why not choose between using just software or connecting your …


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 …


KORG SQ-1 Sequencer Does Everything: CV, MIDI, littleBits, USB [Details]

Analog or digital, clock or notes, it appears Korg’s new SQ-1 will do anything. It loves your MS-20, but also your volca series and your monotribe and your MIDI gear and your computer. In fact, with audio clock, it’ll support a product even Korg probably only heard about yesterday – those cute Teenage Engineering machines. The SQ-1 is the new compact step sequencer hardware from Korg. Way back when Korg first unveiled the MS-20 mini, I hoped for a remake of the SQ-10 to go with it. Now, instead of that lumbering behemoth, we got something much more practical. The …


New Korg SQ-1 Analog Step Sequencer, Plus MS-20 Module Kit

Australia’s Turra Music have leaked a new analog Korg synth product. But it’s the product that goes with it that has us excited. Following up on the MS-20 kit – the build-it-yourself limited-run full-sized MS-20 remake Korg did – the company now has a module. That’s brilliant: the full-sized MS-20 sounds amazing (with both MS-20 filter models) and feels and looks beautifully authentic, but it isn’t the easiest thing to tote. But packed in the kit is a new SQ-1 Step Sequencer. That’s pre-assembled, which makes me think we’ll see this as a separate product. This is obviously a no-brainer …


DIY Tool Max 7 Arrives; Here Are The Best New Features

Being “software about nothing” isn’t easy. Max has for years been a favored choice of musicians and artists wanting to make their own tools for their work. But it’s been on a journey over more recent years to make that environment ever more accessible to a wider audience of people. The aim: for beginners and advanced users alike, work faster, producing tools that work better. Okay, those are easy goals to set – a bit like all of us declaring we’re going to “get in better shape” in a few weeks from now on New Year’s Eve. But Max 7 …


Here’s How Clever Hacks Turned Sushi Into a Music Sequencer, with Just Blaze and Tokimonsta

If you’ve ever ordered sushi from one of those rotating belts, you’ll love this musical hack that takes it to an entirely new place. For Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) Tokyo, Native Instruments engineers teamed up with Just Blaze and Tokimonsta to turn a sushi restaurant into a live electronic remix instrument. And these aren’t tricks – slick as the music video at top my appear. They really did use a combination of cameras and software to make colored plates into a working interface for music. RBMA produced a video that shows some of what’s going on behind the scenes, …


Sync All Your Gear in One Box – No Jitter At All: Master Clock Teaser

Let’s admit it: what we all want out of sync is some magic box that just makes everything work. We just want to plug things in, turn a knob, and have everything sync up. Caveats: we want everything. (USB? DIN? MIDI? Modulars?) And, come to think of it, we probably then start to want to do other fun stuff like shift things around. That is, not all of us want to write technical papers on the topic. But fortunately, Maximilian Rest did write a paper on it. He then built a jitter-free MIDI clock. Well, it gets better. First, the …


USB is the new CV: monome meadowphysics as Modular, in New Video

meadowphysics possibilities from tehn on Vimeo. Here’s a lovely new monome demo, demonstrating their meadowphysics module interfacing between Eurorack hardware (that’s the stuff with the cables and knobs and things) and monome (that’s the stuff with the light-up grid). Call your family and random strangers and tell them that today you’re really stoked about “rhizomatic cascading counters,” which is what this is. (In more technical terms, let’s go with “chimey note-y thing.”) I’ve heard people who don’t like computers much complain that USB is some sort of source of planned obsolescence. On the contrary, with serial and standard class-compliant implementations …


Hands on with Dave Smith Pro 2: “The Most Useful Synth I’ve Ever Played”

Synthesist Chris Stack has had his hands on a lot of gear – and a lot of it with the Moog Music moniker on it. But every chance he gets, he’s bugging me about how in love he is with the Dave Smith Pro 2, the richly-appointed, nicely-overpowered monosynth on steroids as we described it earlier this summer. And he’s having a lot of fun, transforming it into a hybrid digital/audio “hub” – a sound source, but also a central brain for exceptional soundscapes. And in Chris’ hands, I’m certainly convinced, as this beast sequences beautiful frontiers of noise and …