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Grab 150 vintage and rare drum machines for free

You know the person – collecting weird old music gear, from highly valuable to the near-worthless used prices, as an obsessive hoarder. You open their closet and immediately want to grab a mic and start sampling. Well, that’s the feeling of this totally free library of drum machine sounds. You get a 200MB library, with 150 drum machines. They’re eminently playable, too, with General MIDI mappings so you don’t have to hunt around for the sounds. They’re also grouped (kick, snare, hat, cymbal, tom). And there’s a lot of work here – custom graphics for each kit and custom controls …

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Adult Swim has a free noise album you don’t want to miss

It’s that time of the year again: weeks of hearing Christmas songs on repeat plus the untimely death of George Michael, and your ears are probably oozing peppermint goo while you cry yourself to sleep. This calls for some seriously aggressive noise album. You know – like a palette cleanser. Well, here’s one, and it’s free – from Adult Swim. “Noise” album? Cartoon Network? Okay, the combination sounds unlikely. But if you were expecting some lame hipster compilation that sounds like “noise music” just means someone fell asleep on their guitar pedalboard, think again. It’s actually damned good. And it’s …

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Minitaur, (CC-BY) Audiotecna Música.

Get a pile of free one-shots of vintage instruments for Ableton Live

Get a gift that keeps on giving: a massive trove of one-shot samples of classic instruments that begs you to make your own sounds. That’s the latest freebie packaged for Ableton Live (though you could also snag the samples for other tools, too). And, wow, here are some beloved instruments: Prophet 12, Prophet 08, Minitaur, SubPhatty, SH101, MS20m, Bass Station II, Custom SEM/Doepfer modular, VL-Tone (drums), Mattel Synsonics (drums) I’ve made no secret of being a fan of Francis Preve’s sound design prowess, honed in years of work for companies like Roland and Ableton. His latest FM pack was a …

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NI just gave away a bunch of morphing toy sounds from your childhood

Mighty morphin’ nostalgia rangers. That Fisher-Price “Pull-a-Tune” xylophone. The plastic turntable Fisher-Price musicbox. L.G.B. and Lionel locomotives. A tin robot. Even if these don’t bring up memories of your own childhood playtime or your family’s playthings or (uh, depending on age) a visit to the local toy museum, they’re full of charming, magical sounds. And in a free sample library from our Berlin neighbors at Native Instruments, you can mess around with them in a morphing 3D interface. It’s just what you need to produce some ghastly, gothic, creepy horror soundtrack to scare the living f– Oh, wait. Sorry. Holiday …

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Skinnerbox’s free M4L Device is the MIDI curve Ableton forgot

Ableton Loop in its second year was a vastly expanded event, with more people, more interactions, and a greater sense of community. And it was more hands-on. The workshop with Skinnerbox, the duo that makes such robust use of Live, well, live, was overflowing. But now there’s a gift for everybody, not just those lucky enough to pack into the Berlin session. It’s simple, but that makes it handy to learn from. And it’s quite useful. (I like stuff like that for learning patching for the first time. Sometimes you need a screwdriver, not a CNC machine.) Curve does what …

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Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

Get a bunch of drum and wavetable sounds for Novation Circuit

What does that tasty ice, cold vanilla ice cream need? Chocolate sauce and peanuts. What does the Novation Circuit need? This sample pack.

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PiDeck makes a USB stick into a free DJ player, with turntables

There’s something counterintuitive about it, right? Plug a USB stick into a giant digital player alongside turntables. Or plug the turntables into a computer. What if the USB stick … was the actual player? In the age of rapid miniaturization, why hasn’t this happened yet? Well, thanks to an open source project, it has happened (very nearly, anyway). It’s called PiDeck. And it radically reduces the amount of gear you need. You’ll still need an audio interface with phono input to connect the turntable, plus the (very small, very cheap) Raspberry Pi. But that’s just about it. Connect your handheld …

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This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument

You can get the feeling of “pushing into” an iPhone as of the iPhone 6S. It’s an expressive, intimate gesture, which is generally used for … wait, really, shortcut menus? That’s pretty boring. Ever since I saw the feature, I wanted to see it used for music applications. And one obvious fit is an emerging standard for sending expressive pressure-based control over MIDI. The futuristic, sleek black ROLI Seaboard does it. The lovely, wooden Madrona Labs Soundplane does it. Roger Linn’s innovative grid-covered Linnstrument does it. It’s all a (draft) specification for control called MPE – Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. (Early …

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Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets

The beautiful thing about software is that it’s flexible. You can reconfigure an entire live rig on the fly. But it’s still necessary to channel that flexibility into consistency, especially playing live. Reuse the stuff you need most so it’s always there. And train your hands and muscle memory so you can play fluidly. Savages – the Chicago/Dallas duo of Ted “TJ” Pallas and Alexandra Hartman – have shared their go-to channel strip full of all their favorite tools. And while they were at it, they recreated a unique EQ. EQ differently PLAYdifferently’s Model 1 mixer takes a different approach …

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The DX7 - one of three instruments in a new library for Ableton Live. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Bernd Sieker.

Go full retrowave with a magical FM synth library for Ableton

FM is a conundrum. On one hand, it’s the ideal form of synthesis, capable of a rich range of sounds and transformations. On the other, it’s hard to actually get all that sound under control – the very thing that range would make you want to do. And accordingly, a lot of sound libraries have just skipped over FM altogether. Not our man Francis Preve and Symplesound. Here’s the concept: make FM fun and playable again. Make FM something where you want to start toying around and turning knobs, without fear that you’re going to get lost in a muddle …

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