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What to expect from 2017’s first wave of new music gear

Happy New Year? Not yet. In the universe of music gear, the NAMM show in California is a sort of unspoken new year’s holiday – home to the biggest wave of music tech announcements of the year. It doesn’t cover everything, as many music producer-specific makers have fled the pricey trade show booths for more focused events. But there’s still rather a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect. Year of the drum machine The monosynth has made its comeback; now it might be the drum machine’s turn. Behringer and Akai are likely to join recent product launches from …

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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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Maschine adds Ableton Link, for jams with DJ, production software

For some time, Maschine has topped the list of “things we wish had Ableton Link support.” Well, wish granted. And now that means easy jamming with DJ tools and production tools, on desktop or on iPad. Maschine now adds Ableton Link for seamlessly sync and live jamming over wires and wireless with a whole bunch of stuff. That includes Ableton Live, of course, but also Serato DJ, Max/MSP, Pure Data, and a whole mess of iOS apps. Instead of having to bother with MIDI sync, you just switch on Link and everything syncs – with any tool or any user …

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Leaks hint at new standalone Akai MPCs coming this year

Now that software increasingly comes with hardware, why not have it also run standalone? That has seemed inevitable for some time. Yet, for years, MPC fans have been without a standalone hardware option from Akai. Pioneer, Elektron, and others will sell you drum machine hardware that runs on its own, but not Akai. That seems set to change. Now, multiple leaks from employees of dealers selling Akai hardware suggest standalone hardware is imminent. (Dealers have increasingly become a weak point in keeping upcoming hardware confidential – recent Roland announcements have demonstrated.) You might not even have to wait for January’s …

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Novation’s Circuit goes polyrhythmic, and other 1.4 goodies

Firmware updates aren’t supposed to be something that gets talked about. But somehow, Novation’s actually generate some buzz. There’s a lesson here for the whole industry. Social media strategy could actually be part of the development process. (Your engineers are part of your PR?) Anyway, the new Novation Circuit continues to get cooler. And some new features I’ve been waiting for arrived – the ones that made me stick it back into my MIDI rig, where it’s been earning lots of attention with that friendly face. The big ones for me: drum pattern length (for polyrhythms) and instant pattern switch. …

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Someone custom-skinned a Roland MC-505 to look like an AIRA

Now having let the genie out of the bottle, there’s no saying where Roland will turn next with reboots and reissues. But some people are evidently not content to wait. So, via Twitter via Facebook, we see this lovely image of the 1998 Roland MC-505 groovebox, reimagined for people who love that black-with-Matrixsynth green-trim look of the new AIRAs.

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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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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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Watch these video reviews of 303, 909 and comparisons to originals

Now, with the embargo lifted on new Roland gear, brace yourself for a lot of discussion. On some level, any comparison of a $349-$399 new gadget to anything before it is a bit silly – when original 909s start selling for three figures, let us know. And I think starting with a direct comparison misses the point: the TR-909 and TB-303 sound terrific, and you’re unlikely to record or play either totally dry. (Classic records, uh, used processing too, ya know?) Relax and go enjoy a great drum machine and bassline.

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Roland and Serato made a monster DJ controller that does everything

What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.

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