Meet Teenage Engineerings’ new trio of Pocket Operators

Priced at $59, inspired by vintage Nintendo Game & Watch, and looking like calculators, the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator line was a runaway hit. So, just adding three more of them seems a no-brainer. Then again, with drum machines, bass synth, and lead synth covered, the next three might easily have been an anticlimax. Good news for Teenage Engineering fans: they aren’t. The Stockholm designers have managed three retro-tinted follow-ups that might easily make as big a splash the originals.


A flock of iOS devices can now jam with Ableton Link

Technology has done a strange thing to musicians: it’s turned us all into, well, loners. It didn’t used to be this way. Musicians on instruments ranging from folk ensembles to symphony orchestras are able to join up and keep time with one another. So why not do the same with tech? Ableton’s new Link technology promises to allow musicians to jam easily. But it isn’t just for Ableton Live. Today, iOS support is officially launching, allowing you to jam with supported apps even without a desktop/laptop computer involved.


iMaschine 2 adds steps, arrangement, chords to mobile drum machine [Review]

iMaschine, the iOS drum machine, is back in a new version. Now in mini, pocket-able form, you get arrangement and live play features from the desktop edition. For iPhone 6s/6s Plus owners, it also responds to 3D touch. I always keep sketchpads around – literal sketchpads, of the pencil and paper variety. So when software is described as a “sketchpad,” I take that seriously.

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Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power. We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.


Learn electronics with the vintage Side Man drum machine

ENG_SIDEMAN_PREVIEW from Darsha Hewitt on Vimeo. Darsha’s sound electronics class is in session – and it’s a little different to what you’d normally expect. Rather than a bunch of animations of electrons moving about, sound artist and educator Darsha Hewitt has created a long-form video tutorial around the world’s first commercial drum machine.


Reaktor met Eurorack, and you won’t believe what happened next

Reaktor Blocks Love Eurorack from listentoaheartbeat on Vimeo. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Can you combine computer software with analog hardware? Can you route control signal from computer software to hardware? Can you combine something accessible with a grid (like a drum machine) with more advanced, open-ended machines with wires? Yes, yes, and yes. Does all modular synthesis stuff sound like indecipherable noodling? Do you have to make a religious decision between analog and digital, hardware and computer? Do all modular setups have to be sprawling rigs that eat up all your money and home? No, no, and no. Make what you …


This is now the iOS drum machine you want to jam with: Elastic Drums 1.6

Remember when apps were novel toys for experimentation? Now, an app could give your drum machine a run for its money. It’s the third wave of iOS apps. We’re now onto a moment where, cresting the wave of tools, a few are becoming simply invaluable to the right users. They can make an iPad feel a bit like dedicated hardware, perhaps even in a way that a computer can’t. And that to me makes them worth examining, even if you have no desire to use an iPad. Elastic Drums has that feeling to me. On its surface, it’s just another …


Patterning on iPad is a circular, sample-savvy drum machine

We’re in a the golden age of the drum machine, whether it’s dedicated hardware or a computer or a mobile gadget. Of course, that means it’s getting tougher to stand out. Patterning is one of the most promising software entries yet. I’m already a huge fan of Elastic Drums for its rich approach to timbre – this could be my other fast favorite. Patterning side-steps the two problems with most drum machines – boring, regular patterns, and boring, predictable sounds. Patterning’s user interface is centered around a circle, as cycles of time repeat in futuristic rotating colored geometries. We’ve seen …


Celebrate 808 day by building a beat live with Egyptian Lover

Happy 8th of August, everybody – that means it’s 808 day, of course. So, to celebrate, let’s flash back to a 2012 video of Egyptian Lover assembling a beat in his hotel room. The LA rapper/producer was a big part of the early hip hop and electro roots of 808 use. There’s something that still resonates in the beautiful simplicity of this Roland box. I’m struck when I hear it and watch in use that there’s something that seems futuristic – cold, even, but in a Stanley Kubrick 2001 sort of way. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to …


Pads and triggers turn Elastic Drums into a killer performance tool

Here’s a live jam video that shows just how performance-friendly an all-in-one iPad drum machine can be. The pad controller you’ll recognize. But there’s an Audiobus story here, too. It started as a way to route audio between apps on iPads and whatnot – a drum machine app could be processed by a filter app. But now, Audiobus is answering some questions about how you can combine apps into something you can really play. And that brings us to Remote Triggers. Think of them as a custom remote control for different apps, used via a separate app called Audiobus Remote. …