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Putting the PC in MPC: The Next Akai Drum Machine, Numark DJ Products, on Windows Embedded

The dedicated drum machine is at a crossroads. Computer hybrids are simply capable of more than dedicated hardware – and that, in turn, has changed user expectations. You can go retro, as analog machines have done. You can go small, as boxes like the volca beats and upcoming Akai Rhythm Wolf do. You can stay the course, as Elektron does with their boxes. You can go hybrid, as Native Instruments’ Maschine, Arturia’s Spark, and Akai’s Renaissance and MPC Fly do. Or, there’s one other option. You could put the soul of a computer – and the touchscreen interface – in …

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The Curious Digital Modular: Watch aleph bees in Action

aleph bees introduction from tehn on Vimeo. It’s like having a roomful of modulars inside a mysterious magic box. It’s like using Max/MSP with the control interface of an Etch-a-Sketch. It’s … okay, really hard to describe. But aleph bees is certainly unlike digital hardware we’ve seen before. Using just knobs and text, and silky-smooth sound features – everything runs fast and glitch-free, even hot-swapping hardware – aleph bees is a kind of experiment in computer minimalism. It’s as open-ended as a computer, but in ruggedly-simple hardware. It lets you program custom software with a few twists of your wrist …

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Bluetooth LE Will Make Minority Report a Creepy Reality, But Also Arduino Cooler

PSFK – Adaptive storefront prototype from + rehabstudio on Vimeo. After years of failing to demonstrate compelling applications, Bluetooth is back with a vengeance. If you haven’t yet used a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device, it’s a completely different experience. Pairing and range and latency work better (the result of years of learning how to make these better). Battery drain is barely noticeable. You can expect BLE to power lots of clever new applications – and it’s nice to see it showing up on DIY electronics. Oh, yeah, and it can creep the hell out of you, privacy-wise, by making …

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Pocket VJ: Raspberry Pi Gets Super Pikix Pi – Free, Dedicated Visual App

Those silver machines with the fruit on them sure are great. And for now, PCs (whether Apple or Windows or Linux) are unparalleled in performance. But cheaper, dedicated hardware with the same flexibility of computers could grow in appeal. The Steambox promises to the gaming community that a dedicated box running Linux can best desktops and consoles alike. And in visuals, we could see something similar. Why wait? With a $25, tiny pocket-sized computer and a free VJ app, you can start now. Sure, it won’t exactly match that mini-tower you’re lugging around running TouchDesigner. But if you need to …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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aleph Soundcomputer: Interview with monome creator Brian Crabtree and Ezra Buchla

aleph is something of a curiosity: it’s a dedicated box uniquely designed for sonic exploration that isn’t a conventional computer. It comes from the creator of the monome, but while dynamic mapping is part of the notion, it is the first monome creation capable of making sound on its own. The monome is a controller that uses a grid for whatever you want; aleph is a self-contained instrument that makes any sound you want. In review: aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything But this isn’t only a story about some specialist, boutique device. It’s a chance to …

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aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything

monome, the iconic grid controller that launched them all, has always been a device tethered to a computer. Without a USB connection to your machine, it is an attractive but functionless box. The latest monome project, the result of a collaboration between Brian Crabtree and musician Ezra Buchla (yes, there’s a relation) is different. It is a computer, with all the functions that entails, but in a box designed for sound. It has: A brain: Two of them, in fact – a DSP chip (BF533 blackfin, 533 mHz with 64 MB SDRAM) and an AVR32 for control. Audio connections: 4 …

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Wacky, Wooden Shnth Makes Eerie Sounds, Colors Outside the Lines [Documentary]

Shnth is a digital synth in a wooden box with a surprisingly open-ended programming language. It’s like a lo-fi sonic computer, touched with your fingers via a handmade interface, and with sonic capabilities that can be re-programmed over USB. And there’s a coloring book to go with it, too, with pictures of Max Mathews and microsound for you to sketch in. The drawings there, like the sounds that come out of its outputs, full of rough, digital edges and unexpected swoops and swirls of timbre, seem to encourage coloring outside the lines. Peter Blasser of Baltimore is the synth’s creator …

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Roll Your Own Looper, Cheap: Raspberry Pi + Pd + KORG monotron Hands-on

If computers are compact and $25, we’re talking a very different world of music hardware. Armed with the popular Raspberry Pi, Servando Barreiro has made an incredibly-affordable, ultimately-customizable rig with free software and the open source community. Oh, and he’s made the KORG monotron polyphonic – after a fashion. See video at top for some beautiful chords. And that’s just the beginning. We’ll let Servando share how he’s working.

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A Stompbox That Can Become Whatever You Like, in Crowd-funded OWL

There are stompboxes. They are — for lack of a better word — foot worthy. You can step on them, in a way that is less possible with a computer. (Well, sure, somewhere amidst an endless spinning color pinwheel you may have wanted to step on your MacBook Air, but then thought better of it – financial investment and whatnot.) Then, there are computers. They can do everything. That stompbox is one particular distortion effect. And it is always just that one distortion. But what if you could have both? As embedded technology continues its march toward greater user friendliness, …

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