KORG volca keys Hands-on: Probably the volca You Most Want [Sounds]

KORG’s volca line of affordable analog instruments isn’t yet available everywhere, but they’re slowly, slowly trickling into the world. KORG hasn’t yet sent any to CDM, and we’re generally hearing “September” from most retailers, but Japan has got a few. One of those was store-bought and brought back to Berlin, and I got to play with it with music collaborator and fellow journalist-at-large Benjamin Weiss of De:Bug. It’s worth revisiting CDM’s detailed hands-on from some weeks ago, as we got to talk to the creator, and hear what he does with his own instrument (a real highlight of 2013 so …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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What’s Inside The New Moog: 25-Key Synth Prototype Walkthrough with Pioneer Herb Deutsch

Moog has revealed the innards of the synth they’re launching later this month, and it looks like a cute but sonically-rich analog monosynth: two-octave keyboard, no display, plenty of knobs. What’s best is, we get not some strange Web teaser or blurry cropped photos, but a walkthrough of the prototype with none other than Herb Deutsch. Professor Deutsch is perhaps second only to Bob Moog himself in his influence on the early years of the Moog company and the evolution of the early idea of the synth. He can barely contain his delight as he “doodles” on the new instrument. …

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Modulation-o-rama: Rack Extension Tutorial with FXpansion Etch Might Make Knees Wobbly

Over the summer, a slew of new Rack Extensions has opened Reason’s modular, patchable rack to a variety of developers. I have to admit, I’ve been astounded by the quantity and variety, given this is just one host – it seems there was pent-up demand for Reason modules, and that Propellerhead made things developer-friendly. FXpansion do wonderful work, have some of the best synth modeling tools on the market, and I say really entirely too little about them. Now, the guts from their DCAM suite are available in a Rack Extension called Etch, a modeled filter with loads of modulation. …

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syitcases

SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …

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500ladder

Moog Goes Classic: Ladder Filter 500 Series Module

If you think Moog’s entry into iPad synthesizers is too new-fangled, something for the kids, and nothing compared to the authentic analogness of … uh … analog, you’ll like this, at the opposite end of the spectrum. In the same week they unveiled their first iOS synth, Moog has their first 500 series module – and it’s a classic, derived from Dr. Moog’s legendary Ladder Filter design. Engineering audio isn’t quite like engineering bridges and airplanes: it’s actually the unique flaws in what might have otherwise been a forgettable filter design that led to a distinctive distortion, first heard in …

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Letting Out Ethereal Cries, a Slide Guitar Meets Synthesis in the Hands of a Bluegrass Master

When musical traditions meet, handled by people with real mastery of their technique, wonderful things can happen. That can be true of master instrument builders, for one. I got a chance to hear the sounds of the Moog Lap Steel Guitar in June while meeting with the folks from Moog Music. It’s an incredibly-delicious instrument, both in terms of how it’s engineered as a guitar and in bringing the filter from the Moog synth, now itself a tradition. But more importantly, in the stage that comes after those tools are built, traditions fuse beneath the fingers of master musicians. Chris …

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editor-screen

Imagining a Tablet Synth: Developer Christopher Penrose Shows Us SynthTronica for iPad

What can a new digital synth be in 2011? How will it work and sound? And given access to so many excellent tools, how can it stand apart? In place of a press release and some marketing-speak, developer Christopher Penrose (Leisuresonic, Cosmovox) sent us an extended essay explaining his thinking behind his just-released SynthTronica synth for the iPad. Aside from getting into the nitty-gritty technical details, it cuts to the crux of the issue: how to make something personal and new that nonetheless can work for other people, and how that idea can be tailored to a tablet. As the …

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Exclusive Leak: Moog Music Make Filtatron, an iPhone Filtering, Effects, and Sampling App

The Moog app sits on my iPod touch, next to its analog predecessor Moogerfooger. Yeah, okay, I still like the knobs better, but it is fun, and the Moogerfooger doesn’t fit in my pocket unless I wear really silly-looking overalls. Moog Music, they of the normally analog-only gear, have built their first iOS application. We’ve acquired exclusive details of the innards of the app, and I’ve been testing it today on my (second-generation) iPod touch. Blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s a nicely-designed little application, and with audio input capability, could turn your Apple handheld into a tiny recording and effects-processing unit …

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Soundhack Goodness, Now as Pd and Max External Objects

Soundhack, the free audio tool for the Mac developed by audio wizard Tom Erbe, was long a beloved tool for doing strange and wonderful things for sound. It was followed by Spectral Shapers, Mac and Windows plug-ins that built on some of those ideas to do more “timbral morphing” with recorded audio. That includes “timbral filtering” and noise-reducing expansion with spectralcompand, drawn morphing filter shapes with morphfilter, audio positioning with binaural, and a terrific spectralgate for creative dynamics processing. In what can only come as great news to lovers of patching in the free and open source Pure Data (Pd) …

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