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 …


BlokDust is an amazing graphical sound tool in your browser

Just when you think you’ve tired of browser toys, of novel graphical modular sound thing-a-ma-jigs, then — this comes along. It’s called Blokdust. It’s beautiful. And … it’s surprisingly deep. Not only might you get sucked into playing with it, but thanks to some simply but powerful blocks and custom sample loading, you might even make a track with it. And for nerds, this is all fully free and open source and hipster-JavaScript-coder compliant if you want to toy with the stuff under the hood.

"New MacBook." Photo (CC-BY Maurizio Pesce.

Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool

Don’t like clicks or beeps or other sounds when using a metronome? Try some haptic feedback instead, with this free utility.

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Ableton just released every last detail of how Push 2 works

Wish granted, hackers. The full specification for Ableton’s Push 2 hardware is now online on GitHub, after passionate Live users clamored for its release. And there’s a lot. This isn’t just a MIDI specification (though that’s there). Every minute detail of how colors appear on LEDs gets covered. (The color “white” has its own section. Yeah, like that minute.) Every animation. The pixels that show up on the display. This isn’t just a guide to how to hack Push 2 – though it’s certainly that. It’s a technical bible on how Push 2 works.


Google are giving away experiments to teach music and code

Technology’s record in the last century was often replacing music making with music consumption. But in this century, that might turn around. Google seems to hope so. Today, the company posted a set of free sound toys on its site, all running in your browser. They’re fun diversions for now – but thanks to open code and powerful new browser features, they could become more.


Axoloti board makes sound box the size of a game controller

Hot on the heels of our write-up of a board that makes any hardware you can imagine, here’s a mod that takes all that power and fits it in a handheld space with hands-on controls.

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Now you can edit a MeeBlip synth from a Web browser

Thanks to the addition of MIDI to a new generation of browsers, a browser tab could as easily be an interface to a synth – not just a place for social media distractions of pictures of synths with cats. Now, we’ve got an (unsolicited) Web editor for our own MeeBlip synth, joining editors for Roland Boutique and Yamaha Reface instruments.

Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

A free app makes a TI graphing calculator make music

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.” No — like, actually. HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.) What do I mean? Just watch:


What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware

The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though – and it’s time. In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths – most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right …


Get physical modeling sonic powers, free, in Max starter kit

There is a powerful world of sound exploration in your hands. But sometimes the hardest part is just starting. So the quiet launch of a site called Maxology is very good news. It’s evidently a place to go for tutorials and projects and more. And right now, you can grab a bunch of free and open source objects for physical modeling, built for Max 7 and Max for Live. That opens a window into a world of realistic and impossible sounds, built on algorithms that mimic the way instruments work physically and acoustically.