How Does Novation’s Launchpad Pro Stack Up Against Ableton Push?

One of last month’s more predictable NAMM announcements was, at long last, an update to Novation’s Launchpad line that adds RGB color support and pressure sensitivity. But that means that it’s easier to compare the new Launchpad Pro with the spendier (but also more powerful) Ableton Push. It’s been a few years since the original Launchpad first commercialized the “grid performance instrument” concept popularized by the monome. Since then, we’ve seen Novation’s LEDs get brighter and the body get slimmer, plus the welcome addition of class-compliant support (opening up iOS and Linux compatibility and driverless operation). But the Launchpad itself …


One Reason to Watch Casio: They’re Step Sequencer Crazy!

Okay, so Casio have crammed a groove box into a Millennium Falcon, and that was a little strange (and means squeezing some of the controls, since the shape is irregular). But now that the shock has worn off, the next question: should we get one for review when it arrives later this March? Should you keep it on your 2015 gear radar? The answer turns out to be yes, as a few readers have told me online and offline. And the reason has to do with a keyboard you probably ignored from Casio a couple years back. Let us explain. …


Home Alone Remixed Live on Ableton, Launchpad; Mega APC Mashup

Home Alone (Ableton Live Remix) from Keenan Gaynor on Vimeo. It’s the holidays, a time for family, and to ponder when controller mappings meet one-shot clip triggering, cable TV, weird child neglect, and brutal violence against slapstick criminals. Yes, of course – it’s the time-honored tradition of Ableton Live and Home Alone. There’s the 2010 original remix on Launchpad. But, unlike the Home Alone movie, the sequel’s even better. Last year, Keenan Gaynor quietly updated the remix on a Novation Launchpad Mini. And clearly he’s picked up some better techniques in Live. (Pro mode, anyway!) So, even though the original …


Numerology 4 is the Deep Modular Sequencer You Didn’t Know You Needed [Mac]

Numerology is a ray of hope, proof that there’s more than one way to build software for making music live and in the studio. Instead of locking you into yet another multitrack recorder, it’s an open canvas for combining sequencers into note-making machines. But maybe the idea of using some idiosyncratic modular step-sequencing environment just hadn’t quite won you over. Quietly working away in New Mexico, developer Jim Coker has been working away on a new Numerology to change your mind. What’s different about this fourth revision? Well, a whole lot of details, but here are the important new developments: …


Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing. Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks …


USB is the new CV: monome meadowphysics as Modular, in New Video

meadowphysics possibilities from tehn on Vimeo. Here’s a lovely new monome demo, demonstrating their meadowphysics module interfacing between Eurorack hardware (that’s the stuff with the cables and knobs and things) and monome (that’s the stuff with the light-up grid). Call your family and random strangers and tell them that today you’re really stoked about “rhizomatic cascading counters,” which is what this is. (In more technical terms, let’s go with “chimey note-y thing.”) I’ve heard people who don’t like computers much complain that USB is some sort of source of planned obsolescence. On the contrary, with serial and standard class-compliant implementations …


This Virtuoso Ableton Push Performance Comes Full of Tips for Controllerists

Jesse Abayomi, Ableton Product Specialist, is one heck of a virtuoso Push player. And you can learn something from him, too. Performance technology doesn’t always add to performance, it’s true. But when the machine and human are in sync, it’s beautiful. People can develop their musical chops and machine control chops at once – improve on their musical practice and technique. And when that happens, the quality of performances actually gets better. I’ve seen a funny thing as Push has crept into performances. Just as with the spread of custom controllers in the past, access to more playing technique has …


white whale Makes your monome Into an Amazing Modular Step Sequencer

It seems everyone is getting in on modular gear these days, thanks to the Eurorack format. But many of these modules are variations on a theme – new models of old classic modules, existing synthesis components and filters that have just been reborn as a module. monome white whale, shipping this month, is something different. Connect a monome grid controller to a modular, and suddenly that array of light-up buttons becomes a probabilistic sequencer. It’s live performance oriented in a way too few modules are. The results are surprising and lovely. The solution isn’t cheap – you need a monome …


Will Your Next Controller Be 3D Printed? Meet Adafruit’s Open Source Grid

The original monome project did more than just create a novel piece of hardware for music. It established a design language for what essential digital interfaces might be, in the deceptively simple form of its light up grid of buttons. It’s not so interesting to just copy that hardware, then. More compelling are efforts to extract the elements of the design in ways that can be turned into new things. Adafruit has been slowly building up a nice set of building blocks clearly inspired by monome. Trellis is a system for making the grids component work – lighting the buttons …


Numark NV for Serato: Every Digital DJ Control Method in One Box?

In the digital age, the metaphor for DJing has been fragmented. You’ve got big wheels, but they represent missing turntables and don’t provide visual feedback. You’ve got CDJs, but then the waveform and the wheel are still separate. You’ve got vinyl records, but then you have to look at a computer screen to see where you are in the track. (A recent presentation at the NIME conference projected images on the record – see below – but projectors lack enough resolution for cue points on the vinyl.) The iPad is the one device that seems to get it right. It …