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When a record label gets into making cool, weird instruments

Streaming revenue may be hit or miss, but record labels can always make their own boutique sound hardware. Ghostly International have long pioneered new ideas in the category of “selling stuff that isn’t vinyl.” There was the Matthew Dear Totem, for instance – though that served zero practical function and didn’t make sound. Their store feels as much a trendy boutique for design fetishists as a record outlet. But I think it’s their musical instrument collaborations that are most interesting. Yeah, okay, you could say this is getting a bit hipster-y. But remember that it’s really musical instruments that have …

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samplr

That $329 iPad looks like an affordable music app machine

Well, if you’ve been waiting to dive into the world of the iPad – or you’re stuck with a machine that’s too old and slow to run the latest software – Apple pretty much has your answer. At US$329 and with 32GB of storage, the new 9.7″ iPad is a nice sweet spot. The A9 processor is more than capable enough for most audio production tasks. It’s got a big-enough Retina display. And that storage will be enough for running synths and other apps. And the pricing is aggressive enough that you might as well go ahead and buy new. …

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dsc03290

These circuit-bent instruments and sounds are simply gorgeous

Mention “circuit bending” and you may think of someone making unlistenable noise on a Speak & Spell they … broke. But in the grand tradition of Reed Ghazala, circuit bending can mean instruments that have exquisitely mutated from vintage devices, resplendent in new paint and making bizarre but wonderful new sounds. I guess you can think of it as the difference between a conservatory-trained woodwind quintet and … the sound of your first-grade music class playing those plastic recorders. Ivo Ivanov is squarely in the master builder category. We can drool over his visually beautiful creations, in this gallery here. …

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Your Web browser now makes your MeeBlip synth more powerful, free

Open a tab, design a new sound. Now you can, with a free Web editor for the MeeBlip. And it shows just how powerful the browser can be for musicians. Watch: And if you own a MeeBlip (triode or anode), give it a try yourself (just remember to plug in a MIDI interface and set up the channel and port first): https://editor.meeblip.com/ Don’t own a MeeBlip? We can fix that for you: https://meeblip.com/ Why a browser? Well, the software is available instantly, from anywhere with an Internet connection and a copy of Chrome or Opera. It’s also instantly updated, as …

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Behringer to make an analog Minimoog clone for around $400

Since the classic synth has made a resurgence, the entry of low-cost remakes was pretty much a given. And no brand is perhaps more associated with cut-rate gear than Behringer. So, while the 12-voice Behringer DeepMind 12 has only just arrived on the market, the company is already teasing some kind of sub-$100 synth line a well as the $400-ish (proposed) BEHRINGER D. It’s a clone of the original 1970 Minimoog Model D, in a desktop case (no keyboard). And, well, it’s … as advertised, at least as far as what they’ve shared. And it puts an analog remake in …

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Pioneer just hit a sweet spot with their new DJ mixer

There’s been a noticeable uncanny valley in the DJ mixer market. At one end, you’ve got a whole bunch of dirt-cheap DJ mixers – but quality is, let’s say, questionable. At the other, you’ve got some really beautiful high-end stuff, but that’s even getting progressively more boutique and expensive. (Though if I do win a lotto ticket I’m getting my own rotary, of course.) And in between is … well, not much, frankly. But that’s what makes the DJM-250K2 interesting – it’s got the high-end features you want, stripped of the stuff you probably don’t need, at a very aggressive …

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STEREO FIELD is a beautiful touchplate instrument and controller

This might just be a real spiritual successor to the Cracklebox. (That’s the classic – and very nicely unpredictable – creation of Michel Waisvisz, one associated with the research program at STEIM and many of the ideas about expression and nonlinear sound ever since.) STEREO FIELD is a sound box / controller centered around touch plates, marked with concentric overlapping circles that represent the interconnection of two analog stereo circuits. It’s a sound generator: you can make some (raw sounding) analog, atonal sounds by patching its circuitry to an output. It’s also a sound processor: use incoming signal to combine …

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Komplete Kontrol adds scales and modes, cooler chords, Reaktor Blocks

If you just want a nice MIDI keyboard, frankly, you’ve got loads of options. So Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol S-series of keyboards has got to do more. The 1.8 release that came out yesterday takes a step in the right direction, with enhanced scale and mode support and enhanced integration with both Reaktor Blocks and Maschine. And Reaktor Blocks might be the winner here. Reaktor Blocks. This is almost an afterthought in this release, but to me, it’s the nicest feature so … the heck with it, I’m going to talk about it first. You can now control the clock …

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It's so bad. ()CC-BY-SA) Matt Mechtley.

Dieter Doepfer made the Nintendo Power Glove work for Kraftwerk

German YouTuber “studentsmusic” has come across the Nintendo Power Glove mod used by none other than Eurorack originator Dieter Doepfer. And he had a hell of a client – Kraftwerk. Now, whether you have any desire whatsoever to don some gloves and wave your hands around, the peculiar category of music glove has a long history intertwined with a lot of today’s thinking about music, controllers, and expression. Michel Waisvisz gets a brief mention here, but it’s worth noting that his project “The Hands,” originating in 1984, was one of the first gestural controllers and likely shaped many other devices …

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This nearly 12 hour modular synth marathon is actually entertaining

You might think that rigging a giant rack of modular synths and burying them in a tangle of synth cords and then live streaming a performance jam on them for nearly twelve hours straight is self-indulgent and overkill. And you’d be right. But if you also thought it would be no fun to watch, that it’d be joyless and involve lots of noodling, you’d be very wrong. Very wrong. Like – maybe you should get about twelve hours free. That’s because the guy behind this insanity is talented synthesist Colin Benders. And not only is he an amazing musical performance, …

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