colin

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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handhelddrum

Here’s a cool handheld drum machine you can build with Arduino

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator…” — and now you’re the engineer/builder, too. This excellent, copiously documented project by Hamood Nizwan / Gabriel Valencia packs a capable drum machine into a handheld, calculator-like format, complete with LCD display and pad triggers. Assembly above and — here’s the result: It’s simple stuff, but really cool. You can load samples onto an SD card reader, and then trigger them with touch sensors, with visible feedback on the display. All of that is possible thanks to the Arduino MEGA doing the heavy lifting. The mission: The idea is to build a Drum …

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ni_maschine_2-6_update_studio_midi_cc

Maschine now makes it easy to work with external gear, spice up patterns

There are those things in music making that are just pure joy. There’s finding a particularly nice groove or pattern, or getting that really juicy synth or effect parameter to morph just so. And there’s getting to use all those toys and external gear you really love. So, while Maschine 2.6 is just a “point” release, I think it works out being one of the most welcome updates to come to Maschine’s loyal audience of groove makers yet. It gets at both these points. First, it inherits all the clever stuff added to Maschine Jam for adding variations and randomization …

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montagekeyboard

Yamaha may have the best workstation synth, now quietly improved

The workstation keyboard hasn’t died in the age of the computer and the analog revival. Instead, it’s just gotten, well, more workstation-y. Advances in embedded computation have gone alongside general purpose computer hardware, making the workstations from Japanese giants like Yamaha, Korg, and Roland do more than before, with expanded functionality, memory, and sound. These instruments do so much that it’s hard to describe them. But I know even some serious synth enthusiasts who have a lot of respect for Yamaha’s Montage. That may come as a surprise, partly because Yamaha’s marketing is aimed squarely at other groups. So yes, …

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digitakt_closecrop

More details on the $650 Elektron Digitakt – and why we’re into it

The Elektron Digitakt sampler/drum computer may have been sitting silently under glass at last month’s NAMM trade show. But no matter: it was still the gear generating the most buzz. The thing is, we’re already hearing enough about the Digitakt to pique our interest. First, there’s that price — US$/€650. That’s terrifically affordable by Elektron standards. And then there’s the compact size, the accessible-looking controls and OLED, and the focus on sequencing and sampling. This just looks like a fun, friendly groove box. It also looks like a device that could significantly expand the audience for Elektron gear, not only …

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console1

The $499 Softube Console 1 now looks like a great buy for producers

Softube’s Console 1 was an intriguing offering when it came out, but I suspect some people balked at the price – and simply didn’t know what it was or what it was for. Now, at five hundred bucks, the audience should be bigger. And Softube are working on making the “what is this anyway?” story clearer. So, what is it? Let’s back up. First, imagine a big mixing desk – like a big Solid State console. Now imagine what that console would look like a computer accessory. Obviously, you’d want it to be a whole heck of a lot smaller, …

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6_apollo_twin_mkii_beauty_large

One of the best premium audio interfaces now claims to be better

How much time do producers spend just handling one or two inputs and stereo output (plus monitoring)? My guess is — a lot. Once you’re out of the studio, that amount goes up. But generally speaking, premium interfaces have tended to assume you need more I/O – even though a lot of electronic production now occurs in the box. So part of the reason the Universal Audio Apollo Twin has been important is that it changes the value equation. It doesn’t do a whole lot of I/O – this is really about recording one thing at a time, listening, and …

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euro808

System 80 is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack

Wait… I don’t think I’ve ever basically said everything I needed to say in a story right in the headline before, but… yeah. This is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack. And for anyone disappointed that Roland didn’t do a TR-08 Boutique Series at NAMM, here’s one that is probably exactly as analog fans would want it. You get the layout of the original 808, if a bit miniaturized and squashed, but control-for-control an image of the original. You get independent outs for each part. You get CV I/O for connecting to other modules. It’s Eurorack. It’s 60HP. It looks …

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toraiz-as-1-main-n

What the new Dave Smith instruments sound like, no talking

There is absolutely nothing like the feeling you feel when you hear the sound of a synthesizer. Listen. “Hi, we’re at the 2017 NAMM show in Anaheim California, and I’m here with –” Wait. No. That is definitely not why I love synthesizers. Nor am I particularly enamored with the hum of a convention show floor with the apparent adjacent guitar booth blaring over the top of someone reading a product sheet. (As I write that, I realize I’ve just dared some CDM reader to make an eerie, ambient 5-hour version of an Akai demo using paulstretch.) Here’s what you …

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rev2_left-angle

Dave Smith REV2 is like getting a Prophet 08, squared

Dave Smith’s collaboration with Pioneer tends to the minimalist side, but not so the new DSI keyboard. The REV2 is all about more. While it’s not called a Prophet 08 II or something, the REV2 is rooted in that earlier synthesizer. It still has two DCOs per voice. It still opts for the sound of Curtis filters at its core. (In other words, you had better like that particular flavor.) The ’08 “squared” business is all about newer and more, in this year’s model. So this is a 16-voice standard configuration over 8. (8-voice is available, and … heh, actually …

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