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One new board turns into a complete sound and light lab

This board could be the first time you learn about wiring simple circuits. It could transform into a weirdo light-powered instrument. It could be a place you hold a workshop. It could even become an advanced studio for creative circuits. It’s powerful if you know what you’re doing. It’s still cool if you don’t. The OMSynth miniLab realizes a dream hardware inventor and artist Pete Edwards had been brewing for years. He tested that dream in iteration after iteration in workshops, usually involving bags of circuits and breadboards (the latter allowing for solder-free connections). And it moved with him to …

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Modal’s Craft Synth is a surprising £79.00 monosynth

Imagine if Boeing or Airbus, in the midst of releasing airliners, suddenly unveiled a paper airplane kit for kids. The Modal Craft Synth isn’t that extreme – but maybe it’s close. Unlike their flagship synth, a monster luxury instrument that will set you back about five grand (USD), the Craft Synth is kit priced. £79.00 (about US$100 at the moment) buys you a complete monosynth. It’s labeled a “kit,” but you snap together pre-made circuit boards – think IKEA lay-flat cleverness. Of course, at that price, you don’t get a case or any particularly high-quality or rugged components. But if …

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A call for emotion in musical inventions, at Berlin hacklab

Moving beyond stale means of framing questions about musical interface or technological invention, we’ve got a serious case of the feels. For this year’s installment of the MusicMakers Hacklab we host with CTM Festival in Berlin, we look to the role of emotion in music and performance. And that means we’re calling on not just coders or engineers, not just musicians, and performers, but psychologists and neuroscientists and more, too. The MusicMakers Hacklab I was lucky enough to found has now been running with multiple hosts and multiple countries, bringing together artists and makers of all stripes to experiment with …

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MeeBlip couldn’t wait for Black Friday, so it’s Red November

The MeeBlip project reaches some important milestones this year – and we get to say thanks, and celebrate with a sale. And, really, why do that for one day called “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” or “Arbitrary Discount Saturday Dusk Hour”? Let’s just do it for the whole rest of the month. MeeBlip quietly turned six years old this month. That’s special in that it marks a collaboration between CDM and creator James Grahame (Blipsonic). But it also means we’ve managed to build a line of end user synthesizers that are free and open source. This isn’t a kit, it …

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The MotherF***** is the DIY delay-reverb box of your nightmares

If you want a nice, pristine, versatile delay/reverb, then … this isn’t it. It’s called the MotherF***er 2 for a reason. It’s the creation of Ewa Justka, engineer and musician born in Poland and based in London. (Ewa was also nice enough to co-host the MusicMakers Hacklab with us at CTM Festival this year, where she was a patient and inspirational guide for our artists in inventing all manner of new things.) And this pedal is all sorts of crazy in all the best ways. Keep watching, as there are actually a bunch of different possible sounds in there. And …

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Surprise, Final Cut Pro could be the MacBook’s killer feature

Here’s an unexpected twist in the plot: Final Cut Pro, the product that perhaps more than any other earned ire from users for not being “pro,” might be the thing that sells you on the Mac. Why? Final Cut Pro is really, really fast. After all, paper specs don’t matter. It’s really world performance in the software you use that counts. And there, Final Cut Pro is a bit of a champ. Indie tech reporter / filmmaker Jonathan Morrison has a snappy review that gets to the point. Now, first, you’ll read a lot of reviews complaining the MacBook Pro …

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Leaks hint at new standalone Akai MPCs coming this year

Now that software increasingly comes with hardware, why not have it also run standalone? That has seemed inevitable for some time. Yet, for years, MPC fans have been without a standalone hardware option from Akai. Pioneer, Elektron, and others will sell you drum machine hardware that runs on its own, but not Akai. That seems set to change. Now, multiple leaks from employees of dealers selling Akai hardware suggest standalone hardware is imminent. (Dealers have increasingly become a weak point in keeping upcoming hardware confidential – recent Roland announcements have demonstrated.) You might not even have to wait for January’s …

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MeeBlip users are posting lots of great sounds of our new triode synth

Little. Red. Different. Better. We got into the synthesizer business because we weren’t satisfied with just writing about synths. We wanted to spread a little synth love into the world, too. And wow, have our MeeBlip users responded – flooding the Internets with videos of the new synth. It’s great to see how they’re responding to the instrument – designer James Grahame and I have our own view of it, but now we get to see the user perspective. Maybe that bright red color helped. And yes, the key here is, behind this small number of knobs are a large …

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Novation’s Circuit goes polyrhythmic, and other 1.4 goodies

Firmware updates aren’t supposed to be something that gets talked about. But somehow, Novation’s actually generate some buzz. There’s a lesson here for the whole industry. Social media strategy could actually be part of the development process. (Your engineers are part of your PR?) Anyway, the new Novation Circuit continues to get cooler. And some new features I’ve been waiting for arrived – the ones that made me stick it back into my MIDI rig, where it’s been earning lots of attention with that friendly face. The big ones for me: drum pattern length (for polyrhythms) and instant pattern switch. …

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Modular wireless music BLOCKS for iOS are ROLI’s next big idea

UK music startup ROLI are on one heck of a roll. And they’re slowly becoming a laboratory for trying out genuinely new ideas for music making – finally breaking the mold of an industry that often relishes nostalgia. Now, ROLI’s got the engineering, acquiring plug-in maker FXpansion and cross-platform development architecture JUCE. They’ve got the flagship hardware, in the form of their Seaboard and Seaboard RISE expressive controllers – futuristic gadgets that look like the piano someone would play on Star Trek: The Next Generation more than what you’d find in your local Guitar Center. And they’ve got connectivity to …

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