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Roland and Serato made a monster DJ controller that does everything

What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.

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Maschine Jam is new hardware built around live performance

These days, various combinations of faders and touch sensors and grids of pads and buttons and encoders and knobs appear with cyclic regularity. We’re past the point of inventing the automobile – we’re down to tuning particular cars for particular tasks. But what do you want to use if you’re really playing live? Maschine Jam is a combination of software and hardware that focuses on that scenario. We’ve met with the team that built it at Native Instruments and have our own unit in now to test, so here are some first impressions.

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zoomarq

Zoom’s weird frisbee groove machine looks fun in this Japanese video

The ZOOM ARQ AR-96 can be filed confidently under “wha?” in the annals of music tech. It’s a round, all-in-one groovebox with drum machine, loads of patterns and sounds, and synths. Oh yeah, and there’s a rechargeable, detachable doughnut/frisbee, uh, thing, which has velocity-sensitive touch sensors and responds to orientation so you can wave it around. Basically, it’s insane. But as at least one friend of mine suspected, it could also be insanely fun. No English-language reviewers could really do this thing justice. No, for that we turn to musictrackjp – who do better demos, anyway. Sure, 97% of CDM’s …

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45_orig

This beautiful, retro DIY keyboard packs an entire studio of gear

Even in this age of mass production, the greatest electronic musical instruments are one of a kind. Flights of fancy, these are creations made of pure expression and imagination. And so, seeing something like Love Hulten’s voxarray61 just makes my day. Probably yours, too.

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Percussa want you to make modular music with cubes, blank knobs

Modular synthesis is everywhere – but there aren’t a lot of new ideas apart from using patch cables to connect them, a concept that dates from the early 1960s and telephone switchboards. Percussa are an outlier – an odd one, to be sure. Their blank, RGB light-up cubes (“AudioCubes”) connect wirelessly, and control associated software. To their credit, while plenty of “tangible” interfaces made the rounds as experiments and research projects, they went as far as commercializing the product. And that’s no mean feat. Anyone with some basic engineering knowledge can snap something into a Eurorack case and be part …

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Korg does bass and drum synthesis with volca kick

Just in under the wire before Roland hosts their own product shindig next week, Korg are here with a new volca to announce. The latest handheld instrument in that blockbuster line is something of an outlier: called “kick,” it’s more specialized than the rest. But it does look like more than just a box for making bass drum sounds (though it’ll do that if that’s what you’re after).

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BlipCase is a custom solution for toting your compact music gear

We’ve seen a minor renaissance in mobile music gear – KORG’s volca series, Teenage Engineering’s tiny Pocket Operators, the Gakken synths, Roland’s boutique series, and more. (We’re a believer in this – that’s why CDM co-produces the MeeBlip synth.) But while these small instruments are great, they wind up getting tossed into a bag. That risks damaging them, and there’s a lot of business of packing and unpacking them when you play. We wanted a solution, so we made our own. It’s called BlipCase.

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future

Roland is releasing 30+ new things on 909 – September 9

The next big Roland product unveiling isn’t at a trade show – it’s on the Internet. At a 24-hour streaming “online musical instruments festival,” the Japanese giant is promising a bunch of new stuff (30+). The date is an auspicious one for the company – September 9, or 909. And sure enough, they’re also calling it a celebration of 33 years of their legendary drum machine. http://tfr.roland.com/en/909-celebration In addition to the product unveilings, they’re live in a bunch of cities with artist performances and other events, too – LA, NYC, Toronto, Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, and here in Berlin, among others. …

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Grids in key, with Novation’s new Launchpad Pro scales

A piano keyboard or fretboard is set up with a particular mapping of pitch in mind. But the major advantage of any undifferentiated grid is the ability to work with scales. You can have any tuning and modes you like. A new free update to Novation’s Launchpad Pro adds that functionality to their grid controller – and that transforms how you’d use it musically. Now, Novation’s grid controller is far from the first such hardware to add the ability to map the pads to scales. Native Instruments’ Maschine (4×4) and Ableton’s Push (8×8) each have scale modes for their grids. …

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floppies

Get a library of floppy drive sounds for almost nothing

You’ve been watching those wild YouTube videos of people performing tunes with hacked floppy drives – most recently Star Wars and Nirvana. Now get those sounds in a sample library for nearly-free donationware.

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