A patchable, circuit bent Sony Discman turns into a glitch instrument

It’s happened: CD players are officially retro/vintage. (Heck, so is the iPod at this point.) But that means it’s time to open them up and glitch them out – at least for some intrepid inventors, that is. Actually, this video is itself vintage, coming from the innocent days of 2012. (Ah – remember then? If only we knew what world awaited us in 2017. We’d… probably have hidden in a basement and all started circuit bending Sony CD players.) Anyway, I digress. Sony Discman. Renamed “Discbitch” – complete with laser-etched name on the case. Patchable. Glitching. Watch: Somehow, it’s trending …


Two videos show why the Make Noise 0-COAST modular is cool

2016 was the year when people said, hey, I want to get in on some of that modular goodness, but … maybe I don’t want to buy a rack and spend thousands of dollars to do that. So it’s great to finally see desktop semi-modular becoming a thing – and an affordable thing at that. There’s the best note entrant, Moog’s excellent Mother 32. But I also like the much odder, but still affordable Make Noise 0-COAST (that’s a zero, not the letter o). It’s got a far more idiosyncratic front panel, but that shouldn’t put you off: it’s still …


Here’s how MOTU says they’re improving latency on their new interfaces

You’d be forgiven for not noticing, but the top audio interfaces are one of the things that have been steadily getting better. That is, the handful of makers really focused on service musicians (and other audio and audiovisual applications) have improved interface quality, added a lot of features and connectivity, and improved driver performance. MOTU is one of those makers on a short list that I hear good experiences with. But this fall when a press release crossed my desk saying they had more low latency performance, I wanted a bit more detail than the marketing language was offering. So …


A piano, played by clouds and sky

We can reinvent the instruments we already have; we can try to steer a pathway to something new. Or we can sometimes imagine a known instrument in a new context. This new short film covers a robotic piano that’s got an unusual angle. Using image analysis, those mechanical fingers transpose patterns of cloud and sky onto the keys. This poetic take on cloud gazing comes from media artist David Bowen. It’s a nice take, I think, on sonification, in that it isn’t just about a stream of data that’s abstracted from its source. It’s really as though the drifting clouds …


We added MeeBlip to TB-03 and TR-09 for really too much bass

You can now really have a ridiculous amount of fun playing live without a ridiculous amount of gear. That’s certainly the sense I get with Roland’s Boutique series, among other recent entries. In just a fraction of the size of the original AIRA, you can add a synth, a bassline, or a drum machine. And it’s not just Roland. In the under-$500 category, there’s loads of desktop gear from Korg, Waldorf, MFB, Novation, and Arturia, plus even compact modular/semi-modulars like the Make Noise O-Coast and Moog Mother-32. It’s all affordable, and all really easy to port around. What I like …


PushPull is a crazy futuristic squeezebox instrument you can make

PushPull will blow apart your idea of what a typical controller – or an accordion – might be. It’s a bit like a squeezebox that fell from outer space, coupling bellows with colored lights, sensors, mics, and extra controls. And you can now make one yourself, thanks to copious documentation. You may have seen the instrument in action in the last couple of years ago – gasping in the dark. PushPull Balgerei 2014 from 3DMIN on Vimeo. But with more complete documentation, you get greater insight into how the thing was made – and you could even follow the instructions …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …