blawanmatrix

Watch artist Blawan go hands-on with the monster Arturia MatrixBrute

The term “beast” may be overused in describing synthesizers, but the massive, heavy, feature-packed Arturia MatrixBrute certainly deserves the term. Now, we get to hear and watch as Blawan takes us on a tour. Blawan is one of my favorites in adventurous techno, not least for his unique skills in playing live – because finding great DJs is still considerably easier than finding artists who can produce on the spot. So he’s a smart match to launch a new series pairing artists with gear, run by Electronic Beats and German-language Bonedo. Now’s a good time – the MatrixBrute has been …

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The AS-1 synth from Pioneer and Dave Smith is looking really cool

Here are two quick takeaways about the TORAIZ AS-1 monosynth introduced by Pioneer DJ, in collaboration with Dave Smith. One, it sounds great – but we figured that, given it’s basically a single voice from Dave Smith’s Prophet-6. Two, it’s got a surprisingly powerful sequencer/arpeggiator, with some extras like alternative tunings. And it’s that second point that matters. If you just want to add bass lines to a DJ set, Pioneer has some competition. Roland can sell you not one but two different variations of the classic 303 – either the AIRA TB-3, or the Boutique Series TB-03. As many …

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In Czech, instruments and music releases are all about extended family

It’s a wonderful thing to find kindred spirits. It doesn’t matter if they look like you, if you share a gender or an age, or if they come from down the street or around the globe. And that’s the experience a lot of people have had when coming in contact with Bastl Instruments and the underground music and instrument enclave of Brno, Czech. Bastl are known for their cute compact desktop synth hardware and quirky modular line. And small builders are themselves tight-knit, but there’s more to it than just what Bastl Instruments as a maker provides. There’s a sense …

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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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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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