Play games and music with Bandai Namco and Korg

You’ve got to love Japan sometimes. Korg are continuing the beautiful marriage of gaming and music – one that began first on the Nintendo DS and has nicely made the jump to iOS. The latest outgrowth of that is Kamata, a synth add-on to the KORG Gadget music studio. This time, arcade legend Bandai Namco are teaming up with Korg, and long-time Korg collaborator Detune Games. Detune are the folks who did the iMS-20 for iOS and the M01 for DS, led by CEO Nobuyoshi Sano whose work as a composer includes credits on Ridge Racer and Tekken. With Kamata, …


Here are some of the best synth ads of all time

Okay, so while we wait for word to spread that the 808 ad we featured today came from 2016 London and not 1980 Japan, here are some real – and really genius – vintage synth ads. (Some of them no doubt inspired that London agency.) And thank you, YouTube, because these all warm our heart.


Watch this futuristic Roland TR-808 ad to celebrate 808 day

Who would have thought in 1980 that the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer would change drum machines and dance music forever? If you went out dancing this weekend, you probably heard its distinctive sounds. Well, if you’re the sort of person who cracks a smile every time you check the time and it’s 8:08am, you’re probably already doing something to celebrate the eighth of August, “808 day.” So here’s a video for even more. Clarification: The ad copy in this ad’s voiceover? All totally real. This is actually text Roland used to describe their TR-808 in ads from the era – …


One plug-in combines all the classic vocal effects you want

There have been vocal effects before – your vocoder, your pitch shifter, what have you. But the folks at iZotope set a more ambitious goal: be all the classic vocal effects. Put them a single plug-in full of modules. Then combine them in a way that makes them accessible, whether you’re preset surfing or dialing in your own sound. Encourage exploration without even requiring some advance knowledge. The result of that is called VocalSynth, and it’s out today. And wow, is this thing big – big enough that I imagine I might spend the rest of the year playing with …


Lords of Synth is an epic parody from Adult Swim

In a gift to synthesizer lovers everywhere, the comiticians of Adult Swim have produced an extended retro electronica opus imagining an alternate-universe battle of the bands between Wendy Carlos, Vangelis, and Giorgio Moroder.


Get a free pack that recreates Prince’s signature drum sounds

With so much to talk about in recent days about Prince’s legacy, it’s possible to overlook just what a deep impact he had on production and sound design. Working with Roger Linn’s classic boxes, the LinnDrum and LM-1, the artist left an indelible mark on the sound of pop. And you don’t have to slavishly copy those contributions: by learning how they’re put together, you can understand what went into them and follow your own sound. Just that sort of education in sound design – something for fans and students – is embodied in a free download for Ableton Live …


BAM is OTO Machines’ musical, retro reverb box

Reverb: it’s something everyone needs. And yet in hardware, you almost always see the same couple of boxes. It seems about time for a new player. And OTO Machines, known for their BISCUIT 8-bit effect box and filter, might have just the candidate. BAM, coming soon, emulates the reverbs of the 70s and 80s. And in the demo, it sounds amazing.


KORG volca FM is here – and does some unexpected tricks

KORG’s runaway-hit volca series has proven small can be fun. But the volca FM promises more power in a small package. The volca FM, teased in California in January and demoed in early prototype form, is now official. And part of why we’re eager to get our hands on one is that it’s more than just another little synth box. Okay, so it’s a 6-operator FM synth that’s fun to play with – that you probably got right away. But it’s also a way of loading vintage FM patches, and has powerful editing features. Let’s look and listen.


Take Ableton sets Back to the Future with a time machine effect

It’s the future – this time, for real. Yes, today, the 21st of October 2015, is the destination “future” in the Back to the Future movies. (Photoshopping created some false alarms on other dates.) And that’s time to look back. Ha, remember 1985? An arcane format called “MIDI” was king. (Kids, ask your parents.) The big synthesizers came from Roland, KORG, Moog, and Yamaha. The most sought-after computer was from a company called Apple. People made electro and dance music hits using mono, analog synthesizers and and digital pads and samples and deep basslines, sought after the creations of the …


Sync that 303: One little box does MIDI to DIN sync

Put some actual “computer-controlled” in the 303. The folks at British maker Kenton have a way of churning out little boxes that do things people need. MIDI Thru, check. Connecting those USB gizmos that lack MIDI, check. Plugging MIDI to your modular, roger. So, to that, add a single box that translates MIDI to DIN Sync (sync24) – and back again. DIN Sync, as developed by Roland, is suddenly news again because of a rekindled interest in vintage gear. If you want to synchronize a TR-808 or a TB-303, DIN Sync is what you need. The Kenton D-SYNC isn’t the …