Photo (CC-BY) Martin Hearn.

Get the sound of an abandoned US surveillance tower, free

Over fifty years ago, it was built in West Berlin atop a mountain of rubble to listen in on the Communists in the East. And now, the infamous Teufelsberg UA National Security Agency tower can lend its cavernous sound to your tracks. It’s available as a free plug-in for Mac, Windows, and even Linux, and it’s open source. Someone found this idea appealing already, as the impulse samples we wrote about previously became the creators’ most popular download. But now, you get a plug-in you can drop in your host. It’s actually a pretty nice array of stuff here: Lush …

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New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now. To walk us through, attendee Max …

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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 …

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Ableton or FL Studio or Bitwig, Maschine Jam integrates with everything

First, there was software – and mapping it manually to controllers. Then, there was integrated hardware made for specific software – but you practically needed a different device for each tool. Maschine Jam is a third wave: it’s deeply integrated with software workflows, but it can swap from one tool to another without having to change how you work.

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Free jazz – how to use Ableton Link sync with Pure Data patches

Effortless wireless sync everywhere has arrived with free software, too, thanks to Ableton’s new open source SDK. And it’s incredibly easy – enough so that anyone with even rudimentary patching skills will probably want to try this out. Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max/MSP, looks ugly but does great stuff. And it’s worth checking out even if you use Max, because Pd is lightweight and runs on any platform – including Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, Android, and inside other software (like game engines). Now that it supports Link, you can make patches that run anywhere and …

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PiDeck makes a USB stick into a free DJ player, with turntables

There’s something counterintuitive about it, right? Plug a USB stick into a giant digital player alongside turntables. Or plug the turntables into a computer. What if the USB stick … was the actual player? In the age of rapid miniaturization, why hasn’t this happened yet? Well, thanks to an open source project, it has happened (very nearly, anyway). It’s called PiDeck. And it radically reduces the amount of gear you need. You’ll still need an audio interface with phono input to connect the turntable, plus the (very small, very cheap) Raspberry Pi. But that’s just about it. Connect your handheld …

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Jamming standard: Ableton is opening Link to everyone, starting today

Ableton Link is coming to desktops, and going completely open source. And that means the best tool for wireless sync and jamming is about to get a lot more popular. On iOS and for Ableton Live users, Ableton Link is already a revelation. It allows any number of different apps to sync up with one another without fuss. That includes two more machines running Ableton Live, of course. But it could also be two apps on an iPad, or an iPhone and an iPad, or an iPad and a copy of Ableton Live. It completely changes live jamming: instead of …

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iZotope Mobius and the crazy fun of Shepard Tones

I always figure the measure of a good plug-in is, you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t want to tell everyone about it, because then they’ll know about it. iZotope’s Möbius is in that category for me – it’s essentially moving filter effect. And it’s delicious, delicious candy.

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Trigger effects in Bitwig with MIDI, for free

In the latest chapter of “people on the Internet doing cool things for electronic music,” here’s a creation by Polarity. It lets you rapidly trigger effects parameters via MIDI. And if you’re a Bitwig Studio enthusiast, it’s available for free.

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Fully loaded, the environment resembles portions of FL Studio or Ableton Live. You get a conventional mixer display, and easy access to your tools.

A totally free DAW and live environment, built in SuperCollider: LNX_Studio

Imagine you had a DAW with lots of live tools and synths and effects – a bit like FL Studio or Ableton Live – and it was completely free. (Free as in beer, free as in freedom.) That’s already fairly cool. Now imagine that everything in that environment – every synth, every effect, every pattern maker – was built in SuperCollider, the powerful free coding language for electronic music. And imagine you could add your own stuff, just by coding, and it ran natively. That moves from fairly cool to insanely cool. And it’s what you get with LNX_Studio, a …

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