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Roland SE-02 is $499 analog synth with sequencer, actually boutique

Roland today has announced a desktop monosynth that’s all-analog at US$/EUR 499. It’s got a bunch of nicely balanced sound features, plus a sequencer. And it represents a new collaboration for Roland, working with an actual boutique synth maker – Studio Electronics. Roland has already called a cute set of synths “boutique,” but … it was unclear they knew what that word meant. (Like, small?) But Studio Electronics qualifies as genuinely boutique. Sure enough, Roland is adding this to a new line called the Boutique Designer Series. (Note the additional word “designer.”) And that means a new direction for the …

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circuit hands on 3

Get your notes right on Novation Circuit … what tutorials do you want?

Novation last week released a new set of tutorials for their Circuit. These cover scales, melodies, and chords. Those are interesting not just for those with limited skills on other instruments, but also, ironically, as a way to get away from your usual habits if you are used to something like a piano. The tutorials are great, but this raises a question. Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware? There’s of course way more gear out there than you could ever reasonably cover. But while some material applies to everything (music theory, for …

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ROLI now make a $299, ultra-compact expressive keyboard

ROLI are filling out their mobile line of controllers, Blocks, with a two-octave keyboard – and that could change a lot. In addition to the wireless Bluetooth, battery-powered light-up X/Y pad and touch shortcuts, now you get something that looks like an instrument. The Seaboard Block is an ultra-mobile, expressive keyboard for your iOS gadget or computer, and it’s available for $299, including in Apple Stores. If you wanted a new-fangled “expressive” keyboard – a controller on which you can move your fingers into and around the keys for extra expression – ROLI already had one strong candidate. The Seaboard …

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Arturia AudioFuse: all the connections, none of the hidden settings

After a long wait, Arturia’s AudioFuse interface has arrived. And on paper, at least, it’s like audio interface wish fulfillment. What do you want in an interface? You want really reliable, low-latency audio. You want all the connections you need. (Emphasis on what you need, because that’s tricky – not everyone needs the same thing.) And you want to be able to access the settings without having to dive through menus or load an application. That last one has often been a sticking point. Even when you do find an interface with the right connections and solid driver reliability and …

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Get hands on with the hot new Elektron Digitakt

What do you need your boxes to do? For a lot of people, that’s making grooves, producing nice-sounding drums, manipulating samples, and playing sequencing – and then mucking about with them and breaking everything. You might call that a “drum machine.” You might call it, in fact, a “laptop.” But the faster mucking around gets, the more fun you’re likely to have. On this scene, enter the Elektron Digitakt. Part of why I wanted to share Cuckoo’s friendly, accessible videos on the Elektron Octatrack yesterday was to help set the stage for the Digitakt. Does it do everything the Octatrack …

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rolandspdone

Roland does for drum pads what stompboxes did for guitar effects

Roland has a simple idea: take digital drum pad hardware, and simplify it. What you get is fun and ready little boxes you can stamp with your foot, play with your hands, or hit with a stick. Instead of one big unit with a bunch of features or a whole electronic kit, the SPD::ONE line is four different compact units with particular sets of sounds. There’s a kick, an “electro” unit, a “percussion” unit, and a “WAV” sample loader. All four also double as MIDI controllers for your computer. I think people who never even thought they wanted a drum …

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Circuit 1.5 adds staccato, patch preview, and MIDI CC stuff you want

Circuit is small. Circuit doesn’t do too much. But what Circuit has been doing is steadily adding little improvements that are exactly what users have been asking for. It’s a uniquely focused tool, and that’s the reason I find myself writing about little firmware updates. They’ve been really important. Now 1.5 continues that trend with three features that, while not flashy, could actually have a huge impact on how you work. Watch, in this clear video: Fractional Gate or “staccato” features let you record up to six different levels of gate length – that’s how long the note will sound. …

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The new Arturia keyboards work with anything, under $300, with sounds

“Someone has introduced a new MIDI controller keyboard” ranks right up there with “an off-price mall big box retailer is now doing basic solid color tees.” It’s potentially still useful (as in, my luggage got lost in Dallas and I have no clean clothes), yet not exciting. But Arturia have deserve special mention here, because they have lately had a knack for giving users exactly what they wanted, apparently. At least that’s my impression as I notice the number of BeatSteps Pro and KeySteps cropping into rigs. MIDI controllers, like DAWs, tend to become boring because they have to be …

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Turn that MacBook Pro Touch Bar into a MIDI controller, free

Let someone else debate whether the Touch Bar is a useful innovation or not. If you’ve got a new MacBook Pro, why not put it to good use? And, in fact, if you think of the Touch Bar as akin to precisely what it replaces – a set of shortcuts above the keyboard – it’s actually pretty useful. When you need something quickly under your fingertips, it’s there. So it’s no substitute for dedicated controllers, but it could be invaluable for fast access to certain features. Now, oddly, the cleverest use I’ve seen yet for music isn’t in a music …

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devices2x

Audiobus 3 is like having a modular environment for iOS apps

The original appeal of the iPad as a musical tool, for many, was just doing one thing at a time. Not using a DAW or advanced environment, but a single app. Now here’s the question: can it be just as appealing when using multiple apps? Audiobus 3 asks that very question. It certainly has a great video to explain itself: Here’s what you’ll want to know, if you’re an iPad user. Generally speaking, Audiobus 3 adds functionality but gets easier to use, with a cleaner layout and less setup. You can mix apps from a single display, as you would …

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