Groovebox, a music app rigorously designed to give you a place to start

There are two stories about this app, and which one you care about depends on who you are. If you’re still someone trying to get into music making, the important thing to know about Groovebox is, it’s never going to leave you stuck for inspiration with a blank, silent screen. The moment you add a drum or synth part, you also get a pattern going. There’s a groove there immediately, and it’s up to you to tailor it to suit your taste. If you’re a more advanced user, you might assume the story ends there. But this app does actually …

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Ableton have now made it easy for any developer to work with Push 2

You know Ableton Push 2 will work when it’s plugged into a computer and you’re running Ableton Live. You get bi-directional feedback on the lit pads and on the screen. But Ableton have also quietly made it possible for any developer to make Push 2 work – without even requiring drivers – on any software, on virtually any platform. And a new library is the final piece in making that easy. Even if you’re not a developer, that’s big news – because it means that you’ll likely see solutions for using Push 2 with more than just Ableton Live. That …


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 …


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 …


Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware

This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for. Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other …


Bastl’s Dude is a €75 mixer in the space of four AA batteries

One of the many clever ideas packed into Bastl Instruments’ show-stealing Superbooth stand last month was a tiny, cheap line mixer. Imagine starting with a battery compartment that holds four AA batteries, and building around that, and you start to get an idea of Dude. It’s tiny. It’s just €75 (slightly more for Europe with VAT). And it’s something a lot of you will likely want. Watch: Dude isn’t without compromises. The big one is, it’s a mono mixer only – not stereo. So you get five inputs, but they’re all mono inputs. Now, a lot of the stuff you …

Sonic Robots' Glitch Robot.

Here’s how Mouse on Mars are using robots to expand their band

Analog and digital? That’s just a small slice of the pie. The post-digital / post-analog world uses those two ingredients but adds others, like biological, photochemical, optical, and perhaps most importantly, kinetic. Instead of electrifying screens and circuits, then, you can also make stuff move. Mouse on Mars, in collaboration with the Sonic Robots project of Moritz Simon Geist, are making just such a collective – human meets robot. And it makes some sense not just in technological terms, but aesthetic ones. The German collaborative get as playful with robotic use of objects and percussion as they do in their …


IK’s solution for recording everything: audio, video, iOS, Android

Cobbling together a rig for documenting your work as a musician/DJ/producer/vocalist is, let’s face it, kind of a nightmare. Sharing your work could be a great pleasure – but it often feels like an extra job you have to work. The iPhone (or more generally smartphone) has been kind of a mixed blessing. The software/sensor combination, while powerful and always in your pocket, are great. But nothing else about a phone is well suited to shooting anything above basic quality stuff – because you’ve got to hold the thing steady and capture audio effectively (sometimes multiple streams of audio). So, …


Watch how the Ninja Jamm app can turn a track into an instrument

Four years on, Ninja Jamm continues to steam ahead as an app. We covered this app at its creation; I had provided some voluntary guidance as it’s built on libpd. Over those years, it’s built up a base of users and content, added Android support atop iOS, and enabled support on both platforms for Ableton Link. But I myself find myself playing with it again, after contributing a free content pack via the Liquid Sky Berlin series. And I find this remains relevant and addictive. I think it’s always worth listening to the founders of Coldcut and Ninja Tune, in …


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 …