littleBits Synth Kit, First Hands-on: What They Sound Like, Reviews, Videos

Imagine if you could take apart your favorite recent KORG analog creations, chop it up into little blocks, and then snap them together with magnetic ease? In other words, imagine if you could put together a KORG synth as easily as you did LEGO? It’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. I’ve been testing the littleBits Synth Kit for a few days now. I’ve got some sounds for you here so you can hear some of what’s possible. (They’re Creative Commons-licensed, if anyone wants to try to sample them in a track; I know I’ll be working on …

READ MORE →

littleBits and KORG: Snap Together A Synth with Magnets, $159; Module-by-Module Details, Q&A, Gallery

New York startup littleBits and founder Ayah Bdeir helped pioneer the modern definition of open source hardware. But they also put it into action, getting even young kids snapping together their own hardware ideas. The process is addictively simple: whereas platforms like Arduino require breadboards and wires, littleBits’ tiny circuits are already pre-made and snap together with magnets. It’s an idea that screams out for sound applications. And now – in a collaboration that leaked earlier this week – that’s happened. The surprise is, the collaborator is none other than KORG. The price: US$159 (direct, and at some retailers). Shipping: …

READ MORE →

Ableton Goodies: Free MS-20 Simpler Instruments, Full of Filter Goodness

Our inbox is full of fun stuff Ableton lovers can download, so we’re pronouncing it “Ableton Goodies” day. Enjoy! And this one has audio samples you can adapt to other software, too. Like taking a photo or painting a picture, somehow you can transform the way you see a synth by sampling it. And one person who can really get his head inside a synth is Francis Prève. As a veteran of sound design and documentation, production and music journalism, DJing and the dance music scene, he can be uniquely dedicated to detail and attention. Whereas commenters (cough, here) complain …

READ MORE →

Summer Studio: Portable Music BBQ, in the Finnish Countryside [MS-20, Maschine]

There just isn’t a season of the year where music making can’t entertain you. But once upon a time, music technology woefully confined its producers to windowless, underground lairs established as dusty academic laboratories. No more. Now you can toss everything in a backpack, head to the Finnish countryside, and put on a barbecue while you jam. (Just don’t forget to check the grill, lest you burn something.) And that’s what Helsinki-based artist Riku Annala – Recue – has done. The sounds of the grill crackling sharply in the background, a lazy, golden Northern Hemisphere sunlight bathing the black hulls …

READ MORE →

Web-Connected Analog: Synths Render Sound From Your Browser, Remotely

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog. But they just might know you’re an MS-20. Hector Urtubia – aka Mr. Book – has connected his synths to the Web and set them up for the world. Submit a music pattern, and send it off to the synths to be rendered to sound. It’s like Kinko’s, if they did analog synths instead of printers. Hector explains more: I created a web app (http://analogalacarte.com) which allows you to create a synth pattern, submit it and it will get rendered live in hardware on one of my synths at home. I …

READ MORE →
If the iPhone unnerves you and you want something a bit more ... nostalgic ... here's the MS-20 mini cozying up to long-time Japanese Korg rival Roland. Ebony and ivor... erm, gray. Photo by Deceptikon.

Deceptikon Pairs MS-20 mini, iPhone Arpeggionome – And Chooses Favorite Remixes

It’s all Deceptikon, in the remix – gear and tracks. First, 1978, meet 2013. The re-released Korg MS-20 mini here teams up with the lovely iPhone sequencer app Arpeggionome, courtesy the wonders of MIDI. (See our recent feature on the app.) As Arpeggionome’s clever developer Alexandernaut describes it: My friend Deceptikon (http://deceptikon.net) tries Arpeggionome for iPhone for the first time, connecting it to his MS-20 mini. Levels, drums, and effects with [M-Audio-made] Evolution U-Control controlling Ableton Live. Yes, Midiman acquired Evolution and continued to make the controller here. Shame the UC-33e hasn’t seen a successor, actually. And the whole rig …

READ MORE →

Tested: MS-20 Mini versus Original MS-20, in the Studio [Discussion, Audio, Photos]

MS-20 mini, on the left, next to the original, on the right. Photos: Peter Kirn and Benjamin Weiss for CDM and DE:BUG. It’s the news collectors of vintage synths on eBay probably didn’t want to hear. For $599, Korg has made a new MS-20 that the company says has “perfectly reproduced its circuitry” for an “authentic” sound. You can read our full review of the MS-20 mini, and watch a video, whether or not you’ve ever used the original. But if you are curious how a new MS-20 mini stacks up against the vintage MS-20, we hauled both into the …

READ MORE →

Hands-on with Korg MS-20 Mini: Exclusive Review, Q&A, Images, Video

Even as technology rolls forward, sometimes the old is more cherished than the new. Perhaps this should come as no surprise in music. Musical relationships span many years – the records you love, the hours you spend practicing and producing. And so it is that we’ve heard a common refrain from electronic musicians: with many makers of the 70s and 80s still producing today, why not re-release the classics? Korg has done just that with the MS-20 mini, in a way many rivals have not. Due soon for $599 in the USA and elsewhere in the world thereafter, it’s also …

READ MORE →

Keys and Knobs and Such, New Gear, in Photos: Notes and Gallery from NAMM Day 1

From the Prophet 12 to Korg’s MS-20 Mini (and King Korg – more on that soon), iConnectMIDI interfaces for your iPad to Arturia ultra-portable keyboards, from analog to digital, from big releases to oddities, CDM has some roving reporters out on the floor of America’s biggest musical instrument trade show, NAMM. James Grahame, principal engineer behind the MeeBlip, kicks things off. Looking through his photos is a bit like seeing the show through his eyes. The flagship keyboards you’ve heard of (though Moog-branded water is a surprise). Some of the other good news: the iConnectMIDI4 Plus looks very versatile, indeed, …

READ MORE →

Korg MS-20 Mini, Up Close: Gallery, By Candlelight

Korgs by candlelight… If you’ve been up close and personal with an original Korg MS-20 (or own one yourself), this gallery may actually be redundant. But we have some stills from our upcoming video short on the MS-20 Mini to prove what Korg’s reissue of the 1978 original looks like. There is something unreal about seeing the same instrument, shrunken. And yes, because it’s Berlin in winter, and we were in the basement of Mindpirates, we broke out some candles. It’s a great way to unwind on a January night. Stay tuned for our upcoming series, The Phantom of the …

READ MORE →