Roger & Dave Smith with products_2

The Father of Drum Machines and the Father of MIDI Talk About Design and the Tempest

In songwriting, there was Rodgers and Hart, Gilbert and Sullivan. In music gear design, it’s hard not to assign a similar degree of expectation to the pairing of Dave Smith and Roger Linn. Between them, these two designers have been a major part of what music technology is today. Dave Smith pioneered MIDI (even giving it its acronym), the first microprocessor-based instrument (the Prophet-5), the first programmable polyphonic synth, and other innovations at Sequential Circuits. Add to that landmarks in physical modeling research (at Yamaha) and the first PC soft synth. Roger Linn built the first programmable sampled-sound drum machine …


Tempest, Roger Linn + Dave Smith Analog Drum Machine, is Official

Genuinely new drum machines don’t come along very often, but that’s precisely what the Tempest is. It has the analog soul of a classic Dave Smith synthesizer, with the user design of a modern drum machine conceived by Roger Linn, the man who many believe fathered the genre. After fits and starts in this collaboration, most importantly, it’s real – not an early, non-working prototype . A finished version will ship mid-year, with an expected list price of US$2000. (That’s steep, perhaps, for a drum machine in a recession, but it’s a very fair price indeed for one with six …


Wild, Colorful Controllers for Guitarists and Ableton Live Users, from Starr Labs

Kids today. They just love their Ableton Live and their Rock Band and their alternative tunings and their Live triggers and touch controllers stuck to their far-out new boutique controllers and high-end MIDI guitars. Starr Labs has a line of MIDI controllers for Rock Band gamers and musicians on a budget, real guitarists (that’ll be the pro MIDI guitarists, not the gaming ones), and a novel new controller designed especially for Ableton Live. We saw their wireless line earlier today, which interoperates with these; here’s them exploring control. Gaming and serious musicianship have some surprising overlaps here. Look at the …


Virtual DJ Controllers: New Hardware for Serato, Traktor from Pioneer, Numark

What should digital DJing look like? It’s an open question. If you aren’t willing to contend with the (potentially-unreliable) combination of real vinyl control records with computers, the question becomes what DJing technique hardware should embody. Writing for CDM, Ambivalent of Minus Records was most enthusiastic about advanced hardware mixing in Allen & Heath’s Xone:DB4. Boutique manufacturer Faderfox focuses instead on advanced, four-deck effects and control, minus the big, record-mimicking platters. The big players, though, are focused on a kitchen-sink approach that combines turntable controllers with integrating mix, effect, and transport controls with software. We saw Native Instruments’ Kontrol S4, …