A different breed of analog sound library for Ableton Live

Soundware is everywhere, from endless catalogs of loops to yet another pack of sampled vintage instruments. But apart from questionable quality as the market grows crowded, the other simple question is, just how should these packs be assembled? SympleSound is what happens when a sound designer decides to treat the sound pack like an instrument unto itself – not just content, but a set of tools.


Stereoping Adds Knobs, Programming to Vintage Gear Missing Them [Video]

The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work. The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather …

Seze Devres Photography NYC

In An Avalanche of Modular, Here’s the New Gear You Need to Know

You know you’re at peak modular when Moog is reissuing 1970s synths for US$30,000. It wasn’t long ago that people were relegating modular synths to closets, selling them off, and even – really – throwing them in dumpsters. Now, the once-archaic racks of synthesizers connected with patch cords are suddenly cool. Moog rockstar chic aside, the trend is mainly driven by Eurorack, a format introduced years ago by Doepfer that has made it easier to manufacture and buy interchangeable rigs. Moog is making only a handful of those System 55 rigs, so even they acknowledge you probably can’t afford them. …


Dave Smith Goes Modular, with a $179 Curtis Filter Module

Eurorack fever continues to spread. The ease of making musical electronics fit the standard, pioneered by Germany’s Dieter Doepfer, and the growing appetite from a small but passionate audience, seems to make producing new modules irresistible. The entire design equation is different: a single task or handful of tasks can become a product. Dave Smith Instruments is the latest entry. And the product is the perfect choice for DSI. It’s a module built around on the Curtis filter, the signature filter found on everything from the 1980s Prophets (back when Dave’s company was Sequential Circuits) to the latest Mopho and …

The POD that changed everything. Photo (CC-BY) Lauri Rantala.

Yamaha will Acquire Line 6, Major Innovator in Guitar Tech

Even in a big year for acquisitions – with Gibson acquiring Cakewalk, for one – this news comes as a surprise to many of us. Yamaha, the 1887-founded Japanese conglomerate with a stake in everything from golf carts to wheelchairs to jetskis to pianos, is acquiring Line 6, the independent California-based guitar and sound product manufacturer. Yamaha is a huge force in products for music and sound, without question, with an unparalleled design, manufacturing, and distribution apparatus. And music is at their core – look closely at those motorcycles and jetskis, and there’s a reason you’ll see tuning forks. Yamaha …


Wonders of DIY Synths: A New PreenFM, a Polyphonic Oberheim Clone

It’s a new golden age for synth lovers, past meeting the future and so on. At least, we have a stunning number of wonderful toys. And the DIY community is coming up with a number of particularly special creations. Take the terrific open source PreenFM, an original, 6-operator FM synth that’s entirely open source hardware (code and schematics). On Sunday, we learned what creator Xavier Hosxe has in store for the new model:


Open Shruthi-1 Synth Evolves Deep Sound Capabilities, New 4-Pole Filter, Ice-White Case

Inside this compact white box lurks a lot of sonic power and technical prowess. Perhaps that explains why the newest version of the open source Shruthi-1 now sports a crazy-badass wolf dog cartoon with glowing eyes. Since its launch, the Shruthi-1 has gradually evolved new features, with a fairly sophisticated combination of hardware and extensive software. At its core, it’s a “hybrid” synth with digital/virtual analog oscillators and real-analog filter. The digital oscillators allow it to change character, for classic virtual analog subtractive, or wavetable, FM, phase distortion, and vowel synthesis. The big news with the filter is that the …


A World of Sounds: Academik’s Francis Preve Shares Label’s Music, Studio Advice, Samples for Live

Francis Prève works the crowd. Photo courtesy the artist. The abundance of music, and the preceived ease of producing it, comes to some as bad news – or even harbinger of apocalypse. But load up a craft with quantity, and quality is what stands out. Francis Prève is a perfect Renaissance producer. With years of experience as a music technology journalist and sound designer, his own, signature flavor of tech-house is uniquely focused on timbre. His label, Academik Records, debuted last year at Austin’s South by Southwest, but it’s just now kicking into high gear. (If you are in Austin …


iPad Sequencer Meets Vintage Oberheim, and MIDI Endures

StepPolyArp for iPad controlling an Oberheim FVS from Logan Mannstrane on Vimeo. Logan Mannstrane sends in this lovely video combining an iPad MIDI step sequencer — with an Oberheim FVS. It’s a striking intersection of analog and digital technology. But I wanted to ask Logan to explain why he’d use the iPad in this case instead of other MIDI tools — why crossing this generational gap mattered. He responds: That fact that I can interface a synth from the 70’s to new device in 2010 is pretty amazing by iteself. I can have the sequencer in my hands and pull …


This Week in Synths: The Stearns Collection Moog, Mike Oldfield’s OB-Xa, MOOG IIIp

The First Commercial MOOG You are looking at the Moog Synthesizer, Stearns 2035. It currently resides as part of the Stearns Collection at the University of Michigan. According to the university it was the first commercially produced MOOG Synthesizer. “This particular instrument has the distinction of being the first commercially produced Moog synthesizer. It was commissioned by the Alwin Nikolai Dance Theater of New York in 1964 after being demonstrated at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York in October of that year. Nikolai used the synthesizer to compose recorded musical accompaniments for his dancers. Later, the instrument was …