Review: MTRX-8, The Hardware Sequencer You Can Reprogram

The standalone MIDI hardware sequencer has had formidable competition in the age of the computer. But it seems ready to make a comeback in a big way. With more hardware, more affordable hardware, and more fans, all-in-one tactile control is just what the doctor ordered. Of course, having used a computer, you’re less likely to be accommodating of inflexibility. That’s why the MTRX-8 from Fyrd Instruments shows real promise. It works as a standalone sequencer, true, with MIDI in and out ports. But it also coincides nicely with a computer – from programmability over USB to doubling as a MIDI …

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Vectr, the Wave-your-hands Analog Module, Just Got Crowd-funded

Wriggle your fingers above the light-up glow of the Hackme Vectr, and you can control sounds in space. The results are good for spooky sonic exploration – a less-temperamental Theremin – and apparently have inspired sound lovers, because the project reached its first crowd-funding goal. Through Thursday morning, January 9, you can get your own Vectr for about US$299-325 (or a fancy special edition for $399), estimating shipping in May. In this initial design, the focus is on analog control: 3-axis gestural control with LED feedback 30-second gesture sequence recording Sequence gesture playback, itself controlled by gestures It’s especially nice …

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littleBits Open Source Synth Kit on GitHub; KORG Filter Secrets Revealed, Music Projects

Open source music hardware has gone from promising concept to practical reality. It incorporates not just hacker-friendly kits, but end user products, from synths to controllers to effects. And now, for the first time, you can find one of the biggest names in the musical instrument industry on GitHub. KORG and littleBits promised they’d release their collaboration under the same open source license as the other magnetic, snap-together modules from littleBits. This week, they’ve delivered. It’s a little tricky to find, so let’s walk you through it. The good stuff is in the EAGLE files – the circuit diagrams, here …

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Digital Warrior Goes Open Source, DJ-friendly Step Sequencer Hardware Gets Better

A USB-connected step sequencer with controller is now improved, and open source. The Digital Warrior is a boutique hardware controller hailing from Cyprus, combining a 16-voice, 32-step sequencer with four pots and two three-color endless encoders, all attached via a driverless USB connection. It’s capable of acting as a step sequencer/controller with any tools you like, but out of the box includes support for Traktor remix decks and Ableton Live control. The remix deck functionality with Traktor is a particular draw; developer and producer/DJ Tomash GHz pioneered this particular way of combining step sequencers and Traktor’s Remix Decks. (Check out …

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Bluetooth LE Will Make Minority Report a Creepy Reality, But Also Arduino Cooler

PSFK – Adaptive storefront prototype from + rehabstudio on Vimeo. After years of failing to demonstrate compelling applications, Bluetooth is back with a vengeance. If you haven’t yet used a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device, it’s a completely different experience. Pairing and range and latency work better (the result of years of learning how to make these better). Battery drain is barely noticeable. You can expect BLE to power lots of clever new applications – and it’s nice to see it showing up on DIY electronics. Oh, yeah, and it can creep the hell out of you, privacy-wise, by making …

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Pocket VJ: Raspberry Pi Gets Super Pikix Pi – Free, Dedicated Visual App

Those silver machines with the fruit on them sure are great. And for now, PCs (whether Apple or Windows or Linux) are unparalleled in performance. But cheaper, dedicated hardware with the same flexibility of computers could grow in appeal. The Steambox promises to the gaming community that a dedicated box running Linux can best desktops and consoles alike. And in visuals, we could see something similar. Why wait? With a $25, tiny pocket-sized computer and a free VJ app, you can start now. Sure, it won’t exactly match that mini-tower you’re lugging around running TouchDesigner. But if you need to …

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A DIY Multitouch Music Controller, monome-Style, Built From Scratch [Instructables, Arduino]

Complete with color LED display and interactive sensing, this clever DIY project from Amanda Ghassaei is the real deal: a multitouch table used for music, constructed from scratch. And step-by-step instructions on Instructables mean that you can try the same idea yourself. The 8×8 matrix and the notion of independent light-up LEDs, along with some of the firmware, come from the monome project (and the open arduinome clone). But here, that idea is extended to seamless touch sensing, measured by infrared. Multitouch Music Controller from Amanda Ghassaei on Vimeo.

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anodetop

MeeBlip anode: Compact Bass Synth with Analog Filter, A CDM Collaboration

The challenge: fit everything you really want from a bass synth into a 4″ x 4″ square. Make every parameter hands-on, with full-sized knobs and switches. Give it an analog filter that can be angry, not just nice. Our solution: MeeBlip anode. It’s the new collaboration between CDM and instrument designer James Grahame. Together with James’ engineering work, we’ve cooked up a little package that focuses on packing personality: Digital oscillators meet an original analog filter Grungy, bass-heavy sounds Compact, 4” x 4” case (approx. 100 x 100 mm) Modulation, envelope, tuning, and pulse width controls MIDI input for compatibility …

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pMic is a 3D-Printed A-B Stereo Mic You Can Make Yourself; Hear It

Now, the next time you want a stereo microphone, you can hit print. Well, okay – that’s not entirely correct. But a combination of last-century DIY (circuits for making the mic) with this-century DIY (3D printing for making a convenient housing) means a custom microphone you can build that’s exactly suited to your needs. And, oh yeah – it’s both cheap and fun. Frank Piesik shares this project via Google+ and his blog. The plans are open-sourced and available on GitHub, so you can try making your own if you like; you’ll just need a 3D printer or 3D printing …

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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 …

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