Time to start singing about how we’re the operator with our pocket calculator again. The ZONT Synthesizer is an upcoming handheld instrument. And it’s what one designer imagines for the synths of the future. Apart from being tiny, you can change its function by snapping cartridges in and out – Game Boy style. And whereas we think of synths now as big, clunky boxes with wires coming out of them, the ZONT can either plug into a desktop dock for connectivity or connect wirelessly. We’ve had a chat with its designer to see what’s in store.
Soemtimes it’s the little things. I’ve struggled for some time to find a simple metronome I can recommend. But a lot have a bunch of features I don’t really care about – and then lack some basic flexibility. So this is a welcome and unexpected arrival. It’s a free metronome app from Steinberg for iOS, and it’s really nice.
Backpack-friendly rigs on the cheap are yours – if you know how to put them together. Fortunately, we’ve got some expert help. For starters… fancy tools? No. Sync? Who needs it. Just a Korg Kaossilator and the Propellerhead Figure app are part of a little jam here from our friend Jakob Haq.
It looks like a small remote control for a game system, but it’s a musical instrument. The OP-Z caught our imagination earlier this year at NAMM with a host of bizarre and wonderful functions, from sequenced instruments and drums to live visual animation accompaniment (seriously). Now, Cuckoo Music catches up with Teenage Engineering in his ongoing video series. That means a chance to see how the pocket music gizmo has progressed, as well as what’s happening with live visuals. Teenage Engineer David Mollerstedt joins: Meanwhile, TE’s instruments see other lovely action. Mikael Jorgensen writes CDM to tell us about his …
“Computer music,” “digital music” – this doesn’t necessarily mean a big laptop. Game Boy musicians had it right to begin with: palm-sized machines can make music, too. And this track is gorgeous – the work of a user named “pselodux”:
Priced at $59, inspired by vintage Nintendo Game & Watch, and looking like calculators, the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator line was a runaway hit. So, just adding three more of them seems a no-brainer. Then again, with drum machines, bass synth, and lead synth covered, the next three might easily have been an anticlimax. Good news for Teenage Engineering fans: they aren’t. The Stockholm designers have managed three retro-tinted follow-ups that might easily make as big a splash the originals.
iMaschine, the iOS drum machine, is back in a new version. Now in mini, pocket-able form, you get arrangement and live play features from the desktop edition. For iPhone 6s/6s Plus owners, it also responds to 3D touch. I always keep sketchpads around – literal sketchpads, of the pencil and paper variety. So when software is described as a “sketchpad,” I take that seriously.
Put control over Ableton Live in the palm of your hand – and control MIDI gadgets even without the aid of a computer. That’s the vision of LK (the former Livkontrol), out today for both iOS and Android handhelds. This isn’t the first pocket controller. But it might be the first pocket controller to become truly invaluable. That’s because there’s robust support for more than just sliding some faders on your phone or working with wifi. Features, all borrowed from the tablet LK: Wireless connections, but also USB connection USB to MIDI interface support, so you can use this as …
Here’s a Track Made From Just Teenage Engineering PO-12 and MeeBlip, And Another with MeeBlip Vocals
Not just less is more. More from less. Call it the sub-$200 studio. Our friend Tomash Ghz has made a track with sounds produced using only the Teenage Engineering PO-12 and the MeeBlip anode. Listen: And, very cool, have a go at the project files via Splice: https://splice.com/ghz_tomash/tomash-ghz—teslacoil For the record, that’s US$59 for the Teenage drum machine, and US$139.95 list for the MeeBlip. (In fact, MeeBlip is on sale now for a very limited time for US$119.95 with free US/Canadian shipping or discounted international shipping.)
Not just a little small and a little inexpensive. A lot little. Malaventura, aka Fernando Garcia Tamajon, sends this wonderful “cheesy pocket techno jam” (spotted via Instagram). The ingredients: a PO-14 from teenage engineering, a monotron Delay from Korg and a talking translator by an unknown brand bought in a fleamarketn Works for me. There’s something about things being small, self-contained, simple … that can be inspiring. For all those years of people derisively calling things “toys,” sometimes toys are exactly what we need. I love that mystery gear, too.