The Saw Bench is a 100€ Analog Synth; Here’s What Its Creators Say

The list of inexpensive electronic instruments you can have for a little bit of change continues to grow. The Saw Bench, now on Kickstarter, is a 100% analog monosynth. You get one voice, one oscillator with modulation, in a box with some hands-on control via knobs and MIDI input (for notes and control). It’s so nice, and so cheap, that I had to go talk to its creators to find out the whole story. And that lead to a nice chap from the Netherlands by the way of Pieter van der Meer. I was especially confused about the price – …

Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

MPC 1.8 Update Expands How You Play; Inside Look with the Developers

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important. And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart. That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming …

05 Pyramid zoom

Pyramid is High-End MIDI, Analog Sequencer Gear with Effects [Gallery]

Maybe it’s because people have started collecting lots of gear. Maybe it’s a shift in how people play live. Maybe it’s just that we’re getting more than enough mileage out of our laptop as the machine for mixing and tracking and recording and mastering and managing our tour and our social network. Whatever the reason, boy, are we seeing a lot of focus on dedicated hardware – especially for live performance. The Pyramid, from oddly-named Squarp (Squarepusher + arpeggio?), looks like what would happen if Elektron decided to make its own standalone step sequencer without the drum machine. Or at …


BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want

MIDI is a magical lingua franca between, well, sort of everything. But that’s only if you get it connected. And then once you do have it connected, you might want to tame its messages so they accomplish what you want. Now, the buzz is wearing off following last week’s avalanche of new music gear announcements. You might realize you don’t have $30,000 for a modular. But then, in the wake of that gear, comes one that flew under the radar – and it’s one of the most powerful-looking bits of kit we’ve seen recently. For years, Bome’s Midi Translator has …


Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma

Never say never. Few would have imagined just a few short years ago that essentially all – not most, but all – the major 2015 electronic instrument news out of the annual NAMM trade show would come down to 70s-/early 80s-style analog synthesizers, in the form of keyboards and modular. Nor would you imagine two of the big names would still be Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith, alongside Korg and Moog. (Well, maybe Tom and Dave did – how ambitious were you three decades ago, gentlemen?) Certainly, no one ever expected to see the name Sequential Circuits again. But that’s …


Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right. This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. …


Why BeatStep Pro Could Become the Heart of Your Live Rig

The original Arturia BeatStep already looked good. Start with a compact drum pad controller, add some encoders for more control, then add a step sequencer that can control MIDI and analog gear. But the problem is, the execution of the sequencer idea is complex. It turns out you need even simple sequencers to do a lot. And so the original BeatStep, while still an amazing buy for a hundred bucks, was a little disappointing. It was just hard to actually sequence on the thing. You could get one sequence going, but that’s not enough for really playing, and simple rhythmic …


Everything You Need to Know About KORG’s Arp Odyssey Remake

KORG, having resurrected their own MS-20 monosynth, have now turned to another analog classic: the duophonic ARP Odyssey. We’ve known for some time that they would begin manufacturing a new edition of that in collaboration with its original creators. Now we know what it looks like, and what it’ll cost. If you already love the classic ARP Odyssey, there’s not much to say. KORG’s launch, in fact, focused on the ARP you know – the fact that its sound is something you recognize from songs. That’s partly an explanation of why such instruments deserve recreation. And the original holds up …


Akai Analog Drum Machine, Revision 2 – And a Four-Voice Wolf Synth?

It seems Akai is staying in the analog synth business. Following the Rhythm Wolf – introduced quietly at Messe (literally, it couldn’t make sound), and then getting a mixed review here on CDM – they have both a second drum machine and a four-voice synth. Availability has leaked as July – which means again, we may not know how these actually sound until they ship. Let’s look at what we know. (Bookmark this page, as I will simply update information here as it comes in.) First up, the Tom Cat. It’s definitely a second take on the Rhythm Wolf – …


Roland’s New AIRA Mixer is a Performance Tool For All Your Gear

So, now you’ve got a lot of hardware. You’ve moved beyond just a computer, and you’re back to the joy of making music with boxes with knobs and faders and keys. And you’re playing with them live. And maybe Roland’s AIRA had something to do with that, too. Now, how do you put them together? KORG’s SQ-1 step sequencer is one answer. And Roland has provided the next chapter to its AIRA hardware saga with a mixer, its sixth product in the AIRA line. But this isn’t just a way of connecting all the audio outputs from those devices – …