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Watch this futuristic Roland TR-808 ad to celebrate 808 day

Who would have thought in 1980 that the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer would change drum machines and dance music forever? If you went out dancing this weekend, you probably heard its distinctive sounds. Well, if you’re the sort of person who cracks a smile every time you check the time and it’s 8:08am, you’re probably already doing something to celebrate the eighth of August, “808 day.” So here’s a video for even more. Clarification: The ad copy in this ad’s voiceover? All totally real. This is actually text Roland used to describe their TR-808 in ads from the era – …

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Sail to Samos with vintage BBC to find Pythagorean tunings

Speaking of tuning, before there was Cosmos and Carl Sagan, there was BBC’s Ascent of Man. (Make that “humankind” now, of course.) And there’s something charming about its breathless reminder of the mystical magic of Pythagorean tuning, and its mythical discovery in folklore. Fact check – as the film sort of suggests, we don’t really know how this discovery took place since our knowledge is fragmentary. It may not have involved any individual named Pythagoras, or indeed taken place on Samos. But the power associated with the harmony of mathematics, sound, and perception does have historical basis – in the …

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Get a gig of free sounds for Ableton Live from Puremagnetik

Puremagnetik are one of the most experienced sound library houses around, with a resumé that includes collaborations with Ableton early in the history of Live. And evidently they want you to get to know them better, as they have a gigabyte of free sounds on offer showing their work. Included is both soundware and Device Racks for messing about – so this isn’t just a loops library. You get: Modular loops (building blocks for pieces to get you started) Various Effects Racks Film Score sounds Waveframe, which emulates the Ensoniq Fizmo’s Transwave Synthesis (think morphing wavetables) Vintage Chips, with lots …

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Watch an orchestra of floppy and hard drives play Star Wars

The Internet has seen obsolete disk drives play tunes from Star Wars before – but not like this. Hacker Paweł Zadrożniak of Poland has outdone himself with a maximalist rendition of John Williams’ iconic music. Just how big is it?

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The Subharchord. Photo Gerhard Steinke.

Meet the Subharchord, subharmonic organ of the DDR

Once upon a time in East Germany, an alternate branch of the evolution of the synthesizer and the organ came into being. And now it has a second chance to capture imaginations. The Subharchord was the DDR-era invention of engineer Enrst Schreiber, first designed in 1958. It was an original production but inspired by Oskar Sala’s so-called Mixtur-Trautonium. State backing came from the unlikely goal of serving as a commercial rival to the Hammond organ, thus bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Communist nation. Unfortunately, practicality and politics intervened. But that’s not to say the Subharchord wasn’t ahead of its time …

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Get to know Bob Moog in online pictures, artifacts

What are you doing right now? Want to drop what you’re doing and nerd out with a bunch of amazing Bob Moog pictures and ephemera? Great!

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With the Minimoog reissue, there are now two Moogs

At the moment when synthesizers are getting more economical, Moog are firmly establishing what the synth as luxury item looks like – and it’s this. The Minimoog model D is an exact recreation of the iconic original monosynth, starting production of that machine for the first time in three decades, down to even tiny details of circuits. And it’ll cost you – US$3499, limited run in America only.

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One plug-in combines all the classic vocal effects you want

There have been vocal effects before – your vocoder, your pitch shifter, what have you. But the folks at iZotope set a more ambitious goal: be all the classic vocal effects. Put them a single plug-in full of modules. Then combine them in a way that makes them accessible, whether you’re preset surfing or dialing in your own sound. Encourage exploration without even requiring some advance knowledge. The result of that is called VocalSynth, and it’s out today. And wow, is this thing big – big enough that I imagine I might spend the rest of the year playing with …

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Whoa looking at this on my MacBook WHERE IS REALITY? Photo: UA.

The 1955 Fender Tweed amp now lives in software

The art of modeling at a handful of the best software shops continues to progress. And so it is that Universal Audio say they’ve simulated every tiny detail, “from speaker paper and heat dissipation, to filter caps and transformers,” of one of the world’s best-known amplifiers – the Fender Tweed. It’s the cranked sound of Neil Young; it’s the clear lead of Larry Carlton. It’s a lot of other things. It’s now on a computer, too.

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Lords of Synth is an epic parody from Adult Swim

In a gift to synthesizer lovers everywhere, the comiticians of Adult Swim have produced an extended retro electronica opus imagining an alternate-universe battle of the bands between Wendy Carlos, Vangelis, and Giorgio Moroder.

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