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What to expect from 2017’s first wave of new music gear

Happy New Year? Not yet. In the universe of music gear, the NAMM show in California is a sort of unspoken new year’s holiday – home to the biggest wave of music tech announcements of the year. It doesn’t cover everything, as many music producer-specific makers have fled the pricey trade show booths for more focused events. But there’s still rather a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect. Year of the drum machine The monosynth has made its comeback; now it might be the drum machine’s turn. Behringer and Akai are likely to join recent product launches from …

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Grab 150 vintage and rare drum machines for free

You know the person – collecting weird old music gear, from highly valuable to the near-worthless used prices, as an obsessive hoarder. You open their closet and immediately want to grab a mic and start sampling. Well, that’s the feeling of this totally free library of drum machine sounds. You get a 200MB library, with 150 drum machines. They’re eminently playable, too, with General MIDI mappings so you don’t have to hunt around for the sounds. They’re also grouped (kick, snare, hat, cymbal, tom). And there’s a lot of work here – custom graphics for each kit and custom controls …

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Minitaur, (CC-BY) Audiotecna Música.

Get a pile of free one-shots of vintage instruments for Ableton Live

Get a gift that keeps on giving: a massive trove of one-shot samples of classic instruments that begs you to make your own sounds. That’s the latest freebie packaged for Ableton Live (though you could also snag the samples for other tools, too). And, wow, here are some beloved instruments: Prophet 12, Prophet 08, Minitaur, SubPhatty, SH101, MS20m, Bass Station II, Custom SEM/Doepfer modular, VL-Tone (drums), Mattel Synsonics (drums) I’ve made no secret of being a fan of Francis Preve’s sound design prowess, honed in years of work for companies like Roland and Ableton. His latest FM pack was a …

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We added MeeBlip to TB-03 and TR-09 for really too much bass

You can now really have a ridiculous amount of fun playing live without a ridiculous amount of gear. That’s certainly the sense I get with Roland’s Boutique series, among other recent entries. In just a fraction of the size of the original AIRA, you can add a synth, a bassline, or a drum machine. And it’s not just Roland. In the under-$500 category, there’s loads of desktop gear from Korg, Waldorf, MFB, Novation, and Arturia, plus even compact modular/semi-modulars like the Make Noise O-Coast and Moog Mother-32. It’s all affordable, and all really easy to port around. What I like …

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Someone custom-skinned a Roland MC-505 to look like an AIRA

Now having let the genie out of the bottle, there’s no saying where Roland will turn next with reboots and reissues. But some people are evidently not content to wait. So, via Twitter via Facebook, we see this lovely image of the 1998 Roland MC-505 groovebox, reimagined for people who love that black-with-Matrixsynth green-trim look of the new AIRAs.

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Comparing all the 303 recreations to each other and the original

Someday, I’ll realize my dream of gathering ethnomusicologists and neuroscientists and engineers and we can finally sit down and work out why it is that the 303 is so damned pleasing. In the meantime, we can obsess over the nuances of different 303 recreations. Kudos to ADSRsounds for putting that together. They not only compare the original Roland box to the new TB-03 and AIRA TB-3 renditions, but also the analog clone TT-303. These sorts of comparisons are ultimately subject to your own bias as you watch. But there’s still a lot to glean. The first video is interesting. The …

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Here’s how Roland improves upon the original 303 sequencer

If you pick up the new Roland Boutique Series TB-03, you get more than just an emulation of the squelchy 303 bass synth. As with the AIRA TB-3 before it, the hardware is also a sequencer. So that means it’s capable of creating basslines for the internal instrument – or external gear, too. What’s special about the new TB-03 is that it both recreates the classic original 303 sequencer, and introduces a new, modern “reboot” of the same. Now we get to see how they differ in a pair of videos released by Roland.

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Here’s all that new Roland stuff in one place, even accordions

It was called “909 day.” It was on the ninth of September. And it included a new 909 product. So far, so good. But Roland’s 909 day stops making sense around there. It launched over 30 products, many of them unrelated, over 24 hours. “909 Day” saw new … accordions. Also, record players that said 909 on them. There were four continents, and a marathon Web stream that would have taken 24 hours to watch, sometimes switching between Japanese and English. In years of covering this business, I’ve never seen anything like it. But before you blow this off, there …

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The Roland Boutique that wasn’t a 303 or 909 might be the most interesting

808. 909. 303. 330. No, really “330.” VP-330. That last one is also a classic Roland product with a cult following, but suffice to say, it isn’t a household name on the same level. It’s Roland’s 1979 “Vocoder Plus” instrument – the “plus” added because it was not only a vocoder, but also a string and vocal synth. It also got a reboot on Friday’s mega-launch of Roland instruments. Here’s the surprise: it might be the most interesting of the Boutique offerings yet.

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