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Roland SE-02 is $499 analog synth with sequencer, actually boutique

Roland today has announced a desktop monosynth that’s all-analog at US$/EUR 499. It’s got a bunch of nicely balanced sound features, plus a sequencer. And it represents a new collaboration for Roland, working with an actual boutique synth maker – Studio Electronics. Roland has already called a cute set of synths “boutique,” but … it was unclear they knew what that word meant. (Like, small?) But Studio Electronics qualifies as genuinely boutique. Sure enough, Roland is adding this to a new line called the Boutique Designer Series. (Note the additional word “designer.”) And that means a new direction for the …

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Dub Machines gives you powerful delays as plug-ins; get Diffuse free

The right delay is more than a filter. It’s an intoxicant; it’s a powerful hallucinogenic trip. We’re not so much technicians when we use them as we are shamans. Now, of course, the right way to do this theoretically has been to lug some vintage analog gear, or some specialized digital equipment. But in the recent past, the computer has gotten better at providing rich analog models and digital effects. Not a little better – a lot better. Having a good analog model also opens up something else. We’re starting to see effects and production that combines analog effects (like …

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Roland does for drum pads what stompboxes did for guitar effects

Roland has a simple idea: take digital drum pad hardware, and simplify it. What you get is fun and ready little boxes you can stamp with your foot, play with your hands, or hit with a stick. Instead of one big unit with a bunch of features or a whole electronic kit, the SPD::ONE line is four different compact units with particular sets of sounds. There’s a kick, an “electro” unit, a “percussion” unit, and a “WAV” sample loader. All four also double as MIDI controllers for your computer. I think people who never even thought they wanted a drum …

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Inside Skinnerbox’s live sets, including a song they play backwards

“xobrenniks era ew olleh.” Skinnerbox, the duo of Olaf Hilgenfeld and Iftah Gabbai, are now so comfortable in their roles of playing live that they’re playing backwards to spice things up. (It seems there was some effort involved here – like, learning a song backwards in order that they had composed it the way they desired when reversed. I just find it oddly enchanting watching things defy gravity and roll across cymbals.) Playing with other people can feel like a mind meld. There’s a special discipline to working things out alone, to be sure. But it’s when you play with …

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Father of 808 and founder of Roland Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

Few people loom over electronic music instruments quite like Ikutaro Kakehashi. As founder of Japanese giant Roland, at Roland’s helm through decades of its most historic creations, and as an engineer, Kakehashi has had a hand in the evolution of electronic music instruments – and particularly the notion of the electronic drum machine – as we now know it. Word is spreading that the maestro, known affectionately to fans simply as “Mr. K,” has died today at the age of 87. It all started with organs. Kakehashi was an engineer first, repairing and later building organs. Like it did for …

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Maschine now makes it easy to work with external gear, spice up patterns

There are those things in music making that are just pure joy. There’s finding a particularly nice groove or pattern, or getting that really juicy synth or effect parameter to morph just so. And there’s getting to use all those toys and external gear you really love. So, while Maschine 2.6 is just a “point” release, I think it works out being one of the most welcome updates to come to Maschine’s loyal audience of groove makers yet. It gets at both these points. First, it inherits all the clever stuff added to Maschine Jam for adding variations and randomization …

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System 80 is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack

Wait… I don’t think I’ve ever basically said everything I needed to say in a story right in the headline before, but… yeah. This is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack. And for anyone disappointed that Roland didn’t do a TR-08 Boutique Series at NAMM, here’s one that is probably exactly as analog fans would want it. You get the layout of the original 808, if a bit miniaturized and squashed, but control-for-control an image of the original. You get independent outs for each part. You get CV I/O for connecting to other modules. It’s Eurorack. It’s 60HP. It looks …

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Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering

Perhaps the most unexpected product news this month is Roland’s unveiling of RolandCloud. It’s a subscription service from the hardware maker, the biggest component of which is providing access to a range of software plug-ins. Roland, while one of biggest names ever in hardware and synthesizers, is still a relative newcomer to software. But their PLUG-OUT line has steadily built up to library of a few instruments. That includes modeled remakes of classic synths (SH-101, PROMARS, SH-2, SYSTEM-100) and one new synth (SYSTEM-1). Those instruments – and two just-announced new ones – are the first additions to the subscription service. …

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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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