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Get hands on with the hot new Elektron Digitakt

What do you need your boxes to do? For a lot of people, that’s making grooves, producing nice-sounding drums, manipulating samples, and playing sequencing – and then mucking about with them and breaking everything. You might call that a “drum machine.” You might call it, in fact, a “laptop.” But the faster mucking around gets, the more fun you’re likely to have. On this scene, enter the Elektron Digitakt. Part of why I wanted to share Cuckoo’s friendly, accessible videos on the Elektron Octatrack yesterday was to help set the stage for the Digitakt. Does it do everything the Octatrack …

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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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Elektron’s Digitakt is a compact drum machine, sequencer, sampler

Elektron has been making some beautiful analog stuff with, well, “analog” in the name. But it seems the time has come to fill a glaring opening in the market – one left not just by Elektron, but by the industry in general. Digitakt is dedicated drum machine hardware that’s also a sampler and also (at last) a powerful sequencer for external gear. In other words, it’s the box that does what the computer does as far as sampling, sound design, and gear control – but focused on just those tasks. It’s also an answer to Elektron users shouting “why doesn’t …

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The overview screen, for navigating - some overtones of both Kai's software from the 90s and the better stuff from Apple (Sculpture).

Substance is a new software approach to every kind of bass

There are those desserts that are subtle. And then there are the ones that are layered chocolate and peanut butter and cream that you drench in still more chocolate sauce, but in a way that holds together. You know – layering. Substance, a new soft synth from Output, is all about layering. It’s about making enormous bass things out of other already pretty-large bass things. And it represents a nice latest chapter in what the boutique software developer has been doing with sound design

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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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fluXpad is an insanely immediate music drawing tool for iPad

Make an interface simpler, and you might push your musical expression further. That’s the realization you have using fluXpad, a new drawing app. It’s not that it’s a dumbed-down rendition of other tools. It’s that doodling with sounds is a totally different experience than the point-and-click fine editing you might be used to.

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Korg’s electribes get an update with stuff you asked for

KORG has a big update for its electribe and electribe sample line – with features that, while subtle, are just what you asked for.

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We got our hands on Pioneer’s new SP-16 sampler

Pioneer revealed its Toraiz SP-16 hardware sampler earlier this week, along with the news that analog filters from Dave Smith were baked in. But beyond that, online specs were a bit vague. So we’ve just gotten to meet up with Pioneer (and Dave) and get close to a prototype unit. Firmware isn’t done yet, but we got to learn a lot more – and there’s a lot to like.

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We talked to Dave Smith about those Pioneer sampler filters

When news leaked last week that synth legend Dave Smith was collaborating with Pioneer, a few eyebrows were raised. Today, it all made sense: Pioneer wanted the sound of Dave Smith Instruments’ superb analog filters on their new sampler. Since it’s a key selling point, I was curious to know more about those filters.

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Pioneer just made the hardware sampler that NI, Akai didn’t

For many, many DJs, Pioneer simply owns the DJ booth. The ability to work with Recordbox on the computer, drop a USB stick in a bag, and then just plug into the ubiquitous CDJ is a level of convenience no one else can match. (Seriously, what other gig can you play with something you can fit in your pocket, unless you’re a harmonica player or beat poet?) But that raises the question – what can Pioneer do beyond their enormously successful mixers and digital players? The answer: they may now be set to extend that dominance.

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