How the Octatrack Sampler Actually Works, in Hands-on User Videos

I thought the promo video from Elektron perfectly explained, in practical terms, how their recent Octatrack sampler works. You plug it in, push some buttons, turn samples into techno, and then everyone turns into squids and dies. (Hmmm… that does suggest something perhaps a future firmware update might want to address.) But it seems some readers wanted more than sci-fi short films and inscrutable jams – they want to know how this beast actually works. Happily, reader Genjutsushi has obliged us with a video that explains its functions; see top — it’s shaky, but useful, and no squid are in …

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Octatrack Hands-on Videos Begin to Appear, Featuring New Elektron Super-Sampler in Action

Elektron’s Octatrack sampler is shipping to producer’s hands, bringing this multitrack, time-stretching, step-sequenced, modulation-packing digital sampling hardware to real-world music-making. The results make comparisons like “Ableton in a box” seem pretty fair – and give you more an idea of what the thing does than Elektron’s bizarre (and wonderful) short science fiction film, which seemed to suggest the box would incite revolutions and make you grow tentacles and change into a tortured alien. (See below) Two of the people I’d most want to see work the device are featured in the videos above – at top, Richard Devine, and at …

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The Handheld Studio Evolves: Beatmaker 2 Developers Explain their iPhone Workflow

Music production once meant getting into a studio. Portable multi-track tape and later the computer liberated us from that, and the “bedroom studio” was born. When capable Palm handhelds hit the market, musicians imagined yet more mobile means of production, and everything from Game Boys and PSPs to phones, even before the iPhone, have been pressed into on-the-go music-making service. In all that time, though, the way you actually make music in your palm has been a work in progress. Intua’s BeatMaker was one of the first applications to demonstrate what might be possible on Apple’s handheld, and a radical …

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SP-12, SP-1200 Sample Collection, Free Samples, and Some Tips for Vintage Digital Sampling

Call it future shock. Love of retro gear is more than nostalgia; sometimes it takes time to appreciate what technology means. And so, today, classic digital samplers and drum machines like the E-mu SP-1200 and SP-12 can inspire even greater passion than they did when new. Today, producers can feel love not only for retro analog, but retro digital. With plenty of 12-bit digital dirt, the original SP samplers sound gritty, warm, and unique. And one of my favorite samplists, Hugo of Gold Baby Productions, does a nice job of capturing that personality – enough for me to take note …

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DIY MPC: User Builds the Controller MOTU’s BPM Drum Sampler Forgot

David Pogue made the immensely-successful Missing Manual book series in order to fill in for the manual that should have been included with software. But an impassioned fan of MOTU’s BPM drum sampler went further than that – a lot further. Simon (ssp/plastikaudio) has constructed an entire hardware controller for BPM. It gives MOTU’s software tangible form, with more than a little nod to the classic Akai samplers and Roger Linn. The form factor is oversized and roomy, with big knobs and faders and pads you can reach out and grab – no tiny hands or mice required. Now, naturally, …

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Drumssette, Brilliantly Insane Tascam Tape-Based Drum Machine, More from Mike Walters

Sometimes, DIY music boxes reach moments of mad genius. To me, they’re almost a kind of compositional conceptual art, executed as a set of circuitry and disguised as a piece of music gear. They assemble in series a set of solutions to design problems, but result in something – through the combination of invention and throwback, simplicity and absurdity – insane and wonderful. At least that’s how I feel when I look at the Drumssette, the latest invention from musical instrument engineer Mike Walters. It’s a combination of the innards of a Tascam four-track cassette recorder with a push-button, gated …

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A Free, Drag-and-Drop Granular Sample Player Mashes Up Sound

Grain Main Frame is a sound sketch, a one-off piece of software that loads audio files and plays them via several inventive, homebrewed sample players. Via granular techniques, methods of slicing sounds into tiny grains and then re-assembling them, a single sound can be stretched, sliced, and retriggered creatively. The software supports drag-and-drop functionality, as well, so you can drop files and go. It’s a simple app conceptually, but it’s already packed with functionality in this early version. In addition to drag-and-drop file loading and a folder full of homemade samples to play, the software includes: Gesture recording of mouse …

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Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 Instrument: Hands-on, Videos, Why it’s Different

Photo by Teenage Engineering. Check out their full photo gallery. Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is something unique in music hardware. It’s got a form factor inspired by the Casio VL-Tone series – you know, those cute little 80s-vintage synths. It’s a sampler. It’s a synth. It has an FM radio. It will have a variety of sequencers. It has, we’ve just learned, a multi-track tape mode that lets you do beat-synced virtual splicing as a performance technique. It is expected to integrate and interoperate with a design lifestyle including, if you like, a luxury-priced, meticulously-machined desk lamp, and according to one …

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KORG KAOSSILATOR Pro: Now with Sampler, Effects, Vocoder

KORG has a way of coming up with hardware that’s fun to use. The KORG KAOSSILATOR, a simple, cheap AA battery-powered box packed with sound-making functionality, had already won some hearts over. Touch its X/Y pad, and the KAOSSILATOR responds with built-in synth programs and arpeggiators, all mapped cleverly to the touchpad to stay in the key range you desire. The KAOSSILATOR Pro really appears to be a hybrid of the KAOSSILATOR and KORG’s KP3 effects/sampler box. In fact, it’s really closer in appearance and function to the KP3. Like the KP3, the “Pro” has phrase sampling capabilities and effects, …

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Apps of 2009: With 1.1, Maschine Realizes its Potential as the Soft Drum Machine

Maschine’s lovely hardware controller makes the software drum machine more usable – but the software still behaves like software, and now integrates more fully with your setup in hosts like Live. Photo (CC) Joakim Bergman. Drum machines may have no soul, but thanks to an update, Native’s soft drum machine has a lot more meat. As the year comes to a close, inevitably thoughts turn to writing “best of the year” stories and round-ups. For computer musicians, this year has been dominated by Ableton on one hand and mobile apps on the other. But one of the big software releases …

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