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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Native Instruments Updates: New Absynth, Kontakt, Guitar Rig, Cheaper Komplete

I’m sure Native Instruments wants me to open with discussion of realistic-sounding strings in Kontakt 4, but instead, I offer a loose visual representation of Absynth’s sound engine. Photo (CC) Joe Penniston. Native Instruments released a slew of soft synth updates today – thanks to everyone who sent this in. The big news is that Absynth, the alien-sounding synth that has become a darling of sound designers, gets a big update. But with so much to cover, here’s the in-a-nutshell version so you can grok it all in one place. The other big news – Komplete’s price is down to …

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Snow Leopard Watch: Changes, Compatibility, Caution, Native Instruments, Plogue

Rawr! A real snow leopard at age eight weeks at the Eichberg Zoo. Now, should you let the (operating system) snow leopard mature a little before you try to play with it? Photo (CC) Tamby Tamboko. Updated: See http://cdm.link/snowleopard for a running report. Apple’s “Snow Leopard” 10.6 ships Friday, which means it’s time to start compiling information about the new OS flavor. Just don’t upgrade too fast, as always. Want to push an operating system to the breaking point? Ask a musician. Between the demands of real-time performance and the complex ecosystem of mix-and-match hardware, software, and plug-ins, odds are …

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Keyboard Geeking Day: Roland Answers JUNO Questions, plus 2.0 Sampling on JUNO-G

The Roland JUNO-G has attracted some interest from CDM readers since I mentioned Roland’s YouTube contest and talked a bit about the JUNO line’s history. (See previous story.) One of you by the name of “made” even asked comments addressed “Dear Roland.” I had to admit I was curious about those answers, so Roland responded. The JUNO-G feature a lot of readers wondered about was the onboard sampling functionality. That feature was beefed up in the OS 2.0. Personally, I’m still looking to keep my samples on the software side, but I can see this having some appeal for live …

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Where’s the Party At: Bendable, Open-Source 8-bit Sampler Now Shipping

If you hate modern samplers with all their supposed fidelity, longing instead for the glitchy digital distortion of samplers past, a DIY project has brought you the sounds you love. “Where’s the Party At?” has been inspiring tingly sensations in digital lovers since I first wrote about it in September. Now, the kit version is shipping. It’s a unique-looking combination of reliability and sonic unreliability, good open source design engineering and, as the creator puts it, a certain “crustiness.” Apocryphal Feature List and General Horn-Tooting: 8-bit max sample depth, 1-bit minimum. 20kHz (or so, user adjustable) max sample rate, no …

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