bastldemo

Go gear crazy with the best synth gear unveiled at Superbooth

In just its second edition, Schneidersladen has turned the Superbooth into the world’s coolest synth gathering and most focused electronic music gear get-together. The Berlin-based event attracted a who’s who of international music gear makers, from modular to desktop, tiny to huge. So that led to the inevitable question: “what have you seen? What’s cool?” Sometimes you got to that topic before, like, “hello, how are you?” Well, while there was a litany of great new stuff, particularly (unsurprisingly) in the modular sphere, here are the prototypes and gear launches that I think represent the best of the best. We’ll …

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Novation Mono Station synth sequencer just leaked via retail

Novation’s Circuit drum machine/synth/sequencer combo already found a lot of fans. Now it looks like they’ve got another all-in-one grid instrument – this time, a mono/paraphonic synth with sequencer. And whereas the Nova polysynth in the Circuit is hidden behind controls, here you get loads of hands-on control. The Novation Mono Station has leaked via retailers like Dutch prodjstore and are already making rounds on social media. Most interesting I’d say, apart from combining the grid sequencer with a hands-on synth, is that modulation matrix. (It’s not bad having distortion plus a multi-mode filter with overdrive, either.) In a nod …

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automatonism

This software is like getting a modular inside your computer, for free

Modular synthesizers present some beautiful possibilities for sound design and composition. For constructing certain kinds of sounds, and certain automated rhythmic and melodic structures, they’re beautiful – and endure for a reason. Now, that description could fit both software and hardware modulars. And of course, hardware has some inarguable, irreplaceable advantages. But the same things that make it great to work with can also be limiting. You can’t dynamically change patches without some plugging and replugging, you’re limited by what modules you’ve got bolted into a rack, and … oh yeah, apart from size and weight, these things cost money. …

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Seaquence lets you make music as animated ocean creatures

Are the cold, mechanical buttons of step sequencers stressing you out? Do you enjoy the soothing sensation of staring into an aquarium? Then Seaquence for the iPhone and iPad might be the music production tool for you. You can treat Seaquence as a kind of musical game, toying around with fanciful animated creatures dancing around your screen. You can look at it as a standalone instrument, with a now reasonably powerful synth engine. Or you can actually treat this as a powerful studio tool, and use it to sequence other apps and hardware – meaning this could be a way …

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Modstep iPad sequencer is now packed with drum kits, MIDI templates

There are apps, and then there are apps with a studio soul. Modstep feels like it uniquely qualifies as the latter. If you’ve just got your iPad, it’s built with lots of interoperability with other apps in mind. And then combine it with hardware, and out of the box, it makes all that outboard gear more useful. What does it do, and what it’s about? I could try to explain, but really six-year-old Maja does a much better job. (That’s how she won the Modstep video production contest.) She loves her 909 and her 303 and enjoys this more than …

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More details on the $650 Elektron Digitakt – and why we’re into it

The Elektron Digitakt sampler/drum computer may have been sitting silently under glass at last month’s NAMM trade show. But no matter: it was still the gear generating the most buzz. The thing is, we’re already hearing enough about the Digitakt to pique our interest. First, there’s that price — US$/€650. That’s terrifically affordable by Elektron standards. And then there’s the compact size, the accessible-looking controls and OLED, and the focus on sequencing and sampling. This just looks like a fun, friendly groove box. It also looks like a device that could significantly expand the audience for Elektron gear, not only …

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Get a powerful step sequencer as a Windows VST, free

Quick! You need a step sequencer! Sometimes you want a full-featured sequencing tool and your host doesn’t have one (or it doesn’t do what you want). HY-SEQ16 is a terrific, versatile option. I could talk about the whole feature set but: randomize. Probability controls. There you have it. Okay, also, preset management, separate randomization per parameter (ooh), sequence direction – basically everything you need. If you really fall in love with this one, US$28 buys you 3×16 steps and an LFO. This looks great to me, not least for controlling external hardware. Heck, I thought I didn’t need it, and …

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digitakt

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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Dot Melody is a nicely weird iOS note sequencer, and now it syncs

Here’s a pitch you don’t expect from an iOS developer: Dot Melody is “kind of weird and limited.” Oh yeah, and how about those glowing hands-on reviews from the first people to try it? Well, reactions “ranged from confused to outwardly hostile.” But wait – we’re in the music making business. Weird and confusing is kind of our bread and butter. Musicians are the group of people willing to invent things like the French Horn (it’s impossible to play, but on the upside – it’ll sound mostly terrible). Or the bagpipes. (Possibly useful if you’re going into battle and want …

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Novation’s Circuit goes polyrhythmic, and other 1.4 goodies

Firmware updates aren’t supposed to be something that gets talked about. But somehow, Novation’s actually generate some buzz. There’s a lesson here for the whole industry. Social media strategy could actually be part of the development process. (Your engineers are part of your PR?) Anyway, the new Novation Circuit continues to get cooler. And some new features I’ve been waiting for arrived – the ones that made me stick it back into my MIDI rig, where it’s been earning lots of attention with that friendly face. The big ones for me: drum pattern length (for polyrhythms) and instant pattern switch. …

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