One Reason to Watch Casio: They’re Step Sequencer Crazy!

Okay, so Casio have crammed a groove box into a Millennium Falcon, and that was a little strange (and means squeezing some of the controls, since the shape is irregular). But now that the shock has worn off, the next question: should we get one for review when it arrives later this March? Should you keep it on your 2015 gear radar? The answer turns out to be yes, as a few readers have told me online and offline. And the reason has to do with a keyboard you probably ignored from Casio a couple years back. Let us explain. …


Numerology 4 is the Deep Modular Sequencer You Didn’t Know You Needed [Mac]

Numerology is a ray of hope, proof that there’s more than one way to build software for making music live and in the studio. Instead of locking you into yet another multitrack recorder, it’s an open canvas for combining sequencers into note-making machines. But maybe the idea of using some idiosyncratic modular step-sequencing environment just hadn’t quite won you over. Quietly working away in New Mexico, developer Jim Coker has been working away on a new Numerology to change your mind. What’s different about this fourth revision? Well, a whole lot of details, but here are the important new developments: …


Knobs, Encoders, and a Crazy-Powerful Step Sequencer: Latest Faderfox Hardware

If you want a tiny, well-built box with loads of encoders or knobs, Faderfox has you covered with its latest round of hardware. (Previously, too: faders!) But with the SC4, the Hamburg, Germany-based builder adds something else: a brilliant step sequencer you can use with software or standalone hardware. Faderfox has two new controllers this month – the knob-laden PC4, which is basically a bunch of pots, and the encoders-with-display SC4. Both work as general-purpose controllers. But the SC4 adds a step-sequencing firmware. The SC4 then becomes more than just a flexible, do-anything controller. It’s about the most step sequencing …


Meet Bazille, the Obscenely-Massive Monster Modular Synth Plug-in from u-he

Simple, lightweight, minimal. No, not really. This is a total monster, the grandest synth yet from plug-in maestro Urs Heckmann, aka u-he. ACE, aka “Any Cable Everywhere,” already introduced us to computer plug-ins with massive tangles of virtual cables – in a good way. Bazille, then, is the plug-in that ate the plug-in that ate Chicago. And after first making an appearance in 2009, it’s finally here, like a beast foretold in legend. Its oscillators are digital, with FM (frequency modulation) and phase distortion and the wild-sounding fractal resonance. And then it has analog-style filters. And then it has effects …


This Virtuoso Ableton Push Performance Comes Full of Tips for Controllerists

Jesse Abayomi, Ableton Product Specialist, is one heck of a virtuoso Push player. And you can learn something from him, too. Performance technology doesn’t always add to performance, it’s true. But when the machine and human are in sync, it’s beautiful. People can develop their musical chops and machine control chops at once – improve on their musical practice and technique. And when that happens, the quality of performances actually gets better. I’ve seen a funny thing as Push has crept into performances. Just as with the spread of custom controllers in the past, access to more playing technique has …


KORG Adds More Synths to Nintendo 3DS – Now With 3D Oscilloscope [Screens, Videos]

KORG and partner Detune, last seen bringing the M01 to Nintendo handhelds (as well as iMS-20 to iPad), are at it again. This time, Nintendo 3DS will get a package called the DSN-12. Technically, it’s not just one synth: it’s twelve monosynths, plus effects, plus sequencers. And you can view it all on an oscilloscope – in three dimensions. This could be boring, but it isn’t. The results sound gritty, funky, and groovy, and the pattern chaining should appeal to people who like handhelds for their all-in-one musical inspiration. Details are a bit sketchy, but here’s what we’re told: Twelve …


The $100 BeatStep Sequencer and Controller: Everything You Want to Know [Review, Resources]

Even if Arturia’s BeatStep did nothing other than act as a dumb controller, it might get your attention. The compact control surface / sequencer hardware runs about $100 street. As a controller, it has both 16 pads and 16 endless encoders (with notches, so you can feel where you are), plus transport triggers and a larger encoder. With driverless USB operation, some of you will already be happy and can proceed. But the BeatStep is more ambitious than that. It has sophisticated software customization via a companion program, and a built-in step sequencer. It operates standalone, with MIDI gadgets or …


Quick Jam: Digital Warrior, Open Source Step Sequencer, Plus KORG volca beats and Bitwig

Don’t call it a comeback. Hardware step sequencing is becoming the must-have accessory for even computer users. And the boutique Digital Warrior controller, which neatly combines knobs with colored pads, is a great solution. I’ve been messing about with the Arturia BeatStep, as well – review coming – but the Digital Warrior has some tricks of its own. It integrates nicely with Traktor, like the still-forthcoming MIDI Fighter Twist from DJ TechTools. But the reason I wouldn’t buy or recommend the DJTT piece is – no MIDI┬áDIN connector. And that spoils the fun. Here, the Digital Warrior is comfortable not …


AIRA Secrets: Here’s How to Take Command of Roland’s TB-3 and TR-8 with MIDI

Part of the appeal of the Roland TR-8 drum machine and TB-3 bassline synth is their hands-on control. But apart from the normal reasons you’d additionally want external MIDI control, you’ll need it for certain kinds of automation recording. The problem is, the AIRAs (at least with their current firmware) lack the ability to record automation internally. You can record patterns on the TR-8 and TB-3, but not changes to sound parameters, effects, or that Scatter thing. So, if you’re making a pattern and find a shifting timbre or glitchy effect you like, there’s no way to save it easily …


Akai’s $199 Analog Drum Machine with Bass Synth: Rhythm Wolf Details

Remember when a $200 budget used to buy you a metronome and flight case, if you were lucky? Now, you have a range of great synths you can choose from. And now it’s Akai’s turn. The Rhythm Wolf is an integrated analog groove box – a 32-step sequencer, an analog drum machine, and a bassline synth in one. And it’s just $199 street. We’ve got all the details on the box, and should have more hands-on impressions later this week.