steps

Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware

This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for. Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other …

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ni_maschine_2-6-5_sw_update_screenshot

Maschine 2.6.5 makes it easier to manage ideas, routings

Ableton has accustomed a lot of us to the idea of having a grid of bits of ideas we can trigger and layer (among other similar metaphors in drum machines and the like). So of course that same functionality would make sense elsewhere. Maschine Jam took Native Instruments’ groove workstation into a different direction by focusing on how you generate, transform, and arrange ideas. Now that focus on workflow is finding its way into the whole Maschine family, both in the form of refinements to Jam and new functionalities elsewhere. So, as NI quietly rolls out Maschine 2.6.5, all Maschine …

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ifeellove

Ableton built a free browser playground to teach how music works

I think there’s a common myth that music production tools somehow take away from the need to understand music theory. I’d say exactly the opposite: they’re more demanding. Every musician is now in the position of composer. You have an opportunity to arrange new sounds in new ways without any clear frame from the past. You’re now part of a community of listeners who have more access to traditions across geography and essentially from the dawn of time. In other words, there’s almost no choice too obvious. So I also believe that every musician and producer ought to have access …

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reason95-screenshot-2-dbe3021ad885

Hell freezes over, Reason 9.5 adds VST support

For those who fear we might live in the End Times, I have some really terrible news. Propellerhead is adding VST plug-in support to Reason. Yep, that’s Propellerhead who for years had sworn they’d never add plug-ins because of concerns about stability, compatibility, and even simple features like undo implementation – and because conventional plug-ins don’t integrate the way that native devices in Reason’s trademark rack do. So what happened? Well, first, Propellerhead found they had something of a hit in their own Rack Extension format and accompanying store. Based on conversations I’ve had with developers, the business opportunity there …

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ninja-jamm-android

Watch how the Ninja Jamm app can turn a track into an instrument

Four years on, Ninja Jamm continues to steam ahead as an app. We covered this app at its creation; I had provided some voluntary guidance as it’s built on libpd. Over those years, it’s built up a base of users and content, added Android support atop iOS, and enabled support on both platforms for Ableton Link. But I myself find myself playing with it again, after contributing a free content pack via the Liquid Sky Berlin series. And I find this remains relevant and addictive. I think it’s always worth listening to the founders of Coldcut and Ninja Tune, in …

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Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

This editor unlocks all the power of Circuit as synth and groovebox

Novation’s Circuit is a budget marvel. As a drum machine alone, it’s a steal – particularly with the ability to load your own samples. But also hidden inside are two synths based on the Novation Nova. There’s one piece of software that really lets you maximize all these capabilities: the Circuit Editor plug-in from Isotonik. It’s got two major advantages. One, it lets you get inside all the hidden powers of the synths and drum machine locked into the Circuit hardware, not only as an editor but with extras like randomization and morphing. The upshot of that: you can use …

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novation-components-2

Novation’s Circuit tools now work without needing the Internet

Just in time for all of us to retreat into a bunker and cut ourselves off from the world — erm, uh, I mean just in case you don’t have an Internet connection in your studio, now Novation’s Web-based editor for Circuit works offline. We’ve waxed rhapsodic about the Circuit Components before – as it turns Novation’s simple, cute, cheap, lovely drum machine into a more customizable tool. You can load samples, save presets, and make backups quickly and easily. But there’s been one very annoying inconvenience: you need to run the tool in your browser, and you need to …

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3-surface-studio-top

Now, DJing with a giant touchscreen using djay, Surface Studio, Surface Dial

So, Algoriddim’s djay has been quietly morphing from “nifty entry-level Mac DJ tool” into “holy, crap, this is actually kind of better than the other DJ software.” And now, a ground-up rewrite for Windows 10 points to where music software might go on that platform – namely, touch and other novel input. I’ll review the state of djay Pro soon. I think its clean interface and its open support for hardware (including Pioneer’s) are reason serious DJs should give it a second look. And in particular, it comes at a time when some leading competitors focus more on supporting their …

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devices2x

Audiobus 3 is like having a modular environment for iOS apps

The original appeal of the iPad as a musical tool, for many, was just doing one thing at a time. Not using a DAW or advanced environment, but a single app. Now here’s the question: can it be just as appealing when using multiple apps? Audiobus 3 asks that very question. It certainly has a great video to explain itself: Here’s what you’ll want to know, if you’re an iPad user. Generally speaking, Audiobus 3 adds functionality but gets easier to use, with a cleaner layout and less setup. You can mix apps from a single display, as you would …

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waveform-screen-unlimited

Waveform woos DAW switchers with clean UI, features, Raspberry Pi

The struggle to make an all-in-one computer production tool that’s different continues. Tracktion, a lesser-known “indie” DAW that has seen a rapid resurgence in recent builds, is now back in a new generation version dubbed Waveform. As usual, the challenge is to make something that kind of does everything, and necessarily needs to do all the things the competition does, while still being somehow different from that competition. Waveform’s answer is to build on Tracktion’s clean UI by making it yet more refined. It builds on its open workflow by adding modular mixing and enhanced “racks” for processing. And it …

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