Check out this ultra-limited, monochrome “design” synth

Would we love synthesizers if they were a little, well, nuts? And, by extension, don’t we love them even more if they’re a lot crazy instead of a little? If that’s how you feel, you’ll love the 20. Everything about it screams sex appeal. Apart from luxe materials, this is finally a synth that looks like someone kidnapped Dieter Rams to do the panel design. And the “20” is a reference to how limited it’ll be – twenty black, twenty silver. But if you’re Darth Vader, you really do need those black keys with black body. I mean… why did …

Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

A free app makes a TI graphing calculator make music

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.” No — like, actually. HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.) What do I mean? Just watch:


Skip the Computer: BeatStep, Programmed with iPad, SysEx Hack

Blessed be MIDI, again, for making us independent. Frankfurt am Main-based untergeekDE decided he didn’t want to go to a Mac or Windows PC just to edit settings on his Arturia BeatStep. MIDI (System Exclusive messages)m to the rescue. Actually, even calling this a ‘hack’ isn’t really fair: this is exactly how this is supposed to work. Edit the settings you want on the hardware using anything you like, in this case taking advantage of TB MIDI Stuff. That handy app is practically reason enough to get an iPad, even a compatible used one. In the process, untergeek even changed …


The Best Little MIDI Fader and Knob Box Just Got Better

I just can’t hide my affection for the Faderfox line, and one unit in particular: the UC3 was pretty close to perfect. While there are other MIDI controllers with faders, the UC3 stands out by combining a healthy assortment of encoders and faders (plus one crossfader) in an ultra-compact, lightweight package. Nothing comes close to saving space either in your bag or in cramped performance setup situations. Every component feels smooth, solid, and premium, in contrast to rivals that have generally favored low price over quality. And it’s USB class compliant, so drivers aren’t issue. Well, the UC3 was nearly …


Kraftwerk Live Rig Exposed – But Are They Really Checking Email?

(Short answer: no, they aren’t.) So, the thing about Amsterdam’s Paradiso is, there are balconies. And the thing about being in a balcony above Kraftwerk is, their once-secret live rig for their 3D show is now fully exposed. The next question: what’s happening? I have been squinting at this live video for some time, and I’m not sure. Some things are obvious: definitely MK I Maschine drum machine controllers from Native Instruments, definitely a MIDI keyboard for the odd solo, fairly certain I also spot a Novation ReMOTE ZeRO SL controller (encoders and faders and red lights) and the display …


Stereoping Adds Knobs, Programming to Vintage Gear Missing Them [Video]

The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work. The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather …


BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want

´┐╝MIDI is a magical lingua franca between, well, sort of everything. But that’s only if you get it connected. And then once you do have it connected, you might want to tame its messages so they accomplish what you want. Now, the buzz is wearing off following last week’s avalanche of new music gear announcements. You might realize you don’t have $30,000 for a modular. But then, in the wake of that gear, comes one that flew under the radar – and it’s one of the most powerful-looking bits of kit we’ve seen recently. For years, Bome’s Midi Translator has …


A Singing Comet: Hear and Remix a Comet’s Magnetic Oscillations, Lander Thump

The cosmos still offers up mysteries and surprises. And sometimes they sing to us – quite literally. Scientists were dazzled to discover that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was producing strange subsonic music, captured by a magnometer aboard the Rosetta orbiter. (That’s the orbiter that famously deposited the Philae lander; magnetic instruments also track the lander’s descent.) This is sound, just not sound we can hear – some unexpected interaction of the comet with the magnetic field around it at inaudibly low levels. So, who you gonna call to allow people to easily hear patterns in the data? Why, a composer, of course. …


Sync All Your Gear in One Box – No Jitter At All: Master Clock Teaser

Let’s admit it: what we all want out of sync is some magic box that just makes everything work. We just want to plug things in, turn a knob, and have everything sync up. Caveats: we want everything. (USB? DIN? MIDI? Modulars?) And, come to think of it, we probably then start to want to do other fun stuff like shift things around. That is, not all of us want to write technical papers on the topic. But fortunately, Maximilian Rest did write a paper on it. He then built a jitter-free MIDI clock. Well, it gets better. First, the …


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 …