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Get hands on with the hot new Elektron Digitakt

What do you need your boxes to do? For a lot of people, that’s making grooves, producing nice-sounding drums, manipulating samples, and playing sequencing – and then mucking about with them and breaking everything. You might call that a “drum machine.” You might call it, in fact, a “laptop.” But the faster mucking around gets, the more fun you’re likely to have. On this scene, enter the Elektron Digitakt. Part of why I wanted to share Cuckoo’s friendly, accessible videos on the Elektron Octatrack yesterday was to help set the stage for the Digitakt. Does it do everything the Octatrack …

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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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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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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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The PO-32 Tonic is a complete drum synth in your pocket for $89

Teenage Engineering have been charming us for a couple of years now with handheld, pocket calculator, Nintendo Game&Watch-style synth and drum machines. And you might think they’d be out of weird ideas. You’d be wrong. The PO-32 looks to be both the most surprising, and most serious entry yet. It has an entire drum synth in there. And it’s not just any drum synth – it’s Magnus Lidström’s Microtonic, more or less squeezed into $89 hardware. Now, at this stage, anyone who’s ever used Sonic Charge’s desktop drum percussion synth pattern sequencer plug-in is going to be a little confused. …

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Now your Nord can sound like the very first Steinway, No. 1

The instrument was crafted, literally, in a kitchen in 1836 in Seesen, near Hannover. But it defined piano history. It’s pianoforte “Steinway No. 1,” built by Steinway founder Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg. And now its sound is inside more modern electronic keyboards, from Swedish builder Clavia. Clavia aren’t unveiling any new gear this week, but they do have two interesting new sound libraries. One is “Steinway No. 1.” There’s been a lot of effort between the original instrument and Herr Steinweg’s kitchen and you. Expert builder Chris Meane of Belgium got an exclusive authorization from the Steinway company to recreate the …

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Photo, Lucas Genaro Rucci. Via SHAPE Network.

EQUALITY NOW, a raucous Peder Mannerfelt anthem at the right time

Good timing. Sweden’s Peder Mannerfelt delivers a triumphant single, “EQUALITY NOW” as the opening salvo of a 3-track vinyl/digital coming beginning of December. And it’s splendidly forceful. But wait, there’s more. Mannerfelt is a prolific producer and artist, solo under his own name, as The Subliminal Kid, or working alongside Van Rivers on production. That’s included collabs with the likes of Fever Ray, plus output on Digitalis, Avian, and his Peder Mannerfelt Produktion label, when he isn’t recapturing the sounds of central Congo (really). Okay, blah, blah. Here’s what I’ll tell you about seeing Peter Mannerfelt in person: every single …

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A. Tilliander, photo by Daniel Karlsson.

Sound check: here’s TM404’s hybrid hardware set from Loveland at ADE

If there’s one thing that can bring more feeling and humanity to club music, it’s improvisation. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to meet people like TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander of Sweden. Andreas’ latest antics included opening up for Richie Hawtin at Loveland at this week’s Amsterdam Dance Event. That’s a regular gig for TM404, playing alongside Rich – and a reminder that you need not underestimate mainstream club audiences. They can enjoy a diet of adventurous dance music, too. And what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable two hours, one that starts easy and hypnotic and dials up to …

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Elektron’s Analog Heat is a new distortion, filter, computer accessory

Surprise: Elektron’s latest isn’t a drum machine or sampler or sequencer. Analog Heat is instead a box you use with other stuff. And it has two missions. Mission one: add character to other sounds, via distortion, EQ, a filter, and modulation. Mission two: work with your computer, as an audio interface and as a way of adding that same analog business to software signals.

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This beautiful, retro DIY keyboard packs an entire studio of gear

Even in this age of mass production, the greatest electronic musical instruments are one of a kind. Flights of fancy, these are creations made of pure expression and imagination. And so, seeing something like Love Hulten’s voxarray61 just makes my day. Probably yours, too.

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