Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …

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Nord’s Electro 5 Revises A Favorite Stage Piano

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better. That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts. I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I …

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Add a Free Softube Saturation Knob, Anywhere: Plug-in for Mac, Windows, or Reason

The Christmas gifts keep coming. On top of an excellent free NI delay, a free clap plug-in, and a free retro-inspired Max for Live drum machine, now you can add a free saturation effect – anywhere. Softube are making, simply put, some of the best amp and saturation models anywhere. I’m routinely using their stuff, as I’m sure many of you are, in Ableton and Propellerhead releases on top of dedicated Universal Audio UAD plug-ins. But having the convenience of a single saturation effect, with adjustable parameters, means you can create custom effect chains quickly. Toss some saturation on just …

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Auxy Is The Best Piano Roll Editor for iPad Yet – And Not Much Else – By Design [Free]

It’s been asked over and over again: can a simpler software tool attract more people to music making? But the next question is, invariably – what’s the right stuff to leave out? Auxy, released today, is an extreme exercise in app minimalism. It radically reduces what’s in the UI by focusing on making and cueing patterns — and leaving out the rest. It’s also free. Built exclusively for iPad, Auxy centers on a grid as its main screen. You’ve got four tracks in which you can create, edit, then trigger different patterns. Tap on one rectangle, and you draw in …

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An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board

Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board. They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue? The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.

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These Apps Use Quicker Interfaces To Encourage More People to Use Sound

Convincing musicians to make use of sound is easy. And electronic musicians are even content with stunningly-complex interfaces, in exchange for deep control of sound. But what about everyone else? Users on mobile are certainly uploading sounds. Part of the intense interest in SoundCloud even outside music and audio audiences is simple to explain: the site is ridiculously popular. By 2012, it had reached 10 hours of uploads per minute. And once sound is uploaded, it attracts listeners. As of last fall, users had skyrocketed from 200 to 250 million users in just a few months. That’s another reason last …

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Reason 8 Overhauls UI, Adds New Softube Amp Models [Video, Gallery]

Let’s face it: Reason has started to look a little bit crowded lately. What began as a small rack of virtual effects and instruments has grown to add an enormous mixing console. Sequencing features have, since the beginning, been squeezed to tiny lanes at the bottom of the UI. And a browser floated around in a window. Reason 8’s individual parts aren’t so different from Reason versions you’ve seen before. But it’s the way they fit together that has changed – rather radically.

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Teenage Engineering’s Tiny, $50 Drum Machine, Revealed in Videos

It’s called the PO-12. It’s $50. It’s absolutely tiny – a little stand props it up, inspired by the Nintendo Game & Watch. And it’s already sounding like a drum machine. The drum machine first revealed to the world at a panel I moderated at Moogfest is finally, after manufacturing and customs delays, making its way to a select group of first owners – mainly VIPs and artists from that festival. What you’re seeing here is just a prototype; Teenage Engineering now says they’ll have a fully fleshed-out version some time in 2015. There are two things, apart from the …

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Elektron Analog Rytm Gets 808 Samples; How to Transfer Samples

Elektron’s Analog Rytm may have made its name based on its original, internal analog sound sources, but you can now add some additional sounds in the form of 808 samples. That gives you those 808 sounds with the Elektron workflow. The world may not need another set of dry 808 sounds. But fortunately, here the pre-assembled sound samples come from our friend Goldbaby. Instead of another set of vanilla 808 noises (yawn), you get thick, tape-saturated sounds with some added character. I’m finishing a review of the Analog Rytm now, so I’m keen to hear what they sound like inside …

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A Big Ass MIDI Cube with Hakan Lidbo, Live at MIDI Hack Stockholm [Video, Code]

It’s a big-ass MIDI cube. Okay, sometimes the name kind of sums up all of it. But among various wonders at MIDI Hack Day here in Stockholm this weekend, “developer/designer/entrepreneur” Per-Olov Jernberg has teamed up with artist Håkan Lidbo to bring a giant, inflatable green cube into the offices of Spotify and transform is into a musical instrument. This is what I would have at my birthday parties if I could go back in time. Or, really, now. And you can, too, because code in Processing is already available. Good, clean fun – with oversized musical instruments, a recent fascination …

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