It's a cutoff knob - for a quantum singularity. Photo courtesy Waldorf.

New Waldorf Synth Teaser Proves No One Will Make a Crazier Knob Label

This week is likely to be bursting with new synths. And one of the prolific makers of such instruments comes from Remagen, Germany, in the form of Waldorf. Their latest teaser doesn’t tell us much other than there’s a new synth coming. But oh, my — that’s a crazy looking label for a filter cut-off knob. There’s really only one way to respond to this: For reference, here’s the last wild knob label from Waldorf, on their (wonderful, by the way) Rocket synth:

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This is Clavia’s New Analog Modeling Synthesizer, the Nord Lead A1 [Pics, Sounds]

We love analog. But for all the talk about analog synths, there are some advantages to modeling analog sounds in digital – like getting a handmade hardware synth that still has 24-voice polyphony. So, the Nord Lead A1 is an analog-modeling synth, not an analog synth. It builds on the Swedish firm’s knowledge of analog modeling, reproducing the sounds of analog synthesizers, but by doing the work in digital form, still delivers up to four parts and 24 voices, for more thickly-layered sounds. New in this Nord Lead: quicker access to a bunch of parameters as consolidated on one knob …

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Resy’s Unique Sound Tools: Morphing Triangle Software, Hardware in a Can

If you’re looking to give yourself sonic inspiration in a new shape, a musical marketplace has some deals for you now. Resy is a recently-launched curated shop for “indie” instruments, both hardware and software. It’s worth mentioning them now because they have a lovely deal through end of day tomorrow Monday the 23rd, and also because these two tools are unique and quirky stories themselves. And Resy has the clever idea of making twee music videos showing off the instruments, rather than the usual dry promos. First up, there’s einKLANG, the morphing software instrument that’s all about the triangle.

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littleBits Synth Kit, First Hands-on: What They Sound Like, Reviews, Videos

Imagine if you could take apart your favorite recent KORG analog creations, chop it up into little blocks, and then snap them together with magnetic ease? In other words, imagine if you could put together a KORG synth as easily as you did LEGO? It’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. I’ve been testing the littleBits Synth Kit for a few days now. I’ve got some sounds for you here so you can hear some of what’s possible. (They’re Creative Commons-licensed, if anyone wants to try to sample them in a track; I know I’ll be working on …

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Synth Geeks in the Hills: Legends and Legendary Machines at Asheville’s Mountain Oasis [Gallery, Videos]

Mountain Oasis, indeed. Asheville, North Carolina, that land of impassioned musicians and Moog manufacture, is unusually blessed in musical riches, especially of the electrified variety. And where once Moog gathered informal performances from synth fans, a recent split in festivals has spawned not one but two blockbuster events, turning this southeastern US hamlet into a kind of mecca for musicians of all stripes. These multiply rather than dividing the events. So, now there’s Moogfest, which this year will happen in spring. And then there’s Mountain Oasis, which took place last month. Both are overflowing with spectacular headliners, in the form …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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In Free App, Circuit Bending Done with Bits [iPhone]

It’s all been done. Or maybe not. Synthesis may not have so many unseen shores – unknown, wild beaches where you can plunk a flag in the ground and shout “I claim this for Spain!” or something to that effect. Instead, we find nuances of sonic possibility in details. We’re building on those colonies. And freed from the dogma of “fidelity” or slavish imitation of instruments (remember, a lot of the synth business had its root in the conservative organ business), the sounds that are coming out delight with new variety. Take this lovely free app, bent.fm. (Currently marked “lite,” …

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Now Shipping: Bass Station II, Novation’s $500 Synth; New Sound Demo

When we last saw the Bass Station II, Novation’s affordable analog monosynth celebrating the company’s 21st birthday, Novation still had a prototype. Some stuff on that instrument simply didn’t work – or didn’t sound the way we might expect. But there was still reason to anticipate learning more. Novation had something at the $500 street price in America, (529 € is the official price now for Europe), sporting dual filters, two oscillators with a sub oscillator (the “bass” bit), analog effects, patch save, and sequencing and arpeggiation. Even in an increasingly-crowded monosynth landscape, that’s something to note – and here, …

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FireBird 2, “Harmonic Content Morphing” Synth Plug-in, Now Free [Windows]

With so many choices, some beautiful software synths simply fall through the cracks – or fail to keep up with tastes and attentions. TONE2, maker of a number of nice soft synths, has therefore decided to put its FireBird synth out to pasture, releasing an update and marking down the price from $79 to free (as in beer – no source). Of course, part of the reason people’s eyes glaze over with soft synths is the sheer number of two-oscillator, Virtual Analog, subtractive synths out there. But there are a few details that set FireBird 2 apart and ought to …

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How an “Acoustic Synth” Wants to Change The Way You Think About Guitars [Videos]

It’s been a long time since we had a new hit like the electric guitar. Amidst the wonderful explosion of innovations in electronic instruments – digital and analog – the sound possibilities of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments seem to have gone largely dormant. This is the guitar that hopes to change that. In fact, its creators don’t even call it a guitar, preferring instead “Acoustic Synthesizer.” Asheville, North Carolina’s Paul Vo, he of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel, wants to give guitarists unprecedented control over the timbres they play, both experimental and traditional, vastly expanding the range of …

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