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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Fract, Synth Studio as Game, Looks Better, Sounds Better, Wants Your Vote [Video, Gallery]

Amidst its future-arcade, glowing 3D architecture, Fract is a game. In a broken-down “abstract world,” you are piecing together puzzles, reconstructing machinery. But Fract is also a synth studio, one that promises the ability to create your own synth instruments, design your own sounds, and eventually piece together your own music. If Tron let you imagine a fantasy inside the computer, Fract takes you inside your synth. It’s like getting sucked into Reason. (Damn, now I want to meet Thor and Redrum…) I called it Myst meets music making when we saw it last year. Since then, the Montreal-based indie …

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The Newest Analog Goodness: Highlights from Berlin’s ALEX4, at Musikmesse [Synth pr0n]

Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us. There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the …

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Nord Drum 2, Playable Drum Synth, Gets More Sound Options, Nord Pad Companion [Photos]

Swedish maker Nord may be known for keyboards, and justly so, but their drum products are perhaps even more distinctive. If it seems like Nord only just released something called “Nord Drum,” it’s true. But they’re already back with a sequel, and Nord Pad as an accessory. The latter’s compact trigger design could appeal to producers and musicians who don’t have room for a whole kit. The original Nord Drum was a four-channel “modeling” virtual analog synth. The new model is six channels, and has more sound options. As before, you can trigger synthesized drum sounds from conventional electronic pads …

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When Plants Jam with Synths: Leslie Garcia’s Open Project Lets Plants Talk with Sound

Pulsu(m) Plantae _ project presentation from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. You may have seen a plant used as a musical instrument before, by measuring capacitance across the leafy life form and turning it into a touch sensor. This is something different: it’s letting the plant itself express communication through sound, using biofeedback to turn the living systems on the plant into something audible. It is a synth jam, made by a plant, that tells you something about what the plant is sensing about the world around it. From Tijuana, México, media artist and musician Leslie Garcia shares the latest iteration of …

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Insane, Starship Control Panel Controls Sound Morphing-Synth in 3D: COSMOSƒ

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: manipulating sound presets should be as intuitive and powerful as regulating plasma coolant flow to the antimatter injector on a warp drive nacelle. I mean, knobs? How quaint. COSMOSƒ is a graphical morphing engine for sound, a standalone synthesizer with a wild, sci-fi interface. You can actually set up polar coordinates and navigate sounds through a sphere, in three dimensions. The sound engine is all internal, but looks like a lot of fun. (For more of this sort of thing, see the excellent, free and open source IanniX, which …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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Discovering Analog, Visually: Meet the Oscillator, in Video Synths

Hearing synthesizers is great. But being able to hear and see – that’s another experience. And for all the renewed interest in analog modular synthesis for sound, a small but passionate scene is beginning to rekindle interest in visual analog synthesis. I find it inspiring even in how you might think about generative processes and synthesis in the software domain. And – well, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun to look at and use. In the latest example, we get to tour the basics of synthesis itself through video. If you’re new to this stuff, a promising …

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