Moog Werkstatt-ø1 as Solder-Free Kit for $329 – But Expect a Fight to Get One

It seems popular demand worked. Moog’s peculiar, brilliant Werkstatt synth was a huge kit as a workshop-only build for premium Moogfest attendees in April in North Carolina. And not only that, the design swept the Internet. It seems your pleas were heard, as the instructional project is turning into a product. Just expect it to be in “extremely” limited quantities, says Moog, at a handful of their boutique-minded US dealers. Because it’s solder-free, even including those through-hole parts, the “kit” aspect is largely putting it together. But it’s still a clever, rich-sounding, versatile single-oscillator analog synth with some semi-modular routing …

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ay3

The Intellivision Synthesizer: Twisted Electrons’ AY3 is a Chiptunes Desktop Synth

8-bit, lo-fi digital, and chip music-influenced sounds have become interwoven with the sounds of modern synthesis. But make no mistake: the AY3 is what you get when you build a desktop synth with the soul of a vintage 80s game console. Made by Twisted Electrons, who make iPad apps and a Eurorack module, as well, the AY3 is synth hardware powered by a music hip of yore. Inside are two 8912 chips, combined for 6-voice polyphony, which give this instrument the same distinctive sound as classic game scores and other music made on the hardware. The 8912, you see, is …

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KORG to Re-release ARP Odyssey, as Time Machine Goes to 1972

We live in a strange world when it comes to music hardware. On one hand, there are near-daily introductions on Kickstarter of new hardware, and people willing to put up money for future products that don’t exist yet. On the other, we’re seeing a new stream of historical recreations of products from the 1970s. And then, in between, like some sort of 70s-turned-2014 steampunk-style mashup, a lot of people are making things with analog that are genuinely new. It’s as though the entire industry has been given a time machine, at any moment ready to lurch forward into either the …

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Wild, Techie, Wonderful: NAMM’s Gear Delights [Gallery II]

Hardware and software continue to thrive (above). Pro audio lives on. People still make strange, wonderful products for tiny niches of people passionate about every element of sound. Marsha Vdovin is a veteran of the NAMM trade show like few people we know, so seeing the show through the eyes of her camera reveals some weirdness and wonderfulness we always appreciate. And Wonder Woman, too. Magic Kingdom, indeed. Gallery II, go! -Ed.

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Critter & Guitari Cartoon Time: A Fanciful Animated Trip to Japan to Discover New Sounds

Amidst the drab gray-suit reality of the musical instruments industry, the tacked-on dubstep promotional music, here’s a rainbow-colored breath of fresh air. Critter & Guitari, the handmade American electronic instrument builder, are here featured in an adorable video that uses acid-bright, trippy animations to explore sound design comments. It’s like what sound lovers would watch, breakfast cereal in hand, all Saturday morning – young or old – given that chance. Even if you don’t own C&G gear (and this will certainly tempt you), you might find some fun ideas and you will absolutely be entertained.

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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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Elektron Analog Four, Analog Keys Get Polyphony and More in Firmware Update, Available Now

A funny thing happened on the way to the resurgence of analog gear… The digital bits are still mighty cool to have. Yes, the next time someone asks you about whether the return to analog is some sort of regression to the past, you might point out that what we’re seeing is a fusion of the best features of both. And so it is that owners of Elektron’s Analog gear (the Analog Four and new Analog Keys) get a “1.1” upgrade via firmware that’s almost a generational improvement on their devices, for free. For a “point one,” this is a …

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littleBits Open Source Synth Kit on GitHub; KORG Filter Secrets Revealed, Music Projects

Open source music hardware has gone from promising concept to practical reality. It incorporates not just hacker-friendly kits, but end user products, from synths to controllers to effects. And now, for the first time, you can find one of the biggest names in the musical instrument industry on GitHub. KORG and littleBits promised they’d release their collaboration under the same open source license as the other magnetic, snap-together modules from littleBits. This week, they’ve delivered. It’s a little tricky to find, so let’s walk you through it. The good stuff is in the EAGLE files – the circuit diagrams, here …

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Patchblocks: Modular Synth Units, Programmed Visually [Sounds, Gallery]

Patchblocks’ creator says he wanted this hardware sound construction set to be like a combination of Max, Arduino, Moog, and LEGO. And in a novel, crowd-funded project, you get a set of units that seem very much like that. “Modular” is the angle, like a variety of hardware we’ve seen lately. And the Patchblocks satisfyingly snap together via puzzle piece-shaped interlocks in acrylic. But perhaps the real story here is that each of these “blocks” can be programmed to do what you want, not in code, but using a Max/Pd-style visual patching interface. With just one block, in fact, Patchblocks …

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