Make Novation Circuit your own, with updates, browser tools

When Novation’s little Circuit came out, it was already an appealing, simple box for making music. You got two polysynths and a four-part drum machine built in, coupled with a step sequencer, RGB pads and encoders for control, and MIDI, all for just a hair above $300. At the same time, though, you were restricted to the built-in sounds. Today, Novation are unveiling a bunch of updates that open up the machine to more customization – to personalizing it for your own use.

Fully loaded, the environment resembles portions of FL Studio or Ableton Live. You get a conventional mixer display, and easy access to your tools.

A totally free DAW and live environment, built in SuperCollider: LNX_Studio

Imagine you had a DAW with lots of live tools and synths and effects – a bit like FL Studio or Ableton Live – and it was completely free. (Free as in beer, free as in freedom.) That’s already fairly cool. Now imagine that everything in that environment – every synth, every effect, every pattern maker – was built in SuperCollider, the powerful free coding language for electronic music. And imagine you could add your own stuff, just by coding, and it ran natively. That moves from fairly cool to insanely cool. And it’s what you get with LNX_Studio, a …


Tested: Chromaphone 2 has kinder, gentler acoustic modeling

If it feels at times like everything has been done in sound synthesis, every new sound uncovered, then look to physical modeling for a way forward. This collection of techniques simulates the way sound is produced by acoustic objects. Applied Acoustics Systems (AAS) of Montreal has been one of the leaders in that field – and they’ve got a new product out that might be the friendliest offering in this field yet.

messe16 - 5

Gallery: the cool and strange at Germany’s huge Musikmesse show

It hits you at some point. It could be that you find yourself wandering rows upon rows of accordion exhibitors. Or maybe it’s weaving to avoid parades of the 100,000-odd German schoolchildren who come to look at the exhibits. Or maybe it’s seeing a room the size of an airport full of nothing but strange laser and light products for clubs. But Musikmesse remains something exceptional.


This is what a steampunk synth with 25 tubes sounds like

Got $13,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Maybe you’re an independently wealthy crazy person, or possibly some sort of disco-producing super-villain, for instance? And therefore need to spend it on a completely insane monosynth? We’ve got the deal for you.

superbooth - 27

In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …


Now you can plug a guitar or stompbox into your Eurorack

At last, the world of modular meets the world of stompboxes. It’s a no brainer: after all, a modular rack already has a lot in common with a crowded pedalboard. I expected that our friends at Bastl Instruments from Czech would come up with something for this week’s Superbooth synth gathering here in Berlin, and sure enough, they’ve got three new modules, with one stompbox-friendly standout.


A different breed of analog sound library for Ableton Live

Soundware is everywhere, from endless catalogs of loops to yet another pack of sampled vintage instruments. But apart from questionable quality as the market grows crowded, the other simple question is, just how should these packs be assembled? SympleSound is what happens when a sound designer decides to treat the sound pack like an instrument unto itself – not just content, but a set of tools.


Skram app sounds great, navigates rhythm and harmony

Skram is the latest iOS app that claims to bridge fans curious about making music and expert producers, giving you “all you need” to make music on an iPad. So – what’s unique about this one versus everything else that claims to do that? Well, first, there’s the team behind it: Liine are the folks behind the Lemur app and various other software, performance rig, and interactive installation projects. Second, while this initial release represents just a first step, there are already some amazing sounds coming out of the included instruments. And third, Skram builds on the work of other …


Remembering Keith Emerson and his titanic synth legacy

In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.