gadgetmac

Why KORG Gadget on the Mac is a big deal

Remember when some pundits thought we were all going to dump our laptops and switch to tablets and iPads? So – not so much. But mobile platforms are having a big impact on music software – and KORG Gadget, now making the leap from iOS to Mac, may be most emblematic of that. Who is KORG Gadget for? Well, sort of for everyone. Beginning users can find it a nice way to play around – and might well try this before desktop software. More advanced users are likely to find it an appealing set of tools, but would want to …

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namm

What to expect from 2017’s first wave of new music gear

Happy New Year? Not yet. In the universe of music gear, the NAMM show in California is a sort of unspoken new year’s holiday – home to the biggest wave of music tech announcements of the year. It doesn’t cover everything, as many music producer-specific makers have fled the pricey trade show booths for more focused events. But there’s still rather a lot. Here’s a look at what to expect. Year of the drum machine The monosynth has made its comeback; now it might be the drum machine’s turn. Behringer and Akai are likely to join recent product launches from …

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0-coast

Two videos show why the Make Noise 0-COAST modular is cool

2016 was the year when people said, hey, I want to get in on some of that modular goodness, but … maybe I don’t want to buy a rack and spend thousands of dollars to do that. So it’s great to finally see desktop semi-modular becoming a thing – and an affordable thing at that. There’s the best note entrant, Moog’s excellent Mother 32. But I also like the much odder, but still affordable Make Noise 0-COAST (that’s a zero, not the letter o). It’s got a far more idiosyncratic front panel, but that shouldn’t put you off: it’s still …

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rolandmeeblip

We added MeeBlip to TB-03 and TR-09 for really too much bass

You can now really have a ridiculous amount of fun playing live without a ridiculous amount of gear. That’s certainly the sense I get with Roland’s Boutique series, among other recent entries. In just a fraction of the size of the original AIRA, you can add a synth, a bassline, or a drum machine. And it’s not just Roland. In the under-$500 category, there’s loads of desktop gear from Korg, Waldorf, MFB, Novation, and Arturia, plus even compact modular/semi-modulars like the Make Noise O-Coast and Moog Mother-32. It’s all affordable, and all really easy to port around. What I like …

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domino-in-case

Eowave made a complete synth voice for Eurorack module

The brief: take up a nice little slot in Eurorack, pack a whole synth voice, but still provide enough patching to stay interesting. That’s the new Domino Eurorack module from the folks at Eowave. So, you get a saw/square oscillator, ladder-style filter, decay envelope, and VCA. It’s vanilla stuff, but well executed. And most importantly, they’ve nicely balanced the controls and patch points, so you have something that’s accessible and versatile. Frankly, I think it solves a lot of problems for people. Rather than piece together everything you need one module at a time, this gives you the sorts of …

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craft-slide-2

Modal’s Craft Synth is a surprising £79.00 monosynth

Imagine if Boeing or Airbus, in the midst of releasing airliners, suddenly unveiled a paper airplane kit for kids. The Modal Craft Synth isn’t that extreme – but maybe it’s close. Unlike their flagship synth, a monster luxury instrument that will set you back about five grand (USD), the Craft Synth is kit priced. £79.00 (about US$100 at the moment) buys you a complete monosynth. It’s labeled a “kit,” but you snap together pre-made circuit boards – think IKEA lay-flat cleverness. Of course, at that price, you don’t get a case or any particularly high-quality or rugged components. But if …

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xpand2

You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use. With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.) First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some …

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triodeblack

MeeBlip couldn’t wait for Black Friday, so it’s Red November

The MeeBlip project reaches some important milestones this year – and we get to say thanks, and celebrate with a sale. And, really, why do that for one day called “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” or “Arbitrary Discount Saturday Dusk Hour”? Let’s just do it for the whole rest of the month. MeeBlip quietly turned six years old this month. That’s special in that it marks a collaboration between CDM and creator James Grahame (Blipsonic). But it also means we’ve managed to build a line of end user synthesizers that are free and open source. This isn’t a kit, it …

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triode_top

MeeBlip users are posting lots of great sounds of our new triode synth

Little. Red. Different. Better. We got into the synthesizer business because we weren’t satisfied with just writing about synths. We wanted to spread a little synth love into the world, too. And wow, have our MeeBlip users responded – flooding the Internets with videos of the new synth. It’s great to see how they’re responding to the instrument – designer James Grahame and I have our own view of it, but now we get to see the user perspective. Maybe that bright red color helped. And yes, the key here is, behind this small number of knobs are a large …

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arp_odyssei_image2_rgb

Korg turned their Arp Odyssey into an iPhone, iPad app

Let’s be clear: Korg’s ARP Odyssey remake is a thing of beauty. But it’s now also available as an app … one with awkward spelling that’s nonetheless rather awesome looking. Meet ARP ODYSSEi. (Hey, that “i” has been on the beginning of words for eons now. Maybe it wants to flip to the other side.) ODYSSEi is a modeled version of the ARP Odyssey. And it’s a bit like an “Odyssey+”. It’s got the three filter types and drive from the new 2015 Odyssey reboot (the hardware). But iOS brings other features: Voice assign mode – with chord playback Arpeggiator …

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