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Novation’s Circuit goes polyrhythmic, and other 1.4 goodies

Firmware updates aren’t supposed to be something that gets talked about. But somehow, Novation’s actually generate some buzz. There’s a lesson here for the whole industry. Social media strategy could actually be part of the development process. (Your engineers are part of your PR?) Anyway, the new Novation Circuit continues to get cooler. And some new features I’ve been waiting for arrived – the ones that made me stick it back into my MIDI rig, where it’s been earning lots of attention with that friendly face. The big ones for me: drum pattern length (for polyrhythms) and instant pattern switch. …

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The expressive LinnStrument grid is now $999, and a step sequencer

Whether or not drum machines have soul, you can bet the LinnStrument does. The creation of Roger Linn couples a grid layout – one that keeps pitch relations consistent for easy playing – with expressive touch sensing. Until now, you could get a US$1499 version with 200 pads. A new version drops the price to $999, and uses a 16 * 8 = 128-pad layout, so it’s both cheaper and more portable. And all the LinnStruments now get step sequencing. But let’s back up. There are two things that make the LinnStrument unique. One is its onboard expressive touch control. …

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If you use NI stuff, get Native Access and Maschine updates

A public service announcement: if you use Native Instruments software, you should probably check out Native Access if you haven’t already. There’s a good chance it could make your life easier, and keep you up to date with software like the Maschine update that dropped last week. Here’s the deal: NI software has in the past been scattered across a set of manual support downloads and two tools, one called Service Center and one called Komplete Downloader. And odds are pretty good you’ve head a headache with one of those tools at one time or another. A new piece of …

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Grids in key, with Novation’s new Launchpad Pro scales

A piano keyboard or fretboard is set up with a particular mapping of pitch in mind. But the major advantage of any undifferentiated grid is the ability to work with scales. You can have any tuning and modes you like. A new free update to Novation’s Launchpad Pro adds that functionality to their grid controller – and that transforms how you’d use it musically. Now, Novation’s grid controller is far from the first such hardware to add the ability to map the pads to scales. Native Instruments’ Maschine (4×4) and Ableton’s Push (8×8) each have scale modes for their grids. …

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Roland just made us happy with CCs on the Boutique Series

Roland’s Boutique Series is … dangerous, frankly. These little sound modules (based on the Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and JX-3P) really do sound terrific and are totally adorable in person. They’re one of the things you can easily dismiss when you first see them … then fall in love with in person. The 1.10 update fixes one fatal flaw: now the whole series supports MIDI Control Change send and receive.

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Novation just packed more into small, affordable Circuit box

It’s tiny. It’s battery powered. It costs just over US$300 street. But Novation’s Circuit sample/drum/synth groovebox has been squeezing in a whole lot of functionality that makes it into a really serious tool, great for starting ideas or jamming or playing live. And we’ve been testing the latest build, version 1.3, for some days now. It’s available to everyone free right now, and it adds some significant changes that make this tool more flexible than ever. Let’s have a look.

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Ableton quietly made the Push pads way more powerful

Ableton Live 9.6.2 is here. Apart from a slew of bug fixes and some improvements to how the Link connection indicator works, there are a lot of improvements to Push, via software and firmware – even down to details like making the potentiometers more jitter free. That’s all well and good. But the important thing is that some of these small details could really change the way you work with Push for the better. The big one: you can now copy and paste clips to any slot on the Push, just by touching the pads. It’s a little thing, but …

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Elektron just added 12 new machines to the Analog Rytm

Hey, software drum machines aren’t the only ones who get new synthesized drums – now hardware owners can, too. If you had to explain the Elektron Analog Rytm drum machine to someone quickly, the answer was already pretty easy – it’s about the sound. Well, in an OS update quietly dubbed “1.30,” Elektron just added a whole lot of new sonic possibilities, in the form of twelve new machines and synthesis models. Want bass drums? There are three of them. Snare? Check. New metallic and ride and hat sounds? Sure. Impulse. Noise. Not only are there new models, but loads …

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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.

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Why the updated BeatStep Pro is the sequencer to beat

For a lot of us, hands-on sequencing control is a boon to playing, even alongside a computer. So then there’s the question of which sequencer. The reason Arturia’s BeatStep Pro got so interesting this year is that it’s a right-down-the-middle option: not too expensive, not too complicated, and not too weird, but very capable of driving the essential stuff you’d want to sequence. Bassline, some drums, maybe a lead – in whatever genre you happen to use – it’s covered. So, that was all good enough. But what’s been impressive as the year has gone on is that Arturia haven’t …

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