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Maschine now makes it easy to work with external gear, spice up patterns

There are those things in music making that are just pure joy. There’s finding a particularly nice groove or pattern, or getting that really juicy synth or effect parameter to morph just so. And there’s getting to use all those toys and external gear you really love. So, while Maschine 2.6 is just a “point” release, I think it works out being one of the most welcome updates to come to Maschine’s loyal audience of groove makers yet. It gets at both these points. First, it inherits all the clever stuff added to Maschine Jam for adding variations and randomization …

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Yamaha may have the best workstation synth, now quietly improved

The workstation keyboard hasn’t died in the age of the computer and the analog revival. Instead, it’s just gotten, well, more workstation-y. Advances in embedded computation have gone alongside general purpose computer hardware, making the workstations from Japanese giants like Yamaha, Korg, and Roland do more than before, with expanded functionality, memory, and sound. These instruments do so much that it’s hard to describe them. But I know even some serious synth enthusiasts who have a lot of respect for Yamaha’s Montage. That may come as a surprise, partly because Yamaha’s marketing is aimed squarely at other groups. So yes, …

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Reaktor adds Ableton Link, for software patches or hardware modular

Native Instruments’ Reaktor is the latest tool to add Ableton Link support – and as before, each time you add a new tool, Link gets way more useful. Ableton Link is already opening up jams in DIY software, including Max/MSP, Max for Live, and Pure Data. Reaktor joining the party means not only will DIY patchers reap the benefits, but anyone exploring Reaktor Blocks or fun toys they downloaded from the User Library or anything else can have fun, too. And this essentially brings Link into the virtual modular world. Reaktor Blocks is fun to use for just about anyone, …

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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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