It’s that time of year again – time for a new update to Komplete, the suite of software from Native Instruments. But Komplete 11 is a bit special, in that powerful Reaktor-powered additions meet some especially nice tools for producers.
The Zaquencer is a gift – an insanely powerful step sequencer that turns a used Behringer BCR2000 into a completely new piece of hardware. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of the underground music tech community – and a glimpse of how gear can come back to life rather than get thrown away. And now, it’s more powerful than ever.
Reason 9 is here, updating that singular virtual rack of instruments and effects combined with song recording and arrangement. And a quick look at the features will likely have some people saying “fine, sure, but my DAW can already do that.” But – exactly. And also – can it, really? Because Reason has a of doing things in a, well, Reason-y way – one that keeps its die-hard fans uniquely loyal. And it sometimes has a way of doing things best.
There are updates, and then there are updates. There are the updates that give you a bunch of new functionality – marketing tends to love these. And then there are the ones that just make a big slog through feature requests. Maschine “2.4.5” is not an exciting sounding update. But wow, does it ever add a long list of improvements users wanted.
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.
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 …
The new Push hardware may have been the big, new shiny from Ableton this week. But for Live users, the software changes in 9.5 may have the greatest impact on day-to-day music-making life. Live 9.5 has arrived as a free upgrade for Live 9 users. The biggest change is the new Simpler, but some other additions and changes are significant, too. Here’s a look at what’s new and how to take advantage of some of 9.5’s less-obvious capabilities.
Ableton isn’t a company with product news every other month, preferring to wait for more occasional, big announcements. Well, last night brought a big slew of big announcements. Walking distance from legendary Berlin clubs Berghain, Tresor, Watergate, and Kater Blau, a select auditorium of attendees to Loop were treated to a string of news, keynote style. You’ve probably already heard about new Push 2 hardware and Ableton Live 9.5, but there were a number of revelations to go along with those headlines. You might even soon be trading in your Push for kids or jamming wirelessly with friends – really.
You know the drill. There’s a new operating system from Apple. It breaks some music software. If you don’t like things breaking, you should wait a bit. Then once you’ve verified the stuff you need is compatible, go for it – it’s probably better than the last OS once the wrinkles are ironed out. This post occurs with each new OS, a bit like some sites do Holiday Shopping Guides, or April Fools’ jokes. I could almost turn it into a Mad Libs post. But here are the specifics.
Remember when apps were novel toys for experimentation? Now, an app could give your drum machine a run for its money. It’s the third wave of iOS apps. We’re now onto a moment where, cresting the wave of tools, a few are becoming simply invaluable to the right users. They can make an iPad feel a bit like dedicated hardware, perhaps even in a way that a computer can’t. And that to me makes them worth examining, even if you have no desire to use an iPad. Elastic Drums has that feeling to me. On its surface, it’s just another …