A 25-key, monophonic version of Korg’s clever 4-voice Minilogue polysynth wouldn’t be a bad idea. And it’s what you’d expect, given the Minilogue came out only at the beginning of this year. But that’s not what the Monologue is. No, the Monologue is more a sequel to the Minilogue than it is just one with less keys and voices. And there are a number of smart ideas here. There’s a new filter. You want some different character with a monosynth than a polysynth, so here there’s a new 2-pole VCF and analog drive for what Korg says gives you “more …
Like pressure-sensitive control – but don’t want to commit to one layout? Joué is a fascinating new controller concept that has touch sensitivity but lets you change layouts on the fly – with tactile control. The concept: add physical, modular overlays to the top to change the function of the controller. At its heart, the Joué is a USB-connected controller – much like the ROLI Seaboard, roughly speaking. It transmits data over MIDI. The difference is the physical overlays. Combined with configurable settings in a software editor, they let you add piano-style keys, drum pads, guitar-like frets, or other 3D …
If you pick up the new Roland Boutique Series TB-03, you get more than just an emulation of the squelchy 303 bass synth. As with the AIRA TB-3 before it, the hardware is also a sequencer. So that means it’s capable of creating basslines for the internal instrument – or external gear, too. What’s special about the new TB-03 is that it both recreates the classic original 303 sequencer, and introduces a new, modern “reboot” of the same. Now we get to see how they differ in a pair of videos released by Roland.
Surprise: Elektron’s latest isn’t a drum machine or sampler or sequencer. Analog Heat is instead a box you use with other stuff. And it has two missions. Mission one: add character to other sounds, via distortion, EQ, a filter, and modulation. Mission two: work with your computer, as an audio interface and as a way of adding that same analog business to software signals.
One, two, three – Roland has finally made the 303 bassline, 909 drum machine, and VP-330 vocoder that so many people wanted. They’re small, they’re really affordable ($349-399), and they’ve got modern features. But after decades of remakes that strayed from the very things that made people love the originals, at last Roland has learned from their own legacy. So, let’s talk about what’s new and what, mercifully, isn’t.
These days, various combinations of faders and touch sensors and grids of pads and buttons and encoders and knobs appear with cyclic regularity. We’re past the point of inventing the automobile – we’re down to tuning particular cars for particular tasks. But what do you want to use if you’re really playing live? Maschine Jam is a combination of software and hardware that focuses on that scenario. We’ve met with the team that built it at Native Instruments and have our own unit in now to test, so here are some first impressions.
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. …
Time to start singing about how we’re the operator with our pocket calculator again. The ZONT Synthesizer is an upcoming handheld instrument. And it’s what one designer imagines for the synths of the future. Apart from being tiny, you can change its function by snapping cartridges in and out – Game Boy style. And whereas we think of synths now as big, clunky boxes with wires coming out of them, the ZONT can either plug into a desktop dock for connectivity or connect wirelessly. We’ve had a chat with its designer to see what’s in store.
Wheels were never as big as grids. Well – in this context, anyway. The arc was the spiritual successor to the monome from designer Brian Crabtree – ultra-high resolution encoders for turning, with lights, as continuous as the monome grid was binary. But despite some poetic, meditative videos the monome project produced, the arc was always mostly quiet on the scene. And then it disappeared, supplanted by other projects (like an entry into Eurorack). Now it’s back, on preorder.
Backpack-friendly rigs on the cheap are yours – if you know how to put them together. Fortunately, we’ve got some expert help. For starters… fancy tools? No. Sync? Who needs it. Just a Korg Kaossilator and the Propellerhead Figure app are part of a little jam here from our friend Jakob Haq.