Armin van Buuren DJ Boombox a Pale Imitation of the 80s; A Look Back at Real Ghettoblasters

In the latest megarich DJ – electronics manufacturer collaboration, we find Dutch giant Philips with Armin van Buren. (In fact, you might begin to wonder if these guys are just competing over the Forbes highest-paid DJs list.) This time, what you get is an all-in-one iPad dock with DJ control surface with speaker. That in itself seems not such a terrible idea, but then the problems start. Apart from the usual concerns about obsolete dock devices, the dock slot here places the iPad in an uncomfortable vertical position. There are physical controls for DJing, too, integrated with the (rather excellent) …

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Dancing Nomads and Afro Futurism: Fhloston Paradigm Chasing Rainbows Video, from King Britt

Chasing Rainbows (Festival Edit) – Fhloston Paradigm from King Britt on Vimeo. Fhloston Paradigm is King Britt’s project from last year on Kode9’s Hyperdub label, dripping with all-analog sound and sci-fi afro futurism. And now it has the music video to match. It could well inspire you to get up and dance, survivalist style. The project grows out of King’s drool-worthy studio – a compact balance of Roland DR110, Korg Mono/Poly, Korg MS20, Roland JX3P, Moog Sonic 6 and SQ10 sequencer. King’s touring now, with the live debut of Fhloston Paradigm slated for October 26th at the Mountain Oasis Festival …

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We Travel The Space Ways: Hear Erika’s Stellar, Synth-y, Space-y Solo Debut [Listen, Video]

What if you would strip away the latest fashions, the murky layers of effects and gimmicks, and just get out to the otherworldly pleasure of listening to machines transport you into outer-space grooves? The solo debut of Detroit-based artist Erika, Hexagon, could give you just that liberating feeling. It’s arrestingly minimal in its materials, not only because it’s been sequenced entirely on hardware with a single vintage sequencer, but because the tracks themselves are so beautifully economical and direct. And that makes them no less imaginative. Retro without succumbing to nostalgia, always with an alien-chic groove, Hexagon feels like an …

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Retro Mobile Music: What Vintage Palm and Windows Mobile Did, How to Use Them Today

Newer, faster, thinner … better? One technology follows another in dizzying cycles. But how is it that something that was once an amazing engineering marvel ceases to be so? If it really works as a musical instrument, how could it be less of a musical instrument than it was before? Palm Sounds’ Ashley Elsdon was talking about music making in the palm of your hand before anyone had ever seen an iPhone. So I had to smile when I saw him connecting an old Palm to our MeeBlip synth. It wasn’t just a novelty – the synth was ticking along …

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Fract, Synth Studio as Game, Looks Better, Sounds Better, Wants Your Vote [Video, Gallery]

Amidst its future-arcade, glowing 3D architecture, Fract is a game. In a broken-down “abstract world,” you are piecing together puzzles, reconstructing machinery. But Fract is also a synth studio, one that promises the ability to create your own synth instruments, design your own sounds, and eventually piece together your own music. If Tron let you imagine a fantasy inside the computer, Fract takes you inside your synth. It’s like getting sucked into Reason. (Damn, now I want to meet Thor and Redrum…) I called it Myst meets music making when we saw it last year. Since then, the Montreal-based indie …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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Discovering Analog, Visually: Meet the Oscillator, in Video Synths

Hearing synthesizers is great. But being able to hear and see – that’s another experience. And for all the renewed interest in analog modular synthesis for sound, a small but passionate scene is beginning to rekindle interest in visual analog synthesis. I find it inspiring even in how you might think about generative processes and synthesis in the software domain. And – well, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun to look at and use. In the latest example, we get to tour the basics of synthesis itself through video. If you’re new to this stuff, a promising …

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Tested: MS-20 Mini versus Original MS-20, in the Studio [Discussion, Audio, Photos]

MS-20 mini, on the left, next to the original, on the right. Photos: Peter Kirn and Benjamin Weiss for CDM and DE:BUG. It’s the news collectors of vintage synths on eBay probably didn’t want to hear. For $599, Korg has made a new MS-20 that the company says has “perfectly reproduced its circuitry” for an “authentic” sound. You can read our full review of the MS-20 mini, and watch a video, whether or not you’ve ever used the original. But if you are curious how a new MS-20 mini stacks up against the vintage MS-20, we hauled both into the …

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ipolysix1

Classic KORG Polysix, Reimagined for iPad, Becomes All-in-One Workstation

In designing for Apple’s mobiles, KORG has again turned to equipment from their past. Having reinterpreted the ElecTribe and MS-20, their newest target is the versatile, classic Polysix. The 1981 original brought programmable polyphony to keyboard lovers, with analog oscillators, memory storage, six-voice polyphony, and various effects and modulation. For iOS, Korg models that sound (having done so already with the desktop Legacy Collection), and mimics the front-panel. But even more so than on the DS-20 rendition (iMS-20), they pack in modern features that make this a production tool as much as a synthesizer. That should be welcome news for …

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Mission accomplished. Photo (CC-BY) Thoth God of Knowledge.

Create (Really) Analog Music: Music Video Made on Historic Edison Wax Cylinder

The miracle of recording is somehow no less extraordinary in this digital age – the ability to capture sound, the revolution that transformed music making worldwide, for better and for worse. In fact, if anything, the abundance of digital music is causing some people to rediscover the recording techniques that preceded it. Andy Deitrich of Chicago’s Mucca Pazza writes to share the experience of returning to that means of recording. I love the saturated quality of the sounds you get: it’s really evident how much the medium here colors the sound. Andy writes:

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