xpand2

You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use. With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.) First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some …

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iphonecable

Here’s how to make the iPhone or iPad a live camera for VJing

Having a live video source for visuals can be as valuable as having a microphone in audio. But now you can add iOS devices to the realm of possible input devices. On the Mac, you’ve got several means to do this. Wired: With a recent version of iOS / macOS, just connect your Lightning cable, and you can use the iPhone like any other input. (You’ll need a Mac app that supports AVFoundation.) Wireless: AirBeam is a combination of mobile iPad/iPhone and desktop Mac app. The iOS app is US$3.99, and then apps for Apple TV and Mac are free. …

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screenshot_642

Free jazz – how to use Ableton Link sync with Pure Data patches

Effortless wireless sync everywhere has arrived with free software, too, thanks to Ableton’s new open source SDK. And it’s incredibly easy – enough so that anyone with even rudimentary patching skills will probably want to try this out. Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max/MSP, looks ugly but does great stuff. And it’s worth checking out even if you use Max, because Pd is lightweight and runs on any platform – including Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, Android, and inside other software (like game engines). Now that it supports Link, you can make patches that run anywhere and …

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mpc_eclipse

Leaks hint at new standalone Akai MPCs coming this year

Now that software increasingly comes with hardware, why not have it also run standalone? That has seemed inevitable for some time. Yet, for years, MPC fans have been without a standalone hardware option from Akai. Pioneer, Elektron, and others will sell you drum machine hardware that runs on its own, but not Akai. That seems set to change. Now, multiple leaks from employees of dealers selling Akai hardware suggest standalone hardware is imminent. (Dealers have increasingly become a weak point in keeping upcoming hardware confidential – recent Roland announcements have demonstrated.) You might not even have to wait for January’s …

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FL's new look, as of version 12, won't burn your retinas.

FL Studio keeps rocking – now with mobile integration

FL Studio, the program once known as Fruity Loops, is one of those indestructible gems of music software. It’s the thing people may sheepishly admit to using – only to proceed to gush about their love for it. And it just keeps chugging along with updates. It’s a reason to love music software: while some creative tech turns into a monoculture (cough, Adobe), music remains obsessively eclectic. This update’s surprises? How about a US$49 add-on emulation of the 303? Oh, and, Willy Wonka style, that enters you to win an original 303 or a modded TT-303 hardware clone? Or what …

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notationsurfacestudio

How expressive input, immersive 3D might make PCs cooler than Macs

“Pro.” “Creative.” They’re words that are repeated so often in computing it’s easy for some people to forget what they mean. By definition, though, if a “professional” is getting paid for their work, investing in more power to get their work done has a return on investment. And being “creative” on a machine means pushing it to the limits of expression. This may be the post-PC era after all, but that ought to mean we get computers that focus ever more on those use cases. Remember Jobs’ infamous quote about trucks? Embedded in his thinking was an answer to what …

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keyboard

Apple’s computer vision looks backward, as others look forward

It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today. Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive navel gazing in the Mac event today speaks volumes. This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines. So, instead, they look into the past. And the Mac keynote was full of references to the past. The early 90s PowerBook 100 got a better pitch for its industrial design than the new MacBook Pro. And that’s with good reason: the PowerBook 100 was an …

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screenshot_603

Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets

The beautiful thing about software is that it’s flexible. You can reconfigure an entire live rig on the fly. But it’s still necessary to channel that flexibility into consistency, especially playing live. Reuse the stuff you need most so it’s always there. And train your hands and muscle memory so you can play fluidly. Savages – the Chicago/Dallas duo of Ted “TJ” Pallas and Alexandra Hartman – have shared their go-to channel strip full of all their favorite tools. And while they were at it, they recreated a unique EQ. EQ differently PLAYdifferently’s Model 1 mixer takes a different approach …

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Ableton-Live-9_7-Release_1_web

Here’s what you’ll get out of Ableton Live 9.7, available today

Ableton Live 9.7 – the final stable download – is available today. (A public beta was released over the summer.) It’s got a host of improvements for the latest Push hardware, but there are advantages for everyone.

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araucann

Only a randomize button can save this synth with way too many knobs

araucann looks like what would happen if someone’s plug-in SDK … exploded on the floor. It’s a six-oscillator synth – okay, so far, so good – but then it also has 33 envelopes and 32 LFOs and things sort of get out of hand from there. This ocean of parameters is then encapsulated into a set of simple, musical controls that let you easily — ha, no, only joking. They made a knob for everything and called it a day. Each individual oscillator has its own bank of controls, and then even one of those banks is already slightly overwhelming. …

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