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Zoom’s weird frisbee groove machine looks fun in this Japanese video

The ZOOM ARQ AR-96 can be filed confidently under “wha?” in the annals of music tech. It’s a round, all-in-one groovebox with drum machine, loads of patterns and sounds, and synths. Oh yeah, and there’s a rechargeable, detachable doughnut/frisbee, uh, thing, which has velocity-sensitive touch sensors and responds to orientation so you can wave it around. Basically, it’s insane. But as at least one friend of mine suspected, it could also be insanely fun. No English-language reviewers could really do this thing justice. No, for that we turn to musictrackjp – who do better demos, anyway. Sure, 97% of CDM’s …

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"New MacBook." Photo (CC-BY Maurizio Pesce.

Feel the beat on a Magic Trackpad or MacBook with free tool

Don’t like clicks or beeps or other sounds when using a metronome? Try some haptic feedback instead, with this free utility.

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Zont is a futuristic pocket synth that takes snap-in cartridges

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.

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iMaschine and Novation Blocs Wave now have Link support

Ableton’s Link, a collaborative jamming platform that lets you sync without wires, without “masters” or “slaves”, and without a whole lot of pain, continues to grow. It’s just shown up in Native Instruments’ iMaschine, as well as Novation’s Blocs Wave. Blocs Wave is notable because it’s pretty new, but seeing Ableton Link in an NI product is itself a breakthrough. NI could have just declared this “not invented here,” but they didn’t. And now the message from users to Ableton is clear: bring this platform to the desktop, so we can use it with everything.

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Link is out of beta; videos, what’s new in Live 9.6

The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.” But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.

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A flock of iOS devices can now jam with Ableton Link

Technology has done a strange thing to musicians: it’s turned us all into, well, loners. It didn’t used to be this way. Musicians on instruments ranging from folk ensembles to symphony orchestras are able to join up and keep time with one another. So why not do the same with tech? Ableton’s new Link technology promises to allow musicians to jam easily. But it isn’t just for Ableton Live. Today, iOS support is officially launching, allowing you to jam with supported apps even without a desktop/laptop computer involved.

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Control MIDI and Ableton from your iPhone, Android for handheld music

Put control over Ableton Live in the palm of your hand – and control MIDI gadgets even without the aid of a computer. That’s the vision of LK (the former Livkontrol), out today for both iOS and Android handhelds. This isn’t the first pocket controller. But it might be the first pocket controller to become truly invaluable. That’s because there’s robust support for more than just sliding some faders on your phone or working with wifi. Features, all borrowed from the tablet LK: Wireless connections, but also USB connection USB to MIDI interface support, so you can use this as …

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Mikme, GoPro of microphones, is also serious about sound

Being simple and mobile has its advantages. I bet at least once, you’ve recorded some audio sample on your phone. But simplicity often comes at the expense of audio quality – the phone being a perfect example. An upstart hardware project wants to change that, with a crowd funding campaign that’s winding up its final days now. The Mikme is a small rectangular box, with a single button for recording. It’s wireless, with the ability to connect to mobile apps for tweaking and sharing. Now, your first impression, then, might be that this is a consumer product – convenient, but …

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I Played the Oval Digital Hand Pan, And It’s Amazing

Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions. The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in …

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Hand Pan Percussion, Reimagined as Futuristic Musical Instrument

It looks either like a hand pan (if you know your percussion instruments) or a flying saucer sitting in someone’s lap. But Oval is actually a digital instrument, a physical object that connects to a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and then produces any sound you want. It’s also emblematic of how the scene in alternative instrumental controllers have changed. A few short years ago, something like this most likely would have seen a one-off prototype. Its natural habitat would be an academic conference (hello, NIME). Maybe you’d see it onstage, maybe you’d read about it. Nowadays, things are different. Just …

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