Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

MPC 1.8 Update Expands How You Play; Inside Look with the Developers

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important. And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart. That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming …


Maschine 2.2 Proves Playability Matters: Scales, Chords, Arp for Your Pads

There are plenty of things computer drum machines / groove workstations can do to show off. There are plenty of long feature lists they might add. But actually coming up with something you can play? That’s what can really make music better in the studio and live. And that’s why Maschine 2.2 is a welcome update. First off, let’s admit something. Amidst all the clever functionality with grid-based controllers, there’s something that remains useful about a big, 4×4 grid of pads and MPC-style workflows for certain kinds of music. Those bigger targets don’t require a lot of accuracy, and it’s …


Hands-on Visual Tour: What’s New in Maschine 2 Software, Maschine Studio Hardware

Native Instruments’ groove-centric production studio Maschine today gets its most significant update ever. The software has been completely rewritten from the ground up, bringing expanded editing and sound capabilities and enhanced performance. And alongside the software release, there’s also a new, “flagship” controller, called Maschine Studio (above) – a big (but lightweight) beast with bright, crisp color screens and a price to match. I took a tour of the software and hardware upgrades in NI’s offices, and so we can bring our own hands-on look at both before they ship. Please note that this is a first look at a …


Try FL Studio on Mac Right Now; Or Touch a New Image-Line App on Windows 8

In one fell swoop, Image-Line has given computer musicians two things they might have thought they’d never see. One is a version of FL Studio that runs on the Mac – something the developer once actually vowed openly would never happen, but which is now actually happening in beta. See video, above. The other is a full-featured music app for Windows 8 touch devices you can download from the Windows Store. It turns that touch-enabled Windows tablet or laptop into something that’s more than a Windows PC you jab your finger at, wishing your finger were a mouse. See video, …


Reason 7 Arrives: Slicing, External MIDI, More – And All Rack Extensions Work [Details, Videos]

Reason 7 is available now, in the full version, upgrades, and entry-level Essentials editions. You can download the new release right away – including, intelligently enough, as a torrent for downloads even if Reason users get overexcited. (Cough, Ableton. Hope you’re paying attention.) There are lots of improvements, but the banner features are clearly integrated slicing and external MIDI sequencing. Those features have been a long time coming. The ability to sequence external MIDI gear seems a no-brainer for a tool with so many great sequencing tools and robust MIDI input control support. And integrated audio slicing is, oddly enough, …


FL Studio 11: Play it with Touch and Everything and Everywhere, Live or Editing

FL Studio 11 has arrived, hot on the heels of an impressive FL Studio Mobile release. The folks at Image Line have been intensely busy, but what strikes me is that you can now play FL Studio using almost anything, on almost any device. The Mobile version works on Android and touch Windows devices, not just iOS, when most folks target only Apple. And the upgrade to FL Studio 11 is similarly flexible. There’s a clip-triggering performance mode, which already supports a range of input methods: “mouse, touch screen, typing keyboard or MIDI controller. Supports APC20/40, Launchpad, Lemur, Block, Maschine/Mikro, …


GarageBand for iPad Hands-on: Why It’s Ideal for Beginners, What You May Not Know

Let’s get this out of the way: musicians are not a “niche” group. Recording has done some damage to the popular practice of live music, but still, you’ll find an astonishing number of people play instruments and sing. (New pop culture phenomena like Glee, the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games, and the resurgent TV talent show have helped, too.) What’s “niche” is conventional music production software. While it’s a fast-growing segment, music making software remains elusive and befuddling to a whole lot of musicians. GarageBand for Mac was one answer to what software for the remaining group should look like. But …


FL Studio 10.5 Performance Mode in Beta: Bridge Arrangement and Live, Easy Hardware Control

FL Studio’s live performance functionality has been teased for some time online, attracting enraptured eyeballs and plenty of discussion online. Now, you can give it a try for yourself in the new FL Studio 10.5 beta. My prediction: it’s definitely huge for FL Studio die-hards, but it could also attract some “lapsed” FL users back to the fold, and it’s almost certainly a reason to fire up a copy of Windows. (That’s the sound of a bunch of Boot Camp installations.) The best way to see what the performance mode is about is in the video above. It’s actually a …

The new Jupiter-50, little sibling to the big JP-80 introduced last year.

Roland Returns to Synth Roots on Jupiter; New JP-50, iPad Integration [Video]

The name “Jupiter” evokes some strong feelings among synth aficionados. Little wonder, than, that when Roland introduced a modern successor, the response was impassioned. CDM was one of the first to look in detail at the Jupiter-80, and I was surprised – given the tendency of this readership away from massive flagship keyboards – to see it become one of our biggest stories of the year. Roland faced some serious criticism when the story it told about the new Jupiter was less about synthesis and more about the instrument-emulating Supernatural engine. After all, since the days of the original Jupiter’s …

teenage - 1

Teenage Engineering: Opbox Sensors and Shoes, OP-1 Drums and MIDI Sync

Stockholm-based design technistas and boutique synth shop Teenage Engineering have evidently worked out how to keep busy and brighten those dark Swedish winters. They showed up in Southern California this week with a slew of new stuff to show off. And while mention of their OP-1 synth may elicit controversy in comment threads online, their booths are crowd pleasers. In contrast to the buttoned-up, business-like atmosphere of a lot of tech vendors at NAMM, TE’s whimsical science lab seems to spill out onto the show floor, and – along with more analog-tilted booths Big City and Analog Haven – attracted …