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The classic electronic instruments of the past are fast-becoming the big mass market play electronic instruments of the present. Case in point: Yamaha.

Today, the Japanese maker accidentally leaked its entire Reface line on a Korean site. UK-based synthjam on Instagram caught it and tipped us off – apparently whilst my fellow former Colonials were off celebrating with a BBQ or something.

And it’s pretty obvious what these instruments are. They appear to be compact keyboards (so perhaps not full-sized keys, despite what I saw in the video). And there are four models already:

1. An YC combo organ, with drawbars.
2. A CP stage electric piano.
3. A DX synth.
4. A CS synth. Continue reading »

I know you’ve been there. Somehow, even with a small assortment of gear, you find that you have exactly the wrong combination of plugs.

It’s actually even worse if you’ve bought into the inexpensive mobile music revolution. iPads are chock full of apps; little boxes like the KORG volcas can be great fun. But… the iPads don’t have any ports, and compact devices (including our own MeeBlip) often have just MIDI in to save space. And then there’s trying to clock everything.

That’s why I’m really excited by the promise of the iConnectAUDIO4+. (And I know from feedback, I’m not alone.) It’s an audio interface for one computer. It’s also an audio interface for two computers. It works with your iOS stuff. It does MIDI. It does USB hosting for all those gizmos that lack MIDI ports. And it’s still a multichannel audio interface with mic pres and four outputs – while remaining nicely portable. (Too many audio interfaces are limited to two outs.)

In fact, it does so much, that the review I’m working on won’t be done until next week. In the meantime, though, our friend Chris Stack of Experimental Synth has posted a lovely walk-through video. Continue reading »

“Instead of going to music school, I studied design.”

Wiggle, wob, drum, pads, and scan are new gestural instruments that seek to cut the distance between an idea, making a move with your body, and a sound. Think you could draw a doodle that expresses a sound? Wish you could just air-drum in that percussion line? Easier to wave your hand to describe a noise? These modular components let you do just that.

OWOW, the startup behind it, is nearing a funding goal on Kickstarter – but it’s not quite there, five days until the deadline. So now is the perfect time to go behind the scenes. Not satisfied with that demo video? We’ve got our own resident contributing design expert to head to the source and investigate – completing today’s three-part look at cutting-edge Dutch design startups from the town of Eindhoven.

From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups.

Eindhoven music startups: OWOW

Pieter Jan Pieters is the founder of OWOW, the Omnipresent World Of Wizkids. After graduating Design Acadamy Eindhoven with the Sound On Intuition project (in which he explored movement and musical computer control) and an internship at Teenage Engineering, he’s starting to make his way with things like the Social Project and Booty Drum. Aiming to earn their marks as an independent design studio, OWOW is bringing out a new breed of intuitive MIDI controllers in early spring through Kickstarter. The first series will be brought out in credit-card and product format with an estimated price of €50 and €80. After this series, the same form-factor is planned to be extended for analog modules and digital effect. See their instagram for more pictures and videos.

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18€ buys you this lunchbox-style synthesizer kit – and it’s just the thing to put together on your lunch break.

Unit Unlikely is a hardware startup working with simple parts to make accessible, fun instruments. And its founder joins our resident Dutch design expert to talk about what it’s like diving into the synth business for the first time – and where he might go.

It all continues our series from Eindhoven, NL. From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. Here he talks to Unit Unlikely.

Eindhoven music startups: Unit Unlikely

Tijs Duel is a master student at the Industrial Design faculty at Eindhoven University of Technology. Together with Sebastiaan de Monte, he makes the Lunchbox synthesizer with their company Unit Unlikely. The Lunchbox is sold as a kit for €18.

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It looks like Pin Art or Pinscreens – those moldable frames full of pins popularized in the 80s. But the result is something that lets you dig your hands into sound and musical structures in new ways. It looks expressive and, let’s be honest, really fun.

(For the research minded, there’s also a NIME report below.)

From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. Here’s his encounter with Nupky.

Eindhoven Music Startups: Nupky

Rhys Duindam is a graduated Industrial Designer from TU/e. Through Nupky, he is creating a tangible music controller which aims to bring back a the acoustic touch and feel to digital music creation. Inspired by a pinscreen, the Tingle will let you mold sounds with your hands or anything else. A release date is not yet available. Continue reading »

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Ableton Live can be a fantastic tool for playing live, for improvisation, and for studio work. But while some people put together very effective DJ sets, it doesn’t always stack up to other software out there in terms of satisfying certain significant DJ techniques.

And that’s too bad. Because if your DJ aspirations include lots of creative juggling of beats, Ableton Live would seem perfect.

The DJ Collection from Isotonik Studios – the advanced Max for Live hackers who have been releasing a dizzying array of tools for customizing how Live works – provides some of the tools advanced DJs crave.

And by “DJing,” we really mean sophisticated beat juggling, slicing, and looping techniques – so quite relevant to anyone using improvisation and rhythm heavily, whether or not in a DJ set per se.

All of this gets really interesting as of Live 9.2. In fact, it was Isotonik who tipped me off to the fact that the Live 9.2 API had changed in some interesting ways. Now, it may not be clear to you why you should care about some arcane under-the-hood API calls having to do with how clips are triggered. And frankly, you don’t have to care. But because Max for Live developers were able to see daylight through these newly-poked holes, they were able to go spelunking in some new tunnels, as it were.

And what you will care about, some of you, is what you can do.

Isotonik Studios DJ Collection – DJ Hot Cue Universal MIDI from Isotonik Studios on Vimeo.

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iPad creation tool Auxy may have come with a lot of fanfare touting its simplicity and elegance when it launched. The piano roll-turned-touchable music maker first launched on the merits of doing less, better, then turned into something more of us might use with the addition of MIDI.

But a rather significant upgrade has come without any trumpets or bolts of lightning. I can’t post a screenshot, because all the work is under the hood.

For all the power of today’s mobile devices, though, there’s a significant effort in coaxing optimal performance. So, sometimes this behind-the-surface stuff matters a lot.

I spoke to Auxy 2′s Henrik Lenberg. New in this release:

A new synth engine. DSP is licensed from fellow Swedish dev house Sonic Charge. It’s more optimized, and sounds a whole lot better. (I must confess to not distinctly remembering what the old version sounded like, but it seems good!)

More stuff at once. That optimization means you can get more synths running even if you don’t have the fastest Apple hardware.

Ducking. Sidechaining done automatically.

Edit chromatically, and get advanced editing for free. Arnold Schoenberg and even Richard Wagner are pleased.

Share right from the program. You can upload tracks directly from Auxy, and then link to a webpage. (Cough – come on, Apple, you realize Connect really should have an easy Web presence and not only live inside iTunes. I’m going to keep ranting about that until they fix it.) Here’s how that looks:

screenshot_47 Continue reading »