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For all the power you might imagine of various tools, sometimes it’s combining simple devices that yields the greatest results.

Our friend Chris Stack is no stranger to deep synths and powerful modulars. But he’s been doing inspiring things with the littleBits line of snap-together modules made with KORG – particularly now that they’re paired with modules for MIDI and CV.

You might have seen some of these videos on (cough) other sites, while I was getting behind in my workload, but Chris has kept making more in the interim. He writes: “I was able to hook LittleBits into my DSI Pro 2, Moog Voyager, Ableton and Koushion in some really interesting ways, and the results were surprisingly musical, especially in the Koushion + Ableton video.

A lot of fun… I wish they had these when I was a kid.”

Let’s watch: Continue reading »

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You’re going to need some bigger pockets. (Overalls?)

British-born, Kyoto-based Ally Mobbs has hacked the inexpensive Teenage Engineering PO-12 drum machine into a full-sized box. Instead of the tiny, fingertip-challenging buttons, you get nice, big arcade buttons. He’s also made a lovely-looking wooden case and a jack connector.

Continue reading »

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Two terrific Moogerfoogers have reached the end of their run. But that’s an excuse for more music, which sounds good to me.

2007′s FreqBox takes input signals and modulates an internal oscillator; the 2009 MIDI Murf is an animated filter sequencer. They’re both pretty great boxes, though now even before delving into modular, there are a lot more choices now than perhaps just those few short years ago. Koma Elektronik’s FT-201 runs further with the idea of sequencer-plus-filter. I can’t think of anything quite like the FreqBox, actually – I’d love to see Moog find a way to make a Minifooger around this idea. With either, there may be reason to go snap one up from a dealer before they’re gone.

But let’s get to the music – the end of these two units gives us an introduction to the inventive sound universe of Los Angeles-based artist M. Geddes Gengras. Mr. Gengras has composed a short EP to the Moogerfoogers. (He calls it a Eulogy, though that seems the wrong word unless Moog have some rather violent planned obsolescence strategy I don’t know about.)

His music is a calming flight of fancy, a wonderful and happily strange trip through sound, and these are no exception:

He explains the ideas here: Continue reading »

I fought the law and the law won.

Grooveshark, announcing the April 30th shutdown of their streaming music service:

We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.

That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.

They go on to concede that hundreds of other services provide the same ability to listen to music without violating the ownership of music. And they’ve lost everything, from patents to the site itself. Continue reading »

The music and sound industry is increasingly about big-league consolidation. InMusic – the company behind Akai and M-Audio – is growing. Long-standing Japanese titan Yamaha has snapped up Line6. Gibson now includes everything from Tascam to the website Harmony Central to consumer gear branded Philips. (And yes, throw out whatever you think you know about Gibson from the 90s – this has nothing to do with that.)

Now, count the giant MUSIC Group – the parent of Behringer, with Uli Behringer as its chief – among the big sharks on the acquisition market.

MUSIC Group announced today it has acquired TC Group. You probably know them as the makers of vocal effects and guitar effects and sound processing and mastering, under brands like TC Electronics and TC Helicon, or for their Tannoy label. And that’s clearly a big part of this deal, with MUSIC Group’s presence in that market with Behringer as well as Midas and Bugera tube amps (among others).

It’s more than that, though. TC Applied Technologies are in semiconductor designs, networking, and interface tech too, which gives Behringer a big boost in terms of intellectual property and the electronics market beyond musical instruments. And closer to home, MUSIC Group call out their interest in A/V and broadcast.

For their part, Danish-based TC say that they had other big suitors, but chose the Behringer folk – I wonder who those other players may have been.

Regardless, this is very big news, combining two powerful international companies. And any of us who think of Behringer as the “cheap mixer people,” we may do well to take them seriously – MUSIC Group now have their own factory complex in China and a 300-person engineering team. Continue reading »

It’s a horse race. Two keyboards – one from Native Instruments, one from AKAI – really want to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. And we’re getting closer to find out if either deserves your attention.

You’ve heard this story before. Sure, you have powerful software on your computer screen. But when you want physical control of those instruments beyond just playing keys, you’re left either manually mapping controls or reaching for your mouse or trackpad.

So, over the years various solutions have tried to solve this automagically. There was Automap, seen in Propellerhead Reason and then from Novation. There was Cakewalk’s ACT. Native Instruments’ KORE. M-audio’s HyperControl. And probably some others I’ve forgotten – maybe tried to forget. These solutions weren’t always completely horrible, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was completely satisfied with them, either. Now, I’m sure some of you will protest. Reason, for instance, often worked well – a closed system that originated the idea – and if you got things working, more power to you. But beyond that handful, I’ve met a whole lot of people who wound up giving up and going back to manually mapping MIDI. (Or just give me that trackpad, already, because it’s faster.)

Well, now the Akai ADVANCE is here. It knows you’ve been hurt before. But it wants you to love automatic mapping again. And … surprisingly, there are some early indications you ought to leave the heartache behind and give it a chance to prove itself. Continue reading »

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Drum machines. They’re predictable. So much so that the biggest controversy about Roland’s high-profile entry into the market with AIRA was whether they should remake the 808/909 or remake the 808/909 as analog.

Enter Metasonix. They would like to make the differentiation point of drum machines whether you still have your ass or not once you’ve heard them.

And so, we see the D-2000, the long-awaited (long-dreaded?) successor to the D-1000, but, say Metasonix, more extreme. (“Tweaked,” “maximized,” and “pushed.”)

How would you describe the sound? Absolutely terrible. (You know, nicely horrible. I mean, probably not in a way most of us would spend money on, but… well, read on, as we ponder just who would. Because they must be interesting.)

Not everyone can actual create products in a way that could be termed trolling – and still sell them. This is that kind of product. Continue reading »