Mikme-Microphone-Push-Button

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 delivering sub-par audio. It’s still a bit too soon to judge as the hardware is in prototype phase, but Mikme want to build something that stands up to the demands of pros and musicians. They’ve drawn on talent from professional audio engineering, with a 1″ true condenser capsule – one they say bests the little capsules in current mobile recording solutions from the likes of Zoom. Those rely on smaller electret condensers. (Side note: I won’t knock the electret condensers; I’ve gotten a lot of good results from them. But the bottom line is, you have something here that’s more mobile but doesn’t sacrifice the quality of your recordings to get there – quite the opposite.)

I got to meet founder Philipp Sonnleitner from Vienna when he presented the project at Tech Open Air in Berlin, and even tried the prototype hands-on. Here are more details.

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musichat

It looks like what you’d want to wear if you were invited to a dinner party … with Sun Ra and his Arkestra.

It lights up and responds as though you’re about to guest star on a Japanese TV show about a trans-dimensional space princess.

But then… it starts making music. And the wild whimsy of the Chromehatic turns into a sultry set piece for a pitch-perfect performance by vocalist FEMME, celebrated London-based performer/producer.

As for the headpiece itself, it launches a line entitled SENSEries, pairing milliner/couture designer Jodie Cartman (whose work has shown up on the brow of Morcheeba with crewdson, aka London’s Hugh Jones, an instrument builder and musician.

Watch:

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battles

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance.

On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished.

Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.”

There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are some telling moments.

Best quote: “Sometimes people ask if we use a click but we don’t. It’s just music.”

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Producer Max Cooper, alongside his collaborator Tom Hodge, this week shares an intimate reflection on what motivates him in sound and science.

In the video for Sonos Studio, the Belfast-born musician describes loving when sound “wraps you up in this warm … sea.” But there’s a system that reveals itself, even as the scientific method can unfold the mysteries around us. So if this music sounds personal and secret, perhaps it has a direct analog to Cooper’s past life as a scientist, the “introspective side of science,” as he puts it. That is, ” whether it’s a piece of music or a scientific idea or a natural system, you’re trying to understand this abstract system in your head… to make models of how the parts interact.” I suppose to me it’s not so much a literal connection to biological computation as the fact that Mr. Cooper can be inspired to find those surprising interactions of parts in both worlds.

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But what happens in the mind as you make such explorations? Animator Nick Cobby imagines those unseen moving parts in three-dimensional motion. “Painted” in After Effects and Cinema 4D, flights of colorful fancy speculate on mathematical theory and the way in which the brain might process exterior sound: Continue reading »

kadenze_student_space_desktop_mockup

Every feel like you wish you could go back to school? Or… go to a different school?

Maybe you want to learn at CalArts, or Princeton, or Stanford, or Goldsmiths. Maybe you wish Robert Henke would sit at your side and teach you about Ableton Live. Or maybe Perry Cook would teach you synthesis. Or Casey Reas would talk to you about creative coding and Processing.

Digital learning gives us some of those chances – without running into campus security, that is. And so we’ve seen some great learning platforms, including iTunes audio courses from Stanford and people like Steve Horelick teaching Logic.

Kadenze promises to expand on this potential in a big way. It’s really two initiatives. Part of it is building a new electronic platform that makes it easier to learn interactively on a computer or tablet – the tools that help you navigate course content and (if you choose) get evaluated on assignments. And part of it is producing new content for that platform, finding a set of experts who can serve as compelling teachers.

Welcome to Kadenze from KadenzeOfficial on Vimeo.

Discover the future of education.

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launchpad_pro - 7

Novation’s Launchpad Pro is here. It shares the same compact footprint as earlier Launchpads, but adds full color, pressure-sensitive pads, and MIDI inputs and outputs, plus the ability to operate without a computer. So, with other grids to choose from, where does this one fit?

The Launchpad line of controllers has always been about simplicity. Even when the original Launchpad was introduced, it did less than its nearest rival, the AKAI APC. But it was popular partly thanks to being simple, light, small, and affordable. That fits many users’ needs, and can be nicely combined with other hardware.

The Launchpad Pro keeps to that approach, but with more features to round it out as a production tool and performance controller. And it isn’t just for Ableton Live, either – it has a respectable feature set when used with other MIDI software and hardware. I’ve got one of the first units and have been carrying around using it. Let’s have a look.

First, here’s the amazing Thavius Beck performing with the instrument live:

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Imhotep_3D

What does it sound like when a comet “sings” into a magnetic field? Or when you rotate a 600-ton deep space observation station? What if you could hear the radar echoes from a probe descending onto Saturn’s moon Titan?

Oh, yeah, and what’s the sound you hear that tells you the International Space Station is on fire and you should get into that docked Soyuz RFN?

Well, the European Space Agency has released those and more, from sonifying the inaudible to letting you hear the voices of the people who are leading some of the human race’s latest exploits into space.

And, by popular demand, they’re now released as Creative Commons-licensed materials. Not only that, but while the licenses are mixed (the ESA has content from a lot of different sources), but many are under a permissive Share Alike license. That means you can sample them, make music with them, and even use that music commercially, so long as you release your results under the same license for others to remix.

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