Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.”

No — like, actually.

HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.)

What do I mean? Just watch: Continue reading »


MPC lovers, you finally get a piece of hardware with everything in one place: touch, color displays, pads, buttons for workflow access.

There’s just one catch: you will still need the computer.

Ever looked at those beautiful color waveforms on Native Instruments’ Traktor and Maschine controller and wished you could touch the screen? Imagined pinching to zoom waveforms and navigate samples, the way you can on an iPad?

Well, Akai are the first to do groove-making hardware that combines physical pads and a touchscreen in one unit – no iPads (or Microsoft Surfaces) in sight. Continue reading »

We’ve seen apps made exclusively for touch devices like the iPad. And we’ve seen very basic touch support in desktop apps. But Bitwig Studio 1.3 is both.

So, on the same day we find out about a proper touch laptop, we also get a DAW that’s ready, today, to take advantage of it. (See also FL Studio below, though Bitwig brings specific support for Microsoft’s new displays, and some new ideas.)

Also, is Bitwig actually trolling Mac fans, or Apple? Because Bitwig is touting the fact that OS X will at least get its new “E-Cowbell device.” (I’m not making this up.) Continue reading »

Apple’s strategy is clear: make one line of things that are laptops (running OS X), make another line of things that are touch-based (running iOS). That strategy has served them – and musicians and other creatives – well. You can certainly have a lot of fun with a fairly inexpensive iPad full of apps, and the MacBook line has earned its place as the music laptop of choice.

But that’s still left some creative types in the gap between the two. That is, it did, until today. Continue reading »


If you’ve never heard of UK producer Powell, it’s maybe even more important that you watch this video now.

There’s a lot I want to say, but I’d give away the ending. Let’s keep it to this: an adventurous electronic producer, making a raucously stuttering, intense, punk-digital record, talked to his rock idol Steve Albini. And something happened.

What happened on email turned into a music video by director Guy Featherstone, and the results are pure poetry.

Very large epilepsy warning: this video strobes sickeningly. But, if like us, you rather like that sort of thing, you may … enjoy it immensely. (Also, explicit content, I guess, says Apple – “f*** you,” to be specific.) Continue reading »


Jamming: the idea is to make music by connecting directly to gestures so you make something spontaneous. And if music technology is jam session friendly, this finally means you can do it together – not just alone. Continue reading »


Roland’s “Boutique” Synths are now here officially, after most of the details of these mini synths leaked out in advance of their launch. And we get a real look at this line of inexpensive, mini synths – three models, with an optional keyboard dock. Continue reading »