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The changes are subtle. And if you’re looking for some kind of splashy way of integrating Maschine with Traktor or transforming how you play plug-ins, this isn’t it. But some point updates to two flagship Native Instruments production tools are worth applauding. They make these tools not only more useful, but give them more longevity.

Maschine sounds better. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol play better together. And whereas hardware/software integration sometimes seems designed solely to lock you in to certain products, Komplete Kontrol now not only works with your host and other gear, but works even when it’s unplugged from your computer – as it should.

Both are free updates, and both also now include for free Komplete Select. For Maschine users, that’s a nice add-in — and actually, this is kind of what I run mainly on my cramped SSD on the go. You get a nice upright piano, the terrific Monark Minimoog-inspired emulation (which has an amazing filter model), Massive (no intro needed there), an electric piano, the beautiful Reaktor Prism synth, and more synths, keys, drawbar organs, West African rhythms (why not?) and a really good bus compressor.

Maschine Studio's knobs and display now do more. Continue reading »

mobplaying1

Press play? More like bang drums hit stuff finger warp touchpad go crazy.

The Glitch Mob are one of America’s leading festival electronic acts. (And members like EdiT have IDM, not just EDM, credits to their name – so they were “glitching” before it was cool, in other words.) But while that circuit is in a frenzy of one-upmanship when it comes to spectacle, there’s some real playing behind this act. And that distances them from artists that put on a big show visually but have shied away from anything risky in the set – like actually playing the parts, beyond basic scene triggering or knob twiddling.

With their latest rig, The Glitch Mob apparently want to do more than just look like an epic rock band. They want to play like one, too.

And that means that while of course some complicated show and performance elements are sequenced in advance, the trio are playing – a lot. As the sun rises over California this morning, they are unveiling a new show rig. The eye candy for crowds is certainly amped up. But dig deeper, and the artists have given themselves more to do, not less, with a massive load of computational and audio hardware to back them up.

EdiT gave CDM an advance look at the rig over the weekend. Here’s a quick run-down – but if there is something of interest you’d like to know, let us know and we can talk to the band.

The Glitch Mob: Behind The Blade from the glitch mob on Vimeo.

stageplot Continue reading »

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The synth renaissance has led to yet another interesting wrinkle: the limited edition celebrity synth.

But before we get to that, apparently the first thing you need to know is that Giorgio Moroder really loves his Novation MiniNova. The little synth, with its vocoder and dial-up presets, has apparently followed him around on tour.

Making a special edition is a different take on the celebrity endorsement, though. So how did Novation go about it?

1. They’re only making 500, even with a “certificate of authenticity.” (A certificate of Moroderishness?)

2. It looks different: you get the “moustache and shades” logo – which looks adorable screened on the side, I have to admit – plus a silver/black color scheme.

3. You get dial-up Moroder presets – and, actually, this may be the best reason to get one. Team Novation have matched everything from the Donna Summer Giorgio sound to the Daft Punk Giorgio sound. (No sound samples yet; you’ll have to take their word for it.) Continue reading »

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Ready for some poppy, retro Cocteau Twins feeling in your Mac or Windows plug-in collection? The aptly-named “Vintage Drum Elements” does the job for free.

The sound source for the plug-in drum machine is the classic Yamaha RX5, with its distinctive, synthetic sound sets. And while this is advertised for your synthpop and chillwave 80s fans, you get a range of cutting timbres you could easily apply to something else – not just Depeche Mode throwbacks.

There’s also more than one kit. Four basic drum selections are included, including a harsher “synthetic” option and and “ethnic” variant, plus some really silly effects for when you’re blowing off steam in the studio. But you also get some decent ready-to-play Yamaha DX synths – bass, clavecin, marimba, and orchestra.

Now, sure, this could just be a sample library. But I actually love having the odd instrument like this around for some focused inspiration. And there are some nice paired effects. Vinyl might be a bit much, but it’s there, but the cavernous digital reverb is a good touch. Tremolo, sub-oscillator, and a “Punch” compression knobs round out the set.

It fits together into the whole 80s-retro package; have a listen to the demo song for some proof: Continue reading »

Fraction by Sinevibes video demo from Sinevibes on Vimeo.

Sinevibes has been on a roll lately. The one-man Mac plug-in shop keeps churning out elegant, attractive plug-ins with a consistent color-coded visual interface, variations on a theme that invariably include clever twists.

And now, this.

Fraction isn’t the first slice repeater plug-in. But it might be the most direct and intuitive.

I’ve been playing with it for a bit, and it’s tough to describe just how much it’s able to do, or how quickly you can get at that range. Far from just adding some stuttering effects, you can add really subtle rhythmic and timbral variations or make a near-unrecognizable sound warped into something new. It does this by letting you directly get at the bit of the sample you want to modulate, then providing a host tools to work with from there.

EDM? Sure. IDM? Most definitely. But once you get past breaking up drum loops, you can also treat Fraction as a micro-DAW / sampler / effect unit, a sound-reshaping instrument you can use on anything.

Okay, so what does it actually do?

First, you can place slice markers on the sound directly, then use animated controls to determine what to do slice-by-slice. In fact, I must admit that when I first opened it up, I briefly was confused only because I wasn’t accustomed to effects processors letting me work that immediately with sound.

Fraction Continue reading »

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With users loyal to some great tools, how do you get attention as a different music production tool? Well, a $60 price, a solid free version, Linux support, and some cool features will definitely get you somewhere.

So don’t overlook the lesser-known options yet – if they can make you happy and get your work done, the choice is up to you.

Tracktion is one of those underdogs. Here are some reasons it’s gotten my attention.

1. You can use it for free, then spend $60 for the latest version. On Windows, Mac, and Linux, Tracktion 4 is now completely free – and it stacks up nicely against other free DAWs, as noted by Bedroom Producers Blog. Tracktion 6, with all the goodies mentioned here, is just $60. So you have a free option if you need a no-cost DAW for collaboration (or if you’re just kind of broke), or you can try it out free to see if you like the workflow before deciding whether to buy.

Oh yeah, and that $60 license includes a copy of Melodyne Essential with the ability to directly manipulate individual notes in audio. That’s less for the whole package than the $99 price of Melodyne itself, meaning you get a whole DAW with Melodyne integration for sort of “less than free.”

Analog_Synth_Screenshot Continue reading »

apollostudio

For me, Apollo is what changed the value equation and appeal of Universal Audio.

Suddenly, we weren’t talking about buying hardware just to run some nice effects – which, good as those effects were, limited the audience for the UAD. With Apollo, the hardware splurge made sense. It was simply one of the better audio interfaces you could buy for production work, even before instantiating a single plug-in.

And then you could add the UAD plug-ins. For anyone who said that they weren’t interested in running effects on dedicated DSP hardware, the Apollo is an answer. Fine. Here’s a reason to run on DSP: add those effects in real time, as you play or track.

Last month, UA refreshed that whole audio interface line. And they continue the steady stream of plug-ins, many recreating historical instruments.

The new Apollo, clad in black, isn’t a revolutionary update, though one reason that’s fair to say is that the existing Apollo is pretty darned good.

The latest announcements should bust up one myth, as well. UA isn’t only catering to Mac fans with the latest machines, by way of Thunderbolt. The existing FireWire-based devices continue to run just fine, thank you, and the latest generation even gets a new FireWire update. That’s good news for anyone using Windows, or even an older, pre-Thunderbolt Mac.

First, let’s have a look at what’s new on Apollo.

Apollo-8p-Dynamic Continue reading »