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 »

D2000threequartlarge

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 »

vinylize

Talk all you like about the “feeling” of something physical, something tangible, about having a real object, about ownership. There’s a cold reality behind selling physical goods: it’s hard.

Before you can sell something, you need money to buy the physical stuff you want to sell. Digital “solves” that by making the good intangible, but in the material world, you need materials. Before “capitalism” came to mean some complex international system of speculative markets, this, of course, was what we meant: you got some capital to start a business selling stuff.

Then, once you have that stuff, you better hope you got it in the right quantity. Turns out more people want it than you thought? Too bad – they’ll have to wait for another run, and by then, maybe they don’t want it any more. Fewer wanted it? Now you’ve an even bigger problem: you’re out of the cash you spent to get the stuff, and you’ve got extra stuff you can’t sell. You’ve lost your shirt, and gained excess inventory.

Crowd funding could be seen as a way around all of this. It’s no accident that Kickstarter’s roots began in music – the service began as a way to fund performance and recording projects.

But Kickstarter itself isn’t really set up for someone wanting, say, to release an album on vinyl by funding the pressing. In fact, Kickstarter made themselves pretty clear in 2012, for any of you imagining they’re a preorder system:

Kickstarter Is Not a Store [Kickstarter Blog]

In case you had any doubt after that headline, they lead thusly: “It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one.”

Okay, fine, but – if you want someone to put out music on vinyl, then “risks and challenges” shouldn’t factor into the equation.

Enter QRATES.

QRATES could be the link that would give independent artists and labels access to the vinyl record revival.

The just-launched service comes with a number of components. It’s a little like CDBABY and Kickstarter had a love child for vinyl enthusiasts. Continue reading »

djay_pro_waveforms

If you thought you could safely dismiss Algoriddim’s djay as some entry-level player, something for non-serious users, you might change your mind.

And that could also cause Spotify to make a bigger splash with DJing.

The company has a few surprise announcements today.

Continue reading »

It’s 32 years old. It’s supported by keyboards and electronic wind instruments and lederhosen. And now you can add your browser to the list. MIDI will never die.

Yes, as of more recent beta and stable builds, Google’s Chrome browser has built-in support for hardware MIDI. Plug in a MIDI controller, and you can play – well, this Web Audio MIDI Synthesizer, anyway:

https://webaudiodemos.appspot.com/midi-synth/index.html

Chris Wilso is the author, and describes it thusly: Continue reading »

ConductrTraktor03

If you want to control Ableton Live from an iPad, you’ve loads of options. If you want to control Traktor – not so much. The best all-in-one option is Traxus Control, which is free (though it requires Lemur).

Now, one app does everything. The same app has modes for both Ableton Live and Traktor – meaning you can tote one iPad and be ready for both the live set and the DJ set. And on the Traktor side, you get fluid integration with Native Instruments’ DJ software – ironically, when NI themselves have no such controller app.

And the advantages are clear: no room to tote more hardware? Cramped DJ booth? Tired of having to use the mouse and display just because something you need wasn’t mapped? Doing a mix or podcast on the go and don’t have a controller handy? Solved.

At the heart of the new system is a Traktor controller module, adding to the Ableton Live modules that were already there. (Live modules include clip control, lovely XY pads, mixing, and a MIDI keyboard for melodies.)

For Traktor, you get three views: Player, Mixer, and FX. (One module is free to try out; Conductr is fairly functional even in free mode before you commit to in-app purchases for extra features.) As with Conductr’s Live controls, you can customize your iPad to view whichever modules you like. Keep one on the display to make things simple (ideal if you’re augmenting other hardware), or fit up to four to cover all the bases. There are options for display, too.

Inside the Traktor module, you get control of up to four decks. Continue reading »