The new Push hardware may have been the big, new shiny from Ableton this week. But for Live users, the software changes in 9.5 may have the greatest impact on day-to-day music-making life.

Live 9.5 has arrived as a free upgrade for Live 9 users. The biggest change is the new Simpler, but some other additions and changes are significant, too. Here’s a look at what’s new and how to take advantage of some of 9.5’s less-obvious capabilities. Continue reading »

::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo.

If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone.

Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?) Continue reading »

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Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop.

We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist. Continue reading »


Whatever identity crisis and legal wrangling may be going on at SoundCloud at the moment, the site’s DNA is all about creation. That’s where the site came from – initially, with labels and producers as a way of sending around tracks – and it remains the strong point. SoundCloud is the operating system for music sharing and discovery for creators much in the way Facebook is the OS for social interaction and YouTube for video.

Of course, lately, SoundCloud has largely been in the headlines for “hey, my account was taken down for posting mixes” or “PRS wants royalty payments.”

So, here’s a change of pace. The site has a new mobile app out geared not just for listening, but for creators managing accounts. And, here’s a reversal: while the app coming to iOS soon, it’s Android first. Continue reading »

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The new Ableton Push is here. From a distance, it looks like the same rectangular grid with some color screens. But using it person is an entirely different experience. We’ve gotten to spend an extended time with the new Push, so we can let you know what that’s like.

Here’s the simplest way to put it: Ableton has kept the same basic layout and form factor of the original, yet somehow made every single detail better. From hardware refinement to software integration and functionality, everything feels like 2.0. Ableton repeated that they’ve completely re-engineered Push themselves. But even if they hadn’t told you that, you’d be aware of a different feeling from the moment you see one up close – doubly so once you touch it.

Continue reading »