Hexonator

Resonators are a breed that could use some new life. Let’s not even talk about Ableton Live – use one of the presets in the built-in effect in that software, and any producers are likely to perk up their ears – and turn up their nose.

But that’s why it’s nice to see the latest effort from Artemiy Pavlov and Sinevibes. The Ukrainian developer has just been on a roll lately with clever, Mac-friendly (Retina Display, even) creative plug-ins. And the latest is a fresh twist on a resonator.

Six tuned resonators already makes a nice resonator plug-in, but Hexonator also doubles as a sequencer. With 32-step chord sequencing and timing options, you can create some really elaborate effects. And you do this via the sort of unusual, animated UI that is Sinevibes’ signature.

Features:

  • Six melodically tuned resonators with positive/negative feedback, adjustable bandwidth.
  • Chord sequencer with up to 32 steps, variable timing, shuffle and glide.
  • Multi-mode filter: low-pass, band-pass, and high-pass at -12 dB and -24 dB per octave.
  • Two modulators with 8 waveforms and adjustable chaos.

Continue reading »

Keyboard and controls and triggers all in one tiny bus-powered unit for just over $100 street. The APC this year also goes tiny.

Keyboard and controls and triggers all in one tiny bus-powered unit for just over $100 street. The APC this year also goes tiny.

For any tool that has “live” in the name, physical control lawill be important. And so even with a broad market for controllers targeting Ableton’s flagship software, now including the slick Push hardware from Ableton themselves, AKAI’s re-vamped APC line earned intense interest when it debuted at Musikmesse this month.

Let’s make sense of what the new APCs can do and how you might choose between models. I got some hands-on time at Messe, and now even in advance of a review of finished, shipping hardware, it’s worth teasing out the breakdown of the 2014 APC line.

The original Akai APC, short for Ableton Performance Controller (despite obvious, intentional similarity to “MPC”), came out in 2009. Then, there was just one model, the APC40, later seeing a companion, cut-down APC20.

Now, there are three distinct models:

APC MINI. US$99 street. This is a serious challenger to the currently popular entry-level favorite, the Novation Launchpad. In addition to a Launchpad-style 8×8 grid with three-color feedback, you get the faders (8 channel + 1 master) the Launchpad is missing.

APC Key 25. $129 street. Basically, imagine a tiny Ableton control surface squeezed into AKAI’s mini-keyboard: clip matrix plus 8 controller knobs.

APC40 mkII. $399. You get the triggers and faders as on the MINI, but also a crossfader, dedicated mix controls, and, crucially, Device controls.

The ultra-portable MINI, now with faders. (And I have fairly small hands.)

The ultra-portable MINI, now with faders. (And I have fairly small hands.)

There are a number of features these units have in common. Continue reading »

Mute Speaker's Cambodia Beats Project

Mute Speaker’s Cambodia Beats Project

Enough gear. Let’s get some music to hear. From the UK to Cambodia, Rob O’Hara is making beautifully-crafted music we never want to miss. So a new record is absolutely time for attention – and time to bring in our friend and regular columnist Matt Earp, aka Kid Kameleon, to give a listen.

I’ve written about Rob O’Hara before for CDM, about this time last year – he’s mega-talented and makes excellent, no-frills hip-hop head-nodders under the name Mute Speaker. All his tunes just kick and punch and spin in all the right ways. You can grab most of his catalog on his bandcamp and he’s Brighton based. Or at least is for one more week – that’s when he picks up and moves to Cambodia! Seems like he was so smitten with his time there a couple months ago that he’s pulling up his roots and flying across the globe – but not before putting out a full-length charity album of his signature hip-hop sound made entirely from samples recorded while there. It contains some of my favorite Mute Speaker productions yet and all the proceeds go directly to Landmine Disability Support. Because Rob’s just that kind of awesome guy. Continue reading »

buchla_alex4

“O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done –”

Yes, Andreas Schneider is an ideal gentleman to lead you through a trade show, to show you what is genuinely interesting in new musical inventions. The famed (notorious?) synth guru from Berlin behind Schneidersladen and now distributor ALEX4, he is a fierce and fearless champion of the unique, the boutique, and the odd in electronic musical instruments.

And if you ask him for a video tour of his booth, you will not get the “used car salesman” effect of a typical product rep.

Instead, he gives us a rapid-fire look at what they’ve brought new to Musikmesse, what he thinks is good, and more than a couple none-too-subtle hints to us product creators about getting things finished and shipped and working.

And to that, if you want more detail, we’ve added a round-up of video coverage of some of the coolest new things.

Continue reading »

BimBamBoum_White_V4

It’s not enough to just release sound hardware. You want something different, something with character. French builder OTO Machines did that with their Biscuit, a gorgeous combination of 8-bit crunch and analog filtering, then later turned it into a synth and step sequencer with nothing but firmware. But now it’s time for a follow-up, and instead of one sequel, we get three.

There’s a 12-bit delay unit, a digital reverb inspired by some 80s classics that never get old, and an analog compressor/”warmer”. That neatly covers three bases of things many people want, and seem to target a nice space where there’s room both to reproduce and invent anew. And these arrive just in time, as the Biscuit fades into the sunset.

The three boxes, cutely dubbed BIM, BAM, and BOUM. I will quote directly here as they’ve been nicely clear with their description: Continue reading »

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Symbols in on paper can be realized as music, so why not turn a tattoo on your arm into a musical score?

That’s what artist Dmitry Morozov (“vtol”), Moscow-based media artist and musician, has done with “reading my body.” It does more than transform his body markings into sounds. He mounts a machine on his arm, as sensors scan the image from a stepper-motor driven path along rails. The strange robotic machine makes him a kind of cyborg photo scanner optical synth.

And the results sound like a delicate solo on a violin, playing a lullaby to baby puppies. Kidding. They sound more like some harsh cyborg Russian sound art. As we’d expect (and hope). Continue reading »

cablehanger_closeup

The beautiful thing about modular synths is making connections physically – each link with an actual cable between them. It is, really, the whole point.

Of course, you need somewhere to put all those cables and keep them organized. There are various cable racks available, but they’re generally mounted to walls and such. Synthtopia this week covered a nice option that can mount to a mic stand, from Synthesizers.com.

But for sheer utility, it’s hard to beat what KOMA Elektronik this week was showing at Musikmesse. The Kabelhänger goes the obvious, “why didn’t anyone do this before?” route: it makes that cable organizer into a “module.”

Screw the Kabelhänger into your Eurorack rig, and it extends from your modular setup to keep cables nearby. Made of strong but lightweight aluminum, it’s 2HP in size (with an arm of 21 cm or 26 cm). Continue reading »