The Single USB-C Connector is Coming – But It’s Not Bad News

For years, the steady disappearance of ports from our computers has been unquestionably a bad thing for musicians. Things we used have been disappearing: Audio input jacks. Dedicated FireWire connections. Extra USB ports. And I’m not just talking Apple, here, either – slimmer and lighter PCs have often dumped connectors you needed, leaving us with a tangled mess of adapters and incompatibilities. Get a bunch of laptop owners together, and you’re lucky to connect anything without a Santa Claus-style bag of spaghetti. So, music and audio users can be forgiven to being resistant to change, because some of those changes …

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Photo (CC-BY) Gastón Gaiduk.

Behringer Just Bought TC, TC Helicon, Tannoy

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 …

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This Video Demonstrates How Akai’s New Keyboard Controls Everything

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 …

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vinylize

Can QRATES Make Vinyl Pressing More Accessible?

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 …

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If Record Store Day is Dead, Maybe We Can Celebrate Music

Record Store Day has come and gone over the weekend. But 2015 will surely be remembered as a year in which Record Store Day did less to increase the visibility of vinyl records so much as to increase the visibility of how much everyone has grown to hate Record Store Day. And that seems it’s time for a post mortem – and a call to action. I watched closely the reports from this weekend, just to see if there was anything positive – and there was. For every Foo Fighters (Grohl was this year’s ambassador, weirdly), there’s something with more …

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Komplete Kontrol Now Plays Nice with Plug-ins, Hosts, And More is Coming

I’ll be honest: my Komplete Kontrol keyboard has been sitting on a shelf. But I believe that’s about to change in a big way. So how did it wind up on the shelf in the first place? Yes, this is one of the nicest-looking, nicest-feeling keyboards around. And yes, it works seamlessly with Native Instruments’ own instruments and effects – particularly in that it makes it easy to dial up presets and to map parameters to the encoders and display their values. The problem is, most of us don’t live in a world where we only use Komplete. Because Komplete …

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The 100m is probably a more appropriate model for whatever is coming from Roland next, but check out the stunning industrial design on the original System 100. This might inspire a custom Eurorack cabinet with keyboard, or two. Photo (CC-BY Notreshuggie.

The Last Time Roland Did Modular: The System 100

With widespread reports that Roland will soon have a new modular product, it’s worth remembering: Roland has done modular before. That legacy carried the name System-100. The original 100 semi-modular lineup of the late 70s, and the Synthesizer-101, might actually be more relevant today than it was when it first shipped. The clever concept here was to put a full-featured monosynth with a keyboard at the center, then add modules around it. That seems to make loads of sense to me, as it creates a playable instrument that can nonetheless be patched for more creative sound design options. The full …

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(CC-BY) Flavio Ensiki.

Stems for DJs and More: Here’s How A New Format Will Work

The most important thing to know about Stems, a new multitrack specification for audio, is that it’s simple by design. That simplicity means that it could really take off as a way of sharing music with multiple tracks, for DJing or live-remix applications. Stems won’t solve every problem of file exchange and sharing. It’s not a multichannel spatialization format. It’s not a sophisticated project format for storing metadata. I say that, because after we covered Stems at the beginning of this week, I found my inbox flooded with every use case for every file format imaginable, and complaints that Stems …

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aira-mod

Roland Seems Poised to Enter Analog, Modular Worlds

Analog is back. Boutique synth makers have entered Eurorack, one by one (Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim). KORG has remade analog hits of yore, and now produces hardware like the SQ-1 sequencer that interfaces with analog gear. Arturia, once known only as a plug-in vendor, has analog Control Voltage ins and outs on its new hardware gear. Now, Roland seems next to climb on board the analog renaissance. The question is, just how far are they going to go? The answer should be coming in April at Musikmesse, and the first hint has just leaked out. Updated, April 8: we’ve received …

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Can Stems Finally Make Multi-channel DJ Audio a Standard?

The path forward is clear: there’s no reason in this age of digital producing and DJing that music needs to be stereo. The need is there, but so far, not the solution. A file format announced in a press briefing at Miami’s Winter Music Conference and made public today wants to succeed where others failed. It’s called Stems, and there are a few details that make it different. It’s simple. “Stems” – the format – include four tracks. So that could be bass, drums, melody, vocal, for instance. (Or bagpipe, castrati chorus, tambourines, and banjo. But the point is, dividing …

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