rmxandmacbook

Push-Button Remix? Pioneer Goes Hardware+Software with RMX-1000, remixbox DJ Tools

Pioneer, that best-known brand of DJ hardware, wants you to use hardware alongside software. And they’re uttering the word “remix” rather than “DJ.” And they have something that really doesn’t look like a CDJ, so much as a remote control for a spaceship carrying CDJs. It seems to be something of a trend. We saw earlier this week Native Instruments emphasize the word “remix” in their DJ product line, as in live-remixing music. And NI, along with offerings from almost every other DJ vendor and quite a few impressive homebrewed solutions, work with hardware/software combinations to build more elaborate live …

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pulse_system

Slap That Desk: Turn Any Surface into an Instrument, with a Plug-and-Play Accessory

You know the type. The drummer who, even robbed of drum sticks, is tapping on the walls, the car door, the desk… and maybe you are that person. When rhythms and musical gestures are bouncing around your head, the whole world just feels like something you want to play. It seems as natural as breathing. So, given your computer can make anything an input, why shouldn’t it let you play like that? A new controller and software combo seeks to make that possible. The work of one enterprising musician and creator, Stephan Vankov, it includes an affordable accessory with a …

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As Battle to Define Digital DJing Heats Up, Dubspot Tests Novation Twitch

The evolution of what we now call “DJing” is inseparable from the turntables and mixer. So, what happens when you enter the digital domain and you really don’t need to refer to either device? Many digital DJ controllers have simply mimicked those previous inventions, with virtual tables and a mixer-style layout. To some extent, they must, not only for familiarity but to even make it possible to perform the kind of tasks DJs expect. Then again, the computer, endless shapeshifter that it is, can do whatever you like. And so we’re beginning to see mass-market controllers marketed at DJs – …

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arturia_angle

The Best New Stuff from NAMM, in Videos: Akai, Arturia, Livid, Moog, Smithson-Martin, Teenage Engineering

Can I have this fun, wacky, sound-shaping Arturia monosynth and the new Moog Minitaur, please? Actually, at their prices, you really could – and still spend less than the cost of a lot of standalone synths. There’s lots of new stuff for musicians. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to leave some of it out, and skip to what’s really interesting. Neil Bufkin did a great job last year covering NAMM for CDM, shooting some lo-fi, informal videos that got right to the heart of what we wanted to know. So, I’m pleased to share Neil’s work again, since …

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impulse49

Novation’s New MIDI Keyboards: Automap, Aftertouch, Ableton Pads

Novation has unveiled their newest product, a line of USB MIDI keyboards called Impulse. Shipping in September, they’ll run street/dealer prices of US$249.99 for the 25-key, $349.99 for 49 keys, and $399.99 for 61 keys. This pits Novation squarely against some similar MIDI keyboards, including the M-Audio Axiom to which I gave the nod in a Keyboard Magazine round-up I wrote. (It even has a similar control surface layout.) The Novation picks up on some of the issues I noted, and adds some unique features: Aftertouch. Keybed quality is paramount for obvious reasons. What’s typically missing, for those who like …

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Traktor Kontrol Goes Two-Deck, in Action Live-Remixing Depeche Mode; Will it Fit Your Booth?

Walk into a club, and it seems far too often you’ll find a DJ operating Serato or Traktor with their laptop touchpad. At best, you might get a digital vinyl system that’s mostly spinning around and looking pretty. (Some people do amazing things with scratching; some love the feel of cueing on vinyl. Some don’t do much at all.) But at least digital DJs can’t say they don’t have options. Native Instruments’ Kontrol S2 is the latest entry, a two-deck version of their S4 we saw earlier. That hardware is impressive-looking, with unique electromagnetic technology that builds up greater resistance …

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arc-and-sixtyfour

Arc: New Music Controller in Video, Detailed Q+A with monome Creator Brian Crabtree

Can minimalist controller design make even two knobs into a digital instrument? We’ll soon see. The arc, the new controller from monome designer Brian Crabtree, contains just two high-resolution encoders (known to us in everyday usage as “knobs”). It makes no sound; every minute rotation and a push-button action are telegraphed to a computer. Everything that would make it musically interesting, then, is up to the makers of interactive software on the computer. At their disposal are interactive, brightness-adjustable LED displays that ring those encoders. At US$500 (or $800 for a four-knob model), the results aren’t cheap, challenging even loyal …

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Hands-on: Rock Band 3’s Keytar, a Surprisingly Serious $80 MIDI Keyboard

The Rock Band keytar Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard, next to an iPod touch, for scale. What if a gaping product hole for musicians were filled by a game company instead of a musical instruments company? There’s no need to imagine: pick up the new Rock Band 3 keyboard, and you’ll see what I mean. Consider: most sub-$100 and compact keyboards have dumped 5-PIN MIDI DIN ports in favor of USB only – little comfort if you want to plug a keyboard into that DIY sound module or eBay treasure. (Alesis’ QS25 is one exception, but even a $150 M-Audio …

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More on MB Control, Custom iPad Ableton Live Controller Focused on Studio Work

With the iPad available now and more touch-enabled devices likely coming soon, we finally have hardware that can be both display and controller, visual feedback and input device. While tactile control will maintain its place, these devices can augment performance controls, acting as compositional brains, and can serve as studio creation tools. Yesterday, we got a glimpse of something called “MB Control,” a custom Ableton Live controller that got a number of people excited for its eminently-practical control layouts. It’s based on the popular, promising, and open source Live Control project, one we’re watching closely, but with its own twists. …

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NI Traktor Kontrol S4, Integrated DJ Hardware

As expected, Native Instruments has announced Traktor Kontrol S4, an all-in-one integrated hardware controller and software system for digital DJing. The hardware does look extensive. Highlights: Integrated audio interface Four-channel mixer section Full support for looping, effects control, browsing for tracks in the library Sample Decks, controlled from the hardware, allow beat-synced sample manipulation, with a live Loop Recorder for sampling an external audio input or resampling a mix from the DJ app Multicolor backlighting and LED The Kontrol S4 also promises better jog wheel support, using NI’s own electromagnetic technology to generate high-resolution touch information. (Unfortunately, NI uses their …

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