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Novation’s LaunchControl XL now works standalone – hello, modulars, gear

Tired: controllers that need computers to operate. Wired (literally): controllers that work happily standalone. MIDI, CV – all good. I’m still bleary-eyed but happy after a day yesterday of overwhelmingly cool Novation Launchpad Pro hacks, most of them standalone. The idea: hack into the firmware, and make the Launchpad Pro do whatever you want in your rig. Now, today, Novation themselves are out with clever videos showing off the fact that a firmware update has made the Launch Control and Launch Control XL work on their own. (Note the the Launchpad Pro is preferable in that it has onboard MIDI. …

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Serato DJ’s updated hardware support, features explained

Serato has been busy lately. While other DJ tool makers keep talking big headlines (turntables! Stems!), the New Zealand-based DJ software developer has been steadily churning out a whole bunch of updates. And these are largely about adding support for different hardware. Serato is in that sense a bit of a different beast. While Pioneer pushes its standalone hardware in booths, and Native Instruments focuses these days on its integrated hardware/software solutions, Serato is all about providing plug-and-play support for a variety of other tools, and responding to user requests. So, that means little “point” updates from Serato are often …

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Minimoog controller reminds us hardware, software go hand in hand

What’s an ‘app’? For years, it was an uphill battle just getting people to recognize the ability of computers to generate sounds. When Native Instruments was founded in Berlin in 1996, their name was a clue to where they imagined the future going. Propellerhead’s release of ReBirth in 1997 began a concerted effort by the Stockholm-based company to campaign for in-the-box emulations of gear – and their partner Steinberg would shortly thereafter push ReWire and its own VST. Now, it’s not so much the app as the map – the physical control given to software. Whatever analog versus digital debates …

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Control MIDI and Ableton from your iPhone, Android for handheld music

Put control over Ableton Live in the palm of your hand – and control MIDI gadgets even without the aid of a computer. That’s the vision of LK (the former Livkontrol), out today for both iOS and Android handhelds. This isn’t the first pocket controller. But it might be the first pocket controller to become truly invaluable. That’s because there’s robust support for more than just sliding some faders on your phone or working with wifi. Features, all borrowed from the tablet LK: Wireless connections, but also USB connection USB to MIDI interface support, so you can use this as …

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Launchpad Pro Grid Controller: Hands-on Comprehensive Guide

Novation’s Launchpad Pro is here. It shares the same compact footprint as earlier Launchpads, but adds full color, pressure-sensitive pads, and MIDI inputs and outputs, plus the ability to operate without a computer. So, with other grids to choose from, where does this one fit? The Launchpad line of controllers has always been about simplicity. Even when the original Launchpad was introduced, it did less than its nearest rival, the AKAI APC. But it was popular partly thanks to being simple, light, small, and affordable. That fits many users’ needs, and can be nicely combined with other hardware. The Launchpad …

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Akai Launches New MPD Pad Series, with More Controls

Akai is a name synonymous with pad controls, via their MPC. But the MPD line of controllers hasn’t gotten a lot of attention lately – until now. Today, the company unveils a big update to the MPD line. The numbers are parallel to the MPD18, MPD26, and MPD32, but these are really new pad controllers. They remain inexpensive but add additional hands-on controls and features, as well as a redesign of the pad sensing that Akai says is “ultra-sensitive.” Sounds a bit like something condom packaging would say, but Akai’s flagship MPC Revolution has terrific pads, so I’ll forgive the …

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I Played the Oval Digital Hand Pan, And It’s Amazing

Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions. The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in …

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Novation’s Launchpad Grid, Now in Color, for Ableton or iPad

Novation’s Launchpad has seen slimmer and smaller versions. And upcoming is a Pro version with pressure/velocity and MIDI in and out. But if you just want the grid, you can now get the base model with RGB color. It’s officially called the Launchpad mk2. No availability or pricing yet (damn you, unstable Euro), but you can sign-up for notification. The update has the same basic design as the original, but updated with styling from its Pro sibling, and RGB color behind the pads for more visual feedback. Here’s the obligatory video of the new model, which gets a very cute …

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The Best Little MIDI Fader and Knob Box Just Got Better

I just can’t hide my affection for the Faderfox line, and one unit in particular: the UC3 was pretty close to perfect. While there are other MIDI controllers with faders, the UC3 stands out by combining a healthy assortment of encoders and faders (plus one crossfader) in an ultra-compact, lightweight package. Nothing comes close to saving space either in your bag or in cramped performance setup situations. Every component feels smooth, solid, and premium, in contrast to rivals that have generally favored low price over quality. And it’s USB class compliant, so drivers aren’t issue. Well, the UC3 was nearly …

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