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These Are The DJ Controllers You Want When Space is Limited

How can you get the most hands-on control of a laptop DJ set when you don’t have a lot of room? With so many of us called upon to DJ in a pinch – even as producers or live acts, onstage or in mixes – it’s relevant to almost anyone making electronic music. And finding a way to stay mobile a worthy question – but one you might miss if following DJ blogs and music store displays. Imagine if you were making a generic DJ controller prop for a bedroom display at IKEA. You know exactly what it’d look like. …

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LK Gives Your iPad or Android Tablet Easy Control of Ableton Live [Gallery, Hands on]

Ableton Live is happily running on your laptop. It’s not yet running on your iPad or tablet, or optimized in any way for touch. And that’s left a window wide open for touch controllers. Now, the question is, is there room for yet another control app? touchAble retains the crown for all-around control of Ableton Live; there’s very little this app doesn’t do, from replicating Live devices to MIDI editing to custom templates. But the relaunched LK, released today, has a few reasons for consideration, as an alternative or complement to other solutions. First, if you’re an Android user, LK’s …

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Watch A Candy and Rubber Duck Synth and Animation Visualize Music

Sometimes, the best ideas come from raw imagination. The Knuckle Visualizer is the work of a Korean animation house. It doesn’t actually produce sound. The only functioning part of the hardware you see here is a USB cable that powers an LED lamp. But there are fascinating ideas here. And, actually, you could build this. We can often get stuck in our repetitive music world and forget what’s possible. So let’s watch the animators run wild with our sounds. Rubber ducks and toy nesting dolls and and jelly beans make up the controls. Buchla-styled colored patch cords are actually organized …

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Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

MPC 1.8 Update Expands How You Play; Inside Look with the Developers

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important. And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart. That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming …

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How Does Novation’s Launchpad Pro Stack Up Against Ableton Push?

One of last month’s more predictable NAMM announcements was, at long last, an update to Novation’s Launchpad line that adds RGB color support and pressure sensitivity. But that means that it’s easier to compare the new Launchpad Pro with the spendier (but also more powerful) Ableton Push. It’s been a few years since the original Launchpad first commercialized the “grid performance instrument” concept popularized by the monome. Since then, we’ve seen Novation’s LEDs get brighter and the body get slimmer, plus the welcome addition of class-compliant support (opening up iOS and Linux compatibility and driverless operation). But the Launchpad itself …

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Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right. This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. …

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Why BeatStep Pro Could Become the Heart of Your Live Rig

The original Arturia BeatStep already looked good. Start with a compact drum pad controller, add some encoders for more control, then add a step sequencer that can control MIDI and analog gear. But the problem is, the execution of the sequencer idea is complex. It turns out you need even simple sequencers to do a lot. And so the original BeatStep, while still an amazing buy for a hundred bucks, was a little disappointing. It was just hard to actually sequence on the thing. You could get one sequence going, but that’s not enough for really playing, and simple rhythmic …

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How Akai Advance Could Best NI’s Komplete Kontrol in Smart Keyboards

Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success. Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just …

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Casio Crosses a Groove Box, DJ Controller With Millennium Falcon

It’s not quite clear what just happened at Casio’s Music Gear division. Last year, their XW DJ line included a pedestrian but perfectly innocuous-looking DJ/VJ controller in partnership with Vestax. Now, in an apparent attempt to corner the market of 12-year-old producers, they’ve made two crazy-looking things shaped like the Millennium Falcon. Not a little like the Millennium Falcon – nearly exactly like it, just short of turning its reflector dish into a knob. (Okay, it looks a little bit like a Roland Handsonic HPD-10, but the Casio has a narrower nose – which in turn squeezes the space for …

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This Record Sleeve Turns Into a Wireless Touch DJ Controller: DJ Qbert and Novalia

As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured. Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections. DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put …

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