xw-pd1

One Reason to Watch Casio: They’re Step Sequencer Crazy!

Okay, so Casio have crammed a groove box into a Millennium Falcon, and that was a little strange (and means squeezing some of the controls, since the shape is irregular). But now that the shock has worn off, the next question: should we get one for review when it arrives later this March? Should you keep it on your 2015 gear radar? The answer turns out to be yes, as a few readers have told me online and offline. And the reason has to do with a keyboard you probably ignored from Casio a couple years back. Let us explain. …

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quadrodrums

Watch a Flying Drone Play a Drum Machine

What happens when you cross drones with music? Well – some seriously complex routings, for one. Stay with us: A touch-sensitive quadcopter that sends information to a Linux machine running ROS–the Robot Operating System–that then sends information over a network to a macbook running Ableton Live 9 and Max. Somewhere in this chain, the information is translated to MIDI and fed into an Ableton Live drum rack. The performance is being visualized using WaveDNA Liquid Rhythm. The upshot: shove around your hovering drone, and as it tries to right itself, it controls music. It’s a droning, hovering … beatmaker. Because, …

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microdrum

Robert Henke’s Free MicroDrum Will Take You Back to the 80s

Cue Huey Lewis and the News singing “Back in Time,” because we’re going back to the 80s. And where we’re going, we don’t need … stereo. Robert Henke (who has of late mostly shed the Monolake moniker) has a brilliant new Max for Live drum machine that borrows some of the limitations of vintage 80s drum machines. There’s a particular nod to drum machine pioneer Roger Linn (credited as such). But this isn’t just 80s nostalgia. MicroDrum’s restrictions, sound, and use of ideas from that hardware can bring new creative possibilities. Features: Zoom in on samples to 10 ms and …

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ED1

Finally, Your Pocket Gets a Perfect Drum Synth: Elastic Drums for iPhone

Some people are addicted to flinging birds at stacks of things until those stacks fall over. Or they use spare moments to flick through thumbnails of single people who they’ll never meet. Or they read random 140-character texts about stuff from angry folks, yelling at each other. Not you. You are addicted to drums. And not just any drums. You want electronic drums, drums you can tweak and dial – genuine synthesizers, grooving. Just playing back the sound of an 808 isn’t going to cut it. If you’re sandwiched in coach class, your knees pressed against the seat in front …

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Loop points, at last. Side-by-side editing on iPad, too. Photos courtesy NI.

iMaschine on iOS Gets Smarter; How Apps Can Help You Make More Music

They may not be as powerful as their desktop counterparts. But by going with you, mobile apps can help you find inspiration and creativity in moments that would otherwise be lost. And mobile drum machine app iMaschine adds two subtle features that mean a lot more possibility – or at least takes a step in the right direction. iMaschine 1.2, released at the end of last week, adds integration for both Audiobus and Apple’s own Inter App Audio (the latter less-widely implemented, but used in popular apps like GarageBand). The upshot: you can now combine Native Instruments’ mobile drum machine …

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TR-8_right_transparent

Roland Digs Into Original 707, 727 to Expand AIRA

Because it’s packed with digital models rather than analog circuits, Roland’s AIRA TR-8 can be more than just a drum machine. It’s a platform for expansion. And today, as expected, Roland has gone further into their back catalog of genre-shaping drum sounds to expand on its hit TR-8. The 7X7-TR8 Drum Machine Expansion brings TR-707 and TR-727 sounds to the AIRA box and even builds on the 808 and 909 models included so far. The only bad news here is that it’s a paid update. What’s new: 30 original sounds from the TR-707 and TR-727 (by original, that means the …

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Photo (CC-BY-ND) Bill Selak.

Here Are Your Best Black Friday Deals on Music Tools

Sure, Black Friday may conjure unpleasant images of hordes rushing a Wal-Mart. But with so much of music gear now online in software form, it is a chance to load up with some new music tools for the winter (or, erm, southern hemisphere, the summer), save some money, and make more music. And that’s a good thing. So here are some of the nicest-looking deals in our inbox, too good not to share.

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maschine_keys

Maschine 2.2 Proves Playability Matters: Scales, Chords, Arp for Your Pads

There are plenty of things computer drum machines / groove workstations can do to show off. There are plenty of long feature lists they might add. But actually coming up with something you can play? That’s what can really make music better in the studio and live. And that’s why Maschine 2.2 is a welcome update. First off, let’s admit something. Amidst all the clever functionality with grid-based controllers, there’s something that remains useful about a big, 4×4 grid of pads and MPC-style workflows for certain kinds of music. Those bigger targets don’t require a lot of accuracy, and it’s …

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rhythmwolf

AKAI Rhythm Wolf Review: Analog Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Dance music, it seems, has come full circle. Techno’s roots began with affordable oddball hardware, abused into new genres. And now, the appetite for cheap little boxes that make grooves is back. But does “cheap” and “analog” always make for a winner? Well, not necessarily. But let’s find out why. This is the AKAI Rhythm Wolf. When we first saw it, it was clear people would want it, because physically, visually, it has the things you’d want – even before you get to the accessible price. There are velocity-sensitive pads for each part, coupled (cleverly) with x0x-style buttons for simple …

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keezyiphone

Simple Isn’t Easy: Keezy Drummer is Easy, Free, and – Maybe Too Minimal [iPhone]

Introducing Keezy Drummer from Elepath, Inc. on Vimeo. Here is a plot line we’ve heard before: Musical interfaces are complicated. That makes them unfriendly to beginners. They give you options you don’t need. (So far, no argument.) The solution, of course, is some new product. Each time we hear this plot line, someone talks about it like they’ve discovered it for the first time. This time, it’s Keezy Drummer, a new, simple drum machine app. You can hear them talking to The Verge about why this will change music technology, and why apparently in several decades of drum machines, they’re …

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