aleph Soundcomputer: Interview with monome creator Brian Crabtree and Ezra Buchla

aleph is something of a curiosity: it’s a dedicated box uniquely designed for sonic exploration that isn’t a conventional computer. It comes from the creator of the monome, but while dynamic mapping is part of the notion, it is the first monome creation capable of making sound on its own. The monome is a controller that uses a grid for whatever you want; aleph is a self-contained instrument that makes any sound you want. In review: aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything But this isn’t only a story about some specialist, boutique device. It’s a chance to …

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aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything

monome, the iconic grid controller that launched them all, has always been a device tethered to a computer. Without a USB connection to your machine, it is an attractive but functionless box. The latest monome project, the result of a collaboration between Brian Crabtree and musician Ezra Buchla (yes, there’s a relation) is different. It is a computer, with all the functions that entails, but in a box designed for sound. It has: A brain: Two of them, in fact – a DSP chip (BF533 blackfin, 533 mHz with 64 MB SDRAM) and an AVR32 for control. Audio connections: 4 …

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Wacky, Wooden Shnth Makes Eerie Sounds, Colors Outside the Lines [Documentary]

Shnth is a digital synth in a wooden box with a surprisingly open-ended programming language. It’s like a lo-fi sonic computer, touched with your fingers via a handmade interface, and with sonic capabilities that can be re-programmed over USB. And there’s a coloring book to go with it, too, with pictures of Max Mathews and microsound for you to sketch in. The drawings there, like the sounds that come out of its outputs, full of rough, digital edges and unexpected swoops and swirls of timbre, seem to encourage coloring outside the lines. Peter Blasser of Baltimore is the synth’s creator …

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Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted. In short: 1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.) 2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping. 3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s …

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3 Approaches to Accessorizing the Studio: SPL, Softube, UA at Musikmesse

How can hardware make the computer-based studio more productive? Each trade show invariably brings new offerings that seek to answer that problem as vendors hawk their wares. At Frankfurt’s Musikmesse, steps from one another, three well-known names each each offered their own take. It comes at a time when the industry is re-imagining the role of our machines. It used to be that big, metal boxes said “pro” – and the studio was no exception. (Cue flashbacks trying to set up Digidesign expansion racks in the late 90s. Okay, now putting that out of my mind.) That’s still true in …

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Free Granulator II from Robert Henke for Max for Live; Another M4L Grain Instrument On Its Way

We’re spoiled by modern software as a canvas for experimental sound. Significantly, once constructed and encapsulated, these digital sound devices can fall away, allowing you to explore new noise frontiers through play, not only through calculated sound design. (That very question has come up in very different conversations with developers I’ve had in the last 24 hours or so, so I think it’s worth mentioning – whether it’s something you’ve created or downloaded, you can get to the point where you use your ears and intuition to find sounds.) Let’s talk about that in regards to Ableton Live and Max. …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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Vio for iOS: Transform, Tune, Harmonize Vocals in a Cloud of Particles [Preview]

Vocal modification is a natural app for iOS, yet a lot of the offerings out there are complicated to use. (At least one that springs to mind has options for add-on purchases that can muddle the user experience.) Audiofile Engineering (via a new brand, Square B) has just released an app that looks like loads of fun. Turning the interface into a swirling vortex of particles might not seem to be a step forward for ease of use, but here, the reduction in interface clutter lets you focus on singing. I’m retreating into the studio in a quiet moment to …

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More Than Ever: Tour Dave Smith’s Monster Synth, the Prophet 12

The Prophet 12 from Dave Smith Instruments is a landmark synth: packed with polyphony and sound features, it’s the latest demonstration that “new” and “synth keyboard” can go together. So, for our first-look tour through the new Prophet, we get a special treat – writer, electronic musician, and mathematician Gina Collecchia got a hands-on look with the engineers who designed the instrument. Gina, who demystifies signal processing for all the rest of us in her book Numbers and Notes, get to talk with Chris, one technologist to another. -Ed. Meet the newest member of the Dave Smith Instruments family: the …

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Tech for Guitarists: What’s New, What’s Changing in Digital Guitar Tools [NAMM Report]

Who says guitar technology isn’t advancing? Joe Gore is a guitarist who’s unafraid of the bleeding edge, so he was a natural to report back to us from the hallowed halls of new musical instruments, NAMM. He takes a look at what’s new and what’s evolving through a guitarist’s eyes. And this stuff is interesting, indeed, with effects and controllers that might inspire gear desires in instrumentalists of all stripes, not just guitarists. We guitarists tend to be a technologically conservative bunch, yet there was no shortage of forward-looking products at NAMM 2013. Not that everyone was looking in the …

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