Modulation-o-rama: Rack Extension Tutorial with FXpansion Etch Might Make Knees Wobbly

Over the summer, a slew of new Rack Extensions has opened Reason’s modular, patchable rack to a variety of developers. I have to admit, I’ve been astounded by the quantity and variety, given this is just one host – it seems there was pent-up demand for Reason modules, and that Propellerhead made things developer-friendly. FXpansion do wonderful work, have some of the best synth modeling tools on the market, and I say really entirely too little about them. Now, the guts from their DCAM suite are available in a Rack Extension called Etch, a modeled filter with loads of modulation. …

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syitcases

SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …

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500ladder

Moog Goes Classic: Ladder Filter 500 Series Module

If you think Moog’s entry into iPad synthesizers is too new-fangled, something for the kids, and nothing compared to the authentic analogness of … uh … analog, you’ll like this, at the opposite end of the spectrum. In the same week they unveiled their first iOS synth, Moog has their first 500 series module – and it’s a classic, derived from Dr. Moog’s legendary Ladder Filter design. Engineering audio isn’t quite like engineering bridges and airplanes: it’s actually the unique flaws in what might have otherwise been a forgettable filter design that led to a distinctive distortion, first heard in …

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Letting Out Ethereal Cries, a Slide Guitar Meets Synthesis in the Hands of a Bluegrass Master

When musical traditions meet, handled by people with real mastery of their technique, wonderful things can happen. That can be true of master instrument builders, for one. I got a chance to hear the sounds of the Moog Lap Steel Guitar in June while meeting with the folks from Moog Music. It’s an incredibly-delicious instrument, both in terms of how it’s engineered as a guitar and in bringing the filter from the Moog synth, now itself a tradition. But more importantly, in the stage that comes after those tools are built, traditions fuse beneath the fingers of master musicians. Chris …

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editor-screen

Imagining a Tablet Synth: Developer Christopher Penrose Shows Us SynthTronica for iPad

What can a new digital synth be in 2011? How will it work and sound? And given access to so many excellent tools, how can it stand apart? In place of a press release and some marketing-speak, developer Christopher Penrose (Leisuresonic, Cosmovox) sent us an extended essay explaining his thinking behind his just-released SynthTronica synth for the iPad. Aside from getting into the nitty-gritty technical details, it cuts to the crux of the issue: how to make something personal and new that nonetheless can work for other people, and how that idea can be tailored to a tablet. As the …

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Exclusive Leak: Moog Music Make Filtatron, an iPhone Filtering, Effects, and Sampling App

The Moog app sits on my iPod touch, next to its analog predecessor Moogerfooger. Yeah, okay, I still like the knobs better, but it is fun, and the Moogerfooger doesn’t fit in my pocket unless I wear really silly-looking overalls. Moog Music, they of the normally analog-only gear, have built their first iOS application. We’ve acquired exclusive details of the innards of the app, and I’ve been testing it today on my (second-generation) iPod touch. Blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s a nicely-designed little application, and with audio input capability, could turn your Apple handheld into a tiny recording and effects-processing unit …

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Soundhack Goodness, Now as Pd and Max External Objects

Soundhack, the free audio tool for the Mac developed by audio wizard Tom Erbe, was long a beloved tool for doing strange and wonderful things for sound. It was followed by Spectral Shapers, Mac and Windows plug-ins that built on some of those ideas to do more “timbral morphing” with recorded audio. That includes “timbral filtering” and noise-reducing expansion with spectralcompand, drawn morphing filter shapes with morphfilter, audio positioning with binaural, and a terrific spectralgate for creative dynamics processing. In what can only come as great news to lovers of patching in the free and open source Pure Data (Pd) …

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I Want My Moog TV: Vimeo Channel, Moog Meets Tenori-On

Studies for two TENORI-ON(s) by Smith from Franck Smith on Vimeo. A chap named Nick Ciontea has created a channel on Vimeo collecting odd videos folks have made with or regarding Moog products. I know about this, because two of my videos made it in. It’s a grab bag, but a lovely tribute to how much people love this gear. My favorite selection is the video here, because it’s not what you’d expect sound-wise from either Yamaha’s Tenori-On or Moog filters. Artist “Smith” says: This first test is a prepartory work to a series of solo pieces inspired by John …

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Akai MPC5000: Beyond Reviews, Dave Dri Reflects on MPCs Past and Present

What do you say when it’s all been said? We felt it was time for a fresh perspective on the MPC phenomenon — one a normal review couldn’t provide. So we got the opinion of our friend, samplist/producer and Segue member Dave Dri. And the verdict: there’s still something about an MPC — even if it suggests why there’s also something about software, too. But it involves dust. Here’s his op-ed: Recently I had the task of reviewing an MPC5000 for a local street press magazine. The MPC part of it was fine — the word limit was trickier. Over …

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Mopho, the $400 Dave Smith Analog Synth: Extra Details

Hot dog purveyor Gray’s Papaya in New York is beloved for its “Recession Special”: two dogs and a drink. Their champagne is made from coconuts. And you don’t just scarf these down in bear markets; you enjoy them any time. Dave Smith’s monophonic Mopho synth is perhaps the greatest recession special in the history of synthesis. It’s got the soul of a single voice from the Prophet ’08 analog synth, but with sub-octave generators, distortion that they claim ranges to “extreme skronk,” and the ability to process audio input. Interestingly, that means its “skronkiness” and input processing address some of …

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