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 …

READ MORE →
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 …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

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) …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

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 …

READ MORE →

Metablog: Universal Audio UAD-2 Updates Sound Platform; Why People Want It

Universal Audio’s UAD-1, a sound processing platform built on DSP hardware add-ons for your computer, has gotten a much-anticipated sequel this week. The UAD-1 was always a favorite choice for sound production, delivering tasty analog-emulating sound tools on a PCI card platform. The UAD-2, on PCI-express cards, offer up to “ten times” the processing power of the original — supposedly even the single-processor model delivers a greater-than-twofold performance gain. The DSP hardware is just the platform, though, and Universal’s main push here is its plug-in developers. Sure, these days your CPU is a plenty-powerful sonic number cruncher, so I think …

READ MORE →

Single Knob Filter: Free Windows VST Plug-in Emulates Pioneer DJM-800

Sometimes, simple stuff matters. DJ mixers like Pioneer’s DJM-800 have simple, single-knob low- and high-pass filters. Laptop software often doesn’t. Enter FZero, with his free and open source Single Knob Filter to fill the gaps. (Windows-only, built in SynthEdit, but it’s open source and schematics of the basic signal processing are available, if anyone wants to translate this to Mac.) Drop this into an insert in a tool like Ableton Live and go play. Single Knob Filter [Project Page] SKF-VST at Google Code [Source, VST Download] It’s apparently a big improvement on an Ableton forum solution that used 127 different …

READ MORE →

Moog Guitar Brings Infinite Sustain, Ladder Filter, But It’s US$6495

Infinite sustain, a Moog filter, and — metallurgy? Welcome to the world of the Moog Guitar. It’s not a digital instrument, and it’s not a synth, but I’d say its unique focus on timbral shaping places it squarely within the interests of folks who read this site, and keeps it true to its Moog name. Too bad its price will likely keep it out of reach for many of us. As a number of you wrote in to remind us, Moog Music’s new guitar has arrived — yes, actually a guitar. The product description even feels obligated to explain that …

READ MORE →