Watch Music Made from Clicky Keyboards

Click. It’s incredible how much sound is part of our world, sometimes in ways so profound we actually somehow miss them. Tech site The Verge wanted to spice up a story on the anniversary of IBM’s Model M keyboard, a product for which sound was an integral part of the experience. (That’s so true, in fact, that people will pay a premium for products like Das Keyboard that emulate it.) The result will come as beautiful music to touch typists everywhere, an etude in spacebars performed on a dizzying array of gadgets of the past. Producer John Lagomarsino goes into …

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The Best-Sounding Brass Instrument Tech Makes No Sound At All: Yamaha’s Latest Silent Brass

One thing you mostly can’t do with brass instruments is play them listening through … headphones. And that’s a big deal when you’re practicing, of course. There just hasn’t been a good way to do it without bothering other people. Enter Yamaha. (Yes, it’s no big surprise that a country associated with tiny, closely-adjacent apartments and actually making walls out of paper would find advances in practice technology again and again.) Yamaha’s SILENT Brass system, devised for French Horn, trombone, flugelhorn, and trumpet, isn’t new. But the latest evolution may bring it to a wider audience. The idea is this: …

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Happy Halloween, From Bleepy Monster Electronics Everywhere [Time Warp Gallery]

Let’s do the Time Warp again. As far as synthesizers making spooky sounds are concerned, I’m pleased to party every day like it’s Halloween. (After all, what is the point of music electronics if not to scare small children, animals, and… adults?) But I want to take us back to 2007, when our friends at Bleep Labs produced this great series of limited-edition Halloween mods to their fantastic Thingamagoop. It’s an excuse to just point you to Bleep Labs’ site – they remain one of the world’s great vendors for genuinely-fun sonic electronics for everyone. They’re gadgets you can use …

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Messe Oddities: Pioneer Steelz Audio Type T Automates Dance Battles

I’m immediately attracted to things I can’t identify, so here’s one of the less expected bits of hardware from the Frankfurt Musikmesse show’s digital audio 5.1 hall. (That’s the hall’s actual number – surround sound similarity is coincidental.) Someone at Pioneer worked out how to combine the timer used in chess, the boombox, some DJ effects, and dance battles, and the result is this: the STEELZ AUDIO Type T, evidently new and under glass at Musikmesse in Frankfurt this week. I think it deserves special mention for its sheer oddness. (And hey, maybe this is a product for someone somewhere!) …

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Not a Tablet: Android-Powered Touch Music Keyboard is Just for Music

Looking a bit like the love child of a Nintendo DS and a microKORG, the Miselu neiro is a different animal in mobile music. The upcoming device is powered by Android and has a touchscreen – a bit like a tablet – but it’s hardware dedicated to music-making, complete with a compact, piano-layout keyboard. The gamble is that people wanting to make mobile music will choose this dedicated device instead of a general-purpose gadget like an iPad. Whether they can pull it off or not is a big question, but in the meantime, the specs are intriguing. And it’s worth …

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It’s a PA! It’s a Suitcase! It’s a Chair! It’s All Three?!

You might need to be an internationally-touring DJ to buy one, at EUR750, but the Travelteq Trip Sound suitcase is awe-inspiring at least as a design gimmick. The aluminum roll-around is designed first and foremost as a suitcase, as in the things that hold your laptop and clothes when you’re on the road, and is even sold as such – no gimmicks, just an ultra-high-end way of toting luggage. But purchase the Trip Sound option, and you can fold an entire sound system into said suitcase. What keeps it a gimmick is, unfortunately, power. The Trip Sound System isn’t the …

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Take a Solar-Powered Tuner Wherever You Go, Says Tascam … But Environmental?

Sure, we spend a lot of time looking at far-out gear and high technology, but you have to tip your hat to practicality. Tascam’s TC-1S is a compact, portable tuner that you can take anywhere. Solar and USB power mean you never have to worry about powering it, either. Features: 12-tone equal-tempered chromatic tuner. Input via 1/4″ jack or mic Note/sharp-flat/bargraph pitch indication readout on the LCD. Display via “bar,” “fine,” “strobe animation,” or “needle.” Protective silicone case included 51 grams. Shipping this month, street price “under US$40.” It’s a cute little design, and with the economic squeeze continuing, I …

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Tascam’s New $99 Portable Stereo Recorder, with Pitch Control

There was a time when Tascam was associated with cheap, solid mobile gear for recording, like the Portastudio. The handheld DR-03 could be a landmark for a more digital age. It’s just US$99 for a microSD recorder with built-in stereo mic in a package Tascam describes as “smaller than an energy bar.” It’s designed to be operated handheld without a lot of noise (we’ll have to test that), and – in what I think may be the killer feature – it includes looping and Variable Speed Audition, so you can use it easily as a practice, music transcription, or interview …

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Electronic Music, Unplugged: Battery-Powered Jams and the Decade of Power

Photo (CC-BY) Anton Fomkin. No endorsement intended. (I like Energizer, too.) If the last decades in technology were about speed, this decade promises to be about power. I don’t mean horsepower: I mean power as in electricity. From concerns environmental to practical, power is now a real variable. After years of misreading Moore’s Law to mean that all technology would forever double in speed (that would be absurd, and wasn’t what he meant), even those lusting after gadgets have begun to think about power consumption, too. People want longer battery life and leaner energy bills – and psychologically, there is …

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Bliptronic 5000’s Creator: Hacking Tips, Prototyping, and the Switchnome

Ed.: Resident hardware hacker and sound artist Michael Una chatted via phone with the creator of ThinkGeek’s $50 Bliptronic instrument. We’ve already got some early tips on how you might hack this design into custom creations, which could make the Bliptronic 5000 an ideal hardware hacker choice. (And, because it is cheap, you may be a little more adventurous with the thing.) Designer Ty Liotta also talks about prototyping, the design process, and reveals an entirely toggle-switch prototype that I wish they had actually shipped. It’s a must-read for hardware geeks. -PK I just spoke to Ty Liotta, the head …

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