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OK Go get their own KORG volca sample

Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.

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Build a Classic Synth, Reissued: Hands-on with KORG’s MS-20 Kit [Gallery]

Call it the MS-20 “Biggie.” A year after remaking their classic 1978 MS-20 synthesizer in a hugely-popular “mini” version, KORG surprised everyone by unveiling a second reissue this year, the limited-edition MS-20 Kit. Its innards are entirely identical to the MS-20 mini; component-by-component, the sound circuitry is the same. And since the MS-20 was a fairly convincing replica of the original, inaccurate mostly in that it can’t reproduce the aged components we’re now used to, that’s a good start. Now I’ve had the experience of assembling and playing the kit, following up our debut with the mini last year, and …

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Wild, Techie, Wonderful: NAMM’s Gear Delights [Gallery II]

Hardware and software continue to thrive (above). Pro audio lives on. People still make strange, wonderful products for tiny niches of people passionate about every element of sound. Marsha Vdovin is a veteran of the NAMM trade show like few people we know, so seeing the show through the eyes of her camera reveals some weirdness and wonderfulness we always appreciate. And Wonder Woman, too. Magic Kingdom, indeed. Gallery II, go! -Ed.

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Back to the Future: Waldorf Does 2-Pole Analog Filter; Moog Makes Crazy Futuristic Theremin

Our own Marsha Vdovin is working the NAMM floor, too, and her radar is leading her straight to some really nice gems. I had to pull two of these out, as they’re big surprises and look tasty indeed. And who would have thought a filter and a Theremin would be news? Well, these are drool-worthy, nonetheless. Waldorf’s mystery knob is the filter control from a big filter in a box. That’s right, Waldorf is introducing a 2-pole filter. And one heck of a 2-pole filter it is: Filter with cutoff and resonance, but also a Drive setting, Rectify, and switchable …

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Synth Geeks in the Hills: Legends and Legendary Machines at Asheville’s Mountain Oasis [Gallery, Videos]

Mountain Oasis, indeed. Asheville, North Carolina, that land of impassioned musicians and Moog manufacture, is unusually blessed in musical riches, especially of the electrified variety. And where once Moog gathered informal performances from synth fans, a recent split in festivals has spawned not one but two blockbuster events, turning this southeastern US hamlet into a kind of mecca for musicians of all stripes. These multiply rather than dividing the events. So, now there’s Moogfest, which this year will happen in spring. And then there’s Mountain Oasis, which took place last month. Both are overflowing with spectacular headliners, in the form …

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Arturia MicroBrute: $349, Semi-Modular, Analog Keyboard Synth – Details, Full Gallery

If there was any doubt left, the analog monosynth keyboard has gone mainstream now. Fusing 70s electronic instrument design ideas with nerdy lust for sound with modern ideas about connectivity, accessibility, and timbre, a generation of instruments has made it a wonderful time for synth lovers to be alive. And the latest from Arturia is compact and inexpensive, while still managing to squeeze in some unique sound-shaping concepts and a tiny patch bay for modular use. Oh, before you ask, Eurorack fans – yes, it’s Eurorack-compatible. Alex Theakston from Source Distribution, who shot these beautiful photos and provided CDM with …

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From Spain, Abstract, Ambient Mix and Transcendent Images [Listen, Gallery]

If your ears and spirit need an ambient reboot, you could do worse than this gorgeous, abstract wash of sound pieced together from two wonderful Spanish artists. From bzzzbip, aka multimedia artist Antònia Folguera, and about:blank!, a photographer/filmmaker/artist, comes this project in sonic exchange. Antònia writes: About:Blank! and I exchanged songs via email and dropbox in order to put together an abstract ambient mixtape. When we were done with the selection I mixed the first half, and he did the other half. If it were an actual mixtape that would be side A and side B. this is the result. …

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The Newest Analog Goodness: Highlights from Berlin’s ALEX4, at Musikmesse [Synth pr0n]

Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us. There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the …

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MusicMakers Hacklab Report: Blinking Lightbulbs with MIDI, Why Working Together Matters

It’s a wonderful time to be experimenting with technology and music. You can create something that looks like the stuff most people imagine as “the future” – elaborate dances of light, power over sound just by waving your hand, software that seems directly out of Star Trek. But you can do it with technology that is now reaching maturity – decades of experience of artists, engineers, and designers is at your back. “That’s not new,” someone might say. Exactly. Instead of technology being a disposable commodity, forgotten in a couple of years, it’s actually something you can get good at. …

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Korg MS-20 Mini, Up Close: Gallery, By Candlelight

Korgs by candlelight… If you’ve been up close and personal with an original Korg MS-20 (or own one yourself), this gallery may actually be redundant. But we have some stills from our upcoming video short on the MS-20 Mini to prove what Korg’s reissue of the 1978 original looks like. There is something unreal about seeing the same instrument, shrunken. And yes, because it’s Berlin in winter, and we were in the basement of Mindpirates, we broke out some candles. It’s a great way to unwind on a January night. Stay tuned for our upcoming series, The Phantom of the …

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