BeatKangz Beat Thang Drum Machine October, Virtual Version Now

You’ve got to respect BeatKangz: here’s an independent company doing something new in the world of hardware drum machines. Their design is blinged out like crazy, the polar opposite of a minimalist MachineDrum, but with easy access to the controls you need. It’s a box that has personality in a world of gear that often doesn’t. The team has at least some experience, too, having made the SB-246 drum machine for Zoom. (Okay, I hadn’t heard of it before, but it looks like a fun toy for about $200. Here’s a video review.) Pimp my drum machine: Hardware lovers likely …

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Depeche Mode: Inside the Studio, Identify the Gear at Keyboard Mag

Depeche Mode’s latest album, “Sounds of the Universe,” is due April 20 internationally. I got the chance to cover the band for Keyboard Magazine, speaking with Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher as well as returning producer Ben Hillier, who was a big part of the signature sound of 2005’s “Playing the Angel.” Martin developed eBay and KVR Audio addictions during the making of the album, so you can imagine just how much gear love was part of the process – with the talent of the musicians and Hillier’s vision as a producer managing to keep the resulting sound open and …

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How They Work – NIN: Echoplex, Rehearsing Live with Lemur

NIN: Echoplex – Live at Rehearsals, July 2008 from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo. Jaymis at Create Digital Motion was admiring this video and watching the Lemur action at the beginning. It further inspires me to custom-install a touch overlay on my laptop, which isn’t terribly expensive – having touch in a live playing situation is really quite nice. But as I watched the video and its modular synth action and Novation gear, I actually found myself thinking about something else: why aren’t more bands this tight? Most importantly, why don’t more bands simply use in-ear monitors when they’re working? …

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Exclusive Behind the Scenes: Interpol’s Live Rig

You’ve seen plenty of live rigs with mile-high stacks of keyboards and sound modules. But this setup is different: one of the world’s best bands is using an elaborate setup of software synths. Binding it all together is one of the most sophisticated software configurations I’ve ever seen, the fruits of labors by of our friend Jonathan Adams Leonard – a talented musician and technologist – in Kore 2. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this kind of setup to anyone else; it involved pushing Kore to its bleeding edge. But Jonathan’s walk-through of the hardware and software programming for this show …

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Hello? It’s the Future Calling. We Have Your Synth, the Omega Orion.

The faux-Pan Am logo. The sleek, mod, curved white casing. The elegant controls. Yes, this is indeed a synth that would look at home in the space station in Kubrick’s 2001. Technically not the future so much as the 1960’s version of the future – but surely we’re getting around to reshaping our future to look more like that, right? At least for synths? The synth in question is the Omega 8, a “luggable” 20-pound, 8-voice analog synth with individual stereo pairs for each voice. It’s really, truly, old-school analog, with discrete analog oscillators, voltage-controlled filters of the 24dB and …

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More from Mutek: Tech and Gear Spottings, Ecology and the Planet

Liz and Peter Dines continue to send dispatches from the epic MUTEK festival in Montreal. Stay tuned to our events.createdigitalmusic.com page for the latest. Among the new reports: various Reaktor spottings among artists, insane turntable abuse, and even a discussion of how arts events can reduce their impact on the planet. (Oddly enough, that last panel evidently included Dan Seligman, with whom I worked at the Sierra Club on international trade and human rights issues in another life of mine.) Check out the ongoing MUTEK coverage while we wait for Liz and Peter to finish off their stack of interviews …

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NAMM Years’ Eve: Favorite 2007 Musical Moments

New Years’ Eve? What’s that? The music tech year begins and ends at the massive NAMM trade show, across from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. So, as we settle in for a few hours’ rest before the big circus begins, I asked Liz McLean Knight and Mike Una to offer some of their 2007 highlights. And this gives us some great music to listen to while we (invariably) edit the hours of footage of NAMM and my recent Australian visualist tour. Great music, great tools, and some personal highlights ahead. (Photo: moriza. Ah, sweet 2007.)

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LinnDrum II: Former BoomChik Gets More Delayed But More Mature

Amazing how time crawls when you’re eagerly awaiting something. Such is the case with the BoomChik: it seems like ages ago that drum machine legend Roger Linn and synth legend Dave Smith “pre-announced” this synth/drum machine. It was actually just this time last year. Unfortunately, you’re going to be waiting a little longer: feedback from musicians and the release of Linn’s AndrenaLinn III and Smith’s Prophet ’08 (easily two of the biggest products of last year) has delayed the BoomChik. Now the good news: in addition to a new name, the new design looks far more mature. And it’s going …

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Allen & Heath’s New “Compact” Surface: Controls Mixer, or Nuclear Submarine?

Rather than launch into technical jargon, let me summarize. It’s giant. It has lots of faders and knobs and color screens and such. Not only can you not afford it, you can’t lift it, either. It has an insanely stupid name. But it’s quite beautiful, like a 1979 vision of the future dreamt up by defense contractors.

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