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MeeBlip at five: better, and at a new lower price

Five years ago this month, CDM unveiled the MeeBlip project. It was a chance to put our love of synthesizers into a physical form we could share. And we had no idea where it would take us. Five years later, we’ve sold thousands of the musical instruments, all engineered by their creator James Grahame in Calgary, and all fully open source. In that time, we’ve also worked hard to make the MeeBlip constantly better, and easier for more people to get their hands on and use. Today, we celebrate five years, and what we think is our best MeeBlip yet. …

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A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.

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Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power. We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.

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Novation’s LaunchControl XL now works standalone – hello, modulars, gear

Tired: controllers that need computers to operate. Wired (literally): controllers that work happily standalone. MIDI, CV – all good. I’m still bleary-eyed but happy after a day yesterday of overwhelmingly cool Novation Launchpad Pro hacks, most of them standalone. The idea: hack into the firmware, and make the Launchpad Pro do whatever you want in your rig. Now, today, Novation themselves are out with clever videos showing off the fact that a firmware update has made the Launch Control and Launch Control XL work on their own. (Note the the Launchpad Pro is preferable in that it has onboard MIDI. …

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Minimoog controller reminds us hardware, software go hand in hand

What’s an ‘app’? For years, it was an uphill battle just getting people to recognize the ability of computers to generate sounds. When Native Instruments was founded in Berlin in 1996, their name was a clue to where they imagined the future going. Propellerhead’s release of ReBirth in 1997 began a concerted effort by the Stockholm-based company to campaign for in-the-box emulations of gear – and their partner Steinberg would shortly thereafter push ReWire and its own VST. Now, it’s not so much the app as the map – the physical control given to software. Whatever analog versus digital debates …

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Inside hands-on live technique with Blush Response, KOMA, Elektron

The sound world of Joey Blush (aka Blush Response) is far reaching, entering dark clouds of murky industrial, EBM, and techno, all with relentless forward-pushing grooves. But as we talk to him about how he connects his gear, we’re really looking at how he connects his thoughts. At its best, whatever we’re doing with gear ought to be about our minds. It’s not just connecting a patch cord. It’s connecting an idea from one place to another – re-wiring neurons. Synth legend Morton Subotnick spoke this week about that process, as he recalled first creating complex metric structures simply by …

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Launchpad Pro Grid Controller: Hands-on Comprehensive Guide

Novation’s Launchpad Pro is here. It shares the same compact footprint as earlier Launchpads, but adds full color, pressure-sensitive pads, and MIDI inputs and outputs, plus the ability to operate without a computer. So, with other grids to choose from, where does this one fit? The Launchpad line of controllers has always been about simplicity. Even when the original Launchpad was introduced, it did less than its nearest rival, the AKAI APC. But it was popular partly thanks to being simple, light, small, and affordable. That fits many users’ needs, and can be nicely combined with other hardware. The Launchpad …

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This is MeeBlip anode limited edition: White Case, More Direct Control

MeeBlip anode is in a new limited edition with a white case and more hands-on control – only 250 will be made. Details, plus a jam with two anodes from Berlin’s legendary Schneidersladen.

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New Yamaha Project Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview

It seems synth guru Richard Devine couldn’t resist revealing something about upcoming Yamaha technology. In an interview earlier this month, he let slip that the instrument includes “alien” new tech: Usually when I work with a company – for instance I’m working with Yamaha on a project right now; I can’t say what it is, but it’s pretty crazy. This synthesizer has new technology that’s never been implemented before, so it’s totally alien to anything I’ve ever used. I’ve had to spend a few weeks just understanding the architecture of it. This tells us two things. One, whatever Richard is …

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Is Yamaha Finally Joining the Retro Synth Party?

Well, you saw this one coming – if probably a lot earlier. With the dance music market growing and synth fever spreading, Japanese giant Yamaha seems to have some new keyboard up its sleeves. In a teaser video today, the first of a series, Yamaha promises something called “reface.” Updated: there’s more. New Yamaha Synths Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview The video shows a blurry show of a Yamaha CS-80, the one synth mentioned by name in the artist videos. And there are keys involved (from the spread of the hands in the one artist video, they …

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