It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …
At last, the world of modular meets the world of stompboxes. It’s a no brainer: after all, a modular rack already has a lot in common with a crowded pedalboard. I expected that our friends at Bastl Instruments from Czech would come up with something for this week’s Superbooth synth gathering here in Berlin, and sure enough, they’ve got three new modules, with one stompbox-friendly standout.
Forget sterile, corporate convention halls. Instead, this week the Communist-chic East German radio facility Funkhaus will be transformed into the sort of synthesizer summit only Andreas Schneider and his crew could imagine. It’s called, somewhat confusingly, the “Superbooth” – a reference to what had been a jam-packed exhibition stand at Frankfurt’s Musikmesse. Now, instead of squeezing into some tables and shouting over the din of a trade show, the happening that was in Frankfurt has a sprawling space. Just how big? Well, let’s let Andreas take us on a tour of the wonderful rooms of the wonderful building where all …
Tools like the iPad have brought us lots of nice new things – day-long batteries, ultra-thin lightweight devices, beautiful touchable apps, less time spent troubleshooting. But then they’ve also forced us to make weird choices. Do you want electricity or do you want accessories. (Um, both? Wait, what?!) And so it is that I’m writing this piece of news. Now, you can plug into a wall for electricity! (Wow!) And, you can use USB accessories! And you don’t have to choose!
KORG’s runaway-hit volca series has proven small can be fun. But the volca FM promises more power in a small package. The volca FM, teased in California in January and demoed in early prototype form, is now official. And part of why we’re eager to get our hands on one is that it’s more than just another little synth box. Okay, so it’s a 6-operator FM synth that’s fun to play with – that you probably got right away. But it’s also a way of loading vintage FM patches, and has powerful editing features. Let’s look and listen.
Wish granted, hackers. The full specification for Ableton’s Push 2 hardware is now online on GitHub, after passionate Live users clamored for its release. And there’s a lot. This isn’t just a MIDI specification (though that’s there). Every minute detail of how colors appear on LEDs gets covered. (The color “white” has its own section. Yeah, like that minute.) Every animation. The pixels that show up on the display. This isn’t just a guide to how to hack Push 2 – though it’s certainly that. It’s a technical bible on how Push 2 works.
Microphones already expand what we can hear. New devices can sonify an unheard world even beyond sound. We covered the use of sound as a way of conveying gravitational waves, waves that – while not sound – are far easier for both scientists and lay people alike to grasp when translated to the audible spectrum. And we’ve already seen a world of microphones and devices by Jonáš Gruska, whose LOM label shares both the electronics and music made with them. Well, now Jonáš is back with a new generation of devices. Here’s what they are and how their results sound.
Can the metronome get a new lease on life as a smart wearable device? That’s the gambit of Soundbrenner, a Berlin-based startup that hopes to do for metronomes what the smartwatch and fitness wearables have for those categories.
Hot on the heels of our write-up of a board that makes any hardware you can imagine, here’s a mod that takes all that power and fits it in a handheld space with hands-on controls.
We know an iPad can augment a music setup. But the question for many is, can it replace a computer? Arturia’s iSpark isn’t shy about what it accomplishes. It really looks a whole lot like the company’s drum machine on desktop, only remade for iPad. And it even works with the dedicated SparkLE controller – meaning you now can go pad controller + iPad as you could controller + computer. It also comes with Ableton Link, for easy syncing and jamming with other apps, other iPads/iPhones, and Ableton Live (in any combination).