It's all acoustic technology. But, at last, it's 21st century acoustic technology. Photo: CDM.

Watch Una Corda, a software piano with a difference

The piano has been living with a beautiful legacy, but that legacy can double as tyranny. The Steinway Model D, favorite instrument of mine that it is, has also frozen the technological development of the keyboard instrument. And that’s why the Una Corda is different. Built custom by David Klavins, and associated with that builder’s collaboration with pianist Nils Frahm, this lightweight piano is unlike any you’ve seen or heard before. And now, you can get a taste of playing the real thing with a software instrument.

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ircam

IRCAMAX 2 effects put sonic science into your Ableton Live sets

IRCAM is Paris’ legendary research center. It’s the place where the original Max was born, and it’s still a hub for some of the brightest minds in sound in the world. IRCAMAX 2 is a new set of effects and instruments for Max for Live. And it does some amazing stuff – though maybe the best way to demonstrate that is not to explain, but to let you listen. They’ve made not just demos but some beautiful music, via artist Najo:

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whatismodular

This young Czech lady wants to teach you modular synthesis, and Bastl have a granular update

Our friends at Bastl Instruments / Noise Kitchen are preparing a modular synth tutorial with their usual charm, friendliness, and directness. And, if your native language happens to be Czech, this is absolutely the video tutorial you’ve been waiting for! If you don’t, though, there are English subtitles. (And, of course, the occasional recognition of a word or two by hearing.) The name sounds cool in Czech, too: Patcheni! And host Nikol already has an advantage over … well, almost every other tutorial on modular synthesis I’ve seen: 1. The tutorials are beginner-friendly. 2. They’re short. 3. They’re cheery. 4. …

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tubes

Bach Played on Tubes Will Remind You That Acoustic is Fun

I must admit to knowing neither the term tubes musicaux, nor “boomwhackers.” We’re on the eve of the Musikmesse trade show, which for music technology sites means time spent largely in Hall 5.1 – the bit dedicated to electronic stuff and “DJs.” But that’s no reason to ignore the possibilities afforded by acoustic sound. So long as people are being inventive with materials, that end of the spectrum (so to speak) will remain compelling. And the “Boomwhacker” is a great example. As Wikipedia kindly fills me in, “Boomwhackers Tuned Percussion Tubes are lightweight, hollow, color-coded, plastic tubes, tuned to musical …

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free

Splice Just Launched a Huge Database of Free Music Plug-ins, And It’s Completely Awesome

This week, we’ve done nothing but pummel you with loads of gear you want. So, while you’re saving up thousands … sorry, tens of thousands of dollars for new analog gear from the 1970s, you might not be in the mood to ante up for a compressor or bass line synth. If you also couldn’t be bothered to carefully scour my article on how the purchasing of software is about to change forever, let me spoil some of the fine print for you: Collaboration tool Splice just quietly launched the biggest, best-organized database of free plug-ins I’ve ever seen. Here …

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tsispeech

The Original Speech Chip Is Coming To A New Plug-In

While everyone else worries about emulating the same synthesizers for the umpteenth time, Plogue have been lovingly recreating the greatest chip sounds of all time. They’ve done Chipsounds, the instrument, and Chipcrusher, the effect. And now, finally, your computer will sing to you – not just with any voice, but with the speech chip that launched them all. From computing to arcades to classic tracks, this legendary voice has echoed through the decades with an unmistakable sound. This is the first-ever commercially-available chip to include speech synthesis.

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alchemy-advanced-mode

Plug-in Maker Camel Audio is Deceased; Download Software Now

Camel Audio have long been a favorite name in plug-in instruments and effects, as makers of CamelSpace, CamelPhat, the Alchemy sample manipulation instrument. But their software hasn’t seen updates in some time, and today customers were greeted with a bare-bones site that presented only basic support options and a login. Upon logging in, I read this: January 8, 2015 We would like to thank you for the support we’ve received over the years in our efforts to create instruments and effects plug-ins and sound libraries. Camel Audio’s plug-ins, Alchemy Mobile IAPs and sound libraries are no longer available for purchase. …

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Learn to Use Komplete 10’s Real Gems – Those Great New Reaktor Instruments

Just because there’s a nice marketing angle doesn’t mean that it has to be the story for you. And that’s been true of NI’s big, splashy product launches. Sure, there’s the epic-looking Traktor Kontrol S8 hardware launched this week – but you tell us you might be just as pleased with a compact controller or an update to the iPad app. And Maschine Studio does wonderful things with its big screens – but the MK2 still has great pads, costs less, and fits in a backpack. And then there’s Komplete 10. Yes, NI is keen to talk about its light-up …

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If You Use Kontakt, Get Cool Bleep and Bass Instruments for Free

Bleeping amazing. There’s some great stuff you can get for free for Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler. This week, two new instruments are available. First up, a device that makes chip music bleep sounds, and includes sophisticated sound controls and step-sequencing LFOs. The creator, Zombie Queen, describes it thusly: I’m assembling new bleeping device in Kontakt, last one was so twisting complicated, I’ve been getting lost in it myself. I wanted to re-utilize the engine, but simplify things a lot and add some new twists. I’ve got working ‘beta’ version, if you’d like to try it out. It’s focused more on …

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reaktoruserlibrary

Make Anything: Reaktor User Library Updated; This Week Get Reaktor for $99

It’s time for some Reaktor love. Native Instruments’ Reaktor may not get the attention of tools like Traktor or Maschine. But the software is part of the company’s DNA, still used to prototype devices (like the new drum synths for Maschine), and able to create a vast array of instruments and effects for those willing to plumb its depths. And even if you aren’t ready to tackle Maschine patching yourself, the User Library for Reaktor is one of creative sound’s greatest gems. That Web resource was, unfortunately, looking more than a little long in the tooth, though, for all the …

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