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iZotope Iris: Paint with Spectra, Make a Real-Time Synth [Videos, Gallery]

Imagine working with sound design by painting with spectra, then applying those spectra to instruments you can play in real-time, and you’ve got the basic notion of iZotope Iris. The dream of combining graphics tools, a la Photoshop, with sonic ones has been in the minds of creative computer users for some time. Iris is a major landmark, though: instead of just being an editing tool, it turns sonic selection into something you can use in a synth. It lets you do your creative sound editing, but then play those sounds live, transforming the technique into an instrument. In fact, …

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Orphion Makes the iPad More Instrumental, Expressive; Watch it Meet Moogerfoogers

Design, and investigation in general, thrive on a challenge. So Bastus Trump, working with none other than Monolake co-founder and Ableton imagineer Robert Henke, took on the call to make the blank glass of an iPad behave more as an instrument might. The results, filling that screen with overlapping circles, are impressive, exploiting continuous touch movements to make pitch gestures that are more difficult on a piano-style keyboard. But it’s even nicer to see digital fuse with analog and timbral transformation as the app, Orphion, meets the more traditional Moog Moogerfooger effects. Bastus writes CDM: [Orphion’s] interface was developed especially …

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Your iOS Device Gets MIDI with Thru and Power – and 1 GB of Samples – from IK

For connecting music hardware from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today, you can’t beat MIDI and the standard MIDI connector (5-pin DIN). This week, both IK Multimedia and Line 6 announced adapters that support Core MIDI. Previously possible on iPad via the Camera Connection Kit, the new adapters support the 30-pin dock connector for the iPad (no additional adapter needed), iPhone, and iPod touch. IK’s iRig MIDI has a number of features that set it apart from previously-available iOS adapters: It’s got MIDI Thru. MIDI Thru means you can route MIDI into your iOS device, so an external keyboard can …

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3D Touch Linnstrument, an Update: New Features for Roger Linn’s 3D Note Expression Controller

The latest iteration; image courtesy Roger Linn Designs. Moving beyond touching a screen as two-dimensional plane, Roger Linn’s concept music controller, the Linnstrument, adds tactile response and expression. Roger calls it “3D Note Expression,” but in lay terms, it means pushing harder on the controller makes it respond differently, as you’d expect from a physical instrument. Roger this week posts an update on how his development is going and what he imagines – good timing, as this week we also saw another design on the same lines, the Soundplane. The sensing methods are different, enough so that I can easily …

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More Digital Guitar Reflections: What a MIDI Guitar Can Do; Conservatism, Adoption, and Innovation

A robot guitar may not injure a human guitarist, or, through inaction, allow a human guitarist to come to harm. A robot guitar must obey any orders and tunings given to it by human guitarists, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. All human and robot guitarists must enjoy guitar hardware, so long as such gear lust does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Gibson’s Robot Guitar – speaking of recent guitar innovations. Science and art alike demand inquisitive exploration and experimentation. So, it’s encouraging that a discussion of the future of the digital guitar …

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With Inventions Mechanical and Whimsical, Artist Ranjit Again Tackles an Instrument a Day

Like a fresh ingredient in food, sometimes all you need is a good idea. And whether your work is digital or analog, acoustic or mechanical, compositional or improvisational, sound artist and musician Ranjit Bhatnagar can provide ample inspiration. His best idea: forcing himself to come up with one musical idea a day for a month. Of course, having mad chops in instrumental invention doesn’t hurt. Ranjit’s creations are remarkable partly in that people can pick them up and play them as instruments, as with the 8-bit violin – a pixelated concoction of the lasercutter – seen at top in action …

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HALion 4, Steinberg’s Sampler + Synth Soft Workstation, Gets Deeper

Sampler? Synth? Workstation? Or just big bucket of sound? There are some impressive rabbit holes for sound designers out there, and Steinberg’s offering just got a big refresh. While looking at the latest flagship from a music hardware giant (Roland’s Jupiter-80), it’s revealing to compare the software side of the fence. Computer software instruments may not be directly equivalent to all-in-one keyboards, but they do each embody the latest thinking in how to build expressive instruments and new sounds. German maker Steinberg is at home at this week’s giant Messe trade show, and they’ve taken the wraps off the upcoming …

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FL Studio “Fruity Loops” 10 Adds 64-bit Savvy, Smarter Editing, New Pitch, Time, and Harmony Add-ons

The infamous FL Studio “giant screenshot.” Go ahead – eat up our bandwidth and have a closer look at what’s in FL 10, visually; click for the full-size version. FL Studio, aka Fruity Loops, has always been like opening a toybox of sound goodies for sound nerds – up to 30 instruments and 40+ effects in the latest edition. Just about every tool offers deep control for serious sound programmers, but there’s also a sense that those tools can be fun and immediate. And oddly, while developer Image-Line does introduce some instruments and effects as add-ons, all the functionality in …

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Take a Solar-Powered Tuner Wherever You Go, Says Tascam … But Environmental?

Sure, we spend a lot of time looking at far-out gear and high technology, but you have to tip your hat to practicality. Tascam’s TC-1S is a compact, portable tuner that you can take anywhere. Solar and USB power mean you never have to worry about powering it, either. Features: 12-tone equal-tempered chromatic tuner. Input via 1/4″ jack or mic Note/sharp-flat/bargraph pitch indication readout on the LCD. Display via “bar,” “fine,” “strobe animation,” or “needle.” Protective silicone case included 51 grams. Shipping this month, street price “under US$40.” It’s a cute little design, and with the economic squeeze continuing, I …

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Ableton Users, Grab Gigs of Custom Instruments for Free

Inside an Ableton instrument sample. Photo (CC-BY) Cliff Beckwith. Live’s Instruments can be a terrific way to explore Ableton Live – rather than simply giving you black-box preset sounds, these include custom racks that can be customized, disassembled, and warped to your own applications. I’m a fan of the work of some of the folks doing the programming, too, like the talented Puremagnetik folks; rather than just generic productions, you get a lot of the sort of oddball stuff that we love. Live users may already know this via Ableton’s mailing list, but in case it got into your “marketing …

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