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Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful

The changes are subtle. And if you’re looking for some kind of splashy way of integrating Maschine with Traktor or transforming how you play plug-ins, this isn’t it. But some point updates to two flagship Native Instruments production tools are worth applauding. They make these tools not only more useful, but give them more longevity. Maschine sounds better. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol play better together. And whereas hardware/software integration sometimes seems designed solely to lock you in to certain products, Komplete Kontrol now not only works with your host and other gear, but works even when it’s unplugged from your …

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This Video Demonstrates How Akai’s New Keyboard Controls Everything

It’s a horse race. Two keyboards – one from Native Instruments, one from AKAI – really want to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. And we’re getting closer to find out if either deserves your attention. You’ve heard this story before. Sure, you have powerful software on your computer screen. But when you want physical control of those instruments beyond just playing keys, you’re left either manually mapping controls or reaching for your mouse or trackpad. So, over the years various solutions have tried to solve this automagically. There was Automap, seen in Propellerhead Reason and …

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This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …

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Komplete Kontrol Now Plays Nice with Plug-ins, Hosts, And More is Coming

I’ll be honest: my Komplete Kontrol keyboard has been sitting on a shelf. But I believe that’s about to change in a big way. So how did it wind up on the shelf in the first place? Yes, this is one of the nicest-looking, nicest-feeling keyboards around. And yes, it works seamlessly with Native Instruments’ own instruments and effects – particularly in that it makes it easy to dial up presets and to map parameters to the encoders and display their values. The problem is, most of us don’t live in a world where we only use Komplete. Because Komplete …

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The Analog VST? Elektron Extends Overbridge to Plug-ins

It’s deja vu all over again. This time last year, the big announcement from Sweden’s drum machine mavens at Elektron was Overbridge – technology for integrating their hardware with your computer setup. Overbridge is the topic again this year. And it’s still not quite shipping – though at least there’s a new date of “summer 2015.” (And in Sweden, “summer” is a pretty specific time, marked by the sun never going away. A public beta is due next month, which we’re keen to try.) But it seems that what’s happened is that Elektron has expanded the scope of the technology. …

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Modal Just Blew Up Analog With 8-Voice Polysynth, More

UK maker Modal Electronics last year surprised the synth scene with a move into premium analog. This is luxury synthesis – the Aston Martin of synthesizers. Well, it turns out they were only getting started. The product line for 2015 today gets a full range of models. And the 008 is the new headline instrument – an 8-voice analog synth that’s worthy of pinning up to your ceiling and staring at at night, boys and girls (or, um, “grown-up” boys and girls, perhaps). Yes, we’re keen to test this and see if it sounds and functions as well as it …

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The 100m is probably a more appropriate model for whatever is coming from Roland next, but check out the stunning industrial design on the original System 100. This might inspire a custom Eurorack cabinet with keyboard, or two. Photo (CC-BY Notreshuggie.

The Last Time Roland Did Modular: The System 100

With widespread reports that Roland will soon have a new modular product, it’s worth remembering: Roland has done modular before. That legacy carried the name System-100. The original 100 semi-modular lineup of the late 70s, and the Synthesizer-101, might actually be more relevant today than it was when it first shipped. The clever concept here was to put a full-featured monosynth with a keyboard at the center, then add modules around it. That seems to make loads of sense to me, as it creates a playable instrument that can nonetheless be patched for more creative sound design options. The full …

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Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma

Never say never. Few would have imagined just a few short years ago that essentially all – not most, but all – the major 2015 electronic instrument news out of the annual NAMM trade show would come down to 70s-/early 80s-style analog synthesizers, in the form of keyboards and modular. Nor would you imagine two of the big names would still be Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith, alongside Korg and Moog. (Well, maybe Tom and Dave did – how ambitious were you three decades ago, gentlemen?) Certainly, no one ever expected to see the name Sequential Circuits again. But that’s …

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Everything You Need to Know About KORG’s Arp Odyssey Remake

KORG, having resurrected their own MS-20 monosynth, have now turned to another analog classic: the duophonic ARP Odyssey. We’ve known for some time that they would begin manufacturing a new edition of that in collaboration with its original creators. Now we know what it looks like, and what it’ll cost. If you already love the classic ARP Odyssey, there’s not much to say. KORG’s launch, in fact, focused on the ARP you know – the fact that its sound is something you recognize from songs. That’s partly an explanation of why such instruments deserve recreation. And the original holds up …

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Akai Analog Drum Machine, Revision 2 – And a Four-Voice Wolf Synth?

It seems Akai is staying in the analog synth business. Following the Rhythm Wolf – introduced quietly at Messe (literally, it couldn’t make sound), and then getting a mixed review here on CDM – they have both a second drum machine and a four-voice synth. Availability has leaked as July – which means again, we may not know how these actually sound until they ship. Let’s look at what we know. (Bookmark this page, as I will simply update information here as it comes in.) First up, the Tom Cat. It’s definitely a second take on the Rhythm Wolf – …

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