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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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E-RM multiclock Syncs Everything Jitter-Free, Including Computer

We’ve seen boxes that claim to sync everything you have to everything else you have. But the E-RM multiclock claims to do it even with a computer as the clock source – without jittering. Just announced, the multiclock is the follow-up to the midiclock+, the clever MIDI sync box introduced by Berlin’s boutique E-RM Erfindungsbüro back in 2012. The most important thing to know about the multiclock is that it takes this obsession with getting sync right directly to your computer’s audio card. Whereas MIDI and MIDI over USB from a computer are inherently susceptible to jitter, E-RM claims that …

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Roland Confirms AIRA Modular Next Week, Shows Revealing Picture

Roland apparently doesn’t want to leave too much to the imagination – or online leaks. Now, it’s official. Roland has posted a teaser image to their AIRA site. It’s marked with the catch phrase “Start Patching,” plus “Frankfurt Musikmesse 2015” (next week’s industry trade show here in Germany). So, we know a lot for sure now: It’s an AIRA product. It has patch cords. It’s modular. (The filename on Roland’s own site is “b_airamodular.jpg”) They’re doing a rack-mount SYSTEM-1. (That’s the AIRA SYSTEM-1 layout in the device on the top. It seems they’re breaking it out a bit like the …

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Roland Seems Poised to Enter Analog, Modular Worlds

Analog is back. Boutique synth makers have entered Eurorack, one by one (Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim). KORG has remade analog hits of yore, and now produces hardware like the SQ-1 sequencer that interfaces with analog gear. Arturia, once known only as a plug-in vendor, has analog Control Voltage ins and outs on its new hardware gear. Now, Roland seems next to climb on board the analog renaissance. The question is, just how far are they going to go? The answer should be coming in April at Musikmesse, and the first hint has just leaked out. Updated, April 8: we’ve received …

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Modular Guitar Stompbox: Coming Soon, Eurorack for Your Feet

The modular craze just won’t stop. But why should keyboardists and sound tweakers have all the fun? Pittsburgh Modular wants to bring the revolution to guitar stompbox effects. The Patch Box, teased over Twitter and due at April’s Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany, is an attempt at that solution. Basically, instead of being a Eurorack bay for your shelf or desk, this is one designed for the floor, to be played by a guitarist or bass player. At the bottom, you get the usual switches. But apart from accommodating Eurorack modules (on their side) on the floor, the key appears to …

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Bastl Have Made Wild-Sounding New Modules, Including Drums

Electronic drums have had a hard time escaping the shadow of Roland’s TR line. But that’s no reason to limit yourself, yet again, to another two scoops of vanilla ice cream in your cone. And so, even with an increasingly crowded Eurorack modular scene, it’s worth applauding the entry of the mad scientists of Bastl Instruments in the Czech Republic. They’ve got a number of new modules that are weird and wonderful, inspired yet again by the legacy of a nearly-forgotten electronic pioneer of the Communist-dominated 70s, Standa Filip. And while you may have spotted their debut in the market, …

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Control, Shortcuts for Ableton Starting at $99: A Look at the New AKAI APC Line

For any tool that has “live” in the name, physical control will always be important. And so even with a broad market for controllers targeting Ableton’s flagship software, now including the slick Push hardware from Ableton themselves, AKAI’s re-vamped APC line earned intense interest when it debuted at Musikmesse this month. Let’s make sense of what the new APCs can do and how you might choose between models. I got some hands-on time at Messe, and now even in advance of a review of finished, shipping hardware, it’s worth teasing out the breakdown of the 2014 APC line. The original …

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Video Tour – What’s New in Analog and Boutique Instruments, with Andreas Schneider

“O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done –“ Yes, Andreas Schneider is an ideal gentleman to lead you through a trade show, to show you what is genuinely interesting in new musical inventions. The famed (notorious?) synth guru from Berlin behind Schneidersladen and now distributor ALEX4, he is a fierce and fearless champion of the unique, the boutique, and the odd in electronic musical instruments. And if you ask him for a video tour of his booth, you will not get the “used car salesman” effect of a typical product rep. Instead, he gives us a rapid-fire look …

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The One Module Everyone Needs: KOMA’s Cable Organizer Accessory, 25€

The beautiful thing about modular synths is making connections physically – each link with an actual cable between them. It is, really, the whole point. Of course, you need somewhere to put all those cables and keep them organized. There are various cable racks available, but they’re generally mounted to walls and such. Synthtopia this week covered a nice option that can mount to a mic stand, from Synthesizers.com. But for sheer utility, it’s hard to beat what KOMA Elektronik this week was showing at Musikmesse. The Kabelhänger goes the obvious, “why didn’t anyone do this before?” route: it makes …

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Listen to Waldorf’s Buttery, New String Synth, the Streichfett [Hands-on]

A dedicated hardware synth just for vintage string sounds is about the last thing you’d expect to make headlines at Europe’s biggest music trade show. But an even bigger surprise: Waldorf’s new Streichfett is pretty delicious. The pun isn’t directly translatable. German speakers use the same word for “bowing” as spreading (as with a knife), and are passionate enough about putting fat on bread that they have idiomatic ways of talking about it that makes sense only to them. (At least, this is what my research into the Waldorf name and, um, eating have suggested.) But after a first hands-on …

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