pghmodular1

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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bastlbeauty1

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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The boys of Elektron, jamming out. The analog lineup at the booth was a big hit at Messe, but the news story was making that analog play nicely with your lappy.

Elektron, Bridging Gap Between Synths, Drum Machines and Computers: Overbridge Explained

It’s a funny thing about this latest hardware resurgence: everyone kind of expects to use that gear with their PC and Mac. Elektron isn’t the first ever to attempt to make their gear integrate smoothly with computers; some of the techniques they use in Overbridge we’ve even seen before. (Roland and Virus spring to mind.) But with complete features for making their hottest, latest equipment behave well with software, they’re firmly in the territory of “why wasn’t everyone doing that before?” Elektron unveiled their approach this week at Musikmesse. It’s called “Overbridge,” and it applies to their latest analog equipment …

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rh301

Roland Could Make AIRA Sync Box; New Directions at Company

AIRA, the lineup that now includes a bassline/sequencer, drum machine, synth, and vocal processor, has in just a few months changed the way a lot of people think about Roland. At Musikmesse in Frankfurt, it was clear that it represents a new direction for Roland, too. The AIRA lineup was displayed separately from the usual Roland booth on the main floor of hall 5 (devoted to pianos), upstairs in hall 5.1 alongside electronic and DJ products (“remix”). And there, crowds gathered to watch pounding dance performances. Those first four AIRA units are just the beginning. Roland has created an entirely …

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Pioneer, The Company That Made CDJ a Hit, Teases a Turntable

The vinyl comeback couldn’t hit much more of a high note than this: it seems Pioneer, the company that popularized digital DJing and CDJs, is building phonographs. Pioneer isn’t saying anything about the hardware that’s under plexiglass at Musikmesse, only that it’s a concept prototype. But they hardly need to. The hardware looks like someone took the most popular DJ turntable of all time, the legendary Technics SL-1200, painted it black, and re-lettered it with Pioneer markings. I don’t think they literally did that, though it almost doesn’t matter; the effect is unreal, like entering a bizarro universe where Pioneer …

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microGranny 2.0 is a New Handmade Granular Sampler from the Czech Republic

“Bastl” is Czech slang that’s roughly equivalent to the maker culture or DIY. And now, from the makers of the glitchy, odd, and wonderful world of Standuino, comes a new granular sampler, a follow-up to a terrific earlier kit. The Bastl crew are showing off the microGranny 2.0 among lots of other new gear here at Musikmesse. They’ve added some functionality to the instrument (copy/paste, more presets), and put it in a very attractive housing. But as before, you get a hackable, happily lo-fi sample mangler. Load up your sounds on SD card, then manipulate them with hands-on controls or …

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