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Ableton Push 2 Hands-on Review

The new Ableton Push is here. From a distance, it looks like the same rectangular grid with some color screens. But using it person is an entirely different experience. We’ve gotten to spend an extended time with the new Push, so we can let you know what that’s like. Here’s the simplest way to put it: Ableton has kept the same basic layout and form factor of the original, yet somehow made every single detail better. From hardware refinement to software integration and functionality, everything feels like 2.0. Ableton repeated that they’ve completely re-engineered Push themselves. But even if they …

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futureretro

Future Retro are working on this touchplate keyboard

If you’ve been wanting to let your freak flag fly with keyboards, this may be some good news. Future Retro have teased a touchplate keyboard on their Facebook channel. It’s dubbed the FR-512, and comes equipped with both MIDI and CV out (with lots of separate patch points) – so fans of digital and modular alike may be pleased. Pitch and mod lie next to the two-octave keyboard. Oh, and it’s a sequencer/arpeggiator, too – check those controls above the keys. (Rest, accent, arpeggiator, etc.)

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Mobile beat rig: MeeBlip, Elastic Drums, BeatStep Pro

Jamming: the idea is to make music by connecting directly to gestures so you make something spontaneous. And if music technology is jam session friendly, this finally means you can do it together – not just alone.

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Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power. We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.

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beatstepsysex

Skip the Computer: BeatStep, Programmed with iPad, SysEx Hack

Blessed be MIDI, again, for making us independent. Frankfurt am Main-based untergeekDE decided he didn’t want to go to a Mac or Windows PC just to edit settings on his Arturia BeatStep. MIDI (System Exclusive messages)m to the rescue. Actually, even calling this a ‘hack’ isn’t really fair: this is exactly how this is supposed to work. Edit the settings you want on the hardware using anything you like, in this case taking advantage of TB MIDI Stuff. That handy app is practically reason enough to get an iPad, even a compatible used one. In the process, untergeek even changed …

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What if we used stereo minijack cables for MIDI?

“It was acceptable in the 80s…” The standard MIDI DIN cable – that’s the big honkin’ connector you use on most of your MIDI gear – has become the bane of music hardware makers. The problem is, as gear has gotten smaller, the standard DIN connector hasn’t. And that’s a big problem, literally. To add a MIDI port to a device, you need to not only have enough clearance for the connector itself, but the whole around the port and the physical assembly that contains it. Speaking as a hardware maker, that takes up space you can’t even see from …

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nativekontrolddc

Get dedicated hands-on control of your Ableton Live set with DDC

So, we all know we’d like to get our hands on software music making with something other than the mouse. Now — how? How do you actually make that physical knob or button do something useful on screen, and at the right moment? There’s the brute-force method, manually applying MIDI learn. There are fancy dynamic ways of assigning controls. But the former is inflexible and requires extra work, and the latter means that you typically can’t “lock” every control where you need it. (That is, the automatic methods sometimes “outsmart” you to the point of not allowing you to do …

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elastic16

This is now the iOS drum machine you want to jam with: Elastic Drums 1.6

Remember when apps were novel toys for experimentation? Now, an app could give your drum machine a run for its money. It’s the third wave of iOS apps. We’re now onto a moment where, cresting the wave of tools, a few are becoming simply invaluable to the right users. They can make an iPad feel a bit like dedicated hardware, perhaps even in a way that a computer can’t. And that to me makes them worth examining, even if you have no desire to use an iPad. Elastic Drums has that feeling to me. On its surface, it’s just another …

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Novation’s LaunchControl XL now works standalone – hello, modulars, gear

Tired: controllers that need computers to operate. Wired (literally): controllers that work happily standalone. MIDI, CV – all good. I’m still bleary-eyed but happy after a day yesterday of overwhelmingly cool Novation Launchpad Pro hacks, most of them standalone. The idea: hack into the firmware, and make the Launchpad Pro do whatever you want in your rig. Now, today, Novation themselves are out with clever videos showing off the fact that a firmware update has made the Launch Control and Launch Control XL work on their own. (Note the the Launchpad Pro is preferable in that it has onboard MIDI. …

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A grid of anything, as Launchpad tool lets you play in new ways

From frets to keys to finger holes, musical instruments in every culture have provided ways to easily access musical ideas quickly. But these are physical, acoustic instruments, so any solution they find is more or less restricted to a single set of choices. Digital hardware can do what digital software can: it can be a blank slate for new ideas. The monome and Tenori-On grid instruments, each in their own way, demonstrated that a radically simple grid can generate a surprising range of possibilities. The monome’s claim to fame, above its other applications, was the way a companion Max patch …

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