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‘R is for Roland’ is Coffee Table Pr0n For Synth Lovers

Blah, blah, the influence of the Roland drum machines, their musical/cultural significance… I’ve actually written those words before, so I’ll skip doing it this time. In case the YouTube subtitles aren’t working, let me translate the German from the making-of video below: “We decided to make a giant bit of pr0n for you because these old Roland boxes are so beautiful. Try to keep our finely-printed pages from sticking together.” Actually, the still above looks like something out of Blow-Up< – Antonioni for the studio set?

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The Snap-Together Studio: What littleBits Can Do Now

For all the power you might imagine of various tools, sometimes it’s combining simple devices that yields the greatest results. Our friend Chris Stack is no stranger to deep synths and powerful modulars. But he’s been doing inspiring things with the littleBits line of snap-together modules made with KORG – particularly now that they’re paired with modules for MIDI and CV. You might have seen some of these videos on (cough) other sites, while I was getting behind in my workload, but Chris has kept making more in the interim. He writes: “I was able to hook LittleBits into my …

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As Two Moogerfoogers Are Discontinued, A Musical Ode

Two terrific Moogerfoogers have reached the end of their run. But that’s an excuse for more music, which sounds good to me. 2007’s FreqBox takes input signals and modulates an internal oscillator; the 2009 MIDI Murf is an animated filter sequencer. They’re both pretty great boxes, though now even before delving into modular, there are a lot more choices now than perhaps just those few short years ago. Koma Elektronik’s FT-201 runs further with the idea of sequencer-plus-filter. I can’t think of anything quite like the FreqBox, actually – I’d love to see Moog find a way to make a …

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These are the Best Things at Musikmesse: CDM Best of Show Awards

What a week it’s been. Musikmesse in Frankfurt, one of the world’s largest gatherings of the music instruments industry, was host to a range of new gear, new technologies, and new revelations. I decided it’s finally time to crown my own picks as the most significant appearances at the show. Not because I have any particular right to do so, but I felt strongly enough about who was deserving. First, some honorable mentions:

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Tour the Wild, Modular Robotic Percussion of Bastl Instruments

Think of it as the real world interface for your Eurorack modular. The boys from Brno have been busy. After a range of desktop modules (one that continues to grow), they’ve quietly put together a complete modular system this year. With a bunch of new gear announced at the beginning of the year, you might have thought they were getting some much-deserved rest. Not so. Among other introductions this week, they have unveiled three modules that work with motors, and one that takes sensor inputs. Together, these can let your modular make stuff happen in the physical world. And they …

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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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See All the Synth Gear in Schneiders’ Booth in 1 Minute, 39 Seconds

You… might not want to watch this if you’re prone to motion sickness. The array of press releases and new gear at a show can be dizzying. But this is literally dizzying – though not boring. This is a fly-through of the bigger-than-ever 2015 Musikmesse Schneidersb├╝ro Superbooth, hosted by our friend Wouter of KOMA Elektronik and shot with an iPhone and Instagram’s Hyperlapse. There is just a whole lot of modular here. (Schneiders’ has a lot, but not even all the boutique makers here at the show.) And… it’s just plain cool. It’s blinky. It has lights. It has knobs. …

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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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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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Bitwig Studio as Instrumental Pack: Cristian Vogel, u-he Deals

Bitwig Studio turns one year old this week, and they’re keen to use the occasion to convince you to try their software. But the pitch takes a different angle, focusing more than ever on the particular bundle of instruments and effects. There’s an artist pack by Cristian Vogel that makes it clear what’s possible (hello, granular) — and, ending on the 7th of April, deals on U-he instruments to sweeten the pot. For soft synth lovers, it might be a haul of Easter candy that convinces you to bite. We’ve already talked about my affection for Cristian Vogel: he’s an …

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