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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This Could be the Perfect Busking, Mobile Amp and PA: Roland’s CUBE Street EX

Ever wished for something, but figured it was more or less impossible? At the end of a Roland briefing yesterday, a rep pulled out the CUBE Street EX amp almost unceremoniously. And then he showed me what it could do: It produces “50 watts” of power.* It runs on eight AA NiMH batteries – for five hours. It weighs just 7.4 kg (that’s just over 16 pounds). It connects whatever you want – two XLRs, four independent channels, for any combination of instrument, vocal, laptop. It’s angled, so you can use it as a stage monitor. It has a mounting …

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Hands on with Akai’s $199 Rhythm Wolf Drum Machine, More Details

As I suspected, Akai did not have a working, sounding model of the upcoming Rhythm Wolf drum machine. But I did get my hands on a prototype with sequencing firmware, got a sense of what the build will be like, and got to talk with Akai more about the design ideas behind this groove machine. Here’s what it feels like to pick it up: This thing feels great – not toy-like. This was the big (and pleasant) surprise for me. Whatever the Rhythm Wolf may sound like, at least it feels serious. In fact, it’s: Real metal. Fake wood. The …

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An Analog Filter That’s Playable for Producers, Guitarists Alike: Waldorf 2-pole Video

Synth maker Waldorf revealed the 2-pole Analog Filter in the USA at the NAMM show. Now, they’re coming home to Germany with more details. The emphasis here is making a filter for everyone: producers and synthesists, yes, but also DJs and guitarists. We already know guitarists like having access to this stuff if it can be playable (see KOMA, Moog), and if Waldorf can sell DJs a buttery filter instead of the awful stuff you get on many DJ mixers, they may be doing the world a public service. The hardware has an all-analog filter path, which makes sense for …

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Now Shipping: Bass Station II, Novation’s $500 Synth; New Sound Demo

When we last saw the Bass Station II, Novation’s affordable analog monosynth celebrating the company’s 21st birthday, Novation still had a prototype. Some stuff on that instrument simply didn’t work – or didn’t sound the way we might expect. But there was still reason to anticipate learning more. Novation had something at the $500 street price in America, (529 € is the official price now for Europe), sporting dual filters, two oscillators with a sub oscillator (the “bass” bit), analog effects, patch save, and sequencing and arpeggiation. Even in an increasingly-crowded monosynth landscape, that’s something to note – and here, …

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3 Approaches to Accessorizing the Studio: SPL, Softube, UA at Musikmesse

How can hardware make the computer-based studio more productive? Each trade show invariably brings new offerings that seek to answer that problem as vendors hawk their wares. At Frankfurt’s Musikmesse, steps from one another, three well-known names each each offered their own take. It comes at a time when the industry is re-imagining the role of our machines. It used to be that big, metal boxes said “pro” – and the studio was no exception. (Cue flashbacks trying to set up Digidesign expansion racks in the late 90s. Okay, now putting that out of my mind.) That’s still true in …

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The Newest Analog Goodness: Highlights from Berlin’s ALEX4, at Musikmesse [Synth pr0n]

Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us. There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the …

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BassStation II, Hands-on: First Direct Sound Samples from Novation’s Analog Synth [Musikmesse]

Novation’s BassStation II, a US$500 street all-analog monosynth, is already big news. If Korg is bringing back the late 70s/early 80s sound in an analog keyboard, Novation is giving us the early 90s. And since sound is what it’s really all about, we wanted to get a hands-on with the actual sounds of the BassStation II. I recorded directly from the line out on the BassStation (only a mixer in between), into Sonoma WireWorks’ GuitarJack Model 2 for iOS. (That interface, by the way, sounds and feels terrific.) The BassStation II so far shows some serious promise, something that should …

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$150 Korg Volca Analog Synth, Bass, Drum Grooveboxes, with MIDI: Official Details, Pics, Video

The rumors are true: Korg has not one, but three pint-sized, $150 analog groove boxes – two analog synths and a PCM/analog drum machine. Korg established a bit of a formula with the Monotron and Monotribe: pack some vintage sound and quirky personality into a small box, make it all self-contained (with speaker, batteries, simple touch strips), and then make it affordable. The result is cute, little analog boxes that only Korg could make – and at a price only a big maker could pull off. Volca keeps to that formula, with new synthesis and drum adding step sequencing features …

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