pocketoperator

How TE’s $59 Drum Machine Sounds – And How The Pocket Operators Work

Teenage Engineering have also shared with us their video tutorials on the PO (Pocket Operator) line. The basic stuff to know (having been playing around with today rather than doing NAMM work): This being Nintendo-inspired, yes, there’s a metronome and alarm clock function. Select one of sixteen patterns, and one of sixteen sounds, with the respective buttons. Toggle between playing notes with the buttons, or inputing them with the step sequencer, using the “write” button. Hold “write,” and you can write parameters over top of playing sequences (effects work this way, too). That means you can automate patterns, etc. “bpm” …

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sq-1

New Korg SQ-1 Analog Step Sequencer, Plus MS-20 Module Kit

Australia’s Turra Music have leaked a new analog Korg synth product. But it’s the product that goes with it that has us excited. Following up on the MS-20 kit – the build-it-yourself limited-run full-sized MS-20 remake Korg did – the company now has a module. That’s brilliant: the full-sized MS-20 sounds amazing (with both MS-20 filter models) and feels and looks beautifully authentic, but it isn’t the easiest thing to tote. But packed in the kit is a new SQ-1 Step Sequencer. That’s pre-assembled, which makes me think we’ll see this as a separate product. This is obviously a no-brainer …

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Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …

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Advance49_angle_1200x750_web

How Akai Advance Could Best NI’s Komplete Kontrol in Smart Keyboards

Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success. Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just …

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Nord-Electro-5D-61-Top

Nord’s Electro 5 Revises A Favorite Stage Piano

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better. That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts. I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I …

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System_35

Moog’s Historic Big Modulars Return – You Say You Want a Resurrection?

Synthesizers are now old enough to become “classics,” to have a canonical form – much like the Steinway D in pianos or the Stradivarius violin. So, that leaves us a choice: do we make something new, even if fashioned out of the old, or do we reissue the historical instrument as it originally was? Answer: all of the above. At NAMM this week, I expect you can find representatives from the whole spectrum between past and future. But the company that more than any other has defined what it means to be a “classic” is now setting their time machine …

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xw-pd1

One Reason to Watch Casio: They’re Step Sequencer Crazy!

Okay, so Casio have crammed a groove box into a Millennium Falcon, and that was a little strange (and means squeezing some of the controls, since the shape is irregular). But now that the shock has worn off, the next question: should we get one for review when it arrives later this March? Should you keep it on your 2015 gear radar? The answer turns out to be yes, as a few readers have told me online and offline. And the reason has to do with a keyboard you probably ignored from Casio a couple years back. Let us explain. …

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xw-pd1

Casio Crosses a Groove Box, DJ Controller With Millennium Falcon

It’s not quite clear what just happened at Casio’s Music Gear division. Last year, their XW DJ line included a pedestrian but perfectly innocuous-looking DJ/VJ controller in partnership with Vestax. Now, in an apparent attempt to corner the market of 12-year-old producers, they’ve made two crazy-looking things shaped like the Millennium Falcon. Not a little like the Millennium Falcon – nearly exactly like it, just short of turning its reflector dish into a knob. (Okay, it looks a little bit like a Roland Handsonic HPD-10, but the Casio has a narrower nose – which in turn squeezes the space for …

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roland-jdxi

What’s The Deal With This Leaked Roland Analog-Digital Hybrid Synth?

Synthesizers in the mass market are forever part of up and down swings – and we’re back in an up swing. At the same time as other musical instrument segments lag in sales, NAMM reports both more synths at their trade show and double-digit year-on-year sales growth. (In music, that’s just huge.) So, you can expect we’ll see a lot more synthesizer options. And the first of the 2015 products has already leaked out. As Synthtopia noted on Friday, Japanese artist Daisuke Asakura leaked a new Roland keyboard on Twitter, following a public performance on New Years’ Eve in Japan. …

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KORG’s ARP Odyssey Remake to be Revealed in January

KORG has now made it public: we’ll get to see their ARP Odyssey, a remake of the classic 1970s synth involving one of the original creators, in January. Some sort of working unit at the NAMM trade show seems a likely thing to hope for. And we can also see from the image they’ve posted that they’ve opted to recreate the third-generation ARP aesthetics, faithfully reproducing the black-and-orange labels. (Click for a full-size version, without the text.) The Odyssey is a reasonable enough synth to reissue. Moog Music has already corned the Minimoog and KORG themselves the legendary MS-20; the …

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