Gallery: The Music and Visual Controllers of NAMM, Up Close

Jay Smith of Livid Instruments may be in the business of making controller hardware himself, but that doesn’t stop him from appreciate the knob-laden goodness of the NAMM show floor. Jay’s own gear reveals a not-so-secret love of knobs and buttons and faders, and if you’re into that sort of thing, this year’s NAMM music trade show had plenty to love – Akai’s APC40 controller for Live, Akai’s MPK keyboard, the Alesis MasterControl, Arturia’s Factory Experience controller for their soft synth emulations, and even another brutish-looking computer-in-a-keyboard, now with pads, from Open Labs. The shots give you a particularly good …

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What’s New From Ableton in Videos: Live, APC, Max for Live; Thoughts on Share

Assuming you haven’t already hit Ableton overload with all the news announced this week, Ableton has posted a set of videos that do a pretty nice job of demonstrating the features. I’ve assembled them into a playlist here. (Stumbled on these videos thanks to Synthtopia.) There are four videos in the playlist, covering Live 8, APC, Max for Live, and Share. In particular, one video shows how the Share collaboration feature will work, with the ability to easily upload sets and share them either publicly or privately. (There’s a long introduction, but skip halfway through and it starts to talk …

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Universal Audio UAD-2 SOLO Will Add DSP Power to Your Laptop for $499

I’ve been waiting for the near-ubiquitous ExpressCard slot on laptops to see some audio goodness, so one of the more welcome announcements of NAMM is that there’s now finally an ExpressCard-enabled version of the Universal Audio platform. The UAD is a DSP platform for computers, with an emphasis on high-quality, boutique mastering and effects plug-ins, including some recent, familiar emulations of classic Roland and Moog gear. UA’s stuff really does sound great, and host support has been improving (look for the key words “latency compensation” in your host of choice). So it’s about time that laptop users get in on …

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Moog Adds CV Control to their Theremin, Discontinues Minimoog Old School

Score one for “old school” on the Theremin – minus one for “old school” on the Minimoog keyboard. There’s plenty of debate about whether or not you can justify splurging on the extra cash for the Moog name on synths and effects – no one questions Moog’s quality, but there is other great boutique gear out there that gets far less attention. But one area where the Moog line is unquestionably superior is on the Theremin. And the Etherwave Plus at US$519 is an instrument you can really sink your musical teeth into over a period of years. With the …

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M-Audio Axiom Pro Offers Novation Automap Rival – If You’ve Got the Right DAW

While Novation was refreshing their Automap software for NAMM, M-Audio was unveiling their own dynamic controller technology, called HyperControl. M-Audio has one (big) edge on Novation: their controller technology can access ASCII keystrokes – something I’d love to have in all keyboard control editors. And HyperControl sounds like it has some promise, at least on paper – especially with the absurd number of controls M-Audio has packed onto the layout. There are just two catches. One, there’s the (ahem) styling on the Axiom Pro keyboard. To put it diplomatically, it’s not terribly … subtle. Two, you get support for some …

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A New Cubase: V5 Emphasizes Add-ons, Performance, and Steinberg Goes iPhone

Cubase 5 includes under-the-hood improvements to performance, but many of the new features – like the unusual LoopMash loop masher upper instrument – come in the form of instrumental add-ons. LoopMash is interesting, but it’s more a bundled instrument than a truly integrated feature. The big traditional DAW announcement at this NAMM show was Steinberg’s Cubase 5. Cubase as a music software brand is now older than some people who read this blog, but never mind: Cubase 5 certainly doesn’t want for new stuff. And Cubase still claims to be the world’s most popular computer DAW. Computer Music Magazine has …

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Grab the Automap 3 Beta from Novation; Use it with Reaper, More

RCUS notes there’s a beta page for the Automap 3 beta for Mac and Windows: Focusrite – Novation Beta There’s a registration form for beta testers so you can stay up to date, but you can grab the download immediately. Sounds great to me, as more (quality) feedback can mean fewer bugs! And what about the HUI support in Automap (which apparently includes the free Automap 3 Standard)? HUI, or Human User Interface, is the older version of Mackie’s control scheme, implemented over MIDI for more extensive control over DAWs’ editing features. HUI support (added first in the 2.0 ReMOTE …

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Analog, Meet Digital: MOTU Volta Connects the Mac to CV Synths, Effects Graphically

Computers speak digital signal. Analog synths and modulars speak control voltage. (It’s sort of a “men are from Mars, women find these metaphors insulting” kind of situation.) What if you could bridge the two elegantly and graphically, using a drag-and-drop, modular interface with calibration and control features? MOTU has developed a solution called Volta. It’s a plug-in that turns your audio interface into a control voltage device. It works with all MOTU audio interfaces that have quarter-inch outputs, and MOTU intends to make it work with any 3rd-party audio interface with DC-coupled quarter-inch outs. In other words, one software plug-in …

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