Beat Thang Drum Machine: Hands-on Tour with Creators, Rockwilder

Beat Kangz, the upstart drum machine maker out of Nashville, has been cooking up a new device for some time. That creation, the Beat Thang, is finally nearing production. It may not have a nameplate like Akai or Roland, but I can testify that this independently-designed gadget may nonetheless be one to watch. The hardware feels fantastic, appears to have the right pieces falling into place, and promises release soon. The founding team behind it blends backgrounds in areas ranging from hip-hop to computer science, and even production legend Bob Ezrin (that’ll be the Pink Floyd: The Wall Bob Ezrin). …

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NAMM Picks: Dave Smith Mopho Keyboard, $800; Video

Dave’s got a new keyboard, and the headline gives it all away: it’s a Mopho, but adding keys and more control, all for $800. There’s a myth out there that the computer music user and hardware synth lover are two different people. Au contraire, mon ami. Thanks, indeed, to Dave Smith himself, the computer and the synth get along just fine. But if you’ve got scant few dollars, which synth is really unique enough, elegant enough in use to justify those dollars? Dave Smith Instruments is on the top of the list. They’ve got personality, accessibility, and terrific sound. And …

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NAMM Picks: Roland’s Octapad Updates a Classic Percussion Controller

A lot of the music tech industry involves incremental improvements and fairly routine hardware. Amidst the crowd, certain devices are special. They might not even appear so to a general audience, but they have a special place in someone’s music making. For whatever reason, some Roland percussion controllers fit in that category. As electronic musicians ponder how to make live performance work, the handful with adept percussion skills can pick up one of these boxes and play hard. So, while it was overlooked by most folks, I think one of the stars of the new gear announced this week at …

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Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 Instrument: Hands-on, Videos, Why it’s Different

Photo by Teenage Engineering. Check out their full photo gallery. Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is something unique in music hardware. It’s got a form factor inspired by the Casio VL-Tone series – you know, those cute little 80s-vintage synths. It’s a sampler. It’s a synth. It has an FM radio. It will have a variety of sequencers. It has, we’ve just learned, a multi-track tape mode that lets you do beat-synced virtual splicing as a performance technique. It is expected to integrate and interoperate with a design lifestyle including, if you like, a luxury-priced, meticulously-machined desk lamp, and according to one …

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A New Theme in Music Technology: Slow Development

Wise words I intend to live by. Photo (CC-BY-ND) Geof Wilson. I’m a blogger. I’m supposed to be all about shiny, about scoops and exclusives, about fast-paced development. But even I’ve begun to wonder about the expectations some developers and users alike have about pace. And that doesn’t just apply to the vendors: it applies to writers and users, too. One theme repeated again and again by developers around NAMM: let’s slow down. It’s not a new idea, but several recent developments make it doubly relevant.

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Ableton + Serato: The Bridge Fuses DJ Sets, Live Sets; Full Details

Live maker Ableton and DJ and virtual vinyl developer Serato today announced the results of their partnership. First off, this isn’t what many of us originally speculated: it’s not a DJ deck inside Live. Instead, the collaboration seeks to bridge (ahem) the gap between the way DJs perform and the way Live users perform. The result focuses on the way a performance set is assembled in the two paradigms, an attempt to guide the flow of music between the two programs. Here’s how it works. Bring Serato “mixtapes” into Ableton Live: Save a DJ mix – called a “mix tape” …

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Akai APC20 Ableton Controller: Get Half an APC40, or an APC and a Half

Ableton Live-specific controllers just got another addition. You probably could have guessed this would come out, following the APC40 and Novation’s grid-only Launchpad last year, but the Akai APC20 is the new, smaller sibling to Akai’s APC40. The APC20 does basically everything the APC40 does on the latter’s left-hand side — it’s a grid of buttons, a set of mixers for your tracks, buttons for activating tracks (and solo/cue/record), and shortcuts for moving around and triggering the transport. Using the buttons, you can trigger clips or notes, with additional buttons for scenes and stopping clips around the outside of the …

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NAMM 2010 Preview, and Beyond: Get Your Latest Music Tech News Here

NAMM, the trade group that includes music manufacturers and vendors, holds its flagship conference every January in Anaheim, California. It’s the biggest music trade show in the world, and even the biggest trade show of the year in Anaheim, home to Disneyland. But, of course, we’re about more than just pre-packaged industry news. So, we’ll do things a little differently this year. As always, we won’t cover every last bit of news, just the stuff we really find important. And in a twist, we’re also looking to volunteer participants to help us cover the community around music technology, not just …

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Beyond NAMM: LA Friday Night Party, Music Tech Panel – It’s Gonna Be The Future Soon

Photo courtesy Droid Behavior from a previous year. In Anaheim this week, the music manufacturer trade gather to show their wares. But 8pm – 4am Friday night, we party. “Wham Bam Thank You NAMM” has become an annual tradition, an unofficial afterparty of sorts for the first two days of the trade show. This year’s lineup: John Tejada, Richard Devine, Flashbulb, Deru, Laura Escude, Scott Pagano, CPU, DJ Kero, Acid Circus, Derek Michael, Baseck, Eezir, Trifonic, DJ G Ov, Moldover, Henry Strange, and myself, among others. Escaping from the Anaheim Convention Center doldrums, the event is held in the lovely, …

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