Novation’s LaunchControl XL Has the Faders and Knobs You Need for Ableton, MIDI [Obsessive Review]

Sometimes, you just want to grab a fader. Maybe it’s not about elaborate custom parameter assignment, or clip launching, or playing an in-tune Phrygian scale on a colored, light-up grid as you solo on a bowed marimba sample. You know, you just want to fade a track. There are surprisingly few controllers out there tailored to this application. So, that makes the new LaunchControl XL from Novation a potential stand-out. It’s just faders and pots: 8 faders, with three knobs each. Each column also gets two triggers; these are switchable when used with Ableton Live to control mute, solo, and …

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Finally, Connect a USB Hub and Audio in One Gadget, on Laptop or iPad

File this directly under “why has no one done this properly before?” One of the few remaining annoyances in computer music making is just getting connected. First, you need an audio interface to get proper sound and headphone cueing. Then, you’ve got all this great gear for control – but where to put it? Macs and even many new PCs have few USB ports (especially ultrathin notebooks like the MacBook Air). Yes, it’s about time someone combined a practical audio interface with a USB hub. Focusrite/Novation seem to be the right folks for the job. Focusrite’s audio interfaces are some …

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Eerie Resonance: Listen as a Synth Accompanies Singing Architecture

Dancing about architecture? How about singing about architecture – or architecture that sings? Burnley England’s Singing Ringing Tree is an abstract sculpture that resonates with the wind. Rising above the grassy hills of Burnley, England, it seems to live at some strange intersection between future and past – a sci-fi Stonehenge. And the project, the 2006 work of British architecture firm Tonkin Liu, makes lovely otherworldly sounds. John Keston, sound designer and the writer of audio invention recipe blog Audiocookbook, has been making a set of “duets,” coupling more conventional electronic synthesis with the wind-blown ambiences of the SRT construction. …

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24 Knobs, 8 Faders, 16 Buttons, in a Launchpad Form: Launch Control XL

If you’re reading this, and if you care about controllers at all, you’ve probably got one. Now the question is, what are you missing? LaunchControl XL is coming with a whole mess of handy faders and knobs if you’ve got more controls than you can map. In fact, while it would make an utterly horrid marketing statement, I would dub the slogan of this hardware like this: Twist knobs without having to constantly press shift and select keys or give up having some faders. There’s Push, of course, the Ableton-controlling flagship, complete with pressure- and velocity-sensitive grid. There’s AKAI’s former …

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20syl-kodama

Watch A Charming Video with Hands On Gear, From France’s 20syl, And More

20syl – Kodama (official music video) from 20syl on Vimeo. In a love affair with musical instruments, French producer 20syl teams up with director Mathieu le Dude for a gorgeous music video. As the bass-heavy track shuffles along amiably, hands on musical instruments and other objects reveal the instrumentation – a young hipster’s guide to the electronic orchestra, if you will. 20syl is the producer name of turnablist and sometimes-rapper and graphic artist and music maker Sylvain Richard of Nantes, well-known in his France but getting greater international exposure with this video. He co-directs the film here, applying his graphical …

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Bitwig Studio Arrives Today; What Can You Expect?

The long wait for the new production software Bitwig Studio has created anticipation and exasperation in equal measure – people were excited, people were impatient; some drooled over every tiny feature details, some dismissed them and said they’d wait until it shipped. But the wait is over; today is actually the day Bitwig Studio is something you can download, try out, and buy. It’s not a beta; this is it. 299€ / US$399 buys you the full download version; a demo is available. (Boxed versions cost more.) So, what can you expect on today as release day? Well, at least …

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Watch Frenetic Beatboxing and Live Electronic Music in a Video Album by Ryo Fujimoto

Music into 2014 continues with about the wildest live vocal and electronic virtuosity you can imagine… If what “beatboxing” means to you is just someone sputtering drum sounds out of their mouth, Ryo Fujimoto might change your mind. Ryo, born in Japan but based in Berlin, is a whirling dervish of a performer. Vocal fragments do indeed form percussion, but listening to the artist himself is like listening to a human sampler. Sounds from his voice and assembled electronics spin and build in dizzying, hypnotic splendor, rapid-fire lyrics reaching frenzied proportions, before being dialed back more contemplative mantras. And Ryo, …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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Cops on Fire: Crazy Russian Hip-hop-opera Theater, Played Live on Novation Launchpad

Imagine combining sampling, controllerism, opera, hip-hop, rap, cops, live theater, sound effects, school-play cardboard props, and radio plays, and then doing it all in Russian, and you’re getting in the ballpark of what “Cops on Fire” was like. As described in English for the 2010 Moscow trailer (translated by uploader Sasha Pas): The “Cops On Fire” show is a fusion of theater, culture and contemporary urban music. The genre of the show is “hip-hopera” (hip-hop + opera). Hip-hopera = live hip-hop arias + original decorations + stage tricks and choreography by professional artists. Got it? These guys are dedicated to …

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Digital DJing: Serato Scratch Live is Dead; Long Live Serato DJ [In Depth]

Serato DJ With DVS is Here from Serato on Vimeo. Let’s not mince words: Serato’s DJ offerings had gotten confusing, and updates and compatibility lagged. This week, the company has changed the tune: there’s one Serato to support everything, and it’s coming soon. For controller users, that means being ready to go in October, thanks to vastly-expanded hardware compatibility. For digital vinyl users, things are still going somewhat slowly, but a beta will be available later this year with stability afterwards and broader support for hardware early next year. That means controller users are likely to switch this fall, with …

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