This is the Latest Music Gear, in Pictures: Musikmesse Photo Essay

Some people have to go to trade shows that cover nothing but various types of floor tiles. We’re fortunate that we get to go to one about musical instruments. Benjamin Weiss, seasoned German journalist and now product designer, as well, lets us see through his eyes at the show. I have to say, to anyone who has been to California’s NAMM show but not Musikmesse, the entire feeling is different. Space is spread out and oddly quiet; meetings include leisurely meals of Bratwurst and beer in the sunshine. Whereas the nerdiest sound technologies at NAMM are often relegated to hidden …

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How Does Novation’s Launchpad Pro Stack Up Against Ableton Push?

One of last month’s more predictable NAMM announcements was, at long last, an update to Novation’s Launchpad line that adds RGB color support and pressure sensitivity. But that means that it’s easier to compare the new Launchpad Pro with the spendier (but also more powerful) Ableton Push. It’s been a few years since the original Launchpad first commercialized the “grid performance instrument” concept popularized by the monome. Since then, we’ve seen Novation’s LEDs get brighter and the body get slimmer, plus the welcome addition of class-compliant support (opening up iOS and Linux compatibility and driverless operation). But the Launchpad itself …

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Home Alone Remixed Live on Ableton, Launchpad; Mega APC Mashup

Home Alone (Ableton Live Remix) from Keenan Gaynor on Vimeo. It’s the holidays, a time for family, and to ponder when controller mappings meet one-shot clip triggering, cable TV, weird child neglect, and brutal violence against slapstick criminals. Yes, of course – it’s the time-honored tradition of Ableton Live and Home Alone. There’s the 2010 original remix on Launchpad. But, unlike the Home Alone movie, the sequel’s even better. Last year, Keenan Gaynor quietly updated the remix on a Novation Launchpad Mini. And clearly he’s picked up some better techniques in Live. (Pro mode, anyway!) So, even though the original …

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Here Are Two Rigs That Let You Play Live with Hardware [Videos]

A funny thing happened on the way to the future. Thing is, at the same time the computer has improved as a music-making instrument, so, too, has standalone hardware. The reality is, hardware rigs for music making are more affordable and more accessible than they ever were before. They do more, better. They’re easier to use. And when it comes time to record and arrange, the computer doesn’t require the investment of cost and time it once did, either. So the upshot is, even the computer is making it easier to spend some time working with hardware. And that means …

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This iPad app (touchAble 3) just got a lot more powerful and usable, too. It now follows whatever you're doing with your hardware. So you can actually play, rather than squint at your gear and get confused.

Wish Granted: Ableton Live Control The Way You Wanted It

You want to improvise with Ableton Live. You want to reach out and turn a knob, and know what it’ll do. You want to be able to grab controls that have something to do with clips that are playing. Yeah, so Merry Christmas to us. Permit me being a little excited, as I am immensely grateful to the developers. It’s a rare case where you say “wow, I wish that this –” and then suddenly get what you asked for nearly before finishing the sentence. Just last month, we saw a way to get grids in order using LaunchSync, a …

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Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing. Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks …

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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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