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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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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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Maschine 2.2 Proves Playability Matters: Scales, Chords, Arp for Your Pads

There are plenty of things computer drum machines / groove workstations can do to show off. There are plenty of long feature lists they might add. But actually coming up with something you can play? That’s what can really make music better in the studio and live. And that’s why Maschine 2.2 is a welcome update. First off, let’s admit something. Amidst all the clever functionality with grid-based controllers, there’s something that remains useful about a big, 4×4 grid of pads and MPC-style workflows for certain kinds of music. Those bigger targets don’t require a lot of accuracy, and it’s …

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MPC Software 1.7: Direct Looping, Better Mixer, Track Automation, Proper Export, and Hybrid Synth

Let’s get one thing straight: now that Akai has made the jump from hardware to hybrid hardware/software, the hardware they make is very, very good. The MPC Studio is slim and messenger bag-friendly, when Native Instruments’ Maschine is big and luggable. The MPC Renaissance is more of a “throw it in your station wagon” affair, but it feels fantastic – the pads are brilliant. The downside has been software. But Akai is making headway there. I’m not convinced the changes are going to make anyone switch, but I can imagine what Akai is delivering here should make existing users very …

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New KORG electribe Focuses on Live Performance – and Export to Ableton Live

Few pieces of music hardware ever have had the impact that KORG’s electribe series has. And there was a time when playing live almost equated to showing up with this gear. Today, KORG has a genuinely new generation of that hardware, long awaited by fans. The engines under the hood are new, finally taking the tech we’ve seen on various KORG gadgets and building it into the flagship production gizmos. They allow for more live performance scenarios. And in a first, you can use an electribe to build patterns for Ableton Live, creating on-the-go or onstage patterns you can bring …

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New Akai Pro Rhythm Wolf Drum Machine Demo Video Surfaces

Akai’s Rhythm Wolf looks good. And its US$199 price impressed. But when we finally heard some noises out of it back in July, many were disappointed. And, as so often happens with music gear, we’ve mostly following a non-functioning unit at Musikmesse (certainly unfinished and possibly even damaged at the show). A new $200 drum machine still sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Fortunately, it seems the waiting is over. Our sources say that review units should be arriving this month, so expect a CDM review. And we’ve seen an unofficial video appear that showcases a production …

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Akai Posts Sound Video of $199 Rhythm Wolf Drum Machine – Hungry for a Review?

Now we know what Akai’s drum machine plus simple bass synth sounds like. And no surprises – it’s a simple, classic-inspired analog drum machine with a basic synth. And yeah, you’re probably going to want to consider one, certainly at this price. (We’ll just be pitting it against the KORG volca beats, which we know we love.) Akai has posted an official, if preliminary and unlisted, video to their account, and made the presence known to readers of their forum. So, this is the real thing – just not quite up to the usual marketing video material, though that’s fine …

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Numark NV for Serato: Every Digital DJ Control Method in One Box?

In the digital age, the metaphor for DJing has been fragmented. You’ve got big wheels, but they represent missing turntables and don’t provide visual feedback. You’ve got CDJs, but then the waveform and the wheel are still separate. You’ve got vinyl records, but then you have to look at a computer screen to see where you are in the track. (A recent presentation at the NIME conference projected images on the record – see below – but projectors lack enough resolution for cue points on the vinyl.) The iPad is the one device that seems to get it right. It …

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M-Audio’s Trigger Finger Pro, in Videos: Think Three Devices in One

M-Audio’s first Trigger Finger might be the most ubiquitous controller in laptop music. Pads, faders, knobs. It was almost a stupidly simple equation, but it caught on. The Trigger Finger Pro is something different. It takes on three roles: 1. It’s a controller for included software. If you want hands-on control of software right away, M-Audio has bundled tools that integrate directly with the controller: there’s Arsenal, a kind of drum sampler-style tool M-Audio calls a “production hub,” AIR Drums, a dedicated drum module, and Hybrid 3, a very lovely synth, plus loads of sample content. But what sets Trigger …

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Akai’s $199 Analog Drum Machine with Bass Synth: Rhythm Wolf Details

Remember when a $200 budget used to buy you a metronome and flight case, if you were lucky? Now, you have a range of great synths you can choose from. And now it’s Akai’s turn. The Rhythm Wolf is an integrated analog groove box – a 32-step sequencer, an analog drum machine, and a bassline synth in one. And it’s just $199 street. We’ve got all the details on the box, and should have more hands-on impressions later this week.

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