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In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …

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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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CDM is on Instagram – And Finding Strange and Cool Stuff at Musikmesse

Leave the selfie sticks to others – welcome to Music Nerd Instagram. Social media can be a real chore at times, but Instagram for me is a bright spot. Following the right people and tags, it’s a place where you can actually find useful and inspiring stuff, and a visual record of where you’ve been, a form of external memory. I’ve been using it as such on a personal account, but it was high past time to give CDM its own home. Follow us – and feel free to tag us, as we’ll be reposting the best images from around …

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No Longer Invisible: Images of Women Working with Music Technology

Coinciding with International Womens’ Day, advocacy group and networking platform Female Pressure yesterday launched themselves on Tumblr. In a stream of photos, they’ve been sharing images of female-identified artists engaged in process with music creation technology. (Some randomly-selected images are here; see the rest via the link below.) The images alone are a humbling and inspiring for me, just because I see so many familiar faces – friends and artists that have been personal role models for my work, including in moments of personal struggle as an artist and writer. The idea, say Female Pressure, was partly a response to …

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Build a Classic Synth, Reissued: Hands-on with KORG’s MS-20 Kit [Gallery]

Call it the MS-20 “Biggie.” A year after remaking their classic 1978 MS-20 synthesizer in a hugely-popular “mini” version, KORG surprised everyone by unveiling a second reissue this year, the limited-edition MS-20 Kit. Its innards are entirely identical to the MS-20 mini; component-by-component, the sound circuitry is the same. And since the MS-20 was a fairly convincing replica of the original, inaccurate mostly in that it can’t reproduce the aged components we’re now used to, that’s a good start. Now I’ve had the experience of assembling and playing the kit, following up our debut with the mini last year, and …

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Wild, Techie, Wonderful: NAMM’s Gear Delights [Gallery II]

Hardware and software continue to thrive (above). Pro audio lives on. People still make strange, wonderful products for tiny niches of people passionate about every element of sound. Marsha Vdovin is a veteran of the NAMM trade show like few people we know, so seeing the show through the eyes of her camera reveals some weirdness and wonderfulness we always appreciate. And Wonder Woman, too. Magic Kingdom, indeed. Gallery II, go! -Ed.

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Back to the Future: Waldorf Does 2-Pole Analog Filter; Moog Makes Crazy Futuristic Theremin

Our own Marsha Vdovin is working the NAMM floor, too, and her radar is leading her straight to some really nice gems. I had to pull two of these out, as they’re big surprises and look tasty indeed. And who would have thought a filter and a Theremin would be news? Well, these are drool-worthy, nonetheless. Waldorf’s mystery knob is the filter control from a big filter in a box. That’s right, Waldorf is introducing a 2-pole filter. And one heck of a 2-pole filter it is: Filter with cutoff and resonance, but also a Drive setting, Rectify, and switchable …

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C64s, Control Voltage, MIDI … iPads, Keyboards and Audio: NAMM Saturday [Gallery, Impressions]

Everything old is new again. And everything new is everywhere – at least if we’re talking iPads and so on. At Anaheim’s massive gathering of music gear, there were some definite themes. Photographing for CDM, James Grahame and Marsha Vdovin give us a look at the tools on the floor. James has stumbled upon various fascinating oddities, and of course the booth celebrating MIDI’s 30th anniversary. (We’ll be talking more about MIDI’s history and legacy in the coming weeks.) From top, the keyboard models that made the history first connection, and a Commodore 64 talking to an iPad. Synthtopia has …

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Korg MS-20 Mini, Up Close: Gallery, By Candlelight

Korgs by candlelight… If you’ve been up close and personal with an original Korg MS-20 (or own one yourself), this gallery may actually be redundant. But we have some stills from our upcoming video short on the MS-20 Mini to prove what Korg’s reissue of the 1978 original looks like. There is something unreal about seeing the same instrument, shrunken. And yes, because it’s Berlin in winter, and we were in the basement of Mindpirates, we broke out some candles. It’s a great way to unwind on a January night. Stay tuned for our upcoming series, The Phantom of the …

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Hands-On Jam: MeeBlip SE with Koma Elektronik Delay, Filter [Gallery, Video]

A wintry afternoon sometimes calls for putting the work on hold and spending some time jamming. So, this week (in approximate celebration of Sinterklaas), I headed around the corner to the offices of Koma Elektronik, the boutique all-analog gear producer. Here’s a few minutes of combining digital with analog, each with its own timbres and applications. In the digital corner: the iOS step sequencer Phaedra (watch for an update on that soon), and our open source MeeBlip SE synth. On the analog side: Koma’s BD101 delay/gate and FT201 filter/sequencer. In the digital world, we get the flexibility of MIDI sequencing …

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