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Microsoft just gave us the touch laptop Apple won’t

Apple’s strategy is clear: make one line of things that are laptops (running OS X), make another line of things that are touch-based (running iOS). That strategy has served them – and musicians and other creatives – well. You can certainly have a lot of fun with a fairly inexpensive iPad full of apps, and the MacBook line has earned its place as the music laptop of choice. But that’s still left some creative types in the gap between the two. That is, it did, until today.

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Patterning on iPad is a circular, sample-savvy drum machine

We’re in a the golden age of the drum machine, whether it’s dedicated hardware or a computer or a mobile gadget. Of course, that means it’s getting tougher to stand out. Patterning is one of the most promising software entries yet. I’m already a huge fan of Elastic Drums for its rich approach to timbre – this could be my other fast favorite. Patterning side-steps the two problems with most drum machines – boring, regular patterns, and boring, predictable sounds. Patterning’s user interface is centered around a circle, as cycles of time repeat in futuristic rotating colored geometries. We’ve seen …

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Pioneer focuses on scratch, battle, effects with new mixer

Meet Pioneer’s new push, a strategy aiming squarely at scratch and turntablist DJs and effects lovers, with or without a computer. If some of the latest mixers have conventional analog mixing, bread and butter features, and rotaries, Pioneer’s DJ mixer this week – isn’t any of that. Instead, the DJM-S9 is a “battle” mixer loaded up with extras and emphasizing scratch and effects features. And it is unmistakably a Pioneer box in that it draws heavily on wild effects. It’s a “party rocking mixer” as an artist describes it in the launch video. Also, watch the video. What you mostly …

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Electro-Harmonix has a Dual Stereo Looper with Layering, USB

Electro-Harmonix have a new looper out, introduced last week in Nashville, that I suspect could be a really big hit. The winners: dual stereo operation, loads of recording space, and then easy connection via USB so a looped improv today could be the beginning of a track tomorrow. Oh, and it’s not expensive, either. When it comes to looping in live performance, most folks haven’t taken to the computer as much as the standalone looper, particularly BOSS’ LoopStation line. And that’s with good reason: you want dead-simple operation so you can focus on playing. The heart of the idea is …

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Wave Your Hands or Draw to Make Sounds, with OWOW – Kickstarter Deadline Approaches

“Instead of going to music school, I studied design.” Wiggle, wob, drum, pads, and scan are new gestural instruments that seek to cut the distance between an idea, making a move with your body, and a sound. Think you could draw a doodle that expresses a sound? Wish you could just air-drum in that percussion line? Easier to wave your hand to describe a noise? These modular components let you do just that. OWOW, the startup behind it, is nearing a funding goal on Kickstarter – but it’s not quite there, five days until the deadline. So now is the …

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Inside the 18€ Lunchbox Synthesizer Kit with Unit Unlikely

18€ buys you this lunchbox-style synthesizer kit – and it’s just the thing to put together on your lunch break. Unit Unlikely is a hardware startup working with simple parts to make accessible, fun instruments. And its founder joins our resident Dutch design expert to talk about what it’s like diving into the synth business for the first time – and where he might go. It all continues our series from Eindhoven, NL. From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. …

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Mold Sound with Tingle, a Music Controller That Looks Like Pin Art

It looks like Pin Art or Pinscreens – those moldable frames full of pins popularized in the 80s. But the result is something that lets you dig your hands into sound and musical structures in new ways. It looks expressive and, let’s be honest, really fun. (For the research minded, there’s also a NIME report below.) From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. Here’s his encounter with Nupky. Eindhoven Music Startups: Nupky Rhys Duindam is a graduated Industrial Designer from …

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DP9: Looks Great, Does More, Does Scores

This is the way DP – Digital Performer – looks in version 9. The tried-and-true Mac DAW now has Retina Display support on that platform, and looks like a viable option on Windows, too. DP9 may not get the amount of attention on the forums and such as some rival DAWs (Logic, Cubase, Ableton), but it has a hugely loyal user base and dominates in film and TV production. The DP9 release seems mainly about giving that loyal user base the stuff they want. The big features: Retina UI on the Mac, lots of workflow improvements (including score export), and …

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I Played the Oval Digital Hand Pan, And It’s Amazing

Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions. The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in …

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Lando’s New EP Is Giving Drum Machines Their Soul Back

Writing about music feels stupid sometimes, even to me. It’s a cop-out to say that, but it’s true. So I hope you first hit play; the magic of music journalism today is that you can actually hear the music (something that I don’t miss about print is its inability to do that). And yet… I am somewhat obligated here to announce Lando’s new “Stunts” EP, due July 20, and tell you details like the fact that it’s on the Ultramajic label run by Jimmy Edgar. Jimmy and Lando, aka Antaeus “Lando” Roy, are each in-again-out-on-the-road-again artists through Berlin but also …

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