xw-pd1

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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xw-pd1

Casio Crosses a Groove Box, DJ Controller With Millennium Falcon

It’s not quite clear what just happened at Casio’s Music Gear division. Last year, their XW DJ line included a pedestrian but perfectly innocuous-looking DJ/VJ controller in partnership with Vestax. Now, in an apparent attempt to corner the market of 12-year-old producers, they’ve made two crazy-looking things shaped like the Millennium Falcon. Not a little like the Millennium Falcon – nearly exactly like it, just short of turning its reflector dish into a knob. (Okay, it looks a little bit like a Roland Handsonic HPD-10, but the Casio has a narrower nose – which in turn squeezes the space for …

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roland-jdxi

What’s The Deal With This Leaked Roland Analog-Digital Hybrid Synth?

Synthesizers in the mass market are forever part of up and down swings – and we’re back in an up swing. At the same time as other musical instrument segments lag in sales, NAMM reports both more synths at their trade show and double-digit year-on-year sales growth. (In music, that’s just huge.) So, you can expect we’ll see a lot more synthesizer options. And the first of the 2015 products has already leaked out. As Synthtopia noted on Friday, Japanese artist Daisuke Asakura leaked a new Roland keyboard on Twitter, following a public performance on New Years’ Eve in Japan. …

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numerology

Numerology 4 is the Deep Modular Sequencer You Didn’t Know You Needed [Mac]

Numerology is a ray of hope, proof that there’s more than one way to build software for making music live and in the studio. Instead of locking you into yet another multitrack recorder, it’s an open canvas for combining sequencers into note-making machines. But maybe the idea of using some idiosyncratic modular step-sequencing environment just hadn’t quite won you over. Quietly working away in New Mexico, developer Jim Coker has been working away on a new Numerology to change your mind. What’s different about this fourth revision? Well, a whole lot of details, but here are the important new developments: …

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volcasample

Meet KORG’s New Sample Sequencing volca – And its SDK for Sampling

The KORG volca sample is here – and it’s more open than we thought. We’ve seen KORG’s affordable, compact, battery-powered volca formula applied to synths (BASS and KEYS) and a drum machine (BEATS). I’m especially partial to the booming kick of the BASS, the sound of the KEYS (which despite the name also works as a bass synth), and the clever touch sequencing interface. Well, now having teased the newest addition to the family, we’re learning about the details of the KORG sample. It’s not a sampler per se – there’s no mic or audio input – but what KORG …

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max7collage

DIY Tool Max 7 Arrives; Here Are The Best New Features

Being “software about nothing” isn’t easy. Max has for years been a favored choice of musicians and artists wanting to make their own tools for their work. But it’s been on a journey over more recent years to make that environment ever more accessible to a wider audience of people. The aim: for beginners and advanced users alike, work faster, producing tools that work better. Okay, those are easy goals to set – a bit like all of us declaring we’re going to “get in better shape” in a few weeks from now on New Year’s Eve. But Max 7 …

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erm

Sync All Your Gear in One Box – No Jitter At All: Master Clock Teaser

Let’s admit it: what we all want out of sync is some magic box that just makes everything work. We just want to plug things in, turn a knob, and have everything sync up. Caveats: we want everything. (USB? DIN? MIDI? Modulars?) And, come to think of it, we probably then start to want to do other fun stuff like shift things around. That is, not all of us want to write technical papers on the topic. But fortunately, Maximilian Rest did write a paper on it. He then built a jitter-free MIDI clock. Well, it gets better. First, the …

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Knobs, Encoders, and a Crazy-Powerful Step Sequencer: Latest Faderfox Hardware

If you want a tiny, well-built box with loads of encoders or knobs, Faderfox has you covered with its latest round of hardware. (Previously, too: faders!) But with the SC4, the Hamburg, Germany-based builder adds something else: a brilliant step sequencer you can use with software or standalone hardware. Faderfox has two new controllers this month – the knob-laden PC4, which is basically a bunch of pots, and the encoders-with-display SC4. Both work as general-purpose controllers. But the SC4 adds a step-sequencing firmware. The SC4 then becomes more than just a flexible, do-anything controller. It’s about the most step sequencing …

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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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RhythmWolf_1200x750_web

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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