Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …

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automate

This Is What Happens When Vintage Robot Voices Make an Album

We hope that music will always have tribes of people keeping esoteric traditions alive – your Renaissance musical ensemble, your Slovenian folk instrumentalists. It just happens that electronic technologies have attracted their own followings, cultivating knowledge of Texas Instruments chips found in specific arcade games the way some people might maintain a balalaika. Chip singers have never gotten the kind of attention synthesizers have. But if Moog – and the synth itself – can look to Keith Emerson’s “Lucky Man,” fans of robotic sung vocals will always have Humanoid. The seminal acid track “Stakker Humanoid” was the work of artists …

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How A Plug-in Recaptured the Robot Voices of Your Childhood

I’ve just gotten lost making my computer sing. And now I can’t stop. You see, a funny thing happened on the way to the future. As speech synthesis vastly improved, it also became vastly more boring. Intelligibility robbed synthesized words and singing of its alien quality, which was what made it sound futuristic in the first place. Chipspeech takes us back to speech synthesis as many of us remember it growing up. It’s weird-sounding, to be sure, to the point of sometimes being unable to understand the words. But it’s also loaded with character. And there’s a history here. To …

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30drop

You Haven’t Heard of 30drop, But You Should Hear This New LP [Techno]

30drop has mysteriously arrived from Detroit Underground (aka “detund”), those purveyors of strange and wonderful techno and experimental music. You may think you’ve heard of 30drop, but apart from the release last week, you almost certainly haven’t. Oh, sure, there have been releases — a second EP showed up in December — but for the most part, this act has flown under the radar. As per usual, detund are digging up precisely what isn’t on trend or rising in popularity, an unknown artist making cooly-weird noises. But the pace is picking up – and this looks to be one of …

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tsispeech

The Original Speech Chip Is Coming To A New Plug-In

While everyone else worries about emulating the same synthesizers for the umpteenth time, Plogue have been lovingly recreating the greatest chip sounds of all time. They’ve done Chipsounds, the instrument, and Chipcrusher, the effect. And now, finally, your computer will sing to you – not just with any voice, but with the speech chip that launched them all. From computing to arcades to classic tracks, this legendary voice has echoed through the decades with an unmistakable sound. This is the first-ever commercially-available chip to include speech synthesis.

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yamaha

Antiques Roadshow? Yamaha to Celebrate Its Synth Legacy with Vintage Gear

Hey – don’t forget Yamaha. For all the buzz about Roland and KORG (and American makers like Moog), the titan Japanese maker surely deserves its own enormous claim to synthesizer history. This is the company that made one the most influential polyphonic synths of all time (the CS-80), and introduced the world to FM synthesis (DX series) and physical modeling (VP series). You can still make DX and VP sounds that seem like they fell out of the future. And Yamaha are no newcomer, either. This year will mark the 40th anniversary since the firm first entered the synth market …

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behringerarp

Behringer Clones KORG Remaking ARP Odyssey – Say What?

Low-cost electronic music gear king Behringer has begun asking a peculiar series of what-if questions on Facebook. First, they asked, hey, what if we entered synth market? (And, specifically, how many keys it should have and whether it should even be software or hardware.) Now, here’s a Christmas bombshell: they’re suggesting they might just go and make an ARP Odyssey for $500 with USB/MIDI and multiple filter models. There’s even a mock-up image, above. This will really come as a surprise at … KORG. It was only February when KORG announced it would re-release the ARP Odyssey, working with none …

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microdrum

Robert Henke’s Free MicroDrum Will Take You Back to the 80s

Cue Huey Lewis and the News singing “Back in Time,” because we’re going back to the 80s. And where we’re going, we don’t need … stereo. Robert Henke (who has of late mostly shed the Monolake moniker) has a brilliant new Max for Live drum machine that borrows some of the limitations of vintage 80s drum machines. There’s a particular nod to drum machine pioneer Roger Linn (credited as such). But this isn’t just 80s nostalgia. MicroDrum’s restrictions, sound, and use of ideas from that hardware can bring new creative possibilities. Features: Zoom in on samples to 10 ms and …

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Roland Digs Into Original 707, 727 to Expand AIRA

Because it’s packed with digital models rather than analog circuits, Roland’s AIRA TR-8 can be more than just a drum machine. It’s a platform for expansion. And today, as expected, Roland has gone further into their back catalog of genre-shaping drum sounds to expand on its hit TR-8. The 7X7-TR8 Drum Machine Expansion brings TR-707 and TR-727 sounds to the AIRA box and even builds on the 808 and 909 models included so far. The only bad news here is that it’s a paid update. What’s new: 30 original sounds from the TR-707 and TR-727 (by original, that means the …

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win93

Windows 93 OS in Your Browser Comes with LSDJ, Pd, Nanoloop Music Apps

It’s a nostalgia trip. It’s a net art piece. It’s a parallel dimension. It’s also working music apps running (sort of) in your browser. It feels a little bit like playing with an elaborate doll house where you can open the fridge and add tiny food and the oven pretends to work. But in case you haven’t already been infected with the quantum distraction power of the Windows 93 browser yet, it might interest you to know that there are music apps inside.

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