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Live Insanity: Ceephax Acid Crew [Video]

I had the craziest dream. Super vivid, and it just kept going. Seriously, like it seemed to last a decade. Instead of playing electronic music live on gear that made sounds, so you could keep track of what you were doing with physical buttons and switches and things, all the boys and girls were using laptops. But that wasn’t the weird part: what was strange was, people were just putting whole tracks on those computers. I know what you’re thinking – so they were DJing, right? But no! They were just playing tracks one after another all the same tempo. …

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Watch The Greatest Video About Music Production Ever

Well, we might have tried to give that honor to something before (McRorie, Hatebeak the parrot), but… this might top it. There’s just so much. The vacant, turned-on stare of that curly-haired guy. The glowing alligator. The KORG 01/W – oh, that KORG. KORG will never make a keyboard demo quite like this. The script… Do you know anything about techno? Watch. Now, does anyone know what the Hell this is, anyway? Answer: Why, it’s 1996’s Vibrations – and yes, that is Christina Applegate. Which means… uh, actually, they probably should have know something about techno but didn’t but who …

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Stereoping Adds Knobs, Programming to Vintage Gear Missing Them [Video]

The electronic musical instrument world is littered with cases of one person, individually solving a problem. This one gets even more specific. There’s some beloved MIDI gear out there that’s just a bear to program. Yes, you can use various knob boxes – but because some of the programming requires archaic System Exclusive messages, prepare yourself for some work. The Stereoping device adds knobs and custom firmware for that hardware. Amusingly, the product is available as a kit, but maybe that’s perfect – you spend a bit of cash and devote that time to the soothing task of soldering rather …

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Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma

Never say never. Few would have imagined just a few short years ago that essentially all – not most, but all – the major 2015 electronic instrument news out of the annual NAMM trade show would come down to 70s-/early 80s-style analog synthesizers, in the form of keyboards and modular. Nor would you imagine two of the big names would still be Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith, alongside Korg and Moog. (Well, maybe Tom and Dave did – how ambitious were you three decades ago, gentlemen?) Certainly, no one ever expected to see the name Sequential Circuits again. But that’s …

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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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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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