Kim-TAL 2

Got a (bit) crush on you: TAL-Sampler, Lil’ Kim, and digital crunch

For me, it goes back to Lil’ Kim. Let me back up. Much as we take it for granted in 2015, once upon a time in a far-gone decade called the 80s, sampling was a new technology. Groundbreaking (and expensive) instruments such as the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier brought new possibilities for playing with recorded audio. Suddenly, sounds and sequences which used to take days of work from skilled tape manipulators became keyboard-mapped.

READ MORE →
okgo 7

OK Go get their own KORG volca sample

Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.

READ MORE →

Watch Music Made from Clicky Keyboards

Click. It’s incredible how much sound is part of our world, sometimes in ways so profound we actually somehow miss them. Tech site The Verge wanted to spice up a story on the anniversary of IBM’s Model M keyboard, a product for which sound was an integral part of the experience. (That’s so true, in fact, that people will pay a premium for products like Das Keyboard that emulate it.) The result will come as beautiful music to touch typists everywhere, an etude in spacebars performed on a dizzying array of gadgets of the past. Producer John Lagomarsino goes into …

READ MORE →

If You Use Kontakt, Get Cool Bleep and Bass Instruments for Free

Bleeping amazing. There’s some great stuff you can get for free for Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler. This week, two new instruments are available. First up, a device that makes chip music bleep sounds, and includes sophisticated sound controls and step-sequencing LFOs. The creator, Zombie Queen, describes it thusly: I’m assembling new bleeping device in Kontakt, last one was so twisting complicated, I’ve been getting lost in it myself. I wanted to re-utilize the engine, but simplify things a lot and add some new twists. I’ve got working ‘beta’ version, if you’d like to try it out. It’s focused more on …

READ MORE →
launchpad

Six Months of Free Ableton Racks, Six Favorites from the Creator

An Ableton rig with a dramatically-lit Novation Launchpad grid controller. Photo (CC-BY-SA) alexwire. Ableton Live fans hungry for sounds, what a good half-year it’s been. AfroDJMac alone has been busy putting together delicious-sounding, versatile racks of virtual Ableton-ready gear. After six months of contributing free downloads and videos – and discovering the use of this kind of generosity as a tool for exposure – he’s come up with some 26 such racks. You can grab them all, but I asked the artist to choose his six favorites out of the bunch: 1. Nintendo Rack- Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but these …

READ MORE →
zoomr8_threequarters

Portastudio for a New Age: Zoom R8 is Recorder, Sampler, Interface, Drum Machine, Control Surface

Zoom’s R8 promises to be everything you’d ever want to take with you on the go in one device. If they’ve pulled it off, it could be more invaluable in your backpack than even your computer. The R8 is a little bit of everything: stereo recording, multitrack editing, a 2×2 audio interface, an 8-voice sampler (complete with little pads), a drum machine (seriously), an effects box with modeling, a guitar tuner, a metronome, and a MIDI control surface. The big surprise: all of this is compact and lightweight and runs without a wall wart – USB power or batteries will …

READ MORE →
halion4

HALion 4, Steinberg’s Sampler + Synth Soft Workstation, Gets Deeper

Sampler? Synth? Workstation? Or just big bucket of sound? There are some impressive rabbit holes for sound designers out there, and Steinberg’s offering just got a big refresh. While looking at the latest flagship from a music hardware giant (Roland’s Jupiter-80), it’s revealing to compare the software side of the fence. Computer software instruments may not be directly equivalent to all-in-one keyboards, but they do each embody the latest thinking in how to build expressive instruments and new sounds. German maker Steinberg is at home at this week’s giant Messe trade show, and they’ve taken the wraps off the upcoming …

READ MORE →
loupe

Reaktor Sampler Pack Gives you Granular Power Over Sound; Tips for Maschine, Ableton

Producer/composer and Reaktor super-guru Peter Dines is back with a new concoction for Native Instruments’ graphical development environment for sound. Entitled the Reaktor Sample Pack, it’s a collection of three granular sampling instruments. Updated with new download links (no more divshare!) Frame is a looping sampler with smooth/crossfading, envelope controls, and built-in saturation, plus graphical loop point selection. Free | download Loupe is a “polyphonic looping slicer,” which is to say you can slice up a sample and assign it to different MIDI keys. Press a note, then graphically set loop playback parameters from reverse to envelope to filter. US$15 …

READ MORE →

Elektron Unveils Octatrack Sampler-Sequencer-Warper, Expands and Discounts Machinedrum

Elektron, those Swedish makers of the fabulously-beloved Machinedrum drum machine, have a range of new announcements this morning. They herald the power and appeal of digital hardware, gear made for people who have grown up with computer. The biggest news, of course, is the announcement of the Octatrack. Coming later this year, but shown in prototype form this week at the Frankfurt Messe show, the Octatrack is a multitrack digital sampler with onboard sequencer, real-time pitch shift and time stretch, and effects. That has caused some to get excited enough to dub it “Ableton in a box,” and it’s hard …

READ MORE →

Korg’s microSAMPLER: Sample from a Keyboard, and What Those iPod Slots Are For

It aims to do what for sampling what the insanely-popular microKORG keyboard has done for synths: that is, invade bedrooms and bands everywhere, and inspire a kind of love that other hardware finds elusive. But it also combines the micro-keyboard form factor and mic with everything that has made the KAOSS Pad series popular. It’s kind of a bundle of things about KORG that the masses love. So, perhaps that’s why the microSAMPLER leaked well before its introduction. I’m about the last to cover it, I think, so let’s see if I can get right to the point of what …

READ MORE →