Apps of 2009: With 1.1, Maschine Realizes its Potential as the Soft Drum Machine

Maschine’s lovely hardware controller makes the software drum machine more usable – but the software still behaves like software, and now integrates more fully with your setup in hosts like Live. Photo (CC) Joakim Bergman. Drum machines may have no soul, but thanks to an update, Native’s soft drum machine has a lot more meat. As the year comes to a close, inevitably thoughts turn to writing “best of the year” stories and round-ups. For computer musicians, this year has been dominated by Ableton on one hand and mobile apps on the other. But one of the big software releases …

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Native Instruments Updates: New Absynth, Kontakt, Guitar Rig, Cheaper Komplete

I’m sure Native Instruments wants me to open with discussion of realistic-sounding strings in Kontakt 4, but instead, I offer a loose visual representation of Absynth’s sound engine. Photo (CC) Joe Penniston. Native Instruments released a slew of soft synth updates today – thanks to everyone who sent this in. The big news is that Absynth, the alien-sounding synth that has become a darling of sound designers, gets a big update. But with so much to cover, here’s the in-a-nutshell version so you can grok it all in one place. The other big news – Komplete’s price is down to …

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Snow Leopard Watch: Changes, Compatibility, Caution, Native Instruments, Plogue

Rawr! A real snow leopard at age eight weeks at the Eichberg Zoo. Now, should you let the (operating system) snow leopard mature a little before you try to play with it? Photo (CC) Tamby Tamboko. Updated: See http://createdigitalmusic.com/snowleopard for a running report. Apple’s “Snow Leopard” 10.6 ships Friday, which means it’s time to start compiling information about the new OS flavor. Just don’t upgrade too fast, as always. Want to push an operating system to the breaking point? Ask a musician. Between the demands of real-time performance and the complex ecosystem of mix-and-match hardware, software, and plug-ins, odds are …

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Keyboard Geeking Day: Roland Answers JUNO Questions, plus 2.0 Sampling on JUNO-G

The Roland JUNO-G has attracted some interest from CDM readers since I mentioned Roland’s YouTube contest and talked a bit about the JUNO line’s history. (See previous story.) One of you by the name of “made” even asked comments addressed “Dear Roland.” I had to admit I was curious about those answers, so Roland responded. The JUNO-G feature a lot of readers wondered about was the onboard sampling functionality. That feature was beefed up in the OS 2.0. Personally, I’m still looking to keep my samples on the software side, but I can see this having some appeal for live …

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Where’s the Party At: Bendable, Open-Source 8-bit Sampler Now Shipping

If you hate modern samplers with all their supposed fidelity, longing instead for the glitchy digital distortion of samplers past, a DIY project has brought you the sounds you love. “Where’s the Party At?” has been inspiring tingly sensations in digital lovers since I first wrote about it in September. Now, the kit version is shipping. It’s a unique-looking combination of reliability and sonic unreliability, good open source design engineering and, as the creator puts it, a certain “crustiness.” Apocryphal Feature List and General Horn-Tooting: 8-bit max sample depth, 1-bit minimum. 20kHz (or so, user adjustable) max sample rate, no …

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Learning Kontakt: How to Make a Sampler an Instrument, Performance Tool

Music-boxing in NI Kontakt from Create Digital Media on Vimeo. You know the stereotype. “Synths” are expressive. “Samplers” are those things relegated to playing fake instruments. But what makes synths fun to play as an instrument is the power they have over your sound, and the interactivity they provide. Peter Dines did a series for our Kore+CDM minisite at the end of last year that I think really illustrated how Native Instruments’ sampler Kontakt can be made a powerful performance tool – something that’s really fun to play. In doing so, he gets into the “s word” – scripting. When …

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NI Maschine: Fully Integrated Hardware-Software-Plug-In Drum Machine, Controller

If you could have an ideal drum machine and sample-slicing workstation, taking the physical control of hardware but the flexibility of software, what would it look like? We talk a lot about hardware control of software, but hardware usually comes second – software gets designed first, and then either you have to figure out how to map hardware to it, or someone else comes along and designs gear. That means there’s usually a disconnect in the design and workflow of the two, and most of the time, you have to reach for the mouse to make up the difference. Maschine …

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BPM: MOTU’s Software-Based Drum Machine Workstation and Ad Copy Reflections

MOTU’s new drum machine is a new software sampler/synth workstation for drums, clearly influenced by beat production workstations like the legendary Akai MPC and EMU SP1200. With all today’s hardware/software talk, I initially thought this was hardware, too, but it’s not – meaning it’s got an uphill battle against integrated features in hosts like Live and new tools that integrate more closely with hardware, not to mention existing entries like FXpansion’s GURU. But don’t write it off just yet: an internal synth, a unique sampling plug-in, import workflows, and retro groove emulations could keep this in the game. Oh, yeah …

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Free Utility Makes Endless Oscillators for Ableton Live Simpler, Sampler

slicedbread, on behalf of The Covert Operators, has released a free Windows utility that generates “endless harmonic oscillators” for Ableton Live’s Simpler and Sampler instruments. (Since this was a released, a Mac build has been made available, as well; see link below.) Even if you don’t intend to use the utility directly, pay attention – The Covert Ops already have a sample pack up full of oscillators, and you can bet the presence of this utility means more will come. (Even Robert Henke was impressed on the forums.) Live 6 introduced the file format for “Ableton Meta Sounds.” Bjorn Vayner …

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Akai MPC5000: Beyond Reviews, Dave Dri Reflects on MPCs Past and Present

What do you say when it’s all been said? We felt it was time for a fresh perspective on the MPC phenomenon — one a normal review couldn’t provide. So we got the opinion of our friend, samplist/producer and Segue member Dave Dri. And the verdict: there’s still something about an MPC — even if it suggests why there’s also something about software, too. But it involves dust. Here’s his op-ed: Recently I had the task of reviewing an MPC5000 for a local street press magazine. The MPC part of it was fine — the word limit was trickier. Over …

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