Review: MTRX-8, The Hardware Sequencer You Can Reprogram

The standalone MIDI hardware sequencer has had formidable competition in the age of the computer. But it seems ready to make a comeback in a big way. With more hardware, more affordable hardware, and more fans, all-in-one tactile control is just what the doctor ordered. Of course, having used a computer, you’re less likely to be accommodating of inflexibility. That’s why the MTRX-8 from Fyrd Instruments shows real promise. It works as a standalone sequencer, true, with MIDI in and out ports. But it also coincides nicely with a computer – from programmability over USB to doubling as a MIDI …

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Holiday Goodies: Sampled Sleigh, Jingle Bells, Free [Samples]

We open on a Christmas Eve dinner. The goose has been stripped to the bones, the third wine glass drained to its last drops. A typical-looking family leans back. Cut to a close-up on a scraggly-looking electronic music producer. He rolls his eyes at the next question. “Why don’t you play some of that music you make? Didn’t you used to play the viola?” “But, grandma, I make dark experimental techno and noise art.” “Dark what? Play Jingle Bells!” “Wait – I have just the solution. I remember, I just saw that free pack of samples on CDM. Let me …

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KORG M01D for Nintendo 3DS, Surprising Mobile Music Workstation [Listening]

The KORG M01D app, available now for about a month for Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, seems the definition of anachronism. It’s a mobile Nintendo DS music app in an age of iPhones and iPads. It’s based on a 1988 digital synth, even as analog is back and style. You use it with a stylus. You can look at the keyboard, which is essentially flat – in 3D. (Well, then you get to see the … flatness … really with some depth.) But guess what? It’s also wickedly good. Like, good enough to try to pick up a 3DS on the cheap? …

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Digital Warrior Goes Open Source, DJ-friendly Step Sequencer Hardware Gets Better

A USB-connected step sequencer with controller is now improved, and open source. The Digital Warrior is a boutique hardware controller hailing from Cyprus, combining a 16-voice, 32-step sequencer with four pots and two three-color endless encoders, all attached via a driverless USB connection. It’s capable of acting as a step sequencer/controller with any tools you like, but out of the box includes support for Traktor remix decks and Ableton Live control. The remix deck functionality with Traktor is a particular draw; developer and producer/DJ Tomash GHz pioneered this particular way of combining step sequencers and Traktor’s Remix Decks. (Check out …

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Lunchbeat is a 1-bit Groovebox You Can Make Yourself

Friends bragging lately about the quality of the sound of their drum machines? Tell them you can make sounds lower fidelity than they can. LUNCHBEAT is a 1-bit groovebox, making impossibly-dirty digital sounds, with a built-in step sequencer. While we await a proper DIY kit, it’s an ideal learning project: it’s nice and simple, has a low part count, everything you need as far as specs is available free to create your own, and it’s a good way to work out the basics of digital sound and sequencing. And, really, if you need more than one bit to make music, …

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Free Mark Eats Sequencer, A Beautiful Example of What Pattern Making Can Be [monome]

If we’re living in a golden age of resurgent synthesizers, we’re also in the midst of a renaissance in step sequencers. Faced with the challenge of making machines make musical sense, the lowly step sequencer – a kind of relic from the days of more primitive hardware – is getting renewed. The latest example is Mark Eats Sequencer, a labor of love for the monome platform. And just as we’ve seen with Tomash Ghzegovskyy and Traktor or Julien Fayard and his MTRX-8, this is not so much about reinventing the sequencer so much as getting as much mileage as possible …

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Ableton Goodies: Max for Live Devices for Spectral Effects, Video, Random Rhythms

Our inbox is full of fun stuff Ableton lovers can download, so we’re pronouncing it “Ableton Goodies” day. Enjoy! Open up a platform to making custom tools, and the user can become the upgrade. They can devise new ways of making music – small inventions to spark creativity. And that’s happened in the case of Max for Live, allowing Max patches to run easily inside Ableton Live. Ableton hardly needs to release their own patches, or take much action at all. The Max community has been robust for over two decades now. Sites like maxforlive.com have rich collections of instruments, …

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Erika: Musical Restraint, Space, Future, BBSes, Detroit [Interview]

From being a long-time mainstay of the Detroit scene to, at last, debuting a proper solo LP with Hexagon Cloud, the one word that can sum up Erika for me is, simply, “inspiring.” And if Hexagon Cloud’s perfectly-calibrated analog sounds and imaginative musical frequencies indulge our futuristic sonic fantasies, here we get the chance to talk to Erika a bit about what lies beyond musical parameters, too. That ranges from Detroit (past the fetishization of ruined buildings, please) to the liberation of early-90s BBSing to the appeal of outer space. You can listen to Erika’s work and revisit some reflections …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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A Brilliant 199€ Hardware Sequencer with Jog Wheel: MTRX-8 Preview [Photos, Video, Interview]

Sleek and black, sporting a high-resolution jog wheel, the MTRX-8 is a futuristic sequencer the likes of which you probably haven’t seen in hardware before. Even though it’s the product of a boutique DIY maker – France’s Fyrd Instruments, aka designer Julien Fayard – it’s eschews the usual homebrewed, retro aesthetics. And it’s not expensive, either; the launch price has been lowered to 199€ based on early demand. It’s a MIDI sequencer, it’s a drum sequencer, it’s a performance-geared machine with quick access to presets, and it’s covered with quick access controls rather than confusing menus. At last, it’s sequencer …

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