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Roland AIRA Are Here – Synth, Bassline, Drum Machine, Vocal FX – Details, In Depth

It’s official: Roland’s much-teased line of four new products called AIRA are here. And they appear to represent a new course for Roland. They’re affordable and accessible in a way that we haven’t seen in recent products. But they’re also simultaneously closer to the sound of beloved vintage gear as they are more modern in taste and presentation. Let’s get right to it. CDM got to speak to Roland prior to today’s announcement to get the details. And we’ll have more insight soon into the design process and approach to modeling. But let’s cover the basics. This is component-modeled analog. …

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Inside BeatStep: $99 Step Sequencer and Controller Looks Compact, Versatile [Q+A, Videos]

Every new season brings new music tools. Some of these designs, of course, are splashy and grab headlines. Some just look like no-brainers that will see heavy use in your work. Arturia’s BeatStep stood out at the recent NAMM trade show as just an insanely-great use of a hundred bucks, in a tiny box that sort of does everything you’d want. It’s a pad controller. But it’s also a step sequencer. It connects to your computer via USB. But it also does analog CV and MIDI (via breakouts) when your computer isn’t around. It works as a controller. It works …

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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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Roland Meditation: TM404’s Amazing 303s and Machine Live Sets [Video]

Acid techno is transformed into dub-y trance in the masterful hands of TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander, aka Mokira (under Type and Raster-Noton). In a beautiful video released this month, a lineup of blinking Roland boxes becomes simply mesmerizing. It is technically acid techno, yes, but here those rhythms rotate gently in hypnotic harmony. Not that TM404 can’t also dial his ensemble of analog voices into a dervish-like dancefloor frenzy. That side was on evidence Saturday night in Berlin. Ostensibly, Andreas was there to promote Elektron’s new boxes, as a big Analog Four Keys banner hung behind him, but he might …

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Look, two monitors! (And this could explain the popularity of this update - for many, the laptop is one display.) But there's more in 9.1, including some subtle but critical bug fixes; now we get those details. Photo courtesy Ableton.

Live 9.1 Arrives; Get the Most Out of Its Push Sequencer, Get Ideas Going [Free Resources]

Live 9.1, in beta for some weeks, is now available to everyone. We’ve covered in some detail what 9.1 includes. But if you’re a Live 9 user, you shouldn’t hesitate to grab this. I’ve been splitting time between 9 stable and 9.1 beta, and the beta has been operating perfectly for me. If you have two monitors, of course, you get dual monitor support – or dual window support on bigger displays. (Sadly, I don’t have either at the moment, so haven’t been able to test that). But everyone will benefit from enhanced audio rendering and stability improvements – the …

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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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Breeding Beats: Pattern Mutation with Elektron Machinedrum + iPad

For all the variety in synths and control methods, patterns and sequencing often tend to be rather same-y. That’s why it’s wonderful to see things like this short video from Jakob Penca. In it, rhythms mutate and vary, all as clever gestures on an iPad manipulate the beat-making noises of an Elektron Machinedrum. The app is still under development, but it’s nice to see this early glimpse. Description: a quick improvisation demo of my upcoming iOS app for the Elektron Machinedrum. This shows how you can mutate a pattern with copy & paste operations directly on an iPad. This app …

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When Reason Met MIDI Out: How MIDI, Virtual CV Work in the New Reason 7 [Pictures, Details]

It’s been a long time coming, to say the least. But you can be sure that even when Propellerhead do something as basic as MIDI output, they’ll do it in, well, a Reason way. So, it was intriguing to hear Reason was adding MIDI out precisely because in Reason it’s integrated with virtual patch cords and connections that make it work differently than in other hosts. And that means we wanted details. Propellerhead’s Leo Nathorst-Böös answers some of our questions, as CDM awaits the beta version. Most helpfully, we have some new images, so you can see better what’s going …

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Ardour, For the Rest of Us: Free DAW Gets Plug-ins, MIDI, More as 3.0 Arrives

Ardour has long been software that you probably wanted to want to use. Fully free and open source, supporting standards for plug-ins and file interchange, Ardour is software that arguably the whole industry needs to exist. That is, even if you don’t use it, you might benefit from having a reasonable competitor that pushes openness and interoperability, that can innovate with open source code as much as commercial options do. Now, Ardour is here in a version you may actually want to use. It’s not that there haven’t been people getting work done with Ardour in the past. (Don’t forget …

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Max for Live Gems: Easier MIDI Mapping, Automation Recording, and Alternative Sequencing

As Max for Live has matured, this tool for extending the functionality of Ableton Live has played host to a growing wave of brilliant custom tools – enough so that it can be hard to keep track. This month saw a few that deserve special mention. In particular, two tools help make MIDI mapping and automation recording easier in Live, and point the way for what the host itself could implement in a future update. (Live 9, we’re looking at you.) And in a very different vein, from Max for Live regular Protofuse, we see an intriguing alternative approach to …

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