The Monosynth, on Steroids: Dave Smith Pro 2 Synth Revealed

In a world full of monosynths, how do you stand out from the crowd? Easy: build a monosynth that thinks it’s a high-end synth workstation. Never has so much power been built into one note. Looking at the Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2, what you get is really something resembling the Prophet 12, an instrument that’s been getting loads of acclaim of late. The rich synth architecture, the controls and modulation, the ample connectivity opportunities (including CV) — everything’s there. In that basic mold, though, the Pro 2 has an architecture all its own – and, by default, it’s monophonic. …

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LegoTechno: Sliding Lego Blocks Make Music with littleBits, Maschine, Arduino

Keep watching: this LEGO sequencer, playing a littleBits synth kit, does something amazing. Sliding tiles around actually changes the sequence, all reading the blocks, in a terrific real-world, physical user interface. (Well, it certainly pleased the crowds at the Music Hack Day at SONAR in Barcelona.) And yes, this means the team we saw earlier keeps working on this. Intrepid hackers can use the just-barely-hidden Lua back-end of Maschine to do their own custom scripting. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the details:

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MusicMakers Hacklab: Next Stop, Tijuana; Attend or Just Listen

From Germany to Mexico – the next location to host a collaborative laboratory of musical invention will be in Tijuana. One of the participants in our MusicMakers Hacklab in Berlin at CTM Festival has decided to take that inspiration with her, and mount her own event in northern Mexico. You can join, too, if you live in Tijuana or can get yourself there. What’s compelling to me is that the mission will blend some of the oldest, most retro tech with new applications and new ideas – see description below. If you can’t get to Mexico, though, we can finish …

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The $100 BeatStep Sequencer and Controller: Everything You Want to Know [Review, Resources]

Even if Arturia’s BeatStep did nothing other than act as a dumb controller, it might get your attention. The compact control surface / sequencer hardware runs about $100 street. As a controller, it has both 16 pads and 16 endless encoders (with notches, so you can feel where you are), plus transport triggers and a larger encoder. With driverless USB operation, some of you will already be happy and can proceed. But the BeatStep is more ambitious than that. It has sophisticated software customization via a companion program, and a built-in step sequencer. It operates standalone, with MIDI gadgets or …

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Akai’s $199 Analog Drum Machine with Bass Synth: Rhythm Wolf Details

Remember when a $200 budget used to buy you a metronome and flight case, if you were lucky? Now, you have a range of great synths you can choose from. And now it’s Akai’s turn. The Rhythm Wolf is an integrated analog groove box – a 32-step sequencer, an analog drum machine, and a bassline synth in one. And it’s just $199 street. We’ve got all the details on the box, and should have more hands-on impressions later this week.

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Let your iPad Look Like Anything, Sequence Anything, with Lemur 5

Even before the world had seen the iPad, the promise of Lemur was a touchable interface that could become anything – a Star Trek-like world in which you could touch fluid controls directly to make live music and visuals. The reality, though, was more limited. Users were limited to a library of widgets. That included useful controls, like knobs, faders, and even more far-out physics-enabled X/Y pads, buct widgets, nonetheless. A major update to Lemur this week blows that wide open, in two ways. First, it overhauls how sequencing works, with both tighter timing and new objects, ideal for use …

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One Awesome Jam, Four Sequences, 32-Steps: New MTRX Hardware Sequencer Video

Fyrd Instruments’ MTRX is a beautiful-looking, boutique hardware sequencer. But its one drawback had been the 8-step sequencer. Now, this should give you steps: think four simultaneous sequences, 32 steps, and the ability to output on the MIDI port and USB port simultaneously. Commenters frequently complain that technology for its own sake gets in the way of music. Well, that may be so, but here, the sequence sounds excellent. Our own MeeBlip (in the older SE version) joins some other great hardware and software: the Shruthi open source hardware, Native Instruments’ Monark, and Madrona Labs’ Aalto – three of my …

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Fake a Modular Rig inside Ableton Live with DopeMatrix, Then Play it from a Controller

Are modular rigs too pricey for your budget? Hate the thought of all those patch cords, and wish you could just have everything at the ready on your laptop? DopeMatrix might just be for you. That’s “Dope” as in “Doepfer,” and they aren’t just making something modular-ish here. They’re actually giving you a set of sounds from popular Eurorack synth modules – think A-110, Plan B, Cwejman, and Piston Honda. Those four oscillator modules are coupled with twelve effects modules and a step sequencer with matrix controls. Built in Max for Live, you can add the modules (and dozens of …

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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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M-Audio Trigger Finger Pad Controller is Back – with a Step Sequencer, High-Res Screen

This is not your father’s Trigger Finger. The Trigger Finger has to be one of the biggest success stories in controllers, ever. Back before “controllerism” was a thing, this was what you took along – cheap, light, easy-to-abuse, it was a warhorse 4×4 grid of pads with faders. I’ve watched Flying Lotus tear up his; I’ve seen it win laptop battles. I’ve seen people play them with pads weirdly half ripped-off and all the knob and fader caps missing. I’ve seen Trigger Fingers that looked like someone dragged them through the mud tied to a pickup truck. (I knew that …

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