What if those encoders had a new life? Photo (CC-BY-SA) 
Shunichi kouroki.

The Zaquencer Turns Behringer’s Encoders Into a Killer Step Sequencer

Dear Gods of step sequencing, we beseech thee. Give unto us first a lot of knobs. We pray for a bounty of encoders, ideally built into hardware everyone kind of forgotten about. And shine upon us with lights round those encoders. Next, let us breaketh our warranty together, so that we may onto thine encoders map parameters. And set my people free from the chains that bind them to their computers, so that they may roam free across the land and sequenceth hardware free from the tyranny of the folding metal fruit books and boxy Compy. Amen. Yes, your prayers …

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Photo (CC-BY) @ fr4dd. Music below.

In 20 Minutes, with 20 Cables, Learn to Get Started with Modular Synths [Video]

Modular aficionados are fond of describing the potential of their boxes full of wires as unlimited, endless. That might well raise the question – where do you actually start? Schneidersladen, the unofficial headquarters for European lovers of Euroracks hidden away above a grocery store, has an intro course. Don’t watch this expecting stunning sounds – this isn’t about showing off. Instead, get ready for a big basket of bread and butter, the starting points to learn how to actually begin working. From there, you can get as fancy as you like. But the pace is methodical and beginner-friendly. German, but …

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The Riser Synth Makes it Easy to Make Ridiculous EDM Rises, Drops; Try it Free

The Riser, the new synth from German developer AIR, isn’t shy about what it’s for. This is a synth to make rises and drops aimed squarely at EDM fans. Dial up presets, turn some knobs, and sync up absurd rhythmic builds, like pumping chart-topping performance-enhancing drugs into your music. What makes it interesting is, it’s a synth. It isn’t another sample library, so you can actually control the results and make something original. And if that’s what you want to do, you can do it right now for free – sort of. There’s a 2-week unlimited demo version – but …

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Acoustic Revelation: Inside the Una Corda, the 100kg, 21st Century Piano Built for Nils Frahm

Now this is a revolutionary etude. There’s no question the acoustic grand is an engineering wonder, a musical instrument with literal tons of string tension producing unparalleled sound. But it’s a 19th Century technological marvel. Innovations, apart from subtle variations, have been largely frozen since the likes of the Steinway & Sons Model D-274. The Model D is a beauty; the question is, what have builders been doing with the 155 years since it was introduced? Builder David Klavins is a master instrument maker re-imagining the piano for our century. And he isn’t afraid to go to extremes to do …

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Five Musical Tech April Fools’ Jokes We Almost Wish Were Real

Like the proverbial Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, it seems that music tech writers this year saw their shadow and decided to stay in their hole rather than deal with the yearly deluge of fake news that arrives on April Fools’. That’s a shame. Because this year, a few ideas are preposterous enough that we wish they weren’t jokes. (Turning that fool into something real was something I proposed last year, too – and just heard we might see some fruits out of that. Stay tuned.) Emerson, Fake, and Palmer. Moog Music has a tradition of jests on the holiday, …

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Listen to Waldorf’s Buttery, New String Synth, the Streichfett [Hands-on]

A dedicated hardware synth just for vintage string sounds is about the last thing you’d expect to make headlines at Europe’s biggest music trade show. But an even bigger surprise: Waldorf’s new Streichfett is pretty delicious. The pun isn’t directly translatable. German speakers use the same word for “bowing” as spreading (as with a knife), and are passionate enough about putting fat on bread that they have idiomatic ways of talking about it that makes sense only to them. (At least, this is what my research into the Waldorf name and, um, eating have suggested.) But after a first hands-on …

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An Analog Filter That’s Playable for Producers, Guitarists Alike: Waldorf 2-pole Video

Synth maker Waldorf revealed the 2-pole Analog Filter in the USA at the NAMM show. Now, they’re coming home to Germany with more details. The emphasis here is making a filter for everyone: producers and synthesists, yes, but also DJs and guitarists. We already know guitarists like having access to this stuff if it can be playable (see KOMA, Moog), and if Waldorf can sell DJs a buttery filter instead of the awful stuff you get on many DJ mixers, they may be doing the world a public service. The hardware has an all-analog filter path, which makes sense for …

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Cubase iC Air, erm... artists' rendering. Just about got that mix right. (Hold on - red ball. This track is not going to be premeditated.)

Cubase Goes Futuristic: Motion Hand Gestures Control Music in Free Add-on [Details]

When it comes to big, flagship audio tools, you don’t get a whole lot of sci-fi in your software. That makes Steinberg’s announcements this week more of a change of pace. They aren’t the first to talk about virtual studio sessions, or even gesturally-controlled music. But seeing this as an add-on to Cubase, not just an experimental hack, counts as news. And Cubase users can add on those futuristic capabilities in the form of two new tools. You can fly through Cubase sessions with gestural controls using depth cameras (on Windows) or LEAP Motion (on Windows and Mac). And you …

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From IKEA and Audi, Augmented Reality That's Actually Useful [Metaio]

Billy the bookcase says hello. Augmented reality has sometimes seemed like a solution in search of a problem. But two new apps suggest some degree of utility. And as Google struggles to convince people they want Google Glass, smartphones and tablets are proving just fine for occasionally overlaying visual information on an image. At top, IKEA cleverly shows what their furniture will look like in your house. The idea itself isn’t so new – various software solutions have over the years attempted to help you plan home decor. But the visual feedback here, apart from being playful, could actually help …

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From IKEA and Audi, Augmented Reality That’s Actually Useful [Metaio]

Billy the bookcase says hello. Augmented reality has sometimes seemed like a solution in search of a problem. But two new apps suggest some degree of utility. And as Google struggles to convince people they want Google Glass, smartphones and tablets are proving just fine for occasionally overlaying visual information on an image. At top, IKEA cleverly shows what their furniture will look like in your house. The idea itself isn’t so new – various software solutions have over the years attempted to help you plan home decor. But the visual feedback here, apart from being playful, could actually help …

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