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A video glimpse of Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z in action

It looks like a small remote control for a game system, but it’s a musical instrument. The OP-Z caught our imagination earlier this year at NAMM with a host of bizarre and wonderful functions, from sequenced instruments and drums to live visual animation accompaniment (seriously). Now, Cuckoo Music catches up with Teenage Engineering in his ongoing video series. That means a chance to see how the pocket music gizmo has progressed, as well as what’s happening with live visuals. Teenage Engineer David Mollerstedt joins: Meanwhile, TE’s instruments see other lovely action. Mikael Jorgensen writes CDM to tell us about his …

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Teenage Engineering has an OP-Z prototype, and it’s awesome

“Surprise!” might well be Teenage Engineering’s best tagline. The latest unexpected invention from Sweden is the OP-Z – pronounced “oh pee zed.” It’s an all-in-one instrument/groovebox like its predecessor the OP-1, packed into a tiny, game-like form factor. And even from the early prototype shown at NAMM, it’s fantastic.

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Auxy, the iPad’s Simple Music Creation Tool, Quietly Gets Better

iPad creation tool Auxy may have come with a lot of fanfare touting its simplicity and elegance when it launched. The piano roll-turned-touchable music maker first launched on the merits of doing less, better, then turned into something more of us might use with the addition of MIDI. But a rather significant upgrade has come without any trumpets or bolts of lightning. I can’t post a screenshot, because all the work is under the hood. For all the power of today’s mobile devices, though, there’s a significant effort in coaxing optimal performance. So, sometimes this behind-the-surface stuff matters a lot. …

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Video Tutorials Show You How to Make Cheap DJ Booths from IKEA Stuff

It’s fun to watch the hate lobbed at DJs “DJing in their bedrooms.” But… come on. We’re all music lovers here. What other priority would you possibly have for your bedroom? (Sleep, for instance, really robs you of time you could be playing records and producing music. Such a loss.) And as it happens, the folks cobbling together $300 “DJ booths” out of IKEA bits are getting fairly clever and industrious, making some nice setups that leave them money to spare on important stuff – like synthesizers. At top, a video by DJ Puzzle that just started making the rounds. …

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Teenage Engineering Wants You to Make Your Own Pocket Case

First, they made dirt-cheap synths and drum machines. Then, they made housings that turn them into handheld calculators. Now, they want … you to rethink the case entirely. Say what? So, the bad news is, Teenage Engineering’s cool calculator-style cases for their amazing-sounding, crazy-cheap synths and drum machine are backordered. And that is too bad. Because, damnit, even I can’t get one. And they’re really cool – I had a look at the cases at Musikmesse, and they recall nothing if not a Braun-style dress-up suit for these wonderful (and useful) sonic toys. But this being Teenage Engineering, they’ve found …

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The Analog VST? Elektron Extends Overbridge to Plug-ins

It’s deja vu all over again. This time last year, the big announcement from Sweden’s drum machine mavens at Elektron was Overbridge – technology for integrating their hardware with your computer setup. Overbridge is the topic again this year. And it’s still not quite shipping – though at least there’s a new date of “summer 2015.” (And in Sweden, “summer” is a pretty specific time, marked by the sun never going away. A public beta is due next month, which we’re keen to try.) But it seems that what’s happened is that Elektron has expanded the scope of the technology. …

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Marshall Amp Finally Gets Its Official Plug-in – And a Virtual Recording Studio, Too

The Marshall “Plexi” Super Lead plug-in is the first amp to bear the name Marshall that isn’t actually an amp – the first authorized plug-in. It’s been built by Softube for the Universal Audio plug-in of DSP, arriving in May. This is a reference 1959 Super Lead borrowed from Marshall themselves. The model number is 1959, built in the year 1967. Now, it’s nice to have in UAD format, because you can mix and “reamp” and track and add effects and the lot in real-time on UA’s Apollo hardware. It’s also nice to see Softube doing the development; to my …

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Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. Håkan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …

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This Custom Suitcase Will Make You Lust for Modular

Having something pretty won’t necessarily make you make better music. But from the carved face on a viola da gamba to the shine of brass on a trumpet, musicians have long imbued the objects that make music with visual features reflecting the unseen beauty of the sounds they emit. And this suitcase for sound, the work of Swedish design Frédéric Sebton, is beautiful both aesthetically and in its practicality. This one-off creation houses the “Verbos Composition Suitcase” – a very practical and reasonably affordable starter kit of Verbos modules, the title a cheeky reference to the (unrelated) VCS modular. Inside …

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Auxy Is The Best Piano Roll Editor for iPad Yet – And Not Much Else – By Design [Free]

It’s been asked over and over again: can a simpler software tool attract more people to music making? But the next question is, invariably – what’s the right stuff to leave out? Auxy, released today, is an extreme exercise in app minimalism. It radically reduces what’s in the UI by focusing on making and cueing patterns — and leaving out the rest. It’s also free. Built exclusively for iPad, Auxy centers on a grid as its main screen. You’ve got four tracks in which you can create, edit, then trigger different patterns. Tap on one rectangle, and you draw in …

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