halion4

HALion 4, Steinberg’s Sampler + Synth Soft Workstation, Gets Deeper

Sampler? Synth? Workstation? Or just big bucket of sound? There are some impressive rabbit holes for sound designers out there, and Steinberg’s offering just got a big refresh. While looking at the latest flagship from a music hardware giant (Roland’s Jupiter-80), it’s revealing to compare the software side of the fence. Computer software instruments may not be directly equivalent to all-in-one keyboards, but they do each embody the latest thinking in how to build expressive instruments and new sounds. German maker Steinberg is at home at this week’s giant Messe trade show, and they’ve taken the wraps off the upcoming …

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EMS Synthi, Recreated in Max, then Controlled with a Webcam

The headline says it all. Oh, sure, as if it isn’t enough to recreate the legendary EMS Synthi synth – one of the most creative vintage analog instruments ever devised – this artist takes it one step further, controlling parameters with a piece of colored paper tracked by a webcam. It’s an achievement of sheer patching genius, taken one step wackier. The patch is entitled Le SynthĂ© V5; the creator is Pierre Couprie. And yes, you can download this for Windows and Mac – even Mac PowerPC. Cost: US$15/EUR10, which is, I must say, insanely cheap. Video in French with …

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Going Mobile: Nintendo DS-10 Comes to North America

Today was full of good news for people interested in carrying pads in the palm of their hand. Fans of the Nintendo DS in North America, the Korg DS-10 Plus synthesizer for Big N’s game system is now coming to your side of the Pacific Ocean. (That also bodes well, I think, for other parts of the world.) The DS-10 I think really deserves some credit for making a straight-up music title a hit on gaming platforms, and its success certainly surpassed my own expectations. It’s not a game, it’s not an interactive experience, it’s not a music game – …

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FL Studio 9 Arrives: Better Performance, More Toys, More Editing

Click through for FL’s infamous Giant Screenshot of FL 9. See, it’ll look perfect on your 40″ flat screen. Update: Despite discussion in comments, Image-Line assures us this is an image of FL9. We’ll have more shots once we try out the software, of course! “Fruity Loops” has long proven that not all music making apps have to look the same way. FL is quirky and different. Its editing interface is built as much around step sequencers and pattern sequencing as the conventional, mixer and audio-tape-derived views. But perhaps some of its real draw is that it packs, in its …

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New Teasers: Urs Heckmann Modular Soft Synth, and the Fairlight CMI Returns

In some of the news I’ve missed in the last couple of days are some unusual announcements. Urs Heckmann can be fairly considered one of the great soft synth designers, with accomplishments like Zebra. His latest, Bazille, like many recent soft synths, is a hybrid: FM synthesis plus phase distortion plus the obligatory subtractive synthesis. In an early teaser video (he apologizes for audio quality), he shows off its modular design. Now, modular routing is something we’ve seen in some form in other recent synths, from Maschine to Future Audio’s Circle. But for Bazille, the layout of the whole synth …

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Dave Smith Tetra4 Synth: Compact Size, Quadruple the Mopho Pleasure

Quadruple quadruple your refreshment, quadruple quadruple your enjoyment… sorry, I started quoting old Doublemint Gum jingles. As expected, Dave Smith has released his Tetra (“Tetr4” in the l33t speak on the case). The name says it all: the Tetra takes the popular Mopho synth and packs four of them into a single, compact case. The Mopho was featured in the CDM Winter Guide and was one of the favorite reader products of 2008. Its strength is that it’s a great-sounding synth in a small box with all the basic analog goodness. The Tetra simply takes that design and squeezes four …

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Sony Walkman-Sequenced Gakken Synth, by Gijs Gieskes

WalkSX from Gijs on Vimeo. As the Sony Walkman turns 30, many of the mobile cassette’s fans wax nostalgic. But it takes Gijs Gieskes to wire up a new Rube Goldberg-style musical instrument based on the Walkman’s simple tape playback. Follow along carefully through the signal flow of this unusual instrument: 1. The Walkman has audio on the tape itself, sampled from a Roland TR-808 drum machine. 2. Because a compact cassette has two tracks (left and right, for stereo), one track is dedicated to the drums, another to the rim shot. 3. The rim shot track is fed as …

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$50 Gakken Synth Kit Meets MIDI, Ableton Live

Via Collin Cunningham at MAKE, MrBook has a lovely rig with a modified Gakken SX-150, the synth kit that sells for US$50 in the States and has even been seen as a free add-in with Japanese magazines. He’s added MIDI control and a digital audio converter, and put it into a housing, which makes for a quite-playable instrument. Really terrific work! Of course, a few thoughts: We need an OSC-compatible synth. (Anyone out there?) I love you, Live, but this looks like a perfect job for Numerology (for its modular sequencing) or Renoise (for tracking). Looks like more controls would …

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