This could be the NAMM of modular synths in the Eurorack format. The question is, with vendors big and small crowding into this niche market, what will stand apart? Waldorf’s answer is to draw on the company’s history (hello, wavetables!), and in an announcement this week, to offer up a range of modules that fit into a keyboard. The upshot: an all-in-one solution.
By now, you’ve heard about KORG’s $499 minilogue analog polysynth, and the next question is: how does it sound? I’ve been playing around with it, and I can at least say this: it isn’t boring. I’m wary of sound samples. Most synths are capable of producing some sorts of good sounds, unless there’s literally something wrong with the way they’re engineered. And likewise, the experience of using an instrument goes beyond what an out-of-context sound can describe. But with that in mind, I’ll share some somewhat random excursions here. My guess is that (cough) more respectable synthesists will post the …
It seems the era of the affordable analog monosynth just gave way to the affordable analog polysynth. Leaked last week, KORG’s minilogue is a US$499.99 4-voice polysynth. Before you dive into our sprawling review, here’s everything you need to know in a nutshell. Keep in mind – we’ve had this synth since last week, so we’re not just copying specs here.
IRCAM is Paris’ legendary research center. It’s the place where the original Max was born, and it’s still a hub for some of the brightest minds in sound in the world. IRCAMAX 2 is a new set of effects and instruments for Max for Live. And it does some amazing stuff – though maybe the best way to demonstrate that is not to explain, but to let you listen. They’ve made not just demos but some beautiful music, via artist Najo:
As more people bring home hardware, the next question is how to get that running smoothly with software – for recording and control. We just saw a really great tutorial for doing it in Reaper, using our MeeBlip synth. Now there’s another unsolicited MeeBlip tutorial (really, I had nothing to do with this), this time with Bitwig Studio. Watch at top.
With a little setup, you can integrate a hardware synth with Reaper as if it’s a software plug-in. Check out the video tutorial from The Reaper Blog to see how. Reaper is a terrific “indie” DAW for the budget-conscious. Just $60 buys you an individual personal license with a bunch of free upgrades. (“Commercial” use is described as anyone making more than $20k a year – plenty of very serious musicians make less than that.)
Five years ago this month, CDM unveiled the MeeBlip project. It was a chance to put our love of synthesizers into a physical form we could share. And we had no idea where it would take us. Five years later, we’ve sold thousands of the musical instruments, all engineered by their creator James Grahame in Calgary, and all fully open source. In that time, we’ve also worked hard to make the MeeBlip constantly better, and easier for more people to get their hands on and use. Today, we celebrate five years, and what we think is our best MeeBlip yet. …
::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone. Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?)
Touchplates are so in this year. Yes, it’s a testament to the legacy of synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla: electronic musicians evidently long for something new. And the latest is a glimpse of something found in our news tip inbox. It’s called “HYVE” and it’s a hybrid synthesizer, combining a number of ideas about pitch arrangement into a single touch-plate layout. There’s a keyboard. There’s a hexagonal pitch array. And there’s a heck of a lot of polyphony. And… well, it’s best to just watch the video:
Okay, we’ve had pirates and Star Wars and cute houses and such. It’s about time synth lovers got the LEGO set they deserve. Andy Grobengieser is a music pro and LEGO enthusiast out of New York, and he’s got one heck of a Minimoog set designed. (Thanks for telling us about this on Twitter, Andy.) You can even help make it a for-sale set from LEGO – hopefully the first of a whole synth line, if we’re lucky.