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Mobile beat rig: MeeBlip, Elastic Drums, BeatStep Pro

Jamming: the idea is to make music by connecting directly to gestures so you make something spontaneous. And if music technology is jam session friendly, this finally means you can do it together – not just alone.

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What to know about Roland’s mini, dockable “boutique” synths

Roland’s “Boutique” Synths are now here officially, after most of the details of these mini synths leaked out in advance of their launch. And we get a real look at this line of inexpensive, mini synths – three models, with an optional keyboard dock.

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Moog Mother-32 wants to be your intro to modular synthesis

Moog Music was already there for you with modular products if you wanted to live out a Keith Emerson fantasy and had thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket. For some, that may read like learning the Learjet company is happy to indulge your dream of flying — so long as you’ve got a few million dollars and time for pilot lessons. Okay, so what about everyone else? Hot on the heels of the discontinuation of the Minimoog Voyager, the Mother-32 might just be Moog’s new answer to what synthesis lovers everywhere might crave. It’s a desktop (but …

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Hands-on with Novation Circuit, drum machine synth sequencer hardware all-in-one

Novation has been doing things with grids and knobs for some time, but those have come in the form of gadgets you plug into a computer and use with software like Ableton Live. Circuit is different: it’s an all-in-one groove workstation with sequencer, drum machine, synth, and arrangement in control, and it doesn’t even need to be plugged into power. We’ve got one of the first Novation Circuit units here, so in advance of our full review, here’s a quick hands-on.

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Meet Eurorack modules with literal dirt, radiation, coded viruses

If you like dirt in your distortion, now you can have … literal dirt. Like, a big pile of Earth inside a Eurorack, conditioning an amplifier circuit and producing distortion. That kind of dirt. I don’t want to say that Eurorack buyers will now buy anything, but you be the judge: 40 buyers sold out the first run of the ERD/ERD “Earth Return Distortion” and filled up the wait list. (What I don’t know is whether anyone took the manufacturer up on the sale offer – send dirt from a cool place, get a discount.)

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What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware

The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though – and it’s time. In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths – most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right …

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Roland teases ’boutique’ with three mystery mini keyboard synths

Roland continues their journey into uncharted waters – following the unexpected entry into categories like DIN sync, control voltage-manipulated analog, and Eurorack modular, the Japanese titan today teases something new it’s calling “Roland Boutique.” The legacy is spelled out in the opening – Jupiter-8, JX-3P, and Juno-106 synth keyboards from the early 80s give way to three backlit boxes with just-visible faders with LEDs on them. And at least we see there’s no eye-blinding green LEDs (cough, AIRA). So, this is pretty obvious: you get one box inspired by each of the earlier ones. Really, it’s the word ’boutique’ that’s …

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Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth

Synths: they’re fun to tweak and play. Modulars: they’re fun to patch. Arduinos: they’re fun to hack. Small things: they’re fun to carry around. Now, what if you got all of those things at the same time? That’s the thought behind the NS1nanosynth analog synthesizer. It’s either vying for the prize of tiniest modular synth ever, or most hackable tiny synth ever. If you saw one from across the room, you might just assume this was just another little project synth. And lately, that category, while generating lots of decent oddities, hasn’t had something that could stick as a hit. …

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Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code. You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

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Alchemy synth is now a part of Logic Pro X; here’s what’s new

Logic Pro has a new flagship synth instrument. And that synth is no basic pack-in – it’s one of the deepest software instruments on the market. It’s also no stranger. As expected following Cupertino’s acquisition, Alchemy, a deep “sample manipulation” synth, has made its way into Apple’s product line. It’s now everywhere on the Mac desktop. Even in GarageBand, you can access Alchemy-based presets. In Logic Pro X, and even MainStage, you can access the full instrument. (That means the $29.99 MainStage is now also a heck of a steal if you just want the synth.) (I do say desktop …

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