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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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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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These photos of Roland Jupiter, Juno, JX just leaked, show optional keyboard

We broke the news (okay, uh, I changed the contrast values on the video) of a new line of budget Roland synths last week. Details continue to leak out about those products, and though no one has heard anything yet, the public reaction has been really positive. Now we know more: portable with battery power, optional keyboard, and lots of built-in features.

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Universal Audio just made an Apollo Twin that does Windows, thanks to USB3

If you’re a Windows user who’s been jealous of Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin interface and audio DSP platform, times are about to change. For those of you just joining us, Universal Audio’s box is special in that it’s a compact, accessibly-priced entry into the UAD line. As an audio interface, it’s just one of the better pieces of gear out there (in terms of fidelity and reliability). And it runs all UAD’s top-notch plugins, too, opening up a window to a lot of analog emulation. The Apollo Twin is a high-performance box, but it demands Thunderbolt – and it’s OS …

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NI’s Traktor S5 is a more compact all-in-one DJ controller; here’s how it stacks up

The Traktor Kontrol S8 from Native Instruments is, let’s face it, the Cadillac Escalade of DJ gear. It’s loaded. It’s shiny. It’s powerful. It’s also expensive and hard to parallel park. So, without much fanfare, NI last week gave us the S5. It’s roughly the size of the S4 – the two-wheel controller that was once flagship of the Traktor line. But in that space, you get the stuff you’ve probably envied on the bigger Traktor controllers (the S8, and its one-deck-at-a-time counterpart the D2). It’s got color displays. It’s got touch strips – no wheels, if you like such …

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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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Novation’s LaunchControl XL now works standalone – hello, modulars, gear

Tired: controllers that need computers to operate. Wired (literally): controllers that work happily standalone. MIDI, CV – all good. I’m still bleary-eyed but happy after a day yesterday of overwhelmingly cool Novation Launchpad Pro hacks, most of them standalone. The idea: hack into the firmware, and make the Launchpad Pro do whatever you want in your rig. Now, today, Novation themselves are out with clever videos showing off the fact that a firmware update has made the Launch Control and Launch Control XL work on their own. (Note the the Launchpad Pro is preferable in that it has onboard MIDI. …

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Pioneer focuses on scratch, battle, effects with new mixer

Meet Pioneer’s new push, a strategy aiming squarely at scratch and turntablist DJs and effects lovers, with or without a computer. If some of the latest mixers have conventional analog mixing, bread and butter features, and rotaries, Pioneer’s DJ mixer this week – isn’t any of that. Instead, the DJM-S9 is a “battle” mixer loaded up with extras and emphasizing scratch and effects features. And it is unmistakably a Pioneer box in that it draws heavily on wild effects. It’s a “party rocking mixer” as an artist describes it in the launch video. Also, watch the video. What you mostly …

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Minimoog controller reminds us hardware, software go hand in hand

What’s an ‘app’? For years, it was an uphill battle just getting people to recognize the ability of computers to generate sounds. When Native Instruments was founded in Berlin in 1996, their name was a clue to where they imagined the future going. Propellerhead’s release of ReBirth in 1997 began a concerted effort by the Stockholm-based company to campaign for in-the-box emulations of gear – and their partner Steinberg would shortly thereafter push ReWire and its own VST. Now, it’s not so much the app as the map – the physical control given to software. Whatever analog versus digital debates …

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Control MIDI and Ableton from your iPhone, Android for handheld music

Put control over Ableton Live in the palm of your hand – and control MIDI gadgets even without the aid of a computer. That’s the vision of LK (the former Livkontrol), out today for both iOS and Android handhelds. This isn’t the first pocket controller. But it might be the first pocket controller to become truly invaluable. That’s because there’s robust support for more than just sliding some faders on your phone or working with wifi. Features, all borrowed from the tablet LK: Wireless connections, but also USB connection USB to MIDI interface support, so you can use this as …

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