The Subharchord. Photo Gerhard Steinke.

Meet the Subharchord, subharmonic organ of the DDR

Once upon a time in East Germany, an alternate branch of the evolution of the synthesizer and the organ came into being. And now it has a second chance to capture imaginations. The Subharchord was the DDR-era invention of engineer Enrst Schreiber, first designed in 1958. It was an original production but inspired by Oskar Sala’s so-called Mixtur-Trautonium. State backing came from the unlikely goal of serving as a commercial rival to the Hammond organ, thus bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Communist nation. Unfortunately, practicality and politics intervened. But that’s not to say the Subharchord wasn’t ahead of its time …

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Get a free pack that recreates Prince’s signature drum sounds

With so much to talk about in recent days about Prince’s legacy, it’s possible to overlook just what a deep impact he had on production and sound design. Working with Roger Linn’s classic boxes, the LinnDrum and LM-1, the artist left an indelible mark on the sound of pop. And you don’t have to slavishly copy those contributions: by learning how they’re put together, you can understand what went into them and follow your own sound. Just that sort of education in sound design – something for fans and students – is embodied in a free download for Ableton Live …

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BAM is OTO Machines’ musical, retro reverb box

Reverb: it’s something everyone needs. And yet in hardware, you almost always see the same couple of boxes. It seems about time for a new player. And OTO Machines, known for their BISCUIT 8-bit effect box and filter, might have just the candidate. BAM, coming soon, emulates the reverbs of the 70s and 80s. And in the demo, it sounds amazing.

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A different breed of analog sound library for Ableton Live

Soundware is everywhere, from endless catalogs of loops to yet another pack of sampled vintage instruments. But apart from questionable quality as the market grows crowded, the other simple question is, just how should these packs be assembled? SympleSound is what happens when a sound designer decides to treat the sound pack like an instrument unto itself – not just content, but a set of tools.

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Got a (bit) crush on you: TAL-Sampler, Lil’ Kim, and digital crunch

For me, it goes back to Lil’ Kim. Let me back up. Much as we take it for granted in 2015, once upon a time in a far-gone decade called the 80s, sampling was a new technology. Groundbreaking (and expensive) instruments such as the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier brought new possibilities for playing with recorded audio. Suddenly, sounds and sequences which used to take days of work from skilled tape manipulators became keyboard-mapped.

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Check out this amazing Minimoog LEGO set, and help make it real

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.

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Watch Bob Moog play and talk about the Theremin

It’s the instrument that was the first real electronic music product. And it’s the reason we even know the name Bob Moog – as it inspired Moog to go into electronics and the sale of electronic musical instruments. So, when the Theremin is the subject of a video by Bob Moog himself, it’s a big deal. You’ll have to settle for early-90s video quality, but you’ll be treated to the dulcet tones of Dr. Moog’s New York baritone narration of Theremin history, followed by an enchanting and pretty-darn-technically-good performance on the Russian electronic invention. Thanks to Chris Stack and experimentalsynth …

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Get smarter in Ableton Live with a treasure trove of tutorials and tools

If you’re using Ableton Live, you simply need to know about Sonic Bloom. It’s like a spa-slash-university for your Live-using self: you’ll come out refreshed, smarter, and even a bit better looking. Creator Madeleine Bloom has been busy. The site, at the age of three this month, now has five hundred tips, tutorials, and informational articles on Ableton Live. (And, occasionally, you’ll pick up an Oblique Strategy, or two – like fill every beat.) There are some ninety freebies, too – from Live Packs to skins and colors to keep your Live set looking spiffy. For instance, just this week, …

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Learn electronics with the vintage Side Man drum machine

ENG_SIDEMAN_PREVIEW from Darsha Hewitt on Vimeo. Darsha’s sound electronics class is in session – and it’s a little different to what you’d normally expect. Rather than a bunch of animations of electrons moving about, sound artist and educator Darsha Hewitt has created a long-form video tutorial around the world’s first commercial drum machine.

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Sync that 303: One little box does MIDI to DIN sync

Put some actual “computer-controlled” in the 303. The folks at British maker Kenton have a way of churning out little boxes that do things people need. MIDI Thru, check. Connecting those USB gizmos that lack MIDI, check. Plugging MIDI to your modular, roger. So, to that, add a single box that translates MIDI to DIN Sync (sync24) – and back again. DIN Sync, as developed by Roland, is suddenly news again because of a rekindled interest in vintage gear. If you want to synchronize a TR-808 or a TB-303, DIN Sync is what you need. The Kenton D-SYNC isn’t the …

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