s5backangle

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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insider6

Here’s a visual tour of what’s new in Reaktor 6

Reaktor 6 arrives today, and it’s the most significant update to Native Instruments’ deep modular environment in years. Blocks, which we cover separately, are clearly the banner feature. But there’s a lot of new functionality both apart from Blocks and underlying it. Let’s take a tour. First, it’s worth saying: Reaktor is a vital part of NI’s DNA. It’s the software that really launched the company (as Generator, back in 1996). And Reaktor is a prototyping and development tool for the company. Of course, the flipside would be, if NI weren’t taking care of Reaktor, you should fear for the …

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Reaktor 6 Blocks are like getting a modular in your laptop for $199

What if I told you you could have a modular with what would feel like limitless possibilities – and it’d cost just a couple hundred bucks. Oh, yeah, and if you got bored of the existing modules, you could make new ones. Well, that’s exactly what you get with Blocks in Reaktor 6. And, while, sure, you could say the same of past versions of Reaktor could say that, too, as could tools like Max or SuperCollider or Pd, here we mean literally a set of modules that inter-connect in real-time, act as self-contained units, and allow designers to create …

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maxology_physical

Get physical modeling sonic powers, free, in Max starter kit

There is a powerful world of sound exploration in your hands. But sometimes the hardest part is just starting. So the quiet launch of a site called Maxology is very good news. It’s evidently a place to go for tutorials and projects and more. And right now, you can grab a bunch of free and open source objects for physical modeling, built for Max 7 and Max for Live. That opens a window into a world of realistic and impossible sounds, built on algorithms that mimic the way instruments work physically and acoustically.

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windows

Windows startup sounds transformed into amazing ambient music

Microsoft celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Windows 95. But the best part of all of this may be this oddly eerie, beautiful set of ambient tunes, slowing down the best-known Windows branding by 4000%. This is what Brian Eno sounds like when you Brian Eno-ify Brian Eno. While we’re at it, it’s worth revisiting some of the startup sounds over the years.

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stemscreator

Here’s how to start making your own Stems for sale or DJing

We’ve heard a lot about Stems, a distribution format providing four separate, DJ-ready parts. And we already go to the point where you could buy a range of Stems music online. What you haven’t been able to do is try making your own Stems, unless you were on one of the early label partners. That changes today, with Native Instruments’ public release of the free Stem Creator Tool. This is officially a beta version, but NI reports the files are created correctly and you should find it stable. This also means whether or not you’re sold on Stems yet, you’ll …

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j74

A grid of anything, as Launchpad tool lets you play in new ways

From frets to keys to finger holes, musical instruments in every culture have provided ways to easily access musical ideas quickly. But these are physical, acoustic instruments, so any solution they find is more or less restricted to a single set of choices. Digital hardware can do what digital software can: it can be a blank slate for new ideas. The monome and Tenori-On grid instruments, each in their own way, demonstrated that a radically simple grid can generate a surprising range of possibilities. The monome’s claim to fame, above its other applications, was the way a companion Max patch …

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reaper

Here are ten reasons Reaper 5 upgrade will make users happy

Reaper 5 is out today. It’s the compact, tight, powerful music and audio production software whose users would like to know why more of you aren’t talking about it. And they have a point. Reaper 5 is US$60 with a bunch of included free upgrades, or a voluntary $225 for “commercial” use. Even the demo runs a full 60 days with no restrictions. Yet Reaper does a lot of things other DAWs don’t – even some of the priciest out there – in a compact tool that has exhaustive hardware and OS support, plus complete scripting. Now, what Reaper 5 …

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studio_one-song_page

A powerful version of the Studio One DAW is now free

The very fact that a tool is called a “digital audio workstation” rather than “music making software” tells you something. Historically, these have been tools that do a lot of things in a fairly complex interface. And so a lot of DAWs seem to be counting how many windows and views and tools they can provide. PreSonus’ Studio One is among a handful of tools that has bucked the trend, putting everything in a streamlined single window view. The notion is to provide the multitude of features producers demand, but keeping everything close at hand and operating quickly. And now, …

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Akai Launches New MPD Pad Series, with More Controls

Akai is a name synonymous with pad controls, via their MPC. But the MPD line of controllers hasn’t gotten a lot of attention lately – until now. Today, the company unveils a big update to the MPD line. The numbers are parallel to the MPD18, MPD26, and MPD32, but these are really new pad controllers. They remain inexpensive but add additional hands-on controls and features, as well as a redesign of the pad sensing that Akai says is “ultra-sensitive.” Sounds a bit like something condom packaging would say, but Akai’s flagship MPC Revolution has terrific pads, so I’ll forgive the …

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