Call it KORGmas. Okay, probably don’t call it that. But KORG just released a mess of gear for musicians. Here’s all of it in one place – and what to know.
KORG Gadget for Nintendo Switch
Available: Spring 2018
What’s it for: Get a production studio on your Nintendo Gadget – which means You’ll be able to download from Nintendo’s eShop. 16 synth and drum machine gadgets. Running on Nintendo’s game console means you can go from handheld to couch and TV screen easily (a trick even your iPad can’t pull off), using the JoyCon.
Available: This month
What’s it for: Connect up to three volcas, give them a master clock, power, mix the, route out to effects, and add compression/expansion with sidechaining.
Coolest feature: All the cables are in the box – add three volcas and nothing else, and get playing.
Available: This month
What’s it for: Builds on the popular Minilogue and Prologue with 8- or 16-voice polyphony and 49- or 61-key keyboards, plus new Mod and Delay/Reverb effects. A deep architecture lets you split or layer, and play...
You’ve got the inexpensive, compact gear, like the volcas that started it all. Now you need a mixer. KORG finally responds.
Volca Mix is the hardware everyone’s been predicting for about as long as we’ve had Volcas, only now, it’s real. And it also reveals KORG’s answers to some questions that weren’t so obvious. How many channels should this thing have? Mono or stereo? What would make it special?
Well, here you are:
4-channel analog – two mono, and one stereo pair.
Three faders: so mono, mono, stereo
Low/high-cut filter on each channel
Analog stereo expander/compressor with sidechaining
Master clock with sync out – so you can clock all your other KORG gear (or other stuff that takes that signal, like the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators)
Patchable power: you get one DC power in, three out
Dedicated stereo send out
Stereo line out (phono)
Stereo speakers! And a switch so you don’t have to hear them if you don’t want.
All the cables / power are in the box: AC adapter, DC-DC cables, and audio cables. That’s a huge change; in the past, those volcas were actually priced deceptively cheaply by not including a power adapter in the box. (AA batteries don’t grow on trees, that is!)
We’re of course really keen to use this with our own MeeBlip,...
This one isn’t a remake or reboot: KORG’s new generation of analog synths is growing, with 8- and 16-voice polyphonic Prologue keyboards.
And whereas the Minilogue and Monologue are all about affordable, new synthesis, the Prologue is something else: it’s really a new analog flagship, something KORG haven’t had in decades.
Case in point: the keyboards, in 49- and 61-key variants, come with the action shared on the KRONOS. You get 8-voice / 49-key, or 16-voice / 61-key – all with discrete analog circuitry.
There’s another departure here, too: an open source multi engine, which will feature an SDK for developers.
But the basic argument for the Prologue is this: maybe you want a different architecture that lets you mix up sounds and voices in interesting ways. So you get the ability to play two timbres at once, layering and splitting, or playing in Poly, Mono, Unison, and Chord modes. (New, indeed, but that also shares some of the kind of musical thinking that made the KORG Mono/Poly great.)
To that, you can add a deeper multi-effects unit – making this more of an all-in-one sound creation workstation than the entry level units. Two effects slots give you Mod and Delay/Reverb.
But I think it’s the openness that could be most interesting. You can...
Bang Means Do it software have brought us another FX app to add to their portfolio. FS FreezeVerb is a lush sounding stereo reverb, useful for both subtle ambience and cavernous reverberation. The app features a clear and simple design, FS FreezeVerb aims to make it easy for users to dial in their ideal reverb settings – complete with a visualisation of the virtual room, which is one of the most interesting features from my perspective.
The Dampen function lets users vary the damping within their virtual room – lower settings mean less damping, making the room’s walls more reflective.
The other feature that has really caught my attention is the Freeze Mode. When this mode is turned on, the reverb signal at that particular moment is ‘frozen’ and continues indefinitely, which sounds like something that could be used in some really creative ways.
FS FreezeVerb can be used as standalone application or can be used as an Audio Unit.
FS FreezeVerb costs $3.99 on the app store:
The post FS FreezeVerb isn’t your ordinary reverb app, it has a couple of features you need to check out appeared first on
Sounds.com is a subscription-based loop and sample site – but it’s also a glimpse into Native Instruments’ future strategy for digital services for musicians.
Today, NI are revealing Sounds.com – a product in 2018 that sounds like someone registered a domain in 1996. That domain name pretty much covers it: it’s a place to go get sounds, in the form of loops and samples. It’s only available as a beta in the United States now, but will roll out to the rest of the world over the course of this year.
And we’re talking just straight, high-quality WAV files here – audio, for use anywhere. (No, not STEMS, since someone asked.)
You can check out the beta now. I’ve had the chance to talk to Matthew Adell (NI’s new digital services chief) and Sunny Lee (Product Owner) about the product, and poked around the beta and sounds a bit in advance. Here’s a sense of what this might mean as a product itself, but also some of the potential to sound designers and future NI products – if the service and its underlying infrastructure are fully exploited.
There are, of course, a lot of purveyors of loops and sound content. But what NI’s tool here promises is a deeper, broader catalog of sounds from multiple sources, combined with better tools for searching them.
You won’t see much of Native Instruments’ name...
Now we know the whole story: Arturia’s new synths come with a choice of keys or pads+more step sequencing – and there’s are companion RackBrute cases.
So, if you like the ‘Brute synths, now you can choose.
Prefer a keyboard? The MiniBrute 2 (without the letter ‘s’) now has 25 full-sized keys. And it’s got the new patch bay for modular routing, plus a competent step sequencer and arpeggiator.
But prefer pads to a keyboard, or want deeper step sequencing? That’s the MiniBrute 2S.
To either, you can then add two cases for expanding with modular, making the MiniBrute the center of a patchable sound workstation. That’s what “Arturia Link” is – not some proprietary new sync format or something like that, but actually a physical connector attaching the accessories. (It’s a fancy name for some fancy holes, basically!)
Let’s talk about the 2S, because it’s already upstaging the MiniBrute 2 for some people. Little surprise: a lot of people aren’t keyboardists, people who are keyboardists generally already own keyboards, and most importantly, Arturia’s BeatStep line of sequencers were already beloved. Cross-breed that step sequencing goodness with the MiniBrute, and we may have a winner.
The pads on there reduce the overall footprint, and provide velocity and continuous pressure sensitivity.
The step sequencer is three parts – so, since this is a monosynth, that means in addition to making on layer for your melodies,...
The beauty of Eurorack is its modularity. The problem is, that means your first investment has to be a case. Arturia’s RackBrute might be your solution.
It’s portable. It’s not hugely expensive – this is at last a mass market offering. And it seems full of eminently practical features – including, if you want, the ability to attach this to Arturia’s new MiniBrute 2 and 2S.
For those of you just joining us, Arturia have been teasing out three related products over the course of as may days. So on Monday, the news was the MiniBrute 2, a reboot of their signature monosynth with modularity added via a dense patch bay wedged in the upper-right hand corner of the hardware. Day two: maybe you want that same MiniBrute 2 without the keyboard, but with pads and a more extensive sequencer.
In case you didn’t catch some leaked photos or spot some funny looking pixels on either side of the keyboard, now part three turns out to be a set of Eurorack cases. And yes, that mysterious mention of “Arturia Link” is in fact the ability to attach the RackBrute to the MiniBrute 2/2S, so you have a handy complement of modules right above your synth (and can connect cables easily between the rack and the instrument).
This being modular, you get a choice of two sizes. For those of you new to this,...
Universal Audio just brought their DSP platform – and top-notch audio interface tech – to a box that’s Thunderbolt, bus-powered, and under US$500.
Here’s the thing: if someone asks you the age-old question “which audio interface should I buy,” it’s actually pretty hard not to mention Universal Audio. While the company may have gotten started selling pricey high-end DSP cards for their platform of vintage gear emulations and sound tools, starting with Apollo, they also happened to make one of the best audio interfaces. The Apollo line boasts high-end converters and audio circuitry and rock-solid performance. And it’s been steadily reaching more and more people, with the smaller Twin bringing the price down, and Windows support following Mac.
The Apollo Twin is good enough, in fact, that you can almost recommend it just for its audio interface capabilities – not only as a gateway into the catalog of UAD studio effects and sound processors and the like.
But the Apollo Twin still represents some outlay of cash. And it’s portable, but not quite throw-it-in-a-laptop portable – especially once you figure in that power brick.
So, the Arrow starts to look really smart as an entry level device. Its estimated street is just US$499. It’s still 2×4 like the Apollo Twin – so you can have a separate monitor mix. And there are two mic preamps.
Ryouta Kira, the developer behind KQ MiniSynth has now brought us his latest creation, KQ Dixie, probably the closest you’re going to get to having a DX7 in your iOS device. Early indications are that it’s pretty good.For a start it’s a universal app, which is always a big tick in my book, and, the app even acts as a controller for the real thing if you have one.
Here’s the app developer’s description:
KQ Dixie is a 6-Operator FM synthesizer that is modeled on the synthesizer which appeared on the 1980s. FM synthesizers make sounds with Frequency Modulation. FM brings rich and brilliant sounds which are impossible to create with analog one. It makes very complex waves with simple modulations. The same method is used for a radio. The synthesizer gained much popularity in the 1980s.
This app lets you make sounds freely with 156 voice parameters. Almost all parameters are compatible with DX7.
- Audio Unit v3 compatible.
- Audiobus compatible.
- 32 algorithms included.
- You can manage the hardware DX7 when it is connected with external MIDI cables.
- Supports DX7 System Exclusive Messages (SysEx) and syx files.
- Supports Zip files.
- You may be able to find a lot of patches on the internet.
The developer also points out:
“Yamaha DX7 is a trademark of Yamaha Corporation. I have no business relations with Yamaha.”
Which is good to know.
KQ Dixie is on the app store now and costs $3.99:
The post KQ Dixie could...
Arturia reveals the follow-up to edgy, distinctive little MiniBrute monosynth keyboard. This time, they’ve fit a tiny patch bay to make it semi-modular.
The Arturia synths are portable, affordable, and … weird. And this continues that tradition, with the nicer MatrixBrute keys and a “use every millimeter” patch bay wedged on the side. So now you can use more cables to make things, like, more weird.
The MicroBrute, the MiniBrute’s baby brother, actually had very basic patching capabilities – the “mod matrix” let you route the LFO and envelope (or external signal) to control timbre, pitch, and filter. That made it an easy favorite of the Brute line.
The MiniBrute 2 on the other hand bests both Mini- and MicroBrute with a full blown architecture for patching stuff into other stuff. And let’s be clear that that’s what this is about. Technically, yes “semi-modular architectures” give you more ability to create original sounds blah blah blah …
Translated into simple terms, “plugging wires into jacks for making noises” is what we mean. And of course that can be true if you have just the MiniBrute 2 or if you want to combine it with other analog and modular gear.
Electronic musicians have been living with the idea of Live 10 for a while. Now, the actual software is available in a public beta. Here’s how it works.
Who can join the public beta?
You need a registered copy of Ableton Live 9 Standard or Live 9 Suite. Earlier versions and entry level/bundled versions of the software don’t qualify.
How do I join in?
Ableton uses bug tracker Centercode to share current in-development testing builds of their software, and to collect data on how you’re using it. If you have one of those Live 9 serials, you can sign up directly:
Why is it a public beta?
Ableton say they use this stage of the process to collect data on how you’re using the software and how stable it is. So, they are actively looking for bugs.
Back in the day, that meant you had to write extensive reports for developers to know what wasn’t working in the software. Now, a lot of that process is automated (though if you encounter some very specific bug, for instance with a particular third-party setup, you may want to write some report to Ableton).
Is it stable?
Okay, officially, it’s beta software, so strictly speaking it isn’t as stable as a finished release.
But Ableton betas are unique, in that certified trainers, some members of the press (hi there), Ableton employees, and some artists have been using Live 10 since the fall. I’ve probably opened Live 9 only a couple of times since September, and have played with Live...
First, there was Mother-32. Now, Moog has another affordable patchable desktop (“semi-modular”): Drummer From Another Mother (DFAM), for percussion synthesis.
With a US$599 street, that Moog name, and patchability without being overwhelming (or requiring a Eurorack investment) – all combined with musicians’ insatiable appetite for percussion – I suspect this one will be a hit.
So, what’s the angle? Basically, think 2 oscillators + 1 noise oscillator, 8-step sequencer, analog envelopes, and the signature Moog ladder filter — and then a mess of patch points for combining it.
There’s also a clever way of launching the instrument: starting tomorrow in Los Angeles, the DFAM will take over The Cactus Store on Echo Park Avenue, powering a … biofeedback installation? Hey, we’ve seen cute installations from team Moog before, so why not? Artists like Daedelus, Bernie Krause, John Tejada, Mike Dean & Bana Haffar are all slated to make appearances. So you’ll hear some of the experts take this for a ride – and get to go for a test drive yourself – if you’re in the LA area.
For the rest of us, it sounds something like this:
SOUND ENGINE: Analog
ANALOG SEQUENCER: 8-Steps With Pitch and Velocity Per-Step
SEQUENCER PANEL CONTROLS: Tempo, Run/Stop, Trigger, Advance
SOUND SOURCES: 2 Oscillators With Square and Triangle Waveforms, 1 White Noise Generator, 1 External Audio Input
There’s renewed interest in his pioneering synthesis techniques. But now the future of Buchla’s hardware brand looks bright, too – under new management.
Don Buchla’s ground-breaking approach to electronic musical instruments has gotten a second lease on life, as a new generation has embraced making sound with modulars – and, for that matter, weird and experimental sounds generally. That’s meant that Don’s place not only in the history of hardware, but alongside the San Francisco Tape Music Center (and composers like Morton Subotnick and Pauline Oliveros) has found a growing audience.
Alongside that, the re-invigorated Buchla brand saw the re-launch of the Music Easel plus the debut of the new 252e Polyphonic Rhythm Generator.
It should have been Buchla’s return to glory. But it was marred by Don Buchla’s failing health, then financial troubles at Buchla Elecronic Musical Instruments, legal battles between Don Buchla and the new owners of the company he had founded, and finally the loss of Don Buchla himself.
There was no doubt Don Buchla’s legacy would live on – but would new Buchla instruments?
As of today, we have a much better picture for Buchla the brand. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (and the original Buchla & Associates) are no more. In its place, meet Buchla U.S.A.
On today’s nicely-binary January 11, Buchla U.S.A. LLC has announced it has purchased the former Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments and all its assets. The new company will be headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the leadership of CEO Eric Fox. Fox is also owner...
Behringer are busy teasing still more analog synth remakes. But messages from the company suggest they may be struggling to produce their Minimoog clone.
Right now, Behringer are shipping the synth that represented their first major foray into the synth business. That would be analog polysynth DeepMind 12 – a 12-voice keyboard loaded up with extras, including built-in Wi-Fi and a bunch of effects from TC ELECTRONIC and KLARK TEKNIK. And it represents a significant acquisition of engineering talent, as Behringer has brought the MIDAS team into the fold.
The DeepMind is unquestionably inexpensive for a polysynth and, from people I know who’ve had it for longer tests, at least reasonably good. If you don’t need 12 voices, you can get a number of great instruments, some of them for less than the DeepMind. And if you’re willing to spend a bit more, Novation, Moog, Dave Smith and others have offerings, as well. But it is fair to say the DeepMind 12 has found a sizable market for itself, at least for now.
Irrespective of the price, the DeepMind seems to face the challenge all synths do at the moment: potential customers are far more familiar with classic instruments of the past. And remakes of a classic Moog, Roland, KORG, Yamaha, or even Oberheim or Sequential instrument seem to earn more immediate attention and recognition than anything new. (Make of that what you will.)
And so it is that Behringer have managed to upstage… themselves.
The DeepMind was itself accompanied by...
Millions of children worldwide use Scratch to enter the world of programming. Now there’s a new way to connect to music, as Roland teams up with MIT.
There’s a long, amazing history of teaching programming and creativity to kids. A lot of this legacy traces back to Cambridge and Wally Feurzeig, Seymour Papert, and Cynthia Solomon, with their late 60s introduction of the Logo programming language and accompanying Turtle Graphics, alongside a physical turtle robot. (Cynthia Solomon by the way has had an ongoing career contributing to this work and was one of the people instrumental in seeing this tool introduced to Apple’s 80s computer initiatives, which is how I grew up with it.)
If you understand topics like programming, logic – and machine learning, artificial intelligence, and related fields – as an extensive of how we think, then this is more than simply vocational prep. It’s not just making sure we have a generation of cheap coders, in other words. Learning programming, creativity, and media in this way can help how we think – so it’s really important.
Scratch is one of the latest to follow in these footsteps. It’s a free visual programming environment available on all operating systems and in 70+ (human) languages, built in its latest iteration with Web technologies. You can use it in a browser, and it has some surprisingly sophisticated interactive sprite and behavior capabilities, merging some of the best of past tools like Smalltalk, HyperCard, Director/Lingo, ActionScript, and others.
You know – for...
Smartphones have already changed how we think about cameras. So what about recording? The newest handheld in Roland’s popular line has one answer to that.
The R-07 is a handheld recording gadget, in the tradition of Roland (and Edirol) recorders past. That already suggests it could be a good choice. This year’s model has various high-quality modes and stereo recording, including built-in stereo operation.
Now, that already can best the internal mono mics in your smartphone. Plus, add-on mics are kind of a pain – they require different connectors, may make you worry about battery life, and then require you to position your phone in the recording location. Plus, phones generally speaking lack tripod mounts (even if there are some solutions to that).
So the R-07’s innovation is to both respond to the sleek, small design of modern phones, and to couple with your iPhone or Android phone for added functionality.
This doesn’t look quite like any handheld recorder we’ve seen yet from Roland or anyone else. It’s incredibly tiny, with a sleek design that seems more consumer gadget and less chunky pro audio device. It still manages to include one-touch access to important features, plus USB connectivity, audio jacks, and a built-in stereo mic. But it does so in a pocket form factor.
Start your week right with some underground technoes. akkamiau is the multi-faceted Prague-born Akkamiau Kočičí, and she kicks off a special January for us.
Here in Berlin on Saturday, we’re hosting a special night of live performances with akkamiau joining us for a DJ set rounding out the night:
They’re all released on or forthcoming on our label Establishment, and all of them have robust projects of their own, from live coding work in the Algorave scene with Miri Kat, to their own up-and-coming label projects (Gradient from Jamaica Suk, Denkfabrik from Nicolas Bougaïeff, and a new project emerging from Stanislav Glazov aka Procedural). They’re also teaching – Stas is a modular and Touch Designer guru traveling the world with those projects; both Nick and Jamaica teach privately, and Nick teaches modulars and coaches composition as Dr. Techno – because he’s a real doctor. Oliver Torr on behalf of Prague’s XYZ project is preparing an interactive light installation that will evolve over the course of the night, as well.Stratofyzika, intermedia group.
I wanted to invite Lenka to send some vibrations to our readers all over the world. Lenka’s own projects are myriad: she’s a founding member of female:pressure, the network and advocacy organization that has worked for years to break apart the gendering of electronic music, she releases and performs and DJs as akkamiau...
Since Audio Damage started moving into the world of iOS we’ve seen some really cool apps arrive, and now we can add Filterstation2 to that list. Filterstation2 is the Audio Damage take on the classic serial / parallel / stereo dual filter topology, made famous (and some would say “indispensable”) by the Sherman Filterbank and its many clones. With twelve filter algorithms, an envelope follower with stereo sidechain input, a full FSU section for extra signal hacking, and an easy-to-use interface, Filterstation2 is a valuable addition to any producer’s toolkit.
Filterstation2 costs $4.99 on the app store now:
VCV Rack, the free Eurorack modular emulation software, is a perfect match for wireless sync. Here’s how to do it, step by step.
Why Link? Link has already made itself known as a godsend. Not only does it work in Ableton Live, but Traktor, Serato, Reaktor, and Reason, and others. It works with numerous iOS apps, too. Get those tools on the same network (probably via wifi router), and all of them can use the same tempo and transport. There’s no master, no slave – in the style of a jam session, everything follows a shared tempo – which also means you don’t lose timing if one drops out.
And Link is a logical choice for VCV Rack. Both have an open source base. And whereas you own physical analog gear and modulars, you’d use clock signal by connecting a cable, here in the software domain, wireless, networked clock is just as useful.
Think modular. Even with the latest copy of VCV Rack, you don’t see a big, friendly “Link” button in the corner. Remember that the whole metaphor of Rack is that you have a virtual rack of modules. You’re going to have a module doing the Link synchronization – and you’re going to be able to use Link in some more modular ways.
To add Link support, you install a free, virtual module. (It’s the on-screen equivalent of coming back from the synth shops with a new bit of kit and bolting it in with a screwdriver, only this will...
It feels like there’s been a lot of generative stuff so far in 2018. Ok, it’s only two posts, but they’re both about generative apps. First Wotja, now Refraktions. If you don’t know what Refraktions is, it’s an 8-track generative MIDI sequencer with ‘artificial intelligence’ (whatever it is that that really means), that apparently processes input over time to create loops tailored to each individual user. I’ve not tried it, so I can’t comment personally on that front.
Anyway, in version 2.2 the developer has added quite a lot of new stuff, and a lot of it is centred around MIDI. Here’s all that’s new:
Refraktions is on the app store and costs $6.99: