Posts by Peter Kirn:

BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want

BomeBox708-035

MIDI is a magical lingua franca between, well, sort of everything. But that’s only if you get it connected. And then once you do have it connected, you might want to tame its messages so they accomplish what you want.

Now, the buzz is wearing off following last week’s avalanche of new music gear announcements. You might realize you don’t have $30,000 for a modular. But then, in the wake of that gear, comes one that flew under the radar – and it’s one of the most powerful-looking bits of kit we’ve seen recently.

For years, Bome’s Midi Translator has been the secret sauce used by drummers and beatboxers and other performers to make their MIDI gear perform amazing tricks. The software’s approach is simple – get messages in, do something to them, send messages out. But by providing an insanely powerful set of rule-based operations on those messages, it has been the one piece of software that solves your needs when others can’t.

And now it’s hardware.

BomeBox708-010

Yes, the Bome Box is a device that loads up MIDI Translator Pro project files and does all these MIDI-mangling tricks without a computer required.

And more than that, it’s hardware that connects MIDI via whatever you want. In and out, of course, low latency, of course. But there’s also a USB host – necessary for all these USB devices that lack MIDI DIN ports. And there are two Ethernet ports, for long-distance network cabling of MIDI.

And there’s WiFi, too.

BomeBox is also the first hardware I’ve seen to advertise itself as HD-ready. No, we’re not talking televisions – we’re talking the next generation of MIDI. The MIDI makers are near to releasing the HD version of their protocol, which will happily make use of the added bandwidth of these connections with higher-resolution data (among other new features – more on that soon).

BomeBox is due in spring. No pricing yet.

I love boxes that solve problems – even if not terribly sexy problems. And BomeBox looks very intriguing, indeed. We’ll have an eye on this box.

http://www.bome.com/products/bomebox

The post BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want appeared first on Create Digital Music.

BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want

BomeBox708-035

MIDI is a magical lingua franca between, well, sort of everything. But that’s only if you get it connected. And then once you do have it connected, you might want to tame its messages so they accomplish what you want.

Now, the buzz is wearing off following last week’s avalanche of new music gear announcements. You might realize you don’t have $30,000 for a modular. But then, in the wake of that gear, comes one that flew under the radar – and it’s one of the most powerful-looking bits of kit we’ve seen recently.

For years, Bome’s Midi Translator has been the secret sauce used by drummers and beatboxers and other performers to make their MIDI gear perform amazing tricks. The software’s approach is simple – get messages in, do something to them, send messages out. But by providing an insanely powerful set of rule-based operations on those messages, it has been the one piece of software that solves your needs when others can’t.

And now it’s hardware.

BomeBox708-010

Yes, the Bome Box is a device that loads up MIDI Translator Pro project files and does all these MIDI-mangling tricks without a computer required.

And more than that, it’s hardware that connects MIDI via whatever you want. In and out, of course, low latency, of course. But there’s also a USB host – necessary for all these USB devices that lack MIDI DIN ports. And there are two Ethernet ports, for long-distance network cabling of MIDI.

And there’s WiFi, too.

BomeBox is also the first hardware I’ve seen to advertise itself as HD-ready. No, we’re not talking televisions – we’re talking the next generation of MIDI. The MIDI makers are near to releasing the HD version of their protocol, which will happily make use of the added bandwidth of these connections with higher-resolution data (among other new features – more on that soon).

BomeBox is due in spring. No pricing yet.

I love boxes that solve problems – even if not terribly sexy problems. And BomeBox looks very intriguing, indeed. We’ll have an eye on this box.

http://www.bome.com/products/bomebox

The post BomeBox Lets You Connect MIDI, and Transform It, Any Way You Want appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma

P-6-Front-Angle

Never say never.

Few would have imagined just a few short years ago that essentially all – not most, but all – the major 2015 electronic instrument news out of the annual NAMM trade show would come down to 70s-/early 80s-style analog synthesizers, in the form of keyboards and modular.

Nor would you imagine two of the big names would still be Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith, alongside Korg and Moog. (Well, maybe Tom and Dave did – how ambitious were you three decades ago, gentlemen?)

Certainly, no one ever expected to see the name Sequential Circuits again. But that’s what happened. Oddly, I think to most synth crowds now, the name Dave Smith Instruments is more recognizable than Sequential. But the Sequential name was the one worn by his early synths, including the legendary Prophet, and was part of that historic first-ever MIDI connection. Now, it’s back, courtesy what is described as an unprecedented gesture of good will. It doesn’t appear Dave Smith Instruments is changing its name, but it does mean you can proudly haul that adorably dated typography with you on stage. Everything old is new again.

Now, having gotten that out of the way, the Sequential name isn’t the most important thing about the unveiling of the Prophet 6 synthesizer.

No, what’s most important is that the Prophet 6 is now one of three Dave Smith flagships vying for your attention – and that Dave and company, in bringing back the Prophet-5, have taken an approach to their legacy best described as “the past, but better.”

On one hand, the new Prophet isn’t a reimagining or reboot of the Prophet-5 – no digital remake here or successor in name only. The oscillators, filters, and amplifiers are all analog, and share an architectural approach derived from the classic. But nor is this a “reissue” or (as Moog did recently) “resurrection.” In fact, even the analog section has a new design. The two oscillators plus sub are “newly designed,” and while the four-pole, resonant, low-pass filter is “inspired by the original Prophet-5 filter,” you also get a two-pole, resonant, high-pass filter. Modulation and unison features from the original are back. There’s also a new analog stereo distortion effect, for instance.

The path from oscillator through filter to amplifier is all-analog, but the Dave Smith name has always been about mixing digital and analog when the need arises. So, enter the digital goodies: effects, a polyphonic step sequencer, and an arpeggiator.

P-6-Top

The 24-bit, 48 kHz effects include reverbs, delays (standard and BBD), chorus, and phase shifter. Now, for analog purists, DSI are quick to advertise a true bypass switch so you can say your signal path is 100% analog. Hey, you know, whatever helps you sleep at night. (Seriously, I hope someone does a double blind test with that bypass switch to see if you can feel the warm analog spirit being sucked from the signal, the dark evils of digital falling like a veil over your soul. I’m guessing you won’t, but, hey – double blind test is the only way to tell for sure.)

There’s no question this is a versatile instrument, because of the rich, clock-able arpeggiator and sequencer, and all those effects to turn this unit into a single gigging workhorse, no external gear required. The Poly Mod section is nice, too: you can route to both oscillator parameters and filter.

It’s impossible not to compare DSI to the approach of some of its synth rivals, particularly at NAMM. Moog were present with only a museum piece available to the super-wealthy – interesting, but perhaps the most slavish new analog hardware ever, refusing to make any changes to the original and even reproducing original manufacturing processes. That might have gone unnoticed, except that modular fans were keen to get their hands on something more practical and accessible. And Moog noticeably have no polyphonic entry in their lineup. There’s the monophonic Minimoog and the paraphonic Sub Phatty line, but that’s it. Certainly, Moog have a massive lineup of other stuff, but it’ll be interesting to see if they enter this category of instrument down the road.

Then there’s KORG, whose ARP Odyssey followed in the footsteps of the MS-20 mini by shrinking its keybed – apparently with only “slim” keys, but still. (Botched photo opportunity moment of NAMM – while I can’t verify this, rumor spread that Stevie Wonder complained.) Dave Smith can still weigh in under 10 kg – it’ll take up more room, but you get a full four-octave keyboard with full-sized keys. On the other hand, the KORG reissues are also still that – sure, you get USB MIDI, but they’re mostly the same as the original.

So, where Dave Smith comes in is still new analog and hybrid territory that revisits a legacy, without being limited by it.

P-6-back

If you do decide you like the Dave Smith sound and design, now the question is now which “flagship” to buy. There’s no official pricing on the Prophet-6 yet, but we’re hearing around US$2800 – a significant, but not impossible investment for many. And certainly this is one keyboard you could expect to cover all your needs.

If that were all DSI made, you’d probably have made your decision. But it isn’t.

If you’re not overly dedicated to analog oscillators, there’s also the Prophet 12, which is also available in an economical desktop unit if you’ve already got your keyboard. Bonuses: wavetables, and lots of cross oscillator modulation, plus loads of effects. If you’re just looking for a do-everything synth and you don’t need to brag about analog signal path, the P12 might be more practical than the P6. (Obviously, try both to see which sound you prefer.)

Or, there’s the Pro 2, the paraphonic analog offering. That gives you more oscillator coloring options, a more out-there digital effect section, dual filters with an Oberheim SEM-inspired option, tuned feedback, and a really deep modulation section, plus control voltage expansion. And yes, this is the one I’d have, if anyone is shopping for … erm … Valentine’s Day presents for me. Or something.

So, the Prophet-6 really occupies some middle ground. It’s a real analog synth, but with an effects section so you don’t have to haul separate effects. It’s eminently playable. It has 6, not 12 voices, but… for a lot of applications, you don’t need 12 anyway. And it’s ready to tour.

To me, the Pro 2 remains the most interesting recent Dave Smith creation, because its sound design options are so absurdly deep. The Prophet-6 is noticeably absent CV connectivity, if that’s important to you. But the Prophet-6 deserves some credit both for its vintage good looks and badge, and it’s a nice update to the Prophet legacy. It’s not really the most adventurous of the DSI offerings, but it rounds out the line for the gigging keyboardist.

And, in the midst of lots of splashy modular news, this is the instrument that those gigging players may most welcome out of the product news starting this year.

I look forward to getting some reviews of this when it arrives.

DSI Prophet-6 [Product Page]

Here’s Sonic State with a great video with the dude himself.

The post Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Pro Tools Adds Free Edition, Subscriptions, Marketplaces for Plug-ins and Content

protoolsfirst

Remember Pro Tools Free?

Years ago, it was then-Digidesign’s ploy to give you the first hit of Pro Tools without paying, in the hopes you’d get hooked and buy the full version. Well, the idea is back, just with a different name. Pro Tools First is a stripped-down version of Pro Tools.

And it’s one of three changes in Pro Tools 12 to how you buy and work with the flagship music production software. Pro Tools 12 is now something you can use for free (with various strings attached). It’s something you can rent, with subscription pricing (in addition to continuing the purchase option). And Pro Tools is connected to Avid Everywhere online offerings intended to help you collaborate and share – with the ability to buy and sell content.

The timing comes as several players in music making software look to new models – as noted earlier this week, Cakewalk is making SONAR available as a subscription and both leading cloud collaboration tools (Gobbler and Splice) are serving up solutions for buying or “renting” plug-ins as you work with others.

When Pro Tools 12 arrives further into this year, customers will be able to take advantage of the new pricing model, buy or rent third-party effects and instruments from inside the software, and give new collaboration/marketplace tools a spin.

Free First

First, the free offering is something likely to get attention, since Pro Tools is usually associated with some cost of entry. The new free version is a really Pro Tools, and can open and save projects – meaning it’ll come in handy if you want to share projects with someone who doesn’t own the software. But it of course has some limitations that would push you back to the paid version.

Once you get pas the obligatory genre project templates (dubstep!), the session software looks like Pro Tools. It’s limited in track and input/output count and is missing more advanced edit features. So, you get:

16 mono or stereo audio tracks
16 Instrument Tracks
16 MIDI tracks
4 simultaneous audio inputs, max
No video
Offline bounce, but limited export/interchange apart from audio bounce
Loop recording, but many of the advanced edit tools are missing, including punch and automation
More restricted instrument/effect suite, though you still get the Xpand!2 instrument and some effects

There’s one other significant restriction, though, that’s perhaps more of a deal-breaker than the others: you can only work with three projects at a time. Avid tell us that you would need to delete a project when you’re no longer working with it. (Presumably moving the project to offline media would also work.)

See the updated comparison chart for how Pro Tools editions differ in functionality.

Apart from the project number restriction, this looks similar to the way Ableton differentiates Live Lite, the software we see more than any other bundled with production gear. The basic idea is, give people the software, but stop them from editing complex projects or using very many tracks. But the project limitation notion is fairly novel, and for me would make me hesitate to recommend the free tool for much more than trying out Pro Tools or sharing a project now and then; there are plenty of cheap DAWs on the market.

More interesting are the other approaches taken with Pro Tools 12. For Pro Tools lovers, this does open up some new ways to buy their software.

Subscriptions and Online Service

Avid has been talking since last year about Avid Everywhere, which is a combination of moving software to subscriptions as well as purchase, and backing it with online services and a marketplace for buying content produced by users in its tools.

Subscribe or buy. Choose subscription or traditional up-front payment. Subscriptions, as with other software, will cost you in the long haul – you can get the price down to US$25, but only if you commit to a year or more. They’re bundled with support, much like the Cakewalk deal mentioned earlier this week.

See more regular updates. Avid also says that the move gets the software off the 18-month revision cycle it had previously used (and, to be fair, what is typical in the rest of the industry as far as major new functionality). Updates will be more frequent, the company says, though we’ve yet to see what that means in practice (especially since pay-to-own versions will remain available). For now, Pro Tools 12 is almost exclusively about providing the new pricing model and compatibility with collaboration, not any significant changes to editing, mixing, or instruments that I can see.

Cloud collaboration. Right now, collaborating in Pro Tools is a matter of manually making ZIP files of projects with collected media and moving them around. Pro Tools 12 promises still-as-yet-unrevealed mechanisms of streamlining this process through updates to the software and accompanying online services.

Expect more of this sort of thing; Propellerhead, for instance, recently announced Discover, for its desktop Reason and iOS apps. But Avid’s offering also assumes that you want to make some money off of that content (or buy it to use it). So, the Avid Everywhere project also includes –

A content marketplace. Here’s where we enter new territory: Avid wants you to share and sell your stuff. Because Avid makes the world’s leading media products, the notion is that you can dump all your assets into a marketplace where other people can choose to buy them – so an editor might pay for your music bed in their sports coverage. Avid handles not only the purchase, but embedding metadata and credits.

It’s not available yet in Pro Tools, and I’m unclear whether those buying such assets want this sort of tool, but we’ll see. Think of it as a combination of SoundCloud and the App Store, only for audio and video.

Buy plug-ins as an add-on. Here’s a part that makes more immediate sense: a built-in marketplace will also let you buy (or rent) instruments and effects directly inside Pro Tools. Subscriptions would be new to Pro Tools developers;

Really, it’s surprising they hadn’t done something like this sooner, given that Pro Tools has always had its own ecosystem of third-party add-ons. (The other tool with the same closed-garden expansion capabilities, Propellerhead Reason, also added in in-app store to go with it.) I imagine this could get heavy use; even Pro Tools First has access to the market.

Making Sense of the New Pro Tools

We’ve known “Avid Everywhere for Audio” was coming as an initiative since last spring. Now, it really remains to see what things look like in practice – whether you love this concept or hate it, what it means in the actual experience of using the software. Sound on Sound have a great video overview from NAMM this week:

At least we can also say Avid the corporate entity is looking far healthier. NASDAQ even had the company ring the opening bell, celebrating its return after being delisted for failing to share critical financial information.

So, will all these new ways to buy Pro Tools software and content, collaboration and marketplace, fuel healthier Pro Tools growth, or be just a distraction? That’s the next chapter.

The post Pro Tools Adds Free Edition, Subscriptions, Marketplaces for Plug-ins and Content appeared first on Create Digital Music.

The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin

rachelarmstrong

The music technology industry continues to pump out things with knobs, and things that sound like the 1970s – sometimes, literally so. And we love them for it.

But if you feel dizzy after all this tumbling backwards in time, let us take you on a ride back into the future. It’s the reason we’re in Berlin and not Anaheim this week, and I think you’ll enjoy it. A lot.

CDM joins again with CTM Festival to explore the possibilities for music’s future in an intensive laboratory of creation, featuring speakers, on-the-spot hacking and experimentation, and finally a live performance showcase in which new ideas are tested onstage in front of an audience. I’m thrilled to get to co-curate this year’s edition with Leslie García from Tijuana, Mexico.

The action starts tonight at Kunstquartier Bethanien, with Leslie and Marco Donnarumma playing live in the opening of one of Europe’s most adventurous music festivals, launching the exhibition for this year. Then, next week, we’re hosted by Native Instruments in their office complex with an incredible group of artists, researchers, hackers, and even experts on biology and the human body in six days of hacking and public lectures.

And do we have some interesting people joining us in conversation. Rachel Armstrong has found new solutions to sustainability by literally growing architecture – and looks at music on a microscopic molecular level. See the image at top for the kind of wild world that’s expanding out of the natural universe.

Bio-hacker Thomas Landrain has constructed a no-cost lab for new biological creations in a former squat, dreaming up and building projects like a pen that produces its own ink with built-in bacteria, and will discuss what happens when hacking means biology and not just hard circuit boards. Atau Tanaka, apart from hosting NIME last year and with a resume from IRCAM to Apple, has been at seemingly every twist and turn of notions of working with muscles and brainwaves in music. He’ll help guide us through that history, and where it might lead next. Marco Donnarumma, having made new movement and music performances with muscular sensors, investigates what all of this means for us being a new kind of human.

And we even have a veteran NASA planetary scientist (Kelly Snook) linking Kepler to music making.

The talks are open to the public if you’re in town, but of course we’re doing this for the People of the Internet, so we’ll have recordings of those performances and lecture sessions to share.

My belief is that music technology should be the area that looks forward. We can again be the people folks think to call when aliens are landing. The ones doing crazy things with electricity. The ones who seem to be bringing science fiction into the moment – and then deciding to play a song. Music can animate every discussion of science and technology. So let’s get started.

At top: the living architecture of Rachel Armstrong – don’t miss her e-book on the topic. Below, Leslie García’s live rig, in the quintessential combination of past and future, wires and wildness that is the technology of music performance.

leslierig

Friday 23 January

Exhibition opening and performances, Kunstquartier Bethanien Mariannenplatz 2 10997 Berlin

19:00 Doors
20:00 Marco Donnarumma
21:00 Leslie García

Marco is again performing with his Xth Sense system. Leslie will work with her neurfeedback improvisation, heard below.

Here’s earlier video of Leslie performing at MUTEX Mexico – with plants.

Pulsum: Live Setup @ Mutek_MX from LessNullVoid on Vimeo.

Facebook event:
UN TUNE – CTM 2015 Ausstellung

HACKLAB

All hacklab public lecture events are free and held at Native Instruments, Schlesische Straße 29-30 10997 Berlin

(You’ll see an enormous Native Instruments sign on Schlesiche – and then smaller signs leading you to the venue.)

Tuesday 27 January

16:00
Rachel Armstrong
“Molecular Music”

Within the first in a series of talks within the MusicMakers Hacklab, Rachel Armstrong elaborates on the use dynamic chemistries and the imaginary auditory qualities of oscillatory landscapes at the microscale to explore a vocabulary of interactions between matter, space and time. This synthesis may be thought of as “molecular music”, which broadens the portfolio of entanglements between chemistry, architecture and musical encounters.

17:00
Marco Donnarumma

“Being Human: Making and Creating with Biotechnologies”

DNA computing, organ engineering, reproductive technologies, and the quantified self. Human body parts and machine parts are taken apart and put together in such sophisticated ways that they uncannily conjure the bleakest cyberpunk fiction.

In the wake of the wild instrumental hybridization of humans and machines, Marco Donnarumma will argue for the potential of biotechnologies as artistic means to critically explore what it means to be human. By undermining the idea that machines are merely devices that we must control, we can understand both human bodies and machines as configurable materials that yield creative and cultural empowerment.

Tuesday event on Facebook

Thursday
29 January

15:00
Thomas Landrain

“Biohacking: Indie Biotech at your Service”

16:00
Atau Tanaka

“Electromyogram Signals (EMG) in Musical Performance”

This talk retraces the use of bio-signal sensors as musical controllers over the last 20 years. The work centres around the BioMuse, developed by Hugh Lusted and Ben Knapp at Stanford University’s CCRMA in the late 1980s.
Atau Tanaka’s own use of the BioMuse’s electromyogram (EMG) function to track muscle tension to control computer-based sound began in the early 1990s. His work continues to the present day with new hardware, but with the continual ethos of an evolving, yet same musical instrument, the underlying principles of operation remain consistent over time.

17:00
Kelly Snook

“Harmonies Untuned: Exploring Kepler’s Worlds with Music Technology”

Sunday
1 February

17:00
HAU2 Hallesches Ufer 32 10963 Berlin
This is the one ticketed event – 8€ (5€ reduced)

MusicMakers Hacklab – Tuning Machines Finale [CTM Festival]

About the speakers

Marco Donnarumma [IT]
Marco Donnarumma is a performer, sound artist, musician and writer. He has played interactive music by amplifying sounds from his body, has induced visitors in altered states of self-perception by feeding sounds from their bodies back to their skulls and bones, has immersed audiences in multichannel sound and video produced by the strain of his muscles while he pulled 50kg stones, and has physicalised digital viruses in the body.

Rachel Armstrong [UK]
Rachel Armstrong is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. She is also a 2010 Senior TED Fellow and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, who is establishing an alternative approach to sustainability that couples with the computational properties of the natural world to develop a 21st century production platform for the built environment, which she calls “living” architecture.

Thomas Landrain[FR]
Parisian bio-hacker and founder of the “DIYbio” space La Paillasse, Thomas Landrain has constructed a zero-Euro laboratory for new biological creations in a former squat, dreaming up and building projects like a pen that produces its own ink with built-in bacteria. Fusing biology with the maker ethos, he’s a hub of a nascent global bio-hacking movement that cross-breeds biology and fab labs.

Atau Tanaka[UK/JP]
Atau Tanaka creates music for sensor instruments, mobile infrastructures, and democratized digital forms. He studied Physical Sciences at Harvard and has a doctorate in Computer Music Composition from Stanford University’s CCRMA, and was awarded the Prix de Paris to conduct research in Paris at IRCAM, Centre Pompidou. Tanaka’s first inspirations came upon meeting John Cage during his Norton Lectures, after which he eventually went on to re-create Cage’s “Variations VII” with Matt Wand and :zoviet*france:.

Kelly Snook
[US/UK]
A former lunar program scientist, Kelly Snook is a singular combination of wearable technology expert, musician, and planetary scientist. Working with two decades’ background at NASA and a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University, she is now a collaborator of Imogen Heap and an expert in data sonification as well as contributor to the Gloves Team, which was featured at CTM.13 within that edition’s MusicMakers Hacklab).

The post The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Splice Just Launched a Huge Database of Free Music Plug-ins, And It’s Completely Awesome

free

This week, we’ve done nothing but pummel you with loads of gear you want. So, while you’re saving up thousands … sorry, tens of thousands of dollars for new analog gear from the 1970s, you might not be in the mood to ante up for a compressor or bass line synth.

If you also couldn’t be bothered to carefully scour my article on how the purchasing of software is about to change forever, let me spoil some of the fine print for you:

Collaboration tool Splice just quietly launched the biggest, best-organized database of free plug-ins I’ve ever seen.

Here it is:

https://splice.com/plugins/free_plugins

Now, the fact that it’s on Splice is actually important. That online site of collaborators has also amassed a huge pile of data about what people actually use. So if community members have uploaded a project using these plug-ins, the site knows. That associates projects with the plug-ins, and tells you which you’d actually use. It also means you can use this as a jumping-off point for collaboration – and a source of tools for which neither of you have to pay. (Hello, poor people collaborations, I’m with you!)

It’s not just Big Data working out what matters, though. Splice have also done some serious curating here, so everything is neatly organized and has big, bright screenshots. It seems they’ll also feature especially good stuff. Some downloads require Splice login (but then that also means you get them right away); others whisk you off to the developer’s site.

It’s the biggest, nicest, least-random, no-dead-links, most-actually-useful guide to free plug-ins I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few.

My guess is that this could entice people to the Splice store, too, when they do want to invest in software. In other words, if you’re trying to build a popular store, you might want some free options to help you do it. (And I will say, even though there are lots of free plug-ins that can be a great deal of fun and spark some creativity, I also have no doubt many other plug-ins are worth paying for.)

So, have a look. And please, shout out in comments any good ones you find.

The post Splice Just Launched a Huge Database of Free Music Plug-ins, And It’s Completely Awesome appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Subscribe, Click, Collaborate: The New Ways to Buy Music Creation Software

slate

It’s been a long time coming, but the month of January has brought more new ways to pay for music creation software than we’ve seen in a few years.

When you want to share a playlist with a friend, you can count on giving them full-length tracks with Spotify. (Sorry, Taylor Swift fans, but everyone else.) If you’re on a tight deadline to finish a video edit, you can pay a small monthly fee to use Adobe Premiere – and send it to the film composer knowing they can do the same, rather than having to buy it outright for a chunk of change. Not so with music production tools, which rely mostly on big one-time payments (sometimes north of a thousand bucks), often with additional copy protection and dependent hardware.

Just in the past few days, we’ve seen some new ways to solve the problem.

$1000 of Plug-ins – For Twenty Bucks?

The most ambitious comes from Gobbler, the cloud backup, sharing, and collaboration service. Gobbler as of this week are re-launching their platform under the tag “spawn.” (Right now, you get just a sign-up for the service.) Collaboration and shop alike will run on the new platform.

Gobbler already offered deep integration with your DAW for sucking up all your related files, backing them up for you, and making it easy to collaborate. But for producers with various mixes of plug-ins, collaboration can be a sticking point – the problem is, your collaborator almost certainly has a different plug-in arsenal than you do. The solution for many users, of course, was simply to either give up – or pirate whatever they didn’t have. (Propellerhead’s Reason is one notable exception to this.)

Spawn now offers a subscription service to make this work. Switch payments on and off on a month-to-month basis — think Spotify and not a membership in your local gym. Once you’re logged into a Gobbler account, your licenses are all activated.

Gobbler tell us they’ve got big plans here. But they’re starting with a damned fine case study: Slate Digital.

Steven Slate is one of the top names in production, bar none, to those who follow such things. (Oh, speaking of Taylor Swift? Yeah, her. Also, Black Eyed Peas, and the folks that help you unfriend people on Facebook, Nickelback.)

But more important than that, Slate Digital (which Slate makes alongside DSP whiz Fabrice Gabriel) make one of the best plug-in libraries you could hope to add to your arsenal. Their Trigger plug-in is one of the best ways to do drum replacement, and they have some formidable options for mastering and analog modeling. (The latter rivals offerings from the likes of Universal Audio, which means the next statement could make some waves – pardon the pun.)

Gobbler have convinced Slate to join their platform and give away their whole plug-in library – for US$19.99 a month, instead of over US$1000 all at once. (Smart money ups that to US$24.99 in order to add Relab Development’s Lexicon reverb emulation.)

That’s everything – now, in the present, and in the future, every tool and every update. The gamble is clearly that the subscription will earn more users, even from would-be pirates.

What’s the catch? Well, with Slate – though not necessarily with the Gobbler Spawn platform generally – you do need a dongle. iLok hardware is required to use the subscription, which I’m sure will scare off some who swore never to touch one again. At least Slate will give you one free with a new subscription, which is good, because I’m pretty sure I lost mine. We’ll see how that goes over and if others bite.

PACE does work software-only, though, which may be okay with more people.

http://launch.gobbler.com/

Slate Mix/Master Bundle [slatedigital.com]

Splice

Click to Buy, Integrate with Collaboration

Not to be outdone, Gobbler rival Splice are also offering their own plug-in options. Interestingly, while Gobbler’s Spawn seems entirely focused on subscription fees – like adding HBO to your cable TV service – Splice is offering developers a menu of options.

In terms of developers, Splice has even trumped Gobbler, with not one but a swarm of top plug-in makers. There’s Xfer Records, Voxengo, Cableguys, Blue Cat Audio, FXpansion and Tokyo Dawn Records – a virtual who’s who of virtual.

We haven’t yet seen how the Spawn subscriptions integrate with Gobbler. But Splice are describing that the main feature of their new offering. You’ve ppened a collaborator’s project, and don’t have the plug-in? Easy: one click buys it. The emphasis here is more Apple App Store than Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. There’s a huge chunk of free plug-ins, too. (Free-to-play, with in-app purchases – hmm, did the future of plug-ins just flash before my eyes, Angry Birds style?)

https://splice.com/plugins

It seems Splice are wielding two weapons here: content, and data. They’re assembling plug-ins in a central location, for one. We’ve sort of seen that with a site like dontcrack.com, but – okay, the name is terrible, sounding more like a public service announcement than a service, the site is ugly and unusable, and some of the biggest developers are missing. Splice is building something that looks far more like you’d expect a plug-in store to look.

In that location, they’re adding a lot of additional content. Community members and artists alike can add tutorials and tips and, because these is Splice, even whole DAW sessions demonstrating use of the plug-ins. (If Some Guy In His Basement isn’t appealing to you, Laidback Luke and Henry Fong are reportedly signed on.)

But remember, this is the Cloud – Big Data is there watching you. So Splice can examine who’s using which plug-ins, either overall or by artist, assuming that’s desirable. (I expect some people won’t want that shared!)

And they’re building an SDK platform, as are Gobbler, which they say will benefit both you and your plug-in developer, via:

  • License mangement
  • Instant access to installers for your OS
  • Automatic updates when new versions appear
  • Subscription and rental coming in an SDK update

Subscriptions aren’t there yet, but they’re coming. I’ll be interested to see if Gobbler does the reverse – offer one-click purchases instead of only subscriptions.

More: The Future of Plugins on Splice: 1-click Purchase, License Backup & More

If You Build It, They Will… Hey, Where Is Everyone?

To me, both Gobbler and Splice face the same challenge: they have to attract users to these platforms first. And I think users have reason to be reticent: startups with little proven track record may not seem the safest place to invest your plug-in collection. The simple fact is that, for all we use online services, we don’t always collaborate on them.

Gobbler’s Spawn, at least, doesn’t immediately dump you onto the shared Website, which I think is an advantage. In fact, if you were a Slate Digital customer, you might have barely noticed Gobbler at all. You just got a really cheap way to round out your Slate collection for $20 a month. (I expect you’re not so happy if you bought all their stuff, but that should be a relatively small group.)

At the same time, Gobbler and Splice are solving an important obstacle to people collaborating in the first place. Maybe unburdened from the plug-in requirement, more will share.

By the way, from the above description, you may wonder why I’m describing Spawn as more ambitious. The reason: Gobbler are reconstructing their entire collaborative platform with this stuff in mind. As I understand it now, Splice seems to be a plug-in store first; the store is integrated with the rest of Splice, but Splice itself seems not in the middle of a massive overhaul. (Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.)

I have to say, right now, I think the Splice offering is more compelling on first blush. There’s a clear plug-in store, extra content and thus a reason to shop this way, loads of plug-in developers, and no reliance on PACE – with or without the hardware key, PACE dependence could be a deal killer for some users and developers. But each has promise, and we’ll see how this pans out.

sonar

Your DAW’s a Subscription, Too

The above covers plug-ins. But DAWs won’t be far behind, it seems.

Cakewalk is the first to go this route, unveiling subscriptions with the new version of SONAR. Following in the footsteps of graphic giant Adobe, you can opt to pay a monthly fee – between US$9.99 and $49.99, depending on version – and then get the latest-and-greatest working on your machine. You can still choose to pay up-front if you prefer, and existing customers get a big break on monthly fees.

There’s reason to think Cakewalk could be starting a trend. One, they’ve got a compelling option – $20 a month gets you almost everything Cakewalk makes, with the $50 a month option going further. By contrast, Native Instruments customers routinely complain about Komplete upgrades – it didn’t have the mix of what they wanted, or they didn’t know if they really needed a particular version, or they just shelled out. A subscription rate gives a steady, flat cost to the user, and relieves them of the fear of missing out on key updates. And the reverse is true: Cakewalk doesn’t have to hold back cool new stuff just to entice users to buy SONAR 2016 Goldfinger Edition.

And Cakewalk has been ahead of their time before. Apart from silently introducing a lot of DAW power features before anybody else, they were once the voice in the wilderness on Windows saying 64-bit computation and 64-bit memory access would benefit pro apps – leading not only music apps but serious PC software in general. A few years later, the idea of 32-bit seems antiquated on Mac and PC alike.

One slightly puzzling thing about Cakewalk’s announcement: the subscription to the software is separate from a “SONAR Membership.” Uh… say what? So, you pay a monthly fee to subscribe to SONAR, which includes 12 months of the monthly fee for SONAR Membership. Then, while you’re still paying your membership fee, your technical support expires, along with possibly other cloud features or something. I really can’t tell.

Let me be blunt. Cakewalk: fix this. This isn’t going to make sense to anyone, apart from those with Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, maybe. Either the model or the description is confusing.

$20 a month looks great, but you can do the maths and work out why you might still want to consider a purchase: $20 a month is $240 a year, which is non-trivial. Apple Logic Pro is an outlier, with a $199 sticker price and unlimited free upgrades after that. But even users of Cubase probably aren’t budgeting $500 every two years in upgrades. (At $10 a month for current customers, of course, the maths are different.)

Still, this sort of scheme offers new possibilities. If you’re spending the winter in the studio and a subscription offers a pause, it’s cheaper to unlicense your software for the summer. If Cakewalk can dump enough goodies to keep you paying – like HBO does with Game of Thrones – it can make user and developer both happier. And whereas a lot of PC users might simply not purchase SONAR because they don’t want to dump a few hundred dollars on a DAW, now they can try it out for less, sell that record or get that gig, and justify the purchase. Part of why Adobe works so well is that it makes its users money, and everyone is now happier – maybe.

Cakewalk has also invited other users to try what they have: offer both an upfront purchase and subscription option, and see what sticks.

SONAR versions, compared [Cakewalk.com]

My money is on more subscriptions soon. If you want to bet whether I’m right, first put ten dollars each month into a pot while we wait…

Sorry. Obligatory.

Imagine a plug-in with the power to destroy humanity – and a producer insane enough to use it.

Imagine a Website on the verge of Creation.

Note: subscription service history is one that had me scratching my heads. Readers, which do you remember? One early pioneer – and still a stellar buy – is Harrison MixBus, the absolutely beautiful DAW console built around the open source Ardour, with some fantastic-sounding stuff added in. In fact, this means you’d have a pretty unbeatable mixing desk for about $9 + $19 a month with the two combinations here. Wow.

The post Subscribe, Click, Collaborate: The New Ways to Buy Music Creation Software appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

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Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right.

This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. In some reality somewhere, these things are purchased and used, I’m told. But seeing as clubs have the same standard assortment of turntables, CDJs, and Allen & Heath mixers, that Imperial Star Destroyer crew sometimes seems a more realistic target audience.

Then there’s this Rane MP2015. It’s fantasy, to be sure, but it’s a fantasy you’d want to be in. And there’s no question it’s drawing from the boutique rotary mixers that have been enthusiastically embraced of late by techno DJs of the slightly-snobbier variety. (Locations where they’re getting fondled include places like Trouw in its final days and on regular rotations at Panorama Bar.) And yes, the requisite laser-etched wooden side panels are there, just to indicate to you that the sound is warm and the craft is high, or whatever.

But let’s give Rane some credit: they’ve got our attention, and there’s reason to even sort of covet this thing. The layout is elegant, and balanced. Rotaries might be a fad, but they can also be practical.

Now, don’t count on Rane to immediately start talking about the reasons this mixer is cool. Instead, they of course say confusing things like this, for the audiophile DJs among you. (If that’s a thing now, I’m going to take a cognitive dissonance vacation for a week. I mean, it’s almost as stupid as deaf middle aged rockers telling us the nature of soun– oh. Strange days.)

“The MP2015 is designed for playback of High-Resolution Audio (HRA)[1] 24-bit studio master quality sources; its sonic signature has no equal, satisfying the most stringent vinyl purists. And the dynamics are perfect for DJs preferring the uncompressed sound of WAV and FLAC files.”

Translation: it has 24-bit audio support on its audio card, and, well, hopefully it sounds good? Vinyl MP3 compression words words no actual correct meanings more words words ooh you hate MP3 words words love records doncha?

If you like that sort of thing, then sure. I expect the rotaries here will be nicely complimented by a Chianti. Look to 2009 vintages from northern Italy; the rainfall from that season should keep the acidity content balanced properly with the Isolator Section on this Rane mixer and — oh, look, you’ve gone and spilt your wine on this very expensive mixer. Poo on you.

No, before we start saying things about bit depth, digital compression, and the dynamic and frequency performance of vinyl LPs, let’s move rather to the stuff that is true about the Rane.

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1. Rotary mixers are a good idea – with a history. One glance at the panel tells you a rotary layout can be smart. DJ mixing really started here, with Rudy Bozak’s legendary CMA-10-2DL, correctly name-dropped in the Rane launch. If you’ve never heard of Bozak, just know that this is more or less how the DJ mixer was first invented – not the bastard child of a compact studio mixer we have now. Rane was there over a decade and a half ago, with their MP2016/XP2016.

2. This mixer will likely help fulfill DJ demand. Rane tells us they’re working with “Doc Martin, Dixon, Ata, Oliver Hafenbauer, Anthony Parasole, Martyn, Gerd Janson, Ben UFO, Derrick Carter, Tim Sweeney, Efdemin, Brian BeeZwax, James Patrick, a handful of Seattle’s best DJs and many more.” I don’t doubt it. This Rane isn’t cheap, but it’s priced in a way those very names can start to request mixers in clubs and festivals that aren’t, say, Panorama Bar.

3. It’s got damned nice converters. Computer connections use AKM Audio 4 Pro converters. Rane has spec’ed these and the outs to a 116 dB range, and there’s a nice 24-bit filter included, as well. And the specs (on Rane’s site) all look good enough.

4. There’s a handy Submix group. Group your inputs here for easier access and playability – useful for people doing live sets or bringing in additional gear. Make them a discrete input with a switch; cue them separately. Useful – and if switching to rotaries makes more space for such things, I hope this trend does catch on.

5. You get some superb switchable filters. Perhaps we can finally banish terrible DJ filters and use something that actually sounds nice. Here, LP (low-pass), HP (high-pass) or L-H (low-pass, high-pass combo) with steep, sweepable 24 dB/octave (4th-order) slopes. In fact, the only danger of these things – having seen some DJs get distracted, cat-like, by the lovely filters – is that people will start messing with the filters and forget to DJ. But… well, don’t do that.

6. Plus a three-band Isolator section. More ear candy for filter nerds, here of the “Linkwitz-Riley” variety. (Seems CDM needs a filter feature soon.) Basically, at the top, you get an additional 24 dB/octave 3-band filter and you can continuously adjust the crossovers at low-mid and mid-high. Again, useful stuff – and neatly laid out thanks to the rotary design.

7. And the I/O make sense – including dual USB, mic, turntables, and Neutrik outs. Because there are two high-quality audio interfaces in there, there are also dual USB ins. That seems perfect for back-to-back Traktor and Ableton sets, among other things; this is just something DJ mixers should have at this point. You get 10 playback and 14 records channels, class-compliant, driver-free (or ASIO if you want it).

And there’s a mic pre from THAT – with a Neutrik combo connector (thanks).

And you get four ins, with proper phono connectors. For some stupid reason, the phono pres have been getting short shrift from some makers, even as vinyl surges. Don’t ask.

And the main outs, sensibly, use Neutrik connectors (dedicated XLR plus jack).

8. Plus there’s one-eared cueing. With pan control, introduced by Rane on their MP 24, you can put program in one ear and cue in the other. Why don’t more audio interfaces and mixers give you this option and some additional control? I’ve no idea. (There’s a reason people like the Allen & Heath Xone.)

9. And MIDI. This is from Rane, so yes, you get class-compliant MIDI.

There are some nice details to fabrication, which Rane slightly overstate (EU compliance on chemicals isn’t all that cool). You get a US-made metal chassis, and a Lexan front panel overlay. There’s some gold-plated voodoo and whatnot, but the specs seem reasonable enough.

mp2015_rear

mp2015_front

Now, some sticker shock: yes, this is US$3,499 suggested list. But expect a street below that. And, frankly, expect your club to have no problem paying for it (yay, gin and tonic revenues). And that’s a lot less than a boutique mixer. And it’s not much more than a bunch of Imperial Star Destroyer crap no one needs or will buy.

In other words, this is the moment when Rane made rotary mixers something that a significant number of clubs might actually buy. Past some gobbledy-gook about audiophile buzzwords that makes it sound like you’re DJing off a pair of Neil Young’s Pono players, well — you’ll actually find a very high-spec bits of hardware, intelligently selected.

And you have an approach to mixing, cueing, filters, submixing, USB inputs, phonos, and MIDI and audio driver compliance that really ought to be the exception rather than the rule.

With all due apologies to Pioneer, Native Instruments, Numark, and their ilk, you also get the specs you actually need without a bunch of flashy features and slick promo videos trying to sell you something you don’t.

So Rane, you deserve some credit. Do this right, make the sum of these parts work properly, and this is a piece of mixer news that actually counts as news. That’s saying a lot.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear some screaming from the nursery, which means perhaps Darth Vader play time needs to be brought to an end.

Introducing the MP2015 Rotary Mixer

Rane also made this, for Serato, unveiled this week. But… oof, kinda ugly, and not sure why all the controls are crammed together at the top. It’s almost a study by Rane in why the Rane MP2015 is so nice.

The post Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Why BeatStep Pro Could Become the Heart of Your Live Rig

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The original Arturia BeatStep already looked good. Start with a compact drum pad controller, add some encoders for more control, then add a step sequencer that can control MIDI and analog gear.

But the problem is, the execution of the sequencer idea is complex. It turns out you need even simple sequencers to do a lot. And so the original BeatStep, while still an amazing buy for a hundred bucks, was a little disappointing. It was just hard to actually sequence on the thing. You could get one sequence going, but that’s not enough for really playing, and simple rhythmic operations could too easily knock things out of sync.

And that’s why I’m excited about the Arturia BeatStep Pro, coming in April. Because it doesn’t just tick the boxes on my complaints about the BeatStep. It rethinks the whole control interface to make the kind of sequencer that could be at the center of a really amazing gig.

In other words, even if the price is jumping to US$299/€249 list, this could be a time for them to shut up and take my … you know.

BeatStep_Pro_07.142

And at its heart is a really simple concept. See, you probably don’t want to sequence one bass line, or one drum pattern. (Oooh, minimal!) No, you want more than one thing at once. So, there’s this simple idea: Combine two melodic sequencers with one drum sequencer. Run them independently. And provide easy access to all three.

I don’t care what sort of music you make, whether it’s techno or experimental ambient klezmer. The ability to do three things at once well is better than doing one thing sort of poorly. And doing more than one thing at once is the essence of live electronic music. So, yes, it’s about time.

As before, play each live in real-time or step sequence. Then add the ingredients together:

Two monophonic step sequencers
Add your melodic sequences here…
Up to 64 steps per sequence
Note, velocity and gate time settings per step
Note tie

This is beautiful too — Arturia tells CDM exclusively that all changes to the sequences can be linked, or independent. So, for instance, you can transpose your melodies individually, or all together, all at once, right from the pads.

beatstep-pro-8_800

One drum sequencer
Multitrack drum sequencing makes it easy to add rhythms…
16-track drum sequencer (one track per pad)
MIDI controller mode
Fully customizable for knobs, step buttons and velocity and pressure sensitive pads
Send MIDI CC, note data, program changes

Projects
You can combine your setup into a single project – think “song.” You get 16×2 sequences, 16 drum sequences and a controller map.

beatstep-pro-1_800

Performance controls
Touch sensitive knobs – with (finally) feedback on the display so you can see what you’re doing
Tap Tempo
Per-sequence swing settings

More performance goodies
This is like being on your way out of the door and someone running after you and shouting “wait, no – we want to give you a free cake! And a bottle of champagne!” Because while you don’t need it and didn’t ask for it, Arturia are adding more:

There’s a Randomizer for spicing up the sequences, with Amount and Probability settings. (That’s one of the things I very much like on another step sequencer/controller, the Faderfox SC-3)

And there’s a real-time looper/roller touch strip.

Apparently this functionality came partly from Spark, adding the features from that excellent drum machine software to the Beatstep-inspired step sequencers.

That makes this into a performance instrument and not just a utility.

Oh, and it’s a USB controller

This is still an excellent compact drum pad controller with mappable knobs, so ideal for controlling performance. Add in those new touch-sensitive knobs, and you’re in even better shape.

Play Spark, your own drum machine software, Ableton Live clips, whatever.

I almost forgot about this after the much-expanded sequencing features.

5H8A4091-small

Connectivity

You get everything you need. USB alone is enough to justify the purchase, probably, but there’s also standalone operation.

CV/GATE outputs (1 volt per octave CV, 10 volt gates)
8 drum gate outputs
Clock sync with multiple standards
MIDI In/Out with supplied MIDI adaptors

Competition: It’s On

So, there’s now both this and the new Korg SQ-1 step sequencer, which has a street price of just US$99. The Korg has some really nice volca-inspired step/jump features, the price is terrific, and those knobs are cute – and it also does CV.

Then again, that mostly means the Korg is something you might pick up after this. But with the added functionality of the pads, the multi-layered sequences, and so on, there’s no question that this will be more useful if executed right.

It looks like we’ll be testing some step sequencers this spring. And we’ll have ultra-mobile live rigs, just in time for open air season. And no reason to worry about glare or heavy loads, as a result. Bring drum machines, not records; bring synths, not laptops.

Hallelujah.

http://arturia.com/beatstep-pro/overview

The post Why BeatStep Pro Could Become the Heart of Your Live Rig appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Everything You Need to Know About KORG’s Arp Odyssey Remake

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KORG, having resurrected their own MS-20 monosynth, have now turned to another analog classic: the duophonic ARP Odyssey. We’ve known for some time that they would begin manufacturing a new edition of that in collaboration with its original creators. Now we know what it looks like, and what it’ll cost.

If you already love the classic ARP Odyssey, there’s not much to say. KORG’s launch, in fact, focused on the ARP you know – the fact that its sound is something you recognize from songs. That’s partly an explanation of why such instruments deserve recreation.

And the original holds up today. It’s a beautifully playable synth with great character, plus terrific envelope controls, a one-of-a-kind, accessible front panel layout that makes everything clear, and nice extras like the Ring Mod and Sample & Hold. It doesn’t have the modular features and some of the more unusual sound possibilities of the monophonic MS-20, but it’s a great keyboardists’ instrument.

And recreation, this is. ARP co-founder David Friend oversaw this effort, so you can count on a certain amount of authenticity – and, as with the MS-20, they didn’t change the circuitry so much as put it back in production. They might not be as obsessive-compulsive as our friends at Moog – we don’t get any mention of hand-stuffing wires – but the sound should be well within the normal degrees of variation on these instruments. The architecture and the circuits themselves are electrically the same, only built via modern parts and methods.

Price: US$1400 suggested list. Street price appears to be about a grand (US$999 – obviously expect it to cost more via the weaker Yen, Euro, and Pound Sterling, plus more tax). That puts the price above the mass-market focused MS-20 mini, but it also includes its own case – and it’s a duophonic synth.

Availability: KORG isn’t saying yet.

But beyond that, what we want to know is what differs between this ARP Odyssey – erm, KORG Odyssey? – and a used instrument? Now we know that, too.

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First, what’s retained from the originals:

You get all of the filters. One challenge of recreation is which instrument to recreate. In the case of filters, the ARP shipped with different filters at different times. As on the recent MS-20 kit and new MS-20M, KORG lets you choose – circuits for each generation are included:

TYPE I (Rev1) is a 12 dB/Oct circuit that produces a sharp, punchy sound. TYPE II (Rev2) is a 24 dB/Oct filter with great-sounding lows. TYPE III (Rev3) maintains excellent stability even when resonance is raised. These distinctive filters have been reproduced just as they originally were.

You get a portamento choice. Original revision and later revision behaviors are included.

You get all the Control Voltage connectivity. CV in/out, gate in/out, and trigger in/out are included.

And what’s new?

It does MIDI. You get MIDI in, plus USB for MIDI in from a computer. Now, here’s a gripe: On an instrument this large and representing some investment, it seems a MIDI out port would be welcome, even if just for operation as Thru. But, anyway, you don’t get one.

It’s not mini, but it is leaner. Let’s say “swimsuit season ready” rather than “mini-sized.” KORG has trimmed down the case – no need for the extra room required by the original. This model is 86% of the size of the first. These aren’t tiny keys, but they are what Korg describe as “slim” – reduced in size from the original.

You do well on weight, too – 5 kg / 11.02 lbs.

But it claims improved playability (faders and keys). First, you get smoother sliders. Second, Korg says the slim keys are both lighter and more playable. (Now, note, Korg are still being historical with the keybed – there’s no velocity and no aftertouch.)

And you can transpose. KORG have added a transpose function so you get seven octaves. Actually, apart from MIDI, that’s maybe the biggest change from the original, since it gives you quick access to more pitch ranges. There are two ways this is accomplished:

1. Transposing the whole keybed: 2 octaves down, normal, 2 octave up.
2. Proportional pitch: the pitch pad pitches down or up about -2/3 octaves.

There’s a Drive switch. This one’s interesting – a 2015 addition. Flip a switch, and you get some sort of analog overdrive distortion. We’ll have to hear what it sounds like, but it proves that Korg are willing to try new ideas. Contrast that with the religious fundamentalists over at Moog and their literalism with the modular recreations.

Also, if you don’t like the black-and-orange paint job – though I must admit, it’s my favorite – the other two liveries are being made available as limited editions with launch.

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By the way, a couple of final touches. If you’re wondering about the price, KORG has really done something nice here. They’ve included all the patch cables, and even thrown in a nice hard case that looks really road ready – the idea being you’ll gig with this thing. That’s a major advantage over the MS-20, which even in the mini version has an odd shape that’s hard to haul around.

case

All in all, this looks like a real success. If you’ve a grand burning a hole in your pocket, this isn’t the only option. Suitcase modular rigs are very doable for that price, and offer arguably more sound options. (Doepfer just came out with a starter case I’ll be writing up soon, for instance.) Tom Oberheim has his SEM. There’s Dave Smith. Moog have its keyboards, a number of which are at or below this price. And there’s Korg’s own MS-20 and much more inexpensive MS-20 mini, which certainly deserve comparison. But I suspect most of the ARP’s initial buyers will be the folks already waiting on one. And, hey, you’re in good company – Herbie Hancock looks happy.

Enjoy.

http://www.arpsynth.com/

http://www.arpsynth.com/en/arpodyssey/specifications/

The post Everything You Need to Know About KORG’s Arp Odyssey Remake appeared first on Create Digital Music.