Posts by Peter Kirn:

With the Minimoog reissue, there are now two Moogs

At the moment when synthesizers are getting more economical, Moog are firmly establishing what the synth as luxury item looks like – and it’s this. The Minimoog model D is an exact recreation of the iconic original monosynth, starting production of that machine for the first time in three decades, down to even tiny details of circuits. And it’ll cost you – US$3499, limited run in America only.

That means we now have essentially two iterations of Moog Music. One is making luxury recreations of its original history, in their original form. The other is making new products and new designs – and for a larger audience (especially because of price).

Price alone isn’t really the issue. In fact, it’s easy to get hung up on the price and forget just how much more efficient production is now. The Minimoog model D Moog Music have just introduced is nearly a part-by-part recreation of the original. It even uses accurate through-hole rather than surface-mount production (which allows it to be more true to which parts are used). Yet it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the original.

Get ready for some sticker shock. The 1970 Minimoog price, adjusted for inflation using the USA Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index is…
US$61,356.88.

Even deadmau5 would have trouble spending that much money.

The best part of the demo video is you get to hear Bob Moog himself talk about his creation:

But forget about the price for a second. What’s remarkable about the model D, like Moog’s Keith Emerson modular that came before it (at the last Moogfest, no less), is that it is an exact recreation. Think about that for a second. No other major brand is doing this. The closest is KORG, but their recreations are more modernized approximations – not unlike classic car reissues. And as such, their ARP and MS-20 were downsized and added features like MIDI; even the limited run full-sized MS-20 was modernized from the original and still kept a fairly low price tag.

The model D and Emerson modular are recreations, not approximations. They’re effectively starting up the old production line as if nothing happened.

It’s Moog Music as museum. And I think as a result not only the price but the peculiarity of what you get is likely to keep the model D’s appeal to a specific breed of musicians.

As historical curiosity, it’s fascinating. But it does, to me, represent something of a step backward – if an intentional one. Bob Moog himself didn’t repeat the Minimoog; he re-conceived it with the Minimoog Voyager, the very synth that launched today’s Moog Music.

Of course, that’s why I say there are two Moogs. The other Moog continues to imagine new instruments, like the Mother-32 and even new iOS apps. And these matter not just because they’re more practical or cheaper – they matter because they’re genuinely new. If you know the sound of the Minimoog already, you can find new sounds in their latest creations.

But I sure I’m not alone in saying this: the model D, while fascinating, still makes me long for a new Voyager — or Moog Music’s take on a polysynth.

Maybe what’s compelling about the synthesizer is that it does constantly transform. The history of the violin and the piano were eventually stunted (something even some acoustic builders what to change). The synthesizer can be an instrument that’s perpetually reinvented. And so that means I’ll keep looking forward to the new creations from Asheville, North Carolina – even as I marvel at the achievement of historical recreation.

For more:

Synthtopia shot some photos.

And our friend, the wonderful Nick, talking about the reissue to Synthtopia:

Plus they take a look inside:

And another take on this instrument:

The post With the Minimoog reissue, there are now two Moogs appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

Premiere: hot baile funk from Brazil, Enchufada’s 777

In the heart of Brazil, baile funk is charting a new direction for bass music – soaking up influences from across the ocean in UK, mixing and evolving. And so we’re keen on the latest cut from Lisbon’s Enchufada label – that’s the label behind the likes of Buraka Som Sistema and Branko – a new collaborative gem.

The project is called 777, the product of a pairing of Marginal Men and Viní, off a forthcoming EP by Marginal Men. And the first cut is crisp, modern, with a finely-tuned slightly-dragging groove to it, and some surprising cinematic bigness – it really does sound like some new style we haven’t heard before. (We’re not quite exclusive on CDM, because the management got excited and had to share … which is an impulse I understand.) Listen:

Go get it:
Bandcamp – bit.ly/777-Bandcamp
Spotify – bit.ly/777-Spotify
iTunes – bit.ly/777-iTunes

Marginal Men also host what I’m told is Brazil’s hottest club night – the bass-heavy “Wobble” parties. That event, like this music, cross-breeds the local Brazilian sound with top acts from the UK.

We chatted via email with Marginal Men about their release, in a trans-Atlantic chat:

rmc-wobble_090

CDM: Love the sound of this track, certainly. How would you describe its influences, where it came from?

The main influence behind 777 is work of MC TH, a baile funk crooner from Rio. He really blew up last year with beats from guys like DJ Yago Gomes, LD do Martins and DN de Caxias. We are big fans of his sound and always look forward to hear more from him, so when we started to talk with Viní about this track, his name was the first to come up.

What’s the concept and spirit behind the release?

The main idea behind this tune and the whole EP is to connect the baile funk sound with different bass music styles. We always tried to show how we imagine this connection through our DJ sets. Last year, we released two mashup EPs on Arrastão, and we consider our new EP that is coming out in June as a next step in this work — our expression on how we see this connection.

Care to talk at all about the production process? What’s in your studio?

We use Ableton Live 9 and most of the sounds come from iZotope Iris 2 (thanks Imaabs!) and NI Massive.

The studio set up is a MacBook Pro, [Native Instruments] Audio8 soundcard, KRK RockIt 8 monitors, Icon MIDI keyboard and a Digidesign Command8 control surface.

On 777, we collaborated with Viní. He is on FL [Studio]. So we bounced the stems from Live to FL and back. At the end we added his stems to our original project so we wouldn’t lose power with all the resampling.

Wobble_Swindle_Secreto_21Ago15_SP-133

Help us imagine what it’s like to walk into a typical Wobble night. Who’s there, who’s playing, what’s happening?

Fabio Heinz is WOBBLE’s resident warm up DJ. He starts the dancefloor mixing up the latests rap/grime releases with uk dubstep. At the end of his set, an up-and-coming MC from Fabio’s label RWND Records usually steps in to test some unreleased stuff.

Most of the nights we play after Fabio. We love that second spot. We can start slow and keep going up the bpms.

After us normally comes a guest. Names like MC Bin Laden, Branko, DJ Earl, DJ Marky, DJ R7, Sango, Scratcha DVA, Sants, Nectar Gang, Neguim Beats, Plastician and many others already played with us at WOBBLE. We try to bring always bring new sounds and also check in again with our favorites.

To finish our night with great style we bring next our third resident DJ – Rodrigo S. He is Rio’s DnB legend. His mixing is always on point, he never disappoints and always brings new hits from different bass mu.

But we can’t talk about the party without mentioning the most important part the dancefloor crew. They know and appreciate the sound. The response and energy of the crowd is very important to us. This emotion that can be felt when we play for them. That’s what it is all about.

wnoaterro0103_copy

More from Marginal Men:

More Enchufada goodness: The label hails from Lisbon, but brings you “new music from weird places.”

The post Premiere: hot baile funk from Brazil, Enchufada’s 777 appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

The new Bastl bitRanger is handheld patchable insanity

What do you get when you cross a tiny patch bay with total mayhem?

Well, the bitRanger, apparently – a limited-run collaboration of Bastl Instruments and Casper Electronics (Peter Edwards), and possibly the most interesting surprise to come out of Moogfest this week.

Peter Edwards has not only moved to Brno, Czech Republic to join the Bastl revolution – a mad genius marriage if ever you’ve heard one – he’s also evidently been spending a lot of time in the woods. Maybe… a little too much time. Watch:

But, while it’s not clear whether or not Peter has lost his mind, we do get an absolutely delightful little invention. The bitRanger is a compact, battery-powered, patchbay-equipped wonder, focusing on repatching an “analog logic computer.”

That is, it uses Peter’s ongoing cleverness with circuits to let you wire up different patterns, whether you use them as a sound source directly or as a means of controlling other gizmos.

So, it’s a synth. But it’s also a pattern generator for other synths.

And it’s fitting that the bitRanger debuts in North Carolina at Moogfest rather than back home in Europe, because the creators are explicit about their connection to Moog’s own oddity, the Werkstatt synth. In fact, you can patch them together if you choose.

Patch it, you will, as in addition to four knobs and eight switches you get a full 100 patch points.

Americans can buy directly at Moogfest (where there’s a first limited edition at the special price of US$259), or look to the store Bastl and Casper have opened in Brooklyn, Detective Squad. Back here in Europe, you can order from the Bastl noise.kitchen site for 222€ (plus VAT) when it ships in June (I think literally when Peter and the Czech guys get back to Brno).

Or, of course, if you happen to be touring Brno to see what all the fuss is about, you can get it from them in person. I recommend drinking some Kofola (caffeinated coffee soda) to get your head ready to do some analog patching. But it’s possible I’m just trying to comfort myself in the fact that I’m not at Moogfest.

Hope to get one in for review, though.

bitranger3

bitranger2

The post The new Bastl bitRanger is handheld patchable insanity appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

Hours and hours and hours of Autechre

Is IDM cool again? Like even calling things IDM? We think so. Now, there’s probably lots we could say about Autechre, but that’d take precious time away from you listening to all the Autechre-y Autechre that just Autechred into your Autechre. So, let’s just cover the facts, ma’am, in quick order – and they’re all pretty awesome. Of course, spoiler, all your fellow music nerd friends have been talking about nothing else on their Facebook feed today, but at least we can put this all in one convenient location:

1. There’s a new release. Autechre just dropped a five-album (five!) release, Elseq 1-5. Oh, you thought Exai was big (2013), with only 17 tracks and 2 CDs and 4 vinyl records? Now you get 21 tracks, 5 albums, and about four hours of music.

Digital only, 33-55€. Drill down and buy individual bits if you prefer. I think you should buy the 24-bit version, put it on a special hard drive you buy for the purpose, and connect to your computer with a gold-plated Thunderbolt cable and then invite your friends over for a listen.

https://autechre.bleepstores.com/release/73330-autechre-elseq-15

autechresimpsons

2. No streaming. No, you can’t stream it. I couldn’t get an official quote from the label, but what I have been able to psychically probe from their thoughts was “F*** you Spotify and Apple Music.” Direct (psychic) quote. (This is the future, I think, as forcing downloads will be the only thing that saves them.)

3. Seriously no streaming. No, you can’t even stream previews on other sites. Previews are only on the Warp site. (This is probably the future, too, at least for Famous People. The rest of us will be YouTube-previewing everything we can, natch.)

Oh no! You're not a real nerd if you weren't all over Warp's Alaskan radio rip before they pulled it down. Don't be caught napping.

Oh no! You’re not a real nerd if you weren’t all over Warp’s Alaskan radio rip before they pulled it down. Don’t be caught napping.

4. PR plan: let’s go Fairbanks. Here’s a promo concept: premiere music on BBC 6Music (of course!) and a college radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska called KSUA (wait, huh?). Rip the radio appearance from Alaskan radio. Post it to SoundCloud, officially as Warp Records. Then promptly remove the recording and force people to buy the downloads. Genius.

ksua

Five years ago, if someone did this, I’d say it was some sort of underground hipster chic. In 2016, going that strange may actually be the only antidote to an oversaturated media market. I would have loved to be on the other end of the phone line when Autechre called, though.

5. The Longest Cut. That’ll be “elyc6 0nset,” 27″.

6. Disney hearts IDM now, too. More IDM is the new EDM evidence: media megagiant “we own everything nerdy now” Disney have gone to the likes of Warp artists to remix Giorgio Moroder in a soundtrack to the video game TRON RUN/r by Giorgio Moroder and Raney Shockney. What do kids like today? Oh, probably Plaid and Bibio and … Patten! Also, you get yet more Autechre to add to the above, in the form of a remix of “611 Time Out.” IMM – Intelligent Moroder Music.

RUN/r Forrest, RUN/r!

RUN/r Forrest, RUN/r!

7. Who’s Autechre? Heh. If you want to catch up, FACT have put together a nice “essential” guide.

By the way, speaking of obscure, you know if I were a huge IDM fan and wanted to stick it to the Music Press, I would probably do an interview with the world’s, um, third(?) biggest music tech site where most people expect news about an Arduino-controlled LEGO step sequencer, and then I’d talk to them. Just… gonna put that out there. It’s totally the Alaskan radio of online music news, if you think about it. Rob. Or… someone.

Have a very merry Autechre, everyone, and God Autechre us, every one.

73330

Now let’s go download, because:

The post Hours and hours and hours of Autechre appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

Hours and hours and hours of Autechre

Is IDM cool again? Like even calling things IDM? We think so. Now, there’s probably lots we could say about Autechre, but that’d take precious time away from you listening to all the Autechre-y Autechre that just Autechred into your Autechre. So, let’s just cover the facts, ma’am, in quick order – and they’re all pretty awesome. Of course, spoiler, all your fellow music nerd friends have been talking about nothing else on their Facebook feed today, but at least we can put this all in one convenient location:

1. There’s a new release. Autechre just dropped a five-album (five!) release, Elseq 1-5. Oh, you thought Exai was big (2013), with only 17 tracks and 2 CDs and 4 vinyl records? Now you get 21 tracks, 5 albums, and about four hours of music.

Digital only, 33-55€. Drill down and buy individual bits if you prefer. I think you should buy the 24-bit version, put it on a special hard drive you buy for the purpose, and connect to your computer with a gold-plated Thunderbolt cable and then invite your friends over for a listen.

https://autechre.bleepstores.com/release/73330-autechre-elseq-15

autechresimpsons

2. No streaming. No, you can’t stream it. I couldn’t get an official quote from the label, but what I have been able to psychically probe from their thoughts was “F*** you Spotify and Apple Music.” Direct (psychic) quote. (This is the future, I think, as forcing downloads will be the only thing that saves them.)

3. Seriously no streaming. No, you can’t even stream previews on other sites. Previews are only on the Warp site. (This is probably the future, too, at least for Famous People. The rest of us will be YouTube-previewing everything we can, natch.)

Oh no! You're not a real nerd if you weren't all over Warp's Alaskan radio rip before they pulled it down. Don't be caught napping.

Oh no! You’re not a real nerd if you weren’t all over Warp’s Alaskan radio rip before they pulled it down. Don’t be caught napping.

4. PR plan: let’s go Fairbanks. Here’s a promo concept: premiere music on BBC 6Music (of course!) and a college radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska called KSUA (wait, huh?). Rip the radio appearance from Alaskan radio. Post it to SoundCloud, officially as Warp Records. Then promptly remove the recording and force people to buy the downloads. Genius.

ksua

Five years ago, if someone did this, I’d say it was some sort of underground hipster chic. In 2016, going that strange may actually be the only antidote to an oversaturated media market. I would have loved to be on the other end of the phone line when Autechre called, though.

5. The Longest Cut. That’ll be “elyc6 0nset,” 27″.

6. Disney hearts IDM now, too. More IDM is the new EDM evidence: media megagiant “we own everything nerdy now” Disney have gone to the likes of Warp artists to remix Giorgio Moroder in a soundtrack to the video game TRON RUN/r by Giorgio Moroder and Raney Shockney. What do kids like today? Oh, probably Plaid and Bibio and … Patten! Also, you get yet more Autechre to add to the above, in the form of a remix of “611 Time Out.” IMM – Intelligent Moroder Music.

RUN/r Forrest, RUN/r!

RUN/r Forrest, RUN/r!

7. Who’s Autechre? Heh. If you want to catch up, FACT have put together a nice “essential” guide.

By the way, speaking of obscure, you know if I were a huge IDM fan and wanted to stick it to the Music Press, I would probably do an interview with the world’s, um, third(?) biggest music tech site where most people expect news about an Arduino-controlled LEGO step sequencer, and then I’d talk to them. Just… gonna put that out there. It’s totally the Alaskan radio of online music news, if you think about it. Rob. Or… someone.

Have a very merry Autechre, everyone, and God Autechre us, every one.

73330

Now let’s go download, because:

The post Hours and hours and hours of Autechre appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

Someone recorded an Ableton tech support prank call

Okay, obvious disclaimer. Please do not prank call Ableton tech support. They’re busy, hard-working people. But … this is hilarious (as is the fact that it’s labeled as a tech support call “from Berghain”). A custom-built Launchpad and Live hacked to run inside Linux? Going with the flow and working the audience when a glitching Live set randomly launches clips? At least this scenario sounds like a plausible one involving a regular CDM reader. Listen:

You can download this, too, so fiction can become reality when you drop this track in your next set. I’d love to hear this on the FUNKTION-ONE, if you’re listening, cough, Marcel and Ben. Think about it.

CDM needs a morning zoo broadcast. We could do this all the time. (Meanwhile, I marvel yet again at the brilliance of SoundCloud’s related tracks algorithm. Start listening and you’ll find some awesome things happening.)

Confirmed: we have a source that tells us this call was real, and that really is an Ableton employee on the other line, to which we say – and we can’t say this enough – please don’t ever do this! Uh… but we are still laughing.

The post Someone recorded an Ableton tech support prank call appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

One plug-in combines all the classic vocal effects you want

There have been vocal effects before – your vocoder, your pitch shifter, what have you. But the folks at iZotope set a more ambitious goal: be all the classic vocal effects. Put them a single plug-in full of modules. Then combine them in a way that makes them accessible, whether you’re preset surfing or dialing in your own sound. Encourage exploration without even requiring some advance knowledge. The result of that is called VocalSynth, and it’s out today.

And wow, is this thing big – big enough that I imagine I might spend the rest of the year playing with it.

I’ve had VocalSynth to play around with since an early beta a few weeks ago, watching as the developers gradually added in new modules and tuned controls while listening to feedback. And what’s compelling about it is that it combines sophisticated models of vintage gear – many of them hard to get in software form – with the more digital effects. It’s also a digital multi-effects unit good enough that you might sometimes insert it without the vocal effects.

You’ll certainly be interested if you want effects on your vocals, but despite the name, you’re likely to experiment with other sorts of signals, too (hi there, drums).

The easiest way to understand it is to take a tour of the modules. iZotope goes through these in more detail, but here’s the quick version:

Vocoder. Well, really, three vocoders: “vintage” (modeling classic hardware) “hard” (edgier digital version) and “smooth” (for a gentler, sophisticated effect).

Talkbox. This one is especially valuable, as it’s been tougher to get – and it means you can quickly make vocals as a non-vocalist, because you can route a synth or side-chained input and then make it talk. I hope you’ve got a notebook full of lyrics handy.

Polyvox. Polyphonic pitch shifter, good for you Imogen Heap wannabes. Actually, Imogen, I’m curious whether you like this!

Compuvox This models the 80s toys for a more retro effect.

Pitch correction. And there’s a pitch-corrector (aka brand name AutoTune) you can add – substituting this before one of the other effects can also produce unique combinations.

The pitch correction module sits at the top of the UI, together with a graphic representation of the sound. You’ll find the four primary effect engines below that, color-coded, which you can then mix together in any combination. That allows you to layer these four engines in variations subtle or extreme.

Each of these four modules requires pitch input, but there iZotope have found a unique solution. You can use MIDI input to control the modules – for example, playing harmonies and melodies on a MIDI keyboard. But if you’re not confident of your keyboard (or musical) skills, or you’re simply on the go and don’t have a convenient input, you can also switch to Auto mode. That lets VocalSynth automatically add chords/octaves/doubles according to your selections, leaving you free to sing or experiment or whatever.

screenshot_419

The bottom portion of the interface covers more typical ground – a set of effects already paired with the VocalSynth engines.

Transform. This is actually the most important of these – it’s a convolution-based, modeled speaker so that you can emulate amps and speaker cabinets in a way that pairs with the different synth engines.

Distort. Wave-shaping distortion/overdrive.

Filter. This is actually also a module with multiple engines – a ladder filter model (dubbed “New York”), an aggressive resonant filter called “Scream,” and a “Combo” that combines high- and low-pass for sweeping effects.

Shred. Drawing from iZotope’s beat repeating stuff (whether you want to call that EDM or IDM I think is up to you), you get glitchy beat-synced effects. Bonus.

Delay. Stereo delay.

All of these combined modules of course mean there’s an extensive preset library. But playing with the various modules is equally enjoyable. Between the harmonic features and the simplified “just tweak this knob” interface, there’s plenty open to free experimentation and happy accidents.

Just a few of the loads of presets.

Just a few of the loads of presets.

We’ll go more in depth soon with how the software was designed and created and what inspired it, and what sorts of sounds you can make with it (with some tips on how to explore all this terrain). In the meantime, here are just a few sound samples to give you a taste of what’s possible. This is really just some idea of the basics / historical sounds as a selling point, though; you could certainly warp this stuff in very different directions, and iZotope tells CDM they’re really hoping users contribute very different sound samples.

Also, thank you, iZotope, as you’ve given us a chance to turn again to the wisdom of Robert Henke, aka Monolake and co-founder of Ableton, regarding vocoders:

VocalSynth is available now for Mac and Windows for US$149 as a limited-time intro price, through the middle of June. After that, it’s $199. A demo is available. More:

iZotope VocalSynth [product page]

Updated — here’s a great example of the sounds VocalSynth can make. The video may look like it’s from iZotope, but it’s not – it’s just another intrepid Internet user named Rishabh Rajan making some amazing productions (subscribing to this person’s channel now).

The post One plug-in combines all the classic vocal effects you want appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

These headphones will adapt their sound to how you hear

For all the changes in visual appearance, all the extra features and connections, what hasn’t changed much in headphones is how headphones work. That makes Nura, a product launching this week on Kickstarter, all the more interesting. Not only does it introduce a unique design for how the headphones physically deliver sound to your ears, but it’s also a pair of headphones that listens to your ears — even before you start listening to music.

One of the most fundamental things to know about human hearing is that all ears are different. You can give yourself some sense of this by playing with the flappy bits of your ears right now. (Don’t worry – I’m sure people around you won’t find it at all odd.) Move around your ears and you’ll notice sound changes – both your sense of the color and spatial location of what you hear will seem to change. That’s because your physical ear, from exterior to deep in the inner ear, produces a series of attenuations in frequency that impact what you hear.

In the world of analog sound, that meant that sound listening devices had to be made as generically as possible. From the sound produced itself to the physical form of devices like headphones, then, “personal” listening is really just a rough, lowest-common denominator approximation.

But we’re no longer in the world of exclusively analog sound. Thanks to computational technology, it’s possible to make “smarter” listening devices – headphones that automatically calibrate to your particular ears.

nura

Headphones that listen

The Nura headphones do just that. Using an app on the smartphone to do the analysis, they automatically calibrate frequency range to your particular hearing. The headphones measure your hearing – on their own in conjunction with the app, with no intervention from you – in about half a minute.

This is possible because your inner ear, in addition to “listening” to sound, also actually emits very low-intensity sounds (explained in this medical article), both on its own and (essential here) in response to particular sounds as stimuli. What the Nura headphones are able to do is measure those emissions as a way of detecting the way your particular ear hears. They produce That’s been used in medical applications before, but this is the first time the same technique was used to produce better headphones as a consumer product.

So, you plug these in, hear some sweeping tones for 30 seconds, and then your headphones “know” how to make your music sound better – really.

Nura Animation from Nura on Vimeo.

Once the half-miute sensing process is complete, your personal profile is then stored with the headphones for the most accurate sound reproduction in your listening. It’s even specific, as it must be, to each ear. If you share your pair of Nura headphones with someone else and don’t re-calibrate, in other words, you should realize something akin to trading prescription eyeglasses with someone else – you’ll recognize that they don’t hear/see the way you do.

There are some unique applications for this. First off, by default, Nura headphones should sound better than other headphones do. (That explains at least in part why pros do monitor on both cans and studio monitors, or why no one entirely agrees on their favorite headphones.)

I was curious how professional engineers responded, too. That will require a more extensive test and review, but so far the makers of Nura say musicians and engineers have responded positively, and that they’ll continue to collaborate with them as they refine the design – which can include both the software/analysis side as well as the cans themselves.

This also means data collection on hearing directly from your listening device. That could eventually I imagine have implications for hearing health, adjusting to changes in hearing over time, and other applications.

Oh, one weird and interesting possibility: you could actually download a profile for the person who engineered a record, and hear through their ears.

The unique physical design combines in-ear and over-ear designs into a single form factor.

The unique physical design combines in-ear and over-ear designs into a single form factor.

Physical design

The self-calibration routine isn’t the only innovation of the Nura headphones. Physical design is also new. For the first time, the makers say (and the first time I’ve ever seen), the headphones use a dual driver design.

Basically, imagine that this is a combination of earbuds and over-ear headphones. There’s a driver that sticks into your ear for high and mid frequencies and the over-ear for lows. And that solves some familiar problems. In-ear and over-ear designs normally each have unique benefits, both in terms of the outside sounds they block and the sounds that you hear most clearly. Hear, you get both at once.

Since that also means more passive noise cancellation (like covering and plugging your ears at the same time), you should hear less outside noise, which means you can listen at lower volumes, which means less hearing damage from headphone listening.

There are some nice physical features, too, including gel-filled tips that the makers say conform to your ears. And they look fairly nice.

Connections are entirely digital – Lightning (for iOS) and USB (for Android and computers). There’s no analog connector; those digital connectors also provide the power necessary for the headphones to operate. I think a lot of us in the pro market would like an analog option (with some other power solution); I’ve asked about that.

I haven’t gotten to test these yet; that’ll happen here in Berlin next week when the team arrive with prototypes at Music Tech Fest – itself a compelling place to find out about new gear. I’m looking forward to that, though. Let us know if you’ve got questions for the makers or something you want me to evaluate in the process.

I do think this is the future. Nura covers frequency attenuation; it’s still for stereo signal. But you can bet that other sensing capabilities in headphones will also become a major selling feature, from health (sensors that work with the ear, like temperature or pulse) to spatialization (self-calibration becomes even more essential if you want to deliver realistic 360-degree sound to the ears).

Nura is the first to bring that kind of functionality to market in a music device. And that’s big news. So stay tuned for more.

The Kickstarter reached its $100,000 goal on the first day and continues to plow forward as users buy up early-bird specials on the headphones.

More:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nura/nura-headphones-that-learn-and-adapt-to-your-uniqu

Disclosure: Create Digital Media is engaged in a consulting collaboration with Float PR, who have Nura as a client.

The post These headphones will adapt their sound to how you hear appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

A video glimpse of Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z in action

It looks like a small remote control for a game system, but it’s a musical instrument. The OP-Z caught our imagination earlier this year at NAMM with a host of bizarre and wonderful functions, from sequenced instruments and drums to live visual animation accompaniment (seriously).

Now, Cuckoo Music catches up with Teenage Engineering in his ongoing video series. That means a chance to see how the pocket music gizmo has progressed, as well as what’s happening with live visuals. Teenage Engineer David Mollerstedt joins:

Meanwhile, TE’s instruments see other lovely action. Mikael Jorgensen writes CDM to tell us about his new project Rancho Electro, a kind of visual music label featuring performance in the open air. As he describes it to us, it’s “electronic music, performed, filmed and recorded live and in a natural setting.”

Love that idea. If Mikael’s name is familiar, it might be from other band projects – one of them being keyboardist for Wilco. We’ll have to go more in-depth with this soon, but let’s immediately enjoy some lovely, jangling music out in nature.

Apart from the OP-1, you’ll spot a KORG volca beats and a Pocket Piano in there.

The post A video glimpse of Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z in action appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.

This is the next-gen notation tool from original Sibelius team

It’s been a few years since the original development and management team behind Sibelius found themselves unemployed at the company they started, following a restructuring by owner Avid. Since then, Sibelius has continued to progress, but in a way that’s best described as incremental. It’s now a subscription product with an emphasis on the cloud, like other Avid tools, and updates have focused on features like pen support and small notation details. If you’re happy with Sibelius, that’s not a bad thing: it’s the recipient of a steady stream of updates.

But what if there were to be something new in music notation software?

Much of the team behind Sibelius migrated to a new home – and a new patron. Steinberg, makers of Cubase and Nuendo, set up an R&D center in London, aiming in their words “to develop next-generation professional scoring software for composers, arrangers, engravers, copyists and educators.” Dan Spreadbury, who many of us knew from his Sibelius days, took on a Steinberg title and started blogging the new effort.

“Next-generation” suggests something more than just incremental. But while Dan’s blog has been very particular about details (more on that below), it’s been pretty vague on the big picture – until now.

Today, Steinberg is at last announcing what the team has been working on. It’s called “Dorico.” And it’s coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

So, what’s “next-generation” about Dorico? We get some clues in the initial announcement.

It’s important to remember that the original version of Sibelius was revolutionary – even if today there are several equivalent products with very similar feature sets. First available for the little-known Acorn workstation platform, Sibelius was ground-breaking in that it could instantly reflow enormous scores when changed. Entry was for the first time as quick as touch-typing, thanks to a clever set of keyboard shortcuts organized around the numeric keypad (something you can now ape in Finale). And its scores, while not quite up to the level of some dedicated engraving tools, also looked really good.

But that was a long time ago.

The new Dorico would seem to carry some of the philosophy of the original Sibelius, but re-conceived.

So, Steinberg promises high performance, smooth workflow, and an easy one-window interface.

Steinberg aren't releasing any full screenshots today of this in-progress product, but we've gotten a rough view from the R&D blog.

Steinberg aren’t releasing any full screenshots today of this in-progress product, but we’ve gotten a rough view from the R&D blog.

But there’s something different, too. You can now work, at last, in open meters or freely rebar existing music. That’s something die-hard engravers have had in tools like the (non-GUI) SCORE, but not in mainstream tools.

What the heck am I saying? Well, think about the ability to work with notes as easily as you can with characters in a word processor. Insert music within an existing passage – without having to move everything around by bar and make space first. Change the durations of existing notes.

Steinberg also promises the ability to make different score layouts with independent page and staff size.

These are the things that muck up most notation tools. Changing layout, changing duration, or changing musical ideas often involves manual labor. (Sorry, uh – for the London R&D team, without manual labour.)

Sibelius also was the first major tool to push playback as a central feature and a leader in bundling instruments. True to that idea, and pairing with their new friends at Steinberg, Dorico ships out of the box with a bunch of VSTs, including HALion Sonic SE and the HALion Symphonic Orchestra library.

That’s a big deal, too – these days, you’re often expected to demo playback before you get to rent an orchestra to play, especially if you’re working in film and TV.

We’ll of course need to see the full notation product to make a good evaluation. But some of the specs are at least suggestive; I’ll just quote directly here. New engraving output alone is something we’ll have to see, but interesting. (Generally, that involves both typeface design and an underlying engine to treat that, which is one of the many reasons notation software is hard to do well.)

• Next-generation 64-bit scoring software for OS X and Windows, designed by musicians for musicians
• Beautiful engraved output with unrivaled attention to detail
• Flexible note input and powerful editing, including ability to insert and change duration of existing notes

This is promising too:

• Superior note spacing with optical kerning of adjacent elements, with tighter default spacing and no rhythmic distortion

Apart from the ability to freely treat rhythm, Dorico finally promises to solve the clumsy ways different sections and parts and so on are handled:

• Powerful score management features to handle multiple independent pieces of music within the same project
• Unlimited number of staves and movements, sections, or pieces within the same project
• Easily create layouts for full scores and instrumental parts with independent page size, staff size and system layout

This part should give you some Sibelius flashbacks:

• Streamlined, single-window interface puts every tool at your fingertips
• Use your computer keyboard or MIDI keyboard to input music quickly and efficiently
• Import and export in MusicXML, MIDI and graphics formats

And this bit should both give you Sibelius flashbacks and a reminder that this is now a Steinberg product:

• Award-winning 32-bit floating-point Steinberg audio engine with flexible routing for virtual instrument and effect playback
• Compatible with VST 3 virtual instruments and effects processors
• Outstanding virtual instruments with more than 1,500 sounds, including HALion Sonic SE 2 workstation and complete HALion Symphonic Orchestra library
• Suite of high-end VST effect processors, including channel strip modules (compressor, EQ, limiter) and convolution reverb

We’ve also been able to get some great news from Dan’s blog.

First, anyone who’s ever used any computation notation software is going to love these next two images and “get” them without any explanation. That’s Dorico on the top.

Dorico fixes the way glissandi works (including the annoyances in Sibelius).

Dorico fixes the way glissandi works (including the annoyances in Sibelius).

Finally, dynamics are fixed, too. I could probably have gotten a second degree in the time I spend nudging dynamics around, or ... at least would have had more of a life in composition school. Then again, I might not have wound up fleeing to electronic music production, so you wouldn't have gotten CDM. I'm joking. Nearly. Maybe.

Finally, dynamics are fixed, too. I could probably have gotten a second degree in the time I spend nudging dynamics around, or … at least would have had more of a life in composition school. Then again, I might not have wound up fleeing to electronic music production, so you wouldn’t have gotten CDM. I’m joking. Nearly. Maybe.

New dynamics editing, up close.

New dynamics editing, up close.

Sibelius was an early proponent of floating properties (rather than digging through dialogs); here you see the "next-gen" take on that idea.

Sibelius was an early proponent of floating properties (rather than digging through dialogs); here you see the “next-gen” take on that idea.

List for Dorico isn’t cheap. It’s 579€ including VAT, though I expect almost no one will pay that – education pricing is 349€ and there’s a limited-time crossgrade for 299€. I expect the whole audience for this product is either in education or has a copy of Finale or Sibelius lying around, so problem solved. Subtract VAT and calculate to whatever the dollar is worth versus the Euro by the end of the year, and this is a pretty standard price.

We don’t get to see what this looks like, though I’ll try to twist Steinberg’s arm on that as soon as possible. You can read Dan go into a long an interesting Wikipedia-style rabbit hole on history explaining how Dorico was named, which I find fascinating – and it also reveals just how lofty the team’s goals are.

Check out more:

https://www.steinberg.net/en/products/dorico.html

“Making Notes” blog, by Daniel Spreadbury

The post This is the next-gen notation tool from original Sibelius team appeared first on cdm createdigitalmusic.