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Author: Peter Kirn (page 1 of 203)

Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios

polyrhythmus

Polyrhythmus is the machine generator of notes and rhythms many of us have long dreamt of.

It does Euclidean rhythms – symmetrical divisions of time that beautifully produce common polyrhythms (not just for nerds, but modeling a lot of popular rhythms – see the research of Godfried Toussaint). It’s also capable of making other rhythms. It can be polymetrical or polyrhythmic. It’s … also an arpeggiator. It also automates parameters and MIDI Control Change messages. It has loads of modes. It’s modular. It’s dynamic. It’s amazing. It’s a music making nerd’s dream, friendly to anyone who loves rhythms, notes, and patterns.

It’s, for now, a convenient Max for Live module for Ableton Live. But the creator wants to know if we’d want a standalone version. Answer: yes.

Watch, as creator Benniy C. Bascom demonstrates:

So, in review:

  • Rhythms
  • Arpeggiators
  • Automation of MIDI CC and parameters
  • Live arpeggiation and pattern sequencing
  • Sequences that trigger other sequences
  • Skip steps
  • Randomize parameters
  • May open wormholes to other dimensions (he told you to watch the whole video tutorial – consider yourself warned)

It’s not the first to do these things, but it’s certainly one of the craziest. And it’s impressive how much he’s fit into a tiny rack space – and how efficiently he provides access to rhythmic pattern creation.

This is the latest of Benniy’s creations, but it’s not alone – think more sequencers and parameter playback via clip names.

I could say more, but … no, sorry, I’m off to play with this.

And you can also look at this pretty picture (click for a Tumblr-friendly animated GIF):

euclid

In fact, if there’s any complaint about it, it’s the license – it’s fantastic that it’s free. But it’s marked Creative Commons Non-Commercial and No Derivatives – the latter meaning that people can’t modify it and share what they’ve made, which would seem to open up some possibilities. I’d actually rather pay some money for it, but get a CC license that let you make some derivative works based on the same idea. Still, I’m glad as always to see an explicit license, I understand the reason not to allow derivatives (clones and mods distracting from the original), and it’s too good to complain.

Thanks, Jesse Engel, for the tip!

POLYRHYTHMUS – a modular euclidean rhythm builder 1.0 [that description, while true, is about 25% of what it does]

The post Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios

polyrhythmus

Polyrhythmus is the machine generator of notes and rhythms many of us have long dreamt of.

It does Euclidean rhythms – symmetrical divisions of time that beautifully produce common polyrhythms (not just for nerds, but modeling a lot of popular rhythms – see the research of Godfried Toussaint). It’s also capable of making other rhythms. It can be polymetrical or polyrhythmic. It’s … also an arpeggiator. It also automates parameters and MIDI Control Change messages. It has loads of modes. It’s modular. It’s dynamic. It’s amazing. It’s a music making nerd’s dream, friendly to anyone who loves rhythms, notes, and patterns.

It’s, for now, a convenient Max for Live module for Ableton Live. But the creator wants to know if we’d want a standalone version. Answer: yes.

Watch, as creator Benniy C. Bascom demonstrates:

So, in review:

  • Rhythms
  • Arpeggiators
  • Automation of MIDI CC and parameters
  • Live arpeggiation and pattern sequencing
  • Sequences that trigger other sequences
  • Skip steps
  • Randomize parameters
  • May open wormholes to other dimensions (he told you to watch the whole video tutorial – consider yourself warned)

It’s not the first to do these things, but it’s certainly one of the craziest. And it’s impressive how much he’s fit into a tiny rack space – and how efficiently he provides access to rhythmic pattern creation.

This is the latest of Benniy’s creations, but it’s not alone – think more sequencers and parameter playback via clip names.

I could say more, but … no, sorry, I’m off to play with this.

And you can also look at this pretty picture (click for a Tumblr-friendly animated GIF):

euclid

In fact, if there’s any complaint about it, it’s the license – it’s fantastic that it’s free. But it’s marked Creative Commons Non-Commercial and No Derivatives – the latter meaning that people can’t modify it and share what they’ve made, which would seem to open up some possibilities. I’d actually rather pay some money for it, but get a CC license that let you make some derivative works based on the same idea. Still, I’m glad as always to see an explicit license, I understand the reason not to allow derivatives (clones and mods distracting from the original), and it’s too good to complain.

Thanks, Jesse Engel, for the tip!

POLYRHYTHMUS – a modular euclidean rhythm builder 1.0 [that description, while true, is about 25% of what it does]

The post Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios appeared first on Create Digital Music.

A Dreamy Video, Remix with Loscil, and Other Christina Vantzou Gems

Christina Vantzou. Photo: Renaud Monfourny.

Christina Vantzou. Photo: Renaud Monfourny.

You know that feeling, on a hot day, of someone running an ice cube down the back of your neck? Or perhaps, going deeper, the dream of plunging into a frozen lake?

That visceral, primeval emotion, that chill that prickles the hairs on your head – that might start to describe the eerily-lovely wonderlands of Christina Vantzou. Brussels-base artist Vantzou was the visual imagination behind The Dead Texan (with Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie), releasing an epic audiovisual masterpiece that paired cinematic ambience with video realizations.

Vantzou has continued as a composer, with two records on Kranky Records (easy to remember – titled No. 1 and No. 2) engineered by Wiltzie. In swells of impossibly-slow, post-minimal string, electronic, and vocal textures, she makes elegant scenes of sound. It’s not wallpaper to me, as those materials could easily become; there’s some emotional sensitivity that makes these frozen tone poems heart-wrenching.

But because Vantzou works so much with colors, with static images, the palette of these two records is also perfectly-suited to remixing – at least in the hands of experimental artists. And Vantzou proves she’s as sharp a curator as composer, she’s released remix albums of each that can stand alone as much as the original. No. 1, in 2012, featured the likes of ISAN, Robert Lippok, Ben Vida, and many others, plus a bonus Dead Texan cut. Tracing the same adventurous, experimental collaborations, No. 2 – released last month – turns to Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Ken Camden, John Also Bennett (aka Seabat), and Loscil (Vancouver’s Scott Morgan).

The Loscil track is beautiful enough to put a pit in your stomach. But it’s Vantzou’s video that crystallises this whole aesthetic path. It’s a simple conceit: a young woman half-dances in slow-motion, her hair flowing before the camera in a way you might dance to the track in your mind. But her ghostly figure and costume, all in rich colors against a dark background, recall a Caravaggio painting, transposed to more modern, non-descript settings. The effect is eerie, unsettling – as if she has been caught sleep walking.

VHS (Loscil Remix) from christina vantzou on Vimeo.

Loscil’s understated production pulses gently as if it’s an extension of your own body.

The remixes are available on Bandcamp. And I hope against all odds that some model like this can work. I don’t necessarily want a limited-edition vinyl record of this music to show off to my friends – this is digitally-produced music, meant to be distributed in an appropriate digital format. I want to, in this instant, spend a few dollars and support something I really love, because I simply care more about some music than others.

But wait – there’s more perfection to accompany the EP – slow-motion liquids, figures, just as much classical-surrealist masterworks. I can’t think of another composer who is also as accomplished as a film director, working in cinema for the eyes and cinema for the ears with the same eloquence.

Sister (Motion Sickness of Time Travel Remix) from christina vantzou on Vimeo.

Brain fog (John Also Bennett AKA SEABAT Remix) from christina vantzou on Vimeo.

The Magic of the Autodidact (Ken Camden Remix) from christina vantzou on Vimeo.

There’s even a video for the original ‘VHS’ well worth watching:

Don’t miss the first remix record, too:

– and, of course, the originals on Kranky.

And her Vimeo feed, for lovers of ambient music and image, is better than owning a TV:

Christina Vantzou on Vimeo

Do send money via Bandcamp and let’s hope more is on its way.

http://christinavantzou.bandcamp.com

The post A Dreamy Video, Remix with Loscil, and Other Christina Vantzou Gems appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Watch KORG’s littleBits Transformed into Badass Keytar

Print

Right in the manual, KORG suggests that you might turn their magnetic modular system, the littleBits Synth Kit, into a keytar. But this is a sort of “attach all the modules to a bit of wood” affair.

Meanwhile, in Japan…

Pantograph is an art/design agency and animation house (site link – Japanese only). And when they got their hands on the Synth Kit, they did it up properly. Think beautiful, multi-colored cases, proper playable ergonomics – and a blinking light-up KORG logo. The results are enchanting:

If you want one of your own and you’re passing through Tokyo (superfans, buy that plane ticket now), you can make one apparently at the Tokyo Toy Fair. See the news item from KORG Japan:

littleBits Event Tokyo

And this illustration explains everything. I think. I definitely want the optional Crazy Monster attachment on mine.

I’ve seen various DIY projects bringing the littleBits together, mostly to do with putting a bunch of them in a suitcase, but this is stunning. You can find more gems like this on the official KORG Twitter feed in Japanese, which has enough pretty pictures to entertain us foreigners. It seems to be an alternative universe where people all play keytars and KORG titles for Nintendo DS.

The Detune team, for instance, has been churning out videos on the upcoming DSN-12 synth for Nintendo DS. (Again, reasonably easy to follow without speaking Japanese, though it’d be great, Detune, if you wanted to make an English-language video for CDM’s readers!)

korgkeytar

The post Watch KORG’s littleBits Transformed into Badass Keytar appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Production, Beyond the Track: Mad Zach on Collaboration, Combining Tech and Technique [Interview]

image

“Producer”: in electronic music, this used to mean some person who makes tracks. Today, some special electronic musicians go way beyond that role. They’re combining skills partly because it means diversifying income, but also out of a real love for doing a variety of stuff. They’re holed up in the studio making music, sure – but they’re also finding collaborative ways of doing that, often online, and sharing skills and sounds as they develop them. It’s a more open, connected approach to electronic musical practice.

And Mad Zach is a great example. He’s a producer and DJ, but he’s also a journalist, he’s devising new ways of performing with controllers, he’s sharing sounds and techniques with others, and he’s teaching.

I’m biased – I mix a lot of these things myself, and I’ve naturally gotten to be friends with other people who are doing the same. (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is a Renaissance Man / Renaissance Women phenomenon, or if we just can’t say no to things! But it can be fun!)

So, I was really eager to get to talk to Zach about what he’s up to. CDM got that opportunity when we Beatport approached us to provide some input on a video tutorial accompanying a sound pack Zach was assembling. Zach and I talked a bit about what to share, and in the end I encouraged him to talk about his approach to playing live and making more soulful grooves. This wasn’t advertorial – on the contrary, since it was a voluntary collaboration, I used the opportunity for my own ulterior motives of getting to learn more about how Zach works. I’m really happy with the result, which you can see below.

But I also wanted to talk to Zach more about how he wound up making this sound pack, and how he manages these different threads of his career and musical activity. With so many in our community pursuing multi-track music making in this way, that technique may be just as important as what he does with the software.

CDM: First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Some people know you from contributions to DJ TechTools and so on, but I know you’re also out there producing and DJing. Speaking as a person myself who wears a lot of hats, what are the elements of your musical practice, and how do you hold them together?

Mad Zach: Well, I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but living in Berlin now. Just got back to my studio from a tour in the States, which was super fun! I try to focus my musical practice on my day-to-day experience, so pretty much making beats all the time, with some breaks to go to the park or out to a club. I’m really obsessed with making my beats live, and have been fortunate enough to play with a lot of analog hardware. So that plays a pretty big role in my workflow.

I also fell into this YouTube thing, where I do educational stuff, performances for companies like DJ TechTools, Native Instruments, Moog. That has a lot to do with acting, I think, and both my parents are teachers. The reasons I like it are for the humor and the positive response from helping people have fun. Sharing knowledge is cool because why not stoke the fire and see what happens? Plus its a fun way to build more of a lifestyle around being in the studio, instead of putting all my time and effort into touring.

How did you go about assembling this project? Where did you start; how did it come together?

I started by immersing myself in the sound and vibe, going out to the clubs here in Berlin, record hunting, doing my homework. Once I’d decided on the ingredients I made a special trip back to the States to grab my Roland TR-909 drum machine. Bringing it back on the plane was pretty funny (I had to sit with it in my lap for the whole flight). I wanted to create something that would give people the power of analog tone, with the flexibility of Ableton. After engineering all kinds of sounds from the 909, Roland Juno 106, field recordings, Moogerfoogers, etc., I created a bunch of super pimped out drum racks and instrument racks. But I’d say when it really started to glue was when I figured out I could extract the grooves from the 909. Those things sound insane; it’s like patterns write themselves. The most complicated part was setting up all the macro controls, but totally worth the time because now working with it is so fast. You have everything you need right there.

Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live

How are you playing out these days? What’s your live / DJ setup, and how do you make use of it?

For the more hip hop and bass stuff, I’ve been rocking Ableton with two DJ TechTools MIDI Fighter Spectra‘s and a DJTT Twister. I use one Spectra for clip launching, the other for finger drumming, then the Twister in the middle is for my mix and effects. I’ve also been toting around a Moogerfooger Cluster Flux – which I run my sound packs through (that thing sounds insane!). I’m also working on a live set more geared towards the 120bpm direction which will be focused on hardware.

image

One of the things that’s interesting to me about your approach is how collaborative it is. You’re producing in a lot of collaborations – and then you “crowd-sourced” an EP, too. What does it mean to you to open up your process in this way?

To me, collaboration is all about focusing on what you do best, and letting other people do what they do best. Its also really inspiring to release something like a sound pack or a collaborative song and see what people do with it. It’s like planting a seed. A lot of the collaborations I do are more idea sharing than in-person studio time, although I’ve had a few music making buddies throughout, like G Jones, Doshy, and my brother. The crowd-sourced EP is an experiment I’m doing with this new site Blend.io that lets you post Ableton projects. So I posted up some sketches to see what people did with them, then finished up the songs after integrating their ideas. It’s turned out really cool, and we’re having a vinyl release which I’m excited about.

Blend.io Mad Zach Profile

Another element of that to me is the way you’re working with education – itself a kind of collaboration. You’re doing a whole lot with helping people with the craft of constructing music. Obviously, teaching is another way to support yourself as an artist — this is a long tradition of music making. But what’s your motivation? And does teaching impact the way you yourself make things?

The teaching and educational thing is something I fell into as sort of a combination of my interests. I like to enable people to have fun; to me that’s what its all about. It’s also a great way to spread ideas, like creating this special 16-grid sound pack paradigm and fostering all these finger drummers I’ve helped inspire. I want to see musicianship re-integrate with music production on a large scale. I think if we can make playing hardware and controllerism this generation’s Stratocaster [electric guitar], the result will be an explosion of creativity in music (not that there isn’t already incredible stuff out there). As a music lover, that sounds pretty good.

For those people just getting to know your music, any suggestions on what to listen to? How would you describe the idiom you work in?

Most of the stuff I’ve released combines hip hop-style beats with analog electronic sound design and sampling. My workflow is based on doing sound design sessions in Ableton and with my gear, and then playing my beats in live on MIDI controllers.

I also spend a lot of time jamming out on my hardware, which includes the 909, Moog Sub Phatty, Moogerfoogers, Elektron Analog Rytm [drum machine].

Deep House – what’s your relationship to this genre? It seems different from your normal idiom. I know not everyone reading this will even like the style, but what can you say about it for those reading this who might not know it or appreciate it so much?

I suppose my normal musical idiom is probably perceived a bit differently than it actually is. While I’ve released more bass-focused tunes, I actually spend more than half my time making house and techno. But to me, it’s not really about deep house, that’s more of a buzz word to grab attention. I wanted to create something that a lot of people would have a use for. So its really about 120 bpm and amazing tone, providing quality building blocks.

As a style, I’d say house is about the club environment and the way people move to it. And I think in parts of the States people miss that because there just aren’t the clubs. But the truth is that the template is applicable for all kinds of genres, you could make house, techno, or you could even shift the bpm to 140 and make trap, or turn off tempo and just do ambient, there are no rules! With raw tone like this, there needs no explanation. In the demos I made for the pack, I followed the deep house paradigm more for some than others. If you check out number 4, you can listen to more of the Mad Zach feel coming out through the pack.

Thanks, Zach! I know this has been an inspiration to me as I work this week; I hope it’s the same for others. For one thing, I have to see if I can mangle that Deep House soundpack into some weird ambient track, after all. Sounds like a challenge.

http://www.madzach.com

The post Production, Beyond the Track: Mad Zach on Collaboration, Combining Tech and Technique [Interview] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Blood and Electronics: Don’t Miss the Stunning New Lusine Arterial Video

unnamed

The new music video for Lusine, like the track itself, is almost sickeningly stomach-turning, it’s so beautiful.

Director Christophe Thockler has made an epic opus. The last time we caught up with Thockler, he had set 36,000 photos of melting ice to the chilling music of Ben Neill and Mimi Goese.

This time around, we’ve gone from ice to the titular blood. And that’s lots of blood – enough to attract vampires from a couple of cities away. 5 litters of blood rush through some 15 kg of components salvaged from TVs, phones, and computers, waste turned into what the director dubs “electrorganic” material.

He isn’t just shooting stills this time – but 30 minutes of video and 7,000 photos combine to the result you see here.

Lusine – Arterial from DaBrainkilla on Vimeo.

For his part, Lusine (Jeff McIlwain) is in his usual top form, meticulous and painstaking with his attention to sound. Ghostly’s press release talks about spanning styles, but to me, Lusine’s voice overshadows any particular genre fascination. “Arterial” is pure headphone music, more introspective than the recent The Waiting Room but with the same patiently-humming grooves and Lusine fingerprints. What’s new is an especially exquisite obsessiveness about each sound, synths treated delicately with acoustic noises tucked together. It merits repeated listening, as there are so many harmonious layers of sound design. But the overall texture is McIlwain, a cover of some interior song he keeps reworking.

unnamed-2

Really looking forward to this EP.

Lusine’s tour appearances are rare these days, so look to Missoula Montana and The Badlander on August 1 or Le Salon Daome in Montreal September 4.

Here, Thockler’s process in the video I think fits perfectly with Lusine’s approach – not just the aesthetic match, but a conceptual parallel to what the musical artist is doing. Thockler writes:

The complexity of this electronic track, mixing both cold and warm sounds, inspired me to create something I call “electrorganic” : a mix of blood and human tissues with electronic components like LEDs, screens and boards. The result is an intriguing video, where you don’t really know what’s happening, but you can imagine that some sort of electronic machine is powered by, or producing blood.
Movies and music videos from the 80s and 90s were also a source of inspiration for this video, there are some sequences that are very small tributes to audiovisual works I love like Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo, Coppola’s Dracula, Cameron’s Terminator, Carpenter’s The Thing, Cronenberg’s Videodrome, the music video Digging in the Dirt by Peter Gabriel…

And that synergy is another reason why this summer’s main project for CDM is joining the needless divide between Create Digital Music and Create Digital Motion, in a way that you can still focus on what you care about. More on that very soon – first an editorial explaining where we’re coming from, and then how we’ll get to where we’re going.

The post Blood and Electronics: Don’t Miss the Stunning New Lusine Arterial Video appeared first on Create Digital Music.

If You’re Using OS X Yosemite, Steinberg Has a Fix; Anyone Else Testing?

yosemite

Music software developers usually tell you about compatibility well after an OS is out, or at least the day it comes out. Steinberg is already releasing information about OS X Yosemite, the new Mac operating system, before it’s even out. And they may be well-advised to do so, with Apple for the first time allowing the public to test the latest OS.

The current installer for all Steinberg software breaks under OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the in-beta software. There’s already a fix on the support site, though:
Steinberg Application Installer Tool for Yosemite

Download this tool and you’re sorted.

I’m curious, anyone brave enough to be testing Yosemite now?

I’ve just this month upgraded to 10.9. After some installation hiccups, the install has been great – though this again confirms my theory of “stay about one year behind the latest OS.” (Also, it seems you will want a newer machine with SSD to use some recent software on the Mac side, generally.)

Let us know in comments – developers and users alike.

Photo courtesy Apple.

Note: We’re already hearing some issues with Ableton, mentioned on their forum/em>. This is pre-release operating system software, however. Generally, our advice holds: don’t install any new OS – even a shipping one – until you’ve verified compatibility with critical software, and made a backup to which you can easily revert. With pre-release software, it goes even further: expect bugs. Install only if you have a spare machine and enjoy troubleshooting, and report what you find.

The post If You’re Using OS X Yosemite, Steinberg Has a Fix; Anyone Else Testing? appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live

Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak - and he's going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak – and he’s going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

It’s “the science of being imperfect” – and Mad Zach is one heck of a mad scientist at it.

We all know Ableton Live productions, even sometimes from fairly skilled music makers, can get painfully stuck on the grid. If that’s the disease, Mad Zach has the cure. Armed with Ableton Live and together with releasing a very special, very useful sound pack, this insanely-prolific DJ, producer, writer, and educator has some advice for how to get the soul and groove back in your machines.

CDM teamed up with our friends at Beatport Sounds to work with Zach on an instructional video that goes deeper into the craft of the groove. And I love what Zach has done with the tutorial. If you’re still learning your way around Live, I think you’ll still like it — just follow along the beginner and intermediate tutorials first before you tackle it. At the same time, if you’ve got a bit more production under your belt, it won’t insult your intelligence. I learned something, and I’ve been using Live since 1.0.

Highlights, as we “escape the grid”:
How to use the (oddly underused, misunderstood) Grooves section in Live
Extract an original TR-909 shuffle
Drawing in swing
Recording MIDI controllers

Now, some background:

Zach has been hard at work with Beatport on his Deep House Project, a sound library and construction kit both for live performances and music creation. It couldn’t come at a better time, I think: saying “Deep House” is only marginally more specific than saying “Techno.” It’s like saying “cheeseburger” or “pizza” – quality can vary.

The Deep House Project isn’t just a sound pack, a big box of LEGOs for making a generic toy. It’s a set of instruments, a gig and a half of material with hundreds of loops and analog synths and the like, and it’s designed around controllers so you can tweak everything, modify everything. You get 24-bit samples of the TR-909, Juno 106, Moogerfoogers, and British tube channel strip, drum racks, macros, synth racks, the lot.

In other words, you get a tool set that is tailored to the genre, but once you start twisting knobs and changing patterns and actually playing, you can come up with something that sounds … well, that sounds nothing like Mad Zach, in a good way.

I hope it catches on. The Beatport Sounds section is working with some great producers, but I know my heart sinks a little when I read the top ten list on some days – only because any producer expecting to download some top drops and make a track work is probably in for a rude awakening. And, worse, they’re missing out on half the fun. Now, not every piece of music needs to be experimental; there’s something beautiful about the way styles and genres build communities. But it should be possible to be original inside that genre, and this is that.

It’s that for one good reason: it’s built in a way that invites you to dig in and play. And Zach is one of the most active people on the planet carrying that gospel.

Here’s a look at the pack:

Have a go at that sound pack – it’s a stunningly-good buy:
Mad Zach’s Lab: Deep House

And do check the full tips/tricks/tutorials page with Mad Zach. It’s a tutorial on Deep House, but it’s also an Ableton Live tutorial, and offers insights whether you’re curious about dabbling in this genre or could care less (though it might get you hooked before you’re done watching, fair warning).

http://sounds.beatport.com/tutorials

We’ll have Q&A with Zach tomorrow on CDM, because I really wanted to know more about his work.

The post Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live appeared first on Create Digital Music.

24 Knobs, 8 Faders, 16 Buttons, in a Launchpad Form: Launch Control XL

LCX_3quarter

If you’re reading this, and if you care about controllers at all, you’ve probably got one. Now the question is, what are you missing? LaunchControl XL is coming with a whole mess of handy faders and knobs if you’ve got more controls than you can map.

In fact, while it would make an utterly horrid marketing statement, I would dub the slogan of this hardware like this:
Twist knobs without having to constantly press shift and select keys or give up having some faders.

There’s Push, of course, the Ableton-controlling flagship, complete with pressure- and velocity-sensitive grid. There’s AKAI’s former APC, which already has a full complement of faders, encoders, and triggers. Beyond that, we’re talking about various combinations of faders and knobs and triggers in smaller controllers in some combination. For example:

There’s the Novation Launchpad – built like a tank, dirt cheap, just a grid.

There’s the new AKAI APC mini – grid with faders, but no knobs.

There’s the Novation LaunchControl – knobs and some pads, but no faders.

Well, now Novation is back with the LaunchControl XL. It’s knobs, yes – but more knobs. And those knobs get their own colored indicators so you know what they’re controlling. And now it has faders, too. And if it doesn’t sell like hotcakes to everyone, betcha it sells like hotcakes to people who have just a Launchpad.

24 knobs in three rows of eight – which maps conveniently to Live
Multicolored indicators on the knobs for multiple functions
Driver-free (so if you’re using Bitwig or Renoise on Linux, you’re in, too)
16 multi-color buttons give you track focus, mix controls
Works on iOS, too, via Camera Connection Kit

£159.99, coming late August, which is also roughly when we should have one in for review.

More pics and a video… (though I didn’t personally take the musical style in the vid, maybe you will – )

LCXL_withlaunchpad

LCXL

Significantly, whether that video is your cup of tea or not, you can watch an in-depth video here on how they did what they did and download the set to have a look. So, we can all get back to making weird, dancefloor-clearing IDM if we really want to. (Hey, if she or he is still on the dance floor, that may be the one for you. Nerd love. The best.)

The post 24 Knobs, 8 Faders, 16 Buttons, in a Launchpad Form: Launch Control XL appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Can a Pioneer Turntable Do What a Technics Turntable Couldn’t?

PLX-1000_large

I stand by the plot as far today’s announcement that Pioneer is remaking the Technics 1200. This is a straight-up remake, bearing no real direct relevance to the rest of Pioneer’s offerings other than name. But as with the KORG MS-20 or the Moog Keith Emerson Modular, just reissuing something from the past already adds a subplot.

First, it’s worth reconsidering what Panasonic, makers of the Technics turntable, said when they exited the market:

We are sure that retailers and consumers will understand that our product range has to reflect the accelerating transformation of the entire audio market from analogue to digital.

In addition, the number of component suppliers serving the analogue market has dwindled in recent years and we brought forward the decision to leave the market rather than risk being unable to fulfil future orders because of a lack of parts.

The “lack of parts” question is still a mystery. It’s possible that Pioneer is making this turntable in limited quantities. It’s also possible (and I’d guess more likely) that they simply chose parts that are easier to source, or that this issue was overstated in that announcement.

But the “transformation” is simply wrong – and perhaps the absence of any mention of digital vinyl here is telling. In fact, let me emphasize this:

While digital has grown, it has turned out to be something other than replacing one thing with another.

The motivation for my snark this morning, though, is that this also means you might want to improve, not only remake.

The obvious difference between Pioneer and Technics is cosmetic: black instead of silver, blue light instead of red, (welcome) removable cables missing on the early revisions of the 1200/1210. But the real difference is about 4 lbs (1.8kg).

You’ll notice that in the specs, and the reason is to do with manufacturing. Look again at the details Pioneer shared on manufacturing:

There’s an insulated tone arm – the effort apparently to reduce a “howling” effect you can sometimes get on the 1200s.

There’s also a heavier die (that’s the “heavy-mass zinc” mention), plus 9 mm of vibration-damping material in the base. The plan here: make the turntables more resistant to vibrations.

The 1200s aren’t perfect turntables, and because a great many people are using digital vinyl, they’re being asked to do more than ever before. Reducing resonance and vibrations could help digital vinyl systems to perform better. DJ Tech Tools complained today about not getting digital outputs (and DJTT had predicted this kind of feature when the turntable was first released, whereas I was one of many predicting a clone). But the control vinyl itself is an analog system, subject to sound quality and shakes. Fixing that could make this a better turntable for those systems.

Also, on the output, they mention “gold-plated machine-cut parts for low impedance” on the RCA (cinch/phono) output jacks – and there’s no ground cable, interestingly. That bit seems to be about making this easier to connect in a variety of situations without sound quality issues.

These couple of kilograms of changes might not actually help. And it’s possible they’ve made the sound quality or reliability worse. We just won’t know until we see the real thing. But I think this will merit further testing by devout turntablists.

And the Pioneer unit is the latest in an overwhelming wave of evidence that says that analogy technology – even down to the parts to make stuff – is far from obsolete. So the rest of Panasonic’s business may well have transformed from digital to analog. But in music, the picture isn’t quite so linear.

Thank you to the wonderful DJ Esther Duijn for pointing out that these changes will in fact matter to someone. I have to admit, I know loads of people using Technics but not other OEM turntables, so I’m curious to hear from that crowd, too.

Also worth some investigative journalism: Pioneer and Matsushita – now simply going by its better-known former brand Panasonic – are both Japanese companies. They’re also both in the automative business, so at least as competitors, there’s a relationship. The question in this case is, how much of the tooling, knowhow, and engineers from the 1200 made their way to Pioneer. The Technics name was sold off, and it seems Panasonic never got interested in re-entering the business. But “Pioneer” is about the only brand name other than Technics that could live up to the 1200, at least in DJ recognition. It’ll be interesting to learn what actually happened here. I like to fantasize that some 1200 veteran worked on this … like a new revision of the original, as much as re-release.

The post Can a Pioneer Turntable Do What a Technics Turntable Couldn’t? appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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