Dangerous Music today premiered the CONVERT-AD+ A to D converter. Building on their legacy of award-winning monitoring and mastering D to A converters, the
Koma today revealed a sequel to their crowd-funded smash hit Field Kit. And it’s a whole bunch of patchable effects, for €249 (€219 for funders).
Inside that box, there’s a load of different effects to play with:
- Frequency Shifter
- Sample Rate Reducer / Bitcrusher
- Digital Delay
- Analog Spring Reverb
Yeah, you read that last one right – there’s actually a physical spring in there for reverb. Behold:
Looping of course means that you could make the FX a hub of performance. And in addition to the other digital effects, that frequency shifter opens up some really interesting possibilities.
So, whereas the first Field Kit depended on you attaching contact mics and working with the mixing functions, the Field Kit FX actually has a lot more sonic possibilities included right out of the box. There’s still a companion book to go with it, and of course this is already intended as a clever
But, for a kind of “weirdo modular effects toolkit” in a case, you also get a bunch of tools for applying these effects, by mixing and sequencing them:
- 4 Channel VCA Mixer
- 4 Step Mini Sequencer
- Envelope Generator
All over the place, you’ve got various patch points. That’s a chance to connect to other analog I/O – which certainly includes Eurorack modulars, but these days a lot of other gear, as well, even desktop units from Novation, Roland, Arturia, KORG, and the like.
And there’s a new 4-Channel CV Interface for bringing it all together, meaning you can come up with pretty elaborate modular connections.
In fact, for under three hundred bucks, the whole thing looks a bit like either a shrunken Eurorack modular or a tabletop of analog and digital effects merged together for patching.
Now, this is still definitely geared for advanced users. There’s no MIDI. And the CV routing, while powerful, might be overwhelming to newcomers – for instance, there’s not a single, simple trigger in to clock that sequencer. (That’s not necessarily a criticism – the various CV options mean loads of creative flexibility. But it does probably mean this box is more for people who want to get deep into patching.)
Watch the overview video, natch:
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Dreadbox, purveyors of gnarly electronic synths and effects, have come back with a modular-friendly analog synth, which you can assemble – if you dare.
The core synth itself is simple – just a single-oscillator synthesizer, to which you can add two suboctaves for lots of low end bass punch, and three waves (pulse with width, double saw with width, saw). In the tradition of Dreadbox and their love for edgy distortion, you can add some angry sounds with the drive circuit and 3-pole resonating filter.
And, mostly, you’re likely to appreciate this thing for its modulation and patchability. There are some 13 patch points, which you can use with Eurorack or other analog circuits, external audio input, a triangle and square wave LFO, and two separate envelope generators.
You can stick this on your desk and patch into stuff. Or you can bolt it into a Eurorack.
Now, here’s the somewhat bonkers bit. If you’re sensible, I think you’ll just buy this thing pre-assembled, and think hard about finding space in a Eurorack. It’s a nice 250€ buy.
Or, if you’re a bit bored, you’ll DIY the kit version. It’s all through-hole parts, so it’s not a difficult build. It’s just a lot of them. Expect to … free up some time to put this together.
Also cute but not totally practical, they’ve decided that the box is a case. And it is kind of a nice cardboard box. I mean, sure, why not, but … it’s not so much a selling point as it is a cute way around the fact that it doesn’t have a case. It doesn’t have a power supply, either, so figure that into the purchase price.
Don’t get me wrong, though – I think this thing is terribly clever as a synth. And Dreadbox are making some utterly genius distortion, based on the couple I’ve played with.
If you’re looking for a cheap buy that’s fun to patch into other stuff – really desktop or Euro – this isn’t a bad buy at all. And maybe save yourself the time on the busywork of assembling the kit version, and put that time into making a nice wooden case for the assembled version.
Though, while we’re at it, technically every product I’ve ever owned has come with a free enclosure / kid’s playhouse / pencil case / advanced part storage / tiny spaceship for paper people … uh, you know, box.
Also, you can turn a lot of the manuals into really ace paper airplanes.
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Schmidt-Synthesizer, makers of the no-expense-spared namesake Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer thoroughbred, is proud to announce that it is taking orders
Okay, first, a power product sounds like about the most boring music tech news ever. But the kids at KOMA have found a way to make modular power exciting.
And of course, because anything involving electricity sounds cooler in German than in English, meet STROM.
First, the video – which turns what seems a dull, technical topic into exciting launch video. Seriously, more fun to watch than that iPhone X announcement (uh, for me, anyway). Let’s let KOMA’s Wouter explain – in a lab coat!
KOMA are embarking on a deep dive into the world of modular Eurorack – which I hear the young folks really love at the moment. First, there was a case system. Now, there’s a power system. And both are nicely affordable.
And since power is what gives you noise, power matters.
I asked KOMA’s Wouter what makes this product different. Answer: “The Strom is cleaner than any of the competition for a way lower price with very low ripple, great safety features with the fusing and the short circuit protection!”
We’ll get some of our modular boffins on this to check.
The other important detail here is not what this is, but who it comes from – KOMA’s engineer Robert has been the lead on all digital products, and did the programming work on the epic, legendary Komplex Sequencer.
Looks like KOMA are on their way to another big market hit. Hope to visit them soon – and their growing Common Ground community space.
The post KOMA are about to get deep into Eurorack – starting with power appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Introduction Roland’s Boutique collection has been growing steadily over the last few years, mainly following the formula of taking a
Habt ihr mitbekommen, dass Behringer den Preis vom Deep Mind 12 gesenkt hat? Aus Spaß habe ich mir heute mal die Preise angesehen: Der viel diskutierte Synthesizer liegt gerade bei unter tausend Euro, genauer gesagt bei der psychologischen Standardmarke von 999 Euro.
Das sind immerhin 300 Euro weniger als bisher und somit ist klar, dass die Strategie nicht ganz zufällig ist. Offenbar konnte Behringer von vorn herein den Deep Mind 12 und sicher auch andere Geräte für weniger herstellen und macht den bekannten Trick – der früher Vogel hat richtig Bock auf das Gerät und zahlt dann auch ganz gern mehr. Schließlich war zur Zeit der Markteinführung lediglich DSI mit dem Prophet Rev 2 ein attraktiver echter Gegner, da es ihn auch mit 16 Stimmen gibt und inzwischen auch als Desktop. Auch vom Deep Mind 12 gibt es ein solches Rack / Desktopgerät.
Inzwischen ist aber Dave Smith mit seinen Geräten doch für den Preis von zwei DM12 zu haben und ist damit nicht mehr so attraktiv. Man muss für die weiteren Stimmen ordentlich bezahlen, bekommt dafür auch etwas mehr Synthese. Behringer kann dafür indirekt mit dem Roland-Sound werben, denn der Deep Mind ist in allen seinen Formen dem Klang des Juno 106 entsprungen oder davon “inspiriert”.
Liegt es da nicht nahe, dass Deep Mind 6 und Desktop folgen. Nein, noch nicht. Dennoch muss man aber annehmen, dass diese Politik dann vielleicht für alle Synthesizer aus dem Hause gilt, es sind noch einige geplant. In den USA soll der D-Synth, also Behringers Minimoog-Clone, auf $299,99 starten. Wie der hiesige Preis aussieht und wie sehr dort noch nach unten Möglichkeiten bestehen ist nicht festzumachen, dennoch wird es wohl nicht die kleinstmögliche Option sein.
Übrigens macht auch Korg so etwas, allerdings nach einer deutlich längeren Erstverkaufszeit und niemals wenn die ersten Lieferungen schleppend nach kommen sondern wenn das Gerät schon Jahre auf dem Markt war. Sicher sind sie nicht die einzigen, sogar Roland hat einige Geräte wie die digitalen Module oder auch den SBX1 Synchronizer mit USB-MIDI-CV-Interface faktisch um den Faktor 3-4 gesenkt, ebenso mit dem A1. Wer nicht unbedingt sofort etwas braucht, kann offenbar sparen. Allerdings lebt eine Firma viel vom Erstfeedback und Verlässlichkeit und auch langfristiger Pflege. Aber – ich würde vermuten, die Behringer Synths werden mit der Zeit alle etwas günstiger.
We made MeeBlip because we love getting our hands on sound and playing with synth hardware. But for people not totally used to working with this kind of gear, there can be lots of questions.
So, here’s a guide to adding MeeBlip triode to your setup. If you’re thinking of getting ‘out of the box’ and away from your computer for the first time, or you’re just curious about some details of the hardware, we can share some answers without you having to even ask.
And, of course, if you’re thinking we’re doing this now while there’s a $99.95 supersale on, you’re totally right. But hey, that’s another way for us to get synthesis into your hands – and keep making new instruments.
You folks in the MeeBlip community have done an amazing job shooting hands-on video, so we’re able to illustrate this story with your contributions. (Feel free to add tips or questions; we can build this over time.)
Why would you want to do this?
Okay, apart from having some extra toys, why would you want a dedicated synth in the first place? MeeBlip for us is about having sound with a particular personality. It’s there when you want a unique bassline, or as an extra voice for other synths. It lets you get hands on with some knobs, without the usual decision overload of a computer. It’s a chance to learn about synthesis and MIDI.
Oh, and it’s open source hardware, so if you are curious about how synth code and circuits work, everything that makes the triode function is available online, and can be shared and modified free.
Of course, now there’s a lot of cool and inexpensive hardware that does this. But we think MeeBlip sounds different, it’s a simple and compact way of getting huge bass sounds, and it’s about as inexpensive as anything you can find – even from much bigger manufacturers. And the fact that it’s open source means you’re helping contribute to an open hardware ecosystem.
Okay, so you’re sold, but want some more information on how to get going. Here’s what you need to know:
Get a MeeBlip and power
MeeBlip ships with a universal power supply (some budget synths charge extra for this or make you buy batteries). That can be plugged in anywhere, provided you have a physical adapter for the region you’re in.
MeeBlip triode is a MIDI device, meaning it receives messages from a computer or music hardware, for notes and parameter control.
You’ll need a standard MIDI cable to make that happen, plus an appropriate interface if you want to connect to a computer, iPad, or other device. (We use the iConnectivity mio for USB MIDI connections on iOS and desktop.)
Get something to generate notes
Since the triode is ultra-compact and lacks a keyboard or touch input, you need something to send it notes.
You can use any keyboard (or drum trigger, or other controlled), provided it has a MIDI output. Then just play in what you want.
You can use other hardware. Novation’s Circuit, Roland’s TB-03, and Arturia’s BeatStep Pro are all convenient MIDI step sequencers, useful for programming melodic lines. (Using MeeBlip with the TB-03 makes it easy to add extra bass and dirt to the 303 sound, by doubling its line on the MeeBlip. Circuit + MeeBlip gives you some crisp synths and drums, combined with the MeeBlip’s bass.)
Using that USB MIDI interface, you can also use computer software, of course. But with the addition of Apple’s USB Lightning adapter, which now also supports power passthrough so you can charge your device at the same time, you can use an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. (This adapter was introduced with the iPad Pro, but it works with any Lightning-equipped iOS device. What you’re looking for is specifically termed the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter, pictured here – see our hands-on test.)
With cool sequencers like Modstep, you don’t even need a computer. (Modstep even works out of the box with all the MeeBlip’s parameters, so you can, for instance, draw in filter and modulation changes.)
What you need for sound
MeeBlip triode has a stereo minijack connection for audio. This means you can plug in a pair of headphones and immediately hear sound in both ears.
You can use the same connection to output to a mixer, PA, recorder, computer, whatever. Just make sure you have a stereo cable, not the mono cables often used on modular synths. These stereo cables are y-shaped at the opposite end – with jacks for left and right. Since the signal is on both jacks, you can leave one hanging and just plug in the other.
You’ll need some sort of audio interface in order to record. Behringer makes a mixer with a built-in USB interface, for one dirt-cheap solution – that way, you can plug in a couple of pieces of gear, mix the outputs, and record via USB back to your computer.
Okay, now you’ve got it all connected – give it a play! (Our manual covers the process, but you just need to make sure whatever is sending notes is transmitting on channels 1-8, and set the appropriate channel on the MeeBlip.)
Jam, twist knobs, and enjoy.
Try automating parameters with MIDI CC
MIDI Control Changes (CC) are special messages for adjusting sound parameters, not just notes. All of the MeeBlips knobs and switches (and a few not on the panel) are controllable in this way. So instead of twisting knobs around, you can automate those changes externally.
It’s easy to dial in a lot of sounds right away. But when you’re ready to go deeper, triode also offers extras like wavetable mode, for various edgy sounds. Extreme parameters can also make more experimental sounds – and that’s before you add effects.
There’s even a Web-based editor-librarian that you can use to try, store, and share sounds – and it’s free. (It surprised even us, coming from another fan of open source tools.)
The fun is really combining MeeBlip with other stuff. And because it’s open, if you want to get really deep, you can learn how it works.
We hope you’ll pick up one of this manufacturing run before it runs out. What else would you like to know or explore? Let us know, and we’ll try to help you out.
MeeBlip triode is shipping worldwide for US$99.95 through Tuesday night.
MeeBlip triode [shop]
The post Here’s how MeeBlip can get you started with hardware synths appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome has come full force to Russia. Both live stages and the gear Expo at Synthposium in Moscow last week made that clear.
The Expo was just one room – nothing near the sprawling event that was SuperBooth in Berlin – but it was just as appealing. Indeed, there was something lovely about having hands-on displays around the corner from live acts, as artists and festivalgoers intermingled, advanced electronics engineers and total newcomers alike getting to learn something. There was a similar feeling at the jam session demo room hosted by Schneidersladen at Berlin Atonal festival the week before. Moscow explored a disused wine factory; Berlin, a power plant control room. Vive l’après-industrie!
And oh yeah – kids love synths. Of course. Let’s have a look – or scroll to the end to find out who the juried winners were.
You can read my pocket guide to Russian boutique makers – one that’s sure to be updated.
Here, via the mainly official photos, you get a sense of the whole event. And it was international, not just restricted to Russia – meaning for many of those guests, it was their first visit to the country (from KORG’s Tatsuya Takahashi to the team from Bastl Instruments).
And the award winners…
Synthposium also hosted a juried competition for the most outstanding products of the show. As the first such competition in Russia, it’s noteworthy in itself – and I fully endorse their winners.
The moment of truth, pictured…
The first ever Russian awards devoted to music technologies are set to take place, with an expert jury giving recognition to the most creative engineers of musical instruments and devices.
Six nominations and winners:
The best eurorack module
Brand: SSSR Labs
The best synthesizer
Brand: Black Corporation
Model: Deckard’s Dream
The best processing / fx gear
Brand: VG Line
Popularization: educational initiative
Photos by: CDM, Synthposium, (last shot) Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich.
The post Gallery: Inside the gear-packed hall of Moscow’s Synthposium Expo appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Moscow’s Synthposium was more than a runaway, hyper-nerdy festival. It also brought together Russia’s fledgling boutique music gear maker scene.
Avid modular enthusiasts will know some of these builders – or, in the case of Polivoks, the storied Soviet brand they resurrect. But some one-person electronics builders were in public for the very first time, in advance of even stock to sell. Tucked beneath the vaults of a former wine factory, the project had a show-and-tell feeling. Framed by conventional instruments (balalaikas, even) in one corner and big-name electronics along one wall, tables were bestrewn with crazy modulars.
Alongside the likes of Roland and Czech boutique Bastl, it was the Russian builders that will surely be of most interest to international audiences. A lot of these makers just couldn’t afford the trip even to Berlin’s SuperBooth, instead coming from round the corner in the Russian capital or perhaps by high-speed Sapsan train from St. Petersburg.
Here are some favorites.
Make: ПРИБОР [Russian-only VKontake page]
Home: St. Petersburg
Owner: Vladimir Kabanov
So my personal two favorites each come from St. Petersburg. The first is ПРИБОР (Pribor – translates basically as “device” or “appliance”).
Vlad’s little boxes add gnarly processing, drawn from a pile of post-Soviet chips, from filters to phasers. In fact, you could almost skip the Eurorack entirely and just make chains of these for your favorite guitar or synth. With our MeeBlip, this was pure gold. I’m literally planning a trip to St. Petersburg just to grab some of this.
There’s a video on YouTube:
Vladimir told me he’s actually opposed to the idea of posting demos, preferring to give people a bespoke taste of what to hear, but you can catch some sounds on his site above… or wait until I sell enough MeeBlips to buy a few.
Make: Zvukofor Sound Labs
Home: St. Petersburg
Owner: Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich
Experienced engineer/musician/jack of all trades Valentin “Zvukofor” Victorovich is full of new engineering ideas.
The Color Amps are beautiful sounding DI box / amps for instruments and synths. They don’t just amplify: they add natural compression, warmth, character, dirt, and in a wonderfully particular way. It’s like having the ability to fatten up sounds with a precise dial that says “get dirtier this way” – particularly since there are several variants from which to choose. Again, we tried it with the MeeBlip (as referenced in his report below), and I must say, the results were so thick and lovely I was almost frightened.
Reaper seems to be the unofficial crown champion of the DAW scene here, so little wonder that one of his other creations is a clever OSC-powered template for Liine Lemur. (Sorry, translation: you get iPad control of Reaper that’s arguably better than even the combination of Apple’s own Logic with the iPad.) I can’t wait to get my hands on this one, as I’ve been using Reaper more lately.
See his report:
Oh, also — a vintage typewriter and telephone as MIDI controllers. Nice.
Make: Polivoks Pro
Owner: Alexey Taber, Alex Pleninger
Fans of Soviet era synths, this is one you’ve heard of. But it was great at Synthposium to see the Polivoks reissue as a cornerstone of a revitalized synth scene in the former USSR, centered in Moscow. The one and only Vladimir Kuzmin, creator of the original, worked on this spectacular recreation – which, now with more consistently reliable parts, finally really gives that original genius its due.
I hadn’t gotten much chance to talk in person at Superbooth, so it was really an honor to be in the presence of this team in their home city. I have gotten a chance to hear this instrument, and frankly, it’s one of the coolest synthesis machines I’ve ever gotten to use, packed with possibilities.
Make: Soma Synths
Owner: Vlad Kreimer
The LYRA-8 and LYRA-4 “organismic synthesizers” are spectacular, alien-sounding analog synths, 8-voice and 4-voice, respectively. These oscillators combine with FM modulation and synthesis algorithms for eerie, science fiction-y goodness. They’ve been available since last year, but it was wonderful getting into their soundscapes – and I think this goes nicely with the futuristic-but-dirty-but-futuristic sounds of this Russian synth landscape.
Make: SSSR Labs
Home: Mytischi, Russia (near Moscow)
Owner: Dmitry Shtatnov
Shtatnov is a musician and engineer alike, and his SSSR Labs are a don’t-miss line of Eurorack and other goodies (even VSTi). The new Matrixarchate module won the show’s Eurorack competition for its magical routing powers.
Roman is another of the geniuses of the synth world – once based in Moscow, now off in Tokyo. (That “Sputnik” name still keeps Brand Russia in the electronics.) And if he’s gone far to the east of Moscow, his creations for Sputnik Modular are more like what would happen if the West Coast modular scene kept going west – with a fresh take on Buchla’s creations.
But it wasn’t the Sputnik stuff that was the main feature of Synthposium, but his other dreamy creation, as the ominous Black Corporation.
Black has one main product here. Deckard’s Dream is an 8-voice analog polysynth capable of making, among other things, nice Blade Runner sounds for you. It’s loosely inspired by the Yamaha CS-80 but a nice enough invention of its own. At US$1,199.00 (US$349 kit), it’s a dazzling display of luscious sonic texture, and after a few minutes playing with it, I’m totally hooked.
VG-Line is a prolific one-handyman sonic electronics shop. When owner Vyacheslav Grigoriev isn’t repairing and modernizing gear, he’s making new stuff – including parts like his own MIDI equipment and DACs, or products like 909 and 303 clones (including a very nice variant on the x0xb0x 303 clone).
At Synthposium, the 12bitcrusher stole the show for sound processing, with some delightfully glitchy and grimy effects.
But I think for most of us, we’ll recall Vyacheslav’s answer to the question “what would an iMac full of synth modules be like?” See, pictured.
Some old videos of his work:
And that crusher:
Plus, have a look inside at the chip with that beautiful red “CCCP” chip:
Make: Synthfox [site on VK, Russian only]
Owner: Nick [actually don’t know his last name!]
I want to describe the goodness of these modules, but I think this image does it best:
There’s loads of smart stuff here – including a vertical sequencer – in the works. And I love this DIY attitude.
Playtronica is Russia’s answer to DIY boards like Makey Makey – but with a much more musical bent. Their Playtron lets you add MIDI-friendly touch to anything, among other accessories – and they had a clever DIY relay board for lighting in prototype form, too. (Plus Jekka, one of the collective, had a fantastic performance at the start of their festival.)
Bonus round – Pribore
Talked to this crew, and I’m intrigued. Basically, it’s a not-yet-available Russian ultra-compact Bluetooth MIDI controller. Charge (or use) via micro USB, and then use it wirelessly if you choose. They showed it mapped to Reason. You get transport controls, plus assignable encoders and a couple of assignable triggers. It seems like the kind of thing I might keep in my laptop bag at all times.
Sorry, no other information – will get that when it’s ready. (Doesn’t quite fit with the other stuff here, but worth mentioning.)
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