deton8 is a little drum machine with loads of soul

Twisted Electrons move on from acid and chip synths to drum machines. And the deton8, for around three hundred bucks, packs a ton of personality and sound possibility in a cute, playable package.

Twisted Electrons made a name for themselves in fun little boxes and boards packed with 8-bit, chip music, and acid sounds. Those instruments all stand out for lots of sequencing features and hands-on playable options. So a drum machine is of course a natural next step.

But what a next step the deton8 is. Mixing samples and synthesis, 8-bit sounds and wavetable synth, custom kits, and a ton of control and performance, it promises to be one of the more fun packages we may see this year. There’s even a simple NES-style synth in there, so even though a compact bassline synth would be an obvious combination with this, you could even do a lot with just the voices in this hardware.

I’m terrifically eager to get my hands on this one. It’s now much clearer what deton8 is about thanks to a new video – and some tantalizing new details:

For live performance, what’s especially appealing is the sound knob, which has different characteristics for different sounds. That’s a lot more fun than menu diving to change sounds, or being limited to tweaking pitch and duration alone.

Oh yeah, even that decay knob is more fun than usual, since decay doubles as glitchy repeat “delay.”

And in keeping with Twisted’s legacy, this thing is packed with downsampling and bit reduction, which is a perfect match for drums. (Again, that’s especially live – there’s a reason those Game Boy parties got so wild. There’s something about squashing dynamic range and making things screaming and digital that can make people go nuts. I guess partying is about reducing bit depth, anyway, right?)

Stutter, reverse, retriggering, granular algorithms – there’s a bunch there to play and record. I imagine you might make this a primary instrument, or some icing on your existing drum machine … that you could use it for relatively subtle stuff, or go totally nuts.

And it’s eminently affordable. The deton8 is 255 EUR (that’s under US$300), or around 300EUR with VAT.

Here’s the full list of features. The big development was, at the last minute, Alex at Electron responded to overwhelming user requests to load your own samples. So that means in addition to multiple kits included in the box, you’ll be able to use a software editor to slice up and upload your own samples, as both loops and 1-shots – see screenshot.

(Dear Roland, please, please add this to the TR-8S, too! And … yeah, I can imagine the TR and Twisted Electrons would make a wonderfully psycho combo.)

Features:

USB-MIDI
Hardware MIDI
SYNC IN
SYNC OUT
16 patterns of 1-16 steps each
Chain up to 16 patterns in a row to make a song
8 Voices (Kick, Snare, Metal (hats), Clap, Can (tinny sounds), Tom, Nut (woody sounds), SYNTH (NES inspired triangle wavetable synthesizer, with arp that can be shaped to a square).
Two modes: Loop Mode (for breaks and melodic content, decay and tune is global) & Kit mode (individual tuning and decay per part)
Pitch and decay modulation per step on every voice
8 hands on Stutter modes: Beat repeat (with variable rate), Forward granular, Reverse granular, Pendulum granular (scratch), buzz/texture , random granular (noise generation), spin up, spin down
Forward & Reverse sample playback per track
Delay with variable delay time and pitch decay (upwards and downwards)
Ring mod effect with variable frequency
Global pitch shift
Copy/Paste patterns
Real time pattern recording with optional metronome
Tap tempo
Swing
Mute/Solo a track
Drive any voice into distortion
Sound variation knob for Kick (add sub), Snare (add noise/snappy), Hats (change texture) and Synth (arpeggiate)
Pump aka sidechain compression emulation (any track can “duck” the others for the pumping/breathing effect)
Pattern clean and randomize for accidental magical beats

It sounds like we should see a review unit in April. See you then.

Promo video for some more sounds:

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/deton8/

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Novation Circuit crams still more features: 1.8 update

There’s yet another firmware update for Novation’s Circuit, the inexpensive synth/drum groovebox. 1.8 adds new internal expression features like non-quantized recording, plus custom MIDI channels for use with external gear.

Firmware updates are not normally worth making front-page news, but there’s something unique about the unstoppable force of the Circuit.

It’s small. It’s cheap – still around US$350 new, and used for a lot less. It’s simple – the big surprise has been that what first appeared as a basic entry-level instrument has become a sleeper hit packing unexpected powers. And it just keeps adding firmware updates, at this point seeming more like the sort of thing we’d get from hacker users than from the manufacturer.

New in this build:

Record without quantizing. This one’s long overdue – sure, it’s nice that Circuit automatically quantizes for anyone who’s finger drumming skills suck, but it also takes the soul out of the music. Now you can choose.

Per-note velocity. This was another sort of oversight – because Circuit can have more than one note on the same step, but didn’t track the velocity for each note, you had multiple notes that were all stuck with the same velocity. Now each note has its own velocity.

Synth microsteps. Each step has up to six microsteps for still more rhythmic division.

Assignable MIDI channels. Synth 1, Synth 2, and Drums let you choose MIDI channel 1 to 15, useful if your outboard gear doesn’t let you select.

Also a new 1.8 feature (not sure when it was introduced) – CALC has grown a mustache. Erm, 1.8 video:

I think we’re now probably really mostly at the end of the life of Circuit in terms of what the hardware will even run, but it’s still worth noting this longer journey. And actually, just having these additional features might be reason to bring a unit out again, especially with outboard MIDI sequencing.

And there’s a lesson for more long-ter life for gear. MPC die-hards will likely have fond memories of JJ OS, an unofficial alternative firmware for the Akai MPC1000 and MPC2500. Now it’s time for that sort of mindset to apply to official releases.

And why not? Musicians love buying gear. If they got the sense that their hardware would get long-term support rather than being abandoned, they might actually buy more gear. And it’s clear the attention Novation lavished on Circuit has had a halo effect on the whole brand. So manufacturers, take note: musicians invest more in long-term love than they do in planned obsolescence.

So you do hope more manufacturers devote this kind of effort into updates. Novation have been a model for browser-based updates and editing, one you’d hope others follow. And it’d be great where manufacturers don’t devote resources themselves, that they find ways of leaving architectures open for users to modify and extend their gear – whether large manufacturers or small shops.

If it sounds like I may be leading up to discussions of that elsewhere, you bet I am. So other manufacturers working on updates and extensibility, or who would like to talk about those ideas generally, we’d love to hear from you.

More on Circuit:

https://novationmusic.com/circuit/circuit

Grab the update:

https://novationmusic.com/circuit-components

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This may be the 808 Marvin Gaye used to make ‘Sexual Healing’

No moment cements the TR-808 as a sex symbol quite like its role in “Sexual Healing.” And we may have a producer who found the actual drum machine used in the song.

As “Sexual Healing” opens, it’s just a slow, dry groove on this futuristic Japanese electronic box with a whisper over top. Then, that silky smooth keyboard part and crisp, funky bassline weave in together with the vocals. It’s deceptively simple stuff – and totally potent, proof of what electronic sounds can do.

That makes the TR-808 used in the track a genuine part of music history – even if at the time, it was just an inexpensive box. But where is that TR-808 now? We may have an answer.

None other than famed pioneering Belgian producer Kris Vanderheyden (best known as Insider, among other aliases) tells Roland and CDM that he’s got this very machine in his studio. Drum machines can’t talk (no soul and all), but Kris relates the story:

When I started out as a musician in the late 80’s, I was looking for some analog gear. New equipment was expensive but you could get good deals second hand.

I initially got my Roland TR-909 which I swapped for 5 mix cassette tapes – incredible huh? But back in those days it wasn’t such a big deal to own one.

Later on, I came across a guy named Eric who played in a New Wave band and was recording at Studio Katy in Belgium. The studio was only 5 miles from where I grew up. Eric and his band used to book the studio at night for financial reasons and Marvin Gaye was booked there during the day while recording his album “Midnight Love.”

One day, Eric left the band’s (his) Roland TR-808 at the studio and Marvin came in and started to play around. The rest is (“sexual”) history.
I bought that machine for one hundred and twenty dollars ($120.00). It’s just priceless now…

The story checks out – Midnight Love, including this single, was recorded at Studio Katy, Ohain, Belgium. This would appear to be validated by references in interviews in the 808 Movie, as well.

Take a look at Kris’ shots of the machine:

Kris’ story is a familiar microcosm of the 808’s role in music. But it also says something lovely about creativity and the toys we use, generally. It’s not that the TR-808 is a priceless invention. It’s a readily accessible, affordable machine that gets you into a flow. That’s certainly how I feel messing about with the 808’s latest successor, the TR-8S – and I mean that. As I got to hear from Susan Rogers at SONAR in June, creativity is this special state of mind. These devices can get us there, and then become something more.

Sexual Healing at Wikipedia

Kris’ site: http://www.insider-music.com/

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Arturia DrumBrute Impact: smaller size, bigger sound, $349

Talk about less is more. The Arturia DrumBrute impact is sure to be a hit at US$349 for a packed analog drum machine – but its newfound focus and re-built sounds also make it more fun to play.

Fitting a drum machine into a smaller size and cutting the price this low does mean taking some things out. But it’s what’s left in that may make people find the DrumBrute Impact appealing.

Arturia has been trying their hand at drum machines for a while. It began on the software side, with the Spark series, but the workflow and functionality of that line never seemed to grab users quite like with Native Instruments’ Maschine or Ableton Live combined with Push, to say nothing of people who want to get away from the computer and use some hardware. The DrumBrute was promising, packing some novel analog sound circuitry together with workflow features from Spark and BeatStep Pro, but its sound felt like a work in progress. (Case in point: my studio neighbor has one and loves it, but he mutes the kick and replaces it with something else. Making drum machines is hard.)

So, that’s the surprise of DrumBrute Impact. The “impact” which I thought was just smart marketing for it being small and cheap actually is a clue to the fact that the Impact has all new circuitry inside. It’s the Arturia brain here, but the soul has been upgraded.

Finally, Arturia have made something that doesn’t just feel like another Roland TR drum machine. And that’s good, because much as I love the TR, having only that color is a bit like having a Wurlitzer but no Rhodes. But simultaneously, it also sounds like a new set of sounds you want to use, without requiring you to invest a huge amount of money in those sounds.

The result: this thing hits really hard. That matters. We’re humans. We like things that go thud. We can feel it. This isn’t theory; it’s visceral.

The sound engine:

You get a full complement of parts, each analog and with controllable parts. “Analog” remains something of a marketing hook, but the important thing about these parts is you get a set of sounds you can manipulate directly. That means:

KICK: pitch and decay
SNARE 1: snap and decay.
SNARE 2: tone and decay.
TOM: pitch, switch between high/low.
CYMBAL: decay.
COWBELL
CLOSED HAT: tone
OPEN HAT: decay (mute linked to the open hat)
FM DRUM: carrier pitch, decay, FM amount, and mod pitch.

I’ll work on some videos and music in the coming days. Drum machines are all about taste, so you may differ, but I liked each one of these sounds – which is really hard to get on a new machine. (The TR has a huge advantage based on familiarity, too. None of us can really say what we’d think of it if someone brainwiped us and we hadn’t heard any the music made with Rolands over the years.)

More importantly, you get a huge range as you twist the encoders on these, with a sense of power across that range rather than that usual feeling of … okay, this is the sweet spot and the rest is shite.

Snare 2, for instance, can sound like a rimshot or a clap, even, depending on where you adjust it, and lots of things in between. Tom Low easily doubles as a kick with a darker color. The cowbell is an exception, but it’s a nice grown-up homage to Roland.

It’s really the FM voice that’s the big winner, though. And it’s clear you could not only cook up some unexpected percussion with it, but also hack it into a usable, potentially weird if you want, FM bass synth.

Features:

If you want lots of I/O, well… come on, this thing is $349. But you still do manage a mono mix out, four separate outs for parts, and dedicated clock in/out, MIDI in/out, and USB.

Arturia could have made this a fairly dumb box that’s just a sound engine, but they crammed a whole lot of powerful features for playing into it, as you might expect from some of their past outings. So you get:

Step sequencing with 64 patterns (64 steps each)
Song mode for chaining patterns
Polyrhythms (set each track to its own length)
Swing, either global or per-instrument
Random pattern variations
Pattern looper, beat repeat
Real-time rolls (with that touch strip again)
Multiple sync options: Internal / MIDI / Clock, including 1PPS, 2PPQ, DIN24, and DIN48
Per-drum accents

There’s even a metronome that automatically overrides itself on the main out when you plug in headphones.

You don’t have easy MPC-style note repeat, which I personally prefer to those touch rolls, and the drum pads are basic (though you get one for each part, unlike the more expensive Roland TR-8S). Other than that, it’s hard to complain.

One surprise is the distortion circuit. It’s nice, and adds some dirt, but I almost expected something raunchier. Anyway, it’s useful to have, and you can always run those outs through some distortion pedals and really go nuts. I did run it through some light effects and delays, and it sounds unreal.

I mean, what’s to say? This thing is going to sell like crazy. $349 / 299 €. Preorder now, full availability in August.

It’s turning out to be quite a summer for hardware drum machines, with the ongoing success of the Elektrons (and some updates), the breakout hit Roland TR-8S, the coming boutique MFB TanzBar II, and now this as your cost-effective choice. If you’re still failing to play drum machines live or writing dull drum parts, you have no excuse.

https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/drumbrute-impact/overview

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The Roland TR-808 is getting its own pair of Puma shoes

As if you hadn’t had enough of the retro 808 drum machine craze, Puma are creating a pair of runners in collaboration with Roland. And this time, you can actually buy them.

So, who needs some new kicks?

I got a chance to take a look at the new Roland TR-808-inspired Puma sneakers. They’re basically just a color scheme for Puma’s relaunch of the RS (RUNNING SYSTEM) shoe line. The RS-0 is a reboot; the 1980s original was built around a unique-for-the-time cushioning system. To capitalize on 80s nostalgia, Puma went to Polaroid, Roland, and Sega for special looks for the shoes. Sadly, you don’t get any special drum machines sneakers. (No built-in metronome or clock source; no TB-303 runners that have acid basslines printed in the soles. In other words, I didn’t design them.)

What you do get is a slick-but-subtle black color scheme, with accents taken from the drum machine and a nod on the heel to the front panel label on the original.

“Jeez, CDM,” say the readers, “first balalaikas and now some branded runners, just how desperate are you this week to avoid the subject matter of the site?” Ah-ha – but we’re not done yet, folks. First twist to the story: this isn’t the first time someone has designed 808 sneaks. Less than one year ago, design agency Neely & Daughters produced a considerably less subtle pair of hi-top sneakers.

And – gasp – they were for Puma’s arch-nemsis, Adidas. And that in turn leads us to a bitter rivalry between two brothers from small-town Germany – Herzogenaurach, to be exact! Let’s go back in time to the 1920s, when… oh, no, actually, let’s not do that, as I’m sure neither Adidas nor Puma really want to get into their legacy here. (In the words of Fawlty Towers, don’t mention the War. But it is a fascinating story.)

Anyway, here’s that 2017 remake, which you couldn’t buy, as reported by Synthtopia:

Why You Can’t Buy Those Cool Roland TR-808 Adidas Beatmaking Shoes

Twist number two: Puma can claim the RS was “innovative,” but it’s really the RC Computer Shoe that lives up to that. Chunky protruding wings on the heel of these 1986 runners contained microcomputer pedometers. Connect them by wire (16-pin) to an Apple II, IBM PC, or Commodore 64/128, load up Puma’s software, and a graphical display would tell you time, calories burned, and distance run. That’s actually fairly forward thinking, in terms of predicting today’s fitness bands and smartphone accessories. Also, even now, you have to admit there’s something more intuitive about this being embedded in your athletic shoes rather than worn on a bracelet.

More:

RS Computer Shoe [Nice Kicks]

Puma RS Computer Shoe Pedometers (mid 1980s) [DigiBarn Computer Museum]

Now, I’m sure someone out there will read this post, grab a tiny Arduino or Teensy, and figure out a way to connect the 808 to shoe sensors. Who likes a challenge?

Meanwhile, since the marketing event I went to in Berlin seemed lost on the crowd – they needed “nerdsters” rather than hipsters, as one marketing blogger once dubbed the crowd I ran with Make and Etsy in New York – here you go. You’re welcome.

Disclosure: If anyone thinks this is a paid promotion, I did … manage to mention both Adidas and the Third Reich. I’m supremely sorry, Puma.

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Oi, Kant! is a raunchy, glitchy, out-of-control patchable groove machine

Artist Ewa Justka has built a drum/bass machine that’s as chaotic as our times – a dirty, feature-packed, mayhem generator. And you can buy or build one for yourself, too.

Ewa’s project is open source – warts and little mistakes and weird bits and all. And it makes one hell of a sequenced racket – the hardware embodiment of Ewa’s mind-scrambling live shows as well as her workshops. (Ewa’s frequently played Berlin, London, and around Europe, and at Unsound Festival – and co-hosted a MusicMakers Hacklab with me, too, at CTM Festival, where she spread just this sort of mischief and sonic ingenuity to a whole group of people.)

So what is it, exactly? Ewa calls it “a sort of drum machine” or “drum-ish machine.” Basic features:

3 voices: drum, bass line, cymbal
Sounds all based on CMOS chips (hence their glitch-y, aggressively digital timbres)
Multiple independent sequencers, synced to a master clock
External clock input (for pulse from other gear) – patchable to each of the four voices
Independent audio outputs for each voice (though no master out – BYO mixing)
Power via 9V battery or external source (sold separately)
Knobs and buttons and bright lights and photosensors (because D-BEAM!)

So patch it together, and what you get is four screaming voices, clipping along either to the internal clock or external sources. Make separate sequences, clock everything together – as you like.

Watch the madness:

All those separate ins and outs and independent triggers mean you can put this together with other analog, DIY, or modular gear, for effects processing or more complex rhythms. Or just plug those four outs into a mixer and use as-is.

But you can get pretty experimental or pretty groovy or pretty groovy-experimental sounds out of this thing. Excellent.

And, of course, apart from a product name featuring Kant, you get all of this in a unique, art-y looking package. There are also awesome parameter names, like “cantaloupe,” “Canterbury,” and “canteen,” and some … less family-friendly ones.

It’s a boutique creation, designed and built by Ewa herself, and sells to you for £205.00 plus shipping (from the UK), available on her Etsy shop.

Optotronics: Oi, Kant! [Etsy.co.uk]

That page also has links to the documentation and circuit files (on Dropbox). If you get one, do share the noises you make.

Note, there’s no specific open source hardware license on this at the moment, but that was evidently the intention — talking to Ewa about an explicit license.

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Get your notes right on Novation Circuit … what tutorials do you want?

Novation last week released a new set of tutorials for their Circuit. These cover scales, melodies, and chords. Those are interesting not just for those with limited skills on other instruments, but also, ironically, as a way to get away from your usual habits if you are used to something like a piano.

The tutorials are great, but this raises a question. Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware?

There’s of course way more gear out there than you could ever reasonably cover. But while some material applies to everything (music theory, for instance, or the principles of mixing), some technique really is specific to particular hardware.

Reader stats on the articles we’ve had on Circuit tell me that you agree with us – this is a sort of “people’s drum machine,” thanks to its simplicity, low cost, and a steady stream of updates. (For the latter, firmware updates I imagine will soon hit the limits of the hardware, though users should continue to make interesting sounds and so on.)

Now, Novation are lagging a bit – documentation is only just complete on the Novation Circuit Bass Station, which is by some measures more complex than the original Circuit. (At least that’s true considering what’s available on the hardware itself, before you get into Circuit’s editor.)

We could do some research / survey on this, of course, but prior to that I’m curious to open this up to discussion.

Oh, and let us know how you’re working with the Circuit, as I know a lot of you are making fairly heavy use of it.

Back to the human side of this, it’s worth revisiting this film CDM co-produced with Novation. Shawn, I want to hear what you’re up to these days with the Circuit (and everything else).

I love Shawn’s idea of “a lot of Jedis.” That’s why it’s actually exciting that more people are developing chops – and a reason to do good tutorials and share knowledge. A golden age of Jedis would be great for music. No one would ever say, “I wish there weren’t so many Jedis – it’d be better if there were fewer.”

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Can the MPC X win over some die-hard German MPC hardware users?

The MPC 2000. The 2000XL. The 500. These old Akai boxes inspired countless live sets – and many devoted fans still make them the centerpiece of their rigs.

But Akai abandoned the standalone hardware market for years. Native Instruments came along with Maschine, making the hardware just a controller for software running on a computer. And the MPC lost its place as the machine synonymous with the drum machine/sampler device.

Now, that looks set to change. Akai is back in the standalone hardware business with a new angle – get all the capabilities of a computer, running the same software, but without having to have a computer plugged in at all. And that goes up against Elektron’s own new standalone hardware – and Native Instruments’ own mature Maschine lineup back on the computer.

The toughest audience for the new MPC, then, has got to be those dedicated Akai MPC users. Ideally, you’d find some who are still using the older MPC onstage. And, ideally, they’d be German – well, partly because criticism sounds cooler than in English, and partly because of Germany’s wonderful culture of being honest, reflective, and articulate with opinions.

Berlin videojournalists did just that, and took the flagship Akai MPC X to the trio FJAAK (on Monkeytown Records). The result is exactly the sort of hands-on review I’d want to see – thorough, personal, musical.

They take a hard look at the “best-equipped MPC of all time.” (That sounds fair.) They express some reservations about all those expanded capabilities, but give the unit a great shakedown.

(Don’t worry – English subtitles.)

I think it’s nice to contrast this with the more limited approach (and smaller price and form factor) of the Elektron Digitakt.

For me, I’m still holding out for some quality time with the MPC Live, which seems to nicely bridge what you want in a standalone device with what you want in software (and works as conventional software/controller when your computer is connected). But the MPC X is big, beautiful, and a nice option if you’ve got the budget.

More:
http://www.akaipro.com/product/mpc-x

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Maschine now makes it easy to work with external gear, spice up patterns

There are those things in music making that are just pure joy. There’s finding a particularly nice groove or pattern, or getting that really juicy synth or effect parameter to morph just so. And there’s getting to use all those toys and external gear you really love.

So, while Maschine 2.6 is just a “point” release, I think it works out being one of the most welcome updates to come to Maschine’s loyal audience of groove makers yet. It gets at both these points. First, it inherits all the clever stuff added to Maschine Jam for adding variations and randomization and live improvisation. But now that works on any hardware, so if you prefer your 4×4 velocity-sensitive pads and don’t feel motivated to buy that new Jam grid hardware, you don’t have to. Second, it adds MIDI CC support for external gear – ’bout time – plus a whole bunch of external gear support right out of the box.

MIDI CC support is very, very cool. When I wrote about Akai’s standalone MPC introduction, a lot of you replied that what you most liked about Maschine was actually its computer integration. Many, many readers like a software drum machine precisely because it lives on a computer, inside your DAW, with all of your plug-ins.

Now, Maschine starts to look just as appealing for its support for external gear. Being able to send MIDI Control Change messages for manipulating parameters on external gear is overdue. But Native Instruments have given us a nice present by including pre-mapped parameters.

Of course, a lot of the appeal of external gear is being able to reach out and grab a knob or fader directly. But with MIDI CC presets included, you can also draw in or automate parameters, by name. (So you get “filter cutoff,” for instance, instead of “uh, what’s that MIDI CC number again where’s the MIDI implementation chart ugh?”)

And wow, NI have put in all our favorite stuff – including CDM’s very own MeeBlip triode and anode synths. Here’s the complete list (cue elevator music and a slow infomercial crawl animation):

Elektron Analog Heat
Jomox MBase 01
Jomox MBase 11
Jomox Airbase99
Jomox X-Base 09
Korg minilogue
Korg monologue
Korg Volca Bass
Korg Volca FM
Korg Volca Kick
Korg Volca Beats
Korg Volca Sample
Meeblip anode
Meeblip triode
MFB Tanzbär
MFB Tanzbär Lite
MFB Tanzmaus
Modal CRAFTsynth
Moog Little Phatty
Moog Minitaur
Moog Mother-32
Moog Sub37
Nord Lead 2
Novation Circuit Session
Novation Circuit Synth
Novation Circuit Drums
OTO BAM
OTO BIM
Prophet 6
Roland JP-08
Roland JU-06
Roland JX-03
Roland TB-03
Roland TB-3
Roland VP-03
Roland VT-03
Roland TR-09
Roland TR-8
SE-1X
Soulsby Atmegatron
Waldorf Pulse 2
Waldorf Pulse Plus
Waldorf Streichfett

It’s really lovely to see some more obscure boutique stuff among the big three Japanese brands, no?

And that means all of this hardware now behaves in your system as if it’s software, complete with parameter storage and recall and morphing. So this makes Maschine a really powerful hub for live performance, because it can be a home to all the presets for a string of different songs – and that’s a reason to take that computer onstage.

The other features in 2.6 standardize a bunch of features across the whole product range – so features exclusive to Maschine Jam now work with all previously released Maschine hardware, and visa versa.

ni_maschine_2-6_update_mikro_humanize-feature-2

Maschine Jam features now everywhere else

Maschine Jam brought a lot of subtle but really powerful functionality for composition and improvisation. Now these work with Maschine MK1 and MK2, Maschine Studio, and Maschine mikro MK1 and MK2.

Humanize and Randomize. The so-called “Variation Engine” now lets you automatically add more variety to percussion and melodic patterns programmatically – yeah, in case you aren’t really good enough at finger drumming, for instance.

Lock and morph. “Lock” is an even more interesting feature. You can store snapshots of parameters and then recall them, or morph between them over a number of beats or bars. If you’re thinking this could be really cool when combined with all the MIDI CC stuff above — yeah, absolutely.

ni_maschine_2-6_update_jam_velocity-feature

Maschine features now available in Jam

Step support for notes, parameters. Maschine Jam is cool, but it was missing some significant functionality available when using other Maschine hardware. The step sequencer now has support for all note parameters (pitch, velocity, length, swing, and position), plus parameter access on each step (for plug-ins and other sound sources).

Fixed velocities. You can now set velocities on an individual step using one of 16 fixed levels on a grid – especially handy on Jam since it lacks velocity-sensitive pads.

Also, one subtle improvement for everyone: when you change scale, that setting will also be used for the next group.

Maschine 2.6 is a free update for existing users; you’ll get it in Native Access now.

www.native-instruments.com/new-in-maschine

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Elektron’s Digitakt is a compact drum machine, sequencer, sampler

Elektron has been making some beautiful analog stuff with, well, “analog” in the name. But it seems the time has come to fill a glaring opening in the market – one left not just by Elektron, but by the industry in general.

Digitakt is dedicated drum machine hardware that’s also a sampler and also (at last) a powerful sequencer for external gear. In other words, it’s the box that does what the computer does as far as sampling, sound design, and gear control – but focused on just those tasks.

It’s also an answer to Elektron users shouting “why doesn’t the analog four let me sequence external gear” asking “huh, it looks like the Octatrack was just discontinued I wonder if that means something new is going to replace it.”

Oh, yeah. And it’s US$/€ 650. Whoa.

The Digitakt isn’t exactly an Octatrak II. The design philosophy is unlike anything we’ve seen from Elektron before, in fact. It’s uncommonly friendly. It’s got backlit buttons. It’s got an OLED screen. It seems to take some inspiration from Swedish neighbors (and Elektron vets) Teenage Engineering, as well as some of the other better examples of design today. It looks like Elektron thinking from the ground up.

But it also combines the stuff a lot of people so desperately wanted: sampling, audio tracks, versatile digital drum machine, effects, sequencing of external gear. Elektron also tease at asymmetrical beats and polyrhythms, which makes me hope there are some smart features in there.

Specs:
8 internal audio tracks
8 dedicated MIDI tracks
1 × Multi-mode filter per audio track
1 × Assignable LFO per track
Delay and Reverb send FX
Sampling capability
64 MB sample memory
1 GB +Drive storage
2 × ¼” input & 2 × ¼” balanced output
1 × High Speed USB 2.0 port
MIDI IN, OUT and THRU ports
Overbridge support

Coming in spring.

There are a lot of questions here. I think the most important one is what the audio and MIDI tracks actually do. Are those eight mono MIDI tracks? What sort of editing and arranging workflows are there? (At some point, I could imagine it being too complicated, with too much menu diving… but at the other extreme, it’s also possible to be too simple, easily.)

All of those questions will determine what this means as a live rig, and how much production you’d want to do.

But Elektron, you had me at “live-friendly sequencing.”

I’m very keen to see how that vision looks – and whether Elektron can establish a new generation of their hardware. Stay tuned for more details as we get them.

https://www.elektron.se/

This is really Sweden’s NAMM, folks. Y’all want to meet back in Scandinavia once the sun starts coming up again?

digitakt

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