Elektron’s Model:Samples was always appealing – some of the best bits of an Elektron groovebox, but with a smaller size and price tag. But one limitation might hold you back: six tracks, and only six samples? That changes with an update: now you can change samples inside a pattern. Sample locks are here.
1.02 shipped quietly on the 29th of last month; Andreas, our reviewer, got an early build. There’s not much in the way of documentation:
Sample locks functionality has been added. It lets you assign a specific sample on any step of the sequencer. It is possible to sample lock up to 26 different samples in each pattern.
But this is a big deal. Six parts with only one sample per part is pretty restrictive. Now, instead, you could take a sample, slice it into 26 bits, and then play the various slices. Or you could slice up melodies. Or you could add more complex percussion parts. The thing is, this is more or less exactly what you want – restricting to six parts can be genuinely musically useful (as more can get overly dense), but now each of those parts need not be quite so, you know, repetitive.
This release also includes a number of bug fixes. But sample locks might just be the thing that tempts us over to this device.
Keep in mind the 1.01 OS (as we tested) included some other improvements, including separate MIDI channel configuration (ideal for use with other gear) and simplified LFO locks.
I also like that the Model:Samples has a transfer utility for custom samples. Roland. Cough. TR-8S. Like any day now. Thanks! (and let’s not even start in on the volca sample’s awful sample loading mechanism… just no.)
Sure, it’s still not a sampler – no record capability. And yes, there are boxes that do more. And… well, if you’re on a budget, you should also check out used KORG machines. But this is still something unlike anything else at the price, with Elektron workflows and serious polyrhythmic capabilities plus lots of hands-on fun and great sound.
And definitely check our hands-on review. It’d be easy to dismiss this hardware, but I think Andreas really explains why it’s cool. (And yeah, I personally like it more than even the more-capable Digitakt.)
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.)
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
Real time pattern recording with optional metronome
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.
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.
The “trademark” here is trade dress, the design of the actual appearance of the 303 and 808 – the signature layout of the keyboard and knobs of the 303, and the sequence of colored buttons on the 808. “Iconic” is a word that’s wildly overused, but here we can take it to be almost literally true: you can draw out these layouts and even a lot of lay people with a passing interest in electronic music will immediately recognize this bassline synth and drum machine.
Forum posters conclude that this is about Behringer, who announced last month at the NAMM show that they would ship their “RD-808” drum machine – matching the original TR-808 color scheme and button layout – in March. But the registration in Germany could be a sign Roland are generally planning to more aggressively protect their intellectual property, in respect to Behringer or others. And as the RD-808 could, for instance, wind up being subject to litigation outside Germany – that is, anywhere the drum machine ships.
That said, Behringer without fanfare reversed the order of the colors on their RD-808, from a production prototype (orange / light orange / yellow / white, as on the original Roland) to what was shown at NAMM.
The one thing I can say for sure is – the artwork Roland filed from Japan is gorgeous. So, Roland, please don’t sue us for sharing. (And yeah, I’d buy this if you want to turn it into merch.)
No idea how long processing will take, or really how the law works; if I can find out, I’ll share. At least Germany should appreciate the aesthetics of combining gold, bright red, and black – check the flag.
Meanwhile, in America… Roland last year filed applications for trademark protection in the USA for the TR-808 and TR-909 (also right after the NAMM show, January 25, 2018). You can find these (pending) applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, under 87769864 and 87769891.
It’s routine practice to file for things you might want to protect, not necessarily manufacture, but that doesn’t make it any less privately amusing to read this list of apparel that would be covered under that application:
“Jackets; sweaters; sport shirts; polo shirts; shirts; overcoats; raincoats; underwear; pajamas; undershirts; Tee-shirts; wind-resistant jackets; swimming costumes; sleep masks; neckties; aprons; socks and stockings; bandanas; headwear; caps as a headwear; hats”
I totally want a Roland swimming costume. But yeah, if you’re thinking of making one yourself, you should read this:
Anyone can clone an 808. Not anyone can make a machine inspired by the 808 out of repurposed lighter springs, motors, and … oh yeah, flaming butane gas. Koka Nikoladze’s beat machines are going viral, and their demented, quirky sound tells you why.
So, sorry NAMM – this may be the coolest gear we’ll see in January 2019.
And not only is the concept novel, but his wacky tunes make for some toe tapping, eyebrow-raising good times, too.
I always wanted to build something using fire. Here is my first attempt. The small prototype works.
Releasing tiny bursts of butane gas on an open fire source sounds pretty much like a kick. By adjusting the distance and the pressure, it can get very close to 808. This is just a tiny model. I’m going to build a BIG Koka’s Fire Kick unit for live shows.
The rest is quite simple, I used a brass tube as a hat and some springs extracted from empty lighters, in a wooden box — as a snare; oh yes, and a DC motor that I managed to bring back to life by rewinding coils.
I’m dancing closer to the idea of setting up my first proper dance music production. Not necessarily the type of music from Beat Machine demonstration videos, much more complex and sophisti.. .. well, never mind. We’ll see what happens. I’ve already discussed this with an army of hyper-incredible artists willing to collaborate.
Only if I manage to get hold of Snoop Dogg in addition, maybe, some day :D. Ok, joking aside, wouldn’t it be amazingly surreal? Snoop with a small tight beat machine and a symphonic orchestra behind. I’d play the bass, and dance.
We’re seeing a growing trend in not analog, not digital, but kinetic – mechanical – physical instruments. It’s still tech – it’s just back to doing things with mechanics and physics, perhaps still informed by the lessons of code and circuits. On the fire side, of course, this is also kind of a miniaturized take on pyrophones, flame-powered organs and other instruments.
And while obviously part of the battle here is to be one step ahead of everyone else on the quirk factor, topping social media, I suspect there’s also potential in a scene around this sort of music. Physical music fests? We’ll see.
What if you could take the deep powers of an Elektron groove box, but bring them to the surface? And what if that box were small and cheap? That’s the first impression of the Model:Samples – and it could add up to a big hit.
Elektron has always been about giving us powerful, inventive music machines as standalone hardware. They still reign supreme in live dance music sets – certainly in Europe, if you see “live” on the bill at a club, you can expect the appearance of an Elektron machine or two as the most likely interpretation. But the price of those machines is learning your way around menus and shortcuts. Some people take to it right away, and some just don’t. And then there’s the monetary price – well into four digit sticker shock, which can be intimidating to new users.
That changed with the Digitakt and Digitone – compact boxes with more focused feature sets and more of a focus on hands-on control. And the Model:Samples goes further: one-to-one physical controls for most features, and an even lower price.
So make no mistake: the Model:Samples is probably aimed first at newcomers to the Elektron brand. (Though I can bet we’ll see Elektron lovers augment their rig with these for extra hands-on control.) Online commenters are comparing this to the used price of other Elektron machines, but that ignores the angle here: simplicity and hands-on control.
Model:Samples looks like a powerful groove-based tool with tons of immediacy. It’s also a real shot across the bow of KORG – entering the price range of the electribe sampler, but with some Swedish sequencing workflows. Spännande!
Take that, East Coast / West Coast – Elektron even reference their “ragged Swedish shoreline.” So let’s dive in like we’re taking a brisk swim in the Kattegatt!
It’s six tracks, sample playback based. (You can load your own sounds, but there’s no live sampling capability.)
Blah blah, 300 samples from Splice, yadda yadda, yes there’s a kick and snare drum and “never-before-heard alternatives.” (Uh, okay. “I’ve heard things you people wouldn’t believe. Castanets sampled from attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. A cowbell glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.” Sorry, lost my train of thought.)
But everything else is about tons of control – and that’s where this gets interesting, once you start manipulating those tracks:
Control All to manipulate multiple sounds at once, with Reload to get back where you started
Chromatic mode for melodic control
Parameter Locks – per-step automation, and even per-step sounds (depending on how much mayhem you want to make)
Six samples at once – which they’ve cleverly limited to the number of things you have in a kit
Swap multiple samples, a kit at a time
Chance parameter (which you can combine with Control All)
Per-track step length
Per-track tempo multiplier
Record with or without quantization – both parameters and notes
There are other drum machines and grooveboxes out there, but this looks like a real winner in the price range, at least when it comes to rhythmic flexibility and hands-on parameter control.
There’s also a flexible architecture. You get 6 audio tracks – each of which can also be MIDI tracks, making this an effective sequencing box for gear, too. 96 projects, with 96 patterns per project.
Each of the six tracks gets its own sample engine, resonant multimode filter, and assignable LFO.
Then you can route via sends to delay and reverb.
There’s 64MB of sample memory, but you can store up to 1GB of samples, which you load over USB. Everything connects via class-compliant USB audio 2.0, and you get a dedicated headphone out and 2x balanced main outputs. MIDI is delivered via in and out/thru minijacks – now manufacturers are fast adopting that minijack standard for MIDI.
They also promise a battery pack at a later date so you can use this on the go.
W270 × D180 × H40 mm (10.63 × 7.09 × 1.58″) (including knobs and rubber feet)
Weight: approximately 0.814 kg
Price here in Europe is 460EUR, $449 USD list. I think that means we could see a US street under $400 – which is a big winner, I think. Heck, this with the Digitone as a synth could be a complete studio. And having just praised the potential of the Akai Force, that could also mean people stick to à la carte gear for playing and go back to the more flexible computer for production. It’ll be fun to shake out these different combinations, though.
But that’s beside the point. Cheap, compact, lets you mangle samples with one-to-one knobs and has flexible rhythmic options that let you make polyrhythms and get off the grid – that’s a compelling combo. Add this to the must-watch list for the year.
Roland’s TR-8S added loads of parameters for shaping drum kits and effects. Now you can get at all of those without diving through menus with this VST/AU plug-in – and keep your drum machine settings stored with your project.
Hardware is great, but it introduces two problems. First, there are inevitably some parameters buried in menus that are hard to reach on the front panel, no matter how many knobs and faders makers add. Second, stuff you do on the hardware is likely to get out of sync with your DAW, leading to that invariable “what the Hell was this supposed to be?” feeling when you power things up. (Okay, sometimes that leads to happy accidents. Sometimes it just leads to misery.)
Momo Miller has been trucking through the full Roland range (plus KORG and Novation Circuit). He’s been adding plug-ins for just this reason. You get more accessible editing and control, and your settings stay inside your DAW projects for easy recall.
Now, first, what this isn’t: it isn’t a full-blown editor for the TR-8S. And it’s a shame, given Roland Cloud, that the manufacturer didn’t provide one. That also means loading custom samples on the TR-8S is a manual affair. This unofficial editor isn’t able to load sample files. And you don’t get full access to all of the TR-8S’ hidden parameters, like the deep settings per kit. So, Roland, if you’re listening – please, give us that.
You do, however, get a lot of access to parameters per sound and kit – basically, anything that has a MIDI CC assignment. And you can still save your changes on the hardware, for anything this controls. Plus you can save parameters separately in software. And there are some useful performance controller mappings.
Here’s what you get:
Full access to TR-8S parameters (as accessible via MIDI)
Control effects via custom-mapped X/Y performance controllers
Automation of parameters inside your DAW
Save parameter data with your DAW – including which kit was selected, which is invaluable on its own
Interactive visual display
32-bit and 64-bit VST (Windows, Mac) AU (Mac) and standalone (Windows, Mac) versions
Dark, crunchy, synthetic sounds, grooves that morph somewhere in the shadows between bass line and percussion pattern – Ruismaker Noir is exactly the sort of drum machine you’d want with you at all times. And as it’s an iOS app, you can take it with you.
Here’s the idea: what if the drum synth were also a monophonic synth? And what if you could morph between those, for basslines that start to get edgier and more rhythmic, or rhythmic lines that start to get more melodic? And what if you had an integrated sequencer so you could mess with both of those at once (including all the mighty morphing modulation)? Well, uh, obviously the answer to that would be yes, please, I would want that.
Noir is the latest in the Ruismaker line from Dutch developer/designer Bram Bos. Bram has had a series of synthesis-focused drum machine apps for iOS mobile, and as if that weren’t already enough experience for you, he has a long history of plug-in development dating back to one of the first software drum machines ever.
But that’s the thing about developing electronic instruments – it’s often not about a single breakthrough but lots and lots of iteration. So Noir is the most full-featured of the Ruismaker series yet, but also reaches a new level of playability and sound. Sorry, that sounds like marketing copy, but having used Bram’s stuff over the years, I mean that from first-hand experience – I’ve watched him add those details and refine ideas as he goes.
And it comes at the right moment. You hear a lot of these sort of aggressive, synthetic sounds (uh, winter is coming for the northern hemisphere). But a lot of people use modulars to get them, which means you need a modular rig and some time in the studio. (Time, money, space … uh oh.) Plus, having this in an iPad app with an intuitive touch sequencer will also be a far shorter path to articulating a groove that’s in your head for a lot of people. And the results here are distinctive enough that even if you do have that modular rig, you might tinker around with this anyway.
You can also use a standalone mode to fine-tune presets, then jam with the plug-in later.
It’s built as a plug-in, so you can use it with DAWs like Cubasis, Garage Band, and Modstep. Or combine it with other drum machines like Elastic Drums for some serious drum mayhem.
Delicious with effects:
– AUv3 (Audio Unit) plugin, with integrated sequencer
– Basic standalone mode for tinkering or preset creation
– Universal; runs on any iDevice with iOS10 or higher
– All parameters accessible via MIDI CC and AU Params
– AU MIDI output from sequencer (requires iOS11+)
– Fullscreen plugin GUI in all compatible hosts
– Modest CPU and resource loads
This whole thing packs a lot into one app. There’s a full MIDI implementation, which means you could even make a hardware controller mapping if you like. But it’s also nice that the internal sequencer will do the job if you don’t want to switch back and forth to an app.
I have a feeling I may not sleep on my flight back from the USA to Germany as I’ll get sucked into playing with this. See you on the flipside.
Native Instruments this fall unveiled a bunch of low cost alternatives to its flagship producer products – and the one that perhaps attracted the most attention is Maschine Mikro. Can you fit more into a small package?
If you’re really into Maschine, here’s my advice: MK3. Full stop. The MK3 has the most expressive, playable pads of any of the Maschine line. It’s got the same big display as the previous Maschine Studio – meaning you can make arrangements, adjust parameters without squinting, and set mix levels really easily. (None of that is possible on the Mikro.) And it has all the latest refinements, but it’s in a perfect form factor, as beloved on the original model and MK2.
It’s also reasonably compact. Maschine is my lifesaver for gigs because whatever may be in checked luggage (and therefore lost in checked luggage), you can fit Maschine MK3 into a backpack.
By comparison, I’m not fond of Push on the road, as I think its layout is better suited to studio creation than live performance, and it’s just a little bit bigger and a lot heavier than other devices – plus no audio interface. Small details, major difference if you’re playing fit-the-rig-in-the-backpack. And I know that sentiment is shared.
But there are times when you might want smaller, and you might be on a tighter budget – particularly if you’ve already invested in another controller.
So the Maschine Mikro is back. But this time, the pads are better, and while that display is small, you really can get away with using it. It could be ideal in a corner of your desk, and it’s more portable.
FACT Magazine have a great compact (natch) breakdown of how the Mikro works.
First, you inherit the touch strip and the note repeat from the rest of the line. That includes these clever performance effects, which are really quick to access from the touch strip. Note repeat and chord modes let you get away with squeezing lots of ideas onto a small palette — and, let’s be honest, they help you fake being way better at finger drumming than you actually are.
Sorry, might be projecting there. Better than I am, for sure.
And then there’s sequencing, too, which also scales well to this small form factor:
I’m personally sticking to the MK3 for one reason alone: the encoders to me are invaluable. I can load Reaktor Blocks instances in Maschine and then really shape sound on the encoders while keeping track of changing parameters on the displays. It’s like having a huge modular rig without the gear and back ache and debt. And I think the MK3 is good enough that it’s worth swapping in even the MK2 to get one – and certainly the MK1, which lacks the various workflow improvements and especially those great pads.
But I totally get the appeal of the Mikro.
I think ironically reducing that form factor finally lets you focus on learning some core features of Maschine and focusing on them. It looks like a no-brainer next to Ableton Push or an Akai APC or whatever you use as your DAW and controller arrangement (keyboards, etc). We’ve also seen previously how much musicality you can get just by focusing on the pads, as our friend Alan Oldham (DJ T-1000) took on even the first-generation model.
So for getting out and playing, this is great stuff – and a bargain buy with the core software, a bunch of sounds, and a controller, too. I bet some people will get these as gifts – and have a great time.
… für einen guten Zweck, wie es so schön heißt. Moby ist ein konsequenter und entschiedener Mensch. Seine Sammlung wurde einige Zeit in der Blogosphäre herumgezeigt, jetzt ist Zeit zu handeln.
Eine Schrankwand voll mit klassischen Klopfern aller Zeiten und Richtungen, aber natürlich alte Zeiten. Das war eine Sammlung, die in diversen Videos auch zu sehen ist. Nun steht sie auf Reverbzum Verkauf ab 11. Oktober, also heute.
Moby bezeichnet sich als etwas besessen, was den Besitz von Drummachines angeht.
Die Vereinigung setzt sich auch für Dinge ein wie weniger oder möglichst keine Versuche an Tieren für Kosmetik, vernünftiges Essen für Krankenhäuser bis hin zur ethischen Forschung. Es geht ganz offensichtlich um mehr Menschlichkeit in der Medizin als eine Art Lobbygruppe im positiven Sinne. Es gibt ausreichend Information auf deren Site.
Der Nerd will vermutlich eher wissen, was man so kaufen kann. In kürzeren Worten ist das alles, von Rhythm Ace bis TR-909. Es wird schlicht und einfach alles verkauft, was interessant ist, inkl. DJs können Platten kaufen. Wer die Sachlage kennt, dürfte wissen, dass einige Maschinen ziemlich gute Preise erzielen werden. Andere sind vielleicht wieder so speziell oder älter, dass sie nicht ganz so viele Interessenten haben. Aber es wird eine nennenswerte Summe sein, die die Aktion generieren wird.
Viel Glück, Moby! Und an dich – Viel Spaß beim Finden und Kaufen, falls du dich als Käufer betätigen willst oder die Aktion gut findest – das wäre auch ein Support.