W.A. Production launches EDM Mega Pack 1 bundle pack for $11.80 USD

WA Production EDM Mega Pack 1

W.A. Production is offering a new value bundle with EDM Mega Pack 1, a collection of construction kits with loops and one-shot samples, synth presets, MIDI files, tutorials courses and templates. The bundle includes Big Sounds EDM Festival Spirits, What About: Ultra EDM Tools 2, Ultra EDM Melodies, Mainstage Breaks & Drops, and Ultra EDM […]

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Red Panda announces Context 2 pedal inspired by ’80s rack mount reverbs

Red Panda Context 2

Red Panda has announced version 2 of its reverb pedal inspired by 1980s rack mount reverbs. Context features 8 algorithms, including room, hall, cathedral, gated reverb, reverse reverb, plate, spring, and a granular reverb. Version 2 adds stereo input/output, USB MIDI, fully assignable expression pedal, 3 new modes, delay plus reverb in all modes, separate […]

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Get 58% off Harvest MIDI sequence generator VST plugin, on sale for 19 EUR!

VST Buzz Harvest 19 EUR

VST Buzz has announced a sale on the Harvest MIDI sequence generator by Harvest Plugins, offering a 58% discount on the plugin that can produce melodies, chords, and drum patterns. Harvest allows you to generate unique loops, subtly tweak melodies or create MIDI chaos. With “Harvest” you can tap custom rhythms or randomize them, choose […]

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IK Multimedia announces iRig Pro Duo I/O mobile 2-channel audio/MIDI interface

IK Multimedia iRig Pro DUO IO feat

IK Multimedia has announced the iRig Pro Duo I/O, an enhanced, ultra-compact 2-channel audio/MIDI interface that enables high-quality recording on the go with iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Mac/PC. Designed for musicians, podcasters and other content creators, it can accommodate a variety of input sources including microphones, MIDI controllers, line-level and high-impedance instruments such as […]

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FeelYourSound updates XotoPad MIDI Multi-Touch App for Windows to v2.9.0

Feelyoursound xotopad 2.9.0 2s

FeelYourSound has announced an update to the XotoPad MIDI multi-touch software for Windows. Version 2.9.0 includes custom colors for pads, ghost mode, additional toggle groups for toggle pads and more. XotoPad turns any Windows tablet into a flexible MIDI instrument controller. It can be used both in the studio and while traveling. XotoPad is especially […]

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Your guide to the 3 best new underground synths from NAMM – not a clone in sight

Nothing new under the sun? Think again. Independent manufacturers are still creating novel designs for music making – and last week brought a lot of news.

Just as acoustic instruments often start with simple building blocks – blow on something, hit something, pluck something – these creations do work with existing known synth methods. (Think FM, wavetable, whatever.) But let’s dump the notion that “everything” is a clone now, just because one manufacturer starting with the letter B has been pulling its product news from a 1981 Roland product catalog.

In fact, there’s so much new stuff, it’s easy to get lost. So here’s your quick guide.


The pitch: It’s a powerful synth with the heart of a SEGA. Imagine a hands-on, polyphonic instrument built around the same chip that powered the SEGA Megadrive and Genesis game consoles.

Who makes it: Indie French builder Twisted Electrons, who already has a great track record with handheld and desktop acid and chip music synths, plus a Eurorack modular collaboration with Crea8audio.

Specs in a nutshell: 12 voice polyphony (and various voicing modes), two of the YM2612FM chips already onboard, 8 algorithms, presets, tons and tons of controls, 3 LFOs, full MIDI I/O, and an arpeggiator and sequencer, all in an aluminum case.

How much, and when: 474EUR before VAT, apparently available now.

Buzz factor: This thing looks like a beast – an all-in-one, deep polyphonic chip music composition machine in a box, either with that onboard sequencer/arp or if you prefer using MIDI from the outside.

And oh yeah, prediction for 2020: the world will have a collective realization that we don’t always want to hear someone playing on a modular synth who sent over a four page rider and needs a three hour sound check, and chip music will come back. Nintendo Switch battles backstage, go!


Learn more:

Erica Synths Bassline DB-01

The pitch: This is the bass from the luxury-priced Techno System, in a desktop box the rest of us can afford. So you get the distinctive Erica BBD delay-based detune on the oscillators, a swarming delicious sound, plus an aggressive Acidbox-derived filter, extras for modulation and dirt and noise, and an onboard sequencer.

Who makes it: Erica Synths, the Riga-based boutique superbrand who have turned ex-Soviet spaces and manufacturing into an assembly line for Latvian awesomeness – enough so that they hold their own festival every year. Look out, Ableton Loop.

Specs in a nutshell: DRIVE and DETUNE knob on the left. CUTOFF and RESONANCE on the right. There’s a reason the knobs are oversized for those. So it’s a transistor-based sub oscillator + overdrive + BBD-based detuned oscillators + noise source + syncable LFO + FM and VCF modulation + independent envelopes… well, you know that dessert menu item called “Chocolate Overload Deathwish”? This is what happens when that person specs out a bassline synth. Then add in CV + MIDI I/O, aluminum case, presets, and play either externally from analog or MIDI or with a simple onboard sequencer / arpeggiator.

How much, and when: Spring, 460 EUR.

Buzz factor: Sorry, 303. This thing is thicker / dirtier / nastier. I love the 303, but it’ll give you a daily fix of “wow, acid is my favorite thing ever,” before you get bored a few minutes later and switch it off. A DB-01, if you fall for it, will make you run away from home, assume a new identity, and live in a warehouse you squat in rural Latvia where you go feral and make nothing but experimental industrial music all day. Yes, Erica, you can quote me on that – if for no other reason than to warn the unwise.


Sonicware LIVEN 8bit warps [Kickstarter]

The pitch: A lo-fi, grungy 8-bit synth with loads of voices plus onboard audio looping and lots of performance features (and warping) around the keyboard.

Who makes it: Sonicware, who created the portable ELZ_1 via Kickstarter – and which also shared a candy-bar keyboard design that recalls instruments from Casio and Teenage Engineering. It’s all the work of Yu Endo from Tokyo – part of a new generation of innovation in Tokyo’s synth scene.

Specs in a nutshell: Sequencer with chaining and real-time and step recordings and parameter locks per-step, sync and MIDI I/O, runs on batteries and has an internal speaker. Multiple synth engines (WARP, ATTACK, MORPH, FM) meet powerful envelopes and modulation and filtering, plus a bunch of FX (chorus, flanger, delay, hall, plate).

How much, and when: Well, delayed gratification as it’s Kickstarter, but estimated for June 2020. But amazingly, early bird starts at … EUR148.

Buzz factor: Come on, at this price, how can you say no to this 4-engine synth + looper + sequencer? One indie Japanese developer might just outdo the fun factor of a KORG volca for the same price, with a more flexible housing and more powerful features. Sure, a 16-bit engine might have made the different modes more varied, but – sounds like Yu-san has programmed this so you can exploit the 8-bit grime.


Learn more

Save up your pennies?

Honestly, I think any of one these three tops the other product reveals from this month. Sure, the KORG Wavestate looks powerful, but … the freak factor of that new Twisted box might well outdo the KORG offerings. It promises to build on everything designer Alex from Twisted has been working toward over the years.

The DB-01 meanwhile might quietly be the most indispensable thing Erica have done yet – it’s got some of the best bits of the Techno System, but in a form factor you can both a) actually afford and b) carry with you in an airBaltic carry-on allowance. Now if Erica just does a TR-01 drum machine to go with it, I’m completely sold.

And Sonicware have nailed the amount where you’d impulse-buy yourself a Kickstarter present for June.

So, dear Santa Claus… uh, wait, it’s the end of January… dear Saint Patrick, are you listening?

And with each of these priced under 500 bucks, can we collectively admit that the idea that independent synths are expensive or everything has to be a clone is just objectively not true? Thanks.

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Nektar announces Aura beat composer and MIDI sequencer

Nektar Aura feat

Nektar has introduced Aura, a powerful beat creation and performance instrument that brings an exciting drum-machine-style workflow to any DAW or external MIDI setup. The Aura comes with 16 hyper-sensitive RGB illuminated pads, an on-board step sequencer, a flexible pad repeat engine and comprehensive plugin control. Paired with the included Nektarine 2.0 software, AURA becomes […]

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Venomode updates Phrasebox phrase arpeggiator MIDI plugin to v1.0.1

Venomode Phrasebox

Venomode has released an update to the recent Phrasebox phrase arpeggiator plugin which lets you craft expressive sequences from MIDI chords. Version 1.0.1 comes with some fixes and improvements to the piano roll. Turn simple chord sequences into expressive melody lines and musical phrases. Simply design your phrase in the piano roll, and Phrasebox will […]

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Ist es Zeit für MIDI 2.0 – Wann kommt es? Was bringt es?

MIDI-2.0. SchaubildMIDI-2.0. Schaubild

MIDI ist in die Jahre gekommen, die Auflösungen sind knapp, die Anzahl der Controller oft zu wenig. MIDI 2.0 ist vor dem „Voting“. Hier ein paar Informationen von Bome dazu.

Neue MIDI-Controller mit unendlichen Frequenz-Glides, Oszillatoren mit vollem Sweep über 6 Oktaven ohne hörbaren Glissando-Treppenstufen-Effekt, einen LFO von sehr langsam mit in Audio-Geschwindigkeiten sanft hochzudrehen oder Panorama und Lautstärken auf Mischpulten fein einstellen. Das alles geht nur mit MIDI 2.0 oder aber mit speziellen Tricks mit Controller-Kaskaden, um das abzubilden. Viele Synthesizer benötigen das auch, um die geringe Anzahl von 128 Controllern, die zu einem Großteil vorgelegt sind, abzudecken.


MIDI 2.0 ist abwärtskompatibel und kann aber durch andere Stecker ersetzt werden. Zeitgemäß und klein genug wäre die Miniklinken-Variante, USB-C (innerhalb der USB 4.0 Norm) oder sogar Ethernet oder Wireless-Protokolle (Bluetooth, WLAN). USB 4.0 und USB-C haben den Vorteil, dass diese auch per Definition Strom bis 100W führen können. Das reicht für MIDI-Hilfsgeräte aus, für Amps oder Audio-Interfaces vielleicht nicht immer.

MIDI 2.0 kann ausgehandelt werden, sobald ein Gerät dies nicht versteht, wird auf MIDI 1.0 zurück gegriffen, es wird auch Konverter geben für verschiedene physikalische Formate.


MIDI 2.0 hat 16 Bit für Anschlagdynamik reserviert, was 65536 Schritten entspricht statt bisher 128, für MIDI-Controller sind es 32 Bit  und damit mehr als einige Millarden Schritte.  Neue Controller wie Osmose oder Haken Fingerboard werden dadurch erst technisch machbar und müssen nicht nur sich selbst arbeiten oder über eine MIDI Matrix gehen, die das neu herunterskaliert.


MIDI 2.0 kann Sets von Parametern und Soundnamen kennen und damit eine enorme Vereinfachung in der Erkennung von Baugruppen und Synthesestrukturen bieten, die ganz neue Arten von Editoren, Software und Hardware ermöglicht, die schlicht bisher nicht machbar waren. Das wird nicht nur für Musiker spannend, sondern auch für Licht und andere Einsatzgebiete und neue Instrumente, die pro Note ein Set an Parametern übertragen können.

MPE+ wird eine Multitimbralität jeder Stimme und Unabhängigkeit fest schreiben.


Die Verabschiedung wird statt finden und durch ein Voting bei und mit der MIDI-ORG vervollständigt. Noch ist das nicht passiert und dauert schon lange an und lässt auf sich warten. Innovative Firmen haben an diesen Spezifikationen und dem Protokoll gearbeitet, sogar Google und Firmen wie Roli. Es ist Zeit für etwas, was die nächsten 40 Jahre überlebt und mehr kann als OSC oder andere alternative Formate, die in der Computer-internen Kommunikation etabliert sind. Das muss auch per Kabel gehen und Auflösungsprobleme beenden.


Bis das Format alle Hersteller erfasst hat wird es nach Verabschiedung auch ein bisschen dauern, Roland hat aber immerhin schon ein Keyboard, welches bereit ist für MIDI 2.0 vorgestellt. So etwas benötigt ein massives Update, deshalb ist es nicht selbstverständlich.
Höre und sehe, was es sonst noch dazu zu sagen gibt oder geben kann oder lies und diskutiere mit uns mit.


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Source Audio intros EQ2 MIDI controllable equalizer pedal

Source Audio EQ2 feat

Source Audio has released its soon-to-be-released EQ2 Programmable Equalizer at the Winter NAMM 2020. The EQ2 is the second generation of Source Audio’s very popular Programmable EQ, a multi-preset, MIDI controllable pedal that landed on the boards of numerous pro guitarists, including six-string icons David Gilmour and John Mayer. “Source Audio created a completely new […]

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