Modular-Analog

Erica are set to bring the 909 into the modular age with their latest gear

Erica may be known for their tube-powered, retro-Polyvoks post-Soviet chic – but now they’re taking on the TR-909, in modules and a powerful drum computer.

This isn’t just another 909 remake, though. Take Roland’s legendary drum machine not just as a selection of well-known sounds, but as a way of thinking about synthesizing and sequencing percussion. Then, make those eminently patchable, so you can wire them into other gear and create some new, original ideas. Erica founder Girts Ozolins told me early on in starting the company that he thought the real appeal of modular was in customization – that it was something that allowed musicians to make something their own. And that seems to be the essence of the idea here. It’s a deconstructed, rather than reconstructed, 909.

On the sound side, then, you’ve got two friendly-looking, handsome, patchable modules. You can bolt these in and grab the knobs and it looks like you’ll be pretty happy. But there’s also plenty of CV when you want to get more modular.

On the sequencing side – and I’ll be the first to say this is what has me excited – comes a 909-style sequencer with accents, multiple tracks and banks, and extras like probability, track length (for polyrhythms), live and step modes, and more. You can sync it with MIDI, but there’s also an absurd amount of patchability.

And there’s modulation, too (here’s where we get way out of 909 territory) – two LFOs for modulating drums.

Just as promising, the whole thing comes from a collaboration with French DIY drum machine maker e-licktronic, who have made a name for themselves as a kind of cult-following underground drum machine maker for DIYers. The problem with e-licktronic was their projects required way too much assembly for all but the most dedicated soldering iron gurus. This brings some of their expertise to a wider market – niche, to be sure, but at least allowing you some time to, like, finish tracks and not just finish hardware assembly.

Full specs:

12x Accent outputs
1x CV/GATE track
2xLFO with independent or synced to the BPM frequency
Time signature per track
Pattern length per track
Shuffle per track
Probability per step
Retrigger per step
Instant pattern switching
Solo/Mute tracks
Step/Tap record modes
16 Banks of 16 Patterns
Instant pattern switching
Pattern linking
Midi sync in with start/stop
Track mode
Firmware upgrade via MIDI SySex

It also seems this is just the beginning – Erica have a whole drum module system in store: “Toms, Clap, Rimshot, HiHats, Cymbals, sample-based drum module and, to pull all system together – dedicated a drum Mixer with extended headroom and a limiter of unique design”

But you don’t have to wait long to get started. The kick and snare modules ship early March, alongside that sequencer.

Hey, Santa Claus! Yeah, I…. oh, wait, $#(*&, it’s March.

Hey, St. Patrick!

NAMM news: Drum Sequencer

NAMM news: Bass Drum & Snare Drum

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Video of some of the best new gear from NAMM – and no talking

“Hi, we’re here at NAMM 2018, and –” No. Here’s the actual sound of the new Korg, Pittsburgh Modular, and Radikal gear, minus trade show noise or voiceover.

First, the KORG Prologue, the fascinating new polysynth from KORG with open programmable bits. (We’ve got a separate QA and more details from KORG coming soon!)

The Pittsburgh Modular Microvolt 3900 rides the wave of new desktop semi-modulars – standalone instruments that still provide tons of patching options, just without needing a rack of different modules to set up. And it looks like a fine instrument – though you may opt for the Lifeforms SV-1 if you prefer the flexibility of bolting into a Eurorack later. Price: US$629.

What sets this one apart from semi-modular rivals: performance-friendly and intuitive design, and a really flexible patch bay.

And lastly, there’s the Radikal Technologies Delta CEP A. Like the Pittsburgh piece and Arturia, it pitches itself as an entry point to modular – use it on its own, or as the first steps toward building a modular system. What you get is a paraphonic synth voice. There’s onboard MIDI to CV, so it can interface nicely with your computer or existing MIDI gear. You can choose between onboard digital and analog filters. And effects are built in – plus envelope, and LFO.

If all that sounds a little dull, here’s the juicy bit: you get a “swarm oscillator,” with eight tunable oscillators you can use for “chords, clusters or fat detuned multi-oscillator sounds.”

Mmmmm, swarms!

For good measure, here’s Waldorf’s flagship Quantum, which we first saw last year in Frankfurt.

Thanks to Bonedo for the great videos! More are coming, our friends there tell us!

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KORG has a polyphonic Prologue synth – and it’s programmable

This one isn’t a remake or reboot: KORG’s new generation of analog synths is growing, with 8- and 16-voice polyphonic Prologue keyboards.

And whereas the Minilogue and Monologue are all about affordable, new synthesis, the Prologue is something else: it’s really a new analog flagship, something KORG haven’t had in decades.

Case in point: the keyboards, in 49- and 61-key variants, come with the action shared on the KRONOS. You get 8-voice / 49-key, or 16-voice / 61-key – all with discrete analog circuitry.

There’s another departure here, too: an open source multi engine, which will feature an SDK for developers.

But the basic argument for the Prologue is this: maybe you want a different architecture that lets you mix up sounds and voices in interesting ways. So you get the ability to play two timbres at once, layering and splitting, or playing in Poly, Mono, Unison, and Chord modes. (New, indeed, but that also shares some of the kind of musical thinking that made the KORG Mono/Poly great.)

To that, you can add a deeper multi-effects unit – making this more of an all-in-one sound creation workstation than the entry level units. Two effects slots give you Mod and Delay/Reverb.

But I think it’s the openness that could be most interesting. You can actually program your own oscillators and effects or download community-contributed code.

That’s up our alley, of course, so naturally I’ll be finding more about that soon for y’all.

Available this month:

8-voice, 49-key US$1499
16-voice, 61-key US$1999

www.korg.com/products/synthesizers/prologue/

Aw, I still wanted Polylogue, even though that’s not a word. 😉

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Arturia’s new easy, affordable modular cases also mount to MiniBrute 2

The beauty of Eurorack is its modularity. The problem is, that means your first investment has to be a case. Arturia’s RackBrute might be your solution.

It’s portable. It’s not hugely expensive – this is at last a mass market offering. And it seems full of eminently practical features – including, if you want, the ability to attach this to Arturia’s new MiniBrute 2 and 2S.

For those of you just joining us, Arturia have been teasing out three related products over the course of as may days. So on Monday, the news was the MiniBrute 2, a reboot of their signature monosynth with modularity added via a dense patch bay wedged in the upper-right hand corner of the hardware. Day two: maybe you want that same MiniBrute 2 without the keyboard, but with pads and a more extensive sequencer.

In case you didn’t catch some leaked photos or spot some funny looking pixels on either side of the keyboard, now part three turns out to be a set of Eurorack cases. And yes, that mysterious mention of “Arturia Link” is in fact the ability to attach the RackBrute to the MiniBrute 2/2S, so you have a handy complement of modules right above your synth (and can connect cables easily between the rack and the instrument).

This being modular, you get a choice of two sizes. For those of you new to this, both are the width of the MiniBrute 2 – so roughly the width of a 2t-key keyboard – and one is one row, while one is two rows.

To get more specific (hey, I was never the best with, like, quantities and scale):

3U / 88HP / 20 modules – $/EUR 249
6U / 176HP / 32 modules – $/EUR 279

Shipping in March.

Yeah, anyone who’s priced these out probably doesn’t have to read far beyond those costs. Sure, if you’re splurging on some beautiful handcrafted wood, maybe you want to spend more. But if you just need a way to solve where do I put my modules, this is a godsend – and just as Arturia solved the step sequencer problem for loads of musicians with BeatStep, so too it may have just solved the case problem for people curious to dip their toes in modular.

More features:
+12V / -12V / +5V power onboard
(Power supply with 1600mA +12V output, 1600mA -12V output and 900mA +5V output. 5HP width)
Comes with a carry handle – a bit like rollaway luggage
Spacers to protect your gear from collision
Arturia Link gives you lockable attachments of all this range of gear
Anti slip strips
Screw holes for attaching gear – and note they did include rails on there

Arturia Link is this elegantly designed widget that attaches the new MiniBrute and RackBrute hardware in various combinations – and doubles as a stand, and a carry handle.

The onboard power unit has dedicated dual circuitry set up for covering a range of gear.

Speaking of luggage, there’s a soft RackBrute Travel Bag (for scratch / splash / dust protection they say – note this isn’t a hard flight case, though, so I’d be a little nervous about it in an overhead locker on an airplane)

This, a toothbrush, and a deodorant might be all you need.

More info:
https://www.arturia.com/rackbrute-3u/overview

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Arturia’s MiniBrute 2S with step sequencer, not keys, might be your pick

Now we know the whole story: Arturia’s new synths come with a choice of keys or pads+more step sequencing – and there’s are companion RackBrute cases.

So, if you like the ‘Brute synths, now you can choose.

Prefer a keyboard? The MiniBrute 2 (without the letter ‘s’) now has 25 full-sized keys. And it’s got the new patch bay for modular routing, plus a competent step sequencer and arpeggiator.

But prefer pads to a keyboard, or want deeper step sequencing? That’s the MiniBrute 2S.

To either, you can then add two cases for expanding with modular, making the MiniBrute the center of a patchable sound workstation. That’s what “Arturia Link” is – not some proprietary new sync format or something like that, but actually a physical connector attaching the accessories. (It’s a fancy name for some fancy holes, basically!)

Let’s talk about the 2S, because it’s already upstaging the MiniBrute 2 for some people. Little surprise: a lot of people aren’t keyboardists, people who are keyboardists generally already own keyboards, and most importantly, Arturia’s BeatStep line of sequencers were already beloved. Cross-breed that step sequencing goodness with the MiniBrute, and we may have a winner.

The pads on there reduce the overall footprint, and provide velocity and continuous pressure sensitivity.

The step sequencer is three parts – so, since this is a monosynth, that means in addition to making on layer for your melodies, you have two additional layers for automating parameters.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

1. Melody:
Sequence pitch, gate, and velocity – as per usual, and as on the BeatStep Pro – with ratcheting on gates if you so choose.

You can also set per-step glide.

2. Modulation:

There’s both a Mod 1 and Mod 2 tracks for adding layers of … other goodness.

So, Arturia tells CDM, you can use that track to generate envelopes and LFOs. Or you can make another Pitch track. Or a Gate track. Or an unquantized track of control voltages.

And naturally, this also is then patchable from the patch bay … or you can use this as a sequencer for external gear (including if you mount one of their new racks for your own modules).

The 2S combined with RackBrute, for a complete little modular setup.

It’s all very cool, indeed. Of course, you can still put a BeatStep Pro alongside a modular if you don’t care much for the MicroBrute synth. And indeed, I’ve noticed that Arturia piece glowing alongside modulars in many, many techno and experimental live acts lately – nice to see this inexpensive piece of gear next to racks of thousands of Euros/dollars worth of kit.

But this is also a powerful synthesizer meeting a powerful sequencer in one piece of gear, even without adding anything else. And if you do like the ‘Brute sound, then you get the usual edgy metallic timbres and filters, aggressive and wild knobs and modulation, and now the ability to expand your possibilities by patching. Having the sequencer built-in makes sequencing modulation and per-step settings easier, beyond just melodies – and you don’t have to pack an extra sequencer and cable.

So I suspect the MicroBrute 2S is going to find a lot of homes, whether it’s as a gateway to modular as Arturia are pushing, or as an equally strong choice for standing on its own or with other desktop gear.

Keyboardists will no doubt still like the arpeggiator and 101-style step sequencer of the MicroBrute 2, but the 2S stands out for programming patterns. Tough choice for those of us who do both – but Arturia’s done a nice job of focusing on what musicians want this round and gotten our gear year off to a rollicking start.

Pricing is $649 / EURO 649. Also shipping in February.

https://www.arturia.com/minibrute-2-landing

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Moog unveils $599 semi-modular drum percussion: DFAM

First, there was Mother-32. Now, Moog has another affordable patchable desktop (“semi-modular”): Drummer From Another Mother (DFAM), for percussion synthesis.

With a US$599 street, that Moog name, and patchability without being overwhelming (or requiring a Eurorack investment) – all combined with musicians’ insatiable appetite for percussion – I suspect this one will be a hit.

So, what’s the angle? Basically, think 2 oscillators + 1 noise oscillator, 8-step sequencer, analog envelopes, and the signature Moog ladder filter — and then a mess of patch points for combining it.

There’s also a clever way of launching the instrument: starting tomorrow in Los Angeles, the DFAM will take over The Cactus Store on Echo Park Avenue, powering a … biofeedback installation? Hey, we’ve seen cute installations from team Moog before, so why not? Artists like Daedelus, Bernie Krause, John Tejada, Mike Dean & Bana Haffar are all slated to make appearances. So you’ll hear some of the experts take this for a ride – and get to go for a test drive yourself – if you’re in the LA area.

For the rest of us, it sounds something like this:

Full specs:

SOUND ENGINE: Analog

ANALOG SEQUENCER: 8-Steps With Pitch and Velocity Per-Step

SEQUENCER PANEL CONTROLS: Tempo, Run/Stop, Trigger, Advance

SOUND SOURCES: 2 Oscillators With Square and Triangle Waveforms, 1 White Noise Generator, 1 External Audio Input

FREQUENCY CONTROL: +/- 5 Octaves (10 Octave Range)

MIXER: Level controls for Oscillator 1, Oscillator 2 and White Noise/External Audio Input

FILTER: 20Hz-20KHz Switchable Low Pass / High Pass 4-Pole Transistor Ladder Filter

ENVELOPES: VCO EG w/ Voltage Controlled Decay and Bipolar Amount Control, VCF EG w/ Voltage Controlled Decay and Bipolar Amount Control, VCA EG w/ Voltage Controlled Decay and Selectable Fast/Slow Attack Time

PATCHBAY: 24x 3.5mm Jacks

PATCHBAY INPUTS: Trigger, VCA CV, Velocity, VCA Decay, External Audio, VCF Decay, Noise Level, VCO Decay, VCF Mod, VCO 1 CV, 1→2 FM Amount, VCO 2 CV, Tempo, Run/Stop, Advance/Clock.

PATCHBAY OUTPUTS: VCA, VCA EG, VCF EG, VCO EG, VCO 1, VCO 2, Trigger, Velocity, Pitch.

AUDIO OUTPUT: ¼” TS Line / ¼” TRS Headphones (Shared Output Jack)

INCLUDED POWER SUPPLY: 100-240VAC; 50-60Hz, +12VDC 1200mA

POWER CONSUMPTION: 3.0W

EURORACK CURRENT DRAW: 230mA (+12V – from 10-pin header)

EURORACK MOUNTING DIMENSIONS: 60HP (1”/26mm Module Depth)

WEIGHT: 3.5lbs

DIMENSIONS: 12.57”W x 4.21“H (with knobs) x 5.24“D

More:

https://www.moogmusic.com/products/semi-modular/dfam-drummer-another-mother

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Buchla synth legacy secured, with new leadership, returning engineers

There’s renewed interest in his pioneering synthesis techniques. But now the future of Buchla’s hardware brand looks bright, too – under new management.

Don Buchla’s ground-breaking approach to electronic musical instruments has gotten a second lease on life, as a new generation has embraced making sound with modulars – and, for that matter, weird and experimental sounds generally. That’s meant that Don’s place not only in the history of hardware, but alongside the San Francisco Tape Music Center (and composers like Morton Subotnick and Pauline Oliveros) has found a growing audience.

Alongside that, the re-invigorated Buchla brand saw the re-launch of the Music Easel plus the debut of the new 252e Polyphonic Rhythm Generator.

It should have been Buchla’s return to glory. But it was marred by Don Buchla’s failing health, then financial troubles at Buchla Elecronic Musical Instruments, legal battles between Don Buchla and the new owners of the company he had founded, and finally the loss of Don Buchla himself.

There was no doubt Don Buchla’s legacy would live on – but would new Buchla instruments?

As of today, we have a much better picture for Buchla the brand. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (and the original Buchla & Associates) are no more. In its place, meet Buchla U.S.A.

On today’s nicely-binary January 11, Buchla U.S.A. LLC has announced it has purchased the former Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments and all its assets. The new company will be headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the leadership of CEO Eric Fox. Fox is also owner of Foxtone Music, the US distributor for Buchla, Dreadbox, Polyend, and Black Market.

More good news: Buchla U.S.A. will bring back two Buchla protégées, engineer Joel Davel, who worked alongside Don for over twenty years, and Dave Reilly, who the company describes as “hand-picked” by Don to manufacture new hardware.

The legal address is in Minneapolis, but design and manufacturing will remain in the Bay Area. So don’t worry – you aren’t going to have to start referring to “upper midwest synthesis.” (Well, not to describe this, anyway.)

Now, you know CDM is not in the habit of quoting press releases very often, but this one also comes our way from Marc Doty, history guru, synthesist, and friend-of-the-site, who now has a coveted new “@buchla” email address. And in that press release, we get this charming quote from the new CEO:

“With such an amazing legacy I am really excited about telling the story of Don and working closely with Joel and Dave to develop new products in the spirit of Don… and even revisiting/reimagining some of his designs that never actually made it out into the wild!” said Buchla U.S.A. CEO Eric Fox, about this historic purchase. “I hope to involve as many of the artists and people that inspired Don as possible, moving forward. We owe it to him and the generations of new users to give them a sense of what he was all about.”

So got that? New products, plus vintage designs that never saw the light of day.

That sounds good.

After over half a century, it seems the Buchla story isn’t over yet.

www.buchla.com

Buchla fans may still be waiting for Buchlafest, but you get Maestro Morton Subotnick at Moogfest. Photo (CC-BY) Ethan Hein.

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Behringer teases Oberheim, Roland remakes; hints at production delays

Behringer are busy teasing still more analog synth remakes. But messages from the company suggest they may be struggling to produce their Minimoog clone.

Right now, Behringer are shipping the synth that represented their first major foray into the synth business. That would be analog polysynth DeepMind 12 – a 12-voice keyboard loaded up with extras, including built-in Wi-Fi and a bunch of effects from TC ELECTRONIC and KLARK TEKNIK. And it represents a significant acquisition of engineering talent, as Behringer has brought the MIDAS team into the fold.

The DeepMind is unquestionably inexpensive for a polysynth and, from people I know who’ve had it for longer tests, at least reasonably good. If you don’t need 12 voices, you can get a number of great instruments, some of them for less than the DeepMind. And if you’re willing to spend a bit more, Novation, Moog, Dave Smith and others have offerings, as well. But it is fair to say the DeepMind 12 has found a sizable market for itself, at least for now.

Irrespective of the price, the DeepMind seems to face the challenge all synths do at the moment: potential customers are far more familiar with classic instruments of the past. And remakes of a classic Moog, Roland, KORG, Yamaha, or even Oberheim or Sequential instrument seem to earn more immediate attention and recognition than anything new. (Make of that what you will.)

And so it is that Behringer have managed to upstage… themselves.

The DeepMind was itself accompanied by a whirlwind of teasers and spec-by-spec leaks from Behringer across social media and forums, and … then all hell broke loose. There was an unexplained “spy” shot of someone holding an SH-101 (with different lettering) on a day Roland planned a press briefing. There were threads asking users what remakes they wanted to see. There were random photos of gear and prototypes that might or might not represent something they would make. And then there was the weirdest moment of them all – various clones of drum machines and synthesizers suddenly appeared on the official Behringer website, only to be immediately followed by the suggestion that maybe that was all just a dream.

The Behringer synth story over the past twelve months has had as many unexplained appearances as a season of LOST. (Sorry, dated reference. Hey, you know – retro, like synths.)

In the midst of this, there was one synth we know to be real, and we know to be in production – a rack-mount model D based on the original Minimoog circuit design (minus the keyboard, of course). And Behringer got as far as bringing a prototype around for people to test and hear – with reasonably good results.

But while Behringer was busy teasing the Minimoog recreation – and many other synths – Roland went ahead and actually shipped their own compact Minimoog-style instrument, partnering with independent US maker Studio Electronics. Unlike the other Boutique Series from Roland, the SE-02 is analog – should you care about such things. The SE-02 has some extras, too, like a step sequencer, cross modulation, and filter feedback loop, and sound characteristics that come from SE’s Boomstar line.

And you can buy it now.

So what about the Behringer model D? Well, you should be able to buy it soon. I’ve seen preorders at Germany’s Music Store, though haven’t talked to anyone who’s got one in-hand.

Let me turn it over to Uli Behringer, then, who this week wrote:

Please allow me to clarify that the first batch of Model D’s had arrived at our German retailer Music Store right before yearend, which you can easily verify with them.

The next batch will hopefully leave the factory by end of coming week with some units being air-shipped to the US. The production is still relatively slow due to the fact that each unit takes over 30 minutes to warm up followed by a meticulous one-hour calibration and quality assurance procedure.”

Wait… back up. Couple things here.

First, this suggests that in the midst of teasing literally dozens of remakes, Behringer are stumbling on shipping just this first one. The Model D was shown publicly at Superbooth in Berlin in the first half of last year, with preorders taken early in the summer and shipping promised soon. This represents a significant delay – acceptable maybe for a small builder, but less so a massive instrument manufacturer.

Second, the Minimoog authenticity here may have gone a bit far. Recall that there are reasons other than cost that synthesizer engineers largely moved away from pure analog oscillators, opting for digital oscillators or digital-controlled analog oscilllators.

Thirty minutes to warm up? An hour to calibrate?

Some manual tuning is evidently involved in this instrument, just like on the original. And that’s consistent with the specs, which mention an A-440 tuning reference. Note that one feature of the Roland/Studio Electronics SE-02 is temperature-stabilized oscillators with automatic tuning. That plus the extra features on the Studio Electronics piece (and a better stock outlook) make the Roland look like a better compact Minimoog alternative than the Behringer.

Reading through Uli’s convoluted messages, it generally seems Behringer for all this hype are now lowering expectations for their analog clones.

And that should mean reevaluating their impact on the industry. Low price is one thing, but availability matters, too.

Of course, the model D delays are conveniently here buried by Behringer teasing still more instruments – based on the Oberheim OB-X and the Roland VP-330 vocoder / string machine.

But again, availability is an issue. There’s no pricing, and no ship date. There’s no information on the vocoder at all. And the OB-Xa is described as being fairly far off, if in the hands of the same Midas team who did the DeepMind:

Since this is more a labor of love than a commercially viable project, our engineers can’t work full time on this synth and will use some of their free time, hence the project will likely take more than 12 months.

So, here’s the current status:

DeepMind 12: shipping now. ($999 with 49-key keyboard, 12D without $899)
DeepMind 6: shipping now. ($699 with 37-key keyboard, six voices)
Model D: limited quantities, still a preorder. ($299)
Vocoder Plus: unconfirmed; status unknown.
OB-Xa clone: confirmed, 12+ months out, pricing unknown.

(Prices/availability confirmed for US retailers, starting with Sweetwater. Model D appears to be backordered both in Europe and stateside – though you’re welcome to “call and confirm” as Uli suggests.)

Everything else is just vaporware until proven otherwise.

And here’s the weird thing: Behringer have managed to steal the show from themselves and the fact that the full DeepMind range is shipping.

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Behringer go nuts, plan to clone every historic synth, drum machine

The ARP 2600, Octave’s The Cat, the Synthi VCS3, Korg MS-20, the Wasp, the 909, the 808, and more… it seems Behringer are going to make cheap versions of just about everything.

In placeholder product pages on their site, you’ll see a whole bunch of remakes of historic classics, from synths to drum machines, Synthi to Roland. Product images aren’t there yet, but a lot of these will ship as keyboard instruments.

Also, in what could disrupt the boutique-heavy modular market, Eurorack versions appear to be planned for many or all of these.

Products:

Synths and Samplers at Music Tribe

Drum Machines

Pricing and availability aren’t there, either, but the timing now suggests that NAMM is coming – and Behringer seem to be in the habit now of pre-empting rivals by teasing stuff before they announce it. (Whether that’s meant to take the wind out of the sails of rival press events, or spook competitors, or amp up would-be customers, or a combination, tough to know.)

The models:

Synthopia break down the synth side of this, bringing together specs and including some videos of the original models:
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2017/12/13/behringer-teases-arp-2600-wasp-synthi-clones/

But there are drum machines there, too: 808, 909, “999,” an apparent Linn Drum clone (LMX) and Oberheim DMX (OMX here). Synthananatomy.com has a run-down of those:

http://www.synthanatomy.com/2017/12/the-next-bomb-has-burst-behringer-teased-5-new-analog-digital-drum-machines-lmx-omx-rd-999-rd-808-rd-909.html

Some of the product names get slightly scrambled, but others don’t.

Of course, this also means Behringer are now getting into remakes of products whose creators and original brands still exist – KORG, Roland, Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim, and so on. It’s not unexpected – they’ve got access to inexpensive analog filters and oscillators that exactly replicate the originals.

But it does suggest a shakeout is about to happen in the business, especially if these prices are disruptive. Will customers still be willing to pay more for independent makers (let alone other big brands)? Will the availability of cheap remakes make it tough to bring out new designs – or, alternatively, will it effectively mandate coming out with something new to compete?

For now, we’re in the position we so often are with Behringer: speculating, as the brand gets way ahead of everyone else with a teaser, long before the specifics of price and design emerge. And that seems to be part of the design.

But this story may not end here. It’s possible giants like Roland and KORG could find legal reason to go after Behringer, depending on how the products are presented. They might also find other mechanisms in marketing and sales to take action.

You’ll find specs on Behringer’s site. Let us know what you think.

ARP image (CC-BY) Rosa Menkman.

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What you can learn from Belief Defect’s modular-PC live rig

Belief Defect’s dark, grungy, distorted sounds come from hardware modulars in tandem with Reaktor and Maschine. Here’s how the Raster artists make it work.

Belief Defect is a duo from two known techno artists, minus their usual identities, with a full-length out on Raster (the label formerly known as Raster-Noton). It digresses from techno into aggressively crunchy left-field sonic tableau and gothic song constructions. There are some video excerpts from their stunning live debut at Berlin’s Atonal Festival, featuring visuals by OKTAform:

See also: STREAM BELIEF DEFECT’S DECADENT YET DEPRAVED ALBUM AND READ THE STORIES BEHIND THEIR CREEPY SAMPLES

They’ve got analog modulars in the studio and onstage, but a whole lot of the live set’s sounds emanate from computers – and the computer pulls the live show together. That’s no less expressive or performative – on the contrary, the combination with Maschine hardware means easy access to playing percussion live and controlling parameters.

Native Instruments asked me to do an in-depth interview for the new NI Blog, to get to talk about their music. The full interview:

Belief Defect on their Maschine and Reaktor modular rig [blog.native-instruments.com]

They’ve got a diverse setup: modular gear across two studios, Bitwig Studio running some stems (and useful in the studio for interfacing with modulars), a Nord Drum connected via MIDI, and then one laptop running Maschine and Reaktor that ties it all together.

Here are some tips picked up from that interview and reviewing the Reaktor patch at the heart of their album and live rig:

1. Embrace your Dr. Frankenstein.

Patching together something from existing stuff to get what you want can give you a tool that gets used and reused. In this case, Belief Defect used some familiar Reaktor ensemble bits to produce their versatile drum kit and effects combo.

2. Saturator love.

Don’t overlook the simple. A lot of the sound of Belief Defect is clever, economical use of the distinctive sound of delay, reverb, filter, and distortion. The distortion, for instance, is the sound of Reaktor’s built-in Saturator 2 module, which is routed after the filter. I suspect that’s not accidental – by not overcomplicating layers of effects, it frees up the artists to use their ears, focus on their source material, and dial in just the sound they want.

And remember if you’re playing with the excellent Reaktor Blocks, you can always modify a module using these tried-and-true bits and pieces from the Reaktor library.

For more saturation, check out the free download they recommend, which you can drop into your Blocks modular rig, too:

ThatOneKnob Compressor [Reaktor User Library]

3. Check out Molekular for vocals.

Also included with Reaktor 6, Molekular is its own modular multi-effects environment. Belief Defect used it on vocals via the harmonic quantizer. And it’s “free” once you have Reaktor – waiting to be used, or even picked apart.

“Using the harmonic quantizer, and then going crazy and have everything not drift into gibberish was just amazing.”

Maschine clips in the upper left trigger snapshots in Reaktor – simple, effective,

4. Maschine can act as a controller and snapshot recall for Reaktor.

One challenge I suspect for some Reaktor users is, whereas your patching and sound design process is initially all about the mouse and computer, when you play you want to get tangible. Here, Belief Defect have used Reaktor inside Maschine. Then the Maschine pads trigger drum sounds, and the encoders control parameters.

Group A on Maschine houses the Reaktor ensemble. Macro controls are mapped consistently, so that turning the third encoder always has the same result. Then Reaktor snapshots are triggered from clips, so that each track can have presets ready to go.

This is so significant, in fact, that I’ll be looking at this in some future tutorials. (Reaktor also pairs nicely with Ableton Push in the same way; I’ve done that live with Reaktor Blocks rigs. Since what you lose going virtual is hands-on control, this gets it back – and handles that preset recall that analog modulars, cough, don’t exactly do.)

5. Maschine can also act as a bridge to hardware.

On a separate group, Belief Defect control their Nord Drum – this time using MIDI CC messages mapped to encoders. That group is color-coded Nord red (cute).

Belief Defect, the duo, in disguise. (You… might recognize them in the video, if you know them.)

6. Build a committed relationship.

Well, with an instrument, that is. By practicing with that one Reaktor ensemble, they built a coherent sound, tied the album together, and then had room to play – live and in the studio – by really making it an instrument and an extension of themselves. The drum sounds they point out lasted ten years. On the hardware side, there’s a parallel – like talking about taking their Buchla Music Easel out to work on.

Check out the full interview:

Belief Defect on their Maschine and Reaktor modular rig [blog.native-instruments.com]

Whoa.

Follow Belief Defect on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/Belief_Defect

and Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/belief_defect/

Reaktor 6

Reaktor User Library

Photo credits: Giovanni Dominice.

The post What you can learn from Belief Defect’s modular-PC live rig appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.