ROLI has announced the release of a new kit that helps beat-makers of all abilities improve their skills, play with hundreds of mind-blowing sounds, and produce tracks. The Beatmaker Kit is a hardware-software package that takes a track from start to finish. It centers on the high-powered Lightpad Block and Loop Block — two ROLI […]
Akai Professional has announced the immediate availability of its all-new MPK Mini Play portable MIDI controller. Based on the popular MPK Mini MIDI controller, the new MPK Mini Play comes packed with 128 sounds and its own built-in speaker. With 8 backlit MPC drum pads and a 4-way joystick for simple control, players have all […]
Sterling Audio has announced it is shipping its new MX Black Series active studio monitor speakers. The MX Black Series powered monitors are bi-amplified and built for optimal frequency dispersion, delivering clear, articulate sound within a wide “sweet spot.” The new MX Black Series speakers offer outstanding features and performance and sport a matte black […]
Twisted Electrons’ small, fun-looking boards with acid and Nintendo chip sounds are one of the sound toys we’re most eagerly anticipating this year. And now they’re adding some connectivity: clock, USB MIDI, and an editor.
Here’s the story so far: Twisted Electrons have already been making some pretty powerful desktop synths and sequencers. But then they were inspired by Teenage Engineering’s dirt-cheap, impulse-buy tiny boards, the Pocket Operators. (It’s okay to say that; they’re open about the inspiration and it sounds like those crazy kids up in Sweden are more than happy about it.) So, they took the 8-bit acid bass wavetable sounds and step sequencer out of their acid8 synth, and added a new synth inspired by the chip from the classic Nintendo Entertainment System console.
We saw these boards first at Superbooth in Berlin. They look like fun little gadgets, especially if you’re after some chip sounds.
And oh wow does the NES board sound great. Plus, I like that this takes a hands-on approach to sound and step sequencing – nothing against trackers and the program-the-sound approach, but it’s nice to have the same sound set with a different approach:
The “acid” uacid8 instrument is sexy, too – love child of a TB-303’s squelch and the grittier sounds of chip music:
If you were already waiting for them, there was a manufacturing delay as they moved manufacturing into Europe. But now we get extra features:
1. MIDI clock compatibility
2. USB MIDI support
3. VST editor for desktop
Ah-ha! So now, instead of having some fun toys you play around with for an evening that then collect dust, you can be sure you’ll be able to wire these into your existing setup, sync them up, and be productive actually adding them to projects and make some finished songs.
DAW integration looks like so:
The soundtrack for that video game you dreamed of as a kid can now be a reality. Get making and become the chip composer legend you never were.
Or, at least, get ready to do that around October when these ship. We’ll be waiting. That’s €99 for the world that isn’t in the Eurozone, plus a little more with VAT if you’re on the inside of the Fortress Europe walls.
Bose Professional has announced enhancements for the S1 Pro multi-position PA system, an all-in-one PA, floor monitor, practice amplifier and primary music system. The latest addition to the acclaimed Bose portable professional product line is now shipping with a pre-installed rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack and compatibility with the Bose Connect App for streaming Bluetooth audio […]
Porter & Davies has announced the launch of the new BC-X, a super-mini version of the highly sought after BC2 and BC Gigster. This new, pint-sized version comes with simplified professional standard features and a price as streamlined as its size. Four years in the making, the BC-X has the same quality build, identical response […]
CEntrance has announced its is now shipping the MixerFace R4 – Mobile Recording Interface, which is designed for songwriters, podcasters, video bloggers, and others to easily record professional-quality audio anywhere. Debuted at NAMM, the battery-powered 4-channel device turns a smartphone or tablet into a multitrack DAW, making it quick and easy to capture musical ideas, […]
IK Multimedia has announced that its first hardware synthesizer is now available. Designed for everyone interested in rich, true analog sound, the UNO Synth monophonic synthesizer offers a wide sound palette and easy programmability in an ultra-portable, battery-powered format for on-the-go music creation, live performance or studio recording – all at an affordable price. IK […]
Modal Electronics has announced the Skulpt Synthesizer, featuring a four voice 32-oscillator virtual analog synthesizer with monophonic, duophonic and polyphonic modes. Packing a huge range of synthesis power in a highly portable package, Modal SKULPT is ready to help you take your creativity to the next level wherever and whenever you want. Skulpt features 4 […]
Modal Electronics have done ultra high-end boutique, and they’ve done cute, cheap craft synths. But now they’re gunning for a sub-$300 instrument that looks consumer-friendly – and packs some 32 oscillators and more.
If it’s successful, it looks like the first portable power polysynth that has an entry-level price tag – no exposed circuit boards, no cutesy features, no stripped-down sound sources. And it also has some parallels to IK Multimedia’s UNO, introduced at Superbooth Berlin in May. It even has a membrane keyboard like the IK piece. But whereas IK chose to go analog – and thus have just two VCOs – Modal have beefed up the architecture with by opting instead for virtual analog guts.
What you get, then, is a monosynth, paraphonic, or polyphonic instrument. You can route modulation into elaborate combinations. You get FM, PWM, tuning, and ring mod. And it has a built-in sequencer plus arpeggiator, which seems to be fast becoming a standard feature these days – but a lot of extras for each that definitely are anything but standard.
And with all that complexity, of course you’ll also be glad for the included patch storage and recall.
But it’s the pricing – projected under US$300 – that make this so aggressive. You can buy an iPad and load it with a powerful polysynth for that price, but there’s not anything I can think of that does this.
4 voice – 32 oscillator virtual analogue synthesiser
8 oscillators per voice with 2 selectable morphable waveforms
Mixer stage for osc levels along with FM, PWM, tuning and Ring Modulation options
Monophonic, Duophonic and Polyphonic modes available
Multi option Unison / spread to detune the 32 oscillators for a huge sound
8 slot modulation matrix with 8 sources and 37 destinations
3 x envelope generators for Filter, Amplitude and Modulation
2 x audio rate LFOs, one global and one polyphonic
Realtime sequencer that will record up to 128 notes and up to 4 parameters.
Fully featured arpeggiator with division, direction, octave, swing and sustain controls.
Resonant filter that can be morphed from low pass, through band pass, to high pass
Delay and distortion (wavehsaping overdrive, not bitcrushing) effects
Optional MIDI clock sync for LFOs and Delay
128 patch and 64 sequence storage locations
16 key touch MIDI keyboard
MIDI DIN In and Out – Analogue clock sync In and Out connections
Class compliant MIDI provided over USB connection to host computer or tablet
Headphone and line output
Power by USB or 6 x AA batteries
Optional software editor available for MacOS, Windows, IOS and Android
Portable and compact design
The design looks contemporary and stylish, too, if perhaps recalling 80s Frogdesign for Apple. And you might expect some compromises on I/O or something like that, but … there aren’t.
I’ll be curious to see how it’s received – while slick looking, the membrane keyboard and that diagonally oriented control panel may not be for everyone. But it’s hard to argue with the price and all that power underneath.
It certainly means Modal Electronics are game for any market segment. I can’t think of another maker that’s gone quite this quickly from “sell your compact car to buy our high-end synth” to “actually, maybe just fold it together yourself” to “let’s crowd-fund a slick, inexpensive design object.” (Okay, maybe Moog Music counts – but it took them some years to span from theremin kits to rockstar-priced modular reissues.)