KORG’s nutekt NTS-1 is a fun, little kit – and open to ‘logue developers

KORG has already shown that opening up oscillators and effects to developers can expand their minilogue and prologue keyboards. But now they’re doing the same for the nutekt NTS-1 – a cute little volca-ish kit for synths and effects. Build it, make wild sounds, and … run future stuff on it, too.

Okay, first – even before you get to any of that, the NTS-1 is stupidly cool. It’s a little DIY kit you can snap together without any soldering. And it’s got a fun analog/digital architecture with oscillators, filter, envelope, arpeggiator, and effects.

Basically, if you imagine having a palm-sized, battery-powered synthesis studio, this is that.

Japan has already had access to the Nutekt brand from KORG, a DIY kit line. (Yeah, the rest of the world gets to be jealous of Japan again.) This is the first – and hopefully not the last – time KORG has opened up that brand name to the international scene.

And the NTS-1 is one we’re all going to want to get our hands on, I’ll bet. It’s full of features:

– 4 fixed oscillators (saw, triangle and square, loosely modeled around their analog counterpart in minilogue/prologue, and VPM, a simplified version of the multi-engine VPM oscillator)
– Multimode analog modeled filter with 2/4 pole modes (LP, BP, HP)
– Analog modeled amp. EG with ADSR (fixed DS), AHR, AR and looping AR
– modulation, delay and reverb effects on par with minilogue xd/prologue (subset of)
– arpeggiator with various modes: up, down, up-down, down-up, converge, diverge, conv-div, div-conv, random, stochastic (volca modular style). Chord selection: octaves, major triad, suspended triad, augmented triad, minor triad, diminished triad (since sensor only allows one note at a time). Pattern length: 1-24
– Also: pitch/Shape LFO, Cutoff sweeps, tremollo
– MIDI IN via 2.5mm adapter, USB-MIDI, SYNC in/out
– Audio input with multiple routing options and trim
– Internal speaker and headphone out

That would be fun enough, and we could stop here. But the NTS-1 is also built on the same developer board for the KORG minilogue and prologue keyboards. That SDK opens up developers’ powers to make their own oscillators, effects, and other ideas for KORG hardware. And it’s a big deal the cute little NTS-1 is now part of that picture, not just the (very nice) larger keyboards. I’d see it this way:

NTS-1 buyers can get access to the same custom effects and synths as if they bought the minilogue or prologue.

minilogue and prologue owners get another toy they can use – all three of them supporting new stuff.

Developers can use this inexpensive kit to start developing, and don’t have to buy a prologue or minilogue. (Hey, we’ve got to earn some cash first so we can go buy the other keyboard! Oh yeah I guess I have also rent and food and things to think about, too.)

And maybe most of all –

Developers have an even bigger market for the stuff they create.

This is still a prototype, so we’ll have to wait, and no definite details on pricing and availability.

Waiting.

Yep, still waiting.

Wow, I really want this thing, actually. Hope this wait isn’t long.

I’m in touch with KORG and the analog team’s extraordinary Etienne about the project, so stay tuned. For an understanding of the dev board itself (back when it was much less fun – just a board and no case or fun features):

KORG are about to unveil their DIY Prologue boards for synth hacking

Videos:

Sounds and stuff –

Interviews and demos –

And if you wondered what the Japanese kits are like – here you go:

Oh, and I’ll also say – the dev platform is working. Sinevibes‘ Artemiy Pavlov was on-hand to show off the amazing stuff he’s doing with oscillators for the KORG ‘logues. They sound the business, covering a rich range of wavetable and modeling goodness – and quickly made me want a ‘logue, which of course is the whole point. But he seems happy with this as a business, which demonstrates that we really are entering new eras of collaboration and creativity in hardware instruments. And that’s great. Artemiy, since I had almost zero time this month, I better come just hang out in Ukraine for extended nerd time minus distractions.

Artemiy is happily making sounds as colorful as that jacket. Check sinevibes.com.

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Karplus-Strong – Saitensimulation für die Korg Synthesizer Prologue und Minilogue XD

Korg Pluck xdKorg Pluck xd

Der digitale Oszillator im Prologue und Minilogue Xd und vielleicht eines Tages auch in einem Volca digital (?) – kann frei programmiert werden und es gibt News – der Pluck-Algorithmus ist fertig.

Wie schon Mutable-Algorithmen und andere wandert nun der berühmte Karplus-Strong Effekt bzw. die Synthese in den Korg. Intern können bekanntlich 16 Plätze eingeladen werden, dh. aktuell kann alles eingeladen werden, was es bisher kostenlos gibt. Noch ist nämlich niemand auf die Idee gekommen, dies gegen Geld anzubieten. Hier allerdings schon, der Kauf reißt ein Riesenloch von $5 in des Nutzers Portokasse, denn diese werden von normalen Entwicklern gemacht und nicht von Korg selbst. Es kann jeder das SDK (Entwicklerkit) laden und selbst etwas bauen. Das ist für alle, die coden können recht easy. Damit möchte Korg alle einladen, mehr zu bauen und wie man das anbietet ist Korg „egal“, beziehungsweise schreiben sie nicht vor.

Kevin Karplus und Alexander Strong

Die Saitensimulation ist in dem Falle per Delay und Feedback realisiert und kann durch Anpassung dann auch korrekt über die Tastatur gespielt werden. Natürlich kann das mit dem analogen Teil, also den normalen beiden VCOs zusammen genutzt werden und ist einfach zu bedienen.

Außerdem gibt es ein paar Presets, die man nutzen kann aber nicht muss. Die Strings klingen dementsprechend zwischen asiatischen Seiteninstrumenten, mal nach Gitarre und können bis in die Unkenntlichkeit analog verfiltert werden.

Weitere Information

Im Shop von Tim Showbridge kann man sich den Pluck-Oszillator einfach klicken.

Video

Sehr umfangreiche Demo des Pluck Algorithmus‘

Turbocharge KORG’s Prologue synth with Sinevibes

Synth hot-rodding? Earlier this year, KORG introduced the notion of their synth as extensible platform, by adding an SDK for their Prologue polysynth. The only question was, what would developers do with it – and now we get one answer.

Sinevibes, the small shop of Ukrainian developer Artemiy Pavlov, has been known for clever, elegant Mac plug-ins (even if there’s a lot more). But Artemiy has decided to embrace hardware as one of the first developers for KORG’s Prologue synth. And the results are unique and lovely, letting you transform the oscillators on KORG’s instrument with new spectrally satisfying waveshaping oscillators.

Basically, it’s a plug-in for your hardware.

Here’s what you get:

Juicy, edgy wavetables are the order of the day. Specs from Sinevibes:

  • Two sine oscillators with variable balance, frequency ratio and beating frequency.
  • Five different waveshaping algorithms with continuously variable curve complexity.
  • Built-in lag filters for noise-free, ultra-smooth parameter adjustment and modulation.
  • Built-in envelope generator with widely adjustable attack and decay times (1 ms to 10 s).

Check it out, or buy it for just US$29, with full manual and example patches:

http://www.sinevibes.com/korgturbo/

It’s interesting – we live in a music tech industry that benefits from small scale and diversity. Now, this model is well known in Apple’s App Store, but sure enough that hasn’t necessarily been a no-brainer for independent music developers. So, instead, we see creative music engineers developing for Eurorack (which frees them of the burden of making complete enclosures and power supplies, and lets them interoperate with an ecology of a bunch of manufacturers). Or we see them continuing to see plug-in development as paying for their time – especially with new opportunities like those afforded by software modular environments. And now KORG are in the game with hardware plug-ins.

What’s changed in part is the expectation of reducing development overhead but targeting more varied platforms. So you might make a plug-in for a software modular (VCV Rack, Cherry Audio Voltage Modular), and port it as a Rack Extension for Reason, and then ship the same algorithm for use on KORG’s hardware – or some other combination.

It’s encouraging, though, that in a world where consolidation rules, music tech remains weird and fragmented. A company like KORG will ship a lot of synths – but it’s great that they might also support a tiny or one-person developer, by letting their users’ customize their instrument to their liking. And it means you get a Prologue that might be different than someone else’s.

Previously:

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

KORG are about to unveil their DIY Prologue boards for synth hacking

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Free VCV Rack modular platform adds plug-in DAW integration, more

VCV Rack is still in a pre-release, beta cycle – but it’s already up and running with a vision of what an open platform for software modular could look like. With 0.6.0, the software integrates with your DAW and manages third-party modules more easily.

If you’re just joining us, VCV Rack is an open source platform that runs a modular synth on your computer. It’s closely modeled on Eurorack modular, down to the way signal flows and modules bolt into the virtual rack. It’s even got simulations of a lot of popular real Eurorack modules, along with new modules that only run in this software environment. You can even use it to try out those real modules before you buy them, and you can integrate the software modules with outboard physical modular gear, if you choose.

Rack isn’t alone – Reaktor Blocks does something like this (though without the front panel patching), and Softube Modular also emulates a Eurorack and includes simulations of existing hardware. But Rack is unique in its open model. Rack itself is open source software, and you can make free third-party open source modules. But without locking users and modular developers into a proprietary platform, it’s also possible to sell modules. That means that you can both support free and open software, and make sure developers have a chance to pay their bills and get compensated for their work.

And that’s why this release is important.

Right now, hardware modular is a great ecosystem. But if you want to make software modules, your choices are limited. Conventional plug-in architectures like VST, AU, and AAX aren’t suited to these sorts of modular interactions. Modular environments available for development need to be proprietary, or don’t have any clear way for developers to make back money to support their time, or even both those things. (Reason Rack Extensions are one extension, but that covers just one host and workflow.) So this offers a new way forward.

First off, a disclaimer: this is a developer release. Installing and using Rack is still a bit hack-y. If you like building software, if you’ve got some experience testing software or providing beta experience, you may well enjoy that. But if not, think of this more as a preview of stuff to come. (And you may still want to dip your toes in with our guides below.)

Plug-in DAW integration

Rack is a standalone application, and that comes with a lot of benefits. But VCV Bridge offers another way to integrate Rack with your DAW. It’s a VST/AU plug-in with support for macOS and 32/64-bit Windows. For now, you set it up as a send/return, much as you would with a modular in a real studio environment and a mixing desk. Then you can route audio. Coming soon: MIDI, DAW clock transport, and instrument plug-ins.

This is mainly a convenience; as we wrote previously, you can already use inter-app MIDI and audio options (or something terrific like JACK) to connect Rack and other tools. But since users are accustomed to plug-ins and they offer some added benefits with saving and recalling project files in your DAW, it makes sense.

More on this and where it’s going:

https://vcvrack.com/manual/Core.html#Bridge

https://github.com/VCVRack/Bridge

Expanded, easier management of modules

The whole beauty of Rack as a platform is its support for a third-party module ecosystem. And 0.6.0 shows where the developer is headed with this, both for open source and paid plug-ins. The Plugin Manager was already providing a way to manage installing extra modules; now it does a lot more.

  • Plugin Manager now works with open source plugins, too (as well as paid)
  • Browse in a new Module Browser
  • Star your favorites (yes!)

  • Add modules quickly from the keyboard

A new SDK, other enhancements

Now that the Rack API is stable, developers will want to check this out: there’s a new Rack SDK, which lets you compile plugins without having to compile the whole Rack from source. There are a lot of other relevant notes here:

https://github.com/VCVRack/Rack/issues/258#issuecomment-376293898

Also new in this build are a bunch of UI improvements and enhanced Core modules for MIDI and audio support.

0.6.0 changelog [GitHub]

Learn more

Our friends at Synthtopia have been on top of some of the recent module additions. For instance:

VCV Router Sequential Switch Matrix

Here’s an example of how to build a hybrid system, combining a computer running VCV with hardware modular:

And amazingly, VCV Rack is a one-person development shop. Darwin Grosse interviewed creator Andrew Belt for his podcast series, also on Synthtopia:

Open Source Synthesis: Behind The Scenes With VCV Rack Creator Andrew Belt

And lastly, check our our ongoing guide to the software – see the links at the bottom of this story. We’ll keep working on that, and welcome your feedback if you find anything confusing or want to know more, in the interest of having a complete guide ready roughly as VCV Rack hits 1.0. Thanks to Ted Pallas for his work on this series.

A guide to VCV Rack, a software Eurorack modular you can use for free

Step one: How to start using VCV Rack, the free modular software

How to make the free VCV Rack modular work with Ableton Link

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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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Ableton have now made it easy for any developer to work with Push 2

You know Ableton Push 2 will work when it’s plugged into a computer and you’re running Ableton Live. You get bi-directional feedback on the lit pads and on the screen. But Ableton have also quietly made it possible for any developer to make Push 2 work – without even requiring drivers – on any software, on virtually any platform. And a new library is the final piece in making that easy.

Even if you’re not a developer, that’s big news – because it means that you’ll likely see solutions for using Push 2 with more than just Ableton Live. That not only improves Push as an investment, but ensures that it doesn’t collect dust or turn into a paperweight when you’re using other software – now or down the road.

And it could also mean you don’t always need a computer handy. Push 2 uses standards supported on every operating system, so this could mean operation with an iPad or a Raspberry Pi. That’s really what this post-PC thing is all about. The laptop still might be the best bang-for-your-buck equation in the studio, but maybe live you want something in the form of a stompbox, or something that goes on a music stand while you sing or play.

If you are a developer, there are two basic pieces.

First, there’s the Push Interface Description. This bit tells you how to take control of the hardware’s various interactions.

https://github.com/Ableton/push-interface

Now, it was already possible to write to the display, but it was a bit of work. Out this week is a simple C++ code library you can bootstrap, with example code to get you up and running. It’s built in JUCE, the tool of choice for a whole lot of developers, mobile and desktop alike. (Thanks, ROLI!)

https://github.com/Ableton/push2-display-with-juce

Marc Resibois created this example, but credit to Ableton for making this public.

Here’s an example of what you can do, with Marc demonstrating on the Raspberry Pi:

This kind of openness is still very much unusual in the hardware/software industry. (Novation’s open source Launchpad Pro firmware API is another example; it takes a different angle, in that you’re actually rewriting the interactions on the device. I’ll cover that soon.)

But I think this is very much needed. Having hardware/software integration is great. Now it’s time to take the next step and make that interaction more accessible to users. Open ecosystems in music are unique in that they tend to encourage, rather than discourage sales. They increase the value of the gear we buy, and deepen the relationships makers have with users (manufacturers and independent makers alike). And these sorts of APIs also, ironically, force hardware developers to make their own iteration and revision easier.

It’s also a great step in a series of steps forward on openness and interoperability from Ableton. Whereas the company started with relatively closed hardware APIs built around proprietary manufacturer relationships, Ableton Link and the Push API and other initiatives are making it easier for Live and Push users to make these tools their own.

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Steinberg brings VST to Linux, and does other good things

The days of Linux being a barren plug-in desert may at last be over. And if you’re a developer, there are some other nice things happening to VST development on all platforms.

Steinberg has quietly rolled out the 3.6.7 version of their plug-in SDK for Windows, Mac, iOS, and now Linux. Actually, your plug-ins may be using their SDK even if you’re unaware – because many plug-ins that appear as “AU” use a wrapper from VST to Apple’s Audio Unit. (One is included in the SDK.)

For end users, the important things to know are, you may be getting more VST3 plug-ins (with some fancy new features), and you may at last see more native plug-ins available for Linux. That Linux support comes at just the right time, as Bitwig Studio is maturing as a DAW choice on the platform, and new hardware options like the Raspberry Pi are making embedded solutions start to appeal. (I kind of hesitate to utter these words, as I know that desktop Linux is still very, very niche, but – this doesn’t have to mean people installing Ubuntu on laptops. We’ll see where it goes.)

For developers, there’s a bunch of nice stuff here. My favorites:

cmake support

VST3 SDK on GitHub: https://github.com/steinbergmedia/vst3sdk

GPL v3 license is now alongside the proprietary license (necessary for some open projects)

How ’bout them apples? I didn’t expect to be following Steinberg on GitHub.

The open license and Linux support to me suggest that, for instance, finally seeing Pure Data work with plug-ins again could be a possibility. And we’ll see where this goes.

This is one of those that I know is worth putting on CDM, because the handful of people who care about such things and can do something with them are reading along. So let us know.

More:

http://sdk.steinberg.net

Thanks, Spencer Russell!

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Now you can sync up live visuals with Ableton Link

Ableton Link has already proven itself as a way of syncing up Ableton Live, mobile apps (iOS), and various desktop apps (Reason, Traktor, Maschine, and more), in various combinations. Now, we’re seeing support for live visuals and VJing, too. Two major Mac apps have added native Ableton Link support for jamming in recent days: CoGe and VDMX. Each of those is somewhat modular in fashion, too.

Oh, and since the whole point of Ableton Link is adding synchronization over wireless networks or wired networking connections with any number of people jamming, you might use both apps together.

CoGe

Here’s a look at CoGe’s Ableton Link support, which shows both how easy configuration is, and how this can be used musically. In this case, the video clip is stretching to the bar — making CoGe’s video clips roughly analogous to Ableton Live’s audio clips and patterns:

CoGe is 126.48€, covering two computers – so you could sync up two instances of CoGe to separate projectors, for instance, using Link. (And as per usual, you might not necessarily even use Ableton Live at all – it might be multiple visual machines, or Reason, or an app, or whatever.)

http://imimot.com/cogevj/

VDMX

VDMX is perhaps an even bigger deal, just in terms of its significant market share in the VJ world, at least in my experience. This means this whole thing is about to hit prime time in visuals the way it has in music.

VDMX has loads of stuff that is relevant to clock, including LFOs and sequencers. See this screen shot for some of that:

vidvox_ableton

Here are the developer’s thoughts from late last week:

VDMX and Ableton Link integration [Vidvox Blog]

Also, they reflect on the value of open source in this project (the desktop SDK is available on GitHub). They’ve got a complete statement on how open source contributions have helped them make better software:

Open Source At VIDVOX

That could easily be a subject of a separate story on CDM, but open source in visuals have helped make live performance-ready video (Vidvox’s own open Hap), made inter-app visuals a reality (Syphon), and has built a shader format that allows high-performance GPU code to be shared between software.

Now go jam

So that’s two great Mac tools. There’s nothing I can share publicly yet, but I’ve heard other visual software developers tell me they plan to implement Ableton Link, too. That adds to the tool’s momentum as a de facto standard.

Now, getting together visuals and music is easier, as is having jam sessions with multiple visual artists. You can easily tightly clock video clips or generative visuals in these tools to song position in supported music software, too.

I remember attending various music and visual jams in New York years ago; those could easily have benefited from this. It’ll be interesting to see what people do.

Watch CDM for the latest news on other visual software; I expect we’ll have more to share fairly soon.

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Ableton Live export comes to an SDK, plus Triqtraq, Patterning

So, this just happened – Ableton quietly announced an SDK for working with file export. That follows up the company’s wildly popular Ableton Link platform for sync and jamming, which is available both as an open source project and as a mobile and desktop SDK.

Novation’s Blocs Wave uses this export functionality, as mentioned today here on CDM. But it’s got company.

Here is Ableton’s official video explaining what’s happening:

Ben from Patterning and Sebastian from Triqtraq join Martin from Ableton to show this off.

And those apps now have support today:

http://www.olympianoiseco.com/apps/patterning/

http://www.triqtraq.com

Don’t have a license for Ableton Live? Triqtraq has you covered – just as Live Lite has historically been bundled with hardware, now it’s bundled with the app. (The copy is available via the export feature.) You get separate tracks and scenes on export from your Triqtraq sessions.

Here’s their own export demo video:

Patterning also includes Live Lite bundled free. And it smooths out export in general:

• Export audio from “All Patterns” at once.
• Consolidated export window for generating Audio, Ableton Live Sets, or Patterning (.onps) files.

ableton-livesetexport-3

Patterning, Now With Ableton Live Set Export

Developers, you can read up on the SDK. The focus is entirely on iOS. That’s actually not a no-brainer — I’d be interested to see Windows support, as Windows mobile devices are getting better and seem likely to be the next mobile platform (more so than Android). But it’s where the market’s at for the moment, so it still makes sense.

http://ableton.github.io/export/

By the way, if you wonder why this is export and not import, that part is easy to explain. The XML-based file format is something you can look at if you open an existing project, and quite frankly, it’s a jungle. (“Thar be dragons!”) Basically, it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to export something reliably than it is to accurately deconstruct an existing file.

And it makes more sense logically, too. A Live project is reliant on existing instruments and plug-ins and so on to function. In the case of a mobile app, you can guarantee that you’re exporting something to be used elsewhere.

But regardless, this is good news. And it shows a sector of our industry that generally is moving toward cooperation an interoperability.

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