YouTube

What happens when you make a 100-oscillator synth?

Look Mum No Computer has been at it again – building his own 100-oscillator synth, bestrewn in knobs and lights, just because he can.

Mental:

There are actually two plotlines here, which you might miss in the video, hyperactive as it is.

First, there was the initial trip down into the basement of Ghostix Labors, a one-man circuit bending / sound circuit building shop. It seems his studio is – seriously – “in the dark caves under the old castle” in Schwerin, Germany (near Hamburg). I think “don’t be afraid of the bats” isn’t actually a joke.

So, Ghost Labors had a lot of 555 chips to unload, and then… actually, nothing happened to those chips, not yet.

But an idea was born, and Mr. No Computer returned to build a massive experiment in over-engineering.

It’s not just 100 oscillators, but 100 voices – each oscillator gets its own filter. And in case that’s not enough, there’s a routable LFO. The blinky lights visualizing the behavior of the oscillator, too, in that it’s all one circuit, so it’s both showy and meaningful.

And you get a lot of knobs. And it sounds a lot like things like the Swarmatron, so I suppose we’ve learned that more oscillators really is better.

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Genelec unveils “USA Learning Channel” YouTube Portal

Genelec Learning Channel USAGenelec has announced the Genelec USA Learning Channel, a new YouTube portal which will be updated frequently with new content ranging from production tips and tricks to interviews with industry pros and beyond. Genelec Inc. Territory Managers Paul Stewart and John Whitcore serve as the hosts for this entertaining new information channel. Whitcore states, “Paul […]

These guys reacting to Maschine MK3 is kind of hilarious

Choose your wardrobe carefully before you shoot, or be skewered by YouTube uploaders. But these producers have some points about the new Maschine, too.

YouTube videos are proliferating and – some of them are pretty strange. Maschine MK3 units are barely reaching artists and reviewers, and there’s an embargo on official press reviews until next week. But that isn’t stopping passionate YouTube users from uploading videos that just run webcam commentary over top of the official videos and promo shots from Native Instruments. (Not every product launch prompts this sort of reaction – it’s clear Maschine is a big deal to beat producers, and that NI has stolen some of that thunder from Akai and the MPC, even with recent standalone hardware competition.)

But, wait a minute… live video commentary over top of a video? This seems to set up some Mystery Science Theater 3000 / Beavis and Butthead commentary potential.

Well, UnQuantized Podcast, via Instagram livestream with SoundOracle and Triza, gets that vibe.

Oddly, the most irreverent commentary may also be one of the best informed – SoundOracle programs sounds for Timbaland and Polow Da Don; Triza is a producer for Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Rico Love, and Sean Kingston.

So, sure enough, I think they’re spot on with some of their comments. I don’t agree entirely about some of the criticisms of playability (though I’ve had at least a few minutes hands-on with the new hardware, which they haven’t yet). But they have some great points about layout and functionality, design and usability.

And – wait for it. At 1:37, their first comment is exactly right. Maschine MK3’s high-resolution color displays are in fact the same ones found on Maschine Studio. That’s not a bad thing, as those screens are great, and now you get all of that workflow and those displays condensed onto more portable hardware, with audio. (That said, I think if you’ve got a Studio, you should enjoy it – it’s still great hardware, even if I’d definitely choose the MK3 were I buying now.)

Of course, while I should be focused on the hardware and their production chops I’m… now also cracking up about them picking on the product specialist’s shirt. (Mean, but… funny.)

Given I may have some video appearances soon, I’m going to be careful not to look like a green-suited “lumberjack with the hat to match.” Though… heh, I have a sense of humor. Troll away.

Nice to “meet” these guys, though – skip the punters, going to subscribe to this one.

(What would you want in a video? Let us know in comments.)

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NUGEN Audio updates MasterCheck Pro with FLAC & Opus encoding

NUGEN Audio MasterCheck Pro 1.4NUGEN Audio has launched version 1.4 of its MasterCheck Pro plugin for optimizing your mixes for today’s music delivery services. The update adds FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and Opus encoding to the indispensable, award-winning loudness, dynamics, and codec toolset. The term codec is an acronym for coder/decoder. Music streaming services such as Apple Music® […]

Here are some of our favorite MeeBlip triode synth jams

We say “play” music for a reason – synths are meant to be fun. So here are our favorite live jams from the MeeBlip community, with our triode synth.

And, of course, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, this can give you some inspiration for how to set up a live rig – or give you some idea of what triode sounds like if you don’t know already. We picked just a few of our favorites, but if we missed you, let us know! (audio or video welcome!)

First, Olivier Ozoux has churned out some amazing jam sessions with the triode, from unboxing to studio. (He also disassembled our fully-assembled unit to show the innards.)

The amazing Gustavo Bravetti is always full of virtuosity playing live; here, that distinctive triode sound cuts through a table full of gear. Details:

Again ARTURIA’s Beat Step Pro in charge of randomness (accessory percussions and subtle TB303). Practically all sounds generated on the black boxes, thanks Elektron, and at last but no least MeeBlip’s [triode] as supporting melody synth. Advanced controls from Push and Launch Control using Performer , made with Max by Cycling ’74.

Here’s a triode with the Elektron Octatrack as sequencer, plus a Moog Minitaur and Elektron Analog RYTM. That user also walks through the wavetable sounds packed into the triode for extra sonic variety.

Novation’s Circuit and MeeBlip triode pair for an incredible, low power, low cost, ultra-portable, all-in-one rig. We get not one but two examples of that combo, thanks to Pete Mitchell Music and Ken Shorley. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate:

One nice thing about triode is, that sub oscillator can fatten up and round out the one oscillator of a 303. We teamed up with Roland’s Nick de Friez when the lovely little TB-03 came out to show how these two can work together. Just output the distinctive 303-style sequencer to triode’s MIDI in, and have some fun:

Here’s triode as the heart of a rig with KORG’s volca series (percussion) and Roland’s TB-03 (acid bass) – adding some extra bottom. Thank you, Steven Archer, for your hopeful machines:

Get yours:
http://meeblip.com

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Learn how to make trippy oscilloscope music with this video series

Call it stimulated synesthesia: there’s something really satisfying when your brain sees and hears a connection between image and sound. And add some extra magic when the image is on an oscilloscope. A new video series on YouTube shows you how to make this effect yourself.

Jerobeam Fenderson has begun a series on so-called “oscilloscope music.” The oscilloscope isn’t making the sounds – that’s opposite to how an oscilloscope works, as a signal visualization device. But by designing some nice reactive eye candy for the oscilloscope, then connecting some appropriate, edgy minimal music signal, you get, well – this:

Oooh, my, that’s tasty. Like biting into a big, juicy ripe [vegetarian version] tomato [meat-lovers version] raw steak.

So in the tutorial series, Fenderson clues us in to how he makes all this happen. And this could be an economical thing to play around with, as you’ll often find vintage oscilloscopes around a studio or on sale used.

Don’t miss the description on YouTube – there are tons of resources in there; it’s practically a complete bibliography on the topic in itself.

Part 2:

Plus, accompanying this series is an additional video and Max for Live patch demonstrating aliasing and sample rate, covered today on the CDM Newswire / Gear (our new home for breaking short-form news):
This Max for Live patch demonstrates critical digital audio concepts

More:
http://oscilloscopemusic.com/

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SoundCloud tries to allay fears, but streaming needs a business model

SoundCloud’s CEO published a post saying SoundCloud is here to stay and uploads are safe. But it isn’t just SoundCloud’s business that’s troubled.

Okay, first – the one thing you shouldn’t worry about is music you’ve uploaded to SoundCloud. As I wrote at the end of last week, you should worry if you have media that’s important to you that’s located in any one place without backups, SoundCloud or otherwise. But while there have been plenty of signs SoundCloud’s business is seriously troubled, that doesn’t necessarily translate to any indication you’ll lose access to the service.

SoundCloud co-founder and CEO Alex Ljung was left scrambling in the wake of deep layoffs to assuage user fears. He took to the phones with at least one celebrity user, Chance the Rapper, who reported a “fruitful” call with the exec on Twitter Friday.

Also on Friday, Ljung posted a plea on the company’s blog:

The music you love on SoundCloud isn’t going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn’t going away, because SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.

SoundCloud is here to stay. [SoundCloud blog]

Alex also refers dismissively to “an insane amount of noise” about the company.

But let’s back up. SoundCloud’s CEO can’t just shrug off fear and uncertainty when the company’s own messaging, actions, and even financial filings are largely responsible. Whatever’s going on with SoundCloud’s business, the company has lost control of its image. It’s hard not to view this “noise” as partly SoundCloud’s fault.

Co-founders Alex and Eric are each articulate and passionate advocates of music sharing. But the company has for years failed to articulate its business model. It’s talked about subscription services like SoundCloud Go, without being clear about how it can compete with entrenched competitors, and talked about advertising without being clear about how it will attract advertisers or how those ads will be effectively delivered. It’s been evasive about details of revenue and profit. It’s allowed bad press to accumulate, like allowing lavish office photos to spread just as financial filings were adding to concerns about its future. It has often failed to go on the record with press outlets (not mine, major press), while small rumor blogs flooded the narrative with leaked (and often inaccurate) information.

To see how badly SoundCloud’s media relations are going, look to recent reports by the likes of Forbes or even TechCrunch. That’s TechCrunch, who just last year were so bullish on SoundCloud that they said the company should be worth more than Spotify

Flash-forward to last week, and TechCrunch are reporting leaked accounts from inside the company’s headquarters and
questioning whether the company will survive.

The best SoundCloud could do by way of correction or response in this place was to say that the fourth quarter begins in 80 days, not 50, and that they meant they had money through the end of that quarter (that is, the end of the year) – but that means we’re not any further along than when Ljung initially made that same statement in a financial statement in January. You can watch the messy back and forth here:
SoundCloud Responds to ‘Extensive Inaccuracies’ in Article Claiming It’s Almost Out of Money

[Indeed, TechCrunch has reason to complain here – SoundCloud doesn’t specify what it means by “extensive inaccuracies,” and actually appears to confirm some of the main gist of the article.]

Presumably these layoffs were planned for some time, so why did SoundCloud appear to be improvising its message to the press and its own staff?

And this problem isn’t a new one in summer. Way back in January, the apparent failure of revenue plans to keep pace with growing costs were fueling acquisition predictions. Now we have vague platitudes from the CEO that the company intends to remain independent, without any material on how they will do that. (That is, even after 40% staffing cuts, they’re still not talking about having money after the fourth quarter, unless by “foreseeable future” Ljung only means he can forsee 2017!) Here’s Fortune back at the end of the year; we actually know very little new information since then:
Here’s Why SoundCloud Will Likely Look to Be Acquired Soon [Fortune]

I know SoundCloud can do better, having covered the company since its 2008 founding. I know its founders can do a better job of messaging than this, too, having known them almost as long. Rather than simply imploring its users to help, they need to provide a better picture as soon as possible as to how revenue growth will work versus costs – particularly now, having cut some of the staff who were responsible for making that revenue growth happen.

A Spotify timeline. Photo (CC-BY) Jon Åslund.

Not only SoundCloud

That said, I think SoundCloud are unfairly bearing the brunt of bad press and angry musicians.

Let’s not mince words: right now, the whole model of streaming appears economically broken, and surely all the major players deserve some share of the blame.

Talk about a rock and a hard place – maybe “buried under a pile of rubble” is more apt.

Content creators and owners believe they should get paid for music being streamed. So you’ve got the industry that represents them asking for higher royalty rates.

The problem is where the revenue to pay those royalties is coming from. Listeners don’t appear to want to pay much for subscription fees. That’s at least partly why Spotify and SoundCloud and others aren’t showing profitable results. Even if you don’t buy their arguments (lavish offices and huge headcount being evidence), there’s still a fundamental problem here. If users pay a flat fee for a subscription, then the company loses money the more they listen to the service – because royalty costs accrue. SoundCloud here actually has an edge, in that not all of the music uploaded requires a license – think spoken word and unreleased music. But SoundCloud hasn’t yet proven that they can make this work, either. (We’ll see if those staff cuts or other budget trimming helps.)

Advertising is the one thing that will grow with increased listening, at least in theory – more listening means more revenue for ads. But listeners and even content creators have been resistant to advertising. And selling ads in sufficient volume and with significant value means you need to have a talented staff able to liaise with big agencies and advertisers. Google is the one tech company who seem to have built a significant competency in the ad business, but they claim they’re not making money on ads, either.

And it gets worse. Largely missed in all the coverage of SoundCloud last week (but observed by some CDM readers), it’s really YouTube that dominates streaming. The Washington Post has just painted a bleak picture of the value of those YouTube plays to music.

Why musicians are so angry at the world’s most popular music streaming service

In a pot-calls-kettle-black argument, YouTube weirdly warns of the dangers of consolidation in big players:

“The industry should be really, really careful because they could close their eyes and wake up with their revenue really concentrated in two, three sources,” said Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, referring to Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Prime Music.

Right, so it’s better if it’s concentrated in four, and the fourth is Google? Huh?

The real danger here seems to be a race to the bottom. Apple, Amazon, and Google can all afford to lose money on streaming, turning it into loss-leader business for other revenue streams. SoundCloud, Spotify, and other tech companies can afford to lose money by repeatedly turning to outside investment. (It’s absurd that we’re still calling this “runway” with those companies, as the business is now around a decade old at least. The runway metaphor only works if you take off at some point. A “hole in the ground into which you throw money” metaphor is what we seem to have here.)

I wouldn’t normally compliment the record industry, but to the credit of groups like the RIAA, at least they’re exerting some pressure up. The problem is, even a $7 royalty per 1000 streams may prove negligible to smaller artists and labels – and if the business that pays that royalty can’t survive, it’s a moot point anyway.

So, uh, how’s everyone feeling? Super… happy? No?

Of course, the buzzword that everyone seems to be running to at the moment is the blockchain – offering decentralized content and paying creators more directly. But describing one part of a larger solution isn’t the same as describing the whole solution. Will listeners embrace micropayments for music, or will they find it a hassle? What will make them migrate from services they’re already accustomed to using – and in which they’ve already assembled playlists and preferences? What about the fact that services like Apple’s are already integrated with the listening devices they own? How do you convince listeners to change their mind about what music should cost, when they’ve already grown accustomed to $10 monthly fees – or, very often, no fee whatsoever?

It isn’t all bad news. People are listening to more music. Streaming isn’t a nonexistent business – it’s US$7.7 billion in the United States alone. Someone, somewhere is actually earning money.

Also, because of the cost of PR and building fanbases, and the potential revenue earned from paying live (or selling physical goods), a lot of musicians I’ve talked to really do appreciate the promotional value of online streams. There are plenty of cases where giving away streaming music is viable – because you might then sell people vinyl, for instance.

And, look, while all of this shakes out, musicians and labels continue to pursue a strategy that caters to building relations on all these services. Some of them have great success stories with YouTube, with SoundCloud, with Spotify.

But maybe that’s the point. It seems to be the businesses in between that are non-functioning – or (in the case of futuristic blockchain propositions) just not ready for primetime.

Musicians and labels keep doing the hard work of making the music and fighting to get it heard. Yet investment and attention pours into the middleware between us and listeners – and that middleware really isn’t working terribly well.

At the very least, it seems totally valid to me that people who make music have reason to be frustrated. I think we should continue talking about our own solutions. And I’d like to see the captains of industry – music industry and tech industry alike – take some greater responsibility for what’s gone wrong and how it might go better. Well… one can dream, anyway.

So, uh… vinyl? Cassette tapes? Eight tracks?

Erm… happy Monday?

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A tiny iOS audio+MIDI interface, a huge DIY iOS MIDI controller

Everything about the iPad is about portability. Thinness. Ever-changing interfaces. Functionality hidden behind a pane of glass.

But, hey, now that you’ve slimmed down your computational device, why not go hog wild with tangible controls and a sprawling DIY MIDI controller?

That’s what Jakob Haq, the nearest thing to an iOS music celebrity we’ve got, has done with his rig. He’s got a video showing off a very simple, easy, friendly-to-everyone solution that fits in your pocket — versus a one-of-a-kind custom creation that will fit in your pocket if you’re wearing a camping tent.

Let’s look at each of those.

First, KORG have an exceptionally useful interface called plugKEY MIDI. Via one Lightning connection to your iPhone or iPad, you get audio out (via jack connections), headphone out, MIDI input, and charging (via standard microUSB). My only complaint is, you don’t get MIDI output, so you can’t use this for sequencing – you’ll need a different interface for that. But it’s still one of the handier options out there.

That is, this seems a quick way to get audio out, charging, and MIDI in. For more I/O, you have the iConnectMIDI offerings, or my current go-to solution, IK’s iRIG Pro Duo (which does audio in and out and MIDI in and out).

It’s what Jakob is doing with that MIDI in that’s most interesting, though.

It says something about the post-PC age. The iPad is thin, and barely there, but it does give you visuals. By connecting Jakob’s monster MIDI controller to the input, he can get as much physical control as he would hardware.

The video with the KORG shows a bit about that, but have a look, too, at how he got there:

Heavy stuff. And beautiful – a merging of the computer and GUI interface with more conventional physical controls.

As usual, I can’t wait to see what Jakob cooks up next. More links in his YouTube channel.

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Cableguys are showing some amazing tips for their shaper plugins

Cablesguys are one of the more interesting purveyors of plug-ins out there, and they’ve been showing off some interesting stuff with their lineup.

These things can be a bit hard to describe, just in theory – okay, so you’ve got VolumeShaper and TimeShaper, which shape … volume .. and … time.

But in practice, you begin to see some really compelling possibilities coming out of this approach and user interface.

With VolumeShaper, one recent plug-in, you can take hi-hats out of an existing loop (meaning this is also a must-have plug-in for remixes, for example).

TimeShaper can be used for special effects, like faking vinyl scratch-style effects without using vinyl.

Their YouTube channel, fairly quiet for some time, has been popping with new plug-in tutorials. See here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CableguysOfficial/videos?view=0&sort=dd&shelf_id=1

And you can try some free trials of each of these tools. I remember watching these developers way back with their first MidiShaper years ago. It’s great to see how they’ve evolved.

TimeShaper

VolumeShaper 5

Products

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Mastering The Mix Levels audio metering effect plugin updated to v1.2

Mastering The Mix Levels 1.2Mastering The Mix has released an update to its Levels metering plugin that help you achieve a technically excellent mix. The update