The Next Big Thing Is A Small Thing: Arturia Microbrute

Arturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth
Microbrute is Arturia’s even smaller followup to the massive sounding Minibrute.
Squeezing the same 100% analog electronics into a more compact body, Microbrute gets rid of a few knobs and faders in favor of a patchable modulation matrix and a new step-sequencer. Read the press release for all the details, then check out sexy pictures and videos:
Arturia’s award-winning MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer rapidly reset the price/performance ratio benchmark when soaring through the subtractive synthesis sound barrier last year to much critical acclaim and subsequent success. Today it is joined by its equally as big- sounding little brother, the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer. Putting all the basic building blocks of an analogue synth classic into an even more compact and bijou package that’s pure hand-ons fun at an affordable price, the MicroBrute is guaranteed to bring big smiles to go with those big sounds!
But the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer is actually anything but basic. For starters, just like its big brother, the OSCILLATOR that beats at its musical heart features SAW, TRIANGLE, and SQUARE waveforms that are all mixable to help shape the resulting sound without the limitations imposed by comparable contemporary and vintage synths alike. Additionally, the new Overtone oscillator generates additional harmonic content, ranging from one octave down to a fifth above the base OSCILLATOR pitch, while the Sub > Fifth control can continuously sweep spectrum. Moreover, Metalizer adds complex harmonics to the TRIANGLE waveform for creating harsh, harmonically-rich sounds, while Ultrasaw adds a lively and bright ensemble effect to the SAWTOOTH waveform — perfect for crafting sounds suited to dance anthems. And let’s not forget the all-important Pulse Width control for creating nasal-thin tones or rich square sounds. Simply speaking, never before has such a small, single-oscillator synth sounded so big!
Of course, filtering helps shape any analogue synth’s sound — be it big or small, and here the MicroBrute does not disappoint. Indeed, its distinctive-sounding Steiner-Parker FILTER plays a big part in helping give the MicroBrute a unique sound — again, just like its big brother. This filter design dates back to the Steiner-Parker Synthacon, an analogue monosynth built by the namesake Salt Lake City-based synth manufacturer between 1975 and 1979. Its HP (high-pass), BP (bandpass), and LP (lowpass) modes make for far more filtering flexibility than that found in synths many times the price! And that’s before factoring Arturia’s acclaimed Brute FactorTM into the equation, adding anything from subtle overdrive to full-blown intermodulation havoc — choose your settings, and let the fun begin!
Speaking of modulation, the easily accessible, front-panel mounted MOD MATRIX is a Volt per Octave-standard patchable system of modulation routing with ENV (envelope) out, LFO (low frequency oscillator) out, Ultrasaw modulator in, PWM (pulse width modulation) in, Metal (Metalizer) in, Overtone/Sub modulator in, Filter cutoff in, and Pitch in — meaning more in-depth, inbuilt sound-sculpting possibilities, as well as allowing Arturia’s own MicroBrute to be easily brought into the interfacing mix, or mixing and matching with third-party modular synth systems for far-out sonic explorations! Dig as deep as you need or dare to go with the MicroBrute!
Similarly, the new eight-Pattern step SEQUENCER is an almost endless source of inspiration and rhythmic creativity — step input notes and rests to create storable sequences that can be played back and switched between on the fly at a variable Rate or synchronised to external MIDI clock. Meanwhile, MIDI, USB, and CV GATE connectivity, of course, combine to ensure that the MicroBrute is ready and willing to talk to the outside electronic musical instrument world wherever it may find itself. It’s even blessed with an external audio Input with Input Level control, so why not use it to process whatever you feel like sticking into its 1/4-inch socket — within reason, of course!
With a space-saving 25-note mini-keyboard and weighing in at only 1.75kg, the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer is truly compact and bijou, but punches well above its weight with a rip-roaring analogue sound spanning woofer-flapping bass, screaming leads, ear-opening effects, wave-folded growls, punchy drum sounds galore, and much in-between and beyond. Pick one up from an authorised Arturia dealer today!
Arturia, Microbrute, Analog SynthArturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth Arturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth

Miselu Kickstarts C.24, A Unique Keyboard for iPad

Miselu, C.24, iPad keyboard

I’ve had my eye on Miselu since their flagship product Neiro, an Android-based, compact keyboard running software from Korg, Retronyms, and Yamaha. While it was certainly interesting, Android devices haven’t really taken off in the music world the same way as their Apple counterparts have. No one can really argue that the iPad rules the mobile music scene. After former Apple hardware designer Jory Bell joined the Miselu team, it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

And so it seems Miselu has discontinued Neiro in favor of the C.24 – an iPad keyboard with some unique twists. First of all, it is an iPad case, attaching magnetically to protect your precious screen. When called upon to produce magical musical masterpieces, C.24 folds out elegantly, showing its pearly white and black piano teeth. The iPad then settles comfortably into the seat of its chariot, connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The two octave keyboard uses anti-polarity magnets to give a semi-weighted feel. MIDI and aftertouch information is transmitted using optical key tracking. What makes the C.24 really exciting is the ribbon controller running along the top of the keys, with LEDs for visual feedback. On the left side are eight buttons for quick octave switching (presumably these can be configured for other functions too). On the right is a continuous controller for pitch bend. Above this lies a gaping hole, which will be filled in the future with any number of imaginable modular expansion modules, such as knobs, faders, XY pads, and who knows what else? Fleshy squeeze boxes?

For more details, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/miselu/c24-the-music-keyboard-for-ipad and give them your damn money!

JACK Audio Connection Kit: FREE iOS Inter-App Audio MIDI & Sync

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

Hot on the heels of Audiobus comes rival iOS inter-app audio solution JACK Audio Connection Kit, for iPhone & iPad.

JACK, created by Crudebyte, is a modular environment where you draw connections that can carry audio and MIDI between compatible apps. This is one benefit over Audiobus, which only delivers audio within a set framework. Another bonus is record/playback synchronization between DAWs and sequencer apps. Audio and MIDI data can also be routed from apps to compatible external devices.

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

JACK is open source (like Audiobus is now), so developers can easily implement the SDK into their app. This is great news, since JACK lacks the 100+ community of apps Audiobus boasts. At this point, only 2 apps support JACK (CMP Grand Piano & MIDI Wrench, both also free and made by Crudebyte). Hopefully that will change soon. With any luck, the competition will drive iOS music to new heights at an even faster rate.

JACK is also available for Windows PC, Linux and Mac. Find out more on jackaudio.org.

Bleep Drum Makes Bleep Better!

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

Remember the Dam [Funk] Drum from Bleep Labs? Probably not, since it was so limited and sold out immediately. Well you’re in luck, my little sickies, because now Dr. Bleep has a new little bleeping machine to cure the common tone lust: The Bleep Drum.

I’ll take two and call you in the morning, Doc.

Be sure to read the prescription from Bleep Labs:

The Bleep Drum is an Arduino based lo-fi rad-fi drum machine designed by Dr. Bleep.

– Four sounds, two with pitch control
– Four selectable sequences
– Record patterns just by playing them
– Tap tempo
– Reverse mode
– Hyper Noise 30XX mode
– Stereo 1/8″ output

Is it available as a fully built device?
It will be starting early April. You can order it now and we’ll ship it as soon as it’s ready.
The kit currently ships in 1-3 days.

Can I add my own sounds?
Yes but you have to mess with the code a bit. We’ll be releasing a tool to convert .wav into text that can be copied into the Bleep Drum code.

Where is MIDI it should have MIDI and CV and GPS.
It can take trigger pulses for the pads and tempo. MIDI is just a hack away. See the hacking guide for more on the expansion port on the left side.

How is this different than the Dam Drum 2.0?
The Dam Drum 2.0 was a limited edition device for Dam Funk that is all sold out. The Bleep Drum is the same hardware but has different sounds as well as HYPERNOISE 30XX mode.

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

Dr. Bleep, Bleep Labs, Bleep Drum, Rad-fi, arduino drum machine

Eventide H9 Harmonizer Packs Tons Of Classic Effects Into One Bluetooth Controlled Stompbox

Eventide, H9 Harmonizer, Bluetooth, guitar pedal

The trend of tech getting ever smaller is unmistakable. From Malekko’s super slim Omicron Series to the newly announced Dunlop Mini Fuzz Face, the guitar world is wisely following suit.

nano guitar

We’d better all start buying nano-machines like yesterday – this nano-guitar is already old news!

Eventide’s pedals have always been beasts – maybe a little TOO feature full and just a tad too big to fit comfortably on your pedal board.

The H9 solves the size problem, while only adding to the sonic mayhem. You see, Eventide has decided to go truly digital, pioneering the iOS-to-guitar pedal phenomenon and offering a true marriage of hardware and software. With its single knob, streamlined, HAL-esque interface, the H9 can run ALL of Eventide’s famous stompbox effects. All of the sound editing controls are still there – just tucked away into software. Connect wirelessly via Bluetooth with an iPod, iPhone or iPad, and you’re not only able to fully control the H9, you’re ready to download MOAR SOUNDZ (available through in-app purchase) to add to the already impressive collection included right out of the box:

THE H9 COMES LOADED WITH A SET OF OUR MOST POPULAR ALGORITHMS TAKEN FROM EVENTIDE’S AWARD-WINNING STOMPBOXES:

From ModFactor:

Liquid Chorus
Organic Chorus
Shimmer Chorus
Classic Chorus
Phase XO Chorus
Bias Tremolo
Opto Tremolo

 

From PitchFactor:
H910
H949
Crystals
Tuner

 

From TimeFactor:
Tape Echo
Vintage Delay

 

From Space:
Shimmer
Hall

 

Plus a new H9 exclusive:
UltraTap Delay™

 

While the H9 is fully controllable via its front panel, a free iOS app, H9 Control, can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad for live editing, creating and managing presets and changing system settings wirelessly via Bluetooth. H9 Control will also be available for your PC or Mac via USB.

The H9 features stereo audio I/O, MIDI I/O, Expression Pedal, and Auxiliary Switch inputs. All of Eventide’s stompbox algorithms and their associated presets are available for in-app purchase.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer will be available in March of 2013 through authorized Eventide stompbox dealers.

Arturia SparkLE Shines

Arturia, SparkLE, drum machine

I’m a sucker for sparkly things, and the Arturia SparkLE is certainly no exception.

SparkLE is a sleek hardware/software hybrid drum-machine that is bound to light up your life (nyuk nyuk) in a few different ways. Spaceship-LIGHTshow aside, this little beatbox is LIGHT, weighing in at only 1 kg (2.2 lbs.). And of course, it will simply deLIGHT you. (End of horrible pun.)

You can build beats using the step sequencer buttons or pound them out in realtime on the pressure sensitive pads. Throw down a groove with the Looper and then introduce variation with the touch sensitive XY pad, which can control 8 filter modes (including the classic Oberheim SEM filter) and 7 different Slicer modes. Engage the TUNE mode and play a synth melody on SparkLE’s 16 keys, or simply add pitch to a percussion sound.

SparkLE, Arturia, hardware software hybrid drum machine

The SparkLE sound engine boasts a wide range of ever expanding sounds, with layering, Virtual Analog, and Physical Modeling for further tweaking. The software component offers a Mix view, effects, automation & editing capabilities, and can be used as a standalone program or AU/VST/VST3/RTAS plug-in (without the hardware connected). Alternately you can map the hardware to control your DAW via MIDI, or use the included templates for Ableton LIve and Reason.

All this functionality is built into a seriously compact (284mm x 171mm x 17 mm) and portable (comes with a travel case) package. SparkLE is a truly versatile tool for a musician on the go!

Arturia’s SparkLE is an obvious competitor to Native Instruments’ Maschine Mikro. In the race to get smaller and smaller, it wins; the Spark drum controller is thinner, takes up less desk space, and the price tag is lower ($299 vs. $399 for Maschine). Although Maschine might fair better with MPC drum pad enthusiasts, I must say I prefer Spark’s keyboard/’TR’ style layout. I’d love to get the two of them in a room for a real sonic shootout sometime.

The Synth You Want: KORG MS-20 Mini [Video]

With all the hooplah going on right now around NAMM, the synth on everyone’s lips seems to be the Korg MS-20 Mini. Who can resist its teeny tiny charms? Not me, that’s for sure.

Since vanishing from shelves, the MS-20 has gone through several new iterations: a plug-in, hardware controlled version, and most recently the iMS-20 iPad app (on a side note, if you can get your hands on the hardware controller, I’ve heard it CAN also be used with iMS-20 via an Apple USB camera-connection kit.)

Korg has now taken the much beloved MS20’s guts and stuffed them into a package that is only 86% of the original size. And with space at such a premium these days, this is a serious boon to the reboot of an already much sought after classic.

Korg, MS20, MS20 mini, Namm,

Even the patch cables have been miniaturized to 1/8″ mini plugs. The only thing Korg neglected to make smaller is the gooey analog sound, which remains true to the original’s sonic girth.

One modern twist is the addition of MIDI IN and USB jacks. You can use these to send MIDI or sequence the MS-20 mini from a computer or external device (such as an iPad running one of the countless alternative touch/sequencing apps out there perhaps?).

And possibly the most important reduction – the price! At $599 the MS-20 Mini won’t shrink your wallet as much as other analog synths out there. Release date is still to be confirmed, but the word on the street is April…

Check out official Korg MS-20 mini promo video and press release below:

Korg MS-20 mini official information

The classic MS-20 –resurrected in mini size!

An analog synthesizer that reproduces the original circuitry from 1978

Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still a coveted instrument to this day, thanks to its thick, robust sound, its powerful, iconic analog filter, and its versatile patching options. Over 300,000 people have enjoyed the distinct MS-20 sounds from the original, from Korg’s MS-20 plug-in synth, and the iMS-20 iPad app.

Today, the sounds of the MS-20 have been reborn as the MS-20 Mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced its circuitry and fitted it into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original that remains unfaded despite the passage of time.

The MS-20 mini will amaze you with its absolutely authentic analog synth sound.

Highlights:

  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analog circuitry:
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size
  • MIDI IN and USB connector
  • Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

A complete replication of the original analog circuitry

The MS-20 mini painstakingly replicates the original MS-20. A development team led by the original engineers themselves worked to recreate the original circuitry, and when it was necessary to substitute a part, these engineers made the decisions based on careful listening, in order to reproduce the original sound faithfully.

In fact, the sound of the MS-20 mini has a somewhat bright and extreme quality to it because its sound is that of an original MS-20 in mint condition at the time it went on sale, before any of the components aged.

2VCO / 2VCF / 2VCA / 2EG / 1LFO structure

The MS-20 mini reproduces the distinctive synthesis of the MS-20; two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with hold and delay. The VCA maintains the basic design of the original, but it’s been modified to produce less noise than the original.

Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion

One of the greatest characteristics of the MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided resonance on both the high-pass and the low-pass. Maximizing the resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate like an oscillator, producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was later used on the monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.

External signal processor (ESP) for processing an external signal

The ESP carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20; it allows you to use the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example you can input an electric guitar and use the MS-20 mini as a guitar synthesizer, or input a mic and use it as a vocal synthesizer.

Extremely flexible patching system

The patching system provided to the right of the panel lets you create complex sounds by plugging-in cables to change the connections between the various units. The possibilities are limited only by the user’s imagination; different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart that’s printed on the panel, even the beginner can start taking advantage of these possibilities right away.

Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size

MS-20’s design concept started by borrowing from the vertical layout found on larger and more expensive modular synths of its time, and then creating a more portable, inexpensive, and easier to use version.

To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original MS-20. In spite of its smaller size, meticulous care has been taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4″ phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is also 86% of the original size.

Replicates every detail of the original

Our effort to remain faithful to the original is not limited to the unit itself. Even the package that contains the unit replicates the original as far as possible. Also included are the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart, explaining how to create sounds. Now you can experience the excitement of the MS20, just like it was during its original release in 1978.

MIDI IN connector and USB connector

The MS-20 mini provides a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. You can even connect the MS20 mini to your computer and play it from a sequencer.

Animoog V2

Moog, Animoog, iPad synth

So the world hasn’t ended…yet 🙂

If only the end of an age, and a new beginning, today also marks another important milestone – the launch of Moog’s Animoog V2 for iPad!

This massive update features accelerometer control, so you can literally wobble and modulate sound by physically tilting your device. They’ve also added note hold and scale lock,  Load/Save MIDI CC maps, Audiocopy/Audiopaste and…wait for it…Audiobus support!

Another major and very cool addition is an integrated 4-track recorder, so you can record from within Animoog itself. You can also import audio from your iTunes library, split, loop, copy, paste, and share individual clips, or mix down your tracks and upload directly to SoundCloud. As a holiday gift from Moog:

“This 4 Track Recorder will be free to existing users until Dec. 31, 2012 at which time it will revert to it’s regular price of $4.99 in the Animoog Store.

Furthermore, between Dec 20th and Dec 31st Animoog for iPad will be available at the promotional price of $14.99 (reg. price $29.99), Animoog for iPhone will be available at the promotional price of $4.99 (reg. price $9.99), and Moog’s first iOS app, Filtatron will be available at the promotional price of $4.99 (reg. price $7.99).”

Check out this video for a glimpse of new features:

Animoog V2: Expanded, Upgraded, Integrated

These are truly exciting times for iOS music, as more and more capabilities have recently appeared allowing totally autonomous mobile music making. Who knows what’s coming down the pipe next hmmm??? Onward towards the future, sailors!

Buy Animoog for iPad 

Buy Animoog for iPhone

Buy Filtatron for iPad

Buy Filtatron for iPhone

Catch This Little Pink Critter! Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass!

Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, pink, wood keys

For a piece of technology to inspire true lust, it should have a combination of sleek stylish design, ease of use, quality build, and, more and more these days, portability. The Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass is a prime example of this. I’ve been enamored of their wooden-keyed products for some time, but this little pink critter really takes the cake (I guess I’m a sucker for bright colors). The Bolsa Bass is a bass synthesizer in a small package, with its own a built-in sequencer, MIDI In/Out, and six sound modes:

  • Circle Ramp
  • Sawtooth Ramp
  • Analog Style
  • Filter Envelope
  • FM Pad
  • Bass Delay

The entire keyboard may be tuned over a 1 octave range by turning the knob second from right. Volume is controlled by the right-most knob. The function of the remaining two left knobs depend on what mode is selected.  The synthesizer modes provide elemental monophonic bass sounds, great for all kinds of musical scenarios.  From classic filter sweeps to simple and pure tones, lush FM, and even a stretchy tuned delay which makes great string like drones.

The built in sequencer lets you quickly create bass lines with the touch of a button.  With MIDI in and out you can synchronize your sequences with other devices. The Bolsa Bass also sends and receives note messages so you can use it as a sound module or simple controller.

Details

  • Wooden Buttons
  • Pink Neon Powder Coated Aluminum Enclosure
  • Power From 9v Battery or Adapter (not included)
  • 1/4″ Line Output Jack
  • High quality 32 Bit Floating Point DSP Synthesis
Some sound samples:

Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, wood keys, Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, wood keys,

If you’re gleefully adding the Bolsa Bass to your holiday wish list, why not check out the rest of their stuff?

Start here with this psychedelic animation of Critter & Guitari explaining the Kaleidoloop, a handheld sampler:

While they do have a child-like quality, rest assured, Critter & Guitari sound toys are good for all ages!

 ***UPDATE***

New Bolsa Bass promo vid, of course it’s cute!

MR-808 Reproduces 808 Sounds With Robots

Often, digital emulations of analog instruments are just horrid. It’s far more interesting when someone attempts to reproduce sounds of digital origin with analog instruments. This is exactly what Moritz Simon Geist pulls off with the MR-808, the first drum robot that recreates the classic sounds of the 808 drum machine in the physical realm.

Electronic music is usually repetitive by nature. Our brains get bored very quickly of hearing the same exact sounds over and over, and tend to tune them out. To create something interesting, composers are thus compelled to introduce variation and randomness, so called “human” qualities, into their music.

By turning what was once just a computer generated sound into a mechanical process, Geist has managed to inject a bit of unpredictability into what has by now become a recognizable artifact of eighties music.  And he does it with style, building it all into a large scale model of the well-known little drum box. The MR-808 uses an Arduino Microcontroller and MIDI to trigger motors and solenoids which hit drums and percussion instruments. MAX/MSP was employed to deal with latency and a lighting control system.

MR-808 – mechanic drum robot Filmography: David Campesino on Vimeo.

Read part of Geist’s Sonic Robots manifesto “Robot Vision”

What would Asimov say? The vision is to have a decent electronic pop-band where no sound is generated inside a computer, but where robots play the structures humans are not able to. We want the haptics, the error and the visual behavior of machines playing the beats and notes! We want a crowded and dirty stage with cables, machinery and lights all over, pulsating like a single heart. Drums are the base of music, with the “MR-808″ we created an awesome drum machine to start with.

I think the key phrase here is “robots play the structures humans are not able to,” for what would be the point other than to relieve humans of the job of keeping the beat? It’s interesting and a little bit scary to think of what the next steps for computers and robotics will be once artificial intelligence is fully realized. There are already computer programs that can analyze music and write new pieces based on learned qualities and patterns. What happens when a computer is so powerful it can analyze all music in existence and spit out something no human would be capable of producing? And what happens if it’s actually good?

Learn more about Sonic Robots at http://sonicrobots.com/mr808-eng/