I got this a little while ago and so far haven’t had any time to even get it out of the box. However, I may have some time this weekend to give it a go and if I do I plan to see what it’s like against the original Mogees as I backed both.
You may remember the Basslet, it Kickstarted not so long ago raising €599,950! Which is pretty impressive, especially as it is the kind of device that I think really needs to be experienced to be understood. Well I got a brief chance to do just that last week, at the Berlin Pop-Up store in Soho.
And Basslet is fun, I can say that for sure. It’s quite a different experience from any other. Whilst it looks a bit like a watch of course it isn’t, and in some ways that was a bit disconcerting. Having said that, I did find the experience quite unique. Basslet claim that the experience is akin to being by the subwoofer at a gig. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it is a different and in many ways deeper listening experience. In some ways I found in almost off-putting to be able to feel the bass in just my wrist. I did wonder what it would be like to have one on each wrist. Perhaps that would balance the experience?
Anyway, I can safely say that it works, it is an interesting experience, and whilst not for me personally I think, I can see this having appeal to a lot of people.
Well it certainly seems that Poison-202 doesn’t pull punches in any way at all. In this second update to the app we’ve got a massive list of new features as you can see below, plus a lot of fixes too. Not bad for an app that’s only been around for 3 months.
Here’s what’s new:
added Midi Learn feature. To enter it, tap 3 times on any knob or fader control. When done, tap WRITE button to save changes.
added ability to Export / Import user preset sound banks using iTunes File Sharing system (look in Settings page);
added ability to merge user presets banks;
maximum number of user presets is raised to 300;
added “Poison-202” Virtual Midi In Port;
10 new patches added to factory Bank B;
added new Bank C with 17 drum patches;
added background audio idle timer (adjustable from Settings page);
added default midi mapping (can be changed using Midi Learn);
fixed: audio units midi program change event issue;
fixed: issue with midi note off event, appeared when working with Geo Synth;
fixed: preset number related issues in audio units, which could cause crashes under Garage Band;
master volume and patch gain changes are now interpolated (no clicks);
Which is great, and also makes me slightly sad as I’ve leant mine to a friend and won’t see it again or be able to try out any of these lovely new features for more than a month! And the most exciting feature of all is the PO sync mode! How amazing is that going to be! I’m going to have to wait an age to try it out!
Never mind, for all of you who own one (and have it to hand) here’s what’s new:
arpeggio sequencer added.
voltage synth added.
tape loops now automatically crossfaded.
tape effect chop twice as short + also works at tape start/stop position and across loop wrap.
FM radio press green encoder to autotune.
endless sequencer extended to 128 steps.
tremolo LFO updated with extra waveforms.
PO sync mode added.
tempo nudge when running on external tempo.
all new user contributed presets, based on the previous updates throughout the years. thanks for the massive support from the global OP-1 community!
Of course, we all await more details on the forthcoming OP-Z, and perhaps there’ll be news in the not too distant future …
In amongst all the special deals for this weekend Pioneer have released a new app, WeDJ for iPhone arrives and is available for free until November 28. After that, the app will be available at it’s normal price of €0.99.
According to Pioneer it’s easy to start mixing on the intuitive app, which inherits hardware traits including a two-channel user interface with waveforms, jog wheels, play/cue buttons, tempo sliders and crossfader. You can use the Sync button to get your tracks perfectly in time and Auto Gain to automatically set the volume to the right level, leaving you free to use the performance features including Hot Cues, loops, Pad FX and Combo FX to make your mix unique.
There’s even an Automix feature to mix tracks at the touch of a button. And to take your WeDJ performances to the next level, you can connect the new DDJ-WeGO4 controller for tactile control of the app’s features.
Colourful animated user interface for intuitive control
Performance features for endless creativity
“DDJ-WeGO4” and “DDJ-WeGO3” support for tactile control
Flexible layout – Choose the layout you like best, with two options for jog wheel position and displaying waveforms horizontally or vertically.
Automix – Press the Automix button and WeDJ will start mixing in the next track automatically.
Record – Capture your performances within the WeDJ app.
WeDJ for iPhone is free on the app store right now:
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the PocketCHIP that’s fine. CHIP was kickstarted in June of last year, and units started getting to backers a few months ago. One of the builds of CHIP was the PocketCHIP which you can see above with the nice round silver buttons on it. In the picture, the PocketCHIP is running Phase.
New platforms are important, and what signalled to me that PocketCHIP was going to be potentially noteworthy was that it shipped with an app that we all know and love, SunVox, and it runs very well on this device too. Since then there have been quite a few moves to port existing apps to PocketCHIP. In the main these have been older bits of software like MilkyTracker, PicoLoop etc. People are even trying to get Pd running on the PocketCHIP, which could be fun. But, as far as I’m aware, nothing new (I could be wrong there of course).
That is, nothing new until now. Phase is the first new music app for the PocketCHIP as is from one of my favourite developers Erik Sigth who has brought us amazing apps on iOS like nils, frekvens, shapeSynth and strng. Erik has also moved into Android as well, but as far as I know this is the first thing he’s produced for PocketCHIP, and it’s very much up to his normal high standards.
So what is Phase?
Well you can read about it on Erik’s site, but in a nutshell:
“Phase is a phase distortion synthesizer written for the pocket chip. It has two individually tuned oscillators with controls for ring modulation, adsr, 4 – 32 point phase distortion, 8 point pitch adsr and distortion adsr. Further shape the sound with a stereo delay, phaser and chorus. Play the three playmodes: 4 voice polyphonic, monophonic or arpeggio with the pocket chip keyboard or by plugging in a usb midi device. “
It’s probably easier to see it though:
Whilst a device like PocketCHIP is never going to be as polished as an iOS device it does have one big advantage, and this is that it’s open. Being open means that it will hopefully see a lot more experimental apps arrive for it that we wouldn’t see elsewhere.
I hope that more developers start to experiment with PocketCHIP and that we see more high quality apps like Phase arrive that open up the hardware to a different group of musicians. Who knows, I may even have a go myself!
My personal view is that more hardware platforms give us more choice and a wider range of creative possibilities, and that can only be a good thing. PocketCHIP isn’t the only option of course, but given its highly portable nature it feels like a good fit and a useful way to step out of the mainstream app economy to play with something that’s a bit different.
I hope that PocketCHIP has a musical future. I’ll be watching it closely, and I’ll let you know how it unfolds.
I’ve mentioned Trackd before, so if you don’t know what it is then take a look at this post. In short Trackd is a collaborative 8 track studio in your iPhone. There’s a great history behind the people from Trackd.
In 1968, British brothers Norman and Barry Sheffield opened Trident Studios at St. Anne’s Court, Soho. The studio was always at the pinnacle of recording tech and very soon attracted the big-hitting stars of the time. You know, artists like The Beatles, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Queen & Elton John to drop but a few names.
What the original studio stood for and achieved inspired us to do something that matters to music. Trackd was born at SXSW a couple of years ago in a fateful meeting over a taco, and we carry the heart and soul of the original studio with us into today’s musical universe.
Trackd is just over a year old now, and has started to do some really interesting things, for instance their ‘Songs of the Centenary’ project, which you can read about here, and download the stems here. Engaging projects like this can help to bring new ideas together and get people using accessible technologies like Trackd to realise their own artistic vision.
I first found out about Trackd at one of the Music Tech Pitch events that I help to run. Trackd really stood out for me as an app and an idea that could bring musicians together and help people to collaborate and communicate around musical ideas. That view hasn’t changed at all.
So if you don’t know Trackd I’d encourage you to take a look and see what it can do, and who it can help you talk to. The app is free on the app store with IAPs.
I was lucky enough to bump into the guys from Bastl Instruments at Ableton’s Loop Summit. They were running workshops building their Kastle micro modular synth in the space I was using after them. I’ve bumped into these guys once before a few years ago at Musik Messe, but this time I got to spend a bit more time with them, and they’re really cool.
But enough of that for now. What I did do is get a chance to take a longer look at the Kastle synth and have a really long play with it.
The Kastle synth is tiny. I mean really tiny. It’s footprint is the same as 3 AA batteries. You can plug it into headphones and it sounds awesome. The real power of Kastle is its tiny patch cables, like patching any other modular but on a very small scale. It’s tiny patching capability gives it enormous power and verstility, but much more importantly it makes it loads of fun and that’s what’s really attracted me to it.
So let’s find out a bit more about what Kastle is from the Bastl Instruments site:
Kastle is a mini modular synthesizer with headphone output, 2 in/out ports for interfacing other gear and it runs on just 3 AA batteries. It is DIY friendly and ideal for beginners in modular synthesis, but it will add quite some unique functionality to any modular synthesizer systems. It delivers the fun of modular synthesis at cost and fits into your pocket so you can play it everywhere!
It has unique digital lo-fi sound and it can be melodic as well as very noisy and drony, soft or harsh. It is designed to be fun on its own but it is most powerful when combined with other modular gear.
Kastle is an open source DIY project which runs on two Attiny 85 chips that can be reprogrammed with an Arduino (google: “programming Attiny 85 with Arduino”). One chip is dedicated to sound generation while the other handles modulation. Several firmwares for the Attiny chips are available.
The Synth version combines complex oscillator and LFO with stepped waveform generator.
The oscillator section has 3 sound parameters pitch, timbre and waveshape – all under voltage control and with 3 different synthesis modes. It has a main output and a square wave output. Both can be used independently or combined. The 3 synthesis modes are phase distortion, phase modulation (also known as FM) and track & hold modulation. Each mode utilizes two oscillators. The Pitch controls the main oscillator, the Timbre sets the pitch of the modulating oscillator and the waveshape depends on the synthesis mode. The waveshape also controls the pulse width of the square wave output from the main oscillator.
The voltage controllable LFO has a triangle and square output and a reset input. The stepped waveform generator is inspired by the Rungler circuit by Rob Hordijk. It can produce 8 different voltages either in random order or in 8 or 16 step looping patterns depending on how the BIT IN is patched.
Here are the main features of the Kastle:
3 synthesis modes: phase distortion, phase modulation and track & hold modulation
pitch control with offset and CV input with attenuator
timbre control with offset and CV input with attenuator
waveshape control with offset and CV input
voltage controllable LFO with triangle and square outputs and reset input
stepped voltage generator with random, 8 step and loop 16 step mode
2 I/O CV ports are available and can be routed to any patch point
the main output can drive headphones
3x AA battery operation with power switch
possibility of exchanging different LFO and OSC chips
the pattern on the sides changes and every unit is an original
From using the Kastle for a couple of weeks now I can safely say that it fantastic and enormous fun to play with and experiment with. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
As I’m sure you already know I’m a bit of a fan of more ‘unusual’ apps for making music, and from a first look this app certainly looks like that.
I haven’t had a play with this as yet, but here are the details, you can make up your own mind.
Create and explore musical phrases and rhythmic patterns with GridComposer, an experimental musical sequencer. Arrange blocks on the grid to create notes and combine them to short phrases. Experiment with the timings and harmonies to explore variations of your composition. No musical knowledge is needed to start playing.
Contains four build-in, polyphonic synthesizer presets.
Notes are automatically assigned from a global musical scale.
Save and load your compositions.
Ability to adjust the musical scale, key and octave on the fly.
Volume mixer to adjust your tracks.
Advanced options to create custom scales.
Set the tempo and individual trigger speed for each track.
Ability to add delay and reverb effects.
Output midi notes to your audio software via wifi.
GridComposer is universal and costs $1.99 on the app store now: