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All you Circuit owners need to check this out

I’ve seen a lot of proprietary controller apps over the years, but since Novation brought out their circuit I can’t say that I’ve noticed very much for it. So I’m sure that circuit owners will be pleased about this app. Here are the details:

MIDISynth Circuit provides full editing of the two synth engines on the Novation Circuit Synthesizer.

Patches can be retrieved and uploaded to the Circuit using the editor and transferred to a computer for archiving. Using this mechanism it is also possible to upload patch sets available from Novation Components.

Full control of the session sections of the synth are provided and presets can be saved and recalled( due to technical limitations, no interaction for Novation Components is available for session settings).

Additional functionality is available in the form of in app purchases for random generation/tweaking of patches, morphing between patches, 4 XY user-definable XY controls and 16 user definable controls.

The 4 XY controls, 16 custom controls and the macro controls are brought together on the performance screen for easy control of your favourite parameters whilst performing.

Please note this app requires a Novation CIrcuit to operate – it goes not generate any sound itself. Please note that due to technical limitations this app requires a USB connection to Circuit in order to operate correctly. Please note this is an independent product and there is no link or affiliation with Novation Music.

MIDISynth Circuit costs $14.99 on the app store:

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Roli releases Blocks Dashboard as a beta

I’ve mentioned Roli’s Blocks product a few times and today they’ve released something new. Now you can connect Blocks to:

  • Apple: Logic Pro.
  • Ableton: Live.
  • Native Instruments: Kontakt, Massive.
  • Steinberg: Cubase.
  • Bitwig: Studio.
  • ROLI: Equator.
  • Spectrasonics: Omnisphere.
  • FXpansion: Strobe2, Synth Squad.
  • SampleModeling: Swam.
  • Cycling ’74: Max MSP (although there are already Max objects for Blocks I believe)

Whilst this isn’t strictly speaking about a mobile product it is a really useful way to use Blocks. You can find out more at Roli’s site.

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Hermutt Lobby bring a new twist on faders with CTRLCap ‘Squeeze your fx’

It’s no surprise to see Hermutt Lobby bring an innovative hardware product to the market. The first time I met some of the team was at Music Tech Fest 2014 where they were part of the hackathon that I was judging. Their entry for that event was amazing to say the least.

Here’s the video description:

“Ever tried to add FX while scratching without breaking your flow? As both hands are already busy to control the fader and the record, it’s pretty much mission impossible…
Unless you own a CTRLCap.

With its cutting edge technology, CtrlCap adds expressive controls at your fingertips!

Pinch it lightly or squeeze it firmly to send expressive midi controls to your FX, stage lights…you name it.

Replace your dead plastic fader Cap with a CTRLCap and get to the next level.

More info at www.ctrl-cap.club

If you check the site above you’ll see that these are currently retailing at €119.00 for a starter kit.

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MIDI Designer Pro developer brings dedicated iPad MIDI controllers for Yamaha Reface DX

Well we always knew that Confusion Studios were pretty cool, but after the amazing work they’ve done with MIDI Designer Pro they’ve done it again with two new stand along controllers for the Yamaha Reface DX.

Here’s all the details you need …

Confusion Studios Announces Dedicated MIDI Controllers for the Yamaha Reface DX for iPad. Two new, standalone iPad editions of the award-winning professional MIDI controller platform bring MIDI control to the Reface DX, both of which will be available for download from the Apple App Store on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

MDDX1 and MDDX2
Both of the new apps are MIDI controllers for the Yamaha Reface DX. Yamaha released the Reface DX – a portable, FM-synthesis-based keyboard – in 2015 to critical acclaim. Each of the new apps is based on a user-created layout for MIDI Designer Pro 2; each has a unique approach to controlling the Reface DX.

The Editor: MDDX1 by Helfried
MDDX1: Voice Editor for Reface DX by Helfried highlights this users-author’s eye for design, a deep attention to detail, and a desire to push the underlying platform – MIDI Designer Pro 2 – to do new things. It allows for control of every parameter on the Reface DX and provides surprising new control vistas. The App extends the reface DX’s interface, providing a much-needed algorithms display, Master Tune, Transpose, Randomize and other new sections.

MDDX1 will run on any iPad with iOS 9.3 or better, and will be available on March 1, 2017 for download for $9.99. The app purchase may be applied towards a bundle purchase including MIDI Designer Pro 2.

Performance Tool: MDDX2 by Ibo Kai
MDDX2: Performance Tool for Reface DX by Ibo Kai is an additional, performance- focused interface for the Reface DX. As the author of the layout puts it, “This layout is pretty simple, just one page shows all the available functions. It is mainly what you find in the ‘FM’ keypad of the synth: frequencies, levels and feedback settings separately per operator plus the algorithm select.” In addition, Ibo Kai added an Amp Mode section. This auxiliary controller for the Reface DX is intended for live and studio performance, where a full-blown editor is not practical.

MDDX2 will run on any iPad with iOS 9.3 or better, and will be available on March 1, 2017 for download for $3.99. The app purchase may be applied towards a bundle purchase including MIDI Designer Pro 2.

MIDI Designer Author and Confusion Studios CEO Dan Rosenstark notes, “Both editors show the layout authors – Helfried and Ibo Kai – flexing design muscle and pushing the MIDI Designer platform to work in new ways. Each is a dedicated tool for working with the Reface DX and each provides a surprising and useful new interface for this small keyboard. Additionally, both provide new users with an entry point into the MIDI Designer platform at a low price.”

MDDX1 and MDDX2 join the four existing standalone MIDI Designer apps for dedicated control: MIDI Designer XW: Casio XW Solo Synth Controller, MD77: Voice Editor for Yamaha SY77/TG77 by Ibo Kai, MDClav: Clavinova Controller by Craig Knudsen and MDXG: XG Sound Set Controller by Craig Knudsen.

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Parat+ is a new controller app that seems very fully featured

If you’re looking for a new controller you might want to take a look at Parat+. I can’t say that I’ve tried it myself but it looks and says that it’s pretty impressive.

Here’s the app’s description:

Parat+ is an Open Sound Control (OSC) and MIDI controller app allowing intuitive and sophisticated control of networked sound and visual computer software and hardware devices. Parat+ has powerful gestural touch screen controls and multitouch gestures available in the most efficient and intuitive ways possible. Developed by practitioners for practitioners, Parat+ is a tool for the musician, artist and technician using technology to advance their art.

Much more than a virtual ‘fader box’, it allows you to record, remap and set controls instantly and intuitively. Swipe and multitouch gestures record, loop and remap the interval of each fader and responsivity curve. Rescale, enlarge, pause and interrupt to modify your controls in realtime. Control sound levels, effects parameters, synthesis, lights and more via OSC and MIDI simultaneously.

Parat+ combines powerful software and hardware parameter control with data automation and manipulation. It is fully compatible with OSC enabled software such as:

  • Max
  • PD
  • Processing
  • Digital Performer
  • Reaper
  • Reaktor
  • Ardour and more.

All other software and hardware including DMX for lighting rigs can be controlled via MIDI.

The fader-style controller modules at the core of Parat+ can control parameters and functions of any MIDI and/or OSC enabled software and hardware. Multiple OSC targets can be defined to optimise user flexibility.

The Faders offer unparalleled realtime control via the multitouch three point control feature which allows the user to remap the interval and responsivity curve of each fader in realtime.

The touch gesture features include:

  • One finger gestures to control the fader value.
  • Two finger gestures to adjust the fader’s minimum and maximum values.
  • Three finger gestures to adjust the minimum, maximum and responsivity curve.

Use absolute touch mode to have the Fader value jump to whichever finger position is applied and relative touch mode to avoid any sudden jumps due to changes in finger position, allowing for seamless transitions in volume etc..

Each Fader can also be remotely controlled and automated by the Gesture Recorder, internal LFO generators, audio analysis and sensors, external OSC sources and MIDI controllers.

Use Parat+ as a central control hub for any performance and production setup, and shape OSC data streams sent to Parat+ to control your software and hardware parameters. Incoming OSC data (e.g. data from sensors, analysis modules and generative algorithms) can be modified and modulated using the the scaling and modulation features of Parat+ Sources and Faders.

Gesture recording and playback allows looped and one-shot automations of unlimited length.

The simplicity and coherence of the tools enable any novice to venture into custom built controls, while the accustomed performance system developer will appreciate the time saved for complex setups.

The philosophy behind Parat+ is to extend and assist your practice without imposing an approach. The app has been designed with the knowledge that creative work requires tools that can grow with their users, allowing individual and intuitive creative application while maintaining flexibility and diversity. Artists who are familiar with programming will appreciate the intuitive approach to data handling and parameter mapping. Users who lack experience with sophisticated technology will find themselves empowered to embrace cutting-edge interactive technology in the most intuitive and approachable manner. By keeping technical concerns to a minimum, the user is free to make artistic and aesthetic choices guided by their own creativity, avoiding the constraints of conventional software and controllers.

Parat+ is on the app store and costs $16.99

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A first impression … ROTOR’s tangible controllers

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Reactable have a long history in creating innovative musical instruments, starting out with their original Reactable, moving to Reactable Mobile, and now with ROTOR and their accompanying controllers.

Of course tangible controllers for an iPad aren’t actually a new thing. In fact, two years ago Tuna DJ brought out their control knobs (you can see them here in this post). Enough of those for the moment.

When Reactable brought out their first mobile app it was a very different beast to the other modular apps around at the time. When they recently followed up with their new ROTOR app it was another big step, but not just a software step, one that they aimed to  provide users with an experience that is somewhere in between using the full hardware version of the reactable and an iPad app.

So the real question is, have they succeeded?

I’d say yes. In many ways. However, I’d also say that this is not a perfect solution, and if that’s what you’re seeking then you’re almost certainly looking in the wrong place. Before deciding whether the ROTOR tangible controllers are for you or not it’s worth understanding what to compare them against. A brand new Reactable will currently cost you 5900€ (that’s with an 800€ discount). A set of ROTOR controllers will set you back 39.90€, which is about 0.7% of the cost of a full Reactable. In my mind that’s a pretty good deal.

Personally, whilst I’d love to spend some time playing with a full Reactable, I’m more than satisfied with the new ROTOR controllers. I think that they represent excellent value for money.

Let’s move on to how they work and what you can do with them

I’ll start by saying that I think that the presentation of these is lovely. They come in a nice little round tin and are cushioned in foam. In my view presentation is important, and even though you’ve only paid less than 1% of the cost of a Reactable I still think that the whole experience is important.

When you get the controllers out they’re simple things, which initially made me wonder if they’d work at all. However, placing them on the ROTOR app, they work immediately. They will control any on screen ROTOR object.

One thing that quickly became apparent was that to use these controllers you absolutely need a flat surface to work from. Whilst I’ve not tried using these in a mobile environment (and by that I mean on a bus or a train), I’m fairly sure that they’re not going to perform at their best. Having said that, for indoor, flat surface use, they work better than you might expect.

But they are not perfect. And I think that it would be wrong to think that these little devices could be. They will slip and can change from controlling an object on screen to moving it around. In my view I think that with practice I could limit a lot of that slippage on the screen and end up being quite deft with these, but that would take a little time, and would be time well spent.

A quick try with the old Tuna DJ knobs

As I had mentioned them earlier I thought I’d give these older knobs a try out on the ROTOR app. Sadly they didn’t work at all which reminded me that I’d had trouble getting them to work originally. I can’t remember how much they cost so I can’t compare them to the ROTOR controllers.

My verdict …

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get an experience a little more like the full scale Reactable then the ROTOR controllers are worth it in my view as they cost less than 1% of the full device, and with a little time and practice I think they’ll be really useful.

If you think you’re going to get that full experience for 39€ then that’s a bit unrealistic and you probably shouldn’t bother.

Reactable’s controllers are on sale here, as is the ROTOR app itself: