0 comments on “Looking forward to trying out Mogees Play”

Looking forward to trying out Mogees Play

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.

I’ll let you know.

0 comments on “The new OP-1 OS arrives, adds PO Sync mode and much more”

The new OP-1 OS arrives, adds PO Sync mode and much more

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!
    and more…

Of course, we all await more details on the forthcoming OP-Z, and perhaps there’ll be news in the not too distant future …

0 comments on “Are modulars getting smaller, and is it important?”

Are modulars getting smaller, and is it important?

Modulars are hugely popular right now, but, so far, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a really mobile version, and you might ask, why you would you want one. That’s probably a good question, and one that could only really be answered once someone has created a really compelling mobile modular.

For now I’m interested in talking about some of the smaller modulars that are appearing at the moment. Like the AE Modular on Kickstarter right now.

This is a smaller format than Eurorack and is not compatible either, so it’ll be interesting to see if it takes off and gets adopted by other manufacturers. It’s passed its funding goal so it’s going to happen, but where it goes from there will be the real test.

Another similar development is the Erica Synths Pico Modular System, which is Eurorack compatible, but is just nice and small and tidy. This actually looks pretty cool and quite a lot of fun, and also as a nice way to get into modular in a compact format.

Of course there are other ways to get into modular. You could just use one of the many excellent modular apps for iOS, like Audulus, Model 15, Reactable ROTOR, or the excellent zMors Modular for example. If nothing else then these are very good ways to keep a modular synth in your pocket at all times.

But for many the app route isn’t quite enough, and they’d prefer a real modular that can be portable. Well, there is one. When I was at Loop earlier in the month I bumped into Tom Whitwell from Music Thing Modular, and he showed me this.

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And this is battery powered and very portable. He called it a lunchbox modular, and it was very cool.

Is it the shape of things to come? I’m not sure. I think that there’s still a space for a modular that is battery powered and portable but perhaps that doesn’t look like what we have now.

0 comments on “Roli announces BLOCKS and takes a huge step in the world of mobile”

Roli announces BLOCKS and takes a huge step in the world of mobile

What a week it’s been so far. With Arp Odyssei from Korg, PdParty this morning, and now Roli announcing BLOCKS. I knew something big was coming from them, but I had no idea that it was this impressive.

I’ve known Roli for a long time now and even tried one of the early prototypes of their SeaBoard. They’re a lovely bunch of people and I’ve spoken at some of their events in the past. Roli have also support my SoundLab project too, so these guys really do have a passion for music technology, and that shows with BLOCKS.

I have to say that from what I’ve seen so far, BLOCKS looks pretty amazing, and I think that this is just the start of what we can expect from Roli’s BLOCKS. Here’s what they say in about it:

ROLI BLOCKS is a modular music studio that opens up the world of music-making to everyone. Each individual Block offers unique capabilities that let people create music in simple but far-reaching ways. The Blocks connect together to create customisable kits that suit any budget, skill level, and musical style. With a click of magnetic connectors, music-makers can now build their instruments as they go.

Renowned artists including Grimes, Steve Aoki, and RZA are already making music on BLOCKS and creating signature soundpacks for BLOCKS musicians. Grimes — a composer, producer, and global superstar whose sound is redefining pop music — said, “ROLI BLOCKS will democratize music production. It’s so intuitive and versatile. I’m always on the go, and BLOCKS is the most powerful mobile production tool I’ve ever used.”

Three Blocks launch today. The Lightpad Block features a tactile, glowing surface that lets people shape music through presses, glides, and other natural gestures. The Live Block and Loop Block have controls that make it even easier to perform and produce in real time. BLOCKS is powered by NOISE, a free music app for iPhone and iPad that is now available at the App Store. NOISE connects to BLOCKS wirelessly over Bluetooth, becoming the system’s sound engine as well as a standalone app.

Roland Lamb, founder and CEO of ROLI, and inventor of BLOCKS, said, “Many areas of life have been transformed by the digital. Music, though, remains a universal language that everyone understands, but only a few can speak. BLOCKS will change that, and enable people around the world to experience the joy of music-making for the first time.”

The Lightpad Block, Live Block, and Loop Block are exclusively available at ROLI.com, Apple.com, and Apple Stores around the world. With a Lightpad Block retailing at $179 (£169.95) and the Live Block and Loop Block at $79 (£69.95), BLOCKS is extraordinarily affordable as well as powerful.

I think that this is just the start of BLOCKS. I’m looking forward to getting to try the system out very soon hopefully. When I do, I’ll let you know what I find.

0 comments on “Oh dear, now there’s a BlipCase, and I want one!”

Oh dear, now there’s a BlipCase, and I want one!

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a case. I love them. They’re fantastic things and in my mind sort of complete the instrument. Now this looks amazing. Not just a case but a way to transport all those lovely little instrument boxes all in one place.

I’m going to seriously consider this. Go take a look, but be warned, you’ll probably end up wanting one of these.

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0 comments on “MIDI thing, Korg iM1 and the PlugKey”

MIDI thing, Korg iM1 and the PlugKey

As you’ll remember from my post and video the other day we’ve been making good progress with the MIDI thing. I thought I’d share another video. This time I’m using the MIDI thing to control Korg’s iM1 app, which, like the Roland Sound Canvas is a nice multi-timbral app, so I can assign different instruments to different MIDI channels.

Whilst this is a bit more of an ambient piece it still shows that it’s pretty easy to use the MIDI thing to layer a track in real time.

I hope you like it.

0 comments on “ZONT looks like a modular Pocket Operator, but we won’t see it for more than a year”

ZONT looks like a modular Pocket Operator, but we won’t see it for more than a year

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I originally saw this over at Matrixsynth and ever since I’ve been meaning to take a closer look.

My first impression is that I love the idea of it, especially the modular design using interchangeable sound cartridges. I’m sure that I’m not the only person that’s going to appeal to. Bluetooth pairing to a mobile device is also a smart move.

Also the dock with RCA, MIDI, USB-C and 3.5mm jack outputs is a nice touch for using the thing when you’re not on the move. A very smart move indeed.

But Zont is a long way off for now. We won’t see it until late 2017, which is a long time to wait. Also there’s no mention of a price point as yet, which is to be expected, and whilst this might have a similar form factor to a Pocket Operator I’d expect the price to be significantly higher.

So for now you can check the pictures on the ZONT site and the tech specs below

Tech Specs:

  • Universal input interface
  • Stereo speakers
  • AMOLED display
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Wi-Fi cloud sync
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • Interchangable sound cartridges
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • iOS and Android app

As soon as I know more about this device I’ll be sure to share it with you.

0 comments on “MIDI thing, Korg’s PlugKey and Roland’s Sound Canvas”

MIDI thing, Korg’s PlugKey and Roland’s Sound Canvas

It’s been quite a while since I mentioned the MIDI thing device that I’m part of. MIDI thing has been going through tests with a number of people for the last few weeks and we’ve got some very useful feedback on how it works and how people who’ve been testing it feel about it.

So I thought now would be a good time to show a little of what we’ve doing with MIDI thing, and, more importantly, what it actually does.

If you’ve not heard of MIDI thing before and this is all new to you then I’ll give you a little background. If you know all this already then feel to skip over it.

MIDI thing is a hardware project that I’ve been a part of with an old friend who’s done the design work. It came out of a bunch of ideas around open source hardware and software and making neat small mobile music devices which are ideally battery powered. That’s just what MIDI thing is.

There’s the battery now here’s what it does:

  • Midi thing connects between the MIDI-out of a keyboard controller and the midi-in of a sound generator module or an iOS device that can run as a multi-timbral MIDI module.
  • The MIDI thing has just one switch and this is for turning the power on and off. You control the looper by activating a “command” mode. Using command mode the note keys operate the various looper functions instead of producing sound.
  • The “switch” to activate command mode is either a pre-selected note (e.g. unused note at the top or bottom of the keyboard) or control change (cc) knob/button; it is chosen when the unit is switched on.
  • The loop can be 2, 4 or 8 bars long. It can run in 3⁄4 or 4/4 time. There is a tap tempo function or the looper will synchronise automatically to an external MIDI clock and respond to start, continue and stop commands. All midi information (on all 16 channels) can be recorded up to a maximum of 400 MIDI events.
  • Each MIDI channel has a separate A/B recording zone which can be freely switched. Individual channel (and A/B) recordings can be quantised or deleted. A bi-colour led shows tempo and progress through the bars. A metronome (General Midi hi-hat) can be activated as MIDI-out on channel 10.

Hopefully that gives you a reasonable idea of what the thing does. Now we’ll have a look at it working. In this short video the MIDI thing is running multiple channels on Roland’s Sound Canvas app for iOS. The nice thing about the Sound Canvas app is that each sound can be assigned to an individual channel, just like a hardware module really, which wouldn’t be a surprise as the Sound Canvas was of course originally a hardware module.

What I’m doing here is laying down a series of tracks over multiple MIDI channels. Each of the channels has a different instrument assigned in the Sound Canvas.

Swapping between channels is actually very easy. All I do is use a pre-determined control key to change channel on the MIDI thing. I don’t need to fiddle with any controls I’m just using the CZ101. I’m going to do another video soon to show just how that works, so expect that soon.

Hopefully this gives a little idea of what the MIDI thing does, even with my terrible playing. There’ll be more soon.

1 comment on “From tomorrow the Retronyms integrated universe emerges”

From tomorrow the Retronyms integrated universe emerges

You may well be aware that Retronyms are about to announce their next app, Hook, tomorrow. They’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now, and have been posting weekly videos about it, starting with this one:

Which was a nice little intro if a bit lite on the details of the app. They made up for that with their next video:

Which started to show the functionality of the app in a bit more detail, and then progressed to their latest video showing iTunes and Spotify workflow:

All of this gets delivered to us tomorrow along with their hardware product Wej. The 21st will be a big day for the Retronyms, and I’ll be watching.

But as I’ve watched the videos, read the press releases and also played with the app itself something started to dawn on me, and if you’ve already spotted it then please forgive me for being kind of slow on the uptake.

From tomorrow Retronyms will have their own iOS, content, and hardware ecosystem all in place, all integrated and all available. It’s quite impressive in many ways, or at least I think so. Here’s what they will have achieved as of tomorrow:

Content:

It can be easy to forget that Retronyms are responsible for AudioCopy, something that lots of apps use, and that lots of us rely on. But AudioCopy isn’t just a handy utility for moving stuff about, no, it’s a content store too. Whether you use it or not, it’s there and it has a lot of content available from some pretty decent names too.

Tools:

As of tomorrow Retronyms will have Hook on the store, their new mashup / remix tool for iOS. I’ll reserve judgement on that until tomorrow I think. But let’s not forget that they also have Tabletop, their own sort of modular music making environment. Also integrated with AudioCopy.

What remains to be seen is how (or indeed, if) Hook will integrate with Tabletop? I think it might be a missed trick if it didn’t, but let’s see what they do from tomorrow.

Hardware:

Last but not least Retronyms have their Wej hardware. A device which is tightly integrated with Hook and goes on general sale as of tomorrow.

And one (or possibly more) last thing(s) …

Let’s not forget that Retronyms also arrange some pretty cool mobile music meet ups and events and have a few other (possibly slightly unloved) apps in their repertoire, such as Phase84, iMPC Pro, Stryke, and my personal favourite DopplerPad which was original released in 2009! Personally I think DopplerPad would be amazing if it got updated, but I’ve probably said that one time too many.

Tomorrow will be interesting, but I’ll be really keen to see how this whole integrated Retronyms universe develops further. For now, one step at a time.

Hook and Wej tomorrow, good luck Retronyms.

0 comments on “A whole site dedicated to hacking the PO series”

A whole site dedicated to hacking the PO series

If indeed something like that is of interest to you then you need to head over to http://hackingthepo.weebly.com/ where you will find a wealth of information. I’m not sure that I want to hack any of mine just yet, but I’m sure that this is going to happen soon enough.