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Roli’s NOISE update brings the feature I’ve been wanting all along

From day one using Roli’s Blocks and NOISE app I’ve wanted them to add overdubbing to the app. Today they have, and I am really happy about this. They’ve given me an early Christmas present and something I’m going to enjoy trying out over the holidays. I’d really like to start getting more creative with NOISE and using it to make complete pieces. Now I think that’s going to be much easier. Overdubbing is the start. But that’s not all, they’ve added even more in version 3.1 too.

Here’s everything that’s new in the app:

  • Overdubbing (the feature that I’ve been hoping for all along) — You can now build up beats and harmonies by overdubbing over an existing recorded loop. Just hit the record button again to start building up layers on a clip
  • Cue and Record Loop Length — Go to the new settings page in the song view to adjust both the Cue Length (the timing clips can be launched) and the Record length (the global length any new clips will record for)
  • Ableton Link — Also in the new settings page you can enable Link to sync with other apps
  • Ableton Live Export — Now easier to share and export audio loops from your projects, as well as exporting Ableton Live Sets direct from NOISE

Additional fixes and improvements:

  • Fixed bug where recorded clips (most noticeably on Groove Kits) played back incorrectly the first time around
  • iPhone X support
  • Smoothed Tempo Changes and now accurately show tempo
  • Click is now enabled when first recording
  • Reduced memory spikes when loading SWAM sounds
  • Fixed issue with 5D settings not updating correctly
  • Fixed crash when exporting a project with multiple SWAM instruments
  • Fixed bug where Undo button undoes multiple clips
  • Now support brighter Lightpad Block displays introduced in latest firmware (please make sure to update your firmware to make the most of this!)

Roli’s NOISE app is free on the App Store with IAPs for content packs

And, as a festive treat Roli have made a special Christmas content pack!

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Maschine with audio arrives; here’s how to get the most of it

Maschine’s Audio module has arrived, with looping and time stretching. And that makes the perfect time to look at some new ways of playing Maschine.

Maschine has had a year full of growth – new features, new ways of working from the community. As of Friday (well, after some glitches with the update server), that also includes an update that delivers a feature Maschine users have been asking about the longest: pitch-independent time stretching and looping.

The bad news is, this isn’t integrated with Maschine’s existing Sampler module. The good news, perhaps, is that this means the new module is focused on its own set of functionality, and won’t disrupt what’s already there. (I’m going to play around with it a while longer to reach my own conclusions on how I feel about this decision, but it certainly does keep each module cleaner and simpler.)

I’ve seen a lot of people posting the sentiment lately that music making isn’t just about updating to the latest-and-greatest — and I certainly agree with that, that’s fair. But some updates do come from real user needs and remove technological barriers to things you want to do.

On the human side of the equation, of course, you’ve got all the ways people pick up an instrument and make it their own. And the Maschine community this year has been astounding – all the reviewers, users, experts, trainers, and yes even the Maschine team themselves.

So, for starters, here’s a great demonstration of how that Audio Module works:

(Ha, that musical example is a bit wacky, but… you can of course apply this to whatever music or genre you want; I’ve done some really experimental stuff on Maschine that I suspect no one would guess was that tool)

From the same creator (“loopop”), here’s a unique take on how to use Maschine Jam, the clip launching grid + touch fader hardware for Maschine, alongside the traditional Maschine hardware. He takes on Jam as a “virtual conductor,” a mixer for different parts, and even an easy way to strum instruments. It’s a reminder that it’s best to think of Maschine as a live interface, not something specific to a particular genre. And the result is something different than what I’ve seen from other interfaces (like Abletoh Push), demonstrating how many different directions live interfaces for computers can go.

Maschine has also worked well as a hub for other instruments – hardware and software alike. It can be a trigger for snapshots in Reaktor, as we saw in our run-down of Belief Defect. (I’m reprogramming my own Reaktor-based setup, so I’ll do a more complete tutorial soon.)

And you can use snapshots and morphing with hardware, as loopop shows in this video. This was initially a Jam feature, but it has extended to other hardware controller.

(I just played right before Grebenstein Friday night, and he was using a Maschine MK1 alongside the Vermona as his live rig, so more possibilities with this setup. It blew me away; it was really tight.)

This next example is worth another story on itself – I’m a huge fan of Reactable’s recent, overlooked apps for sequencing and drum pattern creation. The latter, SNAP, has integration with Maschine Jam. The upshot: instead of repeating the same old loop over and over and over and now I’m bored, you can work in a fluid, live way to create more human, varying patterns. Watch – the Jam stuff kicks in part of the way through:

Stepping outside of one genre can often help you to better understand techniques and musicality. So here’s DDS with a great series on Maschine from the perspective of a hip-hop producer. (If you make hip hop-influenced music, that’s already relevant – but even if not, listen to the producers of the genre that gave you so much of how we think about this hardware in the first place!)

Finally, worth a read:

BEHIND THE SCENES: V.I.V.E.K ON WORKFLOWS WITH MASCHINE

If you have more tips / tutorials or videos to share, send them in and I’ll update the article here.

And in the interest of fairness, we’ll have a bit more on the Akai side of the equation shortly, too; it’s also been a good year for the rival MPC.

More soon.

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ChordFlow 2.1 brings Melody Tracks and much more

ChordFlow gets a really big update adding a host of new features for users. There’s a lot to show, so here are all the details:

MELODY TRACKS
Each ChordFlow song section can now have up to 4 melody tracks in addition to 4 arpeggio tracks. You can now create complete song ideas with chord progressions, arpeggios, and melodies. The new melodies are edited in the separate (from arpeggio) grid. You can specify scale of the melody grid and configure the length and the rate parameters. The chords that you configured in the chord progression editor will be shown in the melody grid view below the note grid. And also for more convenience, chord notes will be highlighted with grey rounded bars allowing you to see which notes of the melody matches the corresponding chord.

NEW TRACK CONTROL PANEL
There is now a track control panel in the main view, at the bottom, where you can specify destination of each track and mute/solo individual tracks. This settings are now stored individually for each song.

LOOP REGIONS IN ARPEGGIO AND MELODY EDITOR
You can now loop a region when you are in the arpeggio or melody editor. To add a loop region, tap on the timeline bar above the note grid. After that, the loop with the default length of 4 steps will be added. You can then move the loop region around dragging it by its center or you can stretch and squeeze it by dragging it by its ends. To remove the loop region just tap on it again. The loop region is only active while you are in the editor view. When you move back to the main view, the loop is automatically removed.

OTHER CHANGES

  • Remove(Trash) button in arpeggio and melody editors now removes only the selected track. And there is no moro annoying confirm. If you tap remove button accidentally, you can restore the deleted track with the undo button.
  • Line tool and delete tool behaviour changed a little. Before this update, when you started to draw a line or delete a region, you could only extend the already drown region. Now it behaves more expectedly. If you have drawn a line further than you needed you can no move back to make it smaller
  • Arpeggio grid max length increased to from 32 to 64 steps.
  • Color scheme changed. After introducing 4 new colors for melody tracks, I decided to switch to more neutral background colors, as it was not looking very good on the original blue schema.
  • Bug fixes

ChordFlow costs $9.99 on the app store now:

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This free phaser from NI is a must, even if you don’t like phasers

Native Instruments has a free phaser plug-in called Phasis as a holiday special – and, wow, definitely don’t skip this one.

Here’s the deal: as NI do yearly, they’ve got a holiday special going. This year, there’s an e-voucher and a giveaway contest and blah blah — let’s skip to Phasis.

Phasis is a free plug-in (VST, AU, AAX) for Mac and Windows. You’ll need to sign up for the mailing list, then get a serial number to enter into Native Access, NI’s latest all-in-one software for managing licenses and updates. That tool works well, though one note on Windows: look for the phasis.dll file on your hard drive, as I had to manually copy it to the correct VST plug-in folder.

Phasers may call to mind cheesy guitar effects and overused pop sounds, but this one’s different. Here’s how NI describe it:

PHASIS is a brand new phaser. It offers timeless phasing sounds – adding movement, soul, and creative magic to any signal. PHASIS draws inspiration from classic phasers but adds powerful new features for never-heard-before results. The Spread control changes the spacing of the phaser’s notches, for vocal-style effects. Ultra mode pushes modulation to ultra high rates, producing unique FM-esque tones. Download the VST/AU/AAX plug-in for free now!

It’s the combination of the phaser with those notch filters and “ultra” extreme audio rate modulation that produces something genuinely novel. I apply it here to a bland 909 drum loop, and already you get some more radical results:

Holiday Deal or …

Phasis download page

Wow, Windows backwards compatibility has gotten way easier than the Mac… Mac users will need 10.11 or later (10.13 if you use Cubase); Windows runs back to Windows 7. Well, once we find the darned VST plug-in folder. I’ll put it on both my machines. I only wish we’d gotten a Reaktor ensemble here so we could play around with the innards.

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Elastic FX lets you route and morph 32 effects on iOS, for $7

It looks a bit like what would happen if an iPad, a KAOSS Pad, and a plug-in folder had a love child. It’s the new iOS app from the makers of Elastic Drums.

Elastic Drums already had won fans as the indie-developed drum synth / production app released by Mouse on Mars. And inside Elastic Drums, you had a powerful range of effects. So, at some point, lead developer Oliver Greschke had the idea of taking all those effects, and making a standalone multi-effects processor for the iPad.

The result you get, though, is a fully spec’ed-out sound processing powerhouse for iOS: Elastic FX. If you were already using Elastic Drums, you’ll like these effects, too – but now they’ve been reworked, and provide stereo processing (not just mono). You’ll find new effects, too, plus all-new routing options and feedback.

And if you haven’t used Elastic Drums before, Elastic FX promises straight out of the gate to be one of the leading options for processing effects on the iPad.

There are 32 available effects, including modulation, pitch, distortion, filter, delay, reverb, and more.

From those 32 effects, you can assign to one of four effect units.

It’s that four-effect unit that opens up more possibilities. Choose how to route between effects, add feedback, then adjust parameters all at once via X/Y pad (KAOSS-style). That X/Y pad also has phrase recording and automation, of 1-8 bars in length.

There’s additionally a master effects section (which adds 3-band EQ, compressor, and stutter).

From there, you’ve got a load of options to integrate this with your mobile studio:

  • Audiobus 3, Inter-App Audio for working with other apps’ audio (in/out)
  • A built-in audio player so you can quickly audition effects
  • Ableton Link support for jamming and sync, plus time-synced phrase playback and tempo-synced effects (like the delay)
  • Save, load, share user presets
  • MIDI, MIDI learn for parameter control
  • MIDI program change for changing presets

Intro price, iPad only: 7.99€ / US$6.99

mominstruments.com/efx/

Demo videos:

And check out this synced-up automation:

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Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better

The tiny, 80 Euro, 8-bit Kastle synth from Bastl just got better. A 1.5 revision updates the case, sound, and features.

First off, in addition to batteries, you can now run on micro USB power.

The case is updated, too. It’s fiberglass instead of acrylic for added durability, and has a slick black matte finish, plus better patch points.

And then there’s sound. Bastl Instruments say they’ve done a total rework on the sound engine, improving smoothness, ranges, and anti-aliasing performance.

Two sound engines running in parallel deliver three new modes: formant synthesis, noise mode, and tonal mode. Plus there are the existing phase modulation, phase distortion, and track & hold modulation, each with new improvements.

Formants: Inspired by the 1865 Helmholz synthesizer, you get combinations of harmonics / vowel sounds.

Noise: This glitchy mode comes from granular playback of a piece of code that’s run from the sound chip – basically an edgy ultra-digital glitched-out wavetable/granular source.

Demo here:

More:

www.bastl-instruments.com/instruments/kastle/kastle-v1-5/

I’ll be in Brno, CZ Friday and Saturday this week and catching up with team Bastl, if you’ve got questions for them.

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Behringer’s so-called “website glitch” trades credibility for buzz

The day after Behringer posted a lineup of remakes of classic analog synth and drum machines, the company is calling it an error – and making no promises.

One one level, you can’t blame Behringer. You surely don’t need press conferences at pricey trade shows if you can mess around with buzz spread on forums and social media. And I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t devise some way of using that to their advantage – perhaps more honestly than here.

But you can blame Behringer for dissembling in communication, for setting out to harm competitors, and for mucking about with the trust of customers. All three of those things appear to have happened here.

In short: Behringer are again earning buzz, at the expense of the already questionable credibility of the brand.

Let’s review:

Yesterday, Behringer for the better part of the evening German time published complete product specs for drum machines and synthesizers, across multiple categories on their public website. That included references to a wide array of products from the KORG MS-20 to the Roland 808 and 909 to ARP 2600 and various other historical models.

Then, at 4 am German time, the company published the follow apology/correction or … whatever this is … to their Facebook page:

Dear Friends,
It was brought to our attention that early this morning a rather unfortunate error occurred on the Behringer product page. This error mistakenly posted information for a number of different product design concepts from our product management repository which is contained and part of an automated backend system for our websites. The cause of the error was due to a website glitch and was completely unintentional. The moment we realized the error, we removed the content.
As we are owning the mistake, we also feel it’s necessary to inform the public about this error as a sign of good faith. It was not our intention to mislead customers in any way nor use this as a marketing tool. To be perfectly transparent, the leaked information does not imply any availability at this time or even definitive evidence that we intend to officially develop or deliver these products in the future. At this stage, the leaked products are merely concepts and nothing more.
To be honest we are embarrassed by this glitch and sincerely apologize to you who have been so supportive of our efforts over the years. We greatly appreciate your support and understanding of the situation.

Sorry, assume a few people spit coffee on their computers there. “Automated backend system for our websites”?

This line we’ve heard before, too – that Behringer appears to view teasing products as a kind of trial balloon for measuring demand. The difference is, in the past, at least, they said that was what they were doing – they didn’t do it via a staged site bug.

Let’s talk about why this is problematic.

Fake news? Fake drums? Real Oberheim… Retro Synth Ad.

Behringer are being disingenuous in their communication. More bluntly: it’s very likely that they’re flat-out lying – or at least being tongue-in-cheek about this whole thing. Sure, it’s possible they keep product planning documents in the content management system they use for the site. And maybe then they use the production server for the task rather than a backup. And maybe they somehow automatically, accidentally published that same content to a production server publicly.

Though, if that sequence of events actually happened, uh, to the Web team … wow. Either way:

This encourages customers to delay purchasing competitors. This isn’t just about getting buzz. By hinting that Behringer will have low-cost alternatives of stuff users want, the brand can encourage customers to hold off purchasing shipping products from companies like KORG, Roland, and Moog. Indeed, specifically teasing recognizable products targets those competitors even more explicitly. And there’s anecdotal evidence to think there’s harm there, based on impressions on forums and comments. Even if that isn’t the case, retailers read those same threads, and this can spook them.

Uli Behringer’s extended rants about value and price, which imply (I think unfairly) that competitors’ products should be cheaper, also seems related to this strategy.

Behringer are hurting their own relationship with customers. I actually would encourage those same competitors to focus on this. Behringer are now over-promising in a pretty fantastic way. If they don’t ship this stuff, customers are likely to be disappointed with Behringer, not other companies.

And sure enough —

The Internet is already having fun with Behringer’s vaporware and missing images. 😉

They’re still not shipping their Model D. Way back in March, Behringer were promising a low-cost Minimoog clone. But that clone still isn’t shipping, or seen on the site here – a fact not lost on social media (or CDM commenters).

They’re not exactly making the Curtis family happy, either. This is what the widow of Doug Curtis had to say about Behringer offering remakes of her late husband’s chips:

We are starting to see authorized chip remakes, however, as a competitors to what Ms. Curtis is referencing here. (COOLAUDIO Semiconductors have made the inexpensive chips that likely formed the basis for the product ideas above.)

Just don’t read too much into this. This understandably has generated a lot of buzz in December, a lull during which most manufacturers are focused on holiday sales, with product announcements mostly paused until late January.

But I think most people wanting a new drum machine, or a Roland Boutique, or KORG’s ARP recreations, or new Eurorack modules, on down the list are likely to go ahead and invest anyway. I think the relationships between those brands and their customers – from the Japanese giants to the one-person Eurorack boutique makers – are safe, too.

If this was (improbably) a mistake, Behringer, fix it. If it wasn’t, well – yeah, expect some of us to question your intentions.

Exclusive reader contest! What’s the most “embarrassing” thing you recently posted to a Website “accidentally” that just happened to make it unintentionally look like some sort of awesome things were happening in your future? Sound off in comments!

As I wrote yesterday:

For now, we’re in the position we so often are with Behringer: speculating, as the brand gets way ahead of everyone else with a teaser, long before the specifics of price and design emerge. And that seems to be part of the design.

Let me be clear: I don’t think there’s any revelation here. The only absurdity is that Behringer have the hubris to suggest that this stunt was a mistake – and to continue to tease products further out on their roadmap when they still haven’t got a ship date for the product for which they got the most buzz in 2017 (the model D, which was announced way back in March).

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Akai and Retronyms announce iMPC Pro 2 with audio tracks, AUv3, Link and a whole lot more

Retronyms, have just announced the official release of iMPC Pro 2, the next in a line of iMPC apps they’ve delivered (iMPC, iMPC Pro, and iMPC for iPhone). iMPC Pro 2 adds new track types and enhances the drum tracks feature from iMPC Pro. It also brings the addition of vocal tracks, and support for Audio Units. iMPC Pro 2 is in effect a full-fledged song creation tool.

Any Audio Unit app can now be used within iMPC Pro 2. With audio tracks, users can instantaneously time warp, pitch shift, and rearrange their audio clips. Real time manipulation is captured in a simple workflow and users can choose from multiple input sources, including external mic channels, hardware audio interfaces and Inter-App Audio.

iMPC Pro 2 also features a new library of built-in, high-quality sounds. Designed exclusively for iMPC Pro 2, these kits cover popular and cutting-edge genres from world-class sample libraries including ADSR, Rawcutz, SampleTools by Cr2, Niche Audio, and Sample Magic.

In addition, five custom sound packs are available for no extra charge in the AudioCopy Content Store (normal price $35). Essential Club Collection, Classic Cutz, Dub 2 DnB, Melodic Collection, and The Diploma are exclusively curated for iMPC Pro 2, featuring instruments and samples by iconic producers across an array of genres.

Main App Features:

  • Audio track recording (record from built-in mic, external mics, audio interfaces, etc.)
  • Real-time time-stretching and pitch-shifting (warp tracks and clips to match tempo)
  • Ableton Link and Inter-App Audio (IAA) support
  • 64-track mixer with EQ and 4 FX sends (Reverb, Delay, Chorus/Flange and one IAA effect)
  • Redesigned user interface
  • Audio Unit plug-in support
  • AudioCopy and AudioPaste support
  • Directly upload tracks to YouTube
  • Sample audio directly from music player apps such as Spotify
  • New Song Mode makes full song production more intuitive than ever
  • 100% new sound set, with five additional free Sound Packs
  • Advanced waveform editing
  • Enhanced MIDI support
  • 4 Mute Groups
  • Extensive undo/redo capabilities
  • and many more intuitive workflow enhancements

iMPC Pro 2 is available now on The App Store for $24.99. For a limited time only, existing iMPC pro users can upgrade to iMPC Pro 2 for $15.

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BlipCase mobile music gear storage is now half off (USA, CA)

You’ve got the gear. You’ve got the gifts. Now … a place to put it, on the go, or setting up onstage. That’s BlipCase, and in December it’s just $39.95.

BlipCase ships to the USA and Canada in time for Christmas, as long as you order by December 18. (We ship internationally, too, but shipping costs are most affordable in North America.)

Buy now – in stock and shipping – $39.95

You can read our introduction last year when we introduced the system:
BlipCase is a custom solution for toting your compact music gear

And here are some images showing the variety of gear that fits inside:

Buy BlipCase

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Design By Paul releases their first poly synth, called, PolySynth

DesignByPaul has brought us quite a few interesting apps since they first set up on the app store. Now they’ve introduced PolySynth, their first polyphonic synthesizer with only 3 note polyphony but apparently packed with vintage analog character.

PolySynth has Audiobus 3 support, IAA (Inter-App Audio) and MIDI-In so you can connect, play and record with other apps.

Main app features:

  • Microtonal tuning
  • 3 note polyphony
  • MIDI note in
  • 24db/Oct MS20 Lowpass filter and resonant highpass
  • Arpeggiator
  • AudioBus
  • Inter App Audio
  • 3x oscillators
  • 2x LFOs
  • 2x ADSR envelopes
  • Delay

PolySynth is an iPad only synth, and costs $4.99 on the app store now:

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