Motu MIDI Express XT

There has definitely been a resurgence of hardware in recording studios. I’ve personally been building an arsenal of kit from the past such as an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and new pieces such as a Jomox Mbrane and Doepfer Dark Time. Possible proof of this hardware comeback is the fact that Motu has rereleased a new version of a very classic Midi interface the MIDI Express XT. It has lots of I/O, routing, special timing tricks and more.

“Built with MOTU’s award-winning MIDI interface technology, the MIDI Express XT is a professional MIDI interface and SMPTE synchronizer that provides plug-and-play connectivity to any USB-equipped Mac or Windows computer. The Express XT provides 8 MIDI IN, 9 MIDI OUT, 128 MIDI channels and compatibility with all Mac and Windows software. Sixteen convenient, one-touch presets (8 factory and 8 user programmable) give you instant front-panel access to multiple operational configurations. The included ClockWorks™ console software for Mac OS X and Windows provides comprehensive MIDI routing, merging and muting.” – motu.com

For more info: motu.com/products/midi/xpressxt_usb

Motu MicroBook

I’ve always found Motu interfaces to have super solid drivers. In fact I still use a Motu 828 from 1996! They have a new interface called the MicroBook that could be a great box for new musicians and for those of us who want a small interface next to their home laptop. It’s defintely shooting a bit at the Apogee One and Duet and the Mac Market. I like that they include the XLR mic adapter and have micro stereo inputs and outputs for iPhones/iPads and computer speakers. I also like that it’s tiny. It will be less than $270 when it hits the street next month.

“With professional analog stereo outputs, digital output, and stereo-mini output jacks for both headphones and desktop speakers, you can monitor your live audio and recorded tracks any way you like.” – motu.com/products/microbook.html

For more info: motu.com/products/microbook.html

Controlling CV with Volta and Ableton Live.


using ableton live to send CV signals. from dan kirkhus on Vimeo.

Motu’s Volta is a software that turns an ordinary Motu audio interface into a CV controller. I’ve been watching a few videos here and there of people using Volta and this thing has got my interest. I have a good bunch of old analog synths in my studio and more control is always a good thing (except if you’re a teenager).

“Using ableton live and a handful of LFO type wav files to modulate external analog gear. fun stuff. (if you’re not interested in the “how” and just want to see the frostwave spaz out, jump to 3:30 or so.) this stuff *only* works with MOTU audio interfaces (see: volta). this is an easy and free way to send beat-synced LFOs to your outboard modular gear; moogerfoogers, sherman filterbank, little phatty… anything with a CV input… i recommend setting the warp method to “Re-Pitch” to keep LFOs smooth at extreme BPMs. or don’t… and get cool glitches.” – Dan Kirkhus

Thanks to Dan for posting this video. I think you also made me drop some coin on Frostwave Resonator. I always forget how great the MS20 filter sounds! See Dan’s Resonator video: click here

More about Motu Volta: click here

Max for Live and Volta: Are we scientists?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDJdq3WlLdc

I am thrilled with all the new enhancements in Ableton Live 8. Two other NAMM 2009 announcements having me scratching my head a bit though. Max for Live and Motu Volta are two new products that have a large buzz around them in the blogo-twittersphere. Max for Live is an extended version of Ableton that will allow you to create your own instruments and effects. It uses a flow diagram, object and element metaphor as it’s interface. Motu Volta is software that turns MOTU and RME audio interfaces into highly editable CV (control voltage) interface.

The question I keep asking myself is, “Will these new tools help me make better songs?”. Since I already own Ableton Live, a Motu interface and several vintage analog synths with CV there is no doubt my curiosity will lead me to my credit card.


Volta First Look from Matthew Davidson on Vimeo.

What excites me about Max for Live more than programming my own devices will be the devices other people come up with. I own a Kenton Pro-2000 CV to MIDI interface but because digital audio recording is so easy these day I rarely use it. I just record my old synths as audio and manipulate them after the fact. As much as Volta intrigues me I fear it may put an unnecessary software layer between my hands and hardware knobs.

I  know Max and Volta are completely different beasts but I think you get my point here right? I guess there is a time for right brain knob twisting and song writing and a time for left brain analytical sound design.

What do you think?

Wire to the Ear’s Winter NAMM 2009 picks.

Ableton Live 8

Ableton Live 8. My passion Ableton Live has reached number 8. Once again the Berlin coding masters give us new features that fit nicely into the Live interface and workflow. So what’s new? Add grooves to clips using the new Groove Engine. Adjust grooves in the new Groove pool. Extract grooves from existing clips with simple drag & drop. Enhanced warp modes and a new warp engine that auto-assignes handles to transients. A new plug-in called Looper: Create endless layers of loops in a live performance jam with auto tempo recognition. Five new effects: Vocoder, Multiband Dynamics, Overdrive, Frequency Shifter, Limiter. Workflow enhancements: Crossfades, Enhanced Midi Editor, Collapsable and easy to create Group Tracks, Multi Parameter Manipulation (adjust several volume faders at once, etc.. (yay!)), Screen Magnifier, Audio & Midi Browser Previews now have a waveform display and scrubbing. Share: Built into Live 8 is a new way to share and collaborate over the internet. A new option in Live’s file menu called Share Live Set will send your song to Ableton’s servers. The song gets it’s own webpage and link. You can set the privacy settings. Songs files can be shared anywhere such as MySpace or Facebook. Suite 8 also got an upgrade: All new Library, new version of Ableton’s FM Synth Operator, Collision a creative percusion synth that uses physical modeling. link

Max for Live

Max for Live. Full integration with Cycling 74′s Max. Create your own audio and midi effects inside the LIve interface. Building and editing of new effects and instruments takes place in real time. Check out the video on the Ableton website of the step sequencer created with Max for Live. I can’t wait to see what people come up with! Luckily there are built in tutorials. link

Akai APC40

Akai APC40 Ableton Live Controller. An official hardware controller for Ableton Live from Akai. Clip launch section with buttons that change color to show if a clip is playing or not. Dedicated clip stop and stop all buttons. Dedicated scene launch buttons. Multiple banks and bank selection methods help you quickly and intuitively jump around a large session view. Mixer section with faders, mute, solo buttons, cue and arm track buttons. A track control section of 8 knobs for pans and sends. Tap tempo and sync buttons to match external turntables or devices. Assignable Crossfader. Transport and record controls for studio work. Make this an extension of your arm and your live show will be a lot better.  link

Waldorf Largo

Waldorf Largo. I’m going to quote the Waldorf press release on this one because it says it all, “Many producers and synthesizer enthusiasts asked for a full-blown Waldorf Synthesizer for their virtual rack. We listened, and now we proudly present Largo. Largo mirrors the technology used in Blofeld and Q hardware synthesizers.” If it has the sound of the Q it’s a great win. link

Native Instruments Maschine

Native Instruments Maschine. A controller built by Berlin’s NI with a companion software instrument perfectly matched to it. It can run stand alone or in your DAW. Maschine can also be a standard midi controller. link

Motu BPM

Motu BPM. Don’t let the Groovebox look fool you because the new BPM from MOTU is purely software. 15 gigs of sounds, multi-effects including convolution reverb, Step and Note Sequencers an internal mixer and more. I bet some producers will make their full songs all in this software. Could it gain a cult following? Just like Propellerheads Reason I can see this on my laptop for an alternative view every now and then. AU, MAS, TRAS, VST, MAC/PC, in your DAW or Stand Alone.   link

Roland AX-Synth

Roland AX-Synth. Finally, the return of the “Keytar” from Roland. You get keys, you get a Ribbon, D-Beam and modulation bar. The new AX-Synth also touts 6 hour battery life and MIDI over USB. I like it but why isn’t this wireless? link

All the above I want in my possession. Some other interesting things that peaked my interest at this year’s NAMM included the Celemony’s Melodyne Editor with DNA, Arturia’s Minimoog V 2.0 and the Moog Etherwave Plus Controller Theremin.  Some of you maybe happy about Cubase 5, Novation Automap 3 and the newest Virus TI synth? The weekend is just getting started so I will update this post when I find more goodies that peak my interest. What’s getting your goat going?

Wire to the Ear’s Summer NAMM 2008 picks.

The National Association of Music Merchants otherwise known as NAMM met for their summer event last week in Austin, Texas Nashville, TN. Here’s the new gear and software I personally thought was interesting. I know some of these are not actual NAMM debuts but they fall in the “outed summer 08″ category and were featured at the show.

Korg nanoSERIES. These small, flat and inexpensive controllers are just what a lot of musicians have been waiting for. These are perfect to toss in a laptop bag. The nanoKEY, nanoPAD and nanoKONTROL will be available in October and will each be under $150. link

The Moog Guitar. Some people are scratching their heads on this one. A Guitar from Moog? Would Bob approve? According to Moog (the company) this was being planned when Bob was still with us. Personally, I have no problem with the idea. My main gripe so far is that all the video demos I’ve seen of the M.G. in action are not too impressive. The first of the Moog Guitars available is the The Paul Vo Collector Edition which will cost you $6,495.00. link

Arsenal Audio. A new brand from API. A few years ago a friend of mine brought a filled API lunchbox into my studio and hooked it up to my microphone. My voice never sounded so good and never has since. API as a company knows what they are doing so when they launch a new division I’m ready to give it a chance. I’m not totally sure why they need to branch off. Are these built in China or something? If they sound good I won’t care. Three products kick it off: the V14 4 Band VPR 500 Format Equalizer (fits in a lunchbox), the R 20 2 Channel Mic Pre and R 24 2 Channel 4 Band EQ. link

MOTU Digital Performer 6. I’m an Ableton Live fanatic but competition is what keeps the sequencer space evolving at high speed so DP6 is very welcome. This is the true Mac sequencer. Was born on a mac and always lived there so let’s give the guy some respect. What are the new tidbits DP6 has to offer? A new interface, Track comping, Masterworks Leveler plug-in, ProVerb Convolution plug-in, Final Cut Pro Integration, Enhanced Pro-Tools HD support and Direct Audio CD burning. Not bad! link

SPL Phonitor. Imagine you could mix solely in headphones. Imagine you wouldn’t have to pay for a studio space somewhere far away from cranky neighbors. The Phonitor could be the first product that could make this dream a reality. This is a high end piece of hardware costing about $2k. You spend a few minutes dialing in parameters to match the sound of your speakers with your headphones and viola! I can’t wait to read reviews and hear from users of this product. We need this to work! link

So those are the new things that really peaked my interest. Roland continued to bore me with it’s new Juno Stage and of course there were more amazing Melodyne Direct Note Access demos. Sonic State and Sound on Sound have some great videos from the show floor worth checking out. Did I miss something you really liked?