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?

Icey rain and two nice synthesizer videos.

It’s some sort of ice raining today in New York so this is perfect “stay in the studio time”. If you’ve been following my life through this blog or Facebook (my profile) or Twitter (follow me) you know my studio is in a container somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean coming from Berlin. Therefore, I can only daydream, watch videos of other people’s studios. Luckily, Vimeo always has something for me to gaze at when it comes to synth gear. Here’s two videos I found this morning I think are tasty…


Patch Tutorial 1 from Elan Hickler on Vimeo.

“The envelope controlling the lowpass filter is set with high attack, decay, sustain, and release. The pitch VC to the lowpass filter is inverted but heavily attenuated. I used no resonance and the notch filter was turned all the way down.” – Elan Hickler


stop_motion_synthesizers from Alex Inglizian on Vimeo.

“671 still frames shot with Nikon D70. Sounds made with Roland Juno-60, TR-909, Omnichord, Yamaha CS-5, & hand made synth.” – cliplead.com

I’m fine making music with my Macbook Pro and Ableton Live but I can’t wait to get my fingers on some real knobs again. Which one of these videos did you like the most?

photo credit: 1Sock

Free Roland TR-727 samples from Kent Williams.

Over at the Ableton forums Kent Williams has posted a link to a nice set of Roland TR-727 samples he recorded using four different methods. I own a TR-707 and love it’s sound and design. It’s quite a lot of fun flicking the little mixer’s channels up and down.

The TR-727 is, of course, the ‘Latin’ version of the TR-707 — same hardware, but Latin percussion samples instead of a trap set.

Many sample sets have been made of the TR-727, starting with the ‘Music Machines’ set at Hyperreal.org, which is nearly 10 years old, and 16-bit only. see http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufacturers/Roland/TR-727/

I was inspired to do this set by the guys at Goldbaby — http://www.goldbaby.co.nz — who have done some obsessively loving sampling jobs on many old drum boxes, through a wide variety of gear.

I don’t have as snazzy a studio as GoldBaby but I think I’ve done pretty well with what I’ve got. – Kent Williams

His recording method is included in the readme.txt file that accompaniments the sample pack. To download click here: 727_Samples.zip

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?

TAL U-NO-62 is a free Roland Juno 60 emulation.

I once owned a Roland Juno 60. It’s a great synth and certainly has the classic Roland sound. The guys at Togu Audio Line (TAL) released the U-NO-60 a few years ago and have been updating thier emulation often. The 62 brings us even closer to the original.

The U-NO-60 vst plugin is a polyphonic virtual analogue synth with a unique filter sound. An original JUNO 60 is used as reference for the oscillators and filters. Like the original, the plugin is capable of self-resonance and thus could be used to some degree as a tone generator. The filter section also features controls for envelope amount and polarity, LFO modulation and keyboard tracking. In addition, a non-resonant highpass filter is provided to thin out lower frequencies. – kunz.corrupt.ch

It’s free and Mac/PC compatible so go and try it out: click here

Space Echo, Gearslutz and human nature.

Gearslutz is a probably the most populated pro-audio forum on the net. There is a serious amount of traffic going on there. You find find threads discussing the minor details of a five thousand dollar micpre that go thirty pages long.

Yesterday I started reading a thread started by someone who just found on a vintage Roland RE-201 Space Echo to purchase. The RE-201 is a fantastic vintage tape echo machine. Soon after Mike Manthe’s first post claiming he finally found one another person “tstu102″ answers him also mentioning he just located one and how happy he was. Do you see where this is going? Yep. It didn’t take too long for them to realize they both were talking about the same unit. Seems like the seller said yes to both because the second guy was willing to pay more money.

At first Mike thought thought tstu102 had read the thread and went after the unit. But then tstu102 did a good dead and told the seller he wasn’t going to buy the unit and he should honor his first deal. I thought it was a pretty interesting read about the Space Echo and human nature. Read the thread yourself: click here

I’ve used a real Space Echo and they are very meaty. If you can’t get a real one there a nice emulation for the UAD-1 or the new Boss Space Echo RE-20 hardware pedal. Although not quiet the same beast I find myself turning to Fabfilter’s Timeless for a effects in that ballpark.

photo credit: Lorenzo Desiati

Alien Devices Modified Instruments from Arizona.

Circuit Bent Alesis

Robert Green has been circuit bending instruments for about 7 years. If your not the type to pick up a soldering gun and risk electric shock but need a bent device definitely take a close look at what Robert has to offer.

Besides the usual Speak N Spell and Casio SK modifications, Robert specializes in digital drum machines including the Alesis HR-16, Roland TR-707 and Yamaha series. Some of his bends use a patch bay modification and others metal switches.

This Alien-Devices modified Alesis HR16 drum synthesizer features 28 sound modifications which are controlled by 14 three-way switches. The modifications can effect the drum sounds in subtle or drastic ways creating beat mutations, digital filtering, distortion, synth tones, envelope warping, overload, bizarre beats and electronic textures. These units are excellent sample sources as well as stable live instruments and are fully MIDI capable.

If you want to get your hands dirty and try some modifications yourself there is a CD-Rom video tutorial for sale on Amazon called Circuit Bending for Beginners. I personally have not seen it but I’ve heard good reviews. There is of course plenty of free stuff to start watching on YouTubeCircuit Bending for Beginners including “Circuit Bending Workshop” by Ben Goldstone. The comments under that video are pretty interesting.

A few years ago I went to the Bent Festival in New York. It’s a nice geek fest of circuit bending. My favorite “instrument” was a old dot matrix printer rigged to play audio notes depending on which key you pressed. Here are the upcoming dates/locations for 2008:

Los Angeles Bent Festival – April 17th-19th, 2008.
New York Bent Festival – April 24th-26th, 2008.
Minneapolis Bent Festival – May 1st-3rd, 2008.

Do you own any bent instruments?

Robot Drummers! The new Roland TR-2010?

What do you call the guy who hangs out with the band? The drummer! I always seem to find that joke funny for some reason. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love drum machines. Well people, soon we can take the drum machine to the next level! Imagine the new Roland TR-2010: Fully robotic drummer! Come on Roland we want it! We are all bored with your new Grooveboxes, we want robots!

More Robot Drummer videos:
Fredy Fantastico
DrRythm55
Mindstorm Robot Drummer

I speak for everyone right?

Pimp your Audiorealism ADM out with more samples.

Audiorealsm ADM

I’ve said it before: I love drum machines. Hardware or software it makes no difference they all are great! Making some super noises that are heard all around the world from Uppsala, Sweden is Mike Janney and his company Audiorealism. I was a fan of their first two products the ABL (303 emulation) and ABL Pro (Roland sounding modular) so much so I endorsed the ABL. I was seriously pleased to hear Mike’s new project was a drum machine and it’s been out for a while so I thought I’d share a useful “tip”.

This is not really a tip as it’s in the manual but I think it’s important to remind people to feature dive into any software they own. This feature is implemented in a non-standard way so just by clicking around you may not figure it out. The ADM comes with some nice Roland TR-606/808/909 samples built into it but let’s add our own…

First, get a folder together of samples. I downloaded some free Oberheim DMX eprom sounds found at Electrongate.com. Next you need to put the folder here:

Macintosh -> Library -> Application Support -> Audiorealism -> ADM -> Samples

Open your DAW and ADM and click the on screen power button (top right of ADM) to bring a drop down menu up and select “Enable Sample Selection”. Now when you click the small blue led screens for each drum slot a menu will drop down and you can choose your new folder and individual drum sound!

But why go though all the trouble to bring your sounds into ADM when there probably are easier ways within your DAW to play drum hits? ADM’s internal sequencer allows for the strongest swing I have heard yet. You can also click and hold the Pattern button to access a menu that allows you to randomize patterns. Lastly, ADM has some wicked FX and filter mangling toys to further shape your beats.