Pigments from Arturia is a new software synth that is their own original creation, rather than an emulation of a vintage synth. Is it the best sounding synth ever? I think it sounds pretty good but I’ll leave that decision up to you. What I think they really did well here though, is make a synth that’s an extremely useful tool for learning synthesis, for a few reasons. #1: Arturia’s Demo Policy The first reason Pigments is a good learning tool isn’t actually unique to it, but is true about all of Arturia’s software synths and that’s their demo policy. You can download Pigments andRead More →

Yamaha’s MODX is the less expensive, more portable version of their flagship Montage synth. It has the same exact synth engine as its bigger brother – but at a price which makes it a very interesting player in today’s synth market. There’s a lot going on in MODX – in this review and companion video I’ll look at the most important things you need to know to figure out if this synth is for you.   What’s a performance? Let’s get started by looking at some basic terms. A performance consists of everything you can do simultaneously with the MODX – the song I playedRead More →

The ContinuuMini is a new portable synthesizer and smaller brother to one of the most unique instruments I’ve ever played – the Continuum, also from Haken Audio. There are two things that make the Continuums special – their extremely sensitive playing surface, and the advanced built-in synth engine, called the EaganMatrix with its custom built in presets – designed to work with, and make the most out of the playing surface. I reviewed the bigger Continuum earlier this year – and I really liked it, but as I mentioned in that review – I wished it cost less and that it had more on-board controlsRead More →

Semi modular synths are becoming increasingly popular, so much so that it almost feels like if your synth doesn’t have a patch bay, you might be missing out on something, like interesting sequencers such as Rene 2 or Ornament and Crime, or sound generators like Rings or Plaits, and many many more, that you just can’t find in regular synths. Or maybe you want to enhance your modular setup with components of regular synths, like the expressive grid controller of Medusa or the easy to use FM engine of Digitone. Bridging modular and “regular” synths can be seamless, but it does require an understanding ofRead More →

For the past two years, every time I discovered something non-obvious about Ableton Live I jotted it down, and the result is this clip and the accompanying tips to be added in the November edition of my book – available on Patreon. Ableton Live is an extremely powerful DAW and electronic music performance platform, but there are a few aspects of it that are far from intuitive. Hopefully this clip will help you make more of it! Here’s a clip timeline: 0:00 Don’t panic! 0:55 Use two windows 2:20 Overview 5:00 Recording 7:50 From session to arrangment 10:20 Overdubbing 11:45 Clips & devices 13:10 EditingRead More →

This video is a comprehensive tutorial for Squarp’s Pyramid sequencer – one of the most feature packed sequencers out there. If you want a shorter review and comparison to Hermod, Squarp’s modular sequencer – here’s a link to it. This video is a deeper dive into Pyramid – getting into all the nitty gritty details, features and workflow.   Here’s the video, and there’s a timeline below.   MAIN CHAPTERS: 1:00 OVERVIEW 11:00 LIVE MODE 17:00 STEP MODE 31:40 TRACK MODE 41:25 SEQ MODE 46:35 MIDI EFFECTS 53:55 MISC   OVERVIEW 1:10 Connectivity 2:00 Panel overview 2:30 Basic terms 3:15 Modes 4:00 Project scope 5:30 NavigationRead More →

Arturia’s KeyLab Essential and the new KeyLab MK2 look quite similar but the premium MK2 version costs about two and a half times more than Keylab Essential. Let’s take a look at the real differences between them, the pros and cons of each, and review the competitive marketplace. Let’s start with what they are – both are designed to serve a few functions – a couple which I think may get overlooked. The first is to be a keyboard MIDI controller for software based instruments, with an emphasis on a tight integration with Arturia’s software instruments and in particular Analog Lab, which comes bundled withRead More →

Have you ever hooked up a new piece of gear into your setup and suddenly heard a horrible noise you weren’t expecting? Or just had an unbearable noise find its way into your recording without you noticing in the heat of the moment? The cause may be a ground loop, some other interference, or even loud air-conditioning. Here are a few ways to solve this problem: Use one outlet If a ground loop is the problem – Plugging everything you’re using into the same outlet will probably solve it – most noise or hum issues coming from ground loops are a result of having yourRead More →

Novation’s SL MkIII is a big departure from versions one and two that came before it, and most other MIDI keyboards on the market, because it’s not just a DAW and Hardware instrument controller, it’s also a standalone 8 track MIDI, USB and Control Voltage Sequencer. The idea behind the SL MkIII is that all three – the DAW controller, the Hardware controller and the sequencer – sit behind one interface and blend together into one control center. That kind of integration has the potential to change the game for what is expected of a DAW or MIDI controller. Does the SL MkIII deliver? Let’sRead More →