If you’ve seen my Eurorack videos, Plaits from Mutable Instruments is in many of them. It’s a very flexible module with 16 different sound engines and three control knobs for each. In MicroFreak, Arturia have taken 7 of the 16 engines from Plaits – they can do that because Mutable have generously made their code open source – added 5 of their own – and multiplied that: MicroFreak has four copies of the concept behind this module, wrapped in a full synth with an extensive mod matrix, analog SEM filter, rather innovative sequencer and arpeggiators and a touch surface controller. Probably the most amazing thingRead More →

Buzzzy is a Kickstarter Synth that has quite a few interesting traits in a tiny little package: it’s a 4 part multi timbral, stereo, digital MIDI module with up to 16 voice polyphony. This review is of a prototype, but the sound engines and build are final – the panel design will change though. There are a few things that make it interesting in my opinion. First, it sounds good. Even though it’s all digital, there’s something about the bass and filter that sounds very compelling. Second – despite its very small size and close-to-Volca price – it is four part multi-timbral with stereo effectsRead More →

NLDR (pronounced “Noodler”) from Conductive Labs is quite a sequencer, if it can be called that at all. If I had to summarize what makes it different, whereas with a typical sequencer, you enter notes to express your ideas – with NDLR you provide the musical ideas, and it takes care of the notes for you. By “musical ideas” I mean a key, a scale, a live or programmed chord sequences, and “motifs” – which are a combination of note interval patterns and the rhythm with which they’re played. Of course, the biggest question is – what are the trade-offs? What are you giving upRead More →

Intro Hyve Touch Synth is very is very different from other synths – it’s polyphonic with 60 analog oscillators, but it doesn’t have any filters or VCA envelopes – rather – the way your fingers touch its surface determines which notes you hear and how they sound. Hyve synth was initially built in workshops with its designer, Skot Wiedman, and later offered both as a DIY kit and as a finished product in a wooden enclosure and a carrying case – as part of a successful KickStarter campaign. It comes with a 9v battery case and can be powered by an external power supply asRead More →

Here it is! A full, detailed review of Elektron’s new Model:Samples, and a feature by feature comparison to Digitakt, which is the question I believe most people interested have on their mind: what are the tradeoffs, and what can one do that the other can’t. I’ve also narrowed the gap between the two a bit with a few tips and hacks that fill in the blanks in Model:Samples’ feature set, like the lack of sample locks and filter envelope. Below are two timelines, one for the 10 tips/hacks in the video, and another based on overall content. TIP/HACK TIMELINE: 1:40 Add Amp envelope stages usingRead More →

Neutron by Behringer was a pretty good value for money before this update, and with version 2.0, Neutron got quite a lot better. In this video I cover the pros, cons and important new features in Neutron firmware version 2.0. The new firmware has important improvements to Neutron’s paraphonic playability and options, LFO and more. It also supports Behringer’s new Neutron control software, which makes accessing its “shift” features substantially easier, gives bi-directional feedback to parameter status and tuning, and controls other parameters not configurable in the panel. Along the way I explore 13 patch ideas and general tips which will hopefully make life easierRead More →

The Quad Peak Animation System – or QPAS from Make Noise – is an interesting new look at stereo filtering, what can be done with four filters, and how to manage them. The idea isn’t to give you individual control of every parameter of each filter, but rather it’s a take on how four filters can work together as a whole, whether in mono, or preferably in stereo, to form a playable instrument.  Aside from having “regular” state variable low pass, band pass and high pass outputs, it introduces what Make Noise call a “smile pass” filter” – designed to enable resonant peaks without filteringRead More →

Akai just announced Force – their new standalone music production workstation. The design is clearly inspired by 8×8 style grid controllers like Push 2, Launchpad, and their own APC-40.  The big question is – what are the tradeoffs between a comprehensive controller/computer combo like Push 2, and Force? You’d think that it would be just up to the interface, but most of the material differences stem from the fact that Akai decided to base Force on a proprietary hardware/software OS combo, meaning that it can’t run standard Windows or Mac programs.  So, what are the differences? Which is better for you? This clip tries toRead More →

Moog’s new Sirin is a refresh to the Moog Minitaur with a new look, but more importantly, it got a major upgrade to the internal oscillators that lets it play much higher notes, rather than stopping at C4 like the Minitaur. Other than those two things it’s completely identical to the Minitaur, the thing is, if you search for reviews of the Minitaur you’ll see reviews and videos from 2012, when it was first released, which aren’t really relevant because so much has changed in the firmware and supporting software. Here’s a full review of what Sirin (and Minitaur) are and what they can doRead More →

With plenty of upgrades and 8 years after it was released, is the Octatrack still worth it? This review attempts to find out, in light of a few other instruments that have come since then. It’s split up into two parts, first, the top 10 features I think still make it stand out, and then a deeper look at what the user experience “cost” is in terms of complexity. In a nutshell, here are the things I think make Octatrack stand out:  Live sampling: in most samplers, sampling is an offline process. You can’t sample/slide/edit samples when a sequence is running. With Octatrack, live sampling, resampling and loopingRead More →