FaderPort 8 from PreSonus is a controller designed to work with multiple DAWs, and its main differentiating feature compared to regular MIDI controllers is it motorized faders. While this may initially sound like a gimmick, using these faders is quite a transformative experience when, making a DAW feel more like an instrument rather than just software. FaderPort 8 officially supports Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live and PreSonus’s own Studio One, and potentially any DAW that supports the HUI or MCU standards. This review and companion video focus solely on Ableton Live.   MCU Integration Before I dive into the details, it’s important toRead More →

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Blackbox is a new standalone sampler/sequencer/looper from 1010music – known for their powerful and flexible eurorack modules. It can play back samples chromatically and polyphonically, so you can play it like an instrument (including using single cycle waveforms) and it supports sample and clip slicing and time stretching for loops. You can sequence external gear with it, and it also has built in delay and reverb effects. Here’s a full review, and check out the summary below if you prefer to read rather than watch:   Review Summary On the pros side for Blackbox is how easy it is to use, compared to how powerfulRead More →

Digitone Keys from Elektron has the same synthesis engine as the “regular” Digitone, but as it quite clear from the first time you look at it, something is very different: Elektron added a three octave keyboard, as well as the additional controls above the keyboard, and the pitch and mod wheels on the left. Elektron is also providing hundreds of new presets, that are adapted for expressive control – meaning the react to velocity, pressure and mod wheel controls. Layout Let’s start with an overview of the synth and layout. Digitone Keys is an 8 voice multitimbral digital synth that includes both FM and subtractiveRead More →

SWN – Spherical Wavetable Navigator – is a six voice stereo wavetable synth, and what makes it special is the way it stores wavetables and the “spherical” way it moves between them. Typical wavetable synths morph between a series of wavetables in a linear fashion. SWN is different – it stores its 27 wavetables in a 3x3x3 cube and lets you “glide” in 3D space morphing from one shape to the other. It’s called Spherical because motion in any direction in space eventually loops back to the same location. Sphere Edit SWN comes with companion software called Sphere Edit, which lets you load, create, editRead More →

Moog’s Spectravox was Moogfest 2019’s Engineering Workshop synth. It’s not available commercially, at least not yet. The only way to get one is to have built it at the workshop (or buy it on eBay…). To see what it’s like to attend this workshop, I made a whole video about the experience last year building the Moog Subharmonicon (see video here). Building Spectravox was a very similar experience, except this time I didn’t make any mistakes and the 30-instrument unison patch ritually played at the end of the workshop was even more impressive, as is shown towards the end of the video below: So, whatRead More →

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 →