Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: 2013

November 26, 2013

Changeable Moods...

by Chris Randall


While I was spending the last 7 days building modules, packing modules, shipping modules, and delivering modules, all kinds of fun things happened in the music tech industry, as it turns out.

1. Elektron Analog Keys - Interestingly, when Elektron first announced they were going to announce that they would be announcing a new product, my initial reaction was "hey, an A4 with a keyboard!" Then I got to thinking "nah, they wouldn't do that, would they?" So I went off on this harebrained mental exercise on what they were actually going to announce they would be announcing. Turns out, I was right the first time. Yay, me. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it at this point. The A4 has ingrained itself in to my WORKFLOW so much so that I don't really like the way I conceptualize its use to be fucked with. On the other hand, it would be snazzy to have a keyboard version. Apparently, they also announced that they'll be announcing another announcement soon, so we shall see. I'm obviously buying something from Elektron in the next couple months. I just don't know what it is yet.

2. MeeBlip Anode - I don't know why, but the word "anode" makes me want to get out my Crandall's Big Book Of Snark. It's a funny word. Whatever. New MeeBlip! I have the other two iterations, so I will, of course, buy this one. Although I'm of the considered opinion that Peter should just give it to me for all the joy I bring him. He won't, but he should. This one has all the controls nobody ever used removed, and an analog filter added. (The previous two had digital filters.) It's a Twin-T filter, the same one that makes the 808 Boooooooom, so there's that. $109 until Dec. 3, $129 thereafter. The MeeBlip family has always been, and will continue to be, the best value in hardware synthesis, and the Canadian Royal Mail will probably continue to suck. Immutable facts, ladies and gentlemen.

3. Cubase Adds Gesture Control - And strangely enough, Logic still doesn't understand what to do when I flip it off. Typical Apple DAWs, always playing catch-up.

4. Big Beat Is Not Coming Back - Who's stupid idea was that? Shit's sooooo 1996. I am working on a new EP. It will have guitar on it. I'm so sick of synths right now, I don't even...

In scrolling back through the week's RSS trail, that is actually kind of it. New sample set from Standard Beat Company that is worth checking out (one of Wade's better sets, IMO), I'm back to working on an iOS port of Phosphor, and Adam is working on the panel circuitry for the big-ass Audio Damage Eurorack modules. What are you up to?

November 16, 2013

It's The New Style...

by Chris Randall

Yay! A new module in our simple effect line-up, Freqshift. As the name implies, it is a frequency shifter. Originally coded by Sean Costello (ValhallaDSP) for us, and then extended by Adam, there is a ludicrous amount of functionality in this module. The manual is up at the Audio Damage site so you can read all about the various modes and how they're accessed.

It will be available next week at Analogue Haven for US$189.00, and at various other retailers the following week.

I've also bitten the bullet and made an Audio Damage page at Soundcloud so I can stop putting these modular and plug-in demos on my personal page. Follow that for a continuous stream of bleebles, blurps, and synth cricket sounds.

In further news, I've begun porting Phosphor to iOS; we're going to release several Audiobus-based effects over the next few months, re-contextualizing existing products for the iOS environment, but we thought it best to start with a synth. Since Phosphor is the only synth we have, there you go. This process will no doubt be tedious to my Twitter followers, as I live-tweet Adventures in iOS Programming. But at the end of the day, you'll have an extended version of Phosphor on your iPad for a couple of bucks, so deal with it.

In any case, if you want to know what the next few days will be like in my house, let me introduce you to a bag with 6500 knobs in it. This takes up a rather alarming amount of space.

November 6, 2013

Two Steps Forward...

by Chris Randall

Boing boom chack.

I got a Maschine Studio last week, and let's just state right now that it's a pretty nice piece of kit. In a nutshell, they've taken the original Maschine controller and broken out all the shift buttons to direct control, and added a jog wheel and a pair of whopping big hi-res color displays.

There are plenty of reviews out on the Interwebs, by people that specialize in that sort of thing, so I won't bother going over all the differences between the Maschine 2.0 software and its predecessor, or all the fine points of the new controller. Rather, I'll just toss off some comments that have come to mind in the last week as I've used it, and answer some of the obvious questions.

1. Not A DAW. There was a bit of a hope among a certain type of person (myself included) that the Maschine 2.0 software would turn it in to a full production environment, but let's make one thing clear: this software has its roots in MPC-oriented programming, and it hasn't strayed from that path. In order to function as a DAW, the software must operate in a non-linear way, and Maschine 2.0 is about as linear as it gets. The ability to chain Scenes to make a song is identical to the one in Maschine 1.x, and that hasn't been added to at all. Without a more advanced, less linear method of chaining patterns, this device and its software are still very much a sampling drum machine.

2. Renderless, So Render Less. The audio export function will only export the current scene. There is no method in which to render a song chain. If you're using it in stand-alone mode, the only way to record your performance is with an analog loopback or a separate recording device. One person's advice was "render the scenes, then put them together in your DAW." That's an awful idea for so many obvious reasons I won't go in to it. My solution, such as it is, is to build the song's parts in stand-alone, then instance Maschine inside Live, and use a Resampling track to record the performance.

EDIT: The above is not entirely correct. The "Export Audio" function exports the loop range, whatever that is. So if you've extended the loop range to encompass several scenes, then that's what gets exported. My mistake.

3. No Studio Required. As I said, the Studio controller is essentially the earlier controller with all the shift buttons broken out. I don't personally see the need for the jog wheel, which only duplicates functionality that is occurring where your hand already was. I could have thought of many better things to put in that spot, but they didn't ask me. The jog wheel is basically superfluous, for all intents and purposes. The displays make browsing for sounds and plug-ins and effects from Komplete very nice. However, if you're using your own library and 3rd party plugs, then you don't see them at their best. So you can live without it. In short, the Maschine Studio controller isn't strictly necessary; it won't limit your ability to control Maschine 2.0 at all, best I can tell. That said, it is a very nice controller, and is extremely well-built. It occupies a much larger footprint than the originals; it is, in surface area, roughly twice as big. However, the pads themselves, where the rubber meets the road, are identical to those in Maschine Mk 2.

4. Synthesize! The built-in drum synths are honestly a bit amazing. I don't know how they did some of them, and I am pretty well-versed in drum synthesis; I assume they're mostly a combination of physical modeling, traditional synthesis, and minor sample playback. You get a variety of starting points for each of the traditional drum voices, with 5 to 8 controls for the voice. In many cases (especially the snares) the result is indistinguishable from a sample. I wish these were a bit more out-there, but no complaints. I can always instance a synth to get what I need.

In any event, my feelings are thus: the Maschine 2.0 software is a must-upgrade. No joke, it is head and shoulders above the first iteration. As far as the Maschine Studio goes, it is extremely nice; if you already have a Mk 2, you probably can live without it, but why on Earth would you want to?

(Obligatory Caveat: I did not pay for the Maschine Studio; I received it as an NFR.)
TAGS: Workflow

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