November 3, 2012

The New Shit...

by Chris Randall

First things first: my condolences to the victims of the Storm. That one was a whopper, and no mistake. If there's any city in the world that can take a hit like that in stride, it's New York City; I personally am sanguine for the future of that great metropolis. If any AI readers got their shit all fucked up, and you need help of any sort, don't hesitate to post here.

Second (and a distant second at that), the election is finally coming to a close here in the US. I saw a statistic that more money has been spent in advertising in this election than in all previous elections combined. I don't generally have a problem with that, for two reasons: first, I don't watch TV hardly at all, so I don't have to put up with the commercials. And second, that money is usually going from ultra-rich people who have more money than sense anyhow, to media professionals of some sort or another. So good one! Well done, media professionals! But that said, I'll be well and truly glad when this nonsense is over, and our government can get back to its normal acrimonious standstill. (I'm not one of those people that's gonna say "I don't care who you vote for! Just vote!" If you're some sort of asshole or Republican, I'd really rather you didn't vote at all.)

Anyhow, on to the main event. In the last two weeks, we've seen some pretty interesting news in music tech. First, as you're no doubt aware, Ableton revamped their site, and announced Live 9 and a bespoke hardware controller called Push. The hardware is made by Akai, and is, I assume, a logical extension of the working relationship they started with the APC-40 et al. This is far more sophisticated, of course, and is a pure MIDI controller with two-way communication as well, so it will be extremely useful for people that work in Max/MSP and Reaktor, as well as Live. Assuming the build quality is, let's be honest, better than the APC-40, and the pads are nice and responsive, I'm tentatively putting this in the Win column. I'll get one as soon as they're obtainable, so if you want to wait for my inevitable review and the Q&A that follows, you can be assured it will appear here.

Next up, Elektron, makers of the SIDstation, MachineDrum, MonoMachine, and Octatrack, are teasing what has become increasingly obvious is a 4-voice analog synth, following the MonoMachine form factor, with CV sequencing abilities. At first, I was all "meh," because the world has enough four-voice analog synths. But I got to thinking that what really makes the MonoMachine is not its sound, which is middling at the best of times as far as digital synths go, but its UI and sequencer, and if you tack those on to a simple analog, plus the ability to control a EuroRack modular, you have the makings of a Muff Wiggler Wet Dream Jizz Explosion of epic proportions. Personally, I'm witholding judgement until NAMM, when I assume I'll be able to get hands-on with one.

And finally, down in the cheap seats, Mutable Instruments, makers of the Shruthi-1 kit, have announced a new hybrid digital/analog synth (mostly analog, I guess) called the Anrushi that merits a look. Plenty of info and samples at the Mutable site.

'Round here, we're putting the final touches on the next Audio Damage product. I'll tell you the name at this juncture: it is called Bitcom. Expect some teasers and such-like shortly. I'll also have the next chapter in my Great Touch-Screen Adventure of 2012 up before the end of the week.


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Nov.03.2012 @ 12:28 PM
I read about the Anushri at Mutable Instruments forum a month ago. Nice to see that it has got a page of it's own now so I guess it's getting closer to the release :-) I have built and use the Shruthi-1 and if the Anushri isn't too expensive I might build that one too.

Nov.04.2012 @ 6:00 PM
I hope that Push controller is dummy proof when it comes to program, bank, sub bank changes.

Nov.05.2012 @ 1:23 AM
If my Launchpad were pressure sensitive, it would be perfect. I'm interested in Push, as much as I distrust Akai.

Nov.05.2012 @ 9:52 AM
Not a Live user, but thinking about taking the plunge to Live 9. Right now, I'm a semi-proficient Cubase user, but I guess I must not be completely happy, otherwise I would not be looking at other hosts.

Anyhow, Push looks very interesting. I've had a fleeting interest in Maschine for some time and it's weird that prior to the announcement of Push, I'd see comments that NI was really upping their game and Ableton really needed to catch up. Now that Push has been announced there is a thread in the Maschine forum about it, and some Maschine owners are hoping to drop Maschine and get a Push.

Are these two devices really that similar? Aside from an MPC I've been trying to understand what Maschine really is and how it fits in with a DAW. It's weird, because as a Kore user who really understood what Kore is, I don't get what Maschine really is. Likewise, I know a lot of others didn't understand Kore.

Nov.05.2012 @ 10:12 AM
Chris Randall
It's really not that complicated. Maschine is a drum machine. That's all there is to it. It is a very good drum machine, quite possibly the best ever made. It requires a computer to run.

Push is a controller for Live. It will, most likely, be the best controller made for Live. At a certain point it can act like a drum machine, using Live's built-in tools for that very thing that already exist. (There's no magic Push clip; when you're sequencing, you're only viewing existing Live MIDI clips in a new way, and you're playing a Drum Rack, in the same way you always have.)

There is a certain point where the purposes of the two things cross, and that's in drum sequencing. Maschine almost certainly has far better pads, as that's the whole purpose of the hardware. It also almost certainly has a better workflow for getting a sound from the source to a playable pad. Since that's what sampling drum machines do.

As to whether someone could "ditch" Maschine in favor of Push, well, that's up to them. Easier workflow perhaps, but more satisfying? Depends on how you make things.

My general take-away is that if you spend most of your time in the arrange view of Live, you are going to want to keep your Maschine. If you spend most of your time in clip view, you're probably okay with just the Push.


Nov.05.2012 @ 11:35 AM
Ok, thanks for the rundown Chris. So, as someone who will likely continue to use Cubase and, for now, experiment with Live, then Maschine seems like a safe bet regardless of which host I settle on. I have a feeling that if I do get a Maschine, I won't feel 100% certain it is the right thing for me, but using it will solidify my opinion one way or the other.

I always thought of Maschine as a drum machine, but when NI killed off Kore and said they were moving some of that functionality to Maschine, the lines got blurry. I was probably just over-thinking it, where the main changes were to make it stand-alone host.

Nov.05.2012 @ 11:51 AM
beauty pill
I wish I could master Ableton Live, but it has yet to "catch" in my brain. I'm very slow with it, which defeats the point.

It's certainly my favorite-LOOKING pieces of software. I appreciate the dramatic absence of skeumorphism.

Skeumorphism is now a word that my mom knows, btw.

link []

- c

Nov.05.2012 @ 11:53 AM
beauty pill
Parenthetically: Digital Performer 8 has the ability to "shapeshift" into different UI's. I like it. They're called "themes."

It has Ableton and Pro Tools "tribute" modes.

The Ableton one's called "8bit."

I like it a lot.

- c

Nov.05.2012 @ 11:55 AM
beauty pill

"Bitcom" you say.


- c

Nov.05.2012 @ 12:12 PM
Chris Randall
@theoryzero: Don't believe the hype. Maschine can host a fuckton of plug-ins. It is both an AU and a VST host, and you can use plug-ins as insert effects, send effects, and instruments.

However, Maschine in no way has even a small feature-set of what Kore did/does. Kore's main charm (or whatever) lay in the fact that all the plugs you own become this seamless morass of presets. Once you've taken the time to go through and assign macro knobs and tag all the presets and make your morphing fiesta jazz, you essentially have one plug-in that can do everything.

However, that is a really stupid idea on a number of levels. First and foremost, it utterly defeats the idea of having a DAW at all. Native Instruments bases their entire current model off the idea of recursive hosts; that is to say hosts-within-hosts. This entails a lot of setup time and planning, and ultimately gets in the way of creativity. This is patently obvious with the benefit of hindsight.

In any event, yes, the hosting mechanism from Kore is inside Maschine. But its method of handling the plug-ins and interfacing with them has nothing whatsoever to do with how Kore works, at least from a user perspective.


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