Saturday, March 31, 2007

Musikmesse 2007

Musikmesse 2007 was on last week in Frankfurt. Plenty of synth related goodness. The Arturia Origin now with a keyboard, a new synth from John Bowen the Solaris, a new wavetable synth from Clavia the Nord Wave, a little april fools joke from Moog the MF/FM(the audio examples a pretty funny), a DAW focused multi-touch screen from Jazz Mutant called Dexter(Vid) and the Tiefenrausch monophonic analog synth. There were a few other little wierd boxes like the ClockBox from Anywhere Instruments and the Steckbox a kind of pin matrix.

All in all there's nothing here to rock my world but there are a few bits of interest. The Origin always looked good I thought although personally I could do without the keyboard, the Nord Wave could be interesting but then again? - the Dexter is way out of my price bracket, the Tiefenrausch looks good but I haven't seen a price and I might be more interested in the SEMTEX or the Future Retro XS. Of the lot the steckbox is the wierdest one for me. I know what it is but i'm not 100% sure how to use it and the website doesn't help much.

Most of the info here came from Create Digital Music - SonicState - Matrixsynth and Harmony Central.

MFB releasing analogue synth module

MFB the company that makes MFB Synth 2 (vid), the FilterBox, the MFB 503 DrumComputer and other little analogue boxes now starting to develop analogue modules. The new range of modules includes an oscillator, 2 drum modules (with a 3rd on the way), a 32 step sequencer for the drums and a video module so as you can output the sound and see it on a video screen. The prices, like most of the MFB stuff, seem pretty good - €169 for the sequencer, €159 for the Osc, and €89/€99 for the two available drum modules. At €159 for a DCO oscillator it doesn't look cheap but if you look at it (below) it seems to suggest that the oscillator's 3 outputs can have different tunings giving you 3 oscillators in 1... sort of.

Unusually enough although MFB do give TE sizes or module length size they don't seem to give the module height size so you can't tell what modular format it adheres to. Although it looks like Frac-Rack stuff, considering it is made in Berlin it's more likely to be in Doepfer format. I hope it's in Doepfer format as then for about €350 I could add a patchable analogue drum machine to my modular... could be sweet :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

DJ Robots

Guess we can give up the day jobs...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wii and POO

On the Wii theme:

The hardware hackers over at have dissected a Wii Remote (so you don't have to!) and detail the various bits n bobs attached to the PCB, accelerometers and the like... Which also has an amusing serial number beginning inside every Wii there's a...(need i go on?).
Also there's a link to which details various Wii inflicted injuries :-)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Making a Dubstep Beat with the Wii

There's been a good bit of WiiToMidi vid's lately but the one above is just a little ditty with a dubstep beat and I like dubstep sooo... just click on the pic for the link. If you want something with a little more explanation and detail... check THIS out. Both vids are use the WiiToMidi on the Mac. You don't need a nintendo just the Wii. Could be a larf.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Future Retro XS demos

Future Retro just posted a page of demo's for the new Future Retro XS.
Sounds Sweet :) - you can get them HERE.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Livewire becoming a complete modular system

Livewire are going to be bringing out a range of new modules including an oscillator/mixer/chaos generator/X-Mod Controller/a simple sequencer and random gate generator. It's all very beautiful looking and if the response from previous modules such the Dual Cyclotron(vids) and the FrequenSteiner is anything to go by it should be a fantastic system.

It looks like Livewire might be taking a similar attitude to Cwejman and not building any multi's or ADSRs... Doepfer has these mostly sorted anyways so I suppose I see the logic. I think I might have to wait a little longer now before I get my next rack.

You can see close-up picks HERE, HERE and HERE.
You can see a video from this years NAMM HERE. The video's a bit of a head wreck as you can hear a jomox banging away in the background, the camera moves all over the place and poor old Mike Brown definately looks like he's battling against the distraction.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Total Control...

Via: Create Digital Music
Just thought it was brilliant.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Be A Guitar Legend with your Nintendo DS

This is a cool little thing. It's called M-06 and it's a guitar strumming simulator for the Nintendo DS. Basically you pick your chords from a menu and link them to buttons on the console and then you use the stylus to strum a string in the touch screen. If you follow the YouTube link you can see a few more demos in the related videos.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Modified Toy Orchestra

There's a good article over at the Guardian Music about the Modified Toy Orchestra. Great to see a circuit bent band - guys in suits playing with barbie dolls and speak and spells on stage.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tenori-On demo video

There is a new demo video featuring the Tenori-On on You can check it out HERE. The Tenori-On is a brand spanking new type of device. Essentially it's a handheld board with pressure sensitive light switches. It can act as a sequencer where time goes on the X axis (left to right) and pitch is on the Y axis (up and down). It has MIDI ports and a smartcard input to load your own samples. It does remind me a little of the Mononome however the Mononome is purely a controller interface whereas the Tenori-On is a fully fledged musical device with an included motif soundset and sampling possibiities. It has been given a rough price of £500 but it has been in development for a good long while, you an see a YouTube video for 2005 HERE. So who knows when it will actually be released. Needless to say when it does it'll be snapped up.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Scanned Synth VST

Scanned Synth VST is a free (PC only) VST soft synth that uses a new type of synthesis called Scanned Synthesis. It is a very unusual synth and it generates fantastic sounds. Within minutes I was getting the most weird, brilliant and exotic digital sounds with almost no idea what the hell I was doing. The controls are oblique to say the least but luckily for me there is a powerful RANDOMISE button. Just a few clicks and you're bound to come up with something cool, evolving and weird. However with a little research, a flick through the included manual, and a fair bit of guess work it all becomes a little clearer.

The online demos don't do the thing justice so I made short demo. You can listen to it HERE (128K MP3) or HERE (.wav). All sounds are generated by the Scanned Synth VST using the randomize function and a little post randomize tweaking. I added an external reverb.

Scanned Synth can sometimes sound like FM but it definitely has its own quality. It excels at bright digital timbres, evolving complex pads, sound effects and weird short digital tones. It's not great at deep bass so maybe look elsewhere for that. You can download it HERE.
So what is Scanned Synthesis? It was developed by Bill Verplank, Rob Shaw, and Max Mathews between 1998 and 1999 at Interval Research, Inc. Scanned Synthesis is a little tricky to explain but I'll give it a bash. It basically originates from a physical model of a string or a computer simulation of a string. It uses a method called Mass Spring Damping to simulate a string. Basically the MASS is like a little tiny piece of the string. All these masses that make up the string are connected together with SPRINGS. The elasticity of the springs depends on the amount of DAMPING. The vibration or oscillation of the string will depend on how much force (i.e. how hard or soft you hammer a piano string) is used to drive it and how much damping or stiffness is used to stop the vibration.

This can sound very cool as when you hammer the string it's like hammering a piano string - initially theres a lot of bouncing around with loads of frequencies and these gradually get duller and duller and tend toward a pure sine wave as the string starts to dampen down. If you click on the picture above to get a better look you'll see that the main sections are labelled HAMMER - MASS and CONNECTION MATRIX (otherwise known as spring). You now have some idea at least as to what these do.

The difference between Scanned Synthesis(SS) and the above described Physical Modelling(Phm) is that in Phm to change the pitch you have to change the number of masses. For example to make a lower pitch you increase the number of masses and so in turn simulate a longer string. In SS however you scan the same number of masses at a slower or faster rate to increase or decrease the pitch (like playing a record faster or slower). As the number of masses is fixed or constant this becomes a kind of dynamic wavetable. This means it's kind of like a wavetable synth except the wavetable is constantly changing as the sound dampens or is excited. To me this already sounds like it has a huge scope for interesting evolving complex sounds that are very simply produced by hammering or plucking a string. You can have a look at how it works when implemented using CSound by clicking on the picture above. You can see a few more movies HERE.

Scanned Synth Vst doesn't have a dynamic interface. There was one attempt by SmartElectronix to have VST that uses an interface where you use a mouse to jiggle the string. It's still in beta form but you can check it out here ScanSynthGL . You can download ScanSynthGL HERE(PC only). Although the interface is excellent and you can easily get fantastic sounds from it, it does not have as wide and wonderful a pallette as Scanned Synth VST. Download both of them - they're both great, free and hugely impressive.