Fah – Prefahzers

Sometimes it’s worth a reminder that electronic music isn’t all about how much you can do – and some good old hardware synth action is a good way to do it. Continue Reading

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Video: Teenage Engineering OP-1 Review and Demo

We wrote a full editorial review recently, now here’s our video review after the operating system update. It’s our longest review yet and we still couldn’t include everything we wanted to, let us know if you got bored, wanted more, have any questions, and so on!

Maschine

Review: Native Instruments Maschine 1.6

Maschine’s greatest achievement has been dragging staunch hardware users away from their MPCs and towards computer based production. It’s been a real investment for early adopters, as two major updates since the original release have seen Maschine grow from a great idea with slightly flawed implementation into a tour de force of production potential – and all for free. 1.6 continues this tradition, and brings some radical additions to Maschine’s workflow, perhaps most notably audio plugin support and full 64 bit support. Have Native Instruments succeeded in giving Maschine all the tools it needs to compete with a DAW, or are they over egging the pudding and taking the focus off its core features?

the 1.6 update finally implements both instrument and effects plugins in VST/AU format

A long requested feature by Maschine users is plugin support, and the 1.6 update finally implements both instrument and effects plugins in VST/AU format. Rather than simply shoehorning the capability in, however, there are a variety of workflow tweaks and additions to maximise both the advantages that plugin support brings and the ease of use of plugins within a project.

In 1.6, rather than each pad having a source select and two effects slots each pad is comprised of four modules, one of which one can be an input source and the other three effects – or all four effects, should you wish. You can route groups and sounds to each other through the module chain, too; you could dedicate a group to being an effects bus and load in effects chains into each of the 16 pads, then send sounds or groups to the chains in those groups via an aux channel. This is a very powerful but at the same time very simple system, made even more powerful now that Maschine’s outputs have been doubled to 16.

handling of plugins is implemented really effectively

Actual handling of plugins is implemented really effectively. Maschine will attempt to map plugin parameters in a sensible way, but if, by the plugin’s design, automatic mapping doesn’t do such a great job, learning is built into Maschine and is as simple as switching learn mode on, fiddling with the control in Maschine and then the plugin. These mappings can be saved, so you can create different presets to load for different uses, and your favourite can be saved as the default that will load whenever you load that plugin – a godsend when a plugin developer has assigned their plugin’s CC messages alphabetically, for instance.

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Numark V7 and X5

Review: Numark V7 and X5

The following is an excerpt from my full review, which is available at DJ Tech Tools. Head over to read it in its entirety.

The DJ equipment industry has been in a state of change for a while, not least because the traditional paradigm for club DJing has been turned on its head and shaken until it no longer knows which way is up. Digital music and the advent of controllerist techniques have changed what DJs need and expect from equipment – but without, as yet, any standardisation in the market, manufacturers are left to their own devices to experiment.

Digital music and the advent of controllerist techniques have changed what DJs need and expect from equipment

Numark are no strangers to experimentation, and the Itch based NS7 was their first foray into the world of prestige, media-less controllers, holding the hand of the then new to market Itch from Serato. Now we have the V7 and X5, which take some of the key technologies developed for the NS7 and expand them into standalone products. How does the V7 stand up against CD decks and DVS solutions, and where does the X5 fit in the endless pile of two channel mixers?

To read the full review and drool over few pictures, head over to DJ Tech Tools for the whole article.

Scratch Live

New Serato Scratch Live ASIO and CoreAudio support

In case you’re not sure what this means, new (currently beta) drivers for Rane’s SL3 and Sixty-Eight hardware allow them to be used as standard audio interfaces. Since their inception, the hardware that powers Serato Scratch Live has been interfaced with proprietary drivers or (Windows only) ASIO support. Now, though, all that’s changed – providing you’re the proud owner of one of the prestige models in the Scratch Live lineup, the SL3 or Sixty-Eight mixer.

new (currently beta) drivers for Rane’s SL3 and Sixty-Eight hardware allow them to be used as standard audio interfaces.

This is great news for people drawn to the Scratch Live software, but feeling somewhat short changed by the fact that just about all DVS solutions, notably NI’s Audio 4 and 8, can be used as audio interfaces to power their other music software. It’s a shame there’s no word of SL1 core audio support, but this is definitely something to look forward to for the people with the right hardware.
Take a look at this forum post to get hold of the beta drivers, or keep your eye out for the final versions soon. There’s also a 2.2 update for Scratch Live in beta available here, which brings better effects support for TTM57 users, integrates Vestax’s VFX1 effects controller, and a few pages of bug fixes.

Maschine 1.6

Maschine 1.6 to Host Plugins

Maschine is one of my favourite music production tools. It’s made waves of increasing magnitude with each point release it’s received over the past 18ish months, developing from a great idea to a slick realisation of the potential of the groove box/computer software hybrid; its freshly announced forthcoming ability to host VST/AU plugins takes it one step closer to becoming a total all in one power tool.

I can’t help but start to imagine that the things Native Instruments are learning along the way are trailblazing for their vision of the DAW of tomorrow

According to the forum post that announced this news, plugin hosting won’t be the only thing that the 1.6 update brings to the table. NI seem to be implementing features both large and small fairly steadily to Maschine, and I can’t help but start to imagine that the things they’re learning along the way are trailblazing for their vision of the DAW of tomorrow. An amalgamation of Maschine’s groove box mentality, Kore’s sound management, and track based audio and MIDI sequencing, combined with a a proprietary control surface to power it, could totally change the game. Is it just a matter of time?

x1_4

Review: NI Kontrol X1

This is an extract from my full review, published on Skratchworx. Read on and catch the link to the full article at the end of the post.

NI’s increasingly bold steps in the hardware arena all fall on the same principle – that whilst software design frees the product designers’ visions from the restrictions of hardware, tangible control is an important aspect of performance equipment; creating integrated solutions is the future.

The Kontrol X1 is a slab of controls with a specific goal: to make interacting with your favourite DJ software (especially if that software is Traktor Pro) more easy and more fun

The Kontrol X1 is a slab of controls with a specific goal: to make interacting with your favourite DJ software (especially if that software is Traktor Pro) more easy and more fun. I spent some time taking it through its paces to see whether it succeeds.

This is an extract of my full review, published on Skratchworx – click here to go to it, and gaze admiringly at the exclusive photography, from which this post borrows.

maschine

Review: NI Maschine 1.5

This is an extract from my full review, published on Skratchworx. Read on and catch the link to the full article at the bottom of the post.

Despite my relatively glowing review of Maschine 1.0, as time went by little niggles began to turn into big qualms. Compared to its only real competitors, hardware behemoths in the Akai and Roland stables, it was the basic ingredients rather than the icing on the proverbial cake that was lacking. A machine designed to sample, but lacking basic sample editing features, created a workflow encumbered at its very core by workarounds and jury rig solutions.

Thankfully, the sampling system has received a major overhaul in 1.5, and I’m pleased to report that the bods at NI have finally seen it fit to furnish their little groove box with a pair of scissors

Thankfully, the sampling system has received a major overhaul in 1.5, and I’m pleased to report that the bods at NI have finally seen it fit to furnish their little groove box with a pair of scissors. Yes, Maschine 1.5 can destructively edit samples, and it’s wonderful. Truncate, Normalise, Fix DC Offset, Cut, Copy, Paste, Silence… it’s all there (and made smooth by the introduction of waveform zooming and more sensitive value editing on the controller). At least, almost all there – a few features are still conspicuous by their absence, most notably a ‘mono’ feature for combining the channels of a stereo signal, a ‘Snap to Zero Crossing’, and a destructive slicing mode.

This is an extract of my full review, published on Skratchworx – click here to go to it, and gaze admiringly at the exclusive photography, from which this post borrows.

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