Ableton Link v3 brings Start/Stop Sync, and now it’s in Audiobus too

It’s only fair to say that Ableton’s Link technology has been a big deal from day one. It’s been taken up by a huge number of apps in the iOS world, on Android, macOS, and even in hardware too. I’d go as far as to say that Link is now a hygiene factor for any new app. You just have to have it.

Of course, one thing that it’s been missing is the ability to manage start and stop commands. That is, up until now. With the latest version of Link comes exactly that. Start and stop built right in, and as of today Audiobus has added support for Ableton Link Start/Stop Sync, so when Start/Stop Sync is enabled, Audiobus will forward start and stop messages from Link to apps connected to it.

So Link just makes itself even more important and indispensable.

If you don’t have Ableton Link in your app as yet then you might want to consider adding it. Developers can find documentation here. The site gives more details about v3 start/stop:

“As of Version 3, Link allows peers to share information on the user’s intent to start or stop transport with other peers that have the feature enabled. Start/stop state changes only follow user actions. This means applications will not adapt to, or automatically change the start/stop state of a Link session when they are joining. After a peer joins a session it exposes and listens to all upcoming start/stop state changes. This is different to tempo, beat, and phase that are automatically aligned as soon as an application joins a session. As every application handles start and stop commands according to its capabilities and quantization, it is not expected that applications start or stop at the same time. Rather every application should start according to its quantum and phase.”

Personally I’m really glad to see Audiobus get this update straight away. It makes Audiobus even more useful again.

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A free plug-in brings extreme PaulStretch stretching to your DAW

You’ve heard Justin Bieber mangled into gorgeous ambient cascades of sound. Now, you can experience the magic of PaulStretch as a free plug-in.

It may give you that “A-ha” moment in ambient music. You know:

The developer has various warnings about using this plug-in, which for me make me want to use it even more. (Hey, no latency reporting to the DAW? Something weird in Cubase! No manual? Who cares! Let’s give it a go – first I’m going to run with scissors to grab a beer which I’ll drink at my laptop!)


The plugin is only suitable for radical transformation of sounds. It is not suitable at all for subtle time corrections and such. Ambient music and sound design are probably the most suitable use cases.

You had me at radical / not subtle.

Okay… yeah, this was probably meant for me:

You can use it two ways: either load an audio file, and just run PaulStretch in your DAW, or use it as a live processor on inputs. (That’s weird, given what it does – hey, there was some latency. Like… a whole lot of latency.)

It’s on Mac and Windows but code is available and Linux is “likely.”

If you want the original:

That does other nifty tricks, like binaural beats.

But the plug-in I think just became the easiest way to use it. Now go forth and make long sounds and chill to them.

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Gibson is in trouble – and that means trouble for owner Juskiewicz

What’s as American as a Gibson guitar? Well, lately, perhaps iconic brands getting run into the ground by mismanagement at the top.

And that’s one way to read the situation with Gibson Brands. Gibson, the Nashville-based guitar company that also owns names like TEAC Tascam and some Philips consumer audio products, is running out of time to pay back debts.

What’s next? Bankruptcy – if the company isn’t successful in refinancing.

Various music press have in the past days jumped on reporting by the Nashville Post that is critical of current management and suggests that owner/CEO Henry Juszkiewicz doesn’t have much time left. It’s the Post writers guessing that Gibson won’t be able to do enough to calm creditors and bondholders. That is – they’re not making loan payments fast enough, or giving a clear explanation, and the people who loaned them the money are getting fed up.

Gibson, for their part, this month offered up their own strategy. The company said in a press statement that it “has met all current obligations to the bondholders, is in the process of arranging a new credit facility to replace the bonds, and fully expects the bonds to be refinanced in the ordinary course of business.”

They’re also bringing back Benson Woo as Chief Financial Officer.

But that raises both the question of whether they’ll deliver on refinancing promises, and how they got here in the first place.

It’s easy to assume that this is about the demise of the guitar, but that may be mistaken. Indeed, Gibson Brands’ revenue has been down. But guitar sales in the US and worldwide remain fairly stable, looking at larger trends. These are instruments that last you a long time, meaning it’s easy to defer purchases – so the state of the economy is a factor. But while the statistics are hard to get a hold of (these numbers tend to be sold, rather than shared freely), it’s not hard to find evidence that the guitar market remains healthy.

Here’s a good read from 2015, from a marketing blogger:

19 Fascinating Guitar Sales Statistics []

Guitars certainly face challenges: think cheaper imports and knockoffs, plus a huge used market (that’s also going to become more and more relevant to synth and modular sales). But looking at the larger numbers and music in general, musicians who want guitars remain loyal to the instrument, and they’re willing to pay for a brand.

The question isn’t what’s going on with guitars, but what’s going on at Gibson.

And there, you might look at their electronics business, where Gibson is seeing sales sagging dramatically versus plans. That’s important, because it’s also where Gibson acquired these debts in the first place – as I noted when Gibson sold Cakewalk, the consumer audio push seemed a fools’ errand. Gibson argued at the time they needed to off-load Cakewalk to support that consumer audio push – but that could in turn just dig them deeper, while sacrificing a small part of their business that was insufficient to pay back debts.

So, while the immediate narrative may be: “ah, the demise of the guitar,” maybe it should be more like, “ah, that company loaned a bunch of money to go into consumer audio and now can’t pay it back because they screwed up.” Too much appetite for consumer audio may wreck Gibson the guitar company.

And that’s in fact what the Post argues: that the story at Gibson is mismanagement. Here’s the money quote (so to speak), from Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service:

“Some type of restructuring will be necessary,” Cassidy said. “The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one. But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”

It seems that has to fall to the leadership at the top – Henry Juszkiewicz, the company CEO and owner. It’s been Juszkiewicz that led this massive expansion, then failed to connect the consumer audio and technology vision to the core instrument business, then failed to keep up with debts as the strategy sagged. But irrespective of whether the buck should stop there, bankruptcy is likely to mean he’ll be unable to retain his current position.

That is, as either debtors or the bondholders get control of Gibson, it may actually be cause for some fans of the core instrument business to applaud. Normally in America, the credit holders are the villains and the plucky upstart business owner the hero – you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life. But lately, management losing focus in favor of growth suggests sometimes the people looking at the numbers have a point.

Whatever is about to hit the fan will likely do it soon. Gibson are set to report third quarter earnings and answer to concerns from debtors or bondholders. If the Post article is to be believed – and I suspect it is – you’ll see whatever happens next at Gibson shortly.

It’s worth reading the full story:

Gibson ‘running out of time — rapidly’ [Nashville Post]

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65th MPSE Golden Reel Awards Winners Announced

The 65th MPSE Golden Reel Awards Winners have been announced. The career achievement award goes to Field Recordist John P. Fasal and the annual MPSE Filmmaker Award to Director Kathryn Bigelow. For a complete list of winners visit the official page. Source:

Xequence MIDI controller expands with a new drum maps feature and more

Xequence MIDI Workstation refers to itself as an advanced linear MIDI Sequencer and Keyboard / Controller. It’s universal app, so it runs on both iPhone and iPad, and if MIDI control is your thing then it’s probably an app you should take a closer look at. Xequence’s latest update brings a wealth of new features, the biggest of which is a new drum maps IAP, but that’s not all, version 1.6 significantly improves the app in a number of other areas and makes it a very compelling controller.

Here’s all that’s new:

DRUM MAPS (In-App Purchase):

  • Every instrument can now have a fully customizable drum map (up to 8×8 or 64 pads, any other sizes like 3×4 or 5×2 etc. are also supported).
  • Access drum maps by tapping the former “Dual keyboard” toggle button at the bottom left of the keyboard screen, and selecting the pads icon.
  • Drum maps can be edited via drag and drop
  • Drum pads support positional velocity sensitivity (highly configurable), and glide from pad to pad
  • Drum names are shown instead of notes in the pianoroll editor.
  • Various layout editing functions like flip, compact, etc.
  • Preset system: Drum map layouts can be saved and retrieved across projects and devices.
  • 9 factory map presets included, more in a free update.


  • Over 70 new scales from all around the world added.
  • Enhanced scale selector, organized into 10 categories and with visualization of current scale.


  • Selectable linear or S-shaped velocity curves.
  • New controller input mode “Key position”: When enabled, sets the controller value when a key is struck, depending on the vertical position on the key. Fully configurable modes and curves. Very useful and expressive, especially if a synth doesn’t support mapping velocity to a control.
  • New controller input mode “Key slide”: When enabled, the controller’s value can be changed by moving your finger up and down while holding a key. Fully configurable modes and curves. Again, lots of expressive possibilities. This mode can also be combined with the aforementioned “Key position” for even more control.


  • “Auto-add controllers” option (enabled by default). When recording via MIDI and receiving a controller (CC) that does not yet exist on the current instrument, it will be automatically added.
  • Added “Prevent display lock” option to settings.


  • Keyboard: Changed the way the keyboard mode (scroll, glide, locked) is selected (reduced to two toggle buttons).
  • Keyboard: Added Undo and Redo buttons in the bottom toolbar, no more switching back and forth while recording.
  • Various user interface improvements.
  • Various optimizations to make the app even faster and more resource efficient.


  • Controller editor: Velocities sometimes didn’t update immediately while playing after changing them in “Draw” mode.
  • Keyboard: Fix occasional wrong note velocities when playing chords.
  • Fix wrong display of project names that contain dots.

Xequence is available on the app store and costs $4.99 (IAPs for Drum Maps, unlimited tracks, and up to 12 controllers)

It’s worth checking out this video of the very first version of the app to get a feel for it, although it has moved on from there quite a bit now.

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Bougaïeff & Narciss talk craft, and composing 60-second techno loops

Talk about minimal techno: Nicolas Bougaïeff and Narciss made a selection of 60-second locked grooves. Here’s more on that project and their practice.

If you’re hungry for electronic music that still pushes boundaries and technique, Dr. Nicolas Bougaïeff is a good place to start. (Yes, he’s a real doctor – the Ph.D. is in music composition). And lately, he’s been on a tear. Apart from a fanciful EP for our own Establishment, his recent output has focused on aggressively distorted, dystopian timbres, expertly constructed machines that pound forward like giant robots. He’s gotten deserved attention for that, as well, including the 12″ release of Cognitive Resonance, which relaunched Daniel Miller’s seminal NovaMute label.

There’s no paint-by-number techno here: each rhythm, each sound is considered. (It’s little wonder that Nick is working in offering composition lessons on the side – in a field that has been largely short of expert training.)

Now, you can get a view to that in Principles of Newspeak, his Denkfabrik LP, and take a cinematic journey through these realms.

But I thought we’d take the occasion to explore a unique set of etudes that came at the beginning of this year. It’s called Vocabulary C, and it takes the meticulous construction of techno to an extreme. The whole album is a set of locked grooves, each just one minute in length.

It’s not just a simple DJ “tools” release, though – think of it as tools that are also effective etudes. You can actually listen to each of these as a one-minute, standalone composition. There’s audio material drawn from Principles of Newspeak, but you almost don’t need to know that: these stand on their own. (Miniatures are a topic Nicolas has taken up before, not surprisingly – he’s got a release called 24 Miniatures coming out now, too.)

Nicolas teamed up with Berlin-born artist Narciss for this one – an artist who has literally grown up in the middle of Berlin techno, and has a DJ resume (and more releases upcoming on DRVMS LTD. and Seelen Records) to match.

With the fusion of composition and technology here, of course, we had plenty to talk about with these two.

There are two video documentaries as a starting point. First, there’s a short feature of Principles of Newspeak, visiting Nick in his studio:

From there, there’s a second video in which Nicolas and Narciss talk about the project and their collaboration:

CDM: Nick, from the release for Daniel Miller to your own follow-up on your label to this reusing materials … it feels like you’re making connective tissue now between releases. Is that about your own continuity? Is it about a narrative?

NB: Making a large scale musical work inspired by 1984 has been on my mind for over 20 years. If you dig very, very Once I got started, I owed it to myself to explore every aspect of the topic. I’m happy I found an angle to the novel that hadn’t really been covered by other musicians, so I just kept on going. Vocabulary C gave me a feeling of closure.

And you’ve worked with miniatures before, too, yes?

I’ve done this sort of project before. Back in 2011, I recorded a new sketch every day for nearly the whole year, 20 minutes every day first thing in the morning no thinking allowed. That yielded hundreds of musical fragments. From those I eventually compiled an album by selecting the very best moments, no further whatsoever besides touching the mixdown and trimming the shortest edit possible. It kind of sat on my hard drive for seven years now, which is a nice contrast to how spontaneous the original process was. I feel it really aged well so I’m finally about to release the 24 Miniatures album via Denkfabrik.

All of these projects draw from the well of dystopia and dystopian imagination – what was that inspiration here? (What’s the Orwell connection?)

NB: Vocabulary C is the last release in a thematic series of three records, all of them inspired by the appendix to George Orwell’s 1984. The lead single “Cognitive Resonance” came out as a 12″ on NovaMute; the album Principles of Newspeak came out on my own label Denkfabrik, and finally, Vocabulary C as a collection of locked grooves inspired by the sounds from the album.

The 1984 appendix is focused on the particular way language is distorted in that fictional universe, a mashup of political slogans and the Whorf-Sapir linguistics theory. The idea is that if you destroy words, you destroy the ability to think of that concept. Fortunately, that’s not the way language works in reality. In the book, vocabulary C is a facet of the language that is used strictly to describe technical processes. In parallel, it seemed to me very fitting that a locked groove, historically, is a very technical musical tool.

6. Also to repeat the video a little bit, maybe you can elaborate on those vocabularies? How did you apply them to managing the material here?

NB: Best to directly quote Orwell here.

“The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the business of everyday life — for such things as eating, drinking, working, putting on one’s clothes, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles, gardening, cooking, and the like”

“The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”

See, both of those are interesting, but way too literal to be used for instrumental music. But when you get to Vocabulary C, it’s abstract and detached in a way that seemed to really fit with techno.

“The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms.”

Can you explain what a locked groove is?

NB: A vinyl groove is normally cut in a spiral. A locked groove is a circle, so the needle loops around over and over. You literally have to pick up the needle to choose another loop, you can have lots of different loops on a record. Pioneering techno artists — Jeff Mills, for example — produced and performed with locked groove records, sometimes making it a central part of their process.

Narciss: To me, it’s kind of the most stripped down techno tool in existence. It really is just an endless loop that can, for example, be used to mix two tracks that don’t perfectly mesh together, or to add some spice to your transitions. Instrumentation is pretty interesting, because using the sounds we had, meant, we mainly patched things through different effects.

There’s something a bit cheeky about embracing minimalism in this way, right? This isn’t phases like Steve Reich; it isn’t messing with time like Morton Feldman. You’re into full-on repetition – right into the heart of what many people claim to dislike about techno. What made you go that route? Is there a personal story to this embrace of rigid structure and repetition, intellectual curiosity aside?

NB: There’s a holy grail in techno: that magical moment when the groove is so good that you bliss out and don’t touch the machines anymore. We experience this all the time as music producers working in the studio, and also on the dance floor when everything is just spot. You get the same thing in many improvised musics – searching until you lock in. That’s what I wanted to focus on with this project; I wanted to focus on finding self-standing moments where time stands still.

Timbre is significant here, too, I feel. There’s a real brutality to this, maybe something missing in a lot of drenched-out, effect-pedal, too-much-reverb music trending now. What was the source of those sounds; how did you arrive at them?

Narciss: This can mainly be accredited to the extremely raw-sounding base material that we were working with. Both of the albums that Nicolas made have a very violent, heavy structure to them, so naturally working with sounds from them, you would get something like that out too, although even on the loops where we didn’t use any of that material, it was a pretty natural adaption to what we made before, I guess.

NB: The sound palette was more of a consequence of where I had been with my other projects rather than a conscious conceptual choice. We used a a bunch of Narciss’ favorite drum loops as well as a big chunk of my personal sound library from the past couple years, that was all industrial and electroacoustic sounds derived from electric cello, modular synth and loads of distortion pedals. Looking back, I can now better appreciate the tension between the timeless locked groove format and the sounds that grab your attention.

I want to ask about the element of setting the timer. In order to be that immediate, did you find that there was practice necessary first – on your own, as a duo?

Narciss: I didn’t really see it as practice, we pretty much sat down and recorded everything from the first loop to the last. Obviously, quality improved – generally towards the end of the process, we hit it home more times than in the beginning. But I think a little less than half of the record was made during our first day.

NB: I’ve been an improvising musician for over 15 years – working fast feels very comfortable. Also, quantity was a very important part of this project. Our goal was to make 100 locked grooves, and then we would select the best 20 or 30. Many of them were really bad, silly or just boring, but that didn’t matter, because five minutes later, we had an opportunity to begin again.

Actually, I’m kind of interested now that this has been out in the world for a while … uh, not just to rationalize turning in these questions late. What’s happened in the interim; what has the response been?

NB: I’ve been notified from Bandcamp about who downloads the records. I’ve had some interesting surprises there!

Functionally speaking, how do you expect these tracks to live? Are people DJing with them – are you? How do they work as tools – are they intended as tools? Would these encourage people perhaps even to DJ in a different way

Narciss: I’m certainly playing them out live, yes. Not all of them, of course — “Loop C-02” is a particular favorite. Some are definitely meant more as an exploration of the medium than as an actual “locked groove” in its regular function. I think it does force people who only blend two tracks at a time to play differently, though, yeah – because in that environment, a locked groove doesn’t make much sense. But if you play with three decks or more, then I think the more dancefloor-oriented grooves won’t challenge you that much.

NB: Of course they’re tools! They’re radically minimal not only in their form, but also in their sparseness. I’m always trying to figure out what is the least amount of instruments necessary to get a really banging sound. Now whether they’re played on their own or deep in the mix, that really depends on the musical context.

Does that change the meaning, if they are blended with other tracks?

NB: No, they don’t need to be played as stark naked loops on their own, unprocessed. As a central element, my challenge to DJs would be to try to figure out how long you can keep them going on with the least amount of transformation and mixing.

Narciss: It’s an interesting thought, to be sure. But since this project was more of an exploration of this “Locked Groove” concept, I think that if people play them out, it doesn’t as much change the meaning,as hammer home the functionality of it, even if you get analytical and deconstructive with it.

I know you’ve worked together before. This got you working more closely, though, yes?

Narciss: For sure, for me personally this project has furthered this “Sensei student mentality” with Nicolas just so much more, although I think he hates it when I say that, ha!

NB: Yeah, Narciss contributed a remix for my release on Establishement, and I just did a remix for his new record on DRVMS Ltd. We’ve been friends for a couple years, and with this project it was a really intense five or six sessions actually. The five minute non-stop sprints was pretty exhausting. And we’re still friends now!

Narciss, you’re obviously out there in the trenches, too, in the DJ scene. What was the connection like between this slightly experimental format and that clubland experience?

Narciss: There most definitely was a connection between the two. I mean originally, locked grooves themselves are something that only make sense in the context of a DJ-set. So it actually took me personally quite a while to get away from the “four-to-the-floor-mentality” of the medium.

Also, being born in this city, where do you look for inspiration – are you attracted to new things that are flowing into the city’s cultural life? Is the familiarity of growing up here something significant, or is it that turnover that drives you, or some combination? (I do notice different perspectives of natives and transplant.)

Narciss: I love this question – but there are so many aspects to this subject.

It definitely is a combination. Growing up here, the extremely hedonistic way in which Berlin is perceived from the outside was always very perplexing to me, because this was simply not the way that I saw it. Even when I started DJing, I didn’t actually go out that much because the way I got into it was actually just by discovering the genre in my record store, not by going to the parties. The problem with this is that Techno is, of course, a genre that is inspired by parties and clubs, from the way it sounds to just the overall existence of it. I only really understood this, though, when two British friends of mine moved here, because they had so much unbridled passion for techno, that only through them did I fully understand that these two things cannot exist without each other.

So for me, personally, I do actually like to get my inspiration from the memories that I have of Berlin before it got “un-dangerous” or the corners that people just do not explore enough (like Marzahn, for example). Ed.: Take note of Marzahn, architecture fans. Oh dear; I probably just sent someone down a linkhole. But to be honest, without the turnover of Berlin, and just absolute heaps of people moving here from all over the world, I probably would not be making the music I am making today. That being said, if someone who is thinking about renting an overpriced apartment just to go to Panorama Bar loads, is reading this : please don’t you’re making my rent go up. [laughs]

Will we see these animations live outside of the digital release? Audiovisual show?

NB: Itaru Yasuda — — made the Vocabulary C animations, that was the beginning of a new live AV collaboration. Itaru and I just released a new video and that live AV project is moving forward fast.

And lastly, what’s next? I know you both have a bunch of upcoming projects and maybe at least one of you big bookings… will this particular project or collaboration also carry on somehow?

NB: I have a couple big bookings coming up, and I already have 3 solo EPs confirmed for release this year. Narciss and I took one of the locked grooves from Vocabulary C and fleshed it out into a full track, that should be coming out later this year as well.

Narciss: Well, there’s a track of ours on the next Seelen Records Release that was still part of the same sessions in which we made “Vocabulary C”. Other than that time will tell I think, I’d definitely be down to make more stuff together, but the magic about this project was that the process was so different to how we individually usually make our music, so I’m not sure how we would go about just making “normal techno” together.

Thanks! We’ll be listening!

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Roland’s DJ gear has a built-in TR drum machine; here’s how to use it

Roland’s DJ controllers have an extra twist: a built-in TR-606/707/808/909 drum machine. We’ve put together a cheat guide so you can get the most out of it.

We’ve seen DJ controllers promote the idea of mixing performing and DJing, or remixing and DJing, before. What sets the Roland-Serato collaboration apart is that these devices actually start to resemble production gear as much as they do DJ gear. And while the hooks into Serato’s performance features are clearly part of the appeal, some of these capabilities come from built-in hardware features that exist independently from Serato’s functionality on your computer. That’s certainly true of the tricked-out DJ-808 flagship, which will even process vocal inputs via the mic, or the DJ-505, which still has dedicated drum machine controls. But it’s surprisingly hidden away even on the entry-level DJ-202 (accessible via the pads).

What all three of the DJ-X0X series have in common is the TR-S drum machine. It’s a slimmed-down cousin to the AIRA TR-8, and like the TR-8 (and boutique TR-08 and TR-09), it’s based on Roland’s ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology. That means it sounds pretty darned close to the sounds of the analog circuitry on the original machines – only it’s lurking inside your DJ controller, rather than expensive piece of analog gear you’ve lugged along.

Getting one of the Roland DJ controllers really is like getting a tiny drum machine “for free.” And all three models have some signature sounds from the 808 and 909 (and now 606 and 707), plus performance controls.

The TR-S doubles as a sequencer/trigger for samples inside Serato, opening up still more options. But in drum machine mode, the TR-S is running entirely on hardware, not on the host. On the 505 and 808, you can even unplug your computer and use it as a standalone drum machine. Only the Serato Sampler section requires a computer. The SYNC button also ceases to mean anything, since it gets sync data from Serato. All of this is perfect for jamming around when not using your computer… like, uh, this week when Windows decided it absolutely had to be updated. 😉

The TR-S can be used via step sequencer mode – for programming beats – or you can access the sounds by playing the pads. You’ll just need to practice finger drumming, as those pads are just real-time – no roll or quantize features. So, you know, learn timing! (Or stick to the step sequencer. No judgment.)

Patterns are all overwritten as you mess around with them, which is a good thing for playing live. But in case you’re afraid of wrecking a perfect groove, you can also back up and restore data – so you can save data from a particularly good gig, for instance, or either the factory defaults or your favorite patterns.

What’s all this for? Well, you can add a percussion line to a track. Or you can transition from a track to a live jam on the drum machine. Or you can add a groove to a track that doesn’t have one. The combination of Serato and the TR-S also make this an appealing remix tool or even a quick way to start a production. It’s really up to you where you see this fitting in, but it’s nice not to have to cable in a separate drum machine to pull this off.

It’s also clear Roland are committed to building out this functionality. Their recent 1.10 firmware was largely focused on beefing up the TR-S and its effects, meaning the team back in Japan evidently like the bits a lot of us users do. See our guide to what’s new:

Roland quietly made their DJ controllers into live-hybrid machines [1.10 firmware update news / feature]

The basic workflow I found was this: I mix and beatmatch normally on the Serato decks, then tap the SYNC button on the TR-S to lock it to the active bpm when I want to add some live rhythm. From there, the possibilities open up. You can avoid being repetitive not only by switching patterns or programming your own, but by making use of mute and even switching individual sounds or whole kits as the pattern plays – see the reference below.

Here’s our cheat guide. (It’s all in the manual in more depth, of course, but this way you get a quick reference to everything the TR-S can do – which turns out to be a lot.)

Now, note, this covers the DJ-505 and DJ-808. Serato actually cooked up a really easy guide to the DJ-202. It’s far less obvious and immediate – it’s all compressed onto the performance pads on the bottom of the controller. But in exchange, the DJ-202 is the least expensive and most portable of the three.

Now, note, while this may seem like it’s just for the Serato sampler, it’s actually both that and built-in TR kits. Like the 505 and 808, the DJ-202 in the 1.10 firmware update adds the TR-606 and TR-707 sounds to the TR-808 and TR-909. So, you can make some Roland drum sounds till the cow(bells) come home, basically. Everything else in this Serato article remains up-to-date apart from those new sounds.

Using the Roland DJ-202’s TR-S Sequencer

Quick reference guide: DJ-505 and DJ-808

[ Download PDF to print ]

1-16 correspond to the TR-S drum pads on the top of the unit.


Choose a pattern [PATTERN] + 1-16
Copy [PATTERN], [SHIFT] + 1-16 (copy), 1-16 (paste)
Clear whole pattern [PATTERN], [CLEAR] + 1-16
Clear a part [INST], [CLEAR] + 1-16
Change length (1.10) [SHIFT] + [SCALE], [VALUE] to select last step


Adjust shuffle [SHUFFLE], then [VALUE]
(less shuffle to more shuffle, or from leading to dragging)

Nudge (earlier to later) [SHIFT] + [SHUFFLE], then [VALUE]
Synchronize to Serato SYNC (repeat to “grab” the current BPM)
Toggle sync on and off SYNC / SYNC OFF (PC mode only)

Note: shuffle and nudge work in reverse of one another. That makes some sense: increasing shuffle means that the notes fall later; “nudge” moves them forward or backward in time directly. Nudge and tap tempo were added on the DJ-808 in the 1.10 firmware.

Choose kit [SHIFT] + [INST], 1-12 (last four slots work with Serato Sampler)
Change part sound in a kit (808, 909, 707, 606) [INST], 1-8 + [VALUE]
Level Volume
Attack BD attack, SD snare rattle only
Tune Adjusts pitch or filter
Decay Adjusts decay envelope
You can now choose up to four sounds from the TR-S’ twelve kits, which show up as 60, 70, 80, and 90. (1.0 firmware had just 8 kits and 808/909 sounds.)

Percussion parts
BD = Bass drum (80.b1 for long decay 808)
SD = Snare drum
CH Closed hi-hat
OH Open hi-hat (choked by CH)
LT Low tom
HC Clap
RS Rim shot
RC 808 cowbell / 909 and 707 ride / 606 cymbal

TR-S Kit Effects, Copy
Added in 1.1 firmware, TR-S effects per kit.

[SHIFT] + [INST] or [SHIFT] + [PATT] to activate kit, then:
Compressor ATTACK knob increases compression
Drive TUNE knob increases distortion (try combining with compression)
Transient DECAY knob sharpens transients (boosts attack, decreases decay)

Each time you select a new kit, your settings are saved, and recalled each time you load a kit.

And you can copy kits:
[SHIFT] + [INST], [SHIFT] + 1 – 12 selects source, 1 – 12 selects destination

Live recording (quantized) With sequence playing, [SHIFT] + [TR-REC], press performance pads at bottom
Exit live recording In live mode, [TR-REC]
Toggle step entry [TR-REC] (downbeats highlight light blue)
Choose instrument for steps [INST], 1-16
With instrument selected:
Add quiet step (unaccented) [SHIFT] + 1-16
Velocity per step 1-16, [VALUE] 0-127
Rolls per step Hold 1-16 for the step on which to roll, press [TR-REC] repeatedly to choose 1/16 (no roll at default), 1/32, 1/48, or 1/64 roll
Accents (impacts all parts)
Add accents to steps [SHIFT] + [PATTERN], 1-16
Adjust level of accent [SHIFT] + [PATTERN], [LEVEL] knob

Download our cheat guide

Roland-TR-S-cheatsheet-CDM [printable PDF]

The post Roland’s DJ gear has a built-in TR drum machine; here’s how to use it appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.


Don’t miss this video of Jakob lubing up his DJ battle mixer

Hey kids: don’t forget the lube. Well, actually … like seriously.

Jakob Haq is simply one of our favorite YouTube contributors, all round – normally covering mobile music tech, but sometimes a range of other topics, too. And this video proves it.


The faders on my old Stanton SA-5 Allies signature mixer needed cleaning and some lube love in order for them to glide smoothly again. I recently started using this mixer after being hooked up with a new wall-power adapter for it (Thank you Ribbon). The fun lasted for a day before my faders started getting dodgy so it was time for an overhaul.

Okay, so obvious lube jokes aside (hey, it’s a real thing), this video is great on a number of levels. Apart from presumably helping someone out there with this very specific case, I can’t count the number of times people ask me, how do I repair this music thing xx?

And frankly, we don’t ask that nearly enough. An irony is, when I talk to people from the ex-Communist world (which happens, well, frequently), there’s far more widespread knowledge of repair technique – one born by necessity. But we all need to do that. When you’re touring and your gear breaks down, you need to be able to fix it. When you’re out of cash and your gear breaks down, you need to be able to fix it. When the planet is buckling under the weight of trash, toxic materials from these products can leech into the ecosystem, and when, well, people need gear – we need to fix everything.

It’d be great to put together repair guides in some centralized place. I’m up for ideas.

The post Don’t miss this video of Jakob lubing up his DJ battle mixer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.


Sending music to LANDR now gets your music up on Beatport

LANDR, the platform that first appeared to do automated online mastering, is now distribution, too. And they’ve added online giant Beatport as a partner.

That news came quietly earlier this week, but it demonstrates LANDR are serious about making a turnkey solution for distribution as well as mastering. The deal is, if you aren’t a label big enough to work with Bandcamp directly, and/or if you don’t have your own distributor, you can’t just send music to online stores.

LANDR offers to entirely streamline the process. If you trust their algorithmic approach to mastering, all you have to do is upload and hit release. Your music is mastered (with some minor, simplified ability to tweak the results), and off to Beatport – plus Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Google Music, and some others.

The pricing is certainly aggressive. Distribution is bundled in with the mastering fees at no additional cost. And in an unprecedented move, LANDR give you 100% of royalties and charge you nothing. The whole system is based on explosive growth. To master WAV files, you have to pony up for the 25EUR/month fee (for unlimited tracks, if you’re a heavy user). But it appears even the lowly 4EUR/mo track does WAV distribution.

There is a catch, of course. First, I’m not entirely convinced by LANDR’s algorithmic mastering. Mastering with a human actually isn’t all that expensive, depending on who you use – and tests I did with LANDR’s system were compelling, but only on the level of what you might get with a preset in a good mastering plug-in. I know – I’m going to get in some trouble with the LANDR folks for this. But my thought is this: some of what mastering engineers do is based on taste, not just on something that could be derived from a large sample set. I rely on a mastering engineer to catch little mistakes and ask questions. Now, maybe people don’t want to pay extra for that, but – then I’d ask if they really want to do a proper digital release, or if they might as well just stick stuff up on SoundCloud and not overthink it.

There’s a second factor to be aware of here: just dumping music on distribution often isn’t effective. Having a human to pitch music makes a difference.

That said, even given my reluctance there, this distribution offer seems terrifically competitive. If you’ve finished an EP, and you just want to make sure people find it whether they type something into Spotify or follow your artist name on Bandcamp, this looks cost-effective and easy. There are other entry-level distribution services that don’t require contracts, but they tend to either charge big fees or else they lack stores like Beatport.

LANDR have posted on the topic:

It’s worth doing some homework; we can cover more on distribution soon. (While I work on that, let us know how you’re distributing, as it’d be great to get some notes!)

For more:

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