Seaquence arrived back in March of this year. It’s an interesting idea and in many ways it reminds me of Electroplankton from way back in the days when the DS platform was starting to show promise in terms of making music. The update to Seaquence brings some fixes and new features, the most important of these being audio and video recording. I can see that being really useful.
Here’s what’s new in 1.1:
• Built-in audio AND video recording/export using Apple Replay-Kit. Export audio and video to other apps.
• Enhanced MIDI support: Sources/Destinations can now be selected individually.
• Settings are now accessible in-app! No more iOS settings panel
• Tweaks to compressor settings resulting in larger dynamic range when lots of voices are playing. Experience greater fidelity in complicated mixes!
• Faster session loading
• Pinch Zoom
• New filter control which allows you to morph between the 4 different filter types dynamically, allowing for more expressive spectral control
• BPM and Transpose are now included in the free download
• Tap Tempo on BPM
• Play Audio in Background (option)
• Max Active voices — set how many voices can play at once (option)
• Showing/hide note names in sequencer (option)
• MIDI Enable/Disable (option)
• More accurate and consistent MIDI clock / note timing
• MIDI latency adjustment
• Improved IAP purchase flow and messaging
• Updated graphics / icons
• UI Tweaks
• Various Bug Fixes
Roland and Rane each have products aimed at Pioneer’s offerings in the computer controller market. Both work with Serato software – but each represents a different approach.
If Pioneer’s hegemony in standalone players seems unshakable, there’s at least the computer arena in which to compete. Pioneer for its part has moved to strengthen its Rekordbox software as a computer DJ software rival to Native Instruments’ Traktor, Serato DJ, and others.
For the experienced touring DJ, that strategy may well be meaningless. If you view Rekordbox as a tool for prepping a USB stick that you play on the CDJs already installed in the club, you may not particularly care about what it does in a laptop/controller setup. But, there’s still a large market of people getting into DJing for whom both the Pioneer name and the company’s vertically-integrated offerings hold a lot of appeal.
The challenge for Rane and Roland – hook into the Serato platform instead, and try to be better than Pioneer at similar price points. And there’s some added maneuvering room here. Native Instruments’ Traktor line hasn’t really evolved much lately, hampered in part by aging flagship software. And I agree absolutely with DJ TechTools’ Dan White – it looks like Roland is poised to become Serato’s main hardware vendor while Pioneer and InMusic focus on their own integrated ecosystems. Also, you can often expect a Japanese manufacturer to have more patience to play a long game. Serato remains a big player in a number of markets (notably the USA and southeast Asia), so there’s some market to pursue.
But let’s consider each company’s angle.
Rane: A gimmick-packed battle mixer, a MIDI-only turntable
Rane, formerly independent, is now owned by InMusic. The Rhode Island-based music giant is the one that is gunning directly for Pioneer – not only with computer controller rigs, but also in the standalone player market. The new standalone Denon players are the first with any potential to unseat Pioneer’s ubiquitous DJ, by offering more features for the price. (I’m not going to comment on their odds, though – beating Pioneer’s entrenched position in the club market will be one heck of an uphill battle.)
For computer-based DJs, Rane has two offerings. One is a mixer packed with features, and one is a turntable re-imagined as a MIDI-only device.
Seventy-Two Battle Mixer
This is what happens if you cross Rane’s mixer tech with InMusic’s touchscreens and pads – and then go after Pioneer’s competing “Battle-Ready” DJM-S9.
Indeed, the Seventy-Two is essentially control-for-control a clone of the Pioneer mixer, with the addition of touchscreen, and in a Rane case.
The screen lets you access Serato’s waveforms and use internal effects. Like the Pioneer S9, the Seventy-Two features pads and controls intended for use with Serato effects, digital vinyl, and internal mixing. Unlike the Pioneer, those effects require Serato. (The S9 is more useful when used as a conventional mixer, in that it has internal effects.)
The controller can be assigned to other tools, though I’m unsure how access to the touchscreens works. (It might be hackable; generally these devices treat these displays as external monitors.) One commenter on DJTT notes that other Serato displays have been made to work with the popular Virtual DJ software.
This is the most interesting product of the bunch, to me. It’s basically a full-sized (12″!) motorized turntable, minus the tone arm and needle. So you can’t play records on it, but you can use it as a DJ controller. You connect it via USB, and then you have the tactile feedback of an actual turntable, without the hassle and unreliability of digital vinyl control.
Eliminating the tone arm may not please everyone. What you get in its place is what they call the “Strip Search” (which gives me not the most pleasant associations as a phrase, but okay). That touch interface at least has the advantage of hot cues, with access to eight points on a track you can access immediately – something you can’t do quite as easily by physically lifting and moving a tone arm, to be sure.
Full 12” Vinyl with motorized platter to control playback
Traditional, familiar turntable layout, no need to learn something new
Strip Search with 8 hot cue triggers access
5.0 kfcm High torque motor with Hi/Low torque adjust for more traditional setups
4 decks of control so you can use one, two or more (switchable on the top right of the unit)
Extreme precision—3600 ticks of platter resolution for seamless performance
MIDI interface via USB that can be connected to the SEVENTY-TWO or your computer
33 1/3 and 45 rpm platter speeds
8/16/50% pitch with precise dual resolution detented slider
Top Panel rotary and traditional Motor Off switch, allows traditional wind down effects
Of course, this immediately begs the question, why not ditch the laptop and use this interface for a standalone player? I suspect someone will do that soon, whether it’s InMusic (with their Denon or Rane brands) or someone like Pioneer. And a 7″ rendition of this also seems a no-brainer. But this is already interesting.
And I almost totally want one. Almost, because the darned thing is a whopping US$799. I’m trying to figure out the person who will pay twice the price of a normal turntable for something that won’t play records. Wealthy … uh … Serato clinicians? Don’t know. But as technology, it’s interesting, and could be a sign of things to come.
So, if Rane has some really interesting but high-priced products – more demonstration of where things might go than something to buy right now – Roland brings us back down to Earth.
And that’s in stark contrast to where Roland entered, with the DJ-808 they added to their AIRA line last fall. The DJ-808 was cool, but … weird. It did Serato control, TR drum machine sequencing, and VT vocal transformations, but at a high cost – both in money and size.
But the new controllers from Roland bring price and size in line with competing options – enough that have probably become your best bet if you’re in the market for a Serato controller.
Both also have the same ultra-low-latency performance featured on the DJ-808 (though they lack the high resolution of the 808 platters).
The US$699.99 DJ-505 gives you most of what the DJ-808 did, plus a bundle of Serato DJ and Serato Tool Kit (for most additional features), and can be upgraded to Serato digital vinyl control.
The US$$299.99 still performs most of the controller tricks and TR functionality, with Serato Intro.
Both have TR (808 and 909) drum sounds and hands-on controls for them; the DJ-808 includes the full TR-S sequencer onboard.
The DJ-505 looks like quite a buy. It’s still a standalone mixer. It doesn’t have the VT vocal transformer effects of the DJ-808, but it still includes a mic input and some basic effects. And you get hands-on controls for both Serato and the internal TR sounds.
But as entry-level offering, the DJ-202 is no slouch, either – and it looks to be portable, too. Really, the only reservation you might have is buying into Serato as your DJ tool, depending on your preference. (Then again, if the Roland gear catches on, alternate tools like Virtual DJ may soon see support.)
The DJ-202 could also give Pioneer’s DDJ-SSB2 a run for its money.
In fact, figure that this low end of the market is where most of the sales is. (DJ TechTools observes that the Pioneer SSB2 is the best-selling US controller.)
And Native Instruments, while I’m a fan of Traktor, it really does feel like your offerings have fallen badly behind. Curious what your next move is.
At the low end of the market, it’s clear why computers aren’t going anywhere.
If people want into a music shop and want a DJ tool that’s flexible and cheap, there’s nothing quite like spending under $300 and getting a full-fledged system. In fact, even for a couple hundred dollars more, you might get something that works with your computer and still functions as a mixer. Even with cheap embedded computing and touchscreens, you can’t change the fact that people already own laptops (or iPads) with lots of internal storage and big displays.
But you also can’t change some of the problems with laptops. Bringing them to gigs and fitting them in a booth is a pain. Audio can be unreliable and tough to configure.
It’s still impressive to me that there are so few standalone options. Denon has its own CDJ rival and even an all-in-one (though massive and expensive) coffin.
But once you see products like AKAI’s new MPCs, which are essentially controllers with their own computer inside, it’s not hard to imagine where things will go. What about a DJ device you can take out of a flight case and plug directly into a mixer? There’s no question that makers like Roland, InMusic, Native Instruments, and others all have the technical capacity to make such a device.
While we wait, though, my prediction is this: when those hit, the whole direction of the market will change fast.
AliveInVR is a remote MIDI controller for Ableton Live for use with Windows virtual reality, available now on Steam. And – it’s a little crazy.
The idea is this: instead of using a physical controller or touchscreen, you manipulate Live parameters and clips by donning a helmet and waving your arms around.
You can use this via MIDI to control your copy of Ableton Live. (The title is currently in Early Access state – meaning it’s still being developed.
There’s a kind of mismatch of spatial dimensions with all these VR interfaces, I find. Mostly what you get is two-dimensional interfaces arranged in 3D – that is, here there’s a two-dimensional grid that just floats in space. But you do get to arrange those controls in a three-dimensional space.
HTC Vive and (more recently) Oculus Rift hardware is supported. In what may be a sign of things to come, there’s also streaming.
Because this is virtual reality, the interface blocks your view of the outside world. Mixed reality headsets may wind up competing with this approach.
Let us know if you try this out, if you own supported hardware. Here’s the developer description:
Ever wanted to use a giant Push or Launchpad from within VR?
Uh, come to think of it, not really. But go on, I’ll bite!
AliveInVR controls Ableton Live allowing you to trigger clips, play instruments and mix with a giant 3D Controllerist interface in VR.
Perform your favourite Live sessions and lose yourself in the music from VR.
Session mode – clip triggering and clip colors (reflected from your Ableton Session).
Note mode – play drum racks or instruments.
Mixer mode – control track levels, send and return.
Stream video of your performance to the desktop with in-game camera for screen recording and sharing online.
Choose daytime, sunset or night environments.
Clips pulsate in sync with the music.
Re-Arrange triggers around yourself in 3D.
The California-fresh mystic futurism of Jimmy Edgar now finds itself in sound pack form, by way of Web subscription service Splice.
I’m normally loathe to write about soundware, but this one gets a particularly synth-y good flair. It’s interesting to hear a label identity that might work as a sound pack, but Ultramajic has enough of a sonic signature to work. (Actually, the weirdness of the labels – something is techno and minimal and tech house – kind of speaks to that.) And there’s some nice gear. It strikes me as the rare sound pack that might help jolt me out of a rut.
Their description covers the gear; you had me at Serge.
Ultramajic Sounds Vol. 1 is the first pack from Jimmy Edgar’s innovating electronic label, Ultramajic. The label brings its artists’ together with samples from 90s digital hardware, including a TR808, vocoder and the renowned Serge Modular. All sounds were recorded through top end equipment such as Neve preamps, vintage Lexicon reverb, and API eq/compression.
Now, a younger, post-Communist generation is taking up the task of generating new futuristic musical energies. They’re mixing an enthusiasm for the avant-garde of the past and its heroes with a the latest technologies, patching connections between their countries and the world.
Well, the world seems to be taking notice. Synthposium, a packed art festival cum expo/conference next week, balances Russia’s own industrious community of artists and builders with counterparts from around the world. Alongside Berlin’s SuperBooth and Anaheim’s NAMM show, it might just be one of the big events on this year’s calendar in adventurous music technology.
The annual event hits next week, 24-27 August, at WINZAVOD Contemporary Art Center and Moscow Film School.
East coast and west coast synthesis? Try Eastern Bloc. On the hardware side, you get makers like the reborn Polivoks, the former brand reborn as a coveted 21st century brand, one that retains its original character but can be breathed in the same sentence with Moog and Buchla. But you also get an introduction to other makes, like Sputnik Modular, SSSR Labs, or Latvia’s Erica Synths (which inherits some of Polivoks’ former Riga legacy). There’s America’s TipTop Audio, too, plus MDR.modular, VG-Line, L-1 Synthesizer, Pribore Electronics, DNGR:TECH, Svarog Audio, and Uoki-Toki. Experimentalists and educators Playtronica join in, too.
Engineer Roman Filippov of Sputnik Modular will premiere his “Deckard’s Dream,” a Blade Runner-esque 8-voice polyphonic analog synth. Talks and workshops from the likes of BBC’s Matthew Sweet and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (Lichens) and former KORG analog maven Tatsuya Takahashi will add to the discussion.
There are also a whole lot of artists, mixing local and international personalities. The lineup looks like headliners from a major electronic festival, if that electronic festival were, well, sort of hyper-nerdy. Ulrich Schnauss and Thomas P. Heckmann join Max Cooper and Richard Devine and many others. (Yes, that also includes me – and of course expect plenty of CDM coverage of the event.)
See the full list below, plus some images of what’s coming.
101 — LT
Alden Tyrell — NL
Ave Eva aka Ghostape — CH
Barker — DE
Baseck — US
Biodread — FIN
Conforce — NL
Denis Kaznacheev & Fake Electronics — RU/DE
Denny Kay — UK
Ekke Västrik — EST
Frank Muller aka Beroshima — DE
Felix K — DE
Interval — US
Jacek Sienkiewicz — PL
Kadaver — CZ
Karsten Pflum — DK
Konakov — UA
London Modular — UK
Max Cooper — UK
Mehmet Aslan — CH
Morgan Fisher — JP/UK
Morphology — FIN
Mustelide — BLR
Opuswerk — CH
OGJ — CZ
Peter Kirn — DE
Plast — CZ
PRCDRL aka Procedural — DE
Richard Devine — US
Richard Fearless of Death in Vegas — UK
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe — US
Solar X — UK
Synxron — UA
Taeji Sawai — JP
Thomas P Heckmann — DE
Throwing Shade — UK
Todd Sines — US
Ulrich Schnauss — DE
Vertical Silence — US
Boorane aka Boora & Krane
Boris Belenki aka C-Rob
Dessin & Peterkan
Dyad and the Sleepers Club
Egor Sukharev aka Khz
Fung Bui Lao
Id303 & FMSAO
Midimode aka MDMD
Places and Stuff
Rhizome aka Nikita Zabelin
Roman Filippov aka Filq
Secrets of the Third Planet
Shadowax aka Ishome
Sickdisco aka Cross
Slow Life Program
Expo — music tech interactive exhibition and showcase:
ASD — Analog Sound Devices
Bastl Instruments — CZ
Erica Synths — LV
Eternal Engine EMI
Gieskes — NL
Keen Association Moscow
L-1 Synthesizer — BLR
Logich Synth Service
Motovilo Audio Lab
Steampunk WSG synth
Synthstrom Audible — NZ
Zvukofor Sound Labs
On Air — lectures, workshops, public talks, various educational events:
Alexander Grigoriev (Pribore Electronics)
Alexander Serechenko (Solo Operator)
Beroshima (Frank Muller)
Dmitry Morozov (::vtol::)
Maxim Zaharchenko (Svarog Audio)
Nick Zavriev (Ambidextrous)
Philipp Alexandrov (Bad Zu)
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe
Stanislav Charifoulline (HMOT)
Thomas P Heckmann
Valentin Zvukofor Victorovich (Zvukofor Sound Labs)
Art — installations, a/v performances & experiments, objects:
There’s no doubt that Wolfgang Palm makes some pretty amazing synths. I don’t think that anyone would disagree with me there. And he’s done some very impressive work in the iOS world too, releasing WaveGenerator, WaveMapper, Phonem, and now Infinite.
At the end of the 70s Wolfgang Palm developed wavetable synthesis. This was very successful and used by many synthesizer companies in the 80s and 90s. But this technology has its limitations. The main reason is that all sounds are harmonic. In nature this does not happen very often. Many sounds like a piano string have small offsets from the harmonic frequencies. This is even stronger in sounds like bells or percussion.
According to Wolfgang Palm, infinite now overcomes this limitation. This is how:
The frequencies of the overtones created by Infinite can be totally freely defined. So the sounds it produces are totally free in the frequencies of their overtones. This means that each partial wave can have an arbitrary frequency. Moreover it is possible to move these overtones independently during the duration of a note. Another important part of most natural sounds is noise. Be it a flute or when a drumstick hits the drumhead – and this all can be reproduced in Infinite.
Furthermore the noise source can be used to modulate the tonal part which results in very powerful effects. Besides these new digital features, we still have the typical 24db Lowpass filter, 2 VCA with stereo out and effects. All this is controlled by 10 envelopes, 4 LFOs and a modulation matrix.
The app has some pretty amazing features too, especially around how it’ll work with WaveGenerator and WaveMapper, which is particularly intriguing and also the import from Phonem. I’ll be interested in seeing how those work. For now, here are what Wolfgang Palm considers as the ‘key’ features!
• New system which can synthesize harmonic and inharmonic sounds
• Morpher – X/Y controller which morphes 5 user selectable sine resources
• Noiser – X/Y controller morphing 3 noise resources and performing modulations
• Molder – acts as a digital filter with any amaginable filter sweeps
• Two detail editor pages for the Sine resources featuring a 3D display
• Import WTS and TCS files from the iPad WaveGenerator and WaveMapper
• Import Phonem utterances and use them in the Infinite Molder
• Versatile matrix system – allowing 16 sources to control 40 parameters
• 10 Envelopes, for control of filter sweeps, waveform, noise and many modulations
• 4 LFOs which can be freely routed via the matrix
• Delay/Reverb effect
• Overdrive/Distortion effect
• A/B compare your edited sounds
• AU extension – run multiple Infinite instances in AU hosts
• IAA – inter-app audio support
• Audiobus 2 with statesaving
• Export audio to AudioShare
• Preset browser with new listing filters
• Directly accessible context help for each module
• Freely configurable schematic keypads
• 4 Keypads play modes: Poly, Mono, Legato and Multitrigger
• 4 MIDI modes: Omni, Poly, Mono, and Voice-Per-Channel
PPG Infinite is on the app store and costs $19.99:
Who doesn’t like a free drum machine right? Well Ton is free, or at least it appears to be anyway. I can’t see an IAP so far. It does look a lot like another very popular drum machine with a circular sequencer, if you know what I mean.
Ton brings a circular step sequencer and an advanced audio engine to your iPad, enabling you to create rich and modulated rhythmic sequences. Its sound-sculpting capabilities are simple yet incredibly deep and will make even the most basic samples sound unique to your style.
• parameter locks: lock different audio values on sequencer steps to modulate your sequence and making it sound natural and organic
• pitch parameter: tune your drums or create basslines
• saturation effect: add a bit of warmth to any sample, or destroy it completely
• multimode resonant filter: attenuate or boost frequencies
• amplitude envelope: shape the overall silhouatte of the sound
• reverb and delay: glue sounds together, from subtle to stellar
• Ableton Link: synchronize with other apps and devices
• Audiobus: send Ton’s output to other compatible apps
If you’d thought that you were done with spending money on apps from Audio Damage then I have to disappoint you. Now they’ve released QuatroMod. The app is both an AudioUnit V3 effect, and also a stand-alone effect for use with Inter-App Audio. It’s the kind of app that really appeals to me, so I’m keen to give it a go, and I hope that it’s as good as apps like Effectrix.
For now here’s what Audio Damage have to say about it:
Take our classic Liquid through-zero flanger, Fluid multi-mod chorus, Vapor diffusion chorus, and FreqShift frequency shifter (from our Eurorack hardware line) and put them all in one plug-in, and you have a true powerhouse of stereo-insert modulation.
FLANGER: The through-zero flanger mode is our Liquid plugin in all its glory, with Haas Effect “Offset” control and invertible feedback for extra widening.
CHORUS: The chorus mode, based on our original chorus product, Fluid, later extended in to the Dimensions module for Eurorack, has six delay lines modded at different rates for one of the thickest stereo choruses available. The DIM-D mode does what you’d expect, changing the topology to match that venerated box, but with all the control of a modern chorus.
DIFFUSOR: Our Vapor plugin, recreated here as the Diffusor mode, is essentially the diffusion block from a reverb, rewired to act as a chorus. The secret snare weapon of many a producer, this mode is an unique effect that will reward experimentation.
FREQSHIFT: One of our most popular Eurorack-format hardware modules, here thoroughly reworked for the DAW context. Once you use this mode in a slight upwards shift on pads, and you’ll never use anything else.
QuatroMod costs $4.99 on the app store now:
And if that wasn’t enough, now Audio Damage teases us with even more …
Just a month after the launch of SynthScaper, version 1.1 arrives with a large list of updates. Some of these are hygiene factors, and some are nice updates that make this experimental app easier to use.
Here’s the full details in the developer’s words:
This update contains several big changes such as support of Audiobus 3 and Ableton Link. Also added new features of using one shot samples and automate pitch shifting, and very convenient option for packing scenes and its samples to single file that you can send to another device or share it with others. Of course that is not a final changes, SynthScaper continues to develop and improve.
● Supports Ableton Link.
● Supports Audiobus 3 (Audiobus MIDI).
● Added new scenes and presets.
● Added new samples to build-in library.
● Packing scenes and samples to single file.
● New mode for using one shot samples.
● Automated pitch shifting by LFO and Envelope.
● Buttons “Mute” for each oscillator on filters panel.
● All delay effects can sync with BPM.
● Small improvements of sound engine.
● Small improvements of user interface.
● Built-in description updated.
● Minor bug fixes.
n-Track 8 Pro is one of the less well known of the iOS DAWs, but one that is definitely worth checking out as it’s actually a very capable app, and one that’s universal, which isn’t something that many of the alternatives can say. In fact n-Track 8 Pro is really quite exceptional in many ways, and if you’re looking for something more versatile on your iPhone it could be exactly what you need.
Anyway, for now I’ll focus on what’s new in n-Track 8 Pro. Version 1.2 of the app brings us a new browser for instruments and plenty more besides. Here’s what’s new:
New instrument browser to select the external and internal instruments
Improved the n-Track instruments library
New addon manager to download more instruments for free
New screen controller for n-Track drums with classic and electronic layout
New looping part mode allows to loop a trimmed part
Improved GUI for AU instruments
New timeline edit menu (iPhone)
New auto-expand track option
Audiobus 3 support
Minor other improvements and bug fixes