Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recorder Live Video

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Satellite (8 of8)


Every once in a while I stimble across something that just brings a smile to my face. That thing today was this live video by the group Recorder. The video above has them apparently covering a song Skater Boy by Avril Lavgine. The song is called Satellite Not sure if it is that or not, but I love the mix, the stage presence and just everything about them. Check them out at their myspace page http://www.myspace.com/recorder

via Matrixsynth

Monday, January 26, 2009

NAMM 2009 Beat Kangz Beat Thang: Yes, it is real!!!!!

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Gearwire.com got a great NAMM show video with the Vice President of Beat Kangz and their new Beat Thang Groovebox. There was a lot of pre-show hype about this thing, but almost no reports from the show floor. Gotta say, I am more excited about this after seeing the video. There is even a nice video of them building a beat with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NAMM 2009: SonicState.com – Korg Microkorg XL demo

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Korg always had a hit with their ubercheap and very accessible Microkorg. They are releaseing a new version though now that incorporates their MMT synthesis technology and updates the look with a retro feel (see what I did there?). SonicState.com got a new close up of the new little synth and I have to admit it sounds fantastic. I personally really dig the aesthetics on this one too so lets hope Korg prices it right because it was the cheap price more than anything that sold the original Microkorg.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

NAMM 2009: Sonicstate Gets Teases Peek at Spectralis 2

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SonicState.com Spectralis 2 Teaser (Sorry Video not embeddable)

The Drool worthy Spectralis 2 has rumored to be making an appearance at NAMM. Along with the Beat Thang though there was nary an announcement regarding it. SonicState.com however seems to be on the ball as they have announced a full review coming soon. In the mean time they have posted a super short little teaser on their site.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NAMM 2009: The Keytar Back with Roland’s AX-7

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Roland.com

For all those musicians out there who have guitar envy and were curshed by the discontinuation of the original keytar a couple of years ago, you can rest easy. You head banging wannabe days are back with Roland’s announcement of the new AX-7 Midi keyboard controller.

The new controller features all the standards you expect from a keytar, but also features some improvements such as D-Beam controlling (so you can double up on your geekiness) and GM2/GS compatibility.  Full features below

Features:

  • Stage-oriented shoulder keyboard in attractive pearl white body
  • 45-note velocity-sensitive keyboard-perfect for solos and bass lines
  • Intuitive operation via new 7-segment LED display
  • 5 realtime controller s: Data Entry knob, Touch Controller, Expression Bar, Hold button and light-sensing D Beam
  • 128 patches with data backup via MIDI
  • 2 MIDI zones for independent control of Upper/Lower parts
  • GM2/GS Compatible
  • Battery or AC powered

NAMM 2009: Akai EWI USB Wind Controller

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WNAMM09: Affordable Electronic Wind Instrument

http://www.akaipro.com/

This announcement gets a big “YES!!!” in my book. I have always had an infatuation with wind controllers (probably because I am a saxophone and clarinet plaery), but their implementation in hardware has always been spotty because they generally have not been able to work with any synth you plug them into.

Hopefully Akai has been able to get around that limitation with the new EQI USB wind controller. Presumably one would expect this to be able to work within any DAW with any VST instrument, but the details are a little scare at the moment. It does say that there is a platform software for the model but that is it.

Quote: Press Release

EWI USB enables anyone, regardless of wind instrument-playing experience, to perform with the expressive capabilities of the wind instrument of their choice. The wind controller features a plug-and-play USB interface for use with the included Aria software, with Garritan and Akai Professional samples as a sound source. EWI USB is Mac and PC compatible.

Professional players will find EWI USB fully capable of performance for stage and studio with a five-octave range, breath modulation with adjustable threshold, pitch bend, adjustable vibrato, transposition and octave shifting capability, and fingering modes to emulate various electronic and acoustic instruments. Further, the Garritan/Plogue Aria software enables instrumentalists to perform with up to four instruments selected from the full collection of more than 75 orchestral, band and synthesizer sounds.

While EWI USB has full professional capabilities, its attractive price point and easy-to-play design make it a perfect choice for wind students. With a removable, dishwasher-safe, interchangeable mouthpiece[ Ed. Nice touch] that works well regardless of embouchure, EWI USB is excellent for introducing students to the world of wind instruments. Former wind instrumentalists who would like to return to playing will find EWI USB easy to adapt to, eliminating much of the embouchure-building time required with a traditional instrument.

Thanks to multiple fingering modes, EWI USB perfectly emulates saxophone, flute and oboe, as well as traditional EWI and EVI trumpet. The result is completely intuitive performance, even for players who have never picked up an electronic instrument.

"With EWI USB, we are delivering an incredibly expressive instrument to a whole new world of wind players," states Gregg Stein, Director of Marketing, Akai Professional. "Traditionally, electronic wind instruments have fallen into two categories: very expensive professional instruments, and inexpensive instruments of low quality. EWI USB is the first instrument to offer professional quality at such an affordable price."

NAMM 2009: SonicState.com – Hands on with Native Instruments Maschine

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Looks like they are still calling it a groovebox, which makes me lurch a little bit as it doesn’t have stand alone operation, but SonicState.com does have a nice hands on video with the Maschine to give everyone an idea of the interface flow.

So after seeing it, what do you people think?  Personally I am not see what it can really do that a regular drumpad and Ableton live can’t, but then again this is just an intro video.

NAMM 2009: Ableton Quietly Allow Free Upgrades of Live from 6 to 7?

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CreateDigialMusic is reporting that Ableton is offering free upgrade paths from Ableton Live 6 to Ableton Live 7. There doesn’t appear to be any official announcement or download link for this update, but heading over to the Ableton forums would presumably direct you in the right direction for the upgrade.

via CreateDigitalMusic.com

Thursday, January 15, 2009

NAMM 2009: AKAI APC40 Ableton Live Control Surface

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apc40_web_large

http://www.akaipro.com/apc40

Not to be back on their heals this NAMM it looks like AKAI is in the game with an announcement of a dedicated Ableton Live control surface called the APC 40.  Taking some obvious design influences from the Monome 40 the APC 40 features 40 multi-color clip buttons called the clip matrix. Each button will visually indicated the status of a clip directly on the controller.

It also features 16 control knobs with LED lighting, eight faders and a crossfader. The case is constructed out of metal (a nice design choice different than their recent direction with the MPC’s). Addtiional features below

Key Features

  • Designed in partnership with Ableton
  • Unique clip matrix with multicolor lighting displays current clip status
  • No mapping required for use with Ableton Live
  • Exclusive bidirectional communication between the APC40 and Ableton Live
  • Professional feel with rugged, metal chassis and premium controls
  • Comes with Akai APC40 edition of Ableton Live Lite, free upgrade patch for full versions of Live
  • USB plug-and-play connection for Mac and PC
  • Premium controller with rugged, metal chassis

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NAMM 2009: Rumor – Native Instruments Releasing Maschine Groovebox

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maschine

The stories of Grooveboxes just keep piling up in my inbox this morning with Native Instruments reportedly coming out with their own Groovebox capable of loading the company’s VST plugins. 

Earlier this morning there was an image circling the net from ZirconStudios.com which showed a scanned image of the reported box from an upcoming Electronic Musician magazine. The direct link to that image was here, but has since been taken down, presumably to a “cease and desist order” from NI. I have contacted the site owner for comment, but have not yet received a word from him/her. After searching the net I found several other discussions regarding the box on forums, including NI’s own forums, but almost all of the discussions have been removed or closed. To me this almost guarantee's the device’s existence.

The initial image though that I saw earlier this morning showed another MPC like groovebox with lit up display pads and apparently the ability to load VST plugins. Unfortunately I don’t have any more details at the moment on the box, but if someone has details on the specs or the original image please send an email to staff.livepa (at) gmail.com. 

UPDATE: I have just found a copy of the image of the new device and posted it above. It looks to be a nice hybrid software/hardware platform that incorporates some KORE like features along 16 backlit pads, 2 LCD  screens, 5GB of samples, effects, sampling/resampling and more. Lets hope that it can run stand alone without the need for a computer like the failed MC-808.

Update 2: Well the announcement is out and it appears that we are 0/2 with new Groovebox announcements. The Maschine is another Kore like hardware software interface for percussion sequencing and sampling. There unfortunately does not appear to be a stand alone mode without the software, but there does appear to be sequencing built into the box with midi outputs.There are no audio outputs on the box itself. Whether that means that the Maschine is capable as a sequencer for LivePA remains to be seen.

NAMM 2009: Rumor - Motu Getting into the Groovebox Business with BPM?

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EM_Scan3

 

Update: The announcement is out and it appears that this is just a software drum machine. Gotta say I am pretty disappointed. What is the market for something like this these days when you have everything from Ableton Live to FL Studio that can do this built in? The interface doesn’t seem conductive for software IMO.

I have more news trickling in here about some additional groovebox “MPC Killers” . Yesterday I posted about the Beat Thang which looked cool in and of itself.  Today though I have word of an an even cooler piece of kit being developed by Motu called the BPM.

All I have is a blurry scan but from the image above here are the specs that I could discern.

  • Drum machine style operation with VST support
  • Run as a tempo synced plug-in with your favorite DAW
  • Live Midi Recording
  • Unlimited Sample layers
  • Built in drum synthesizer
  • Drag and drop sequence capabilities in song mode
  • 15+ GB of sounds built in
  • “Deep” Synthesis engine
  • 4 Pad banks with full kit capabilities and 2 racks
  • Complete internal mixer with effects
  • SP Mode which emulates the SP1200.

Nothing on pricing or details, but again something impressive coming out of the site. The built in LCD screen on this thing (if real) looks amazing and equivalent to the waveform and sample editing screens one would see in your computer software.

via Binary-Punks.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NAMM 2009: Beat Kangz Releases the Beat Thang

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http://www.beatkangz.com/main/product

Here we are kicking off NAMM 2009 with a very interesting piece of hardware. This is in fact perhaps the most livePA oriented piece of hardware I have seen in a long time. To be 100% honest I am not sure of this product is real. The name is pretty dreadful, but if you can get past the name the hardware and the spec list look to actually be pretty impressive.

The Beat Thang is a 16 track sampler (and rompler?) that features six digital effects types, waveform editing and beat creation. Full spec list below.

  • Sampling with onboard waveform editing
  • Over 3000 Blazin' Brand new sounds designed by The Beat Kangz
  • 16 Track MIDI sequencer 
  • 500 production ready Platinum beats and loops created by The Beat Kangz
  • Sleek design and styling with customizable “Paintz” and “Grillz”
  • Convenient, light-weight portable design with internal rechargable battery
  • USB In & Out 
  • Pitch and Mod Wheels
  • On Board FX including Reverb, Delay, Automated Filters and tons of Crazy "Freak FX" including "Chopped and Screwed"!!!!
  • On Board "Mo Bang" Mastering with EQ and Limiting
  • 256 MB Ram standard
  • 2 High Speed SD Card Slots
  • Export Beats to a Mac or PC 
  • Very Easy to USE!!!
  • More top Secret Features and Surprises that we dont want our sleezy, thieving corporate competitors to know.... but we'll tell ya soon!


I have to admit. The hardware itself looks pretty cool and the specs even cooler. I would like to know some more details about that sequencer and the sampling capabilities. But hopefully we have a nice new Groovebox on our hands here.


Update: Some more specs have been posted over at the Harmony Central Forums by what appears to be the company itself.


General Information
  • 2 Headphone Jacks
  • Carry audio output via USB. USB Connects to any Hard drive, USB keys can also be read and write to
  • Read directly off of the SD cards. 2 Slots capbable of 16GB's each
  • 256 MB Ram Stock! 
  • 512 Flash for user content on board. Higher if its a custom order
  • Stereo Mic Line input with Phantom Power
  • Sampling, and Resampling of outputs
  • Tempo sync Delay, Mastering, Reverb, Filters and tons of other weird FX
  • Plans to open FX section to 3rd party developers . Can you say VST (Ed. Very interesting.....)
  • Custom Paint. Any Color LED's, Custom Grillz
  • Each pad can have 16 layers with independent pitch, cut off res, pan, velocity, vol and a single pad can be spread across a whole keyboard with Loop points so you can sample synths strings or anything and turn it into multi layered patches.
  • PC Drum Kit builder with Drag and Drop capabilities
Sequencer Information
  • 96 PPQ
  • 1000 Sequences
  • 500 Songs
  • Individual Bar Length which can be changed in real time even while recording. (Ed. Excellent!!)
  • Quantize and Swing can be changed in real-time.
  • All your Songs, Sequences, Beats, Kits, Patches, Samples and settings that are on your SD cards are always there and show up just like the presets.
  • 13 Pads with Velocity
  • 8 Pad banks per track 
  • 16 Tracks 
  • Pad and Track mute and Solo 
  • Mixer with level control FX send, Pan, Pitch Automation, Filter and EQ Automation per Track including (Low Pass, Band Pass, Hi pass, Low Shelf, High Shelf and Notch, Automated Q control to)
  • Dynamic Kit and Patch creator which is easy and to use. Samples can all have categories (Kicks, Snares Hats etc) App for converting your own samples into the categories and the ability to create your own.
  • 16 Layers per PAD with velocity, pan, pitch ,cut off, res and volume control
  • Can create multilayerd patches that span a keyboard from one pad or multiple. Each bank can have a different patch (keys and bass or drums and synth )
Lets hope they aren't over promosing here and under delivering.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Utilizing Hercules RMX w/ Grooveboxes to expand Live Performance

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A couple of days ago I blogged about the recently released Hercules Steel DJ controller. What I failed to blog about was the also released and perhaps even cooler Hercules RMX. It features all of the build quality and surface buttons of the Steel, but offers a 2in/2out USB interface as well. One LivePA.org member has recently purchased one and has put it to good use in expanding his LivePA setup. Lets here how he is using it.

 

Quote from MagpieIndustries:

How are you utilizing the Hercules RMX into your setup?

I am experimenting with the following. I take my grooveboxes [Korg ESX-1 and EMX-1] and jam for a while until I have some nice patterns with variations going on. Next, I record some medium length sequences (anything from a few bars to a full song) straight into my computer in two layers, usually drums and bassline, and everything else. While recording, I make sure to have intros and outros and some sections that are quite minimal. Next, I take my Hercules RMX and Traktor, and play these recordings back. While playing, I add in a whole load of cue points, and I have the DJ controller set up so I can hop between these cue points, apply effects, loop different parts and do beat juggling tricks etc. I can even have both my Electribes going directly into Traktor through the RMX as it is a two-stereo in/out soundcard, and keep midi sync with Traktor. The RMX is my key from getting out of groovebox jamming mode and into longer arrangements. I'm slowly getting some DJ tricks together for transitioning between parts. It's realtime arrangement while still having that jamming feeling going on and it's showing a lot of promise.

What are some of the advantages to the Hercules RMX and what are  your thoughts on it?

I LOVE my Hercules RMX. It's solid and heavy, and rugged enough to take out to milder parties without fears. It is completely usb bus powered, so no extra wall wart needed which is fantastic. If you want to go out to a cafe or friends house its just stuff it and a laptop in the bag (it comes with a bag) and go. Awesome!!  It's also a four channel (two stereo pairs) soundcard, so you can cue up stuff in your headphones, and best of all it also has two stereo inputs. Audio quality is pretty good. I'm  not  an experienced DJ so I can't really compare the feel of the crossfader and pitches with other gear, but for me it works just as I expected and I have very few complaints.

What are some negatives regarding the Hercules RMX and its setup?
Now onto the negatives. The buttons are a tad stiff and travel quite a distance before making contact, something that detracts from the feel, but not terribly so. You might think from the photos that all the buttons light up, but this is not the case, the EQ kill switches for instance are disappointingly without illumination. The jog wheels are great for zipping back and forth in a track, or to scroll up and down in a list of tracks, but if you want to do scratching go get some vinyl. Same probably goes for beatmatching, although this is controversial. I just press Sync and have Traktor beatmatch everything, if you consider that cheating then fine, I'm too busy doing a hundred other things to worry about being a purist. It's digital djing after all, so focus on the cue and loop point juggling tricks rather than beatmatching.
One thing I miss is some way to have an effect send level. The Torq Xponent has four knobs per deck just for effects, which is much nicer, and with the jogwheels at the back (smart for digital dj priorities I think), but the xponent is very plastic and doesnt have the audio inputs, and is way more expensive. There are enough buttons on it to have several Shift modifiers set up, and I've been experimenting with mapping and remapping the EQ knobs and switches to also work as effects sends and levels, still need to find a layout that works best.


It's crashed my macbook a couple of times, but always exactly when I connect it to the usb port. A reboot solves this. Once it's successfully connected it remains working.


In terms of its competition it's kicking major ass. A possible alternative is the Vestax VCI-100 which is very popular, and apparently a bit better for scratching and beatmatching. Not a soundcard though. The Torq Xponent has the smartest controlset of them all IMHO but without audio in it's no good [for LivePA]. I've heard the faders on it are featherlight, your sleeve can accidently knock the pitch way off, and the overall feel is very plasticy. The new Vestax VCI-300 is definitely the sexiest looking of the bunch, with high resolution jog wheels and inbuilt sound, but it's over twice the price and also lacks some dedicated knobs for effects. If you are after sheer bang for the buck, then I don't think there is any competition whatsoever.


I'd like to also mention a bit about Traktor Pro, which has quite a different workflow to it than sequencing in Ableton Live, but it's clear that both programs are slowly converging on a similar solution. Ableton offers a great method for testing out how different loops and clips work together, but personally I just got lost in a mass of clips and find it difficult to sequence my way into a decent performance. Traktor leans more towards an arrangement style, don't forget that it is a dedicated tool designed purely for creating long live sets. There is no reason to stick to playing finished mp3s. It doesn't have the editing features of ableton, not by a long shot, but it's designed to work at a slightly higher level than that. It's awesome for layering, looping and blending loops and minimal tracks. I tend to have two decks with premade tracks playing, and two decks for the electribes (which I usually leave just playing right through). It's possible to record the master output as a wav and load it in a deck without much fuss. Traktor Pro also finally added midi slave functionality, and is far smoother for looping than previous versions. Finally, when you get sick of jamming and making live sets, you can just chill out and DJ some tunes together.

Overall he has a very interesting concept going on. I know more than one LivePA artist who feels like Ableton Live may be overkill for their needs or is instead too cumbersome for the quick edits needed on the spot. This is a great example on the whole though of the convergence of not only the DJ and LivePA worlds, but also how Ableton Live is not the only game in town with regards to software for LivePA.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Electro-Harmonix Releases the Voicebox: $200 Vocal Stomp Box

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Electro-Harmonix Voicebox

Electro-Harmonix has released a very fun looking Voice Box which contains several very fun and intersting vocal processing filters in it. The box features nine vocal processing modes including the following:


  • Low Harmony
  • High Harmony
  • Low+High Harmony
  • Multi Harmony 1
  • Multi Harmony 2
  • Multi Harmony 3
  • Octaves
  • Vocoder (256 Bands)


It doesn't have the most complex feature setup but looks extremely useable for live use. Extra Kudos for the fun demo video as well.

via CreateDigitalMusic.com

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Teuf Lamativie System Live

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Great video of a a guy rockin' out on a could of Korg machines, an SP-404 and a KP2. Man it looks cold there!!!!

New Apple Macbook Pro 17”: The Battery is Not the Real Concern!!!!

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features17-display20090106

Yesterday Apple had their last Macworld address and while the releases were moderately interesting, one of the most controversial  is perhaps the announcement regarding the non-removable battery for the newly announce 17” Macbook Pro. Now, I don’t imagine too many livePA artists are using 17” Pros to do their live performances because lets be honest, the things are huge. But this non-removable battery could very well be setting a design standard that we will all see trickle down into the 15” and 13” models come the next revision.

So in this new Macbook, Apple is claiming to have developed a super long batter that lasts up to eight hours and can have over 1000 charge cycles. Interesting, but I think we all honestly can admit that the real world charge life will last probably around 50%-70% of that claimed by Apple. So, 4-6 hours roughly. While the main crux of this debate and disappointment from many people comes down to the fact that business users cannot change batteries when on a long flight and so forth, I think there is a much bigger and more important issue here that most people are failing to discuss. That issue is of course the lack of accessibility to the internals of the machine itself now.

I personally have never once considered purchasing a second battery for my Macbook and I imagine the vast majority of laptop users out there, even “Pro” users are in the same boat. What I have done though is wanted to upgrade my Macbook as it grew older. Install a new harddrive with a higher RPM, add more RAM, etc.  And while the new 17” Macbook comes packed with a nice 320 GB harddrive and 4GB of ram, this is certainly not the max of what it can handle. A few years down the road even, the cost of putting in a 1TB drive may only be $100, who knows. What Apple has done here though is effectively remove the personal upgrade options of the laptop from the user. No longer can someone really extend the life of their machine an extra few years by adding a bigger, faster harddrive or more RAM. You are now forced to either purchase a new machine or pay the exorbitant amount of extra cost to have the upgrade done at purchase.  We all know that PC manufacturers charge an “arm and a leg” for harddrive and RAM upgrades at purchase.

The upgrade from 4GB of DDR3 Ram on the Macbook Pro 17” to 8GB of RAM costs a whopping $1,200!!!!!!! Admitingly, DDR3 ram is newer to the market and I could not find 2x4GB sticks for sale at either Newegg.com or TigerDirect.com at the time of this writing, but comparable RAM from both of those sites in 2x2GB configurations runs $200 at the most.

This is a slippery slope that Apple has begun to go down with regards to its customers. It is fairly easy to argue that the consumer market either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice these sorts of things, but I for one would like to think that the “Pro” market that all of us as musicians fall into are much more critical and demanding of our hardware.

via Orju.net

Monday, January 05, 2009

Monotouch Live Midi Controller Project

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.:Monotouch Live Midi Controller Project:.

Jazzmutant's Lemur touch control interface is an amazing piece of hardware that has been utilize by many an artist, including Daft Punk. The problem with the Lemur more than anything is the price. At nearly $3,000 it is quite a hefty sum for most artists to shell out.

Fear not though, the open source community has come through again with an alternative to the Lemur called the MonoTouch Live Project. The Monotouch Live Project is a software development project designed to take advantage of touch screen tablet PC's.

Quote:

"The [Monotouch] software package is a stand-alone software controller, with a six channel mixer, designed to allow control over Ableton Live with a touch screen, bringing compatibility to both Windows XP and Apple bootcamp machines. Using the touch screen interface and a normal display, the innovation is almost ready for its first release, and incorporates a crossfader, various start stop buttons, track navigation alongside effect parameters and eq in its simple yet powerful interface...The basic idea is take advantage of any computer capable of managing two monitors at same time (dual desktop, extended desktop). Absolutely all new models of PC notebooks, and new Intel Macs, can support this feature. MonoTouchLive runs on the second LCD touch screen capable monitor, or can run on tablet PC and take control of remote machine using IP over LAN software."


The software currently only supports single touch capbilities due to the limitations of current touch screen monitors, but the platform developer currently seems to be very receptive to suggestions based on the information on his website. A soon to be release version in the future will allow for customized interfaces.

The software currently appears to be in a sort of BETA with a demo available to everyone and a full FREE unlocked version to you once you write back to the author to express your thoughts and current setup with the software.

via Orju.net

Saturday, January 03, 2009

DSF Family Live 02/22/08: 2 Korg ESX-1's and 1 Korg EMX-1

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I love these basement low light style videos. The videos is made even better by the fact that the guy performing on it does not look like a LivePA type of guy at all.