Photokina 2014 highlights

Synthesizer

An experimental new gesture-to-voice synthesizer could allow people without the power of s...

Whether it’s people who can’t speak, or musicians looking for a new way of expressing themselves, both may end up benefiting from an experimental new gesture-to-voice synthesizer. The system was created at the University of British Columbia, by a team led by professor of electrical and computer engineering Sidney Fels. Users just put on a pair of sensor-equipped gloves, then move their hands in the air – based on those hand movements, the synthesizer is able to create audible speech.  Read More

Alesis has unveiled the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex - with a built-in accel...

Noted rock vocalist and bass player Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and more recently Black Country Communion) has often been quoted as saying that, for him, much of the 1980s was just a blur. It's probably just as well, or he might have had a hard time dealing with the emergence of the keytar - a strap-on keyboard that has a little neck with a number of parameter-changing buttons on it. Okay, I admit it, I'm not a great fan of the Jan Hammers and Jean-Michel Jarres of this world, but those who want to emulate these digital music innovators without digging deep for a Korg, Roland or Moog original can now rejoice with the release of the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex from Alesis.  Read More

Open: Konkreet Labs' completed Synth in a Book (Photo: copyright Gwydion ap Dafydd)

It's probably best to make clear from the outset that Konkreet Labs' Synth in a Book is, for now, one of a kind. But as a demonstration of just what can be done with a MeeBlip hackable synthesizer kit, it may just be the perfect specimen. Though this particular hack may not be for the faint of heart, MeeBlip's range of synths include all-in-one kits suitable, MeeBlip says, for everyone.  Read More

A hands-on review of the Kitara digital guitar synthesizer

Way back in January 2010, a short demo video of a new digital instrument prototype was posted on YouTube by its creator Michael Zarimis, and went viral. From the millions of views, a list of prospective buyers was drawn up and the Misa Digital Guitar soon began its journey towards commercial availability. By the time the next CES show arrived, the instrument had ditched its gleaming white ABS plastic casing and gone over to the dark side, received a few design modifications, and been officially named Kitara for its public debut. The Kitara has now been made available for purchase, and I've spent the last few weeks getting to grips with this innovative new instrument - being rewarded for inventive experimentation and punished for bad playing technique.  Read More

Roland has announced that it new performance synth - the Jupiter-80 - is now shipping, off...

Roland says that realism is at the very heart of its new Jupiter-80 performance synth. The company claims that the kind of expressive acoustic instrument authenticity delivered by its analog sound modeling technology simply couldn't have been made available before now. Studio and live performers can access a huge bank of preset sounds which are said to go beyond mere sampling of acoustic, electric, orchestral and ethnic instruments, then manipulate those sounds into something vintage, modern or futuristic, or create and store their own layered sonic stacks. Control of the action comes courtesy of a touchscreen display and numerous buttons, knobs and sliders.  Read More

Native Instruments has unveiled new versions of its Guitar Rig, Kontakt and Komplete digit...

Mobile music-making apps like Amplitube and GarageBand have proven themselves to be popular, powerful and versatile additions to the digital toolbox of both bedroom enthusiast and professional alike. Dedicated computer software is by no means dead in the water yet, though, as evidenced by the new releases from Native Instruments. The computer-based music production and performance specialist has announced new versions of its Guitar Rig amp and effects package and Kontakt sampler, and the multi-product Komplete bundle.  Read More

Using a technique known as circuit bending, Reed Ghazala has transformed a talking dinosau...

Ever since a chance encounter with the new soundscape produced by a short-circuited toy amplifier in the 1960s, Reed Ghazala has been randomly exploring audio generation in compromised electronic devices such as talking games and toys. He has written a book on the subject, teaches others to bend circuits, and has created experimental instruments for many well-known artists including Tom Waits and Peter Gabriel. His latest work started life as an educational dinosaur game – which was broken apart, rewired and rebuilt, and then introduced to a plasma globe to become the Radiopool Thereglyph.  Read More

Korg has announced a compact, portable version of it popular Wavedrum percussion synth, wh...

At the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim recently, Korg unveiled a new oriental version of its famous Wavedrum percussion synthesizer, designed specifically for Middle Eastern music. For Musikmesse 2011 in Frankfurt, the company has announced that its Wavedrum technology has been reduced down into a compact, portable, playable pad with a built-in speaker and effects. The Wavedrum Mini also features a clip sensor which is said to allow users to transform finger taps and hand slaps made on just about any surface into synthesized, amplified percussive sounds.  Read More

Korg monotribe front panel

When Korg's US trademark for "monotribe" was discovered in the lead up to Musikmesse, it was pretty obvious that we were about to meet a device that incorporated elements of the wonderful monotron analog synthesizer and the Electribe range - but that doesn't make these leaked shots any less exciting.  Read More

Roland has announced the latest evolutionary leap in the world of guitar synth technology:...

In the late seventies, Roland took the sonic palette available to keyboard players and opened it up to guitarists, with the introduction on the GR-500. It was quite simply a marvel, but is positively primitive when compared to the latest evolutionary leap taken by the company with the GR-55 guitar synthesizer. Featuring a pair of independent synthesizer sound engines and a Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) engine, the device makes hundreds of different sounds available to the player – anything from pianos to strings, drums to synths, various acoustic and electric guitar and bass emulations, as well as numerous amplifiers.  Read More

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