Monday, 30 December 2013


Some excellent news from German developers Bitwig in my mail box, who say that they are nearing the end of their Beta testing phase for their software and will be making a big announcement at NAMM 2014 coming up next month. Take a look at the email I received just before Christmas this year for more information.

Touted as a mix of Ableton and Logic with lots of their own ideas and features thrown in, Bitwig has always been an ambitious DAW project and several years later, it's exciting to hear that 1.0 is finally coming.

It's okay guys: I don't mind waiting until January for NAMM and you can bet I'm going to be looking out for all the news and pricing.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

4 new Android music apps

It's been a while since I last took a look at some of the apps available for music making on the Android platform, so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at what's new on the play store. One thing that has struck me was that a lot of the older apps have been updated and benefited from user feedback and there is a great deal more on offer. MIDI over USB has also started to creep in and I am sure that this will help legitimise the platform for music making. As before, i have only limited myself to free titles with URLs in an effort to see what's available.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Wunjo Keys Synth Shop

Fun fact: retail is not doing so well at the moment. You only need to take a look at the average high street to see the FOR LET signs, while the demise of brands like Borders and Woolworths are proof that event the bigger fish aren't immune to the whims of the economy. The same is true of music hardware shops, those very unique places that actually allow you to try out products before you buy them or god forbid ask a technical question and get some solutions you can take home instantly.

In writing this, I'm reminded of the demise of Turnkey on the Charing Cross road; a huge shop packed with different bits of gear that catered for professional and amateur guitarist, keyboard player, drummer or DJ. Sadly that place bit the bullet some time ago, their website only a grim reminder of what used to be a fantastic place to look around.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Volca Bass Review

Finally got one!!

After waiting since September for my Volca Bass to arrive from Wunjo, with unknown transport delays from Korg cited as the reasons why, I have finally got my hands on a unit after finding one on Gumtree. Found it on Sunday, picked it up on Monday and hooked it up to the rest of the gear.

Appearance-wise, the Volca Bass is similar in layout and keyboard size to the Volca Beats, featuring just one line of faux-keys. Bright red LEDs adorn the buttons and sequencer, while there are plenty of lovely flashing red filter pots that react as the synth is played, so there is plenty of visual feedback to enjoy. These also serve a useful purpose, as the three oscillator detune knobs indicate which oscillators are playing.

Of course, the silver finish on the knobs and panels is an over the top nod to the venerable TB-303 and putting all three Volcas together shows up the bass clearly from the group. I have found the Electribe style knobs quite fun and smooth to use despite feeling a little cheap, probably the cheapest feel of all three of them, though this is to be expected with the price of the unit.

I have to say that Korg have really outdone themselves with the Bass and there are a ton of neat features worth looking at.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Mopho SE promo video released

Veteran synthesiser guru Dave Smith of Dave Smith Instruments has just posted a lovely two minute expose on his company's new Mopho SE machine. From the looks of it, it seems to have been improved with a more subdued coat of paint to match their Mopho X4 and Prophet 14 machines rather than the yellow zebra effect of before and I would say it really works well. While I wouldn't buy a synth on appearance alone, it's a step in the right direction!

Additionally the SE is improved by including a larger sized keyboard, which is always welcome if you aim for live play, improved knobs and it sounds very much like the original Mopho. This video isn't really a great demonstration of exactly what the Mopho SE does but no doubt this comes with a few new tricks under the hood, but it's always nice to see Dave presenting something new.

I love the little poke at Arturia in particular: "nowadays even software companies are making analogue mono synths" and pointing out that the Mopho build quality is superior to "low cost products that are built overseas". For me, the US is technically overseas, but I understand his point: DSI are probably feeling the squeeze as low-cost options start to eat up their market share, which can only be a good thing. I'm sure if I came across a cheap DSI Mopho box I would snap one up!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ebay madness

An interesting situation has just occurred that brings into question the idea of rarity. One of my dad's Ebay auctions has just ended, with a seemingly ordinary vinyl album by a British 70s Folk band reaching a final price of £1,377.99. God knows how he's going to get it shipped safely to the stupid lucky winner.

Of course, a fool is someone who doesn't understand the difference between price and value. As someone with a large CD collection I can understand the affection people have with physical records, but paying such a large amount of money for an out of date piece of media is quite unbelievable. This not even considering the huge debate of analogue vs digital media in terms of quality...

What do you think?