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This section includes compiled posts from some of Lars Behrenroth's favorite (Deep) House and Tech blogs.
Copyright to each post is owned respectively by the author and issueing website.


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Akai Launches New MPD Pad Series, with More Controls

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Akai is a name synonymous with pad controls, via their MPC. But the MPD line of controllers hasn’t gotten a lot of attention lately – until now.

Today, the company unveils a big update to the MPD line. The numbers are parallel to the MPD18, MPD26, and MPD32, but these are really new pad controllers. They remain inexpensive but add additional hands-on controls and features, as well as a redesign of the pad sensing that Akai says is “ultra-sensitive.” Sounds a bit like something condom packaging would say, but Akai’s flagship MPC Revolution has terrific pads, so I’ll forgive the marketing-speak for now and look forward to trying them.

The MPD26 and 32 had hands-on controls, and the MPD18 had … well, a fader. But now you get lots of controls on the whole lineup and a new step sequencer on the top-of-range MPD232.

Also, following a growing industry trend, the whole line is class-compliant, which means it can work with iOS (and Linux and Raspberry Pi and all that, too – and your laptop, without drivers).

Here’s the quick run-down. All have 16 pads, but they have different bank sizes so you can assign those 16 to a different number:

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MPD218: pads and rotaries
Assign 48 pads / 3 banks
18 rotary encoders / 3 banks
MPC Note Repeat, Full Level
16 presets
USB powered (all have USB, but it appears the other two require power supplies)

MPD226_ortho_1200x750_web

MPD226_rear_1200x750_web

MPD226
Assign 64 pads / 4 banks
4 faders
4 Q-Link knobs
4 Q-Link buttons
36 assignable controls
MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing, 16 Level, Full Level and Tap Tempo
MIDI in and out jacks
Transport controls

MPD232_ortho_1200x750_web

MPD232_rear_1200x750_web

MPD232
64-part, 32-step sequencer
8 Q-Link faders
8 Q-Link knobs
8 Q-Link buttons
72 assignable controls / 3 banks
MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing, 16 Level, Full Level and Tap Tempo
30 presets, including DAWs
MIDI in and out jacks

All of them
16 pads that are velocity- and pressure-sensitive
Software bundle with Ableton Live Lite and Sonivox sounds

And, of course, backlighting, because apparently there’s some new industry rule that everything must now light up all the time. Keyboards! Pads! Grids! DJ gear! I think the LEDs now have their own LEDs. But yes, you get that, too.

RGB on the 232 and 226; red backlighting on the 218.

More importantly, you get loads of editing options. Front-panel preset editing is possible, and there’s a Preset Editor. That helps fill a void left by the original M-Audio Trigger Finger, I think.

But that brings us to some confusion, InMusic. Because you’re adding pads to nearly everything you make, even across brands that aren’t Akai (like M-Audio and Alesis). M-Audio also makes the Trigger Finger Pro – which also has a step sequencer. What do these brands mean, exactly, given the similarities? Akai doesn’t resolve matters in the press release; before they introduce the product, they introduce “Akai Professional, a leading manufacturer of keyboards, mixers and production equipment for performers and recording artists.” For the record, that same description fits Alesis (exactly) and M-Audio (minus the mixers).

What I do see as potentially encouraging is that the MPD232 appears to improve on what the Trigger Finger Pro already did. The Trigger Finger Pro is great, but it’s a bit bulky, you don’t get faders for steps, and the pads are usable but not terrific. If the MPD232′s pads deliver, you could get that same step sequencing power in arguably a more usable interface and form factor – and more playable, too. So that’s one to watch.

What these are is relatively inexpensive. US$199 for the MPD218, $299 for the MPD226 and $399 for the MPD232 retail list – so cheaper than that street. If they’ve got the pads right, that sounds a good deal.

And they have each pad labeled “pad,” in case you are easily confused.

Looking forward to these, as having a pad controller that works with everything has some real appeal, nice as the integration of Push/Ableton and Maschine can be.

MPD218_detail1_1200x750_web

MPD226_detail1_1200x750_web

MPD232_detail1_1200x750_web

The post Akai Launches New MPD Pad Series, with More Controls appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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Has Anyone Else Noticed a Creeping Trend in the Music Tech Industry?

I’m going to keep this article atypically short (as I finish up some other writing).

Is it just me, or is everyone’s studio turning into the above? I know I’m not the first to say this.

Side note: why has someone not exactly replicated the above on hardware? (Next Ableton / Native Instruments / Novation hackathon, kids, seriously – get on it. I promise you’ll be more famous on CDM than John Travolta. Is. On CDM.)

Feel free to link to this post every time this happens for the rest of 2015. And take a shot. (Of vegetable juice or something; I really don’t want to kill you when the next NAMM rolls around this week.)

The post Has Anyone Else Noticed a Creeping Trend in the Music Tech Industry? appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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MI4L at Woogie Weekend Afterhours + 4 Ticket Giveaway! (July 17-19)

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Of course by now, you all know about Woogie Weekend, and we are sure you know why you should be there. The Do Lab crew and the incredible people behind the Woogie stage from the Lightning in a Bottle festival, have decided that it’s finally time to launch a festival of its own. The musical acts over the years have been carefully curated by the likes of Sammy Bliss and Jesse Wright, who with the help of their team and backing of the Do Lab, have created a one-of-a-kind outdoor house and techno experience.

BUY TICKETS HERE

From literally nothing, these guys have built this stage up from a small level production to one that few can rival, grown from their passion for excellence and love for the music. Over the years, the staging has elevated from ground-level to tree top and the design and desire to be a complement to the natural surroundings have led to magical atmosphere with vibes for days.

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This year, after a first time sell out at Lightning in  a Bottle, the Do Lab and crew have decided that it’s finally time to give the Woogie its own festival. Woogie Weekend will be held in the old home of LIB, in Oak Canyon Park, Silverado, CA. If you never made it to LIB when it was at these festival grounds, then you are in for a treat. Actually, regardless if you have been to these grounds or not, you’re in for a treat.

WWAfterHours_MusicIs4Lovers

We here at Music is 4 Lovers have been graced with the opportunity to be a part of the Woogie’s inaugural festival by hosting an afterhours stage on Friday night. Our founder, Dadon, will be performing that night as well, on one of the main stages, opening up the festival at 9PM. The afterhours lineup includes Halo (of H Foundation), Dadon (Founder of MI4L and co-founder of Lovelife), Jimbo James (Managing editor at MI4L & co-founder of Lovelife), Saand (Content Director at MI4L) and Amanda Panda.

It’s not always easy to make it to these festivals, we get it. Money can be tight or maybe your crew can’t make the journey. Well, today is your lucky day, because we’ve got a solution for you. We’ve got 4 tickets that we are giving away to one lucky winner, and all you have to do is follow a few directions.

Ticket Contest Details:

- Visit Facebook.com/Musicis4Lovers
- Find the contest posting (you’ll see it, it looks just like the picture at the top of this post)
- Comment and tag three of your friends, that’s it.
**We will be selecting a winner on Tuesday, July 13 so be ready <3

 

WWArtistSpotlight _HaloWWArtistSpotlight_Dadon

WWArtistSpotlight_JimboJamesWWArtistSpotlight_Saand

WWArtistSpotlight_AmandaPanda

Fresh off the press, we have a brand new FREE release from Music is 4 Lovers and there just happens to be a remix from Halo & Dadon on there, which you can see below. Share it with your friends, after all, it’s free. Oh, and it’s good too.

 

 

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-Slow

 

 

The post MI4L at Woogie Weekend Afterhours + 4 Ticket Giveaway! (July 17-19) appeared first on Music is 4 Lovers.

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Stems: Luciano, Carl Craig + Kerri Chandler Discuss The New Music Format

Just a few weeks ago in Barcelona, there were a slew of talented artists performing for the Sónar festival. It was perhaps easy to overlook an event at the parallel Sónar+D conference that packed several legendary DJs and producers in a single room. Native Instruments enlisted Alexandre Cazac of InFiné records, Kerri Chandler, Carl Craig and Luciano to talk about the new Stems format, in a discussion hosted by Tony Nwachukwu, all in front of a packed audience. Guest contributor Steven Maude has captured some of the highlights of the discussion in today’s article.

What are Stems?

In case you’ve missed any of the background on Stems, you can catch up with this article. In a nutshell, it’s a new file format wrapped in an .mp4, with four separate audio tracks that can be controlled independently in supported software. Native Insturments is behind the format, and their Traktor software will be the first to support it.

Stems files retains backwards compatibility with MP4 players, including CDJs, that don’t support them: they will playback, but only as a single, conventional audio file. Establishing a new file format as a standard is difficult and NI are on a big push; making this format an open standard shows that they mean business. As well as being supported in Traktor, it is royalty-free to use, their Stems creator tool is a free download and the source code will be made available, although the licensing on this is as yet unclear.

Photo Credit: Hipasonic

Photo Credit: Hipasonic

What Does Stems Mean For DJs?

DJ Techtools and the forums have discussed this at length – but what do industry DJ veterans make of Stems?

Both Kerri Chandler and Carl Craig were highly enthusiastic: Chandler describing Stems as “Tascam on steroids”, with the ability to use individual elements perhaps giving a longevity to records.

Carl Craig‘s opinion was that Stems was incredible since it lets you play four files in sync and have the possibility of multitrack live remixing. He cited the advantage of not having to worry about nudging one of those files; Stems, he said, were better than remix sets as they are full tracks and more cohesive.

Luciano pointed out that having the Stems format might give interested listeners a better insight into how the music they’re listening to is formed; he said that he used to isolate, e.g. percussion, when growing up listening. Stems could perform a similar function.

The artists noted that DJ tools have existed for a while – historically, rap, grime, and dance music artists have provided a capella and instrumental versions for DJ and remix use. This can help keep a record around and fresh as producers continue to rework it or use samples in their own tracks, and DJs can use and re-contextualize elements in their sets.

However, these are not always available, and from a DJs point of view would require juggling, say, two decks to control the a capella and instrumental at once. With Stems, a single file and a single deck has everything, reducing some of the overhead involved.

Alexandre Cazac, whose InFiné label is eclectic (listen to a few of their artists below), was enthusiastic about applying Stems to other genres, maybe allowing for DJs to incorporate different sounds outside of the usual.

What Does Stems Mean For Producers + Labels

For producer-DJs, Kerri Chandler was extolling the virtues of being able to create a Stem, playing it out live and tweaking it in a DJ set to gauge the reaction and get crowd feedback. He even went as far as saying you may want to record live and use that as your master.

For labels, there’s now a way to sell the standard version of a track, along with a premium Stem version. Also mentioned was even the possibility of selling alternate versions of Stems; you can imagine that there are different ways that you might opt to bounce a project down to four tracks. Particularly hot tracks might well get away with this, so that DJs have a bit more variety when playing the same track out.

What Does Stems Mean For Listeners?

Outside of the audience who get to enjoy DJs playing out Stems and do things they previously couldn’t, there’s a potential market of Stems selling to dedicated fans.

Special edition albums are nothing new, but if, say, Apple decided to support Stems (and they’re on a real marketing push with their music business right now), it would be possible to sell digital copies with bonus Stems such that fans effectively get instrumental copies. Again, this means that there could be a bigger market for back catalogue reissues in Stems format too. That’s not necessarily going to work for every artist, but may work for those who have ardent fanbases. Going even further, perhaps it’s possible for Stems to sell outside of electronic and rap music genres entirely.

“Why Only 4 Tracks In A Stem File?”

Stems Deck

An audience member asked this question. The panel’s consensus response was that four tracks was a good balance between flexibility and complexity.

Luciano mentioned that there’s probably not enough time in on-the-fly DJ mixing to really make the most of anything more than four channels to start using more short time you have to mix between two pieces of music, say 30 seconds. Likewise, Kerri Chandler mentioned that, with four decks and four tracks in each Stem, means you actually have up to 16 tracks to work with.

Carl Craig highlighted that Stems with more tracks might be a convenient format for producers who currently might exchange multiple individual stem files. Instead, they could just send over a single file instead and load that into a DAW. The current specification supports Apple’s lossless ALAC format (which itself is open source under the permissive Apache license). An official or otherwise extension of Stems that supports more tracks for this purpose certainly isn’t out of the question.

Challenges Part 1: Preparing Stems

Stems themselves are simple to create, with the caveat that there needs to be the source material to create them from. If your project files exist, producing Stems from them shouldn’t be difficult.

This is exemplified by comments Carl Craig made: he said at the event that his label was committed to Stems for future releases. Reissuing his legacy material, he said, might prove difficult. He used to mix straight to a 2 track DAT master and add effects in real time. Recreating those effects would be a problem, and might mean there were slight differences between the Stems version and the original. On the other hand, his label’s forthcoming releases will be available as Stems.

Kerri Chandler was more upbeat, though he said he’s “gotta dig”: half of his stuff is on tape and may be hard to find. This highlights how important archiving and keeping records (both types!) can be for producers and labels.

stems-sonar+d-discssion

Photo Credit: Sonar+D Instagram

Challenges Part 2: Selling Stems

Carl Craig suggested that Stems would could the a stagnant music industry. He pointed out that just about everyone was guilty of downloading at least one thing for free. Alexandre Cazac had earlier said that the advent of the MP3 meant that many people no longer understood why they should pay for music.

Stems is certainly something for the industry to get excited about: it’s a new product, and one they can charge a premium for, and one that can well apply to classic tracks from back catalogues too, as well as new tracks. But, how much more can they charge for them remains to be seen.

I’m not sure that it will be a panacea to the problem of people not want to pay for music either. At best, the labels can hope that Stems are traded far less than MP3 versions of music, perhaps making them much more difficult to get hold of outside of legitimate stores and forcing people who want them to actually buy them. And, of course, they can’t be ripped from YouTube.

That said, for smaller, lesser known labels whose sales are primarily to DJs, this boost may be enough to help them and their artists to develop and flourish. And NI do have the likes of Beatport enlisted as partners, so there’ll be a place to buy Stems as soon as there’s a publicly-released Traktor version that supports it.

Watch Ean’s overview of Stem Decks in the below video and read more here

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President Obama Congratulates Veteran Chicago House DJs

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Chicago House legends Chosen Few DJs received blessings from perhaps the most famous Chicagoan of them all over the weekend, President Barack Obama.

Michelle and I are sorry we can’t be home with all the house heads in Jackson Park today,” Obama explains. “We’re having a 4th of July get together of our own at the White House, with some of America’s finest servicemen and women, and their families, but I still wanted to wish the Chosen Few DJs and all of you a happy 4th of July, and a happy 25th anniversary, Chosen Few Picnic. Love you Chicago! Enjoy the fireworks.

The Chosen Few was originally founded as the “Chosen Few Disco Corp.” by DJ Wayne Williams in 1977 and boasts a roster that includes Jesse Saunders, Alan King, Tony and Andre Hatchett.  In 2006, the group added its first new member in nearly 30 years, DJ and producer Terry Hunter, and in 2012 welcomed Mike Dunn. The collective has also been throwing their annual “Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic” since 1990, and it has grown into one of the largest music festival events in Chicago, with an estimated attendance of around 40,000.

President Obama, a noted fan of House music, spearheaded (as then-Senator of Illinois) the campaign to make August 25th Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago, and he and his wife, Michelle, offered their condolences in a letter, the day Knuckles passed away.

Source: ChosenFewDJs.com

The post President Obama Congratulates Veteran Chicago House DJs appeared first on Deep House Amsterdam.

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