MixVibes continues to close the gap between its DJ software and the other big players in the industry, and the release of Cross 2.4 is no exception. The new version of Cross features four decks in the software, the bottom two of which can be switched between sample and player mode, similar to Traktor’s Remix Decks / Track Decks (note that there are still only 4 slots in the sample modes – it’s not Remix Deck sized in that respect).
Each of the decks can also now be controlled via HID devices, an advancement which will allow Pioneer CDJ users (not just the Nexus, as some other outlets have reported) to use a Sync Link workflow where each deck follows a master- but master status is attributed automatically based on what the primary playing deck is. Have a look at how this HID control works in the video below:
Additionally, the new version of MixVibes also incudes controller mappings for a few key intro-style models, including the Numark MixTrack/2/Pro2, Denon SC2900, and Pioneer DDJ-WeGO.
Will Cross become a staple in DJ booths overnight? Probably not – but if they continue to build a feature set that brings them into alignment with all of the other offerings, there’s a chance that they could make a move at the market fairly easily with a few forward-thinking features.
Learn more about Mixvibes Cross on their official site.
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Unless you’re deep into the DMC scene, it’s not that common to see in-depth analysis of other DJ’s performances, tricks, and routines – but today our friends over at DubSpot have done just that. Except instead of someone else analyzing a routine, DJ Shiftee is looking at his own routine on the Kontrol Z2 mixer – with the help of a pint-size version of himself, Little Shiftee.
It’s a great behind the scenes of how Shiftee uses the Z2 and Traktor’s Cue Points, Remix Decks, and his own Maschine mapping to build a performance. The video also clears up a lot of speculation – he is not controlling the additional Remix Deck slots with the Maschine MK II via some secret Maschine firmware.
Shiftee is offering the mapping he used for the Maschine MKII for free on Facebook in return for a Like.
Newer, faster, thinner … better? One technology follows another in dizzying cycles. But how is it that something that was once an amazing engineering marvel ceases to be so? If it really works as a musical instrument, how could it be less of a musical instrument than it was before?
Palm Sounds’ Ashley Elsdon was talking about music making in the palm of your hand before anyone had ever seen an iPhone. So I had to smile when I saw him connecting an old Palm to our MeeBlip synth. It wasn’t just a novelty – the synth was ticking along with this vintage technology in a way that looked generally cool, drool-worthy – somehow, new.
So I asked Ashley to do a special story for CDM to explore what you can do with vintage pocket music making – to revisit what was possible through modern eyes, and see what you can still use today. What we get is both history lesson, for those who stick with their newest product, and a practical guide to making use of devices you can now often find nearly free. (Hint: you can even emulate Palm on new devices, too.)
It’s not just a story for the sake of it. These gadgets are the product of a massive expenditure of energy, packed with toxic chemicals. This could be what saves them from the landfill – and what creates new music instead of new waste. But there is still a reason you bought that new iPhone. So let’s let Ashley explain just how useful this retro gadgetry may be. -PK
Palm Sounds: Palm OS and Windows Mobile Music Making
The world of mobile music making has grown beyond all expectations over the last few years, and it’s only fair to say that iOS is now king in that world. So, why make music on old PDAs? They’re slower. There’s virtually no new development. Yet there are still some areas where an aged PDA can make a shiny new iDevice look dumb. For a start, you can access to the file system, and expanded storage, too. Ed.: Okay, I have to whince a little bit at the fact that this isn’t true on newer gear, but – yes. True.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s some amazing software for older devices that is completely free.
So, I’m going to make the assumption that you’re interested in getting to know a little more detail about these devices and what they can do. I’m going to cover two operating systems and the hardware that they run on. There will be more focus on the Palm OS over Windows Mobile, but both have unique software available that in some cases goes beyond what is possible on iOS at the moment.
Palm in its various guises over the years were probably the best-known manufacturer of PDAs in the 1990s. They made the hardware, they made the OS, they made peripherals. Sound like a familiar model? Palm’s early hardware used serial connections to connect to the desktop, which made them excellent for MIDI applications, and many developers made great use of this facility. However, from version 5 of their OS and a simultaneous move to ARM-based hardware, the serial connection was lost and MIDI along with it. Ed.: Doubly absurd: there’s no reason you can’t do serial and MIDI from an ARM chip. But I digress.
The upside of this move was more processing power, and along with that some of the best-loved and most innovative software to hit a handheld in decades. More of that a bit later. As Palm was the main manufacturer of their own hardware, the majority of models that are still available and useful for music. I’ll mention the best models for music making at the end.
In some ways, Windows Mobile were ahead of the game here. To be clear, I’m talking about the OS up to version 6.5 and before it morphed into Windows Phone (which made a lot of developers very angry, and none of the music developers ported their code to the new OS).
Windows Mobile has had some amazing music software developed for it, some of which is still available today, but sadly, not all. There were a huge number of different Windows Mobile devices on the market, and you can still find lots of these on auction sites today. In terms of which devices are / were best for music, that’s debatable. However, processor speed and memory are the two major factors as always in considering a device.
Palm OS: An ahead-of-its-time embarassment of riches
As with lots of platforms, Palm OS music making started off with the simplest of apps. I don’t intend to cover those, as many have vanished now. However, a few applications that started off in those early days were developed further and are still available now.
Applications from miniMusic (minimusic.com) fall into this category. miniMusic were pioneers of Palm OS music apps, and their offering covered a huge range of different musical needs. Here’s a quick run down:
- BeatPad: A drum machine and simple pattern sequencer. It handles 4 banks of 8 patterns and allows you control pitch, velocity and note length on every note in the sequencer. It has MIDI out and also can use sounds created in SoundPad.
- NotePad: A fully-fledged Notation application for Palm. This is a truly amazing app. MIDI-capable, and can access GM sounds on a device with a GM chip or use the SoundPad FM sound banks.
- SoundPad: This is the app that makes the sound files that everything else can use. SoundPad uses 4 oscillators for FM synthesis.
- AxisPad: An XY pad instrument. As before it uses SoundPad for its sources and can house multiple ‘slates’ for various performance types.
- MixPad: Is a MIDI file player. The ‘pro’ version was to have a lot more editing and even recording capabilities, but it is very unlikely that this will come about now.
If that wasn’t enough, miniMusic also had musical learning applications (BugBand and EarTrain), and early demos of apps that sadly didn’t get developed further, SpinPad and WavePad.
… and then came Chocopoolp!
Ok, it’s a strange name. Chocopoolp made two apps for the Palm OS. Bhajis Loops is by far the best known, but before I talk about that, I need to mention its predecessor, Microbe. Whilst Microbe is essentially a sequencer with two synth parts and a drum machine, it was a huge step forward in mobile music making on the Palm OS. Microbe’s synths offered amazing sound control on a tiny device and export to a .wav file onto your SD card. As Microbe developed it added a song editor, the ability to export a whole song into Bhajis Loops and more.
And then there was Bhajis Loops. Bhajis Loops did for music making on the Palm OS what NanoStudio and BeatMaker 1 and 2 did for iOS music making. Bhajis Loops did everything short of audio tracks on a Palm PDA. It allowed up to 64 instruments (depending on how powerful your device is), four FX buses, plus accommodating a plug-in architecture (with a great range of plug-ins still available), a master bus, and full automation of instrument and effect parameters. All this before the iPhone even arrived.
As if that weren’t enough, Bhajis can also export to MIDI or .WAV file,s and best of all, it’s available for free now.
I’ve really only touched the surface of what Bhajis can do, and if you’re even remotely interested you should find out more by visiting www.chocopoolp.com.
But before we leave the Palm OS music making world …
There’s just one more thing I should mention. Back in the days before Bhajis, one truly interesting development in the Palm world caught my attention. It was called Capers. The idea was to replace the Palm OS with a new operating system for music only. What a great idea, I thought. The people behind Capers started to releases apps, or as they called them, applets for Capers which were largely MIDI-related, but were quite impressive in their own right.
Sadly, the replacement OS never came about, and in fact, there’s precious little trace of Capers left on the Internet now, but I still think it was a great idea. In fact, I’ve often pestered the developers of Capers to release the code so that someone could take it further. However, to date whilst it’s been promised, it’s never come about. Maybe one day.
Making music with Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile was always one of the biggest competitors for Palm, if not the biggest, and it, too, had some pretty amazing music software. Some of that’s still available today. Here’s a few of the highlights from the Windows Mobile world:
- Griff: Arguably the best Windows Mobile music making software available ever. In fact in some ways it rivalled Bhajis Loops. Griff sported an amazing plug-in architecture which supported plug-in instruments and effects too. And the plug-ins available crossed a wide range, from a drawbar organ to network MIDI (although this was somewhat experimental in its implementation). Griff allowed a huge amount of automation of every parameter you could think of, and exported to .WAV, as you’d expect. At its peak, you could expect to pay well over £100 for the software and all the plug-ins, but now the app itself and a selection of plug-ins are available for free. Sadly, some of the 3rd party plug-ins are no longer available anywhere.
- Mixtikl (miniMIXA++): A generative music app that has its roots in Koan Pro. Mixtikl is now on iOS and Android, but started as miniMIXA++ on Windows Mobile and has grown and grown ever since.
- MeTeoR: Stands for Multi-Track Recorder. This app was then ported over to iOS and has continued to be developed there. However, it was the first multi-track available for Windows Mobile, and probably the only one as well.
- Sunvox: Another app that’s now available for iOS, and Android, but still has a Windows Mobile and a Palm OS version too. Sunvox is an incredible mobile app by any standards and is truly cross platform.
That was then, how about now?
So, I think it’s only fair to say that there were some amazing applications for these older devices, and many are still available either very cheaply, or for free. That’s great if you want to run these apps on older device, but what if you don’t, or can’t? Well there are a few ways.
If you’re running iOS and are happy to jailbreak your device, you can run the Palm OS apps on iOS. StyleTap produce a Palm OS emulator that runs for iOS (and also for Android) allowing you to install Palm apps to your iDevice. The same solution works for Android, although you don’t need to jailbreak.
Sadly, to the best of my knowledge there’s no way of emulating Windows Mobile on another mobile platform, so if you want to sample the delights of Griff you’ll need to have something to run it on.
As for new development for Palm OS or Windows Mobile, well, that’s a short conversation. There really isn’t any.
So, there’s a relatively brief tour of what you can do with older devices and software and also how you can still use some of these on iOS and Android. There are still a lot of resources available for these devices, but it’s only fair to say that they’re dwindling away day by day. Hopefully it might inspire you to try out some Bhajis or Griff music making.
Find the latest in mobile music making news at Ashley’s enduring site:
and yet more fine English geekery (Doctor Who! Daphne Oram!) at:
We wrote about Mixify at their launch as a great solution for DJs looking for a Turntable.FM-style online streaming solution – and yesterday they announced a new feature that’s worth writing about – live video streams. The video streaming works using embedded Google Hangouts into their chatroom (which features a number of redesigned visual elements thanks to DJTT reader feedback).
Check out what the streaming video events look like below:
The feature is only available for Mixify Pro subscribers, which is usually $9.99/month or $99/year, but there’s a special on that knocks that down 40% for the first three months. Read more about the streaming video feature and special here.
Read Next: Getting Started Live Streaming Your DJ Sets
Community service announcement! If you play or care about the guitar, skip past this story to the one immediately thereafter, using scrolling! (suggested by readership feedback)
A new Live 9 with bug fixes, improvements, and a Disco skin ideal for use in low-light situations. No, not like that other time when we said it was and then it was promptly pulled. This time, for real – as in, I just downloaded it.
What you can’t see is what matters: badly-needed reliability fixes should address performance and stability complaints we were hearing from Live 9 users. There’s no way to picture that, so you’ll have to have a look at the changelog and see if it looks like this is an issue you were having – and do give it a try.
Visibly, of course, the most noticeable change is the new Disco user interface skin. That features a black background with brownish-orange and light-gray highlights, plus icy-blue waveforms. It’s not such an ideal skin for studio use, I think; it seems best for stage use. Turning the brightness down on my laptop, the high contrast becomes perfectly visible. This skin’s colors have earned some comparisons to upstart rival Bitwig Studio. But Bitwig still isn’t shipping, and the comparison might just as easily fit apps like Renoise. (Or Winamp. Or any number of things.) Anyway, dark skins are generally welcome and nothing new.
In fact, if this doesn’t fit your fancy, be sure to check out the beautiful skins produced by our friend Madeleine Bloom:
I prefer her black-background Live skin to Ableton’s own, in fact.
Having just gotten sidetracked, though, other updates here are far more important.
First, in 9.0.4 we see an explanation for why 9.0.3 was suddenly pulled:
VST / AU plug-in devices could be inactive after loading a Live set containing a large number of plug-ins (regression in Live 9.0.3).
The “grab_control” function which allows to gain control over a control surface’s button matrix via Max for Live would not work anymore (regression in Live 9.0.3).
Fixed a bug which could cause the File Manager window to reopen after launching Live.
But there are a bunch of changes which, as I said regarding 9.0.3 before it disappeared, are vital to Live 9 users.
This includes, vitally, solving a lot of issues having to do with new indexing features. I’m very keen to hear from someone suffering from that issue with big libraries in Live 9.0.2 and earlier to tell us if they had this problem.
And, if you don’t like the new instant-on record behavior, it also adds a preference that waits for you to launch a clip or hit Play to start recording.
I had been lucky with other Live 9 issues and crashes, but colleagues who hadn’t fared so well are already liking the update as of the 9.0.4 beta. Read the release notes for details on what might impact you, Live users:
And then grab the update via your account on Ableton.com.
Creator Paul Vo shows off his instrument. From a distance, it looks like a conventional guitar. But it does things a guitar definitely can’t do. Image courtesy Chris Stack.
It’s been a long time since we had a new hit like the electric guitar. Amidst the wonderful explosion of innovations in electronic instruments – digital and analog – the sound possibilities of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments seem to have gone largely dormant.
This is the guitar that hopes to change that. In fact, its creators don’t even call it a guitar, preferring instead “Acoustic Synthesizer.” Asheville, North Carolina’s Paul Vo, he of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel, wants to give guitarists unprecedented control over the timbres they play, both experimental and traditional, vastly expanding the range of what a guitar can produce.
And with just days remaining in the crowd-funding for the project, it’s the perfect time to look at this instrument. The Vo-96, dubbed with a name that sounds more like a Russian rocket designation than a guitar, really does open new chances to shape the sound of the vibrating string. But it’s much easier to watch and see what that means than talk about it. So, the project backers have aided CDM with a massive set of documentation in video for you to ogle.
We could use a few words. Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth.com, co-organizer of the crowd-funding campaign, sends us a description that gets to the meat of what the Vo-96 can do with sound:
There are 6 presets – two using all string harmonics, two using only the even harmonics, and two using only the odd harmonics. There are 5 different modulations you can apply: 3 harmonic arpeggios, acoustic tremolo, and an evolving random harmonic motion. Each preset, and each modulator within each preset, is adjustable for intensity, speed, rate or duration. and harmonic balance, which is a slider between low harmonics and high harmonics.
All of these sounds are shaped by what a physical guitar string can produce – because it’s the actual vibration of the string being changed by the Vo-96 that makes the different sounds. For this reason, all the sounds inherit the character of the guitar the Vo-96 is attached to. So it depends on your reference point: If you are comparing to any other acoustic guitar, there are reams of interesting and useful timbres.
The sounds are only one aspect of it, and are not meant to compete with keyboard synthesizers. The real reason for owning and playing a Vo-96 equipped guitar is in the realism of the experience. The synthesizer sounds are real – they are just as acoustic as any sounds the strings of a guitar have ever produced. What you feel at your fingertips and with the guitar against your body is the same sound you hear in your ears from the instrument.
That’s the key to it, the thing that makes it a completely unique experience compared to anything else really: The Vo-96 creates an acoustic instrument having definable and modulate-able timbres. You play it for the same reason you play an acoustic guitar instead of an acoustic guitar patch on a keyboard synth: It’s real.
Debuting first on CDM, here’s a video that looks at that power: “Andre Cholmondeley (performing artist [Project/Object, Delicious] and guitar tech Adrian Belew, Al Di Meola, Steve Howe, Greg Lake) explores modulating harmonics on the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer.”
Futuristic instruments tend to be dependent on amplification and power sockets. Not so here. Vincent Crow busking in Asheville with the Vo-96, completely unplugged. Thank the optional battery.
But let’s go all out here. With Chris’ help, we’ve got a 360-degree look at all this thing can do. Starting at the beginning, here are the videos that launched the instrument and its Kickstarter crowd funding campaign:
12 physical sensoriactuator channels, 2 per string
96 virtual channels of harmonic control, 16 per string
Capacitive touch interface with LED status indication and lock-out
Power, harmonic blend and note duration touch-sliders
Adjustable modulation effects with instant preset save/recall
6 quick-change presets in 3 sets of 2 using odd, even and all harmonics
3 harmonic arpeggios unique to six presets independently triggered on 6 strings
Hex random harmonic modulation with average rate and amplitude adjust
Hex Tremolo with separate triggers per string and rate touch-slider
Bluetooth Wireless connectivity for firmware updates and TBD advanced features
No moving parts – built to last as long as your guitar
Attaches and removes without marring your guitar
Designed to run on optional internal battery power or external power adaptor
Optional 4/hr advanced LiFePo4 battery with integral charging
Hardware platform has large uncommitted resources for firmware expansion
And videos answer still more questions.
Why does this matter, historically speaking?
What’s it like when you first pick it up? (Al Petteway, Richard Smith and Vincent Crow answer that with their first hands-on impressions.)
Tyler Ramsey, guitarist for Band Of Horses, also gives it a play:
How is it different from just playing a guitar – or a keyboard? Answer: it opens up new hybrid playing techniques, containing elements traditionally associated with either a keyboard instrument or string instrument, but not normally both at once. Here, Chris shows off an improvisation with a “musical setting with piano arpeggio, guitar recorded through its built-in piezo pickup and processed with a digital delay synced to piano arpeggio.”
There’s still time to get onboard the crowd funding campaign.
Got questions for Paul you’d like answered – from the specific to deeper questions about instrument design? Let us know.
More videos go into greater details. First up, an extensive demo by the designer himself:
And, just for kicks, a quick iPhone video showing harmonic arpeggiation:
And because you kids love it so much, a Vine video: