Deep House News - Deep House Radio, DJ Mixes, Interviews, Record Label and More - Deeper Shades of House Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:16:33 -0700 Deep House Radio en-gb (Deeper Shades of House) Akai Launches New MPD Pad Series, with More Controls


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:



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)



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



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.




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

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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Tue, 07 Jul 2015 14:02:00 -0700
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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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:31:00 -0700
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.


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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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:15:00 -0700
Yamaha Leak Entire Line of Reface Synths; Here They Are


The classic electronic instruments of the past are fast-becoming the big mass market play electronic instruments of the present. Case in point: Yamaha.

Today, the Japanese maker accidentally leaked its entire Reface line on a Korean site. UK-based synthjam on Instagram caught it and tipped us off – apparently whilst my fellow former Colonials were off celebrating with a BBQ or something.

And it’s pretty obvious what these instruments are. They appear to be compact keyboards (so perhaps not full-sized keys, despite what I saw in the video). And there are four models already:

1. An YC combo organ, with drawbars.
2. A CP stage electric piano.
3. A DX synth.
4. A CS synth.

(These categories were revealed in a previous teaser.) The CS has some basic synth controls, though nothing we haven’t seen lately; it’s an odd choice in that it’s closer to the AN (as synthjam points out).

The CP is moderately interesting, though; it could be a fun toy to have around. I think the winner here may prove to be the DX. It has an LCD built-in, we don’t have a lot of FM hardware synths, and the programming interface looks like the original (actually, with a little more feedback).

Yamaha says the 9th of July is the reveal. Even that is curious: it reveals just how much the American market matters, if a Japanese maker is showing up with a keyboard at the usually-moribund summer NAMM in Nashville.

But I suspect this will cause some fuss on the Internets, because these are more mass-market, compact devices than they are full-blown synths. Then again, having little keyboards with built-in speakers makes it feel like the 80s all over again, and maybe it’s about time some of the mass market folks got some synth love. I just hope they have MIDI – the ad shot makes it look like they have enough height. And before you get dismissive, the sound sounds great – though, really, it should; there’s no reason you can’t replicate these instruments digitally.




The teaser videos:

See you later this week, then, synth fans.

The post Yamaha Leak Entire Line of Reface Synths; Here They Are appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Mon, 06 Jul 2015 10:53:00 -0700
Watch iConnectAUDIO4+ Connect Absolutely Everything

I know you’ve been there. Somehow, even with a small assortment of gear, you find that you have exactly the wrong combination of plugs.

It’s actually even worse if you’ve bought into the inexpensive mobile music revolution. iPads are chock full of apps; little boxes like the KORG volcas can be great fun. But… the iPads don’t have any ports, and compact devices (including our own MeeBlip) often have just MIDI in to save space. And then there’s trying to clock everything.

That’s why I’m really excited by the promise of the iConnectAUDIO4+. (And I know from feedback, I’m not alone.) It’s an audio interface for one computer. It’s also an audio interface for two computers. It works with your iOS stuff. It does MIDI. It does USB hosting for all those gizmos that lack MIDI ports. And it’s still a multichannel audio interface with mic pres and four outputs – while remaining nicely portable. (Too many audio interfaces are limited to two outs.)

In fact, it does so much, that the review I’m working on won’t be done until next week. In the meantime, though, our friend Chris Stack of Experimental Synth has posted a lovely walk-through video.

What’s nice about this is that this gadget really did help Chris finish his record. And that’s something that resonates with me. When you’re struggling to find creative flow, the worst thing is having to stop because you realize you can’t actually plug something in.

Here’s what he writes:

I just finished my first album and am starting on the next. I just got an iConnectAUDIO4+ and it has become the “everything hub” of my studio, connecting computers and iOS devices, high-res audio, MIDI, USB, 5-pin MIDI, mics, instruments, speakers, headphones and more. The mic preamps sound great, iPad audio fed digitally into Logic and Ableton is pristine. The iConnectAUDIO4+ has really streamlined my music production workflow. The iConnectMIDI2+ made a lot of my first album possible and it looks like the iConnectAUDIO4+ is going to take my next album even farther.



Find Chris’ (lovely) album at:

And learn about the product at:

The post Watch iConnectAUDIO4+ Connect Absolutely Everything appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:35:00 -0700
Why Every DJ (Even Big Names) Need Spontaneity In Their Sets At the EDMBiz conference in the middle of June, in the lead-up to this year's EDC in Vegas, three big dance music artists argued over how important unique and spontaneous DJ sets should be from one show to the next. On the side of extreme importance: Z-Trip. Opposing him? Nicky Romero and 3Lau. In this article we delve into the art of variety, why it matters, and a few things to try to avoid stale sets.

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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Sun, 05 Jul 2015 23:13:00 -0700
iTunes 12.2 Update Causes Issues With Rekordbox, Traktor, Serato DJs should always be hesitant to update to a new version of any software that they depend on, from system updates to new firmware. Today, we’ve learned that a brand new version of iTunes (12.2) has started causing major issues with all major DJ software. Why Is iTunes Changing?  For a lot of DJs, iTunes […]

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]]> (Administrator) tech feeds Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:46:00 -0700