Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Hey, blogger has finally let me back in! I disappeared when they switched tech and told me the blog would be unavailable and I couldn't get it to log me back in. Well now it has! Currently very busy with work, but also having fun with mobile music. In the last 18 months I've acquired a Mopho and a Monotribe (did lots of ebay selling!!!) and have been hacking away at existing devices. Most of my "fun" time has been spent tweaking my Nebulophone. I'll be posting some mods, code updates and videos soon. Sorry it's been so long! Rob

Monday, 31 October 2011

My first video - Monotron loves iPhone

Wow, that was stressful! Much respect to anyone who creates videos with externally recorded audio!

Anyway, my original title was going to be "Korgs and Moogs and autotune - oh my!"

So I had some crazy ideas of how to have fun with my Monotron and a few iOS apps and here is the result. It would be cool to see people take these ideas and show what happens if you add talent to the mix :o) Let me know if you post a video.

Enjoy! Video on Youtube


Saturday, 15 October 2011


Dear Korg,

iKaossilator is a blast! Love it to bits and have lost hours of my life over the last day or so just jamming. Any chance of:

* Manually set tempo to 2 decimal places - I find the tap tempo a bit hit and miss
* Arpeggiator patterns like on the Kaossilator
* Real time global loop length or loop retrigger
* Audio rendering of loops then audio copy/paste with iCloud support


Saturday, 13 August 2011

New toys

My latest purchases. Modded the Kaossilator on day 1 to include the superb overlay from Pat here: http://www.miscshitbits.com/2010/08/hello-kitty-kaossilator-grid-mod/. To keep its touch sensitivity I used an extremely thin screen protector instead of a piece of clear acetate and it works a dream. Despite my worries about lining it up properly all is perfect, which is no mean feat given those little squares are less than 2mm across! With a stylus and scale set to chromatic I can play each note perfectly. Shame I can't actually play anything properly :o)

The Monotron came with me on holiday. Hooked up to Filtatron running on my iPhone I was in noise nirvana.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Happy birthday to meeeeee...

A few weeks ago it was my birthday and I received Rock Band 3 and the Squier Strat guitar/controller. One of the first things I did was to hook it up to my iPad via the CCK and a midi cable. Worked a treat! Tried it with Garageband, Nlog Pro and BS-16i. Latency is surprisingly low, and definitely playable without compensation. Bending strings has no effect, neither does tremolo, so your expression is limited to how hard you pluck the strings, and that can be a little quirky too. Fretboard tracking is just about spot on (once I'd set the guitar pickup and fretboard how I wanted them) and chords work just dandy. In essence the guitar works like a keyboard - the strings (from the "mute" bar forward) are simply there to make contact with the frets to tell the controller where your finger is. It is the part from the pickup to the mute bar that tells the controller which string is being plucked and how hard.

One interesting feature (a bit annoying really) is that plucking an open string never sends a midi off, so open string notes sound forever until you mute the string manually. Obviously with a synth patch that releases itself this is not a problem, but most of the patches I used were a pain and had too be muted by hand. Ironically most of the guitar sound patches I used suffered from this. You could probably do somethihng clever with Midi filtering on a PC I suppose.

Overall as a "bonus" feature I think it makes a reasonable midi guitar at a pretty decent price. In the game itself (Xbox 360) it is fantastic and will definitely raise my (currently poor) playing skills, especially picking (which I tend too avoid normally).

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Windows 7 Slate/Table - one week of use

Had a busy week but managed to get some time in using the Win 7 slate for music.

First, and foremost, I cannot stress how incredible it is to have full music software running on something so thin and portable with a touch interface. In one instant it shows just how far behind mobile "studio" software is. I've been running Ableton Live Lite 8 and Virtual DJ Pro and almost re-falling on love with them as they are available to use within seconds of pressing the power button on a quiet, slim device that is always to hand.

It's not all sweetness and light though. These apps were never designed for use on a touch screen and all too often I get frustrated by clicking on something that I didn't mean to, or wishing for a mouse. Coupled with my Keysonic 540RF wireless keyboard it all makes so much more sense. Obviously that reduces the portability so I tried my tiny bluetooth keyboard (not much bigger than an iPhone and weighs almost nothing) and was just as pleased when moving through Ableton's interface.

Performance isn't up to the level of a non-Atom powered laptop, and battery life isn't iPad-bothering at about 4 hours, but it is perfectly happy running two tracks in Virtual DJ with effects and some attempts at turntablism. I haven't hooked up a turntable yet to try it with virtual vinyl so I can't comment on performance there. In Ableton recording audio was solid and using a few virtual instruments and VSTs was also great. Again, the improvement over iOS virtual synths (Nlog aside!) is phenomenal.

What really brings the device alive though is hooking up my Behringer UMA25s. It's not a great keyboard in terms of key action (my Novation Remotes are miles better) but it has a good onboard audio interface with ASIO drivers and is amazingly portable. The performance of mic and guitar input is much better than the built-in soundcard on the slate. Of course it also works happily for both MIDI and sound duties without complaint, unlike my iPad with CCK that only works with MIDI unless I provide mains power as well.

So far then I love the portability much more than the touch aspects of it. Touch is great for web surfing etc but Win 7 is about as far removed from the touch friendliness of iOS as you can get.

Friday, 11 March 2011

iPad GarageBand with MIDI gear

There's lots of opinions about GarageBand hitting the net so I'm not planning to rant about missing features or whatever. I just want to talk about my experiences of hooking up some MIDI gear to it.

I have tested my Behringer UMA25s keyboard over USB via the Camera Connection Kit and my Novation Remote 49 via a cheapo USB MIDI interface into the CCK. The Novation also has sustain and expression pedals plugged in.

First up, both were recognised perfectly and proceeded to play notes on GB's virtual synths and even the drumsets. Velocity sensitivity was transmitted properly (anyone else find the accelerometer "velocity" really hit and miss?). I really like many of the built-in patches, and playing them via a real keyboard is a joy.

As you'd expect, pitch wheel and mod wheel both worked just fine, their effect being dependent on the particular patch. Knobs and rotaries were more hit and miss. With a General MIDI setup loaded into each keyboard, the only rotaries that changed anything were the pan control and volume. I was hoping filters, chorus, reverb and ADSR would match the GM spec. Not sure if there is a MIDI mapping table anywhere on the web.

A less successful test was the arpeggiator. When switched on, incoming MIDI notes do not go to the arpeggiator. I like to use arpeggiators a lot (due to a lack of playing talent and a tendency to twiddle controls during playing) so this was a disappointment.

A big surprise, however, was the recognition of the expression pedal from the Novation (and the sustain pedal - less surprisingly) and seemingly the channel aftertouch, which had me squealing filters using the key pressure.

Overall, despite many criticisms from people, I am very happy with Garage Band for keyboard and MIDI. Oh, ok, it could use a piano roll :o)