Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why SSL talks like a pirate every Friday

Remember Jim Motley? He was the entertaining product manager for TC Electronics, known for... exuberant trade-show demos. He writes from his new job at the fantastically high end SSL...

"I thought I might let you know about a new practice instigated at SSL - "Pirate Friday". This all started one particular Friday when I decided on a whim that I was going to be a pirate for the day.

"This seems to have hit a soft spot in SSL's character. Our late founder Colin Sanders had a similar outlook and often spent Fridays not touching the floor. To get around the office he was climbing over desks, hanging off doors, etc. From a small one-man 'arrgh-harrgh' fest it has turned into a company-wide phenomena. SSL Japan celebrate Pirate Friday, 'Arrgh-Harrgh' is used by the US team as a motivational sales shout. At AES show last October Pirate Friday was honored on the booth with eyepatches, cutlasses, and bandanas. Our MD has even been seen getting the bus to work on a Friday with a large cutlass hanging from his belt!
"All of this reached a high point recently. We are working on some presentation videos, and in a last session of an afternoon the idea came to us of making a "pirate" version of the Duende presentation we had just recorded."

Best website of the year is up!

Every year, Barry Wood goes to NAMM, takes pictures of the most interesting stuff and posts it all at NAMM Oddities. This year's post is up today, and I'm super-busy at work, so enjoy!

Is everything is working OK?

Against my better judgment, I've been forced to upgrade to Blogger 2.0. If you have any problems, email me at: and I'll do by best to fix them. Or shrug helplessly.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Timbaland vs Finland vs SidStation

I'd been meaning to post about the already widely reported case of Timbaland apparently stealing a melody from a Finnish C64 demo musician. I don't really have much to add, but today I found this clip of Timbaland and Busta Rhymes in the studio. On top of Timbaland's keyboard (which Busta is playing), you can clearly see an Elektron SidStation - which is, of course, the best way to create Commodore 64 sounds in a modern studio.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Good old fashioned gear porn: Play Industries

If you've ever wondered where all the cool synths from the '70s and '80s went, Studio One at Play Industries is your answer... (Thanks, Tyler)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NAMM: New drum machine from Dave Smith & Roger Linn

At the moment it's just a render on a poster on the Dave Smith Instruments stand at NAMM, but this could be the new drum machine from Dave Smith (of Sequential Circuits, man behind the Prophet 5, Pro-One and Evolver range) and Roger Linn (of the Linn drum machine and Akai MPC range). It's a new analogue/digital drum machine, obviously inspired by the Evolver, but with the 4x4 pads of the MPC range. No details, and a chance the whole thing is a hoax, but it's wonderful to see such a cool boutique thing being talked about all over the forums, with the most sensible analysis at the MPC forums: "Cant they just make it a black case? Whats with the gay 80's rocker pants design?" Quite.

UK Beatbox champ Beardy Man rocking the kitchen

This is very funny. You'll love it. It's Beardy Man, aka Darren Foreman from Brighton. This live video from the ICA is even better... (Thanks Dr Ben and b3ta)

Friday, January 19, 2007

NAMM: Eventide Time Factor: Superhot delay stompbox

Can you imagine a more appealing and unexpected URL than Analog Industries get the scoop on this little $500 piece of cool. It's a delay pedal, aimed firmly at the legendary but aged Line6 DL4 delay modelling pedal, with vintage/tape/digital/filter/reverse echoes plus a looper and a sexy dot-matrix LED display and... it's an Eventide! There's also Mod Factor, which does various modulation/auto wah effects. The only downside? It seems to have some weird USB midi connection, which seems bizarre for a stompbox. Price (according to Chris) about $500.

NAMM: Fender vs Boss pedal mash-ups

I love the look of these vintage Fender amps modelled in Boss pedals. No idea how they sound (it would be a miracle if they get the spring reverb right) but they look ace...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

NAMM: What's on the Behringer photocopier for 2007?

A huge pile of new super cheap effects pedals from Behringer today, mostly pretty standard-looking, but could the Chorus Space C be a pedal version of the legendary Roland Dimension D? It claims to be an 'Analog 3-Dimensional Sound Effects Pedal', although that doesn't mean it's actually analogue circuitry. Interestingly, they have a new range, adding to their Boss clones and Electro Harmonix clones, they now have MXR clones - Spot the difference: A or B, X or Y? Behringer seem doing be doing very well - as this jobs page reveals.
UPDATE: Behringer's 'Chorus Space C' is, of course, a 'tribute' to the rare and long discontinued Boss Dimension C, which was a stompbox version of the Dimension D... If it's really analog, it will be quite interesting!

NAMM: Roland's new stuff

The new Roland gear is up on their site...

VG-99 Guitar System This looks like the mother of all guitar modellers - like the old VG-8, it runs from a hex pickup, has a tonne of guitar and amp models, and a MIDI out port. I'm not sure how you use the ribbon controller while playing guitar, but, you know, it's cool to have.

MV-8800 'Production Studio' Their big daddy MPC4000 killer, with built-in TR808/909 Space Echo models, a colour screen and an output for a monitor, it's almost like... using a PC.

V-Synth GT A colour screen, a few more knobs, and a completely baffling parade of made up buzzwords - "revolutionary Articulative Phrase Synthesis technology"?

Send in videos of yourself playing live!

I recently received this extraordinary but somehow wonderful video of MT readers Badloader playing a gig at Colchester Arts Centre. If you like men in catsuits and codpieces playing synth pop, you'll probably enjoy it tremendously. My own YouTube performance has been limited, but I'm sure you must have done better. Post your own YouTube live gig links in the comments, and I'll collect the best for a superpost in a few days, when we've got over all the NAMM excitement.

NAMM: Korg's R3 replacement MicroKorg is sexy!

Details are sketchy, but it looks like a cut down version of the radias with full sized keys and possibly nice Clavia-style knobs with little displays and LED rings. Also, 16 backlit buttons could be good for XOX drum programming. Seems unlikely to be as cheap as the old MicroKorg, but we'll find out soon. Gear Junkies got the scoop, but thier site is down. (via Chip Collection and everyone else)

NAMM: Arturia's fantastically hot hardware synth

I scoffed when I read rumours that Arturia, the French company which makes nice-sounding VST versions of classic synths, were about to announce a hardware box, but Origin is real and official. It looks likely to be a very pricey box - with a huge LCD screen and numerous outputs. Details are still rather hazy, but it seems to be a DSP box which runs versions of Arturia's Moog Modular, ARP 2600, CS-80, minimoog and Prophet VS emulations, apparently with the option to build modular synths using modules from those synths. Which would be very cool, and real competition for the Nord G2. The G2 forum are discussing the new box, voicing predictable concerns about whether Arturia can design an interface which is anything more than pretty looking...

Friday, January 12, 2007

NAMM: Hot new synths (and piano) from Waldorf? seems to have the scoop on the new synth lineup from Waldorf (bonkers English translation here). The headlines (which may be wrong - could a German speaker confirm?):
Stromberg A big aluminium 5 octave wavetable digital synth with optional plug-in modules adding analog filters and/or tube amplification.

Blofeld A desktop/rackmount analogue modelling synth with a nice big LCD display and an aluminium box.

Zarenbourg A Wurli-inspired stage piano using physical modelling rather than samples (a bit like a hardware Lounge Lizard), with built in speakers - clearly going after Clavia's Electro range but with a much more retro look.

Phoenix Edition A limited edition reissue of the Q, Q+ and Micro Q, in black. The Q+ has analogue filters, the Q digital ones, and the Micro Q is the simplified rackmount version.
Exiting stuff - let's hope it doesn't turn out to be vapour! (via your source for all things Waldorf,

Monday, January 8, 2007

Belkin's $180 iPod-powered four track mixer

Palm Sounds report on Belkin's great-looking TuneStudio iPod portastudio, which can record 4 tracks mixer - which can mix four tracks into a two channel recording on a 5G ipod. You can nearly do the same thing with a Behringer mixer and a Tune Talk (although there will be a level problem as the Tune Talk only has a mic input). But this thing is cute and knobby, and $180 isn't a terrible price. Alternatively, for $99 you can stay strictly old-school on cassette with the Tascam MFP01 which is actually sold with the line "Records one track at a time with classic warm analog sound"... (More coverage of the TuneStudio at iLounge, Engadget and Gizmodo.) (Thanks to everyone in the comments for explaining this story back to me...)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

NAMM preview: M-Audio's dedicated controller for something

So far it's nothing more than a picture on a MySpace page, but this is the new thing from M-Audio. Sensibly, given their enthusiasm for cheap plastic and ugly design, they've decided to photograph it in the dark, although it must be said those coloured lights and glowing buttons and knobs are pretty. Concensus of opinion seems to think it's a dedicated controller for Ableton Live - with what looks like 10 clip launch buttons (maybe in four banks?). Perhaps they've done some Behringer-style borrowing of the Faderfox form factor and added a Fisher-Price lighting scheme. An Ableton controller would make sense, as M-Audio own distribute Ableton (and so they're both part of the Avid empire, along with Digidesign/Pro Tools and Sibelius). Presumably we'll know everything on January 18th, when NAMM opens. (Thanks Danny)
UPDATE: See, this is why I write about stupid videos and weird-looking synths. Turns out Ableton might be divorcing M-Audio, so this is unlikely to be an Ableton controller, and more likely to be connected with M-Audio's Torq DJ-ing software (produced by their 'SynchroScience' department) Thanks to everyone in the comments...
UPDATE 2: Here it is. It's called Torq Exponent and it's proper Fisher Price... (Thanks Tomasz)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

How to play Windows XP alerts on the piano

I'm proud to say that I'm no longer the world's geekiest man. 'TheCanCollecter123' has taken my crown with this piano medley of Windows XP alerts. All the hits are here: 'Chime', 'MSN message received', 'AIM message received', 'GoogleTalk message received' and of course the immortal 'Tada'. It's a shame he hasn't done our old friends Intel Chimes, Windows 95, THX (try playing that on a piano) or Mac startup.

Old upright piano gets a $3,000 pimp makeover

Proximasolaris, who claims to be a 41 year-old living in France, spent 250 hours on this incredible piano casemod - installing the guts of a $2,300 Korg Triton Extreme, $300 of motors, $500 of assorted mechanics and blue LEDs. Or you could just burn one. (via Chip Collection)

1328 British people vote to ban snares

This seems a bit unfair to drummers. (Thanks Danny)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

What sucks? You say Esteban guitars & Blue Man Group

I'm too late, as usual, for any Review of the Year celebrations. I was looking through my web statistics, searching for meaning, and I discovered that many readers come to this site angry. Click the little picture for the full list of sucky things that people came to Music Thing looking for. Interestingly, the 'Rules' list is shorter but more poetic.

Whitney Houston's old music gear up for sale (don't all rush)

Greg writes to point me in the direction of Whitney Houston's entire stage setup, being auctioned in New Jersey next Monday, presumably as a result of her crack-related tax complications because she hasn't paid the storage bills. There are many low-rent delights, including loads and loads of old Roland controller keyboards, a nice-looking flighcased Hammond, numerous Bobby Brown music awards (many for cassette tape sales). Elsewhere in the catalogue you may find: "1 Aroma Steam Personal Sauna, in two flight cases", "'Whitney's Throne' Chair", a Lucite Grand Piano with no legs, a Sharp microwave in a flight case, and really a lot of old Akai samplers.