One of the things that makes Ableton Live the best DAW for dance music production is their bundled partner application, Max For Live (M4L). What’s really cool about M4L is that the environment is a completely open domain, allowing developers to create their own devices that work perfectly in the M4L or Ableton world. One such amazing device is the new Herse from K Devices (MSRP:$29). This unit is probably the most comprehensive slicer/effect/step mangler created so far in the M4L world, and competes with anything from Sugar Bytes, etc. Basically what Herse is designed to do is to take audio from a live input (no need for buffered or sampled audio), and slice and rearrange the audio in a multiplicity of different ways.
From a rudimentary perspective, Herse will use a step-sequencer (user selectable time resolution) to define the steps of the incoming audio, and allow you to rearrange the slices however you seem fit. In addition, each slice can have a number of effects applied to it, each time-synced to the transport, and each effect’s parameter can be synced or stepped. The effects include roll, waveshaper, amp envelope, lowpass filter, amp modulator, resonator and volume modulator. This makes for a very complex take on whatever signal source you are feeding into it.
From very subtle effects on live guitar or vocals, all the way down to extremely glitched-out drum loop pandemonium, this versatile effect is a key choice for all Ableton (M4L) users. While this effect can go incredibly deep for the advanced user, those just starting out can get amazing effects in just a few minutes. Several key features that beginners and masters will both enjoy are, randomization for almost every parameter and drunkwalk mode, which randomly morphs the sequencer’s direction/position.
And if all of these features aren’t enough to tweak your sound, you can save several different snapshots of all your parameters and then morph between them, creating extremely complex effects. If you find that you need to add a little bit of edge to your recorded or sampled loops, this amazing time-based effect can complement or destroy whatever you throw at it. Modern producers should take special note, and this innovative device could morph your sound into the future of music.
Today Berlin tech giant Ableton unveiled Dark Synth by Amazing Noises (a.k.a. composer/author Maurizio Giri). Billed as “a powerful new Max for Live synthesizer that opens up the vast sound-shaping possibilities of additive synthesis via an extensive, yet easy-to-use interface,” Dark Synth is founded on 2048 independently-controllable sine wave oscillators able to create plethora of sounds. Dark Synth requires Ableton Live version 9.1 and Max for Live version 6.1.6. and sells for US $69 / €49. Watch the demo video below and let the sound designing begin!
While laptop computers have revolutionized the electronic music world, the one aspect that is lost is the connection between instrument and performer. Controller interfaces have solved a lot of these problems, however not every controller is created equal. A lot of the interfaces available are built as a generic set of features that can plug in to any DAW and act as basic implement to control features on the screen.
When Livid started developing custom MIDI controllers several years ago, people started talking. With their unique approach to interfaces, these brilliant engineers set forth to not only develop the most customizable controllers out there, but to raise their product’s status to a performance instrument. The development of this unique interface was spearheaded several years ago by world-renowned techno godfather, Richie Hawtin, and has finally made its way onto the market.
After roadtesting their controllers for countless hours, Hawtin and several other artists from his Minus label have shaped this unit into an interface that plays and feels like the drum machines and groove boxes of yesteryear. Using aircraft grade aluminum, the highest quality faders, knobs and RGB backlit buttons available, Livid hand builds each unit in Austin, Texas. Livid also includes remote scripts for either NI’s Traktor and Ableton’s Live. The real magic that makes this controller so special is a distinctive Ableton Max For Live device that was built specifically for this unit. The Drumstepp-R and Synthstepp-R are Max devices that turn your CNTRL-R into a 16-step drum or synth sequencer. If Ableton was lacking one thing in its studio revolution, it would be the fact that a 16-step sequencer was never provided in its bundle. While Live functions like a vintage drum machine in a sense, this controller has now provided the ultimate missing element, making your studio workstation flow just like a traditional analog studio.
The set up was a bit challenging to get going quickly; it wasn’t as fast as some other units on the market. But once it was up and running it was easy to start creating and jamming in a matter of moments. At first it seemed that you would only use this unit to step-program drums and tweak their sounds, but after several hours jumping back and forth between controlling the Drum Racks and controlling Ableton’s main functions (via a single push button encoder), it is clear that this sturdy device may soon rule the roost in the Ableton controller world.
There are certainly easier devices out there to get running for basic Ableton control, but there are no other controllers that even touch the ability to map their DAW and perform music like the CNTRL-R. If your music has been lacking as you feel like you are playing without an instrument, then this stand alone, USB powered controller-instrument is for you.
Livid Instruments CNTRL-R (MSRP: $699)