Novation Circuit Review

The Novation Circuit portable Groovebox

This Circuit review is one that I specifically requested from Novation. I was quite interested in the idea of a portable groove box that held one of my favorite synth engines in a battery controlled, forward thinking design. I was concerned about the macro control layout as I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the layout. I came away from my time with the circuit gaining a new appreciation for this different take on a portable synth. Instead of focusing on specifics like ADSR settings or complex oscillator set ups, This groove box opts to give you macros that can control 4 parameters on any given patch. While this might be a bit confusing, it also serves as the pathway to inspiration and discovery of new unexpected sounds. This is where Circuit can come into its own… The sequencer is a bit on the basic side being only 16 steps but it does allow for independent note lengths and pattern chaining. You can launch patterns in a similar way to the ableton live clip launching method. Speaking of Ableton Live, a copy is included free with Circuit and Circuit can be used as a controller for live.

The Battery power and the fact that it has a built in speaker was a large draw for me. I’m happy to say that through out this entire review I never once needed to actually plug it into the wall (though the wall adapter is included in the box). The internal speaker is quite adequate to get its sound across in a quiet setting (don’t expect it to be loud enough to get peoples attention in a noisy bus station but it will certainly turn heads if you are sitting in a starbucks.)

I found the over all build quality to be extremely good. The knobs feel VERY nice , smooth with decent resolution. the body didn’t creak or feel hollow and plasticy.  The build felt so nice I let my 2 and a half year old son bash away on it with not so much as a scratch or a worry. I have to say he quite enjoyed it as well.

I was skeptical of the layout but came away impressed with the build quality. The constant updates from novation is a very promising sign and the addition of sample import and “sample flip” is not to be over looked. the rigid 16 step sequencer resolution is probably my biggest gripe but for what this product is, its hardly a deal breaker.

If you are looking for a groove box that you can confidently take with you on the go and is truly stand alone… this might be right up your alley.

Getting the most out of older gear Part 1: MPC 1000 fat pad upgrade

These days there are a ton of options for the upcoming producer and selecting which tools you use can be daunting. Factors such as price range, hardware vs software, analog vs digital and workflow can all be major factors. Luckily for those in the know, there are some real deals to be had these days.  This series will focus of finding production equipment deals, older gear that still holds a lot of useful abilities, and breathing new life into that gear. To help get the best bang for your production dollar, I have decided to grab a few of these pieces of gear and show how to revamp them, what to look out for, and how to use them in todays modern environment.

So lets start off with arguably the center of most production setups, the sequencer/drum sampler.  I have chosen the MPC 1000 for a few reasons. 1) it is affordably priced and readily available. 2) with its compact flash slot, hard drive and USB connection, this MPC can easily connect to a modern studio set up with ease. 3) the MPC 1000 is to this day one of the most powerful portable samplers available.Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 6.27.34 PM

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Dominant Drums Teaser!

This new maschine expansion has been a labor of love. Drums were recorded in a variety of settings using both traditional kits as well as “found sound” kits. The drums were then processed through a variety of outboard gear and optimized for usage in todays top drum sequencing software with a special focus on Native Instruments Maschine.

The Expansion pack is available for both Maschine 1.8 and 2.x format also as individual wav files that are organized by category( kick, snare, etc)
All sounds are individually tagged for easy browsing.
Each kit is mapped out with finger drumming in mind!

Take a look at Dominant Drums!
available Soon at Bigfishaudio.com!

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Maschine 2.0 / Studio Preview 2 (The Sampler)

Time For Another Maschine 2 Preview!

I have been using Maschine 2.0 for a good bit now and am very familiar with it’s workflow and changes.

With Maschine 2.0 and the Studio controller about to hit the store shelves any day now. We have all heard about the great new 32 bit floating point sound engine, but I thought it might be nice to discuss some of the changes to workflow that you can expect.

Lets get right into it by talking about the sampler section

sampler view m2studioinput selection areaThe first thing of note is now we are not limited to using only stereo inputs. This means we can sample mono sources with out having to convert later.  On the studio controller we are given input selection buttons to allow us to directly select our source right from the hardware.

The four tabs in the left hand hardware screen are Record, Edit, Slice and Zone.

Under the Edit tab we are also given a new “Selection Range” this is a great feature in that it allows us to select a portion of the sample separate from the start and end points and loop points and apply functions such as time stretching or normalization to just that selection. you can pre hear the selection range from the software by clicking play icon next to the file name. very good for checking selections without screwing up your start and end points.

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