Squarp Instruments introduces Hapax high-end professional standalone sequencer as authentic setup centrepiece
PARIS, FRANCE: having originally designed and released Pyramid almost a decade ago as a compact, standalone 64-track hardware sequencer packed with creative tools that its music-making creators could not commercially find available elsewhere, subsequently applying that same thinking to their Hermod followup by bringing the power of MIDI to the ever- widening Eurorack modular world while inheriting some creative elements from its Pyramid precursor, Squarp Instruments is proud to introduce Hapax — duly designed from the ground up with dual-ARM processing architecture upping the computational power ante as a high-end professional standalone sequencer in a rugged, minimalist housing that deconstructs everything that the avant-garde machines-creating company already knew about sequencing to offer everything needed to compose songs in the studio and perform them onstage as an authentic centrepiece of any setup, sequencing and synchronising vintage to modern synths and modular systems, and even DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), while maximising creativity with carefully crafted tools as the first hardware sequencer that fully supports MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) — as of March 4…
Billed by its creators as a polychronic performance sequencer since it can clearly do many things at once, Hapax’s dual-processor architecture allows it to record and transform tremendous amounts of data in next to no time — and all without breaking into a sweat. As an around the clock performer, it can handle two separate and independent projects — each with 16 tracks and eight patterns per track — that can be played simultaneously, so users can compose or load another project while the first one is already playing, enabling endless sets and seamless transitions. The fact that Hapax is also the first hardware sequencer that fully supports MPE speaks volumes about Squarp Instruments’ intentions; it is perfectly possible to record the finest gestures, slides, and articulations of anything played, after all — and all without compromising quality.
Quality also shines forth for all to see and feel when it comes to the construction of the Hapax housing, manufactured from 2 mm machined aluminum, with a unibody ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) back panel. Put it this way: with connections for multiple midi in (DIN and TRS), midi out (3x DIN and TRS), cv in (2x -5V to +5V/16-bit), cv out (4x -5V to +5V/16-bit), gate out (4x +5V), switch (stereo pedal footswitch), USB Host (for linking to a MIDI USB controller), and USB Device (for linking to a DAW-hosting computer and associated virtual instruments), it quickly becomes apparent just how well thought through that back panel actually is in terms of conceivably communicating with everything that the music technology world might make available at this moment in time — hence Hapax ably acting as an authentic centerpiece of any setup, sequencing and synchronizing vintage to modern synths and modular systems, and even DAWs.
Digging deeper, Hapax’s adaptive workflow — with the top panel proffering hands-on access to no fewer than 128 RGB (Red Green Blue) matrix pads, 52 click pads, nine sturdy clickable encoders, and two OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) greyscale displays — is designed around four main modes: live uses those 128 pads as an isomorphic keyboard or chord generator, giving rise to harmonic capabilities aimed at anyone — regardless of their theoretical knowledge — as a synaesthetic sensory blend of hearing, vision, and touch, thanks to its colorful interface; step uses them to add or fine-tune notes (or drum events) with surgical precision; autom uses them to create MIDI (or effects) automation; and pattern enables performing in sync by using the 128 pads to set the playing pattern of each track — create sections (or groups of patterns) and chain sections to build a song. Making music might involve using a polyphonic or MPE track to take advantage of the advanced step sequencer and quickly lay down notes or edit live recordings when writing melodies, or control up to eight different instruments with a single track when creating beats using the drum sequencer that is tailored to ease rhythm writing and jamming, for instance.
It is also possible to effectively bring those connected synths to life since Hapax embeds multiple real-time, polyphonic, non-destructive MIDI effects, as well as project-wide assignable LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators). On top of that, each parameter of those effects can be automated in the dedicated mode, and processed in the mod matrix, which provides even more ways of routing and modulating.
Hapax has so much more to offer discerning devotees of hardware sequencers, with powerful tools for offline note transformation and generation always at hand — harmonically inverting a musical motif, generating a controlled random counter-melody, slowly ramping up the velocities, emphasizing every fifth eighth note… almost anything is possible! Hitting Hapax’s red button enables recording using the encoders and matrix pads, external MIDI instruments (including MPE controllers), or any incoming analogue signal at a high resolution of 192 PPQN (Pulses Per Quarter Note). Needless to say, looper-style recording, countdown and metronome options, and punch-in mode means that there are options to suit any workflow, while each track has an elasticity value that changes its playback speed, expressed as a percentage of BPM (Beats Per Minute) — quickly double or halve the speed of a track, for example, or create subtly shifted tracks that slowly drift out of phase with each other.
Of course, hardware usage should not — in a perfect world — curb creative flow. For this reason, Hapax has a dedicated undo REDO button with extensive history to enable its users to go back in time as deemed necessary; thankfully, the button-activated snapshot function allows users to save the state of a pattern for instant recall with a single press; and dedicated copy, paste, and delete buttons help Hapax on its way towards offering a complete toolbox for promptly editing tracks.
Music-making should always remain an enjoyable experience, though, which is why Squarp Instruments favored dedicated buttons over key combinations when realizing a clear-cut interface and simple architecture for Hapax. Having striven to minimize the importance of screens when performing live, however, the dual greyscale displays implemented in Hapax help with keeping track of things in a studio context.
Clearly, then, deconstructing everything that they already knew about sequencing to offer everything needed to compose songs in the studio and perform them onstage as an authentic centerpiece of any setup has paid off for Squarp Instruments, with the Hapax high-end professional standalone sequencer surely set to make its mark in the music technology world while literally living up to its polychronic performance sequencer billing when expected for delivery in June 2022.
Hapax is available on backorder for expected delivery in June 2022 — priced at €864.00 EUR (plus VAT for individual customers in the European Union)/$979.00 USD — directly from Squarp Instruments’ online Store here: https://store.squarp.net
Polyend Tracker reboots retro form factor of software past with forward-looking functionality as world’s first hardware tracker
OLSZTYN, POLAND: famed for bringing new technologies to creative musicians by building innovative and unique musical instruments, Polyend is proud to announce availability of Tracker — effectively extracting the best bits of yesteryear’s tricky tracker software classics and rebooting them with forward-looking functionality as the world’s first hardware tracker, deftly designed as an easy-to-use compact standalone workstation with immediacy and simplicity at its creative core, and aiding artists with forging unique avenues of sonic construction to boot — as of March 18…
For the benefit of the uninitiated, a music tracker — tracker, for short — is a type of sequencing software. Speaking historically, the tracker term itself is derived from the first tracker software, Ultimate Soundtracker, starting life as a game sound development tool released for the Commodore Amiga personal computer back in 1987. The first trackers supported four pitch and volume modulated channels of 8-bit PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) samples, a limitation imposed by the Amiga’s audio chipset. Classic trackers represented music as discrete notes positioned in individual channels at discrete positions on a vertical timeline with a number-based user interface. Indeed, notes, parameter changes, effects, and other commands were entered via computer keyboard into a grid of fixed time slots as codes comprising letters, numbers, and hexadecimal digits — the latter being a positional system representing numbers using 16 distinct symbols. Saying that, those in the know appreciated the immediacy and simplicity of classic tracker software, if not necessarily those hexadecimal digits! One thing’s for sure, though: tracker software has exerted its influence on modern electronic music with influential IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) artists like (Aphex Twin alias) AFX, (Polish-American) Bogdan Raczyński, Brothomstates (a.k.a. Lassi Nikk, Finnish composer), Machinedrum (a.k.a. Travis Stewart, American electronic music producer), and Venetian Snares (a.k.a. Aaron Funk, Canadian electronic musician), to namecheck but several so-called ‘demo scene’ movers and shakers skilfully orbiting around those tricky trackers. That said, some might say that trackers need not be so tricky in this day and age. And it is this thinking that led toPolyend’s trailblazing Tracker.
The timely arrival of the aptly-named Tracker puts Polyend in pole position for blazing a new trail, tooled to take the tracker concept to a new level of innovative, inspirational, and immediate music-making by effectively extracting the best bits of yesteryear’s tricky tracker software classics and rebooting them with forward-looking functionality as the world’s first hardware tracker. Thankfully, Tracker waves goodbye to hexadecimal hysterics — not only did those entering the brave new world of classic trackers not necessarily know what those values actually represented, they could not see what was affected by them. Thinking inside its beautifully-engineered box, Tracker instead implements a simplified system of readable decimals that also shows the effects parameters when those decimals are entered in a frenzied fast track to creativity.
Tracker takes the quintessential characteristics of a classic tracker — the vertical timeline, powerful sequencer, and mechanical keyboard — and cleverly combines them with a newly-designed input interface, divided into several sections: a (high resolution, crisp, and bright) big screen and associated screen keys — mechanical controls that always correspond to what is displayed on the screen directly above them; the grid — featuring 48 backlit multifunctional silicon pads for quick note and pattern value entry and visual feedback (while also acting as a highly-customisable keyboard controller with editable scales); function keys — for fast and responsive control over all functions and options; plus navigation keys and associated (metal-manufactured) jog-wheel (with haptic feedback for fast scrolling or precise adjustments) — for facilitating transport control alongside arrow keys for navigation control, as well as dedicated Insert, Copy/Paste, Delete/Backspace, and Shift keys. All are at hand, helping to streamline making and performing music in a new and innovative way — without having to leave the world’s first hardware tracker, deftly designed as an easy-to-use compact standalone workstation with immediacy and simplicity at its creative core, and aiding artists with forging unique avenues of sonic construction to boot.
Better still, the classic tracker look of that dominating (default) screen — showing (up to) 48 instruments and 256 patterns with a maximum of 128 steps per pattern per project — belies an infinite source of inspiration. Indeed, Tracker comes complete with a wide variety of onboard sound design tools to enhance creativity still further for those wishing to take it to the limit. Let loose with Instrument — a chain of tools (Volume, Tuning, Panning, Filters, Reverb Send, and ADSRs) to make an instrument from any sample; Sampler — choose from different (1-shot, Forward, Backward, and Ping-Pong) play modes; Slicer — slice samples manually, or let Tracker take care of it ‘automagically’ at any time; Wavetable — full-blown wavetable synthesis with variable table length to make it compatible with the most popular (Ableton Wave and Serum) standards; Granular — single grain yet very powerful granular synthesis to create crazy and futuristic sounds from old and boring samples; Sample Editor — built-in precise offline rendering sample editor with multiple effects; and Sample Recorder — records up to two minutes of 16-bit/44.1kHz samples using built-in Radio, Pattern selection, Mic or Line In inputs, all of which can be saved to the included (16GB) MicroSD card for later use or loaded directly into a project. Put it this way: with Tracker, users can quickly and easily use existing sample libraries, record new ones, or use the built-in FM (Frequency Modulation) radio. Record samples, play them, slice them, mash them, or even make a synth out of them!
Tracker also plays nicely with other instruments. Thanks to its bidirectional MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) implementation, it can be used to sequence and control external gear or be controlled as a sound module by any external MIDI software or hardware devices. Whatever way anyone chooses to use it, armed as it is with an impressive arsenal of sonic weaponry — including automatic filling, randomiser, probability, selection rendering, effects per step, live recording, batch parameter editing, micro-tuning, micro-timing, rolls, and much more besides — it has what it takes to be a surefire hit, harbouring endless creativity. Compatibility with MOD files — a computer file format primarily used to represent music, made up of a set of instruments (in the form of samples), a number of patterns (indicating how and when the samples are to be played), and a list of what patterns to play in what order — allows users to import and finish tracks from way back when or export and finish their Tracker creations in modern-day software trackers.
The world’s first hardware tracker is slick, light, and portable. It is also energy efficient, so will work with any USB (Universal Serial Bus) power source. Sturdy and compact, the retro form factor of software past with forward-looking functionality makes for a great music creation companion — in the studio, on the run, or on stage. Simply put, Polyend’s Tracker puts everything right on track as a ‘back to the roots’ experience like no other!
Tracker comes complete with a USB-A power adapter, 2m USB-C cable, 3.5mm to 2x 6.3mm adapter, Minijack to MIDI DIN adapter, 16GB MicroSD card, and MicroSD to USB-A adapter, and is available to purchase through Polyend’s growing global network of authorised dealers (https://polyend.com/where-to-buy/) at an MSRP of €499 EUR/$599 USD. Or order online directly from Polyend itself via the dedicated Tracker webpage (https://polyend.com/tracker/), which also includes more in-depth information.
Watch Polyend’s intriguing introduction to Tracker here: https://youtu.be/Pl4Kiwjwkh4
AKAI PROFESSIONAL® INTRODUCES MPC ONE, A POWERFUL, COMPACT ADDITION TO THE LEGENDARY MPC LINEUP
New MPC One features Akai Professional’s premier multi-core processor and delivers the ultimate in standalone performance to a new generation of beatmakers.
Fort Lauderdale, FL USA (January 15, 2020) — Akai Professional, a leading manufacturer of music equipment for performers and producers, today announced the newest addition to its industry-leading family of music production centers, the powerful standalone MPC One.
MPC One offers a world-class creative producer experience, powered by the most powerful processor found in any standalone production device. Controlled by a 7-inch multi-touch interface and an intuitive touch-key layout, it creates the best MPC experience for all producers and music makers, in a compact form factor. Because of its remarkably comprehensive feature set and small footprint, this is the perfect companion for everyone’s studio. With its unprecedented combination of sheer production power, compact size and incredible price point, the MPC One establishes an unmatched standard for capability and value.
Included as standard are network connectivity, Splice integration and CV/Gate connectors, so producers can effortlessly access the sounds they need. MPC One comes loaded with 2GB of new drum sample & loop collections, curated specifically for this new hardware, delivering a library full of hard-hitting, dynamic drum sounds, sure to impress the most demanding creators.
The MPC One features the signature synth engines Electric, Tubesynth and Bassline as well as the world-class AIR FX for mixing & mastering. With MPC One, artists have everything they need to deliver impressive, professional productions and streaming-ready records.
MPC One Hardware Features:
- Brilliant 7-inch multi-touch display
- 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads
- 2GB RAM, 4GB onboard storage
- MIDI In/Out
- 4 TRS CV/Gate Jacks, 8 Outputs Total
- USB Flash & SD Card storage Additionally, MPC One incorporates control surface workflow for PC & Mac and includes a full version of MPC2 Desktop Software. Dan Gill, Senior Product Manager for Akai Professional said, “We broke new ground with the MPC X and MPC Live, the most powerful standalone music production devices ever. We’re proud to say we’ve been able to deliver that exact same power in an efficient form factor that will
be at home in any music production studio suite. This is a truly remarkable day for music creatives everywhere.”
MPC One will be available in February 2020 and will ship with a retail price of $699. For more information on MPC One, visit akaipro.com.
AKAI PROFESSIONAL® ADDS BUILT-IN SOUNDS TO THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR MIDI CONTROLLER WITH THE MPK MINI PLAY
New ultra-portable instrument is based on incredibly popular MPK Mini, but adds 128 built-in sounds and its own speaker, making it the perfect instrument to play anywhere
Cumberland, RI USA (October 11, 2018) — Akai Professional, a leading manufacturer of music equipment for performers and producers, today announced the immediate availability of their all-new MPK Min portable MIDI controller. The ultra-portable MPK Mini Play is based on the world’s most popular midi controller—Akai Professional’s MPK Mini—but now it comes packed with 128 sounds and its own built-in speaker. With 8 backlit MPC drum pads and a 4-way joystick for simple control, players have all they need to play their music anytime, anywhere. Four knobs (two banks capable of controlling eight different parameters) can be used to tweak sounds and edit multiple parameters in real-time, giving musicians even more performance possibilities. Powered by 3 “AA” batteries, the MPK Mini Play is built for hours of wireless fun.
Not just a mini keyboard, the MPK Mini Play can also connect to a computer via USB port for the same plug-and-play MIDI functionality as the classic MPK Mini controllers. If not disturbing others is a priority, players can use the mini-audio output jack to connect headphones to the MPK Mini Play. When you want a bigger sound, simply connect to external speakers using the same output jack. All-in-one, easy- to-use fun with “pro” features—that’s the MPK Mini Play!
– Built-in sound module with over 128 different sounds
– 25 mini keys with arpeggiator
– 4-way joystick
– 8 red backlit drum pads (2 banks, 16 total)
– 4 knobs edit sounds or send midi (2 banks, 8 total)
– Battery powered using (3) AA batteries
“We are extremely excited to introduce the MPK Mini Play,” said Dan Gill, Product Manager for Akai Professional. “The MPK Mini was a huge hit with musicians and now having all those sounds on-board with a built-in speaker, along with its go-anywhere portability, Play opens up new musical possibilities that people are going to love.”
U.S. retail for MPK Mini Play is $129 Available for purchase October 11, 2018
Arturia has announced its first ever analog drum machine.
So what is the goal with this unit? What are my thoughts?
Here is what I can say, In my opinion this is what the roland TR8 should have been. an all analog drum machine with both step and real time recording that provides the booming sounds of the 808 and 909 (Plus many all new circuits) at an affordable price point and with individual outputs per voice. This isn’t Rhythm wolf low stripped down rushed out low quality, instead its a group of high quality drum circuits (take a look at the engineers credited in the manual) paired with an updated version of the beat step pro sequencer. This sequencer really has some cool tricks up its sleeve like ratcheting and timing shift per step. Think of that like swing on steroids. Random from the beat step pro also appears and to top it all off you have a global steiner parker filter to get your sweep on. Everything syncs via modular clock or midi clock so you can pair it nicely with your modular… yep you can clock it from your modular or have it clock your modular!.
Another point of note is this drum machine has proper voicing… what I mean by that is the Snare and clap actually punch through a mix unlike many of recent analog drum machine releases in the lower price range… these snares actually crack hard! couple that with some 808 and 909 inspired (and also improved) designs for the kick and you have a pretty powerful unit.
The reverse cymbal is a new sound not yet heard in an all analog drum machine, and the tambourine and shaker sounds are really impressive (not just ho hum pass over sounds like on many other drum machines). Over all at this price point I am very excited to see an all analog drum machine. Hope to have a review unit soon!
Below is the official Press release:
Arturia are excited to announce the arrival of DrumBrute – a 100% analog drum machine & sequencer designed with performance and in-depth sound editing at its heart.
The newest member of Arturia’s Brute family, DrumBrute is a powerful beat-making instrument that carries the savage DNA of the MicroBrute, MiniBrute, and MatrixBrute.