Amazon reportedly working on a touchscreen Echo speaker

A report has revealed that Amazon might be working on a new smart speaker to follow their Echo speakers but with a 7-inch touchscreen and high-end audio.

Yesterday Bloomberg reported that Amazon are developing a new Echo-like smart speaker but with some nifty new additions. According to “two people familiar with the matter” the new speaker will come with a 7-inch touchscreen for even more functionality and control over the speaker.

Amazon’s surprisingly successful Echo speakers have been lauded for their excellent voice-controlled AI Alexa, making it easy to search the web, play music, set appointments and much more. It’s unlikely the touch-screen will replace Alexa after “she” has been so well received so it will be interesting to see what functions it serves.

A screen would make it easier to check weather forecasts, your calendar and other assistant functions. A screen could also be used to show album art when streaming music and make it easier to explore streaming services. Rumours also suggest that it could be used like a digital photo frame with a slideshow of photos playing whilst in idle or when streaming music.

The new speaker will reportedly be bigger, as one would assume with the addition of a 7-inch screen, and will be able to tilt upwards to view the screen. According to those “familiar” with the speaker it will also feature high-grade speakers for vastly improved sound quality on the Echo, which some said had underwhelming audio output.

Whether the reports from Bloomberg’s sources are accurate will have to be seen but it doesn’t seem unrealistic and Amazon are definitely making the best of capitalising on Echo’s success. Earlier this year Amazon debuted two new home speakers based on the Echo, the cheaper alternatives Tap and Dot.

Stay tuned for any more information on Amazon’s next speaker venture.

Tiny TS is a synthesizer that can fit inside your wallet

Take a synth with you wherever you go with this credit card sized synthesiser with a 1-octave keyboard that slips straight into your pockets.

Tiny TS is a fully open sourced synthesizer that is easy to take with you, wherever you go, thanks to it’s credit card size of 100x65mm. The miniature synth features a keyboard with 1 octave and Audio/CV/Gate outputs so you can plug in and play easily.

The Tiny TS have 6 synth parameter dials built in so you can play with your sound and the CV’s output 1V/oct and Gate so that you can use it with other oscillator chips from the creator, Jan Ostman. The 6 parameter knobs control:

DCO: Coarse pitch and Double. The CV out follows the keyboard and coarse pitch.

DCF: Filter peak and ENVmod.

ENV: Attack and Release affecting amplitude.

The Tiny TS is an open-source, DIY kit that is available as a fully constructed package, with all the parts but not assembled, the PCB & Chip or just the PCB. So if you want a synth you can slip into your wallet you can buy it straight up or build it yourself and turn it into a DIY challenge too.

Whilst you might not be going into the studio and recording your next album using the Tiny TS it’s a fun little instrument, especially if you’re into electrical DIY and coding.

You can buy the pre-built kit and start playing as soon as you get it for $60 or for various cheaper prices at the different build levels. A limited selection are available from the DSP Synth website and an Indiegogo campaign is raising money to distribute more models where you can order a Tiny TS synth.

Akai are making MIDI controllers wireless with their 2 new releases

Akai are helping you solve the constant struggle of being buried in wire coffins under your rig with their 2 new MIDI controllers which work wirelessly.

Akai have once again proved their position as affordable innovators by introducing 2 new Bluetooth powered MIDI controllers that eliminate the need for wires (though you can still use USB connection of course). The two wireless additions to Akai’s range include the LPK25, a 25-key MIDI keyboard.controller, and the LDP8, a compact MIDI controller.

Both controllers use the powerful, energy-saving Bluetooth 4.0 LE protocol to connect to computers and mobile devices. To use them wirelessly they both require 3 AA batteries .

Akai LPK25

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Recognizing the need for a wireless keyboard that doesn’t sacrifice functionality or versatility, the new LPK25 Wireless takes portability and feature-rich performance to the next level with its Bluetooth MIDI connectivity, allowing players to control their plug-in instruments from anywhere in the room, providing the ultimate in studio setup flexibility.

Akai Professional’s product manager Dan Gill said: “The LPK25 Wireless delivers exactly what mobile producers and performers have been waiting for – a great-sounding, versatile, compact keyboard coupled with complete freedom of motion and no cords to get in the way. This unit sets the player free, while retaining all the performance and feel they demand. The LPK25 Wireless really redefines what portability is all about.”

  • Supports Bluetooth MIDI for iOS and Mac OS X
  • USB-MIDI controller works with virtually all audio software
  • 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys
  • Arpeggiator, sustain pedal input, octave up and down and tap tempo controls
  • Plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC; no driver installation required
  • Four programmable memory banks
  • Comes with editor software for Mac and PC
Akai LPD8

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The LPD8’s six UI buttons and eight assignable slim-design pots deliver a truly versatile range of performance and control options. The newly added Full Level button guarantees your pad performances are loud, clear and at an equal velocity, when even volume is a must.

The LPD8 Wireless also has a Note Repeat button, perfect for the dance music performer who loves creating build-ups before the drop. Artists can use the NR Config button to control and fine tune Swing and Time Division parameters.

  • MIDI over Bluetooth to iOS, Mac OS X and Windows
  • USB MIDI, works with virtually any music software or DAW
  • 8 backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads to send note or program changes
  • 8 assignable knobs for controlling virtually any parameter
  • 4 programmable memory banks
  • Editing software for Mac and PC included
  • Plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC, no driver required

Paired with Akai Professional’s new LPK25 Wireless Bluetooth MIDI-enabled keyboard, these two controllers form an outstanding combo of wireless musical portability. The musical possibilities for mobile producers and performers are virtually unlimited.

The Akai LPK25 and LPD8 will be on sale from next month for $99 each.

Create music like never before with Roli’s new magnetic ‘Blocks’ and free app

Roli are changing the way music is created with a new portable device that feels quality enough for pro’s whilst being accessible enough for amateurs to jump straight in.

There are 2 elements to Roli’s great new Blocks instruments, one obviously being the Block devices themselves and the other being their free new iOS app NOISE. Both bring a wealth of music making opportunities to the table but lets look at NOISE first as you can jump into that straight away for free.


Roli Lightpad Blocks instrument music production

NOISE was created to power Blocks as a music-making app but is packed with enough native features to be an impressive music creation tool on it’s own. NOISE takes advantage of the iPhone’s 3D touch to allow you to use the screen like an expressive instrument with pressure sensitive pads on screen, swiping and gliding controls and more. You can control grid based instruments like you had a proper control pad in front of you.

NOISE gives you a choice of over 100 custom instrument sounds from bongos to strings to flute. Using the app’s looping features you can create a full, multi-layered track by combining sounds, loops and progressions. Pad looping isn’t the most sophisticated way to make music but Roli haven’t designed this so you can create the next Tubular Bells, it just makes music fun and easily accessible for beginners with enough to keep the pros entertained.

Not just for creating music though, NOISE can teach you with Learn Mode. Rolie beatmaking instruments MIDI connect music making software easyUsing Learn Mode you trace illuminated Light Trails to learn how to shape beats and melodies. You have a choice of 15 scales which, once selected will show you the notes of the scale on the grid. You can choose to hide notes that aren’t in key to make it even easier and use Snap Mode to quantize your loops.

NOISE already has world renowned artists sharing sounds on their platform for others to use. Grimes, RZA and Steve Aoki are just 3 of the artists who’ve added their own professional quality, signature sounds for use on NOISE.


Now onto the fascinatingly unique Lightpad Blocks that Roli have created to use with NOISE. The Blocks are small enough to fit in your hand but with it’s intelligent touch interface when used with NOISE you have the power of a studio within your palm.

With a 5×5 coloured grid you can use it as an expressive MIDI pad controller to play music or tap out rhythms. The LED coloured lights are intelligently programmed to easily display scales and can guide you as your playing.

The Lightpad Block has 5 different functions:

  • The standard ‘tap’ or ‘strike’ which plays on touch like a keyboard or drum pad
  • ‘Gliding’ gives a vibrato effect by bending the pitch when moving your finger from side to side.
  • ‘Slide’ up and down a note to alter the intensity of modulation effects.
  • ‘Press’ further or shallower to affect the intensity of notes and sounds through velocity.
  • Finally ‘Lifting’ off your finger at varying speeds will affect the resonance of a sound.

As with NOISE, Lightpad Blocks can be used in Learn Mode so that even beginners can start tapping away and getting an understanding of scales and harmony. Primarily the Lightpad Block and NOISE are beatmaking equipment that enable to you to create beats on the fly that sound as good as they might in the studio, though perhaps less complex.

Rolie beatmaking instruments MIDI connect music making software easy

But that’s not to say there’s depth in the playability of Lightpad Blocks and Noise, with a range of instruments and scales to choose from you can still make a kickass solo. If the 5×5 grid isn’t giving you enough range to quickly play what you want, add another Block onto the side magnetically and you instantly have double the interface.

Lightpad Blocks also have an input for two controller blocks to enhance your creative power even more whilst still remaining the handheld portability of the Lightpads. The Live Control Block is a magnetic add-on that is designed for performance whilst the Loop Block is made for general production. Both cost £69.95 each from Roli’s store.

Whilst it may seem like a portable, scaled down MIDI pad controller, and it sort of is, but it allows you make beats on the go easier than before whilst retaining a quality level of functionality. If you want Roli’s own testament of how the Lightpad Blocks are special, here’s what they say about it:

Breakthroughs in engineering, sound, and design make the Lightpad Block a truly revolutionary instrument. The surface is made of special tactile silicone that’s dotted with hundreds of light wells. Blocks DNA connectors not only magnetically connect the Blocks. They also send data, so each Block knows how it’s configured with other Blocks. As much as the gestures you make on its surface, the Lightpad Block is the new shape of music.

magnetic connection Rolie beatmaking instruments MIDI connect music making software easy


You can download NOISE for free on iOS and iPad now (sorry Android users) and start playing and creating music.

A Lightpad Block will set you back £169.95 which seems excessive for what it is, and maybe it is you decide. But it’s safe to say Roli’s new apps and Lightpad Blocks give you one of the easiest yet expansive ways to create beats on the go.

Purchase Roli’s new blocks and find out more here: roli.com/products/blocks

Joué is an evolving, expressive digital instrument with a difference

Joué is an innovative and evolving instrument simplifying digital music playing. It offers beginners and professional artists a unique level of expressivity and spontaneity.

Joué is made of wood and is equipped with a pressure sensitive sensor on which magic modules are placed. Modules like piano keys, guitar strings, drums pads or 3D control surfaces offer an infinite playground for musicians.

Joué connects to smartphones, tablets or computers using as USB cable. When touched, magic modules send data to your favourite DAW or virtual instrument using MIDI protocol. Thanks to the high sensitivity of its sensors and to the unique texture of the modules, Joué offers a completely new playing experience.

It allows natural gestures such as vibrato, bending, finger drumming and high velocity sensing normally reserved to traditional instruments to being used with digital and electronic instruments. Each module can be configured using the Joué editor software. Once the module is tuned, the configuration is stored in the module itself allowing exchanges during a live performance.

Joué designs instruments for digital musicians who are looking for more intuitiveness, interaction, modularity and mobility in their playing. Joué products are smart, simple, durable, evolutionary and pleasant to use. Our products offer artists an unprecedented level of expression in digital music creation.

Joué attaches a huge importance to the quality of materials, textures and design of its products. Whether you are an expert digital musician or blocked by the complexity of the art, Joué is pioneering ways to liberate your creative instinct.

You can sign up to be updated with information on the release of Joué here.