These gloves could change how we perform music

Since we discovered rhythm and learned tone we’ve been playing instruments with our hands, but what if our hands were our instruments.

English musician and engineer Imogen Heap has been showing off her new gloves which transform how you play music. Her incredible Mi.Mu gloves use hand gestures and movement to control and effect sounds using electronic sensors .

Heap began developing the Mi.Mu gloves in “her search for a better relationship with the music software and hardware that forms her musical toolbox”. In 2010 Heap began her search for a team that could help her realise her idea of musical gloves with an inspiring TEDGlobal talk and today she has a diverse team of engineers, artists, and designers working on Mi.Mu.

The inspiration from their design came from live performance and particularly Imogen Heap’s writing and performance when playing live. Taking the power of sliders, faders, and knobs and putting them, literally, in your hands so that with a fluid motion you can manipulate sounds. The developers describe the gloves as “an instrument and controller fit for professional musicians, ready to make complex, beautiful and engaging music”.

The gloves have been used by film composers, visual artists, mixing engineers, theatre practitioners and other performing musicians. Worldwide pop star Ariana Grande even performed with Mi.Mu gloves on her world tour in 2015, you can see her using the effect controls and a looping feature which she activates by grabbing forward.

Heap says: “The minute somebody puts their hands in them, they’re starting to think creatively about them. I’m really happy that you’re going to see what they’re up to. I can make music on the move, in the flow and more humanly, more naturally engage with my computer software and technology.”

Heap and the Mi.Mu team tried to gain funding for their expressive musical gloves in 2014 but only managed to raise just over half of their £200,000 target. The team are still pushing forward regardless and are showing up at more and more musical events, showcases, festivals and in the hands of more and more creators and performers.

You can find out more about Mi.Mu gloves on their website: mimugloves.com

Amazon Echo Spot is now in Canada

Amazon Echo’s compact Spot brings a screen to their famous smart speakers in Canada in a neat little package.

The latest addition to Amazon’s Echo family, the Echo Spot has just launched in Canada. The Echo Spot introduces a compact version of the Echo Show, which introduced a screen to the tech giant’s groundbreaking smart speakers.

Tom Taylor, senior vice president of Amazon Alexa, said: “Echo Spot combines the popular small design of Echo Dot with the added benefit of a display, and the features you love about Alexa into a stylish and compact device. See the weather, watch video news briefings, glance at your alarm clock, make video calls, and more. We think customers in Canada will find lots of places for Echo Spot in their homes.”

Amazon’s Echo Spot features a bunch of cool features that’s sure to appeal to it’s new Canadian customers:

Designed for any room, with the added convenience of a screen
Echo Spot fits easily into any room of your home. The size and viewing angle of the screen make Echo Spot ideal for use on a desk or nightstand so you can turn your lights on and off, watch a video flash briefing from CTV News or Global’s Entertainment Tonight Canada, see your commute time, get the weather, check the time, wake up to music alarms, or view your calendar. You can also use Echo Spot in the kitchen to easily set and view timers, call friends and family, see shopping and to-do lists, and more. Soon, developers, including Air Canada and The Weather Network, will bring visual skills to Echo Spot as well.

New microphone array with second-generation far-field technology
Echo Spot features second-generation far-field technology with four microphones, acoustic beam-forming technology, and enhanced noise cancellation so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. If you have more than one Echo, Alexa responds intelligently from the Echo you’re closest to with ESP (Echo Spatial Perception).

Front-facing camera and Alexa calling help you stay connected—call anyone hands free
Put an Echo Spot in each room and use the Drop In feature to instantly connect, hands free with other devices in your home. Drop in on the kitchen to ask when dinner will be ready, or drop in on the family room to see how homework is going. You can also use Echo Spot to start a voice or video call, or send a message—simply say, “Alexa, call dad,” or “Alexa, send a message to Mary.”

Built-in speaker, plus Bluetooth and audio-out to connect to your existing speaker systems
Alexa can talk to you and play music on Echo Spot through the built-in 2W speaker. Echo Spot can also directly connect to speakers through Bluetooth or using a 3.5mm stereo cable, enabling you to add Alexa to your home entertainment system. Then, use just your voice to control Prime Music, Spotify, TuneIn, and more. Plus, with the multi-room music feature, you can play your favourites throughout your home, with synchronized music across all of your Echo devices.

Easily control your smart home
With compatible smart home devices, Echo Spot can integrate all of the smart home capabilities that customers love about Alexa—turn on the lights, view your live camera feed from the nursery, set up Routines, control the temperature, lock your doors with your voice when you’re heading to bed, and more.


Amazon will start shipping the Echo Spot to Canada buyers on April 25th, 2018. You can pre-order it for $169.99 CAD from amazon.ca/echospot.

This smashed up Fender Stratocaster guitar will cost you $75,000

The smashed up body of a 1964 Fender Stratocaster is up for auction at eye-watering prices but if it can’t be played, Who made it so expensive?

That was a terrible joke because the guitar in question is one of Pete Townshend’s many destroyed guitars that faced the wrath of his stage destruction. The pioneer of pummelling guitars into the ground, Townshend’s Stratocaster body comes in 2 parts after he smashed it at The Who’s 1967 concert in Long Island Arena in Commack, New York.

The Who Pete Townshend guitar auction fender stratocaster

The guitar is up for auction through Heritage Auctions who say that other smashed up guitar’s from The Who guitarist have gone for as much as $75k. An intact Fender from 1964 without any celebrity claim will still go for around $14,000 in auctions. The lucky buyer of the Sonic Blue Strat’s remains will also get a handwritten statement from Townshend about the events of that evening and how the guitar came to be smashed.

The Who Pete Townshend guitar auction fender stratocaster

As well as the smashed Stratocaster, one of Townshend’s few surviving guitars is up for auction as well. His 1965 Gibson SG Special is going up for auction on the 23rd April and has suffered surprisingly little damage over the years in the hands of one of music’s most notorious instrument wreckers.

If you feel like you might be able to cough up enough cash to have a chance at owning the broken Stratocaster then you can bid on it now at Heritage Auctions. No bids have been made yet and there’s 9 days left. The opening bid will only cost you $10,000…

Google Home is now the perfect companion for Bluetooth speakers

Whilst speakers are all going Wi-Fi connected Google’s smart Home speakers are giving you a new reason to dust of your Bluetooth speakers.

Google Home is the web-giant’s answer to Amazon’s massively popular Echo speakers which puts a fully fledged AI assistant in your home. Google have just brought the Bluetooth speakers of yesteryear back to life by adding functionality to stream music, listen to audiobooks, or chill with a podcast using your Home device through Bluetooth speakers.

Google added Bluetooth connections for Home devices after users said they wanted to enhance the sound on their Google Home Mini’s. You can connect to multiple Bluetooth speakers as well from any Google Home device which means that you can connect up a multi-room setup with music playing throughout the house, in different rooms at the same time – or just get that stereo/surround sound audio.

Of course the Bluetooth speakers are just a speaker in the setup and won’t be magically transformed to take commands, everything will still have to be controlled through a Google Home device. You can make a Bluetooth speaker your default device for audio so that Home connects straight up to it without you having to ask it when you want to play music or listen to a good book.

To get started, pair any compatible Bluetooth speaker with your Google Home: Open the Google Home app, head to device settings and follow the pairing instructions to make it your default speaker. Then give it a whirl. Say “Hey Google, shuffle my workout playlist” or “Hey Google, turn up the volume”. The music will automatically play on your Bluetooth speaker – without you having to tell Google the name of the device.

This pedalboard will transform how you use DAWs and MIDI

Nektar opens up a world of opportunity with their new pedalboard putting software and devices right at your feet.

Nektar have unveiled their Pacer pedalboard, which provides hands-free control of DAWs, MIDI software and hardware like guitar rigs, and more. This one pedal could revolutionise electronic sets and the workflow for producers, freeing up their hands to play, mix and edit.

Pacer proudly claims itself to be the only real hands-free option for controlling Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) like Ableton, Cubase, Logic Pro and most others. With Pacer’s 10 programmable foot switches you can control playback, track and transport controls including cycle/looping, rewind, forward, recording etc. Each foot pedal has an RGB LED display to show the status and activation.

Nektar Pacer pedalboard guitar MIDI DAW amp control footswitch

Nektar’s chief, Niels Larsen says: “Originally, Pacer was intended to be a DAW controller providing musicians with hands-free control of their computer music setup. Then enthusiasm got the better of us and we couldn’t help adding a host of useful additional control functionality. Now you can also control MIDI preamps or effects as well as switching channels and reverb on non-MIDI amps with the onboard relays. Pacer’s switching power will boost your creativity whether you are recording or playing live.”

Pacer’s connectivity features mean that you can integrate analog amps with conventional footswitch sockets into your setup just as well as software guitar apps or other MIDI-capable hardware. And with one switch of a button, you can reconfigure your whole setup, with up to 16 MIDI-messages or relay switch states at the same time.

Nektar’s Pacer pedalboard’s full features include:

  • 10 programmable footswitches each with RGB LED
  • 1 preset footswitch
  • 2 row LED display
  • 1 encoder with push switch for programming, navigation and control
  • 24 user configurable presets
  • 2 Read-only presets for DAW track and transport control
  • Sends up to 16 MIDI messages or relay switches on preset recall
  • Up to 6 MIDI messages or actions programmable for each control
  • 2 expression pedal sockets
  • 2 TRS jack connectors for up to 4 external footswitches
  • 2 TRS jack connectors for controlling up to 4 switch sockets (FX or channels)
  • MIDI output (USB MIDI interface/direct MIDI connection)
  • USB connector for connecting to a computer, USB host or USB power supply (for power only)
  • PSU socket: DC 9V / 600mA, center negative (PSU not included)
  • Factory Presets include Line 6 Pod and Helix, Fractal Audio AxeFX, Avid Eleven Rack, Kemper Profiler, Elektron Octatrack Pickup Machine, Electro Harmonix 45000 Looper, MIDI Machine Control, a Relay Preset for non-MIDI amps and more.
  • Nektar DAW integration for Transport and Track control
Pacer will cost $229.99 / $199.99 / €229.99 MAP and is planned for release in April.

Help build the next big Moog Synth at this year’s Moogfest

As Moogfest 2018 approaches Moog are getting ready to make this the best one yet with some exciting opportunities for attendants.

Moogfest is a celebration of art, technology and, in particular, music started by Robert Moog, creator of the renowned Moog synthesisers. The festival features a showcase of new music tech, big artist performances and more. Perhaps most exciting this year is the opportunity to get involved in the creation of a new Moog.

Their new instrument called Sub-Harmonicon is a brand-new electronic instrument based on the Trautonium, Rhythmicon, and the Schillinger System. Moog describe it as “a semi-modular harmonic kaleidoscope that divides into itself until everything that is up becomes down”. If you have $1500 to shell out on an Engineer Pass for the festival then you can join other DIY makers and Moog engineers in helping create the new instrument.

The build will take place over a couple of days with the limited festival-goers with Engineer Passes. You don’t need any experience to get involved, all you need is $1500 (plus $172.86 sales fee and tax) to afford the privilege. Shelling out that much you may want to have an idea of what you’re doing, but it’s not required.

Here are all the benefits of the Engineer Pass:

– VIP Access to all events and exclusive areas.
– Complimentary food and beverage in select areas.
– Prioritised access to workshop registration.
– Access to a dedicated Festival Concierge who organises your Engineer class
schedule and is available for any questions you have may have.
– A custom embroidered patch representing the 2018 Engineer Workshop class.

You can also just buy a normal ticket to attend the rest of Moogfest at a much nicer price of $199 (+ some tax). Regular festival passes are available until the 27th of March whilst Engineer Passes will be on sale until May 20th.

Create entirely new sounds with Google’s open-source synthesiser

Google are creating entire new sounds with their new synthesiser created using machine learning technologies.

The NSynth Super is a new algorithm based neural synthesiser created by Google using their powerful machine learning technologies. The NSynth Super is capable of creating over 100,000 new sounds which can be played from any MIDI source.

The NSynth Super works from a source of 16 original sounds at a range of 15 pitches. It’s machine learning is then capable of re-imagining and combining these samples in entirely new ways to create thousands of different possibilities. It works as simply as selecting the source sound and then dragging your finger across the touchscreen to navigate through new sonic possibilities as the synth alters various elements of it’s parameters.

The synthesiser has been created as part of Google’s machine learning research project Magenta which created the original NSynth last year. The original made use of their past research in machine learning and music to create an unparalleled understanding of sounds based on deep neural networks. The NSynth Super brings this power into the hands of musicians everywhere, making it capable of being used as an instrument.

Google say: “New sounds are powerful. They can inspire musicians in creative and unexpected ways, and sometimes they might go on to define an entirely new musical style or genre. It’s impossible to predict where the new sounds generated by machine learning tools might take a musician, but we’re hoping they lead to even more musical experimentation and creativity.”

The NSynth Super has been created with an entirely open source library so that creators and musicians alike can access all of the schematics, source codes, and design templates free for download on GitHub.

Find out more here: nsynthsuper.withgoogle.com

Apple headphones could be on the way, betraying Beats

Beats headphones have been a household name for headphones for years, but their owners Apple may be creating their own to rival them.

Apple bought Beats by Dre back in 2014, acquiring the high-end audio manufacturers founded by rapper Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine – both now executives at Apple. They’ve been pushing Beats headphones ever since, but new rumours suggest that Apple could be bringing out their own headphones to rival them.

In an article by Bloomberg ‘people familiar with the product’s development’ say that Apple are working on over-ear headphones to rival market leaders like Bose and Beats. According to the sources Apple are hoping to launch their headphones as early as the end of this year, however ‘development challenges’ may mean it’s a while longer until we see Apple’s headphones.

Whilst the Apple headphones are reportedly deep in development the sources say it may still see a complete redesign or even be scrapped entirely. The same sources said that Apple faced similar development issues with the HomePod and had been redesigned multiple times in it’s creation before the final version was announced.

Apple have been successful with earphones before, particularly their most recent AirPods which were strangely successful after being criticised for their design. They innovated by making them fully wireless earphones but their design almost destined them to be inevitably lost down sofas, in a drain, even in your pockets – which isn’t appealing considering their cost.

Whilst the HomePod was a much more objectively quality product, except perhaps looking like a roll of toilet paper, it’s price was still far higher than any competitors for no real innovation. Hopefully with their headphones Apple will be looking to do something special if they’re planning on another hefty price tag.

The sources who spoke to Bloomberg asked not to be identified and a spokesperson for Apple refused to comment on the headphones.

All Roland’s classic drum machines are packed into their new TR-8S

The best of Roland’s iconic drum machines are all coming together in one powerful and versatile new rhythm composer.

Over the years Roland have created some of the most iconic machines in drum synthesis like the legendary TR-808 machine which revolutionised hip-hop. Roland have just announced their upcoming TR-8S machine, follow up to their widely-loved TR-8 machine, which brings their old classics into a powerful new hardware capable of much more on top.

The TR-8S is filled with the most iconic TR drum sounds of all time, plus an extensive selection of samples from Roland’s vast library. The instrument also supports both mono and stereo user samples, and comes packed with hands-on controls and production tools that make patterns move and groove. Dynamic and inspiring, the TR-8S takes the rhythm machine to a new level of creative power.

Included in the TR-8S is every sound from the most sought-after TR classic drum machines, with authentic recreations of the 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606, as well as several modified versions. Powered by Roland’s highly acclaimed ACB technology, each machine is a detailed, component-level model that sounds and behaves exactly like the original hardware.

On top of the classic sounds that defined an era of drum machines the TR-8S also comes with it’s own preset samples. What makes it such a powerful machine is that you can import all your own samples via an SD card slot giving you limitless possibilities to create your own sounds and combinations with any sample you like.

With one glance at it’s design you can see that the TR-8S is something special that adds so much more to the possibilities of their older rhythm composers. The customisation is so deep on the TR-8S that you can even edit the brightness, colours, and glows of each element to streamline you workflow with visual feedback that fits exactly what you’re doing. There’s even a lava lamp mode…

Roland drum machine rhythm composer 808 909 classics new software drums synthesise

Aside from being “the most powerful drum machine ever made”, the TR-8S is a complete multi-channel audio and MIDI interface. When you connect the TR-8S to a computer or AIRA Link host, you can transfer MIDI and high-resolution audio over a single USB cable. Record each drum instrument to a different channel for individual processing and recording, automate parameter movements from your DAW by CC messages, or sync the TR-8S to your computer or Roland MX-1 Mix Performer for live sets or late-night jam sessions.

Roland say: “For the last four years, we’ve heard feedback from enthusiastic TR-8 fans and artists from around the world. It left us with a pretty clear idea of how we could make it even better, both for studio production and live performance. We’ve put these user-requested features-and more-into the TR-8S, while keeping the immediacy and fun-factor of the original TR-8 fully intact.”

Fender reveal their first range of effects stompboxes

Fender have revealed a new series of effects pedals featuring all your favourite staple effects with Fender’s 70 years of experience in them.

Fender have unveiled 6 new stompboxes which they are calling their “official entry” into the effects market. The pedals available are distortion, buffer, compressor, reverb, delay, and overdrive. Fender say that this will be their first step in a long-term commitment to “the category”, meaning more pedals to come we guess.

The pedals were born and refined in consultation with professional players and musicians. The creation of the pedals was led by Fender’s vice president of product development in their Southern California base, Stan Cotey who was years of experience in creating and studying the unique sound of Fender.

Cotey said: “If you go back to the very early part of Fender’s history, we built working tools for working musicians. They were built for function first, and we kept that same spirit in these pedals. A lot of the ideas, for me, came from listening, playing and seeing how things not only sound, but also feel. You design something, build it, and then start fine-tuning it with a guitar, an amp and feedback from artists and players.”

Lets take a look at each pedal:

Pugilist Distortion – £87 / $99.99

namm-pedals-distortion-insert

This distortion pedal features dual gain engines-with independent tone controls for each-letting players select multiple variations of distortion. The Series/Blend switch allows stacking channels for thick, cascading distortion; the Bass Boost switch fattens the tone; and the Blend control mixes the two channels.

“The good thing about that is it lets you hear the front end of the pick and you hear more complex chords sounds,” said Cotey.


Level Set Buffer – $87 / $99.99

namm-pedals-buffer-insert

The Level Set Buffer allows players to easily swap guitars without negatively affecting tone. This original design features Level, Hi-Freq and Load controls to adjust the signal, along with a Main Mute footswitch for silent tuning. The tuner output allows the tuner to stay on without interrupting the signal path.

“You can make guitars play more nicely with each other make a Strat sound like a Les Paul or vice-versa. It just plays in the sandbox a little nicer,” Cotey noted.


The Bends Compressor – £96 / $129.99

namm-pedals-bends-insert

Taming wild volume spikes without altering tone, the Bends Compressor is equipped with Drive and Recovery controls to let players dial in the perfect amount of compression and extend sustain, while the Blend control mixes the dry signal to maintain natural pick attack. And the process couldn’t be more fluid.

“It does it very transparently and very quickly,” said Cotey. “It does what you want it to do and isn’t erratic. It’s well-behaved. Whether you’re a singer and it levels out a rhythm guitar performance or you’re a soloist and it gives you more sustain, it doesn’t surprise you with any errant noises.”


Marine Layer Reverb – £110 / $149.99

namm-reverb-insert copy

This reverb pedal features multiple types of the classic Fender effect, like Hall and Room, along with modern ones, like Shimmer. Reverb tails continue when the effect is muted, ensuring a smooth and natural decay.

“It’s got a ton of different sounds and a ton of features, but it’s really easy to use,” sadi Cotey. “It’s simple to find different sounds and explore, but you can get back to what you want with no complications.”


Mirror Image Delay – £110 / $149.99

namm-pedals-delay-insert

This is an atmospheric delay effect, helping players create depth with a simple slapback or an epic soundscape with modulated repeats. The pedal offers Digital, Analog and Tape modes-each with two voicing variations – and an option to add a dotted-eighth note.

“It’s a working, pro tool. If we could have developed a delay in 1950, we probably would have done that one because it’s just a good working set of tools,” explained Cotey. “It’s for a craftsman.”


Santa Ana Overdrive – £160 / $199.99

namm-pedals-overdrive-insert

Santa Ana Overdrive lets players dial in sounds all the way to thick, fully saturated overdrive, using FET technology for tube-like performance. Flexible tone controls unlock a wide range of sonic flavors and cleans up with the guitar’s volume control.

“It’s very dynamic, like a tube amp, and it feels like a tube amp,” said Cotey. “As you play with different techniques and dig in with your pick or softer, it responds really well. You turn your volume down, and it cleans up nicely. If you lay into it more, it dirties up. Dynamically, it feels like you’re using an amp.

“It’s really organic feeling.”