Amazon’s AI musical keyboard is now $99

Late last year Amazon dropped the jaws of a fair few people with a brand new MIDI keyboard which is powered by AI to create music with you.

The Deep Composer looks very much like many a 32-key MIDI keyboard that has come before. But it’s not. Using Amazon Web Services’ technology the keyboard is capable of expounding upon every input towards musical cohesion. In other words; it can write music.

You can use genres to lead it towards a certain path for it to follow when it’s defining the sound of what it’s developing. If you don’t want something as simple as rock, pop, jazz, or classical standards then you can get in there and tweak the AI for your own custom genre output.

From there you can play with it to create songs from a sequence, a chord, or even just a single note. Their AI technology is built to be able to create a full song with all the elements of core instruments like drums and piano using machine-learned patterns and music theory with MIDI music. You can also use it jam along with as the software creates a backing band for you to play with based on your inputs.

Now you can get your hands on this very unique piece of technology for yourself at just $99 a pop. Whilst the keyboard has gained mixed reviews in action it is still very impressive for what it is capable of beyond all of the usual MIDI keyboard functions.

Roland’s cross-platform mobile DAW Zenbeats is now free

Roland have made the full version of their awesome music making app free for all you self-isolators.

Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world is a troubling thing and a concerning time for many – the upshot is that we are seeing a lot of awesome software and applications being made free to keep us all entertained whilst we’re stuck at home.

Roland are the latest to treat us with an awesome DAW for iOS and Android. Their Zenbeats app is a simple to use but powerful to master digital audio workstation that runs on your mobile so you can create full tracks from your hand.

It uses sounds new and old with samples, loops, instruments and more to put the creative power at your fingertips to create whatever you like. You’ll recognise some of the legendary equipment that they’ve modelled in there, including their historic drum machines like the TR-808 and TR-909.

The app has always been free but their Zenbeats Unlock tier is now free down from $15. The Unlock tier adds many more instruments, effects and presets for the music-making app. It’s free for a limited time so make you sure you get it while you can.

The projects are streamlined with sharing abilities that allow you to save your work to various Clouds as well as sharing it with friends and others to collaborate upon.

If you really like it then there’s a $150 Ultimate pass which provides every loop pack, preset, and over 6,000 sounds to use. But for now there’s a whole lot of fun to be had for free.

You can get the app and unlock the Unlock V1 features free now on iOS and Android.

Best 5 headphones under $50

If you’re after a new pair of headphones on a strict budget, your best choice varies based on what you need them for. We’ve picked some of the best headphones you can get for under $50.

We’ve decidedly stuck with wired headphones, as going under $50 for wireless can cause issues with battery life, connectivity, bluetooth range, build quality and sound quality. So if you’ll mostly be looking for headphones to pair with your 3.5mm jack-less phone, you may want to look elsewhere.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones need to be comfortable to wear for all day desktop use.

over ear
Panasonic RP-HT161 – $15

Soft padding ensure they’ll sit on your head for hours on end without causing any discomfort. While the long cable makes them perfect for a PC under the desk in the office or gaming.

  • Powerful sound
  • Comfortable
  • Long cable
On-Ear Headphones

On-ear headphones should be fantastic for day-to-day use and easy to travel with.

On Ear
Sony MDRZX110 – $15

The Sony’s are one of the best rated pair of headphones on Amazon and for good reason. They achieve everything on-ear headphones should at a bargain price.

  • Great sound
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
In-Ear Headphones

Much like on-ear headphones, in-ears need to be great for day to day use while being even smaller to fit in a pocket or under a hat.

in ear
Panasonic RP-HJE120 – $10

The Panasonic earbuds produce an impressive sound for such a small set. Their changeable in-ear tips provide a great seal for all ear sizes and block out a decent amount of noise.

  • Sleek
  • Multiple colours
  • Three tip sizes
  • Good seal
Closed Back Studio Headphones

There are two types of headphones you’ll want to look into when building your home studio setup. Closed back and open back headphones. Closed back are perfect for recording. If your budget can stretch to $100 checkout out our ‘Top 10 tools for music producers’ for some truly professional grade headphones.

closed back
Tascam TH-02 – $20

These studio headphones provide a tight fit, leaking virtually no sound, while producing a flat frequency response, perfect for recording.

  • Balanced frequency response
  • No leaking
  • Great for recording
Open Back Studio Headphones
open back
Samson SR850 – $50

Choices are very thin on the ground when it comes to open back headphones when your budget is limited to $50. These semi-open back choice will be the best you can get for the price.

  • Super comfortable
  • Wide frequency response
  • Great for mixing

None of these choices are the best headphones you can get in each category, but if limited to $50 you get some surprising good cans.

The 5 best free plugin synths available now

There’s no better time to load up your DAWs and get creative with a selection of brand new and exciting plugins.

These are the 5 best synthesiser plugins that we have found that are completely free for you to download and use. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other amazing digital synths out there or that you have a personal favourite that doesn’t appear.

Share your best free finds in the comments below. Here are ours:

Voltage Modular Nucleus

This whopping modular synth package has been made free for the “foreseeable future” (sorry to any readers in a potential future where this no longer applies) to keep you isolators entertained and creative. With 22 modules and over 130 presets to play from you’re not short of fun here.

VK-1 Viking Monophonic Synth

This synth present a promises of authentically emulating a classic monophonic analog syntheseizer. Whilst you try to guess which classic synth it’s based on you can play with the incredible array of control on offer through this powerful yet free synth VST.

Tal-Bassline

For all you low-end lovers out there this wonderful synth gives you bass sounds with heaps of customisation on top. Featuring a -18dB low pass filter it has been designed to feel warm and analogue. Oh and, of course, it’s free.

Dexed

You won’t be short of potential with Dexed with more potential for custom sounds than you could discover in a lifetime. It’s a brilliant plugin to spend an evening with exploring the potential and working out just how it all works!

TyrellN6

Want to get a truly unique sound form a synth? Try TyrellN6 for a new, warm experience that puts you in mind of indie game music and sound effects – so if your creativity lies near that then do try this synth.

Endless offers a virtual hang out for collaboratively jamming out music with loops

Endless is the perfect companion to those itching to get creative with others but stuck socially distancing themselves with only a smartphone for company.

Jamming with people around the world has become shockingly plausible with the internet and there are many ways to go about achieving this in entirely different and creative ways. One that has been newly brought to my attention is mobile app Endless.

It offers a loop-based creative space that allows its users to collaborate in jams together. Using drum shots, melodious notes, effects and more contributors can bring their additions in the form of loops for others to riff off of or as their own segment of someone else’s jams.

You can link up with friends and jam together or explore Endless’s wider community and discover new creators. It’s simple to hop into but excitingly broad in its potential under your control. It can be connected up to Ableton Link for use with external instruments as well.

If you’re really into what you’re creating then there’s an export option that uses .aiff files to convert it to your DAW of choice. The app is free and is available to enhance with many more additional sounds and effects for a monthly subscription cost.

The app is available for iOS devices now and is hopefully coming to more platforms soon.

These 200+ Roland TR-909 samples are available for free

Get your hands on over 200 delicious sounding samples to enliven your music at a cost of absolutely zero.

We could all do with a little treat considering the current consideration. Few are the gifts we love more than fuel to fire our musical engines in brand new ways.

BVKER have made a new pack of samples from the iconic and beloved Roland TR-909 and are offering it to all of you self-isolaters, and I suppose to any of you who aren’t as well, absolutely free.

They say themselves of the TR-909’s defining punch and saturation which stood it apart it’s famous predecessor the 808. They say: “The drum machine is most famous for its dirty kick drum and open hat which is usually placed between the kick hits.”

They promise a faithful and high quality replication of this in their huge sample pack containing 100 drum loops and over 100 drum shots.

You can download it for free right now here: bvker.com/free-909-samples/

Mix on Algoriddim with Hercules DJ Controllers

Get mixing tracks from streaming services on Hercules controllers with new support on Algoriddim DJ apps.

Algoriddim have introduced support for the latest range of controllers from renowned DJ tech makers Hercules. With Algoriddim’s apps like their flagship Djay users can use their mixing controllers to control their mixes with a world of music from streaming services at their fingertips.

By mixing via the djay app for iOS, users of the DJControl Inpulse 200, DJControl Inpulse 300 and DJControl Starlight now have instant access to millions of songs from their premium account on the world’s most popular music streaming platforms.

Once the djay application is installed, the DJ can use the controls of the Inpulse and Starlight controllers to mix, loop, add effects, scratch and even use the Assistant button, specific to the Hercules DJControl Inpulse range, to trigger the automix feature in the djay application.

Hercules has designed their controllers from the ground up to appeal to the aspiring young DJs, so this new hardware/software integration is a great new way to bring first-timers into the mix. Adding the ability to mix via the djay app creates new possibilities for DJs who still continue to master the fundamentals to explore their own unique style while mixing. 

DJs can now mix their favorite tracks from streaming services on their iPhone or iPad with the latest range of Hercules controllers. The result of close collaboration with Algoriddim, Hercules announces the integrated compatibility of its latest DJControl Inpulse 300, DJControl Inpulse 200 and DJControl Starlight controllers with the award-winning djay app for iOS.

More information about compatible controllers and djay integration can be found on Hercules.com.

Spotify are ending their support for third-party DJ apps

DJs only have a few months left to use Spotify’s music library in their favourite DJing apps. 

Spotify have announced the sad news that they’ll no longer be available in DJ software. The partnership opened up their library of tens-of-millions of tracks for DJs to splice into their mixes and scratch with on third-party software.

Spotify haven’t revealed quite why, but they are ending their partnership with DJ apps and software like Djay on July 1st. It could well be due to Spotify’s new licensing deals with major labels that they’ve signed recently, which might not cover the use of music in third-party apps anymore.

SoundCloud on the other hand have spent the last year partnering with as many DJing apps as they can. When Algoriddim announced that SoundCloud music could be accessed through their Djay app, as well as Tidal’s library, in January they removed Spotify from their website.

So it seems as though they knew it was coming, but now it’s official and will apply to all third-party DJ apps. Algoriddim are providing guides on their website for how to migrate their mixing library from Spotify to SoundCloud or Tidal to help the transition for DJs and users of their DJing app.

Best Modern Analog Synthesizers

These analog synths all hope to replicate a classic looking, feeling and sounding instrument with modern reliability and connectivity.

All of these are from the last decade, but Korg, Moog and Dave Smith are not new to building synthesizers. All well established players in the game for over 40 years.

Best Budget Synth
Korg Monologue – Around $300
  • Analog synthesizer with all-new synthesis structure optimized for amazing monophonic sounds and sequences
  • Fully programmable, with 100 program memories (80 presets included)
  • 16-step sequencer with extensive motion sequence technology to make your sound move
  • Microtuning lets you freely create scales and alternate tonalities
  • Oscilloscope function helps visualize the waveform in real time
  • Battery-powered for portability
  • Rugged and stylish with aluminum top panel, chassis-mounted pots, rubber-coated knobs, and real wood back panel
  • MIDI, USB MIDI, and Audio Sync for all types of in-studio and live connectivity, including direct sync with minilogue, SQ1, volca, electribe, and more
  • Five color variations that will shine on stage or in the studio
Best Mid-Range Synth
Moog Subsequent 37 – Around $1600
  • Sub 37 Design – All the controls and features found on the Sub 37 Tribute Edition
  • Sound Engine Evolution – Richer low end and greater sonic dimension
  • More Multidrive – Wider range and dirtier than ever before
  • Room For Two – More headroom means Duo mode sounds even better
  • 37 Note Keybed – Lightweight with swift action and aftertouch.
  • High-power Headphones – Cue up your next sound in the loudest of venues.
  • Extensive Modulation And Sequencing – 2 assignable mod busses, 2 DAHDSR looping envelopes and an ultra-powerful arpeggiator/sequencer
  • 256 Presets – 16 banks of 16 patches
  • Free Software Editor – Works as a DAW plugin or as a standalone editor.
Best High-End Synth
Dave Smith Sequential Prophet 6 – Around $2800
  • Vintage with a Modern Twist – The Prophet-6 is Dave Smith’s tribute to the poly synth that started it all—the Sequential Prophet-5.
  • Classic Tone, Classic Vibe – Central to the warm, punchy sound of the Prophet-6 are its two newly-designed, discrete voltage-controlled oscillators (plus sub-oscillator) per voice.
  • Dual Effects – The dual effects section provides studio-quality reverbs, delays (standard and BBD), chorus and phase shifter.
  • Poly Mod and Poly Step Sequencing – Also present from its classic predecessor is a Poly Mod section, with enhancements.
  • Easy to Program – The knob-per-function front panel offers instant access to virtually all Prophet-6 functions.
  • Easy to Play – All of this awe-inspiring sound is packed into a four octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch that’s an ideal combination portability and power for the project studio or the gigging musician.

Moog & Korg’s synth apps are free to abate self-isolation boredom

If you’re going to be stuck at home for a while then Moog and Korg have some fantastic ways to keep yourself entertained.

Coronavirus may lead to us self-isolating and finding things to do day-in and day-out for a few weeks. What better time to download some awesome synth applications to play and maybe even create on.

Korg has dropped the price of their wonderfully deep Kaossilator app to absolutely nothing. The powerful and very customisable synth app usually costs $20 / £18 but is available on Android for free until March 20th and on iOS until the 31st of March.

Korg said in a statement: “Schools, workplaces, and meetings worldwide have been requested to close by their respective governments and so many people are studying and working from home. To help you with a musical way to occupy your mind we have decided to make the Kaossilator app for iOS and Android free of charge for a limited time.”

Moog have also made their Minimoog Model D synth app for iOS free. Moog’s app was less expensive in the first place but is still a real nice touch in these potentially hard times. Moog haven’t said whether the price drop is for a limited time so get it now in case it goes back suddenly!

Get the Korg Kaossilator: Android | iOS

Get the Minimoog Model D: iOS