ROLI’s new keyboard makes learning piano like playing Guitar Hero

The makers of some of the most innovative keyboards of the last decade are back, with a new colourful keyboard for turning beginners into pro players.

The LUMI is a brand-spanking new keyboard from musical innovators ROLI. Aimed at beginners and learners, the new keyboard promises to make it easy to jump straight into learning and playing the keys in an innovative new way.

The LUMI uses colours that light up each key to help beginners understand where to play and when. This allows you to jam along to songs in no time with light up action connected to an interactive app that guides you through playing so you can learn as you play.

The app takes a Guitar Hero approach to playing so that it’s simple to see what notes to play and when. This approach makes it simple for users to dive straight in without worrying about their musical knowledge.

Fun and interactive lessons will take you through the fundamentals of playing in an accessible way. As you get better you can progress onto harder pieces, use coloured notes and eventually sheet music. You can even improvise along to songs with chords and notes in the song’s scale lit up.

With the LUMI keyboard you can learn wherever you are at any time. Thanks to it’s size and lightweight design it’s simple to slip into your bag and take it on the go. Don’t waste your long journeys, learn some piano. (Unless you’re driving, then focus on the road!)

ROLI have been impressing us for years with their expressive keyboards that have helped transform the traditional keyboard into a new kind of instrument using the power of MIDI and touch. Their new instrument moves away from innovation and takes things back to basics to teach newbies how to play in an accessible way.

The LUMI keyboard comes from the response to ROLI’s first keyboard, the amazing Seaboard. ROLI’s CEO and founder, who created the Seaboard, Roland Lamb said: “I’ve met lots of people who have told me that they felt inspired by the design and innovation of the Seaboard and BLOCKS, but wanted a solution that would be approachable for an absolute beginner.”

ROLI’s LUMI is currently on Kickstarter so they can reach out to fans and help fund the creation for as many people as possible. Nab your own for as cheap as £147 / $187 with deliveries estimated in October:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/playlumi/lumi-the-smarter-way-to-learn-and-play-music

OWOW’s controllers makes playing MIDI more fun than ever (Review)

These MIDI controllers will leave you saying ‘O WOW’ by re-inventing the way you play with digital music.

The awesome team over at OWOW, based in the Netherlands sent us a selection of the MIDI controllers to take for a test drive to see what our thoughts were.

As an avid Ableton Live user, I regularly use a variety of MIDI keyboards and drum pads to input MIDI data, so it was interesting to see OWOWs take on exploring the world of gestures and movement by implementing various sensors and turning these signals into a usable performance tool.

Wob – Wave Motion Midi Controller

The Wob has an infra-red distance tracking sensor that tracks your hands distance from the sensor and turns this gesture into MIDI data.

This ‘hands-free’ approach to inputting information into your DAW is fun to play around with as you can move your hand up and down above the sensor or remove your hand from above the sensor and replace it at a smaller or larger distance to obtain different results.

Wiggle – Three dimensional MIDI controller

The Wiggle is a handheld device operated by, twisting, tilting and turning it around its X, Y & Z axis and turns these gestures into MIDI data. These axis can be switched on and off using the devices axis on-off switches.

This device was interesting to experiment with as the 3 different axis will detect your movement and allows you to explore all ranges of physical motion.

Drum – Airdrum MIDI controller

The Drum is a handheld device that can trigger four different velocity-sensitive MIDI notes by flicking the instrument up, down, left and right. You can press the left or right button to select the next or previous note and turn the Z axis on or off at the touch of a button. It also has an extra mappable button that could be used for starting a recording or triggering a loop.

The Drum controllers were perfect for playing percussion and the velocity sensitivity is a great way of getting that ‘human’ feel into the percussion performance.

Scan – Sketch scanning MIDI controller

The Scan works by moving the device over visual information, such as images, lines and dots drawn on paper and turns this visual information into MIDI data. It also has up and down buttons to move between octaves or bend the pitch of your sound.

This seemed to be the most experimental of the devices and allows for a great amount of creativity to flourish as it allows you to draw series of patterns, sequences and shapes to get some really unexpected results.


These controllers are a fun and exciting way to make music without the need to play a traditional instrument. One of the things I really took away from experimenting with these devices is the ability to really get that ‘human element’ into an electronic music performance.

This can make music performance and production accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, with no prior musical training.

They are relatively small form factor makes them great for portability and are comfortable in the hand. The software on macOS was simple and easy to use and the depth of customisation for each of the parameters allows for great personalisation of the performance experience and allows the performer to allocate the boundaries in which they’d like to work in. This makes these instruments extremely versatile with a large scope for experimentation.

In a world where we see laptop DJs, producers and performers turning knobs and hitting pads, it’s great to get other forms of movement into a performance. Not only is the process enjoyable for the person making the music, but it’s interesting to watch a performer exploring and incorporating these movements into their music production and performance.

Check out OWOW and see how to nab yourself some of these incredible little controllers yourself at: https://owow.io/

Written by Sam Wearne

American Airlines drop extra fees for musicians’ equipment

American Airlines have some changes to their music equipment policy that they promise will be “music to the ears of musicians”.

American Airline’s have changed their policy regarding sports and music equipment. Whereas before it was common for large pieces of music equipment to be checked into hold luggage with an oversize bag fee.

Now large music equipment and sports equipment won’t be charged extra to be put into the hold storage of the plane. American Airlines have changed their policy in preparation for the busy summer period where people will be travelling lots more with additional luggage for activities.

What you should know

  • Based on feedback from our customers and American team members, American is eliminating the charge for common oversize sports and music equipment — up to the maximum size we accept for these items. The change is effective for travel on or after May 21.
  • American will accept these oversize items as a standard checked bag without an additional oversize charge.
  • The checked oversize bag counts toward a customer’s normal baggage allowance. For example, customers traveling within the United States, who used to pay $150 to check one oversize item such as a surfboard, will now pay $30 — the cost of a standard first bag — if the weight is less than 50 lbs. Customers traveling with skis or a snowboard will now be able to check in an equipment bag with the skis or snowboard as one bag (up to 50 lbs./62 in.).
  • Due to special handling requirements, oversize items such as antlers, hang gliders, scuba tanks and kite/windsurfing items will continue to incur a flat $150 fee.
  • Additional allowances/restrictions may apply based on destination, class of service, elite status, active U.S. military members or AAdvantage® cardmembers (on domestic American-operated itineraries). For more information, visit aa.com/checkedbags.

New Beatport Link puts unlimited beats in your DJ software

Stream Beatport’s entire catalogue without limits and send it straight to your DJ programs to mix on the fly with Link.

Beatport Link is a new subscription service that brings unlimited access to their catalogue of electronic music for a monthly cost. Beatport have just partnered their new subscription service with Denon DJ’s Prime Series DJ hardware for full control and unlimited possibilities.

Beatport Link launched in beta earlier this month and offers their 7 million track catalogue for unlimited streaming. Create personalised playlists of your favourite tracks to keep your favourites in order. Beatport Cloud is also built into Link services.

Beatport Link is also compatible Pioneer DJ’s WeDJ for iPhones and various DDJ controllers. As well as their upcoming partnership with Denon DJ, Beatport are planning to bring Link integration to rekordbox by the end of 2019.

Beatport Link is available in beta now and you can sign up to a 30-day free trial as a new user.

Control your music with these gloves used by Ariana Grande

Put the power of music in your hands, as literally as possible with these expressive gloves that will “change the way we make music”.

MI.MU gloves have been used by massive artists like Ariana Grande since Imogen Heap shared them with the world 5 years ago. The ‘gestural music performance’ gloves have gained a lot of interest in the past 5 years following their unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign in 2014.

The gloves gained notoriety for their potential as a performance tool, allowing to performers to add to their sets in entirely unique ways – as Ariana Grande shows above with looping and harmonies.

The gloves can be mapped with music software like Ableton Live and Logic Pro to control particular effects or instruments. It offers up a whole range of new performance opportunities for singers and DJs, even further into performers in other arts. There’s a world of possibilities.

Singer, songwriter, producer and general artist, Imogen Heap said: “So happy that we are finally able to extend the incredible, superhuman feeling of having music in our hands out to a wider audience.”

The company’s managing director, Adam Stark added: “We believe the gloves will enable musicians to discover new forms of expression, leading to new ideas, new performances and, ultimately, new forms of music.”

The latest re-designed version of the MI.MU gloves is at last going on general sale with pre-orders available from the website. It will cost £2.5k which is roughly $3.2k.

Why Use Nuendo and Not Just Cubase Pro 8?

Some of the worlds best film composers use Cubase Pro 8 and not Nuendo (eg. Hans Zimmer). Why should you use Nuendo and not just Cubase Pro 8 for composing film scores?

Here is a quick run down of the key features between Nuendo and Cubase Pro 8.

Nuendo + NEK = Cubase + some extra features:

– Advanced crossfade editor – really useful for film work
– Edit Mode – where position (and video) follows objects being moved – a typical film spotting feature
– Batch Export of cycle marker regions – very useful when you assemble and export a CD sequence
– ADR Taker
– more automation features
– loudness track
– some extra plugins
– slower update cycle
– different name


Adam Black’s new 0-2TE electro-acoustic guitar review

Adam Black have created an affordable electro-acoustic guitar that may be perfect if you’re starting out, on the road or small-time gigging.

When you first pull Adam Black’s new electro-acoustic guitar out of the happily included guitar case that comes with it, the fine grain wooden finish resembles a beautiful, rustic guitar that wouldn’t look out of place on the shoulders of a nomadic folk singer.

Upon whipping it out your audience might be in silent awe at the gorgeous sapele finish and mahogany neck and for the general ear, what you play may be enjoyable on the fitted steel D’addario strings that come with it.

The 3/4 size makes it easy to transport and its lightweight build makes pulling it out to play simple wherever you might be. The body lends itself to player of smaller build along with the very streamlined v-neck that is easy to hold first position chords particularly. The nut on this guitar is just a bit smaller than the Vintage V-300 of which we compared it to, this may be a hindrance for some more experienced players but for those with smaller hands i.e. children, it is a lot easier to make those beginner’s stretches – I am talking G major in first position, we have all been there!

Unfortunately the action on this guitar is a bit high and this may make it harder to fret bar chords for a beginner however if a beginner can get used to this strengthening exercise, they may take to a bigger guitar with heavier strings easier in the future.

Its power is certainly improved when plugged in but the quality of the guitar’s tone isn’t as bright as you might expect from the compact acoustic. The controls and Fishman pickup for the guitar are hidden just inside the sound hole so you can’t see any wiring when you look at it. In fact apart from the input and battery slot on the bottom, you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s not a native acoustic. To adjust it’s volume and tone you simply reach your finger in above the strings and roll the dials.

To someone more experienced with guitars and tone, I was a little disappointed in how Adam Black’s new electro-acoustic guitar sounds acoustically. It lacks sustain for an acoustic and the low end is not amplified as well as it could be – even for a guitar of this size. I think this guitar prefers a lighter gauge which again would suit the beginner players, it may be improved by experimenting with string gauges.

To conclude, this guitar lends itself to someone who is thinking of getting a first steel-string acoustic with simple plug & play-ability. I rather like the fact that there are no controls for the EQ of this guitar because it makes the player use their fingers as the primary source of tone control. In the same way that we learn on a 3/4 size nylon string classical guitar and crave an electric, until we are good enough to play the nylon and hone our skill to match, only then will that Squire Stratocaster be presented on the foot of our beds on the morning of our 13th birthday! The 0-2TE is for the more practised beginner who’ll be eventually suited to the more advanced acoustic guitars In the Adam Black range. For example, the O7-CE solid top electro-acoustic.

This guitar is good for the price, at a reasonable £179 with strings and gigbag included. However it may need a bit of setting up to reach its true potential. Lighter strings are advised. This guitar could make for a perfect beginners guitar as for the budding bedroom producer.

Over all, not bad Adam Black.

If you’re looking to get your hands on your own head here.

Eclipse by Rosetti guitar strings review

We recently got our hands on some of Rosetti’s Eclipse strings to see how these slinky strings measure up. Spoiler alert: They’re pretty good.

The nice people at Rosetti were kind enough to send us a set of their Eclipse strings for electric and acoustic guitars. We tested them out to see how they feel and what they sound like.

I tried their 9-42 thickness, nickel roundwound electric guitar strings. The strings are incredibly slick to the touch with a slinkiness that makes playing on them feel incredibly smooth. They’re solid strings with a gorgeous tone that are flexible enough for serious bending. They are great for rhythm guitar with an even tone when playing chords whilst providing a formidable treble sound for playing lead parts.

I’ve found the Eclipse 9-42 strings perfect for playing funk stylings. If you’re looking for a chunkier tone for rock or metal the strings still perform but you’d want to look at some thicker strings – which I can’t speak of the quality of for Eclipse though I imagine they’re of the same good standard.

For acoustic guitars we played a set of the Eclipse 12-53 strings made up of 80/20 bronze. Thanks to their 80/20 bronze make up the strings ring out incredibly bright and sit at their best on a full-bodied, dreadnought guitar. They sound powerful with a good volume that doesn’t infringe on clarity at all.

They feel great whether you’re a 3 chord singer songwriter or you’re speedily playing up the neck. These are great for a full-bodied sound though lighter strings may suit you if you’re more into playing complex acoustic guitar parts.

Overall I was impressed by Rosetti’s Eclipse strings. They feel great, they sound great and they’re flexible enough to suit most guitar players. At £4.99 for the electric guitar strings and £5.49 for the acoustic strings they are incredibly reasonably priced for a really nice set of strings.

Check them out at: www.rosetti.co.uk

A cheaper version of Teenage Engineering’s incredible OP-1 could be on the way

The OP-1 is super cool – if you know, you know. But it’s also super expensive and that’s stopped a lot of people getting it. The OTTO synth could be the affordable solution.

Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 is a pcoket-sized, all-in-one music production controller that combined extensive features with a quirky design. The OTTO is similarly capable and even looks to match the quirky graphics that take the OP-1 beyond an amazing piece of kit and makes music creation fun.

The OTTO is an open-source digital synthesizer that is still in the works that is heavily inspired by the OP-1 but looks to pack it with different hardware. It works on Raspberry pi software and features a 26 key/button playable spread with 4 knobs for customisation and a series of other buttons for control. It has a DAC to output sound to your headphones or a speaker and features 4 encoders.

OTTO teenage engineering synth OP-1 mini portable sampling music production software device hardware
The OTTO synth – under the skin

It’s not designed to be a commercial product with the creators saying: “It might be important to mention that the OTTO is not, and will never be, a commercially aimed product. It is open source by nature, in both hardware and software. If you want an OTTO, you’re going to get your hands dirty, if not with the code, at least with the hardware.”

Otto synth’s planned features include:

  • A synth (with swappable engines) for live performance with midi effects (arpeggiator, etc.)
  • 2 FX slots. Synths and drums send to them as a FX bus.
  • Synths and effects are swappable “engines”.
  • For drums, a sampler will run in parallel to the sequencer-synth chain.
  • The drum sampler has 10 channels. These have a simple 1-bar, 16 step volca-style drum-sequencer, with each step corresponding to a white key on the musical keyboard on the prototype currently being built.
  • An audio line input which has FX send and level
  • A simple loop-station-style audio looper that can get audio from line in or synth. It has overdub and one level of Undo.
  • 8 save slots which save the state of the entire system. A save button lets you choose the slot to save in. Saves are only performed when you take the action.

The OTTO is still very much in development and it’s small team are always looking for people to help out with it’s development, testing, design, and more.

Find out more about the OTTO synth and it’s build so far, even get involved, here: github.com/topisani/OTTO

Traktor Pro 3.1: S4 MK3 Standalone Mixer, S8 and D2 Controllers and more

Traktor Pro 3.1 is now going live and it has now been officially announced.

Traktor Pro 3.1 has a lot of great changes – including visual addtions, S4 MK3 standalone mixer mode, a new mapping control for S8 and D2 controllers, and a lot of other smaller changes.

  • ADDED Parallel Waveforms: Two new deck size “Parallel Full” and “Parallel Slim” have been added, which optionally replace the side by side waveforms by stacked ones. The parallel options can be enabled for decks A & B and decks C & D separately in the preferences. A layout preset “Parallel” will be added to the user’s list layouts.
  • ADDED Single Deck View: The number of visible decks can now be set to “1”, which provides a single deck view with the waveform spreading across the full width of the screen to be used for set preparation. A layout preset “Preparation” will be added to the user’s list of layouts.
  • ADDED Duplicate in Layout Manager: A button allowing to duplicate an existing layout has been added to the Layout preferences.
  • ADDED Custom Mapping for S8 and D2: Individual controls on the Kontrol S8 and the Kontrol D2 can now be custom mapped (over-mapped) via the Controller Manager.\
  • ADDED Non-Destructive File Handling: A set of options called “Tag writing mode” has been added to the File Management preferences to configure which types of metadata Traktor does write and does not write into the audio files.
  • ADDED Tooltips in Preferences and a toggle icon in Application Header: Tooltips are now also available for all preferences panels. Tooltips can be switched on/off in the Global Settings preferences as well as the Global Section. (Editor’s note: it does not appear that there are any tooltips in the Controller Manager section – easily the most confusing page of the preferences) 
  • IMPROVED Insert new track to analysis queue: A new un-analysed track loaded into a deck is now prioritized over an analysis queue running in the background.
  • FIXED Keyboard Shortcuts non-functional when exiting Preferences or dialogs
    The search string in the upper right corner of the browser pane has been grown bigger to improve its readability.
  • FIXED Search by KEY broken: Search by KEY via the refined search dropdown is functional.
  • FIXED D2/S8: Sample Pitch Control Broken: The sample pitch control via the display knobs is functional again on KONTROL D2/S8.