What up? And a huge shout out to all the significant others, friends, family and extended family of Beat Makers across the world! ‘Tis the season to figure these beat making guys and gals out. Right?! Okay. So I figured, hey folks love these beat making nerdy tech geeks and no one knows what the hell to buy for them on xmas. That’s partially because of the fear of the price tag and partially because no one knows what they are geeking over this week or the next anyways. Plus, where do you get that crap from? And how do I know if I am getting a good deal? Yeah, these dilemmas are all too common. But what you do not want to do is run out and “blind cop” only to disappoint your BBoy or BGirl beat maker on Santa Day.
So, let me offer a few things in list form that may give you a bit of guidance in this situation.
Korg Little Bits is a really cool techy sort of musicians gift. It is literally made for the BBoyTech in your life. It’s sort of like lego blocks and / or an Erector set with synth parts built in. They are described as “Battery-powered Modular Analog Synthesizer Kit with 12 Magnetically Connectable Modules and Instruction for 10 Complete Projects”
littleBits and Korg have demystified a traditional analog synthesizer, making it super easy for novices and experts alike to create music. They connect to speakers, computers and headphones, can be used to make your own instruments and fits into the littleBits modular system for infinite combos of audio, visual and sensory experiences
Waldorf is known, lately anyway, for their well built quality sounds neatly compacted into little square flat boxes. This string synth is no exception. Streichfett combines the best of the previously extinct species of String Synthesizers of the 70s and early 80s. Its dual sound engine features a fully polyphonic strings section and an eight voice solo section, which is essential for recreating how adult movies sounded thirty years ago. The Ensemble Effect handles lubrication of the String Section, while the Effects section adds adjustable Phaser and Reverb. Additionally, the Animate Effect can be used to modulate the strings registration, allowing spectacular sound morphs.
These little joints are perfect Beat Maker’s gifts. They come in various flavors. Volca Keys (the keyboard), Volca Bass (the bass monster) and Volca Beats (the retro drum machine). The beat maker’s world went nuts when these were announced last year at an unbelievable price point of $159. I mean they are sort of retro but sort of new and analog (buzz word alert). They travel well because they are mad portable. They are hackable. They are easy to use in and out of the studio. Perfect for the live performer and well, they are just too damn cute. Yet, its not a game… It’s a real instrument. But perhaps the best thing is that there are now 4 of them with the recent announcement of the Volca Sample, also $159. So even if you’ve noticed that your special beat maker has one or two these, poke around and make note of which one(s) there may be room for the other(s). They were made to compliment one another.
The Therapsid is a dope new box from Twisted Electrons. As described on their site, “what sets TherapSid apart from other SID based synths is its focus on control. Instead of getting confused by lcds and damaging your eyesight trying to read tiny sub menu fonts, this instrument features no less than 35 knobs and 31 buttons to give you full power over your sound.” That’s right its knobby and has a crunchy low bit sound that any beat maker would love.
You know that “Maschine” drum pad thingy that your beloved beat maker stays pounding on and hovering over? Well, this is it’s newly released keyboard counterpart. No the Maschine and the Komplete Kontrol S Series keyboard are not mutually exclusive. One does not need the other in order to be functional on its own. Still this would be a great entry point to Native Instruments vast world of plug-ins or even a great compliment to the Maschine, indeed. So says native Instruments “MASCHINE and KOMPLETE form an unstoppable production team. Browse and load KOMPLETE Instruments and Effects into MASCHINE. Hook up a KOMPLETE KONTROL S-Series keyboard and perform melodies, chords, and arpeggios on a luxurious Fatar keybed – all in perfect sync with MASCHINE’S acclaimed groove production workflow. A fully physical production experience – become unstoppable.”
Beatstep is the little controller that could. Dont let the size fool you. Its a real power house. Described as “BeatStep is highly versatile, capable of triggering clips in such applications as Ableton Live, it also allows you to play drums in conjunction with such applications as BFD or EZDrummer.
BeatStep is also a 16-step analog sequencer for creating all kinds of musical phrases to be sent to analog synthesizers, MIDI drum machines, MIDI keyboard devices, or computer programs. Its vast connectivity allows you to interface BeatStep with a computer or iPAD using USB, a drum module using MIDI or an analog synthesizer equipped with CV/GATE.”
I love this little synth. Any beat maker would love this thing little big synth. Get more info from our review on the Microbrute prior to the new SE (colorful version with stackable cables).
Described as “Packed with mixable waveforms, a new sub oscillator design, the famous Steiner-Parker multimode filter, super fast envelope, syncable LFO and the new step sequencer, not to mention the patchable mod matrix the MicroBrute SE is a landmark new synth at an incredible price. ”
iRig Pads is one of the latest additions to the world of pad controllers. Made by IK Multimedia, iRig Pads is a 4×4 style pad controller that is iOS compatible as well as Mac / PC compatible. iRig Pads comes with Sample Tank and a sound kit called the Grid that boasts 300MB of samples and sounds. Although, iRig Pads is tightly integrated with Sample Tank, the controller works well as a standard midi controller and makes it easy to work with popular beat making apps like iMPC Pro and Beatmaker 2. iRig Pads’ familiar 16-pad layout makes it an ideal platform for creating beats while on the go. It comes with SampleTank free for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, the portable version of IK’s powerful sound workstation.
The legend continues with the new and hotly anticipated Korg Electribe. Described as “With outstanding sounds, powerful sequencing and pattern managment, and awesome Korg effects, the Korg Electribe is primed for modern music production. Much more than a typical drum machine, you can construct 16-part arrangements, synchronize with other Korg instruments, and even export your productions as an Ableton Live set! Over 400 sounds are on tap, assignable to the 16 velocity-sensitive pads in any combination you like. ”
Got yourself more of a sampling beat maker? Then the Sampler version of the Electribe may be more your speed. Described as “You provide the samples, and the Korg Electribe Sampler music production workstation provides a powerful sequencing environment with cutting-edge effects and outstanding live performance potential. While the Electribe Sampler comes with a collection of drum sounds and loops, you’ll love how easy it is to load your own custom sounds and create complex arrangements with them. You’ll also be able to use the built-in analog modeling sound engines to create fat bass and synth sounds”
Need an fresh and more viable alternative to the wildly popular yet wildly over-hyped Beats headphones? Sure you do. Well, AIAIAI’s Dj Guru designed headphones are just what the Dr. ordered. Described as “TMA-1 Studio Engineered by Young Guru, Young Guru and AIAIAI aim to make an outstanding pair of headphones for the on-the-go producer and sound engineer who needs a durable piece of equipment that delivers high-quality audio in the studio and on the road. Young Guru is a Grammy-award winning sound engineer who has worked with Jay-Z, Kane West and Drake among others. Merging the worlds of forward-thinking music production with Danish audio design, and fusing culture, sound and design in the process, the collaboration sees the celebrated sound engineer make his unique mark on our new studio headphones.”
Got yourself a synth geek? Then he/she undoubtedly knows the name “Moog”! Chances are, if they don’t already a Moog of some sort they want one and even if they’ve never uttered it before, they’d never reject the idea of owning one of these beasts. The Moog Sub line of synths are deep bass monsters with distortion and grit and tones of neat sounds and tricks up their sleeves. The Sub Phatty is the smaller of the two and no that is not an indication of sound quality. But for some the smaller Sub Phatty is perfect for their playing styles and/or alloting space while still allowing for that oh so coveted Moog sound for under $1000 (trust me that is a good statement). The larger and newer edition to the line is the Sub 37. It’s got a gang more tricks up it’s sleeve (sequencer, arp, larger panel with more knobs and parameters to tweak right off) for a mere $500 more. If you want to be a star in your beatmakers mind one of these goes a long way in your quest to stardom.