There’s so much talk of these ‘unprecedented times’ that it’s actually all becoming a bit too normal and boring. We’ve become accustomed to the lack of live events entertaining our erstwhile lives that we’ve taken to too much DIY, crafting, cooking and other such overtly wholesome pursuits. And don’t even get us started on home-schooling...
Luckily, an increase in free-time for some, coupled with countless home gigs thrust upon our social media feeds goes to show that through it all, music always finds a way.
In what should’ve been a week spent on the Spree in sunny Berlin, attending Superbooth, one of the more entertaining shows in our events calendar, the organisers saw fit to run a virtual version instead: Superbooth 20 home edition.
Attendees were invited to sample the latest wares, talks from visionary producers and musicians, all wrapped up with some live performances in the thoroughly modern medium of online video. So if you happened to miss any of it, here’s a selection of the best bits from the show.
• The 18 best synthesizers 2020: top keyboards, modules and semi-modular synths
• Best drum machines 2020: our pick of the best grooveboxes for beginners and pros
• The 16 best Eurorack modules 2020: our guide to finding the right module to build, or expand your modular synthesizer system
Best new gear
Wavetable Editor for Novation Peak and Summit
Novation has added quite a significant update for its two flagship polysynths, Summit and Peak with a new Wavetable Editor as part of the Components browser-based platform.
The editor includes a drawing tool which can be used to draw your own oscillator shapes and a Live Edit function that allows you to preview them in realtime. On top of that, an audio import feature has been added so you can add your own samples to be used as the oscillator waveform.
Alongside the editing features, the Wavetable Editor also comes bundled with content from the NASA sound library and the Dutch denizens of dance, Noisia.
Wavetable Editor is free for all Peak and Summit users and you can find out more on the Novation website. (opens in new tab)
1010music bitbox micro and bitbox mk2
The good folk at 1010music have seen fit to address the number issue facing Eurorack enthusiasts, space or the lack thereof, with the release of the new bitbox micro Eurorack module.
The new edition shrinks 24-note polyphony and streaming eight stereo tracks into just 18HP. Bitbox micro also features sample triggering via the two-inch touch screen, eight CV/Gate inputs, or MIDI input. While bitbox micro presets can be imported directly into Ableton Live as a 4x4 bank of samples complete with sample slice parameters.
bitbox micro will retail for $399 when it lands in June 2020. You will find more info on the 1010music website. (opens in new tab)
And not ones to leave the full-sized version out, 1010music is also releasing the mk2 edition of the bitbox, which takes in the same 24-note polyphony and new features as above but with improved screen quality and processing power to that of the original.
The bitbox mk2 module also lands in June 2020 and is expected to retail for $599. You'll find more information on the 1010music website (opens in new tab).
Bastl Instruments MIDI Looper
As the name suggests, MIDI Looper from Bastl Instruments records all MIDI messages and loops them, nice and simple. There are three MIDI channels that you can record note information and then overdub any parameter changes on top for some quick and easy sequencing.
As this is technically not a sequencer, the loop memory is quite small so you won't be able to create vast sequences with it but as Cuckoo's video shows, this little box looks like a lot of fun.
The Bastl Mini Looper should be available at the end of May 2020 for €239 and you should be able to order on the Bastl Instruments website (opens in new tab) in due course.
Expert Sleepers Disting EX
Don't be fooled by its diminutive stature, the new Disting EX from Expert Sleepers is packing a lot of power. So much so, you can run the EX as two Disting mk4s with each offering even more processing power than the original. In full power mode, you are treated to an eight-voice polyphonic sample (WAV) player, a stereo tape delay and a dedicated WAV recorder mode.
The module also comes bundled with tons of sample content from Spitfire Audio, Goldbaby and Adventure Kid.
The Disting EX is priced at £299 and available to buy now from the Expert Sleepers website (opens in new tab).
Soulsby Atmultitron and Atmegatron mk2
As soon as Paul Soulsby learned that Superbooth 20 was called off, he let his foot off the gas with regards to rushing to get his latest release finished in time for the show and who can blame him. What we are treated to instead is a sneak peek at what will be landing soon, which is good enough for us.
With the help of some snappy graphics and a demo on an Atmultitron prototype unit, we get to see and hear the new ATX ecosystem in action, which consists of a controller, eight synth engines and eight effects cards.
Paul is hopeful that, with production running smoothly, we will be seeing the new hardware released this year. In the meantime, check out the Soulsby website (opens in new tab) for more info.
Adam T8V monitors
It's not all about synths at Superbooth you know. Adam Audio had already lined up the release of its latest monitor speaker system, the T8Vs. The new eight-inch model becomes the largest monitor in Adam's affordable T-series, which also includes the T5V, T7V and T10S sub.
The T8Vs will be available by the end of May 2020 costing $299 each and you can read more in our full article.
Synth-Werk Model 3P
The prize for the most expensive product to land at Superbooth 20 HE has to go Synth-Werk's Model 3p, modelled on the, you guessed it, Moog IIIp. This new edition promises some improvements to the original and we're also treated to demo featuring the work of Berlin School founder and IIIp owner, Klause Schulze. Enjoy.
Once you've basked in over 20 mins of Schulze's 1978 epic, Discover Trakl, then head on over to the Synth-Werk website (opens in new tab) for more information and purchasing, should you have just shy of €20k that is.
Soundforce SFC-8 Jupiter controller
Captured within Hainbach's Single Malt Synthesis livestream, 46:46 to be exact, you will find Nicolas from SoundForce showing off the latest products which would have been revealed to the world at Superbooth, should it have gone ahead. The pick of the bunch has to be the SFC-8, which is a boutique Jupiter-8 style MIDI controller for software and hardware synths.
Featuring USB-MIDI and DIN-MIDI connections, which can be used simultaneously, the SFC-8 can be used for software versions of the J-8, such as the Roland Cloud edition and Arturia's faithful recreation, but also has the ability to control any hardware with the help of the control app.
There's currently no prioce set for the SFC-8, but the hope is that it will be available for sale in Q4 of 2020. For more info check out the SoundForce website.
ALM/Busycircuits System Coupe
The System Coupe is the first system from ALM/Busy Circuits and the 84HP groovebox includes the Squid Salmple, Quaid Megaslope and Pamela's NEW Workout modules as part of a 10-strong line-up of analogue and digital devices.
Also included are over 20 patch cables of varying lengths, a USB sample library key for Squid Salmple, MIDI DIN to TRS adapter cable and the all-important sticker sheet.
The System Coupe is available now for £1899 and you can find out more on the ALM/Busy Circuits website (opens in new tab) now.
Finegear Dust Collector
The Dust Collector is the first instrument in the Arkive_Effects_ series from Finegear. The box includes two voltage-controlled LFOs, two tape saturation units, spring reverb, delay and phaser.
Harking back to the more simpler times of sonic exploration in the '70s, the Dust Collector has a few more tricks under its sleeve. The spring reverb tank has a removable cover, so you can get your hands and anything else your mind desires in there. You're also able to access the phaser via another removable panel allowing you to modulate the phaser with your own light sources.
You can pre-order the Dust Collector now for €480 from the Finegear website (opens in new tab) right now. The first 100 units are in production as we type this and shipping is hoped to commence by the end of July 2020.
Embodme Erae Touch MPE controller
There's something distinctly familiar about the Erae Touch MPE controller from French company, Embodme. Despite it's uncanny resemblance to the Roli Lightpad Block, the Erae Touch is much larger and as far as we can tell, not as squidgy as it's UK-designed equivalent.
The 18-inch controller promises a "highly sensitive continuous playing surface responds to every touch articulation" and will be fully customisable through a control app.
Keep your eyes peeled on the Embodme website (opens in new tab) for more info as it becomes available.
• The best samplers 2020: standalone hardware instruments for live performance or studio production
• The best MIDI keyboards 2020: Mac, PC, iPhone and iPad MIDI controller keyboards for beginner and pro musicians
• The 10 best studio monitors 2020: affordable to high-end studio speakers for musicians and producers
Mute label-boss, Daniel Miller sat down for a chat with Herr Schneider to discuss his new Miller Zillmer Stiftung foundation which supports artists and activities all around the world.
Legendary French composer, performer and producer, Jean-Michel Jarre hopped on a call with Andreas to talk about the topics of the day, how isolation can breed creativity and how's he's gotten quite used to the idea of spending alot of time with just machines for company.
And so to the aftershow. No self-respecting event would be complete without the addition of some live music taking you well into the wee hours and this year's home edition was no different. So sit back, relax and allow your ears and mind to be immersed in nearly four hours of techno, electronica, ambient and industrial music.