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  • Filed under: Gear
  • 11/08/2013

This Week in Music Tech: Tom Trago's Studio, Korg x littleBits, Pioneer DDJ-SB, Modular Patchblocks, and More

Two intriguing developments in the world of compact modular-synth building—Korg's collaboration with littleBits and the recently launched Patchblocks project—made this an interesting week for gear, along with the announcement of a new and extremely affordable Pioneer DJ controller, new headphones from AIAIAI, and a look around Tom Trago's brand-new Amsterdam studio. It's all in the latest edition of This Week in Music Tech.

Our regular In the Studio series returned this week with veteran Dutch producer Tom Trago showing us around his new studio digs in Amsterdam. The full interview and picture set—which shows off Trago's enviable synth and hardware collection—can be seen in full here.

Korg has partnered with open-source electronics company littleBits to create a new DIY synth kit which will become available the first week of December. Offering "an assortment of 12 electronic Bits modules that instantly snap together with magnets to create circuits like those used in Korg's famous analog synthesizers," the kit will allow users to build their own circuits from 10 separate projects included in the step-by-step guidebook. The forthcoming littleBits Synth Kits will be available for $159, and more details can be found here.

This week, Pioneer unveiled the DDJ-SB, an entry-level digital DJ controller designed to work with Serato. The two-channel unit is the most compact and affordable of Pioneer's recently launched DDJ-S line, coming in with an MSRP of $299. The upcoming unit will be available beginning January of next year; more info can be found here.

AIAIAI has just introduced the TMA-1 X, a product intended to serve as the company's entry-level DJ headphone. Smaller and lighter than the popular TMA-1 headphones, the TMA-1 X is a closed, dynamic set of headphones said to be suitable for "DJing, monitoring, and [using with] mobile devices." The TMA-1 X will become available on November 28, retailing for around $129. More information can be found here.

A Kickstarter campaign for Patchblocks is already well beyond reaching its goal, but more than 20 days remain for the project to continue to gather funding. The Patchblocks units are used to build modular audio devices with single, programmable "blocks" that can be programmed digitally but pass and manipulate audio through hardware. The video above explains the concept behind Patchblocks and shows some of the most basic functions single and multiple blocks are able to accomplish. To contribute to the Patchblocks Kickstarter, head here.

XLR8R scribe Leo Maymind recently had a chat with noted French synth hacker Gligli, discussing how the man hacked his Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 synth to develop a homemade, comprehensive update to the unit known for its sluggish envelopes and other unwanted quirks. The two also went on to discuss the other DIY synth projects that have Gligli excited and just geek out in general. The full interview can be read over on Noisey.

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