Music Tech News Roundup: Ableton Live 9.1 Beta, New NI S4, Dave Smith Interview, The Black Dog Designs MIDI Controller +

In This week’s music technology roundup: Ableton Live 9.1 beta is now available, brand new DJ interfaces from Native Instruments, an interview with pioneer synthesizer designer Dave Smith, techno legends The Back Dog launch a performance based MIDI controller project, and DJ Thomas White shows how to rock a live performance with Teenage Engineering OP-1 and Korg MiniKP. 

The Black Dog – Machinewerks CS X51 USB/MIDI Control Surface


We caught news from Attack Magazine this week that techno legends The Black Dog have launched a company called Machinewerks and they have set about creating what they believe will be the best USB/MIDI performance control surface with the CS X51. The project has gone through many prototypes and is currently in the funding stage with a Kickstarter campaign that is about halfway to its goal.

To get the inside scoop on this project and the deep research and development that has gone into the CD X51, we turn to one of our favorite sites, Attack Magazine, for an in-depth feature on Machinewerks, the CD X51 and some thoughts from The Black Dog’s Martin Dust.


“Over the years we’ve used control surfaces including the Evolution X-Session, U-Control, Bitstream 3X, CNTRL, Novation, Akai, Fader Fox and Lemur. I think we’ve tried just about everything, even trying kit belonging to other artists while at gigs. They all have their good and bad points but the common problems were the lack of controls or the size and weight of the units… We built many test PCBs so we could try all the different types of sliders and rotaries that are available. We’re very happy with components that are now in the working prototypes and we’ve been using these units in our live and DJ sets throughout the summer.” - Martin Dust (The Black Dog  / Machinewerks)

Read the Much longer and in depth article on Maschinewerks CS X51 at Attack Magazine.

Ableton Live Update 9.1 Beta Available!

Last week we mentioned that it was coming and this week: Ableton has announced that Live 9.1 is available as public beta. This update brings dual screen support and also brings some new features for Push users, as seen in the above video. Head to Ableton’s website to join the beta test.

Dave Smith on Synth Evolution

dave smith

Another great piece from this week comes from Attack Magazine who sat down for a chat with pioneer synthesizer designer and engineer Dave Smith. “Dave Smith’s contribution to the world of modern electronic music equipment has played a fundamental role in shaping the way every single one of us makes music,” Attack explains.

“ In my instruments, I make decisions based on what I think will sound the best and produce an instrument that musicians will want to play. To me, the key is in the analog filters; in the Prophet 12 we have digital oscillators simply because analog were not precise enough and did not give us all the features we wanted. But, we still have analog low-pass and high-pass filters, and the signal path is analog from that point on.” - Dave Smith

Read the entire interview with Dave Smith at Attack Magazine. 

Laptop or iPad? New NI S4 Gear Closes the Gap


Create Digital Music’s Peter Kirn investigates the brand new Native Instruments Kontrol S4 DJ controller and the ever closing gap between computer-based and iPad-based performance.

“Native Instruments today has updated their integrated hardware for Traktor DJs, the 4-channel Traktor Kontrol S4 and 2-channel Traktor Kontrol S2. But while the updates are nice, the biggest transformation is that you can watch a DJ working with these controllers alongside either an iPad or a Mac/PC laptop – and it really doesn’t matter which they’re using.” - Peter Kirn @ CDM

DJ Thomas White – OP-1 and Mini Kaoss Pad 2 – Live Performance

This is a practice performance I programmed into the Teenage Engineering OP-1 in preparation for a live DJ show on September 20th in Los Angeles. Stylistically it is clear I love House Music, but the larger point I am sharing is that the OP-1 can be used for longer performances. Remember this has 6 minutes of total tape time at full resolution and this set is 37 minutes. Looping and live track mute/solo manipulation are your friend! My total DJ set will be 1-hour and half of that time will be comprised of a version of the live performance shown here.

The sounds in this demo are micro samples from external sources and internal sources such as the radio. Other sounds are custom drum kits, synthesizer engines and effected sounds processed and resampled within the OP-1. The Korg Mini Kaoss Pad 2 is used as a high pass and low pass filter for performance in a dance style primarily much in the same way as a DJ uses a performance. It is also a really fun device and pairs perfectly with the OP by adding a performance surface to alter your music unlike anything available in the OP-1. I hope you enjoy the music and the exposure to my way of using the OP-1. Thanks for stopping by and checking out another one of my videos! - DJ Thomas White 

You can follow all of Thomas White’s tech tutorials on his youtube channel and you can catch his music on record and in live performance under the name Natural Rhythm