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HBF Tech Round-up: Ableton 9.2, Synthino XM Kickstarter, Squarp Instruments Pyramid & Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1

With a major post-NAMM comedown, HBF’s resident tech expert James Trigo has trawled the world wide web to bring you the latest music tech from the last 31 days. 

Following Logic’s recent update to 10.1 last month, Ableton have joined in with Live 9.2 on public beta. Said to include enhanced features and general improvements such as it’s time warp engine, delivering “punchier transients” at extreme settings and better beat detection for fixed tempo audio. Guitarists will be happy to see a tuner is now part of the built-in devices and Push users will also see some benefits, with the ability to use all 64 pads for drum rack and switch back to 16 pads for sequencing, as well as improved after-touch response. Get the free download from Ableton and get bug hunting.


Kickstarter is a hotbed for hardware synth developers, with the ability to do your market research and funding at the same time, it can be an excellent place for new gear to thrive. Collaborators with electronic hobbyists Nootropic Design have launched their own campaign for Synthino XM, a 5-note polyphonic synthesiser with a 4-track sequencer, ADSR envelope, 2 independent low frequency oscillators, arpeggiator mode (up to 16 notes) and 12 waveforms. The hardware looks as stripped down as you can get, but you’re getting a lot of functionality for the $129 they’re asking for, it’s also upgradable via USB, so it seems they’ve thought of the future too. With over half the funding already pledged, check out their Kickstarter page and get involved.


The next item on the shopping list of everyone who’s gone and bought one the many hardware synths out there is a step sequencer. Now joining the line-up from Arturia and Korg is Squarp Instruments’ latest, the Pyramid. With a bit more emphasis on looks, the Pyramid certainly has a touch of class about it. There’s live and step modes, 35 backlit silicon pads and five clickable encoders. MIDI effects such as quantization, swing, glitch, arp, humanizer, harmonizer and arpeggiator can all be linked to either the touchpad, accelerometer or any of the five encoders. Connectivity options are also plentyful with MIDI Outs, USB MIDI, CV and Gate I/O for starters. Due to drop this June, it’s available for pre-order from Squarp Instruments’ website now at an eye watering €699.


Another Kickstarter that’s already racked up an impressive $222,000 in funding is Nashville tech startup Artiphon and their clever new Instrument 1. The company’s patented multi-instrument technology transforms the Instrument 1 into a guitar, violin, bass, piano, drum machine – any instrument you want it to be. Because the Instrument 1 is fully MIDI-compatible, it works with 100’s of MIDI apps and software like Ableton Live, ProTools, Logic, and many more on your computer. The Artiphon Instrument 1 connects directly to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and PCs via Lightning or USB. One of the revolutionary things about the Artiphon Instrument 1 is its string-like playability on a purely digital device. Use hammer-ons and pull-offs on on the fingerboard, strum on the bridge, and the notes ring out based on the velocity of your touch.


James Trigo

James Trigo is an advocate for the craft of making a good tune. Whiling away the small hours with his head in a sequencer, if he's not making music he's listening to it, and then writing about it. Come say hello. Free free to contact James here: onetwotrigo@gmail.com