Native Instruments released a new expansion for Maschine today by the (as always awesome) name Neon Drive. Neon Drive promises ‘a cascade of lush chords, pads, enraptured melody, and distinct retro drums’ that will ‘teleport through 80s production techniques and arrive in the future’, and it certainly does not disappoint.
I’ve been dabbling in 80s pop sounds for a while now so getting this one was a no-brainer.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the included drum kits and one shots. The kits and individual hits really brings back the 80s in style, while at the same time feeling fresh and up to date. My favourite so far is the Neon Lights kit.
Moving on to the instruments, those sounds really good too. I’m especially impressed by the basses and the pads, not so excited by the leads. Don’t get me wrong, the leads sound good too, but you can cook up most of them in Massive without too much tweaking.
In all I haven’t been this excited about a Machine expansion since Pulswerk came out like 2 years ago and I really recommend you checkout this one if you are into synthpop, and especially the 80s / early 90s sound.
Today I had my third meeting at the studio building my Elektron side panels! I got a call in the afternoon that the actual designs / plans were ready for inspection so S and I drove down right away to check them out.
Using the actual Analog Four to verify the angles, spacings and other details we went over the designs and sketches. I made one alteration, adding angles to the front cut-outs, which the carpenter seemed very happy with. Other than that his plans matched exactly what I had in mind.
Next the actual ‘production’ will start and in about 2-3 weeks I should be able to show you the actual results. Needless to say I’m really excited about this project and I can’t wait to see what the final panels will looks like.
I had my second meeting at the studio where the side panels will be made. At my first meeting with the carpenter (furniture maker?) we discussed the choice of wood and went over some simple design directions. This was mostly to get a sense for material and time so that I could get a rough estimate on the cost.
In today’s meeting we went deeper into the precise angles of the tiers and details around air vents, decorative additions and spacings for cables.
I have to say it’s very impressive to talk to a true expert at these things.
Even while listening to my ramblings about standing up vs. sitting down, studio and live use and so forth he was casually drawing up designs that were miles ahead of the sketches that I had brought. I also completed the actual formal order so that work can start for real.
These panels will not be cheap, but on the other hand they are hand made by an expert wood smith from one of the most famous craft regions in Japan. I also get it made precisely to the specifications I want.
As you may know I’m working on some designs for Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels. Read Part 1 here for the background.
Here are some photos of my extremely crude prototype boards that I made to check the angles for the tiers:
I didn’t have any tools (currently traveling…) so I went to a local home center and borrowed an electric jigsaw. The holes are drilled using a small hand drill that I picked up for $10. The wood is a simple pine board ($3). All in all this little crappy prototype / test (which actually works!) cost about $15 to make.
I started with a high angle and gradually shaved off degrees so that I could check both the standing and sitting viewing angles. The angle in the photos is final result for the lower tier.
I also realized that I wanted at least 10mm of space between the lower tier machine and the table top to pass cables under the stand.
This is to accommodate a possible third machine placed directly on the table top in front of the stand. Other important lessons include the space needed for the cables attached to the back of the lower tier machine, and making sure that the upper tier does not cover the controls of the lower tier.
I bought a Analog Four synth from Elektron back in January and I have to say that the more time I spend with it the more impressed I get. It’s true that the workflow can be a bit difficult to get used to, there is definitely a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually very fast and intuitive.
I’ve also been lusting for a drum synthesizer / beat box for a long time, and I was almost entirely set on a DSI Tempest, but I have to say that the workflow of the Elektron machines is so good that lately I’ve also started considering a Machinedrum instead.
Regardless, I know I will want an Octatrack as well some day, so I started thinking about how to best place and support the Analog Four and which ever other (Octatrack or Machinedrum) I by next.
Looking around the web a lot of people are designing and building their own mini-racks or side panels to stack two or more Elektron machines. While some of them look good and ergonomic, I figured it would be really fun to try and come up with a design / material that would both look great and have excellent ergonomics fit for my own personal workflow. Ideally it should support both a standing and sitting position with great viewing angles, be sturdy enough to not topple over while playing live, and be transportable.
Since I’m currently in Japan I started looking around for someone with the right tools and materials for the job and I’ve met with a great furniture designer with whom I’ve started working on a design for a 2-tier wooden solution.