The cardboard DRUMKIT lets you carry the beat on your back

editors-choiceIt’s a universally agreed upon fact: Drums are awesome. What’s not is how cumbersome, expensive, and loud they are, not to mention hard to assemble and almost impossible to carry around. This doesn’t stop professional drummers from engaging in their craft but can serve as a huge barrier to entry for fresher drumming devotees.

OBILAB music’s DRUMKIT solves these five problems with a painstakingly researched, designed, and produced cardboard drum kit. It comes packaged in a five-pound box that can be worn as a backpack for easy transportation so that intrepid drummers can do their thing wherever they may be. When set-up, the DRUMKIT features fiberglass panels on each of the major drums not only for increased rigidity but also to help newbies drum correctly. 

Chargers/Batteries Music

The Ripcord USB cable powers all your musical gadgets anywhere

For the roving musician, inspiration can strike anywhere. The good news is that there’s never been a better for this to happen, with a plethora of options — both digital and analog — for playing and recording music. The bad news is that all of this equipment, from guitar pedals, amps, synths and keyboards to mixers, MIDI recorders, and tuners, all need to be powered by batteries that are too expensive or power outlets that may not be compatible or not there at all.

The team behind the Ripcord believe that due to its ubiquity, USB power is the future. To take advantage of the fact that most people carry already carry with the USB chargers, power banks, laptops, and smartphones all with USB ports, the Ripcord was developed to be a plug-and-play power cord that allows the standard 5V output of USB ports to charge musical equipment requiring 9V.

Music Tablet Accessories

The One is for the two hands playing an iPad-enabled piano

The history of interfaces and gadgets aimed at helping people learn to play piano stretches back at least 25 years to the release of The Miracle piano that worked with the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Carrying on The Miracle’s tradition of educational digital pianos with names that include an article, The ONE digital keyboards can connect directly to an iPad or Android tablet. The pianos feature light-up keys that have been popular on low-end learning pianos for years. However, when paired with a tablet, apps — such as the one the company is creating — can do a more engaging job of teaching piano.. The ONE has been sold in other countries for some time so the campaign really marks more of its entrance into North America than a whole new concept.

Connected Objects Music

Xkey Air lets you stylishly make MIDI music on the go

The original Xkey keyboard by The CME Group is a MIDI-compliant keyboard that boasts a slim profile and strong aluminum finish, with its only issue being its reliance on a USB connection. Although its design has received positive reviews from both amateur and pro musicians alike, the questions remained: when would a wireless version be created?

For those who were waiting, the wait is now over: the Xkey Air is the Bluetooth LE-compatible version of the Xkey. The Xkey Air retains all the features that made the original so appreciated, and as such users can still expect either 25 or 37 real-sized keys that are velocity sensitive along with a suite of programmable buttons that control characteristics such as octave, modulation, pitch, and sustain. Wireless instruments have always had to contend with problems of latency and battery life and the Xkey Air does its best to address these through just a 7 ms latency and an advertised minimum of 10 hours of battery life.

Input Music

The Oval percussion instrument rounds out digital music making

For many, the idea of learning a musical instrument inspires fear and dread. As such, many make attempts at smoothing the learning curve associated with it by using technology to rethink everything instruments can do. The Oval digital music instrument continues that trend in an effort to empower anyone to both learn and play music.

The Oval is inspired by the Hang, a percussion instrument based on the physical principals as the steelpan. The instrument sits on the lap, and is covered in a circular ring of seven multi-sensing, pressure-sensitive pads, with a single pad in the middle. Its MIDI-compliant design gives users the choice to use Oval with its iOS/Android app, or any other music creation software like Ableton. No matter the choice, a user can change the type of instrument being played, change scales, add effects, loop sounds live, and even upload their own sounds.


SpaceHarp lets you control music, possibly spaceships, with a wave of your hand

MIDI controllers and musical instruments come in al sorts of shapes and sizes and can increasingly be controlled with a range of movements.

Few, however, compare to the majestic SpaceHarp, a console of nine illuminated circles arranged in a horizontal arc around its user. By adjusting the placement of of hands above the circles, musicians can produce different sounds The product’s developers seek to encourage newbies as well as cater to experienced musicians. The SpaceHarp costs $2,095 and should arrive at backers in November 2015. CEO and founder David Clark seeks $120,000 on Indiegogo by May 20.

The developer of the SpaceHarp stresses that its ease fo use isn’t due to simple tricks used in less expensive products such as Beamz, which is a basic Casio keyboard is to a Steinway grand. Still, the Space Harp’s sophistication comes at a price. It is one that puts it out of range for all but those determined to put on the most elaborate gestural displays to produce audio, but it sure is fun to watch someone doing it.

Connected Objects Music

Instrument 1 gets your groove on no matter how you play

The power of music apps have opened the door to a wide range of controllers — things that look like keyboards and disco floors and guitars. The incredible variety of sounds they offer when paired with the right software, however, pales in comparison to their relatively limited ways of producing those sounds.

That’s not the case for unfortunately named Instrument 1, a bold MIDI controller and musical instrument that allows mixing and matching of sounds and play methods. One can strum it like a guitar with its “digital strings” that don’t break, pluck it like a bass, tap it like a drum machine or play it a bit like a piano keyboard. There’s even a way to emulate guitar playing when used with an iPhone or watch. About the only traditional way of producing sound from an instrument that isn’t supported is blowing into it.

The compact Instrument 1 can run for about three hours off its built-in battery (alas, it uses too much juice to charge via USB) and i1s companion app  allows owners to define their own sounds. The versatility can keep backers’ hands occupied for $349 come January 2016. Artiphon  seeks $75,000 by April 12th. Curiously, particularly given how many organizations helped in the product’s development. the company is shying away from committing to producing more Instrument 1 units after fulfilling its Kickstarter obligations

The Instrument 1 is reminiscent of the Zivx Jamstik that was successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo back in 2014, but that product — while also portable and less expensive — is more focused on replicating a guitar experience on the go for learning and practice. But this latest MIDI-compatible plaything should evoke a lot of fun for newbies who want to experiment with different methods of producing music as well as experienced musicians who want something compact and versatile.

Connected Objects Music Tech Accessories

Keys MIDI keyboard gestures create new wave with a hand wave

MIDI controllers are already hugely popular with music making aficionados, from lone bedroom creators to DJs dropping beats in front of enthusiastic crowds around the world. Typically, music makers are extremely creative types who are always open to  different ways of interacting with their homegrown sounds.

Keys, a product from Team Opho, provides a new way of doing just that. Keys is a modular, LED-equipped MIDI keyboard designed for both novices and pros alike. Along with being compatible with widely used music software suites like Logic, ProTools, and Ableton, Keys can also be hooked up to computers and smartphones. The weighted keys on the keyboard offer users a comfy and responsive touch.

Additionally, Keys incorporates gesture controls and an embedded proximity sensor which enables users to control a number of different parameters like octave and pitch while giving them the ability to sustain them with different movements. If that’s not enough, Keys are modular and can be linked together immediately. In other words, without any wires or configuration, 24 keys can become 48 or 72 keys instantly. Keys can be had for just $92, and Team Opho, which previously created the gTar,  is looking for $50,000 in funding to get it off the ground.

Unlike other illuminated keyboard controllers, Keys needs to be charged. Its slick quick-attach networking happens without Bluetooth, so backers will need a Keys dock for its magic to take place (semi-)wirelessly. Still, the product’s gestural control, modularity and feedback truly makes it a stand out. Advanced musicians and deejays will appreciate that it’s compatible with many products already popular today even as the company preps its own apps. Those interested in this sort of experimental product can look to Skoog for another colorful take on the MIDI interface.

Connected Objects Music

Skoog is a squishy cube that makes music with its app

The MPC board made famous by the decades of innovative rappers and producers has gotten a 21st century makeover with the Skoog. Originally designed for education, the Skoog is a squishy foam cube that acts as a controller for the two Skoog apps, Skoogmusic and Mogo. Everything together allows you to play any instrument and the sounds associated with it to musically express yourself without limits.

The product connects to supported iOS/Android tablets using Bluetooth LE and to desktops and laptops as well, providing the interface to be as expressive as your mind will allow you to. One of the Skoog’s defining features is its ability to employ ‘physical modelling’ when reproducing an instruments sound. This takes into account not only the instrument’s sound, but also the nuances of a stringed instrument, for example. This makes for exciting possibilities especially when combined with the Skoogmusic and Mogo software that allows you to customize every aspect of your experience.

In any case, Skoog is also compatible with other, leading music software like Ableton or Logic, so you can more deeply connect with your creations on software you are already familiar with. However, the device and the eco-system it creates may prove to be more of a novelty than anything else, and may fit education more than serious music making. Play bass lines and melodies, create your own sounds, and add effects on the fly for just £139 (~$218) by March 2015. Skoog is looking for £75,000 (~$117,600) to get their final production costs down.


UMMU Box v2 takes app-controlled sound production to a new, wireless level

ummuboxAdvances in Bluetooth and personal Wi-Fi have benefitted the musician, but rarely their team of supporters. Producers or live sound engineers alike now have a new tool to work with in the UMMU Box v2. Like its predecessor, the UMMU Box v2 controls an audio console through a proprietary app, moving faders and changing the sound using a smartphone, as well as converting MIDI signals to UDP and vice versa. What the v2 adds is OSC compatibility and the ability to operate over a wi-fi network and without the assistance of an external wired router. Combined with products like the PUC, this can allow for a fully wireless MIDI studio. The UMMU Box v2 will be ready by the end of the year for those who pledge £130.