Modulate This! – Best of 2009 Electronic Music Tech


Despite the economic downturn, 2009 was thankfully a huge year when it came to new technology for electronic music artists. Rather than try and cover every significant release, I’ll instead list some of my favorite products and notable trends.

The Year of Abletonimage
What a big year for Ableton. Live 8 with great new features set, Max for Live, 10th Anniversary of Ableton, launch of Live Intro, dedicated hardware controllers (APC40 & Launchpad). Awesome!

Grid (Matrix) Controllers

Grid controllers everywhere in 2009. New controllers like the APC40, Launchpad and Bliptronics 5000. Continued development with existing controllers like Tenori-On and Monome. The grid metaphor also became quite prevalent in apps as well. I have the APC40 and Tenori-On and simply love them.

Percussa Audio Cubes “Tangible Interface”

Not new in 2009 but new to me, Percussa AudioCubes are self-powered wireless computer systems. Cubes can detect and interact with each other and can detect the proximity of your hand near a cube face sensor and send this controller information to your DAW or to various free software apps provided by Percussa. I working with a 4 cube configuration within Ableton Live.

Fantastic Synths
A great year for virtual instruments. Below is a list of new and updates synths that I used over and over again in 2009 for both sound design and for music performance.

  • u-he ACE (Any Cable Anywhere)

    This synth just released by I use it all the time now! It’s a fantastic virtual analog synth with a great UI with patch cables. Sounds like butta’.

  • DCAM Synth Squad
    Brilliant work by FXPansion to re-create analog synthesis by modeling at the circuit level and wrap the instruments with a modern modulation routing system. The end result was a bundle with three synths and an instrument rack with effects.
  • Image Line Harmless
    Harmless by Image-Line is another brand new synth that released in December. Is and an additive synthesizer that you program via a “subtractive” metaphore. It sounds great and is one of the easiest ways to program additive that I’ve used. I’m finding it quite addictive to program.
  • SonicCharge Synplant
    I was late to the Synplant party and only started using it in 2009. Best described by SonicCharge – “Instead of creating patches the conventional way by turning dials and knobs, Synplant lets you explore a world of organic sounds by planting seeds that grow into synth patches.” Great when you are looking for something unique in your mix.
  • Camel Audio Alchemy (Upgrade)

    Alchemy release at the very end of 2008 and made my best of list last year as well. There was an update that improved performance and added new sounds. This synth was a go to synth for me in 2009 as it’s a powerhouse for mutliple types of synthesis including sample-based work.
  • Gladiator 2
    Tone2’s Gladiator 2 was released in 2009. Kudos to Tone2 for not only a great update to Gladiator 1, but also for some fantastic incremental point releases with new features. Gladiator reminds me a lot of those big patches I used to love on the Korg Triton. I used this synth A LOT on my REBOOT album. I want to also mention that my tutorial on HCM Synthesis was one of my most popular videos in 2009 with over 27,000 views!
  • Absynth 5 (upgrade)
    I've been using Absynth since Version 1. If your an existing user, the Aetherizer and Mutator features make this a must have upgrade.

    It’s been a big year for iPhone apps. There are sooo many. Here are my favorite four.

    Obviously not a music product, however, Twitter has been a fantastic tool for discovering new electronic music tech. More importantly Twitter has allowed me to meet and actually get to know other artists and electronic music bloggers and educators. Twitter has also been a great microblogging platform for sharing links and brief insights. I post fairly often so if you haven't done so follow me over at

  • Here is to 2010!
    2009 was such a great year for electronic music tech. Here is to an even bigger 2010!

    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

    Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
    Buy on iTunes

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    Hi, this is Mark Mosher. Welcome to my blog. I’m a synthesist, Composer, Producer, and Visualist living in Boulder CO. I’m also the founder of the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet and Synth Patrol.

    I’ve been blogging wince 2005 and this blog is a mix of posts on artistic news as well as synth tech & technique posts under the category Modulate This!

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