Roland’s latest keytar is more 80s than ever: AX-Edge

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“Shoulder synthesizer”? “Strap-on keyboard?” No, Roland is calling their latest keytar a keytar – and giving into 80s retro vibes. And it’s a vocoder. And… you might kinda want one.

Roland says the new AX-Edge is built on “decades of refinement and input from artists around the world.” Apparently, that “refinement” came when the keytarists said: “give it blades.” “All black keys.” “I want to look like I could play in Jem and the Misfits.” “Please stop calling it a strap-on. It’s a keytar. That sounds really dirty.”

Well, who are we to argue with any of that?

The AX-Edge comes in red and black or white. What’s onboard:
49 keys with velocity and channel aftertouch
Bluetooth MIDI wireless connections – which even allows wireless use of the editor
MIDI DIN in and out
USB and a USB-B slot for a memory stick
Mic input
Stereo out
Headphone out
The paddle-style modulation bar, plus a touch strip (both of those designed to be accessible under your thumb)
One assignable control knob, next to the volume knob (though that one looks tricky to reach)
More sounds: lead, bass, poly, pad, brass, keys, “other”, FX
Vocoder sounds (you knew that mic input was for something, right?)
Performance controls, which Roland says are easy to reach: portamento, hold, octave, and program change buttons, plus 7 assignable buttons
Effects: EQ (per part), 79 types of per-part multi-effects, chorus (8 types), reverb (6 types), master compressor, master EQ

The sound engine is divided into 4 parts + the vocoder part.

You can also “favorite” sounds. And there are more performance features: an arpeggiator (thank you), two displays for more visual feedback, and a song mode with backing tracks.

Roland promises four hours of mobile playing time on Ni-MH batteries, or you can tether to power with an AC adaptor.

This is a pretty similar arrangement to the previous AX-Synth, so I’ll need to talk to Roland to find out what exactly has changed. The obvious omission: the D-Beam wireless controller. But that was awkward to use on a keytar, since it was designed to be aimed up from a keyboard in front of you on a stand, and you still get control modulation.

Clever placement of buttons under your fingers on the neck, in combination with the existing paddle and ribbon controller plus a lot of additional assignable buttons and one assignable knob, open up more serious performance options. The engine promises to back that up, too.

Other than that, on specs: the AX-Edge has roughly twice the number of sound presets, presumably using a more up-to-date Roland engine, and a whole bumper crop of effects you can apply to each part. That suggests there’s way more horsepower under the hood. The AX-Edge has also gotten ever so slightly heavier – 4.2 kg instead of 3.9 kg – and has shifted its dimensions around if in roughly the same space.

But mostly what I notice is, this looks a hell of a lot better. It at least embraces the ridiculousness of a keytar with something that looks badass. And that’s what’s likely to make it move better in stores, whereas the AX-Synth looked weirdly toy-like for a product with a four-figure price tag.

For an added gimmick, you can swap out different-colored blades to customize the appearance. (The white comes with gold, the black with silver, and you can customize blades.)

Normally at this point, people start griping in comments about how most people will look horribly dorky playing a keytar, which is true, but you’ll look horribly dorky playing anything unless you clean up your appearance and practice your chops, so there’s that.

We’ll keep an eye out for price (critical), and some details on sound engine.

But if this is affordable and sounds great and looks as good in person, you might have to start an electro band.

More:

https://www.roland.com/global/products/ax-edge/

Oh dear. Yes, this is happening.

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How whales became the largest animals ever

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Whales are the largest animals to ever exist on this Earth, outweighing even the dinosaurs. These titans roam the oceans in search of food, but that wasn’t always the case. Millions of years ago they used to be land dwellers. Here is how whales ended up becoming the biggest of them all.  Following is a transcript of the video.

Whales are the biggest animals of all time. Heavier than elephants, wooly mammoths, and even dinosaurs!

But they weren’t always the titans of the sea. Let’s rewind the clock around 50 million years. No, you won’t find any whales here. You have to go ashore. Meet Pakicetus. The very first whale.

Life on Earth spent millions of years clawing its way out of the oceans. But whales took all that effort and threw it out the window. From 50 to 40 million years ago they traded in their four legs for flippers. In fact, some whales today still have leftover bones of hind legs!

Once submerged, their weight under gravity no longer mattered so they could theoretically grow to enormous proportions. And they did. Today, a blue whale is 10 THOUSAND times more massive than the Pakicetus was.

But this transformation wasn’t as gradual as you might think. In fact, over the next 37 million years or so whales grew increasingly diverse but their size remained small. And were only 18 feet long. Making them easy prey for predators, like giant sharks.

It wasn’t until around 3 million years ago that an ice age tipped the scales in the whales’ favor. Ocean temperatures and currents shifted sparking concentrated swarms of plankton and plankton-seeking krill. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet for the baleen whales, who grew larger as a result. And the larger they became, the farther they could travel in search of more food to grow even more. You can probably see where this is going.

3 million years later, humpbacks, for example, have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on Earth, traveling over 5,000 miles each year. As a result, modern whales are the largest they’ve ever been in history.

Take the biggest of the bunch the blue whale. It weighs more than a Boeing 757. Has a belly button the size of a plate. And its network of blood vessels, if you laid them out in a line, could stretch from Pluto to the sun and back over two and a half times!

In fact, the largest blue whales are so huge that scientists think they may have hit a physical limit. When they open their wide mouths to feed they engulf enough water to fill a large living room. So it can take as long as 10 seconds to close them again.

Scientists estimate once a whale is 110 feet long it can’t close its mouth fast enough before prey escapes. So it’s possible we’re living amongst the largest animal that will ever exist. Lucky for us, they mostly just eat krill.

This was made in large part thanks to Nick Pyenson and the information in his new book, “Spying on Whales.”

Join the conversation about this story »

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SpaceX books its first passenger to fly around the moon

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Although SpaceX has a number of successful launches to its name, it’s still yet to reach that ultimate goal of sending a human to space.

As per a tweet on Thursday, the company has signed its first private passenger to fly on its BFR launch vehicle, in what would be “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space.”

The BFR, which Elon Musk said can carry up to 100 people when it was first touted last year, will fly around the moon as part of the personal trip. 

No details have been revealed about who the passenger is and why they’re flying, but SpaceX said it would reveal all on Monday.

Musk left a clue possibly regarding the flyer’s nationality, tweeting the flag of Japan when asked if it was him that would be going on the trip. He also revealed in another tweet that the rendering of the BFR spacecraft was new.

In June, it was revealed by the Wall Street Journal that SpaceX wouldn’t be sending a couple around the moon on its Dragon spacecraft later this year, a promise that was touted in early-2017.

While SpaceX is still planning to take the two tourists, who paid a “significant deposit” for the opportunity, the trip will be “postponed until at least mid-2019 and likely longer.”

Earlier this year, Musk said the company would be able to focus its investment on the BFR, following the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy. 

The 31-engine BFR is part of the company’s grand plan for travelling between planets, and will replace its current suite of rockets like the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

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