Theoryboard MIDI Controller Has a Whopping 96 Buttons: Every Row Has Its Chord

Most MIDI controllers mimic the appearance or at least the arrangement of notes in a piano. Irijule’s massive Theoryboard on the other hand features 96 LED-lit pads arranged in two columns with four rows each. The left column lets you play chords, while the right column lets you play melodies. The sheer number of pads means you have access to all 12 chromatic notes at once, letting you experiment while mostly guiding you into creating pleasing progressions and combinations.

Aside from the pads, the Theoryboard also has 24 buttons at the top for switching scales and a touch-sensitive OLED screen in the middle for toggling or adjusting various features. Here’s a review by YouTuber loopop:

Aside from loopop’s criticism about the quality of the pads and buttons, one commenter also mentioned that the Theoryboard doesn’t come with a manual, which is confounding for a device that is not only unorthodox but is supposedly geared towards beginners. Still, it’s undoubtedly an innovative and feature-rich controller that even veteran composers and producers can enjoy. You can pre-order the Theoryboard from Irijule for $699 (USD) as of this writing, which is a large discount from its eventual retail price of $1,199.

These bone-conduction headphones for the hearing impaired lets them hear music fashionably!

Cochlear implants help people with profound single-sided or bilateral hearing loss get the sense of sound but come with an impending downside. The implanted user is unable to enjoy any music since the implant distorts the musical signature. Any audio frequency will sound very different/distorted and, at times, even horrible. The distortion leads to a “sense of loss,” as per Dr. Ben Oliver, Associate Professor in Composition at the University of Southampton. This problem prompted designer Woojin Jang, Jiwoo Son, and Junwoo Lim to design headphones tailored to deliver a musical experience across physical boundaries.

Dubbed Ordi, the stylish wearable gadget aims towards lifting the self-esteem of people with cochlear implants. The idea takes inspiration from the bone conduction headphones that transmit the sound by vibrating the head and jawbones. This tech bypasses the need to relay the sound to the eardrum and the inner ear. The designers combined the bone conduction technology and the features of the cochlear implant into a sound processor for a musical experience shared via smartphones or any other portable audio device. Unlike standard headphones, the Ordi is designed to automatically adjust the left and right ear balance by placing sound processing transmitters on both sides.

The result is fabulous headphones designed to sit right behind the ear for a stylish look. Much attention has been invested in the aesthetics of these unique headphones for people with a cochlear implant – allowing them to wear and share the device with pride. Plus, the fact that they enable hearing to go beyond words into a piece of soothing music experience is a feat on its own. Ordi is definitely a stylish wearable concept design that deserves to see the light of day – the world needs to be a place for every individual to experience the wonder of music.

Designer: Woojin Jang, Jiwoo Son, and Junwoo Lim

Apple-inspired designs to fulfill your tech dreams as we countdown to the WWDC 2021!

Apple’s WWDC21 is just around the corner! The air is buzzing with excitement, as we eagerly await to hear what Apple may announce. As we find ourselves biting our nails, and squirming in anticipation of what Apple has in store for us, let’s take a moment to appreciate all the inspiration this groundbreaking tech giant has provided. Apple’s ingenious and mesmerizing designs and design philosophy have inspired and influenced designers all over the world, resulting in some pretty unique Apple concepts! And, we’ve put together some of the very best. Enjoy these innovative Apple-inspired designs, as you count down the days to the WWDC!

Peisert’s Concept One embodies all the good aspects of Apple (and a few unsavory ones) into a design that’s meant for the entire family. It’s a luxury car, but it isn’t a sedan. Instead, the Apple One is a one-for-all sort of SUV that accommodates 4 or more people pretty spaciously. Its proportions (and especially that headlight) feel slightly like a cross between the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian SUV. The design is mildly angular but doesn’t come with any edgy surfaces or straight lines. Instead, everything curves rather organically… a feature also seen in the continuous curves found on Apple products. Speaking of Apple products (and also of unsavory aspects), the Apple One sports that infamous cheesegrater grille on the front. One could argue that an electric SUV wouldn’t need a grille, but Peisert probably took a creative call with that one there.

Sleek, with minimal details, and controls that are as baffling as the AppleTV Remote yet equally appealing. This may be Designer Hannes Geipel’s version of a Microsoft Surface Gaming Controller, but it definitely has a very strong Apple-esque vibe to it. The Surface Gaming Controller concept by Hannes Geipel boasts a brilliantly simple form. With absolutely no-frills, textures, accents, or color separation, the Surface Gaming Controller has a clean look to it that is a major contrast to Microsoft’s own Xbox controller. The Surface Gaming Controller comes with a soft, satin finish, and sports two rather slick-looking joypads with a metallic ring around them. The joypads lie perfectly in reach of your thumb, while two large X signs sit where you’d expect the D-pad and the XYAB buttons.

Inspired by living life on the edge and documenting travels along the way, the iCam Pro was conceptualized using top-grade technology fit for the adventure seeker who isn’t about to be held back by limiting camera setbacks. Equipped with Apple’s A12Z Bionic Chip, the concept of iCam Pro boasts lightning-fast feedback and the same power efficiency we’ve all come to expect from Apple. In addition to its ultra-fast microchip, the iCam Pro comes outfitted with LiDAR sensors, an advancement in camera technology that fills out Apple’s camera to take videography to another level. LiDAR sensors essentially use remote sensing to examine the Earth’s surface, and all of its nooks and crannies to deliver photos that are as close to the real thing as you can get from phone cameras. In a similar vein, a 12 MP ultra-wide sensor expands the camera’s view to deliver fuller photos, while the iCam Pro’s 22 MP wide camera captures crystal clear colors for more realistic documentation.

Apple announced that lossless audio was coming to Apple Music. With a new iPod, it’ll be like Apple going into the music-streaming war guns-a-blazing. Spotify’s slowly but surely dominated this space, and the new iPod could almost be Apple signaling that it’s taking the music domain pretty seriously. The iPod could drum up major interest the same way the Moto RAZR did – nostalgia is a powerful force. Moreover, the hardware would be no different from the iPhone 5 or the iPhone SE, given that the renders look pretty much exactly like those devices. Secondly, the new iPod has the ability to become Apple’s gateway device for a variety of iOS features (and probably even MagSafe, who knows). Kids could use it for listening to music, but could also potentially use the iMessage service on it. The iPod could leverage the power of Apple Arcade too, becoming a very affordable device that parents would buy for their kids in a heartbeat, tying them into the Apple ecosystem at an early age.

The rumor-mill of a new Apple Watch started back in 2020 when prominent Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hinted that a new design was in the works and could drop as soon as 2021. Now that we’re well into the year 2021, Prosser’s collaborated with Ian Zelbo to bring rumors and leaks to life in the form of pretty life-like renders. The renders are based on real images and CAD file screenshots supplied to Prosser by his network of sources. In order to protect the sources yet still share the designs with everyone, Prosser and Ian created these renders to show us exactly what they saw, and it seems like Apple is really beginning to streamline their design language. The ‘magical slab of glass’ analogy seemed to work really well for the iPad and its flat-edge design language finally carried onto the iPhone 12 last year and the iMac this year. According to the renders, the Apple Watch is getting a similar design upgrade with flat sides as opposed to the rounded ones, giving its screen a larger-than-life presence with minimal bezel interference.

Creative director Antonio De Rosa gives our imagination wings with his ideation for Apple Money, the currency, and the electronic wallet that’ll make it all possible. The designer believes Apple Money will be available on the Apple Card+, scanned via the sleek gadget made out of aluminum, carrying the company’s signature design language. It’ll be connected to the Apple devices to create a mining ecosystem, one which is found in a decentralized family ecosystem. The device will be powered by the Apple Security Chip S2, capable of managing 27 assets and ERC20 tokens. Connected and approved devices will mine the digital money via a seamless app, keeping everything in the Apple ecosystem.

According to some sources, the Apple Car will not have any driver’s seat or even driving controls which could be a bummer for motorheads who love the feel of controlling their machine. What the Apple Car will look like is anybody’s guess but to give a close idea of what it may be like, Ali Cam’s Apple Car 2076 is a good reference point to take home some inspiration. Adopting Apple’s sharp design aesthetics, the car looks like a mouse shaped like a car at first glance, but then you realize it’s actually a minimal car concept. Loaded with advanced driving systems Ali envisions the blueprint far in the distant future – the year 2076 to be precise. The choice of year apparently is the 100the anniversary of Apple ever since it was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne.

No matter how you cut it, the iPhone 13 looks unique – from the front, the back, and even the sides. The bump serves a practical purpose too. For once, the modern iPhone doesn’t have a notch. The iPhone 13 comes with a complete screen, as all the cameras and sensors that enable FaceID to sit on top, within that tiny 3-4 millimeter bump. Looking beyond it, however, the phone comes with speakers on the top as well as the bottom. The camera bump shifts slightly upward too, ensuring it’s perfectly aligned with the raised edge, thanks to the bump. Lastly, the conceptual phone flexes its muscles with its greatest feature yet, the Apple-made M1 chip.

Instead of opting for a radical overhaul, Arlaud’s iMac Pro M1 concept takes the classic iMac Pro design and gives it minor yet significant visual upgrades. The conceptual all-in-one computer sports the crowd-favorite wedge-shaped profile with that slightly bulbed back. However, it absolutely gets rid of the bezels and chin on the front, sporting a gloriously infinite edge-to-edge display that’s an absolute pleasure to look at. Sure, the M1 may be the highlight of this computer, but that screen is the icing on the cake. If the M1 works behind the scenes to give you a great computing experience, that 100% screen on the front amplifies it, surrounding the user in Apple’s incredible, unmatchable UX.

While iPhone 13 and the Apple VR headset cannot be launched in the same given timeframe – still it doesn’t deter imaginative designers from mustering up how the two products will look together. ConceptsiPhone has created a render of the two upcoming devices by Apple and mashed them together in a video dubbed iPhone 13 VR for creative writer’s delight. The VR headset is open to any imagination possible, and the folks over at ConceptsiPhone have taken that opportunity to show the world how the mixed reality headset will be like. It looks plush (after all it’s Apple) and is in sync with the design principles Apple has put in place for the headset – comfort and lightweight aesthetics. The strap looks reassuring as far as ergonomics go while the padding around the viewable area ensures utmost comfort.

This handmade wooden amplifier is ditching the notion that all guitar amps should be ‘black boxes’

If you really think about it, there’s no reason for amps to look the way they do. Somewhere down the line Marshall or Fender just embraced the black box style and it became an unsaid rule that all guitar amplifiers should be perfectly cuboidal and pitch-black with a faux leather texture. Guitar amps have been in line for a visual upgrade for quite some time now, and Belgium-based boutique amp brand has just the answer. Partnering with designer Joeri Claeys, the amp-makers have unveiled the GT Deluxe, a soft, minimal, earthy amp that uses bent plywood for a radically fresh aesthetic. The GT Deluxe doesn’t fit into the archetype of your regular guitar amp – it sports a rounded-rectangle design that feels as refreshing as the rounded rectangle icons on the iPhone did after years of square icons on Nokia phones. The amp’s rounded edges give it a distinctly warm appearance that fits well in studios, jam-rooms, or at house concerts. The amps still stack one above another, retaining their modular functionality.

Designed to usher a renaissance moment for guitar amps, the GT Deluxe embraces its wooden aesthetic. It comes with a black fabric clad on the front (as opposed to the grilles seen on regular amps) with Da Capo’s logo embroidered on, and has a beautiful leather-strap handle that lets you carry it around. “The main focus was on creating a minimalistic contemporary guitar amp that suits every interior”, Claeys mentioned. “Since most guitar amplifiers have looked the same for years, it was time to rethink its form for today’s musician.”

Each GT Deluxe cabinet comes made from Beechwood veneer that’s first bent into its signature rounded-rectangle shape before being finished to perfection using CNC machining. It’s capped off with an authentic leather handle on the top, and the formed front and back panels are wrapped with a black textile by Scandinavian brand Kvadrat. The dashboard on the top even comes with its own hidden LED backlight system that illuminates the controls, making it easy to find the right button when playing in half-lit rooms.

For the musically inclined, the GT Deluxe comes with switchable 20-watt Studio and 40-watt Stage outputs, and houses a 12” Celestion Alnico Cream speaker on the inside. Intuitive controls on the top let you calibrate the guitar’s sound, controlling your regular Bass/Mid/Treble/Reverb, as well as more unique controls like Pre-Gain and Headroom that give the musician a hands-on tube-amp tone-sculpting experience. The GT Deluxe can even be used as a pedalboard platform by hooking in effects pedals through the inputs/outputs on the back, and a Mic Out that lets you output your guitar’s sound to a DAW for recording, mastering, or sampling!

Designer: Joeri Claeys for Da Capo

These PS5 Gaming Earbuds are the perfect addition to Sony’s Playstation hardware ecosystem

Titled the EVOLUTION 3D, these conceptual TWS Gaming Earbuds form the perfect successor to Sony’s Pulse headphones, giving PS5 gamers some much-needed variety.

Every archetype of a gamer involves having a clunky pair of headphones with a microphone, but the EVOLUTION 3D wants to give that cliché an upgrade. By combining powerful gaming hardware with sleek, cutting-edge consumer tech, the EVOLUTION 3D creates allies out of two hardware categories that seldom see an overlap. The TWS earbuds come with the distinct PS5 visual style with the interplay between white and black surfaces. The case comes with an embossed version of the PS logo, and a soft, pebble-inspired form. Pop it open at the seam and it reveals the two earbuds docked in place. Designed to work with all devices but especially with your PS5, the EVOLUTION 3D provides a host of unique features that makes your gameplay much more interesting and immersive.

The earbuds are the brain-child of designer Adam Shen, who saw a void in Sony’s PS5 hardware offering and decided to fill it up. Visually, they fit perfectly into the PS5 lineup, although functionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if hardcore gamers still decided to stick to wired headsets. However, the conceptual EVOLUTION 3D earbuds make up for it with incredible features. Not only do they come with Active Noise Cancelling, they support 3D Audio too (like the AirPods Max), which means sounds don’t exist in a static space… they move around as you move your head, making the earbuds great for the PS5 but even better for PlayStation VR! If someone at Sony’s reading this, I hope you consider turning this concept into reality!

Designer: Adam Shen

This is a fan-made concept and the Sony PlayStation and PS5 logos are used for representational purposes only.

The Una Corda is an award-winning ‘nude’ upright piano that shows you the magic underneath the hood

Unlike most upright pianos that use a robust wooden casing to create acoustic reverberation, the Una Corda ditches it all for an exposed design that results in a much softer-sounding note that’s gentle to the ears. “In the course of researching piano acoustics, I decided to strip the piano from any and all unnecessary features, invent a new, softer soundboard, and to build a piano by the strict principle of form follows function“, says David Klavins, who was commissioned to create the Una Corda piano for renowned pianist and composer, Nils Frahm.

The piano’s name Una Corda translates to “One Cord” from the piano’s one-string-per-note construction. The outer frame for the Una Corda is made from stainless steel, within which sits its exposed double-layer soundboard. The playing experience is far from just auditory and tactile, it’s incredibly visual too, as you literally see how the hammers hit the strings when you press any of the 88 keys. Instead of the aggressive ‘twang’ of an upright piano, the Una Corda has a gentler, sweeter sound that can be made even softer thanks to the presence of modular felt panels that can be added between the hammers and strings to dampen the sound even further.

The result is an instrument that’s a piano in theory, but challenges the long-set notion of what a piano should look and sound like. Known for combining classical with electronic music, Frahm even added a combination of microphones and pick-ups to the piano, giving it much more flexibility and range than any normal upright or grand piano. Skip to the 4:30 mark in the video to hear the Una Corda in action. It really sounds less like your traditional piano and almost like a cross between an electronic piano and a celesta!

The Una Corda is a Silver Winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2021.

Designer: David Klavins for Nils Frahm

Is Apple relaunching the iPod on its 20th Anniversary this year? Here’s why it could be a smart idea…

Four words – Lossless Audio, and Apple Arcade. These four words could just as easily the new iPod’s design brief. The Twitter rumor-mill’s working on overdrive after a few sources claimed that Apple could announce a new iPod this fall. A few designers even went so far as to create renders based on hearsay and leaks, and I’m absolutely here for it. A new iPod could be a pretty nifty product for a variety of reasons. Here are my thoughts.

Only last week Apple announced that lossless audio was coming to Apple Music. With a new iPod, it’ll be like Apple going into the music-streaming war guns-a-blazing. Spotify’s slowly but surely dominated this space, and the new iPod could almost be Apple signaling that it’s taking the music domain pretty seriously. The iPod could drum up major interest the same way the Moto RAZR did – nostalgia is a powerful force. Moreover, the hardware would be no different from the iPhone 5 or the iPhone SE, given that the renders look pretty much exactly like those devices.

Secondly, the new iPod has the ability to become Apple’s gateway device for a variety of iOS features (and probably even MagSafe, who knows). Kids could use it for listening to music, but could also potentially use the iMessage service on it. The iPod could leverage the power of Apple Arcade too, becoming a very affordable device that parents would buy for their kids in a heartbeat, tying them into the Apple ecosystem at an early age. The iPod has always been an impulse purchase (as opposed to the iPhone)… reissuing the gadget on its 20th anniversary absolutely makes a world of sense!!

Image Credits: Steve Moser, AppleLe257, and Apple_Tomorrow

Bang & Olufsen gets outdoor ready with aluminum wireless speaker sporting 27 hours of battery life!

Speakers are often only an afterthought when hitting the outdoors for a hiking trail or campsite. But once you’re nestled around the campfire, or reach the mountain’s summit, it’s the only thing you can think of that would make the moment that much better. Available starting today for $199, Bang & Olufsen’s new waterproof speaker, Beosound Explore is the rugged speaker you won’t think twice about bringing along to the campground.

When packing for camping or hiking, we typically pack the bare essentials– water, change of clothes, some granola, a headlamp– but we forget about accessories that could turn a quiet fireside chat into a firelit dance party. The Beosound Explore even boasts 27 hours of battery life, so those dance parties could run on into the daylight hours. Built to be compatible with the new Bluetooth 5.2 standard, Beosound Explore’s 2,400 mAh battery offers a lot of playback with power efficiency in mind, receiving audio from external devices at lightning speed. In addition to its impressively long-lasting battery life, the Beosound Explore speaker was built to be weatherproof, further enhancing its durability and shelflife. Coated in a dust and waterproof shell, the Beosound Explore can be taken anywhere, including underwater. Finished with an IP67 water resistance level, Beosound Explore is entirely protected against immersion for up to one meter for thirty minutes and can be tossed around on sandy beaches, ensuring the grains won’t affect the speaker’s quality or shelf life.

Bang & Olufsen’s new wireless speaker dons a rubberized base and aluminum body and carefully constructed internal structure that allows it to safely be used on all surfaces in any environment, from muddy riverbanks to rainy campgrounds. Surprisingly lightweight at only 631 grams, Beosound Explore carries some hefty bass and delivers True360 sound that’s provided by dual 1.8 full-range drivers for all-around sound wherever the trails take you.

Designer: Bang & Olufsen

Beosound Explore’s hard-anodized aluminum shell was developed in Denmark’s Factory 5 to ensure resistance against dust and water.

The speaker’s tough rubberized base means you can use the speaker on any surface in any environment.

The speaker’s waterproof strap and carabiner blend portability with durability.

Strap Beosound Explore onto your pack and take it with you anywhere the trails bring you.

With an intuitive control panel, everything about Beosound Explore was made with practicality in mind.

Beosound Explore was designed to work under any circumstance, meaning you can use it even on sandy beaches.

This Supersonic Turntable’s aesthetics are inspired by the current brutalist architecture trend!

Turntables have a rep for being vintage design pieces. While vintage record players can be used for playing old and new music alike, turntables are also essential modern audio devices for DJs and producers. Today, some turntables have taken on a more raw, industrial look to meet their contemporary use. Rod Romantsov, a 3D artist and visual designer based in San Francisco, recently visualized his own turntable called Supersonic that fits right into today’s industrial style and one that’s sleek as steel.

Supersonic is a fully exposed record player with a flat width and rounded side edges that give it a pronounced modern look. Supersonic also comes with an integrated rubber platter to spin the record and keep it spinning even as DJs manipulate the records on top of slipmats. Coated in stainless steel, the record player’s control panel features all that one would expect with a traditional turntable, including an anti-skating dial, speed switch, and power knob. With a stainless steel coating, Romantsov’s Supersonic turntable is corrosion-resistant, maintaining a slick finish even after continued use. Mostly every detail of Supersonic’s frame and accessories is constructed from stainless steel, including the stylus, cartridge, and fuller body, making it not only industrial in style but in strength and durability too.

DJs can use turntables to manipulate the music playing from records, controlling the turntable’s stylus to jump to specific points throughout a record. While casual listeners can operate turntables with little to no tear and wear, DJs and producers need a turntable that can take a lot of action and fingerwork. Industrial turntables like Rod Romantsov’s Supersonic turntable fit the bill for the contemporary audiophile and music makers alike, offering a refreshing air of durability in the turntable’s age of aesthetic design.

Designer: Rod Romantsov

Supersonic appears lightweight and minimal by design, but its industrial build equips it with durability to maintain quality.

Supersonic’s control panel features a power knob, speed control, and an anti-skating dial.

Everything from its body to its needle looks constructed from stainless steel.

An integrated platter keeps the record spinning for DJs.

Supersonic’s needle allows for precise listening and record jumping.

Love Hultén’s foldable synthesizer with a real tape delay and a spring reverb has us excited to create music!

Artist Love Hultén is renowned for his new take on familiar instruments, and he is a master in this niche craft. His past creations are a testament to that fact. No wonder everyone wants to get their hands on Love’s creations – including me! His VOC-25 synthesizer is a good example, and now he the artist is back with another synthesizer all music creators will drool over. This is the MDLR-37 synthesizer made up of four sections that fold into a compact form factor for easy portability.

The hand-crafted musical instrument comprises a couple of Korg synthesizers – one is analog and the other a classy digital. To be exact, these are the Korg Minilogue and Korg microkey 37. The synth also includes a digital Synthesizer in pedal form – the Meris ENZO pedal. For effects, Love has fitted the rig with a T-Rex Replicator analog tape echo and the Doepfer A-199 spring reverb Eurorack modules. The latter has a real spring too. The large oscilloscope (most probably a magnifying glass over a small digital scope), wooden faceplates, actual tape delay, and a spring reverb make it a unique creation!

These instruments fit nicely into the foldable wooden case, which has the speakers and waveform display built-in. Though the synthesizer is foldable to stow anyway when not in use, would you actually want to do that since it’s an eye-candy piece for your studio or living room? However, the foldable function comes real handy when you’ve got to take it to the outdoors with you. Once again, Love has created a fun mod for all music composers out there – Vince Clarke will love to explore it, I’m sure!

Designer: Love Hultén