Jan 25

The Tom Cat is a true analog drum machine, with five built-in percussion voices, including Kick, Snare, and Clap sounds with chromatically tunable Disco Toms. It is nicely priced at £150 for an analogue machine but in 2015 I struggled to find what is exciting about it. Yes it has some nice electronic percussion sounds and great filters but there doesn’t seem to be anything that is new here.

If you watch the You Tube clip perhaps you will see what I mean:-

The controls are very nice and are all continuously variable. This enables you to customize the tuning, amplitude envelopes, and volume of each drum voice separately for precise real-time adjustment. You get six MPC-style pads and a built-in 32-step sequencer and your Drum patterns can be fine-tuned using the Swing function, Pattern Select, and Tempo Control knob. A custom signal path, activated by its unique “Maul” circuitry, also lets you ‘dirty up’ drum beats.

The Akai Tom Cat analog drum machine is expected to be available in July. Akai state that their goal was to make an analogue multi-voice drum machine that easily integrate with both modern and vintage music equipment, so musicians could effortlessly bring that great analog sound into their music. Sadly I found this a little disappointing and was looking forward to hearing what it could do, but now I have, I don’t think I will be buying one. The price is good if you are looking to add some analogue drum sounds to your setup. I saw a comment that someone made that said “I don’t even want this for free”? and although at first, I thought it was a bit hard on Akai, perhaps it highlights the fact that a company like Akai that brought us the MPC family could really do better – sorry Akai – perhaps I will feel different about it when I have the chance to test it out in the shops in the Summer.

Whilst you are why not check out my kits for Native Instruments Maschine:-
the-filta-revolution-maschine-expansion

Jan 25

It has been a bit quiet on the Spectrasonics Omnisphere front recently so I was pleasantly surprised that they have been very hard at work creating version 2 of this software. For those of you wanting to upgrade it is a reasonably costly upgrade at nearly half the price of the full product. So for this amount I am expecting a great deal of changes and improvements.

At Namm 2015 Spectrasonics has just introduced Omnisphere 2 as a major upgrade to its best-selling flagship software synth. Spectrasonics say that Omnisphere 2 “adds a vast amount of new synthesis and creative capabilities for sound design and significant user interface innovations”.

The Omnisphere 2 upgrade includes the most requested Omnisphere feature: Audio import for user created soundsources. I really like the sound of this which opens up endless sound possibilities. The next biggest change has got to be it’s new oscillator features which give you a hundred times the number of DSP Oscillator waveforms, morphing Wavetables, new granular synthesis optionsand over 3,000 unique new sounds. Yes that is what I said over 3,000 unique new sounds. These have been created by Spectrasonics excellent sound design team.

OK amonst the thousands of new additions and those fantastic features above you also get 25 new FX units and a much better user interface with fast browsing features.

Spectrasonics state “Our biggest goal with Omnisphere 2 is to offer more freedom to create for every type of person using it,” I was surprised to learn that this the first ‘version 2’ of any of their software instruments.

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Jan 24

NAMM 2015: Roland Unleash the JD-Xi Compact Crossover Synth

This is a lovely looking synth, the only thing I hate is 37 mini keys – great if you are a child. I don’t understand why they could not make it like the Roland SH-01. Admittedly it would be more square-shaped but at least it would be nicer to play. Actually looking at this a bit further, this would make a great rack unit. I know many companies seem to not be making rack units anymore, but it is a real shame, especially as if it was rack you could have it right in front of you to connect up to you favorite keybed like my Fantom G 88. Come on Roland make this little beauty into a rack unit as there is a limit to the amount of keyboards one can own.

However, also in the news but not for release yet is it’s bigger brother the Roland’s flagship’ JD-Xa Analog/Digital Crossover Synthesizer also on preview at the 2015 NAMM Show. The Roland JD-Xa maybe available by the next great show at  Musikmesse 2015. The Roland JD-Xa briefly has a keyboard jam packed with knobs and controls but with full size keys. It also has four independent analog monophonic voices, so you can use it as a four-voice polysynth. As you would expect it comes with four additional synth voices, based on Roland’s SuperNatural technology and lastly it has eight channels of step sequencing.

Anyway, let’s not get carried away with things to come let us focus our attention on the Roland JD-Xi.

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Jan 23

Print

Yes, we are bang in the middle of it -the National Association of Music Merchants (Namm) show 2015 from Anaheim, California on 22-25 January 2015. We have already looked at Nord Electro Series 5. Cakewalk Sonar Platinum and Casio XW-PD1 Trackformer.

Press the more option to see my favourite products amongst many being announced this week:-
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Jan 19

Well welcome to Namm week 2015 and Nord have just announced some familiar looking keyboards. Yes they look like all the other Nord keyboards but it is actually the new Nord Electro 5 series.

nord-electro-5-namm-2015

They come in three types, the Nord Electro 5d 61 note, the Nord Electro 5d 73 note and the hammer action Nord Electro 5HP 88 note. So what is the difference between the Series 5 and the previoous 4 series? Well Nord have made enhancements to every sound-generating section. They have improved its user-interface and functionality. Nord tell us that the Electro 5 series keyboards are more refined, live-focused, flexible than any of their previous models.

Nord introduced the Electro in 2001 and it has been used my many players over the world who crave for that authentic emulations of classical electro mechanical and acoustic instruments in a portable package.

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Jan 14

It is definately that time of year again. Cakewalk have made an anouncement a week before Namm 2015, no doubt in readiness for the show to say they have a new Sonar family. No it is not Cakewalk Sonar X4. Roland Cakewalk have decided to drop the “X4” to reflect that the new SONAR will now get new features regularly throughout the year instead of a big annual update. The new family names starting from the smallest is Sonar Artist, Sonar Professional and at the top they have Sonar Platinum

Have a look at the YouTube clip to give you a taster:-

There are some significant changes this year in terms of costs and some people will no doubt like the new plan whilst others will be dead against the changes – read on to find out:-

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Jan 7

It has been over three years since I reviewed the Traps Electronic Drum kit E400. I found this You Tube clip above of an A400 Traps Kit that really gives you a great idea of how Traps Drums  sound. No it is not a Roland TD30 kit but when you consider the cost difference you really do get a lot for your money here.

Drummers who have bought this kit have said it is great if you consider updating the heads and perhaps buy a better hi-hat stand but other than that they love what they are getting for the cost.

I had a look on the Absolute Music website to see what they are currently selling and found twenty items of kits and accessories, some of which are at reduced prices. The one that caught my eye was an A400 kit which includes :-

a snare drum, 10- 12- and 14-inch toms and a 20-inch kick drum, a Hi-hat stand, kick pedal and drumsticks included. Also comes with Paiste 101 cymbals :- 14-inch hi-hat, 16-inch crash, 14-inch crash/ride. The price of the kit has been reduced from £449 to £399.

traps-electronic-drums-a400-kit

They also have the new  Traps EX500 Electronic Drum Kit with Realistic Mesh Heads which has Dual Zone chokeable cymbals, Dual Zone snare and tom drums, Triple ply mesh heads, 12 inch snare, 10,12 and 14 inch toms and a 20 inch bass drum and good quality hardware. It also has on-board recording, 74 voices (inc Drums, Percussion, SFX and more),40 Preset and 59 User Kits,120 Preset and 100 User Songs,Built in 4-Band Master EQ,USB,Midi in and Out. Unlike other electronic drums you get a standard sized set of drums: dual trigger 12 inch snare, dual trigger 10 inch tom, 12 inch tom and 14 inch tom all for £549 what great value.

If you want to also read my earlier review, please go here .

If you are lucky enough to own a Roland TD 30 kit, dont forget to check out my Roland TD30 Expansion Pack – Electro Mayhem here.

 

 

Jan 6

casio-XW-PD1-trackformer

 

It is getting near that Namm time again. I hope we have some great new products. Have you heard any Namm 2015 rumours yet? How about this one from Casio – the new Casio XW-PD1 Trackformer. There is not much information about this yet but I am sure this teaser will get you interested.

I think it some kind of Groove Box with the old familiar 16 pads. Do you have any thoughts?

Can’t wait till Namm to find out

 

 

 

 

Jan 4

voxengo-boogex-v2

Another Freebie for you and you don’t want to miss this one. That great company Voxengo have released and updated Boogex Version 2.0 VST/AU guitar amp free plugin. It has loads more new features and an improved amp algorithm and a completely overhauled GUI.

This sound shaping plugin now has a similar interface to other Voxengo releases and has things like undo and redo history and a preset manager. You get low enough latency (close to zero) to be used as a realtime processor, and you can apply any cabinet impulse response you like (a selection comes included). You can get nice heavy distorted sounds but also slight “jazzy” saturation sounds. It also includes a reverberation module derived from its own OldSkoolVerb reverb. You could also use it as a saturator for your drum sounds.

The installation of Boogex is very straightforward,just copy the “dll” into your VstPlugins folder. You can download Boogex for free from the Voxengo website (7.0 MB download size). It’s available in 32/64-bit VST/VST3/AU plugin formats for PC and Mac.

Jan 3

nord_synths_free_akg_headphones

Here is a great UK promotion from Nord UK distributor Sound Technology Ltd that is lasting until 31 March 2015. You can get a free pair of AKG K612 Pro headphones (worth £119) with all purchases from an authorised UK of Nord Lead A1, Nord Lead A1R, Nord Lead 4 or Nord Lead 4R synthesizers – What a great offer.

I have always wanted a Nord Synth which are hand made in Sweden with quality sounds and live performance features.

To claim the free AKG K612 Pro headphones, you just need to complete a postal claim form which you can get from an authorised UK store or claim online via Sound Technology’s website. A copy of a dated receipt from a participating retailer is required.

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