Sep 10

roland-vdrums-td-50-module-brain-front

At last, Roland after all these years, have upgraded the TD-30 drum Brain to the TD-50. It has been a while and I wasn’t sure if they ever were going to do it. Their 909 day although I am sure has been a great success took a little flak from the people who commented on this on-line. One of the main comments was their ability to market and recycle all that they have done in the past and this is definitely true. Although, we all love the sounds of the 808 and 909, it makes me wonder when they are going to invent something new. That said, I am all for improvements and if Roland can build something further on the Roland TD30 by way of the TD-50 then I will be very pleased that it exists in this world. However at a cost of £1939 for the TD-50 module or £6599 for the TD-50KV kit, we are talking some serious money. The smaller TD-50K is £4129 which makes me think that the TD-50 module is over-priced being half the price of the whole kit. I think £1400 – £1500 is more realistic.

I sincerely hope that we don’t hear their repetitive saying that “it has been built from the ground up”, because it clearly has not. It has been built up from its predecessors the TD7, TD-10, TD20 and TD30 but yes it will without a doubt be their Flagship V-Drum sound module. At this stage it is hard to properly comment on how it sounds and feels and to do any comparison with the TD-30 but the most obvious advantage I can see is the ability to play your own samples via an SD card. I never understood why this was not on the TD-30 as it was crying out for it.

Roland’s information on the SD card tell us that it’s easy to trigger your own WAV files using any of the TD-50’s drum pads, and you can loop or layer them alongside the internal sounds while controlling volume and tone via the TD-50’s front panel. There’s even a choice of audio sampling formats: 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and the standard 44.1kHz – all sounds great to me.

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Jun 23

Here is something right up my street – a new electronic drum module, no it is not from Roland and Yamaha but from Pearl Drums. I have always loved Pearl Drums and I grew up near to where they had a factory.

I must admit I did not think they would venture out into the electronic market but I suppose today you just have to cober all bases to stay in business. Having said that it looks like Pearl have made a wise decision teaming up with Steven Slate to create what they call “the world’s most advanced electronic drum module called the Mimic Pro as a dedicated hardware host for Steven Slate Drums”

Have a look at the You Tube clip. I obviously haven’t heard the on board 60 Kits that it has but although I am pleased and excited about this module, I was disappointed with the You Tube Clip. It starts off by indicating that all other modules are stuck in the 80s. I agrere with this statement to some extent but what I then wanted to hear is drum sounds of 2016/2017 instead the clip goes on to explain how it can reproduce real drum sounds mimicing the original kits, hense the name Mimic Pro. Whilst this all sounds great, I still think it should have some up-to-date sounds (maybe it has?). If its aim is to Mimic Drums, why not mimic some of the computer generated drum sounds that have been created with filters, exciters, compressors and transient shapers that end up on so many hit songs or TV themes today.
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Jun 16

NI MASCHINE Update to 2.4.5

Well here is some great news from Native Instruments – If you are lucky enough to own MASCHINE 2 software then you are entitled to this FREE software update of MASCHINE to version 2.4.5. All you have to do is download from their Service Center.

This packed update gives you some great new features including tools for working with samples. Native Instruments explain that:- their latest update to Maschine includes a new option for working with samples in Manual slicing mode. Users can now insert slice points on MASCHINE’s pads while the sample is playing – a fast and intuitive way to begin the process of turning a sampled piece of audio into an original composition. A new Variable Scene Length feature allows Scene lengths to be set independent of the length of patterns, making polyrhythms easier to create and freeing producers from extending a pattern just to fit the scene it resides in. Internal plug-in settings are now savable as defaults, accelerating workflow by instantly loading with popular settings defined by the user.

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Apr 10

pioneer-dave-smith- toraiz-sp-16

MUSIKMESSE 2016 and Pioneer has teamed up with Dave Smith Instruments to reveal an awesome-looking new sampler and step sequencer, the TORAIZ SP-16. This looks like a perfect piece of kit that has stuff I really prefer over the AKAI and Native Instruments equivalents such as the MPC and the Maschine. This beast is Standalone and is something I always wanted rather than be subject to the problems of a PC.

It’s built with 16 powerful sampler engines and Dave Smith Instruments-created analogue filters based on the fantastic Prophet-6 synth. If you want to load your own samples you can do this from a USB stick or from its own 8GB internal memory as it comes with 2GB of Loopmasters sounds already on board.

The Toraiz SP-16 will be available later this year and will be priced at €1599/£1279. That is quite a bit of money and I think that as soon as you have a name like Dave Smith on board you know it is going to be expensive but you also know that the quality is going to be great from his high-pass and low-pass filters to the array of outputs necessary to make this a true standalone unit.

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Apr 6

It is that time of year again – MUSIKMESSE 2016 (7 April to 10 April 2016). I am not sure how many new products we will see but I am sure all of the Namm 2016 products will be on display this week.

Nord has announced a little bit early that they have a new Nord Drum in two different models. The Nord Drum 3 and The Nord Drum 3P. The 3P looks a bit like a Red Roland SPD-20. I suppose they are really modeling percussion synthesizers

I think the main thing for me is to hear how the Nord Drum 3 is different from the earlier models. Nord say that the have added
a global Stereo Reverb and Delay effects which is a good idea (but one that should have probably been there in the first instance), and they have also added a new Sound Select-feature for you to quickly browse their wide selection of drums sounds. With a whole load of new presets on top this is beginning to sound interesting.

The new sound selection and sound bank allows you to quickly assign a sound to each pad individually, replacing snares, kick drums, toms or cymbals etc. by selecting from Nord Drum 3’s preset library which has 10 categories of preset sounds

There is currently no word on the price of the Nord Drum 3 or the 3P but they should be available in June 2016

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Feb 24

native_instruments_expansion_black_arc

Native Instruments are at it again with another new expansion pack for their awesome Maschine. This one is called BLACK ARC designed to put some reggae in your beats.

So what do you get? Native Instruments tell us that included is a whole host of sampled acoustic instruments, guitar licks, and syncopated phrases tailored for classic reggae, dub, and reggaeton styles provide the sonic foundation.

This expansion makes full use of NI’s MASSIVE synth for its synth sounds but their are also effects kits including dub sirens, delays, and vocal call-outs – sounds good? Have a listen to the sound clips at the Native Instruments site here

If you can’t afford the $49 / 49 € / £44 / ¥ 5,680 / AU$ 79 price tag you may want to try the iMASCHINE version of Black Arc for $0.99 / 0,99 € / £0.79 / ¥ 120 / AU$ 1.29.

Jan 23

I haven’t heard from Kat in a long time. I bought their electronic bass drum many years ago. It wasn’t quite as responsive as the current Roland V-Drums but it was very heavy and would not move no matter how hard you played. I was also very interested in their TrapKat, but I did not get around to buying one.

It seems today Kat Digital Percussion are at Namm 2016 with their new kt4 digital drum set. Have a look at the youtube clip above showing the drum and percussion sounds that were created. I love the sounds on this kit. You can see all their latest KAT gear on their website at katpercussion.com

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Jan 22

Another fantastic idea from Zoom – the new Zoom ARQ Wireless Bluetooth Control. It is a Drum Machine, it is a Sequencer, it is an electronic tambourinesque percussion instrument, it is a Synth, it is a Midi Controller, it is a looper with a built-in accelerometer. What can’t this thing do?

You should see it in the shops about April time $599. Zoom say it is for Electronic Music Production and performance. With its wireless Bluetooth Ring Controller, you can get out amongst the crowd.
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Oct 11

It is great to see an inovative product from a company like Novation that does not need a PC. The new Novation Circuit is grid – based groovebox with two Novation polysynths and a four-part drum machine, coupled with an easy 4×8 RGB velocity-sensitive grid sequencer with effects in a standalone box. You will tweaking away and create new electro music in seconds.

For me, what I love about this unit, despite its built in synths, is how easy it is to midi connect it to your other synths and modules with no PC connection needed.

It also has a small speaker and runs on batteries so you can create rhythmic ideas and fat grooves anywhere. I must say I like Novation’s statement that says “Ideas in Seconds. Tracks in Minutes” which gives you some idea of how user friendly this module is.

It is very portable and inexpensive at £249, so you can’t go wrong and it is definately going on my wishlist. Hava look at Novation’s technical specifications:-

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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

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