Sep 15

roland-juno-ds-61-and-88

Roland have launched a new synth Roland Juno-DS which comes in two types the Juno-DS61 and the Juno-DS88. Are they just referbished Junos?

I do get annoyed with Roland when they bring out a new synth that has all of the sounds of the old synth. They also continue to make keyboards like their current range in cheaper and lightweight materials. Don’t get me wrong, we all want lightweight but can they stand up to the rigours of gigging. I suppose it just means you have to take greater care with them.

Roland are advertising these synths as feature packed performance that you can use anywhere and run from battery. They say that it comes with all of the sounds of the Juno-Di, but adds freshly updated pianos, electric pianos, organs and other essential sounds that all keyboard players need. I wonder how different these freshly updated sounds are?

They do however give you access to over 1000 free addition sounds by way download at Roland’s Axial website. Just download onto a USB stick. There are no sounds for the Roland Juno-DS at present as the keyboards have only just been released. It would be good to have some audition facility at this site to give you an idea of what the additional sounds sound like.

What is also new to these models is the capability to connect a microphone. You can then add reverbs,vocoder effects and auto-pitch to your voice, couple this with an eight-track pattern sequencer with non-stop recording and you have a great piece of kit for fast song creation. Not forgetting it also has a sample import function for playing user WAV files on the JUNO’s keyboard and eight Phrase Pads for triggering samples and audio songs stored on USB memory.

The 61 note keyboard has 61-note velocity-sensitive keyboard with synth action whilst the 88 note has an 88-note Ivory Feel-G Keyboard. Cost is approx £550 and £800. I think I will check these out.

L

Sep 14

I can’t help saying that I think the “Seaboard Rise” is such a silly name especially as it is a inovative new instrument (similar to a keyboard) that allows you to touch and shape your sound, opening endless possibilities of musical expression. Although they say it is futuristic, I am also not sure about it all black / grey looks but it is very portable to play where you want and has a superb interface with a pressure-sensitive, continuous surface.

The Seaboard RISE is the baby of the Seaboard GRAND which is a bit expensive for most of us but the Rise is a lot smaller with just 25 keywaves. What is a keywave you ask? Well I suppose it like a piano key but it allows you to play a lead guitar solo to produce the same guitar skills a guitarist would use with his guitar. You need to see the You Tube clip to fully understand what I am trying to say.

The expression on this keybed is fantastic as many artists like BT, Rudess and Zimmer are discovering. With pitch and pressure on each note, as well as positional data as to where you are on the key, its possible to play very expressive sounds modulating the character of sound in real time with simple movements of your finger. This seems right up Jordan Rudess’ street as Roli have made him Head of Music Experience.

What does it sound like? Well Seaboard RISE comes with Equator which is ROLI’s own software synth designed for Expressive MIDI instruments. ROLI state that “in Equator, the Seaboard RISE’s five primary dimensions of touch and gestural control – strike, press, glide, slide, and lift – are easily and independently mapped to a wide variety of sound parameters. Sliders on the left-hand control panel regulate the extent to which these parameters of gestural modulation are utilised, allowing the Seaboard RISE to behave like anything from a conventional keyboard controller – in easy-to-use “piano mode” – to a completely open-ended interactive surface”.

ROLI also say that it is a first. It is the first Expressive MIDI device to offer an easy-to-use multi-platform synth, the first with an integrated user control panel, and the first to perform wirelessly with an integrated battery and Bluetooth over MIDI. ROLI also believe that its retail price of $799 (£599) puts it within reach of beginners as well as studio professionals.

Seaboard RISE 25 Features

Seamless hardware-software integration
Beautifully crafted using premium materials
Sleek, intuitive design accessible to musicmakers of all technical levels
Completely wireless with MIDI over Bluetooth
Bundled with Equator, the world’s first purposebuilt, multidimensional software synthesiser

Seaboard RISE 25 Technical specifications

25 Keywaves
505 mm x 210 mm x 22.9 mm / 2.8 kg
(19.88 in x 8.27 in x 0.9 in / 6.17 lbs)
Continuous pedal input (1/4″ jack)
USB B port (MIDI out and power)
USB A port (for charging peripherals)
18 W
Internal battery with 12hour playability
Full MIDI compatibility over USB and Bluetooth

System Requirements

OS X 10.8+ / Windows 7+ / iOS 7+
Intel Core i5 2.5GHz or faster recommended
4 GB RAM minimum / 8 GB RAM recommended
2 GB available disk space for Equator installation
USB 2.0+ port for USB compatibility

I want one.

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 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 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.

Dec 31

It is New Year – why not start the year with some new sounds for your favourite synth or drums? We have the following Soundset Patches:-

synth_patches_soundsets

Roland Gaia Dance XS
Roland Gaia Extravaganza
Roland Gaia Clubland

Access Virus Euphoria
Access Virus Creative Distortion
Access Virus Fortune and Glory

Novation Ultranova Technova
Novation Mininova Elektrova

M-Audio Venom Snakedance
Korg SV-1 Cause and Effect
Kurzweil PC3 – Free Sounds

Native Instruments Maschine Expansion – The Filta Revolution
TD-30 V-Drum Expansion Kits – Electro Mayhem

 

Just click on the Synth Patches or Drums in the Menu Bar at the top.

Nov 5

korg_triton_taktile_49_and_25

Controller keyboards continue to improve with more and more functionality and Korg are a company that do not stand still in this respect and who have just discontinued their Kontrol range of Midi keyboard controllers to provide the new
Korg Triton Taktile keyboard controller.

The Triton Taktile has even more real-time controls and functions but has an added bonus with the inclusion of 512 sounds from the well known and loved Triton range of synthesizers.

At only £319 for the Triton Taktile 49 and £239 or the Triton Taktile 25, it has a great spec and fairly good build quality for the price. It has sufficient lights for stage use or badly lit studios. All of its buttons and pads are made of rubber which are translucent. It has a nice playing feel but sadly like many keyboards today it has no aftertouch.

The pitch-bend and modulation wheel which is assignable are not in my favourite position and are positioned in the upper left-hand corner above the keys. It has eight sliders and the buttons below the sliders allow you to assign a Midi Control of your choice. Above the sliders are eight knobs and when the Korg Triton Taktile is in sound mode, these knobs become controls for Filter, Envelope and effects. Unfortunately there is no way that edited sounds can be saved.

Furthermore in the centre there is a mini Kaoss Pad which can be assigned either to trigger notes, chords from a particular scale or software parameters and a ribbon controller which also gives you a range of assignable options. On the right-hand side of the control panel are 16 pads that are assignable, velocity-sensitive and backlit – great for your drum sounds whic is also very useful for the on-board arppegiator which has six modes.

The Korg Triton Taktile is everything you could want from a Midi controller keyboard and at this price anf fuctionality, it is going to be hard to beat and The taktile series is now compatible with iPad.

Dimensions 750 x 290 x 83 mm, Number of Keys 49, Weight 3.8kg.
Dimensions 531 x 290 x 72 mm, Number of Keys 25, Weight 2.5kg.

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