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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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:-

Jan 23


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:-
Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 10


Doesn’t it come around quickly – It is here again that great show at Frankfurt, Germany – Musikmesse 2014. Last year’s show with some really great sunshine may just be beaten by this show, which has already got everyone interested in new products two days before the show opens.

Today we have seen announcements from Waldorf, Akai, Nord and Waves and I am sure there will be more to come. Of course the eagerly awaited Roland Aira kit will be there.

My list of Musikmesse and new products is looking like this at present:-

Nord Lead A1R rack-mountable version of the Lead A1
Akai APC40 mkII Controller
Akai Rhythm Wolf Drum Machine & Bass Synth
Waves and Abbey Road – Real ADT Plug-In
Waldorf Streichfett – String Synth
Roland AIRA – System – 1 PLUG-OUT Synthesizer
Roland AIRA – VT-3 Voice Transformer
Roland AIRA – TB-3 Touch Bassline
Roland AIRA – TR-8 Rhythm Performer
Arturia Spark Version 2
Audient ASP880 New 8-channel mic pre with Digital I/O

Sep 16


I love MPCs almost as much as Native Instruments Maschine. Whilst Native Instruments simply have two models, AKAI seem to want to release a variety to suit a range of pockets and uses.

Their latest is the new USB-powered MPC called – Element (available in October) at an incredible price of only $150 and very portable just under 17 mm thick MPC Pad type Controller. It comes elegantly packed with the new MPC Essentials software. Despite its low price it has all that you need and come to expect in an MPC from Akai. 1 GB of a fantastic Sound Library, easy to see multi-coloured and pressure and velocity-sensitive pads. You still have Swing, Tap Tempo, Note Repeat, Swing, Full Level and 16 Level.

Its actual size is 284mm x 205mm x 16.89mm and weighs only 1.85 pounds (0.86kg). Akai’s MPC Element operates via standard MIDI, so you can use it to control any MIDI music software – great stuff. I think DAW users are going to love this they will be able to run virtually unlimited instances of Element in their DAWs simultaneously. What are you waiting for – buy one of these, load your own samples, add in up to four insert effects per pad and make some super beats. I have not seen a UK price yet but $150 is approx £95, so I think it will be about £100 mark which is excellent when you weigh up what you are getting here.

Apr 21


After an exhausting long and fun time reviewing the very popular Native Instruments Maschine Mk2, I am now in a great position to take a close look at the recently released AKAI Studio MPC with its thin silver looks to tempt you into the world of groove and beatboxes, loopers and samples. There are lots of forum discussions and people comparing Native Instruments Maschine and different AKAI MPC products such as the AKAI Studio MPC and when you are trying to make the right choice it is difficult because both are fantastic machines. It is really your own personal preference. If you are very familiar with AKAI MPC products then the AKAI Studio MPC may very well be right for you. If you have never had a tap on either of these 16 pad wonders, then really you should try them both and make up your own mind as to how much you prefer both hardware and software.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 20

Well what a great time I had in Frankfurt, we have seen the keyboards and drums in a bit of detail but there was some other memories to keep of this visit such as the Rhine, the Bose lorry, the Light show, the girls, the buildings and the guitars. Oh I nearly forgot, I have a small clip of Monolith – what a great performance and sound with their fantastic talent with midi controllers. Read on to see the clip.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 16

The iPad still contiues to bring some great program Apps at a great price. For all you Maschine and MPC fans (and even if you are not either), there is now the iMPC from Akai in collaboration with Retronyms

For those of you familiar with MPCs, you even get the old faithful quantise and swing features and the ability to sample directly into the app. The Projects that you create here can also be loaded into the MPC Renaissance and MPC Studio. Cost from the Apple App Store is only £4.99/$6.99.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 8

If you haven’t seen this You Tube Clip before it is certainly worth a look. A very tallented guy, Mike Tompkins demonstrates exactly what is possible, with a decent voice and shit loads of technology, if you know how to use it. Armed with Ableton Software on a laptop and what looks like 3 Novation Launchpads and two AKAI APC20 controllers and an iPad, that leaves a great song Cinema by Skrillex and the many voices of Mike Tompkins. What a brilliant idea, sound and performance as well as some clever film behind him- excellent.

Jan 19

OK lets kick off this great show with the Akai MPC Fly designed for iPad2. Have a look at this quick YouTube Clip to get some idea of what this is about:-

Read the rest of this entry »