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.

Jul 5

genelec-800-smart-active-monitors

I have always wanted some Genelec’s from Finland in my setup and this company continue to improve and update their product range which was already of a very good quality in the first place. The new Genelec 8000 Smart Active Monitors (SAM) are powered monitors with integrated DSP room correction software. Genelec’s AutoCal allows for automatic alignment of level, timing, and equalisation of room response anomalies.

Genelec’s older models the 8010, 8020, 8030, 8040 and 8050 contine to be available but with the Genelec 8000 Smart Active Monitors there is the new range of numbers 8320A 8330A 8240A, 8250A, 8351A etc.

The 8320A has a 4″ woofer and a 3/4″ tweeter, whilst the 8330 has 5″ woofer and a 3/4″ tweeter and they get larger. The 8240A has a 6.5″ woofer and a 3/4″ tweeter and 8250A has a 8″ inch woofer and a 1″ tweeter.

I think I would like 8240As but at nearly £2000 a pair these are a bit expensive for most people, which is why they brought out the 8320A and 8330A.

Both monitors although smaller reach bass frequencies below the 3kHz active crossover frequency through a rear-facing reflex port. They have separate 50W Class-D amplifiers providing a frequency response of 66Hz to 20kHz on the 8320A and 59Hz to 20 kHz on the 8330A. If you want you can also get a matching 5.1 active subwoofer, the 150W 7350A.

I think that whilst the 8320As costing £1000 are a bit small, they still do a fantastic job as you can see from the specifications above, so perhaps I might have a look at the 8330A. These still are relatively expensive however at approximately £1200.

I tried out the 8330a’s in my local store along with the subwoofer
and they sounded awesome. They were very clear and precise and the Sub provided a great bass end. The trouble is you don’t know how they will sound in your own room but having the integrated DSP room correction software, it has some great chances of assisting you in getting a better mix.

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 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 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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