Jan 22

It is that time of year again – Namm 2017. I try not to get too excited about these events nowadys to avoid dissappointment as I am always expecting so much more. I am probably just like you in that I want every musical instrument manufacturer to announce a new product, that doesn’t cost much; is instantly available; will integrate immediately into my setup and will take my music to another level giving me that “Wow” factor.

The reality of a Namm event is somewhat far from this and varies every year and of course means different things to different people.You have to also appreciate that Namm 2017 will be full of products that were released earlier in 2016 and perhaps have not completely hit all of the shops yet like Roland’s TD50 electronic drum kit. There are of course always products that catch my eye and the first is Roland’s 88 note Digital RD2000 stage piano which looks gorgeous with 1100 tones; V-Piano technology; a weight of 21.7KG but a price of over £2100.


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Dec 31

With only a few hours left of 2016, I think it is a good time to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2017. I did not like 2016 much and have decided 2017 is going to be my year. The year I will look back on and say yes that was “My Year” and a great year to remember. Whilst 2016 did have its bad and sad momments, there were some great products released in the music world. For me these were the Yamama Montage and Roland TD50 both of which I truly wish I will own one day.

I hope you have a great 2017 and whatever music project you are working on – make it great for 2017. If I don’t finish the album I am working on in 2017 I may just give up on it, but perhaps I will because 2017 is “My Year”.

Very Best Wishes to you all and thank you for your continued support of my site – Tony

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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Jan 24

The Mastering Process is either expensive or difficult to do yourself. As technology moves forward, more and more people are attempting to Master themselves with the aid of plugins. They all claim to be the answer but more often than not they fail because every piece of music recorded is diferent and requires individual mastering unique to that recording.

At NAMM 2016, Softube are telling us they have a foolproof new plugin – The Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor. This has been modelled on Drawmer’s 1973 Three Band FET Stereo Compressor hardware. This plugin brings complex analogue-style multiband compression down to just a handful of controls and assists you by
making the choices a mastering engineer would make.

You just select from one of ten preset mastering Styles which have names like :- ‘More air’, ‘Clarity’, ‘Punch’, and ‘De-rumble’. Sounds very easy and to some extent it is as it automatically adjusts compression, EQ and mid-side processing parameters to provide your mix with its stated style.

There is an Amount knob that will set the depth of the processing; the Air switch seems to activate a high shelving filter and the Mix and Gain knobs control the wet/dry mix and output level respectively.

Although this all seems too good to be true, Softube’s reputation for creating top of the range plugins means that I am willing to give this a try.

You cannot get the Drawmer S73 until February 2. It is being sold at an introductory price of $75 until February 29 when it goes up to $99. See what you think on the youtube clip

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Jan 24

No it is not Kylie Minilogue it is another little GEM from Namm 2016 from Korg – the new Korg Minilogue Analog Poly. The information on this synth was leaked before the Namm show. It’s an all-new 37-key, 4-voice true analog polyphonic synthesizer with onboard delay and 16 step poly sequencer.

Korg believes that the Minilogue is the first of its kind in design, virtue and affordability. They say that newly developed analog synth circuitry provides a rich, diverse sound palette, instantly recalled from its 100 factory presets plus 100 user programs.

Specifications:

Keyboard: 37 keys (slim keyboard, velocity sensitive)
Maximum Polyphony: 4 voices (8 voice modes inc unison layering)
Controls: 41 dedicated panel controls deliver immediate parameter access
Sequencer: 16 step polyphonic sequencer with automation of up to four synth parameters
Connectivity: MIDI IN / OUT, USB B, Sync IN / OUT allows you to jam with volca and electribe series
Sound Generation: 2 VCO (saw / tri / sqr), 1 VCF (2 / 4pole), 2 EG, 1 VCA, 1 LFO, DELAY
Input / Output Jacks: Headphone Output, Line Output, Audio Input
Oscilloscope: Real-time OLED oscilloscope provides visual feedback of parameter changes

Display
Real-time OLED oscilloscope provides visual feedback of parameter changes

Dimensions (W x D x H)
500 x 300 x 85 mm / 19.69″ x 11.81″ x 3.35″

Weight
2.8 kg / 6.17 lbs.

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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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Jan 22

One of the biggest surprises for me this Namm is the release of the Yamaha Montage with its new Motion Control Synth engine. Yamaha state that it “sets the next milestone with sophisticated dynamic control, massive sound creation and streamlined workflow from the company that brought you the DX and the Motif”. The Montage is certainly very good-looking synth packed with sounds, so much so that I immediately think this is going to be expensive. There are the usual 3 models with 61, 76 and 88 keys and the cost ranges from approx £2100 to £2800. I really wish they would bring out a rack mounted version of it as I have said before like many other synth enthusiast, I do not have room for another keyboard.

The Motion Control Synthesizer Engine controls two famous Yamaha Sound Engines – Advanced Wave Memory 2 (AWM2) and FM-X. What is really useful is the AWM2 engine is compatible with previous generation Motif libraries, but is exponentially more powerful than the previous Motif XF flagship, with nearly ten times more wave memory, integrated flash, double the effects and twice the polyphony.

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Jan 21

Namm 2016 and Roland release the new EC-10 Electronic Layered Cajon. Have a look at youtube clip above and you will hear it performed by the very beautiful Professional percussionist, Heidi Joubert.

The new Roland EC-10 EL Cajon is the first of its kind. It is an acoustic cajon but it can be with layered with electronic sounds. These range from electronic drum sounds to more traditional acoustic percussion sounds as well as FX. It is the same size as a standard cajon (50 x 30 x 30 cm) and the playing surface is made of sapele wood.

It has 30 built-in electronic kits for layering with acoustic cajon sounds and each kit includes two independent sounds that can be triggered from the head and edge of the playing surface. It also includes studio-optimized cajon sounds to enhance the instrument’s acoustic sound, providing additional depth and punch.

It comes with an Integrated amplifier and coaxial speaker and runs on AA-size batteries providing you with up to 12 hours of continuous playing time or an AC adaptor (DC 5.7 V).

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