Sunday, 27 January 2013

NAMM 2013 - best stuff

So NAMM 2013 has been and gone and there were some nice surprises this time around, alongside some of the expected releases from the big manufacturers. It was also nice to see Bitwig and Android audio codecs covered as well! Full coverage is best left for other sites, but three things in particular really got me going this year and unsurprisingly they were all synthesiser related.

Prophet 12 - Dave Smith Instruments

If the recession is still going on, Dave Smith certainly hasn't seen it. While not as expensive as the Schmidt Analog (costing in the tens of thousands of Euros, what!), the Prophet 12 will set you back about £2,700 before shipping. Ouch! A ludicruously expensive synth, true, but you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck and with DSI at the helm, you know it's going to be worth it.

In particular what I like about it is that it has a mixture of analog and digital technology for the different parts of the engine, so it's not limiting itself to be something that we've seen before. Evolution, not revolution, is the watchword here.

Sub Phatty - Moog Music

Another Moog synthesiser with a slightly more reduced price and feature set (looking at around £1,000 for this one), the Sub Phatty has couple of quite nice little features, including a special type of overdrive circuit, different noise generator and some nice detuning options that keep the amount of detune between oscillators as you change in pitch. As usual, this also includes all the usual Moog luxuries as being a proper Moog, all analog, THAT low pass ladder filter and solid construction.

As for me, it's a nice thing to have but I can't shake the idea that there are other machines out there that will do this kind of thing just as well if not better and for a slightly cheaper price.

Mini MS-20 - Korg

As predicted, Korg have developed a newer version of their classic MS-20 semi-modular. I hasten to describe it as redesigned, as they have tried to rebuild it in the classic MS-20 image with newer components, while making it slightly smaller (86% original size), using 3.5mm jacks for patching and adding MIDI and USB support as standard for note triggering. What is more, they are shipping for a very cheap £400 - it will sell like hot cakes!

Speaking of which, I'm wondering what sort of an effect this might have on existing, antique MS-20s now that Korg will be reissuing this unit. I suppose there will still be people who will lust after the original, claiming that there is something in the character that makes them want it over a newer version, although from the sounds of it both sound very similar indeed. A number of second hand units I have seen look really shabby and very much used - to the point where the keys have gone a sort of yellow colour that you would expect to find on dinosaur bones (kids, don't smoke in the studio) - so this might buck the second hand market considerably.

Want more?

As ever, some excellent coverage of all the keyboards, synthesisers, programs, guitars, pedals, technologies and more is available at the Sonic State YouTube channel.