Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Brighton Music Conference 2015 - Pics and show floor

Now that the dust has settled, here's a quick look at the offerings in and around the show floor at this year's Brighton Music conference on the Friday. While the size of the exhibition area is not as big as some of the larger exhibitions in Germany or the US, the exhibition area was split in two areas: one dedicated to music production (including synthesisers, keyboard controllers and the like) and the other half looking at club furniture (such as lasers, booths and DJ equipment), with lots of other organisations like the PRS, Loopmasters and music schools in attendance. 

Akai's keyboard controllers were first on the block as you came in. Aiming to go toe-to-toe with Native Instruments, the solution seems quick and easy to use for all kinds of VST instruments and the OLED screen was lovely to work with.
Roland were out in force, alongside Novation and their massive Ableton stand.
Meanwhile the other side of the area had Akai, Shure and Korg in force.
I noticed quite a few people on Twitter mentioning how the panelists were almost exclusively white males - not sure if this was intentional from the organiser's perspective. This was perhaps the only panel with female panelists in Friday morning's "How to market yourself" discussion - a good reminder of what to do.
No expense spared by Korg, who had a massive area with loads of Kaoss pads and Volcas to play with as well as their ARP Oddessey remake and more. This was taken during the afternoon sessions when the floor was quieter, but I expect the Saturday was busier!
A stunning Novation showcase from Orbital's Paul Hartnoll - we had to have front row seats for this one. A top bloke who was more than happy to share his experiences with controlling Ableton in a live environment with hardware synths and controllers, including a Virus Ti and Basstation 2. 550+ stems really taxed that MacBook though! This was definitely the highlight of the day for me, especially when he played my request for Chime live to demonstrate his setup.
Plenty of Roland gear on offer to play with, together with the expert demonstrator David Ahlund who was more than happy to show off their new Aira Eurorack gear and how it fits into the rest of their hardware lineup.

Nice to see Roland getting into Eurorack and taking it seriously. Like all the Aira hardware, the effects units are digital as well, but can be linked to a laptop running some bespoke software to reroute the internal routing of the effects and turn them into something completely different as well, using 3.5mm audio jacks to reprogram them. We saw David turn a delay machine into a filter and back again pretty quickly!
Clearly the bad boy of the show, the Roland JD-XA is a monster of a synth and resplendent in glowing red. It's armed with an analogue modelling engine of up to four voices (two oscillators per voice) plus four voices of digital bits with three partials. To be honest, I lost count of the potential number of oscillators you can play with at once and the sound was very satisfying with the built in effects (maximum two at once, but over 20 to select from). If it's beefy sounds you want in a hardware synthesiser, then this is pretty much the quickest thing out there. A bit pricey at £1500+ but I dare say you get what you pay for.