Previously known for making knock-off VST emulations of classic hardware synths, Arturia is releasing their first hardware synth, Origin. It’s a DSP box running their synth plugins. Yawn. A VST Arp 2600 or CS-80 will never sound like the real thing and there are a million virtual analogs out there already. I heard an amusing conversation on a ride in the Manhattan subway last month. Two late-teen/early twenties guys were riding next to me and one was talking about how there wasn’t a difference between VST synths and hardware and VSTs were just as good and there wasn’t a reason to ever buy hardware. I almost fell out of my seat laughing but I didn’t have time to get in a debate with a guy who’s probably never even written his own synth patch or played on a decent hardware synth before. Plainly put, you owe it to yourself to check out the real thing.
Waldorf is making a comeback. After shutting down in 2004 they have returned with reissues of their infamous Q and microQ synths and some new additions, announced the Stromberg and Blofield.
I’ve always admired Waldorf for releasing unique products, let’s hope the latter two aren’t vaporware. I still use my Waldorf Microwave II on a regular basis.
Korg is releasing a slew of new products including the Mini Kaoss Pad. I have a love/hate relationship with Kaoss pads. On one hand they are intuitive, excellent tools for live performance. Yet Korg still insists on only sticking RCA jacks on them. What professional musician uses RCA jacks? In my opinion they are continuing to severely limit their potential market by continuing to do this.
Behringer continues with releasing some more poor quality products that I’ll never buy. The latest is the Vintage Tube Monster. I think they are hoping that anything with “Tube” labeled on it will sell. I know some manufacturers have even resorted to sticking tubes into their products that are lit up but aren’t actually in the signal path. Lame.
Rhodes is making a comeback with their first electroacoustic piano since they stopped producing them in 1984. The Rhodes Mark VII isn’t just a rehash though, they’ve updated the classic sound with midi capability, tremolo and pitch bend, USB ports, and an LCD screen. No pictures are available yet but those who crave the real Rhodes sound are sure to line up to get one of these.
Apple and Apogee have teamed up with the ExpressCard slot solution, Symphony Mobile. Most decent audio conversion requires a pci card slot. If you wanted a mobile recording rig you’d have to get a usb or firewire interface and most of these solutions are “budget convertors”. With the ExpressCard, MacBook Pro users can use the same interface for both their mobile and home studio rigs, no more doubling up. Not only that but you can use it with any of the DAW programs that run on OS X, you’re not tied to Apple specific programs. You can’t say the same for ProTools rigs.
Last item on my NAMM list, the Moogfooger FreqBox.
This puppy takes an audio signal and instead of modifying it, the signal is used to modulate it’s VCO. So finally you can have an oscillator you can modulate with audio without dedicated a modular synth setup to it.