NAMM: Mike Peake - Part 2

The second installment of his show overview      19/01/04

Buying Choices
Here comes the next installments of Mike's NAMM report (pictures added by Sonic State). - Synth stuff near the end. Synthdeities- Manley Labs showed prototypes of the MiniMassive EQ, dual mic pre, and other recently-announced gear, as well as brand-new stuff such as mastering tools (output config/phase/level etc.), a 4-way mic switcher, the new digital converter box with rapture analog circuitry, and more. Tubes rule. Avalon and Tube Tech have displays, but AFAIR, nothing new. That doesn't stop me from wanting both an Avalon 747 and Tube Tech three-band comp/limiter. Grins.

Korg have done facelifts on the EA-1 and ER-1, including new patterns and a change of one parameter on each to a crossmod function. The MS2000B and MS2000BR feature new soundsets, new coloration, and dedicated mics for the vocoder. Check out the KAOS Pad entrancer video synthesizer, mini Ampworks amp mimic/FX units, SP digital pianos, and the Triton Extreme. Behringer enter the DAW remote controller market with two units, the B-Control Rotary and B-Control Fader. Each sport USB connectivity, and as the names imply, the Fader model has eight 100mm motorized faders. Rotary features three rows of eight high-resolution endless rotary encoders (with LEDs as on the Clavia Nord 3) to indicate "knob position". Soundtoys showed their filter and other Pro Tools plug-ins, with some interesting features and functionality. EGO-Systems, a new company AFAIK, showed their line of 24-bit, 192KHz firewire audio/smpte/MIDI interfaces, and more. EMU show the Emulator X software/card combination, which is a Gigasampler competitor. Interesting… And some computer audio interfaces as well. I'd sure like to add SPDIF and another 8 channels to my MOTU setup to avoid interrupting the octally-grouped 2408 configurations (I have 24 audio tracks output and need more for analog compression send/returns etc.) The analog I/O are 24/192KHz. RME are there as well, but I haven't stopped by yet. I came this close to getting the DigiFace at one point, due to the above consideration. The website shows a 2-channel 192KHz A/D D/A unit… CM Labs showed the Motor Mate, Motor Mix, and Dashboard DAW control surfaces. The MonoMachine is supposedly being shown at the show somewhere off-campus, so to speak. Don't miss the MachineDrum either! Mark Pulver posted the following announcement from Waldorf synthesizers: "Effective immediately, TerraTec Producer, TerraTec Electronic GmbH's division for professional audio production solutions, has extended its product range by forging an alliance with Waldorf AG. Henceforth, all upcoming Waldorf products will be marketed exclusively by TerraTec. Initial results of the fledgling partnership will debut at the Frankfurt Musikmesse in March 2004."

I'm told that there is a Leslie clone at the show, and that it has a clear cabinet! I don't know who makes it, so keep an eye out. Spectrasonics show their sample-based softsynths.. I didn't stop by many booths today and hung at Sweet Noise (as I'm supposed to do- imagine that). This touches upon what's being shown there… Metasonix Agonizer. A new product with four controls to induce tension and discomfort. Like the Alesis Bitrman MOD FX unit, it seemed to sound best with most of the controls at or near maximum, and then manipulating one at a time. It tended to crunch at higher frequencies than you'd expect as it's not like typical distortion units, and sounded great running through the Metasonix bandpass filter for bandwidth limiting. I enjoyed running the Technosaurus Selector through it.. Analogue Systems Hex DCO unit.. Bob Williams played this on his system and it made a nice, ethereal tone by morphing its waveform dynamically. Lots more on the website. Spawn was tweakable from the AS CV keyboard, and has a nice growl to it. The Analogue Solutions Semblance (Oberheim SEM clone) sounds good, but is a bit off from what you're familiar with from an SEM- Controlled over MIDI from a Voyager, the Semblance oscillators didn't go very low in pitch at their minimum settings, and the envelope decay knob scaling is off- extremely sensitive near the minimum times. I'll have to take a close listen to see if it's really a "clone" as the SEM has some rattiness to its tone that makes it special (at least to me, being one of my four favorite synths). The Semblance filter was nice on initial listening, and at maximum resonance with a long filter sweep, sounded quite nice. That's my favorite setting so far, more to come. AH members recognize my Technosaurus Selector Model "C". Neat stuff, still available, as are the Microcon 2 with MIDI, the Cyclodon sequencer, and the Effexon ring modulator/EQ/distortion unit. The classic Sherman FilterBank was set up and processing sound. Mangle! And in the center, the Minimoog Voyager in blonde. I made the mistake of playing it and fell in love. I have to have one. What a killer sound that is. I'll call Voyager my "pick of show", even though it's already available! BTW, the filters are not similar to the Moog Modular at least as far as the character of the resonance. The 904a isn't as present and chunky as the Voyager filter(s), which do really nice vocal formanty stuff with ease. I'm not selling my Modular, but would love to control it from the Voyager (touchpads are fun, and it outputs CV). Over to the Moog Music booth again.. The MuRF is at first glance, a fixed filter bank in a MoogerFooger pedal. Sliders control the volume of various frequencies, reflecting individual bandpass filters. The kicker is that these filters are selected via an included "sequence" generator; select a sequence, set the rate, and the pedal automatically switches between these filters. It sounds different than using a single filter and simply changing its Fc via voltage. There are several "sequences" and the clock can be controlled via CV (pedal, etc.). Brian Kehew and Steve Dunnington were jamming guitar through it and having a blast. The most important thing to me, is that it sounds like a Moog product. I'd like to hear it off of the trade show floor through good speakers with a synth instead of a guitar as input. The Don Buchla-designed Piano Bar was set up as well; kudos to Moog for bringing this to market. I hope that it is applicable to Rhodes, CS-80, CP-70, and owners of other non-MIDI keyboards… And the blue illuminated Voyager… No pix on the web that I've found at this time. The projected price is $3295.00.

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