January 25, 2014

Another One Down... (NAMM Report 2014)

by Chris Randall

Another January, another winter NAMM. Thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Once again I'll state the obvious: Anaheim hates you if you're not there to go to Disneyland. I will again propose that NAMM move to the LA Convention Center, where at least if we have to put up with bad food and no parking, we can do it somewhere we don't have to drive two hours to get to.

2. The little synth pictured above. This is the Murmux Semi-Modular, a new product from Freaqbox, who are nominally guitar pedal people. Bog standard, mediocre silk-screening, a case that is way bigger than it has to be, and tweed, of all things. Somehow, that combo works. There is also a non-modular version called The Initiate, and one with a big ol' foot-pedal keyboard, if you're in to that sort of thing. There is zero shortage of simple analog desktops, and this is one of them, but the filter is to die for, and the big-ass knobs... PEW PEW PEW!!! No idea what the MSRP is, or availability. But me likey.

3. The Waldorf 2-Pole. Mono I/O, no MIDI, no USB, no runs, no hits, no errors. Another box that is way bigger than you'd think. It sounds farking awesome. $250-ish. Outstanding.

4. Bitwig Studio. I'm now running this jank. Haven't dove in to it in detail yet (i.e. made a track with it) but it shows promise early on. It's good Ableton has some competition now. All consumers benefit.

All in all, NAMM 2014 was exactly like NAMM 2013, only more so. A good time was had by all. Anything you see in the firehose of social and normal media that caught your eye?


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Jan.27.2014 @ 5:13 PM
Space Monkey
I haven't heard it, but at $1100 for the semi modular, I'd say it'd be hard pressed to compete with the FRXS, which I've got, and which is a beast, and very versatile.

Jan.27.2014 @ 5:58 PM
I'm pretty stoked about Elektron's analog rytm. It sounds great, it's easy to navigate and since I have an Analog four and an Octatrack, I already know I love the sequencer. It also has a nice analog compressor.
The pads are pretty small but they are perfectly sensitive in my opinion.
Each output jack carries two signals, so insert cables are needed to break out all the channels. Of course there is a main stereo output.

Make Noise has a crazy signal bussing system that complete blew my fucking mind. And now I need to replace my glossy black panel modules for the matte black ones.

Oh and Bitwig Studio is awesome.

Jan.27.2014 @ 8:55 PM
I am unashamed of my love of well-executed retro industrial design. Most stuff describe as such fails spectacularly, either tacky, aping the most obvious and facile aspects, or simply a stupid coat of 'retro' paint on the same-old same-old. But the box pictured is f'in outstanding. I have no real need for it, and couldn't afford it if I did. But, damn...

Speaking of good looking shit I don't need and can't afford, if nothing else, MOOG finally listened and got rid of all that Phatty ID, and made what looks to be a good, workhorse mono MOOG that doesn't try to be 'hip.' If I were to buy a MOOG, this would be the MOOG I would buy.

I'd dig a good dedicated hardware filter box (emphasis on good). so I could almost justify the Waldorf.

If Autria had any sort of track record for a stable product line I'd be much more keen on that. All their products seem like public betas that never really get a good update. but then, I have no immediate need for a CV seq.

No mention from Alesis if they've addressed any if their pad dock software failings, or just made it universal to newer models. I'm guessing...

Speaking of, the updated Trigger Finger is ludicrous, overkill. The first one is uncomplicated and solid, making it perfect for live or tossing around your studio. The Alesis version looks like plastic that may be cool until it needs a firmware update that will never come.

Music Tech did a slideshow of guitar pedals, and some of those looked cool for desktop modulars and DSP. Way more my speed.

The desktop Apollo looks like it could be a good alternative to the others in its class.

For the life of me I cannot figure out the hardon that every company has for making variations on the same MIDI controller keyboard. Isn't the market completely saturated?

Jan.27.2014 @ 9:43 PM
@puffer - the hardon for generic midi controllers is the bottom line. my guess is they sell a fuck load of them and they're cheap to make.

Jan.27.2014 @ 11:59 PM
I almost agree with puffer re Moog Sub37... to me it's the most desirable new monoMoog yet. The only place they majorly dropped the ball was retaining the awkward enclosure of the Little Phatty. Not a problem for studio use, but awful for live use- won't fit in any kind of standard bag or case and obviously won't lie flat. Duh. And as discussed elsewhere, though technically correct, calling it paraphonic is downright misleading given most people's perception of what a classic paraphonic is (ARP Omni, Roland RS-505, etc.).

Jan.28.2014 @ 6:45 AM
Chris Randall
Justin's comment reminds me: I had a good play with the Nektar Panorama P6, and I've decided to take the plunge and grab one, for a number of reasons.

I don't really care about controlling/automapping/yadda yadda, but this series appears to have one of the better implementations. I think perhaps I've never got in the habit of using the hardware controls on a controller because I've never had one that didn't suck ass; obviously I'll have to use the Panorama a while before I change my opinion in that regard.

No, what I like about this is that it doesn't use that same shitty Fatar keybed that all the cheap controllers have. I don't know where they get their keybed (or if they make it themselves) but it is _really_ nice. I play very heavy, and in almost every controller I've owned or used, this means having to go through and strip out aftertouch data. The Nektar controllers have a much more responsive aftertouch implementation that doesn't trigger unless you actually press down after playing, rather than just merrily whanging away every time you press a key with anything but kid gloves.

Also, the black keys have a little texture to them, and the white ones have a sort of matte finish rather than that super glossy cheap plastic. This makes feeling your way around the keyboard without looking at it _much_ better, for some reason. You can feel the divisions between notes better, and your hand doesn't just slide all over the damn place.

Also, it's a sharp looking controller. The display is very nice, and I like how there is no giant bezel around the keybed, so you aren't constantly cutting your cuticles on the low notes. All in all, a sweet piece of kit, and now it controls all major DAWs and plugins, not just Reason. My next gear purchase for sure.

That Murmux, yeah, too expensive for what it does. I didn't know what it cost; the booth guys were busy when I stopped by.


Jan.28.2014 @ 9:50 AM
@nulldevice: Apparently the MIDI out on the Theremini actually is just a CC for pitch, and a CC for volume. I'm disappointed. I wanted to get all hand-wavey with Monark, among other things.

Also apparently pitch and volume are locked to the antennas, and not controllable via MIDI In. So much for being able to record a performance and edit it. So half-assed.

Jan.28.2014 @ 1:49 PM
Awww booooooo. I suppose you could do some wacky midi transformation on the input but...man, that's annoying.

Currently the only other way to do it is with a combo of an Etherwave Plus and a Minitaur to do the CV->MIDI conversion (does anybody else make a CV->MIDI box? I've seen MIDI->CV, obviously, but the other way 'round seems pretty rare these days). Otherwise you can use it direct control a CV synth like...hey, another Moog. Linda from Moog demonstrates that one fairly regularly, and it's kinda cool, although I'm not entirely sure if the ability to control filter cutoff by waving your hands around is worth the price you'd pay for that ability, nor am I sure it'd be as cool as I think it might - q.v. Roland D-Beam.

One additonal gripe about BreakTweaker - much like StutterEdit, they kept the interface in eye-hurting colors and the tiniest fonts possible.

Jan.28.2014 @ 2:39 PM
Chris Randall
I'd like to state for the record that, unlike Iris, Rx3, and Trash 2, I most certainly did _not_ do the UI for that iZotope product.

Regarding MIDI control of a theremin, really? _REALLY_ really? Just put a 4P LPF in self-oscillation and crank the "key" parameter up. It is, quite literally, the same exact thing.

EDIT: Oh, you want to control other stuff _with_ a theremin. I guess that makes more sense. Not a lot, but more. How about this? Just play something like normal, then when it's playing back, apply LFO to pitch so it's totally out of tune. That'll do the trick.


Jan.28.2014 @ 2:40 PM
It's not paraphonic, but the iconnectmidi 4+ looks pretty great: link [iconnectivity.co...]

Waldorf filter is cool, wish it had CV > Resonance. At its price point, might just opt for a microbrute.

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