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.28.2014 @ 4:34 PM
Good tip on that Nektar P6. I've been eyeing that to replace my Akai MPK49 on which I use none of the controls because I never have any idea what parameter I'm fucking with. Flawless automapping and clear user feedback is the killer app for me on a MIDI controller. The keybed stuff is just gravy.

Jan.28.2014 @ 7:35 PM
@Chris: We make the keybed.

This was my favorite thing at... well, outside the show.
link [www.guitarfail.co...]

Jan.29.2014 @ 9:43 AM
> 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.

Addendum to the edit: I want to control other, non-pitch and volume things with a theremin. Basically like an XY controller that I could use onstage that other people could actually see, instead of some dude hunched over an iPad or whatever. But it's not an application I absolutely need, just think it'd be a neat thing that would be more useful n a theremin than just plain-old pitch out.

Jan.29.2014 @ 4:38 PM
If I mixed more (or just worked at my fulltime job less) and had the space on my desk for it, I'd be seriously considering the Behringer X-Touch. Yeah, it's Behringer, but the price/features/design have me intrigued. If the quality is halfway decent, it'd be a very tempting mixing control surface at just the right price.

The Behringer keyboard controllers (which I would have the space for if I dumped my god awful Akai MPK61 with the most unusable keys ever), are also cool looking. If I ever happen upon those and find that the keyboard action is halfway decent, the MPK61 will go on sale immediately.

Jan.29.2014 @ 4:43 PM
Chris Randall
The Behringer controllers have the same shitty Fatar action as everything else made by the Harmon group or Avid. To. Be. Avoided.

Do yourself a favor and at least try the Nektar stuff. They have lower-end models than the Panorama ones, too.


Jan.29.2014 @ 6:08 PM
those shitty keybeds are why Ken Macbeth made his own from scratch!

link [youtu.be]

somewhere there's a video where he talks about the process and why he did it but i couldn't find it.

Jan.30.2014 @ 7:20 PM
I tried the Nektar LX49 (the lower-end model) recently and was impressed. The keys are the same style/shape as the Panorama, but without the weighting and aftertouch. The controls are solid, and the pads are actually nice to play (in contrast to what passes for drum pads on most controllers).

The entire construction is plastic, but there's no give in it anywhere - it's just a solid, low profile black box. And, it's one of the least-expensive controllers on the market, before you get into some 2-octave nonsense.

There's not a lot of frills with it. On the other hand, you're not saddled with firmware updates and crashing software just to run a damn usb powered keyboard.

Jan.31.2014 @ 3:09 PM
Adam Schabtach
Man, if the MIDI output on the Theremini is just 7-bit CC messages... Um, I'm far from a theremin connoisseur, but I know enough to know that that simply would not be enough resolution. One hopes that they were smart enough to use the high-resolution CC format, or at least use 14-bit pitch-bend messages for the pitch output. 7-bit CC would be okay for volume, I suppose.

About 15 years ago I built a Paia Theremax and attempted to MIDIfy it with an 8-bit microcontroller board. If any of my projects could be described as a hack on top of a kludge, it was that one.


Feb.02.2014 @ 12:59 AM
Duke Fame
Anyone play with the Meeblip anode? I'm already in on a purchase but I was curious. I think James and Peter will deliver the goods and at the price it's pretty hard to complain.

And Clavia=epic fail. When are you guys going to get the message that everyone wants a G3 Modular and not another Nord Lead with a 7 segment 2 digit LED? Shit it's 2014.

Feb.02.2014 @ 1:30 AM
the G2 almost sunk clavia apparently. they should just make a software version and free it from the external dsp.

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