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2007 NAMM Show Report: Synth You Asked Us...
By: Scott Kahn
     
             
   
       
   

There wasn’t a lot of new stuff going on in Synthland compared to Guitar- and Bassland, but there were a few particularly bright spots for the pro keyboard player.

Arturia

Arturia have been making some nice virtual recreations of classic synthesizers in the virtual world for quite some time, and one exciting introduction they unveiled was a recreation of the Roland Jupiter 8.

More exciting to the sound designers among you (and us) was the introduction of the Origin modular synthesizer, Arturia’s first hardware box. Powered by two TigerSHARC processors from Analog Devices (extremely fast audio processors), the Origin integrates synthesis technologies from numerous classic synths, and it can be used both as a stand-alone box and as a VST or AU plug-in hosted by various audio applications. Expect a retail price of $2,999 and if we’re lucky, availability in the fall. Next year’s NAMM will decide if this was vaporware in a pretty box or a great new sound machine for 2007.

Moog Music

We already knew about the Moog Little Phatty Stage Edition before arriving in Anaheim – we’ve got one on the review calendar already, but it was great to see the cool styling and hear the classic Moog sounds in person.

Open Labs

We checked out Open Labs’ Gen 3 MiKo Mobile Production Center. For the uninitiated, MiKo’s devices are keyboards with built-in Windows XP-based PCs running your favorite selection of virtual instruments and audio software all in a self-contained, audio-optimized system – a much simpler and integrated approach compared to bringing a laptop on the road with you and having to worry about it. 

The newest versions, powered by Intel Core2 Duo processors, have better performance than the original versions from a year ago, and the touch-screen interface on the flagship MiKo LX worked great. You can spend almost as much on a MiKo system as you can on an OASYS (or thousands less for the entry models), but comparably, MiKo is a totally open computer-based system. We’re looking forward to testing these out in our studios soon.

Roland

Just when you were beginning to wonder if they still cared, Roland unleased the new V-Synth GT. Containing two V-Synth engines in one box, Roland’s V-Synth GT also includes their cool vocal designer technology, and introduces Articulative Phrase Synthesis. This new technology attempts to recreate the changing characteristics of an acoustic instrument as it is played in real time (to add more reality to the performance of acoustic instrument parts), and it can also be applied to electronic sounds for other expressive capabilities.

We loved the Vocal Designer technology found in Roland’s VP-550, but loaded into a V-Synth, you get full programmability and sound shaping applied to vocal inputs, creating some truly unique sounds. We’ll be testing this monster as soon as it ships to see how much better it is than the already-great V-Synth that we reviewed last year.

 

Dream Theater’s incredible Jordan Rudess, accompanied on V-drums by the equally outstanding Rod Morgenstein, were on hand to demonstrate the sounds of Roland’s latest keyboards, and for that, we were truly thrilled.

 



   
             
             
             
             
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