The Akai Miniak is another 2009 introduction that seems to inspire love/hate reactions.
Love it or hate it though, the MIniak packs a lot of punch into a tiny synth.
The Akai Miniak lets you create programs with up to eight multi-timbral voices, each with three oscillators. You can create complex sounds using the Miniak’s two multimode filters, three envelope generators, two LFOs, stereo effects and 40-band vocoder with gooseneck microphone.
The MINIAK also has a sequencer with step and dynamic real time phrase sequencing, a drum machine/rhythm sequencer and an arpeggiator.
It has an estimated street price of $499, too, which means you get a serious amount of synth power at a fair price.
The $519 Moog Etherwave Plus theremin isn’t a keyboard or a synth per se, but it features control voltage outputs:
- Pitch & Volume CV Outputs – so you can control a different CV parameter with each hand
- Gate Output – so you can trigger envelopes and other events
Control Voltage outputs mean that the Etherwave Plus is destined to become part of your ultimate control-voltage based monster synthesizer.
And it’s still one of the best theremins that you can buy.
At the 2009 NAMM Show, Roland introduced the VP-770 Vocal & Ensemble Keyboard.
The big keyboard manufacturers have put out a lot of uninspired keyboards over the last few years, but the Roland VP-700 isn’t one of them. It’s a unique synth that targets a specific niche: real-time vocal synthesis.
The VP-770 lets you create realistic backing parts, futuristic electronic vocal textures and even emulations of large-scale gospel choirs.
It’s not limited to that though, as Ed Diaz demonstrates in the official Roland intro video.
While the big gear manufacturers put out some great synths in 2009, it was a excellent year for the smaller synthmeisters, too.
In 2009, Dave Smith, above, introduced his new Tetra synthesizer.
The Tetra retails for $799, which isn’t cheap for a four-voice synth. But the Tetra packs an amazing level of power into a tiny box. The Tetra offers four great-sounding voices, multitimbral control and individual outputs.
If you think of the Tetra as a modern take on the class Sequential Circuits Prophet, but with an updated architecture, that $799 starts sounding like a deal.
Finally, 2009 brought the Doepfer Dark Energy analog synthesizer.
The Dark Energy is an analog semi-modular mini synth that features both USB and MIDI interfaces.
The sound generation and all modulation sources are 100% analog, only the USB and Midi interface contains digital components.
It’s available for 400 Euro as a synth module. You can also get it as a module for a Doepfer modular synthesizer.
Check out the video introduction from Angelspit’s Destroyx, above.
Can 2010 Top 2009?
Those are our picks for the 10 coolest new keyboards and synths of 2009. All-in-all, a good year!
We’ll have to wait until the 2010 NAMM Show in January to see if 2010 has a chance of beating 2009.
In the meantime – let us know what you think of our picks. Do you think any of our picks shouldn’t have made the cut? Did we miss any great new synths?