Knobcon 4, described as the largest synthesizer convention in the world, was held earlier this month, Sept 11-13, in Itasca, Illinois.
According to organizer Eric Williamson (aka Suit & Tie Guy), Knobcon 4 was the largest synth convention ever – attracting close to 500 people, from 6 countries.
The event was packed with activities, including:
- A keynote by synth pioneer Malcolm Cecil, above;
- Two nights full of electronic music performances;
- Workshops and interviews;
- A massive gear room, with tables of new and rare vintage gear: and
- A synth DIY room.
Here are some of the highlights:
Friday night featured an opening session, with performances by four electronic artists, including Suit & Tie Guy, above right, and even an impromptu jam with Malcolm Cecil, above left.
On Saturday & Sunday, several exhibit halls were open, featuring a giant room full of synth gear; a ‘headphone only’ room for checking out systems in depth; and a demo room for test driving a system.
There were multiple vendors that made introductions, large and small, at the show. The biggest news, of course, was the ‘speakeasy’ announcement of the Moog Mother32 semi-modular analog synthesizer.
We had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the new Moog Eurorack synth with Moog’s Steve Dunnington. The Mother32 promises to be a inexpensive standalone Moog synth module and also a great starting point for building a Eurorack modular system.
Several other vendors introduced new gear:
- Synthesis Technologies introduced two new Eurorack modules – the E950 Circuit Bent VCO and the E620 USB-MIDI CV module.
- Malcolm Cecil introduced iTonto – his iPad user manual for the giant TONTO modular synth.
- Eric Fox of Black Market Modular made the official debut of the Colour Palette – a Eurorack module that promises to be a new micro-platform for synth innovation.
- Many other vendors were previewing new modules and prototypes, which we will try to share in the upcoming weeks.
Saturday evening featured the Knobcon Banquet, with a full buffet, live music and the presentation of the coveted Golden Knob lifetime achievement award to synth pioneer Malcolm Cecil:
Throughout the evening, there was live music by Ed & Judy Howard & Cory Flanigan, and Malcolm Cecil even joined in for a bit of blues EWI:
Saturday night also featured live music by The Synth Freq (Danielle & Crystal Morales), below, and sets by synthesists Tyler Thompson, Mark Verbos, Oliver Dodd and $KODEK.
Both Saturday and Sunday featured synth workshops, including a history of synthesis by Marc Doty, below; a Q&A with Moog modular guru Gene Stopp; a discussion of acoustic synthesis by Jon Sonnenberg; and an interview with Malcolm Cecil hosted by Mark Vail.
See the photo gallery below for highlights from the event, including some sneak previews of upcoming gear, rare synth gear and the occasional rubber chicken:
Here’s a video walkthrough of some of the highlights of the event, via Modular Wild’s Raul Pena: