At the 2013 NAMM Show, MIDI creators and innovators Alan Parsons, Tom Oberheim, Dave Smith, Jordan Rudess, George Duke and Craig Anderton participated in an uber-panel, discussing the past, present and future of MIDI. Continue reading
We live in a great time for synth lovers.
There are more companies making synth gear than ever. Many classic synths continue to evolve, in great synths from companies like Dave Smith Instruments, Moog Music and Oberheim. There’s an insane variety of modular synth modules available. And software synths are getting cheaper and showing up on new platforms.
All this great gear and software, though, raises a problem: what to buy? You could go broke buying gear, and still just be scratching the surface of what’s available.
I bought gear impulsively for a few years – until I realized my music room was getting crowded and something had to go if I wanted to get anything new.
Now, I’m trying to hold out for instruments that represent the best in class for various types of synthesis. For example, a large format modular synth, with modules from MOTM, Synthesizers.com, Encore Electronics and others. Or a Yamaha DX-5, which is one of the great 80′s FM synths.
A lot of musicians look for gear that their favorite artists use – so that they can perform with those same types of sounds.
How do you decide what gear or software to buy? And what’s next on your list?
Synth pioneer Tom Oberheim has announced the Oberheim Two Voice Pro Synthesizer, a modern recreation of the 1975 classic.
Oberheim says “It is similar to the original from 1975, but with some very interesting upgrades.”
- Mini-Sequencer is enhanced – you still generate a sequence with the knobs ( up to 16 positions ) but you can store sequences from the knobs into flash memory (up to 99 sequences stored)
- Two sequences can be played simultaneously (or play one sequence while also playing on the keyboard, like the old one)
- After sequences are stored in flash memory, you can edit them to add 2-way, 3-way or 4-way ratcheting and you can program the gate length from zero (like a rest) up to almost the complete step length
- Sequences can be chained into songs, and each step in a song can be programmed for sequence number, transpose amount and number of repeats
- Sequencer syncs to Midi Clock
- Keyboard outputs velocity and pressure
- Each module (both SEMs, Mini-Sequencer, Keyboard Control) has mini-jack patch points (over 50 patchpoints)
- Pitch and Modulation wheels
- Pan pots
- Headphone output
- Separate Vibrato LFO
The Oberheim Two Voice Pro Synthesizer is expected to be available in June, priced at $3495.
The Oberheim SEM V emulates Tom Oberheim’s classic SEM module, but also builds upon it by adding options that were not available in the original module, like a noise generator and sub oscillator.
Keith McMillen has introduced QuNeo – a ‘different species of pad controller’ for electronic musicians, DJs, VJs and DIY hackers.
While it covers all of the functionality of other pad controllers, QuNeo adds the power of touch recognition in other dimensions. Each of the 27 pads, sliders and rotary sensors are pressure, velocity, and location sensitive. Even the 17 switches respond to how hard you press.
Here are the main features of QuNeo:
LED Light Feedback
A lumination scheme combines variably diffusive elastomers with 251 multi-color LEDs providing visual feedback that is immediately responsive and informative.
16 square pads provide 127 levels of Velocity response. And X-Y location. And continuous pressure. For each pad. Times sixteen.
2 rotary surfaces allow you to scrub, trigger, stretch, pinch and play phrases and sound files, manipulate continuous controllers and more . Each rotary sensor measures angle, pressure and distance from the center.
9 touch sensitive sliders can be mapped to fader and effects controls. LEDs within each slider act as VU meters or remind you where you were. Multi-touch lets you select a length between two fingers to set stereo locations or filter resonances. Tapping a slider can mute or toggle any track or function.
The switches are located in smart groupings to select samples, fader banks, and transport controls. Each of the switches can scan up and down through files at speeds variable with your touch. Great for quickly locating that perfect fill or telling your looper you really meant it.
The Size of an iPad.
QuNeo is the size of an iPad and can fit in iPad accessories such as mic clips, stands and more.
Class Compliant and Open Source Development Kit
QuNeo works with USB, MIDI or OSC and will communicate with your favorite music software environments right out of the box. More advanced users and programmers can use the development kit and API to create their own code to respond to QuNeo’s sensor data. Hack away to control your world in ways never before possible!
QuNeo is under development as a KickStarter project. But McMillen has raised two thirds of the funds needed bo build the device already, and will probably be over the top after Synthtopia readers get a look at it.
It’s currently priced at $200. See the Kickstarter site for details.