M-Audio Venom First Look Video

2011 NAMM Show: Here’s a video overview and demo of the new M-Audio Venom keyboard synthesizer.

Combining the best of classic analog vibe and cutting-edge modern processing technology, this 49-key synth offers a new synth engine with 12-voice polyphony, three oscillators per voice, and an array of filters and effects.

What do you think of M-Audio’s Venom synth?

55 thoughts on “M-Audio Venom First Look Video

  1. Ha! It looks like Falcor. No really, it looks like M-audio Gaia. Shouldn't it count as a wavetable synth, all things considered?

  2. A couple thoughts after only seeing videos and not having actually tried it.

    The architecture looks quite familiar especially the drive on the filters (Blofeld/Largo), and the four layers/multi (Largo).

    Most oscillator waves are sampled, I wonder if they are doing modelling for the sine, square etc…

    The software intergration looks fantastic – although I heard it's stand alone and not VST/AU.

    My conclusion so far is Venom an incredible value when you consider it's a sound card and has the integration software. Seems like a MicroKorg XL killer. I do wonder about build quality. Can anyone comment on that?

    The things that Blofeld has over this by the way (at a higher price point) is the interactive graphical display, the ability to load your own single-cycle waveforms and samples which can be used as oscillator sources.

    If you want this type of "filter drive" edge in and don't need another hardware keyboard, Largo would be a good choice at much lower price point.

  3. They're long way from being showstoppers – after all, it's the sound that counts – but a couple of minor design nitpicks stand out to my eyes.

    Does anyone else think the pitch bend and mod wheel are too wide apart? I kinda want to stick an additional mod wheel in between them!

    The knobs also seem slightly too tall. I do hope they have solid shafts and strong fascia bushings otherwise I can easily see them being snapped off. M-Audio's controller keyboards have something of a reputation for being a bit too fragile for frequent gigging so I really hope they've robustified this model. The low price point won't be too attractive if buyers have to replace it within a year.

    And does anyone know what's with the pinkish red area on the top right of the fascia in this video? All other online pictures show it to be a blank area (sadly too small for fitting a 606 but a FaderFox may fit there).

    Anyway, I agree with Mark Mosher that this could be an incredibly good value entry level offering that will provide strong competition for the MicroKorg XL. It's sonic aesthetic isn't really to my personal tastes but I'm sure it will do very well for many others.

  4. Is it good sounding: maybe
    Is it hackable: no
    Is it expandable: no
    Is it unique: no
    Is it good to play: m-audio keyboard -> no
    Is it cheap: yes

    –> new Microkorg

  5. yeah, but considering the price is around $500, I think it's pretty good.

    It's a pretty sweet entry level synth. Deep, but layed out simply and it has a pretty good looking software editor.

  6. One of my friends has one of those. It doesn't really have as much editing ability though, because each of the lines in there is a different engine, and it only (as far as i could tell) let you edit the five parameters it gives you access to. It has some nice sounds though from reasonable emulations of classic synths.

  7. I think it's great that m-audio are entering the synth market. Hopefully if they do well enough, we'll see something more interesting from them in a year or two.

    As it stands though, it's got a pretty big sound for a pretty low price.

  8. Mark –

    I was impressed by the Venom at the $500 price. The designer, Taiho Yamada, set out to get you as much synth as he could at the price and it's clear that he put a lot of thought into doing it.

    So the Venom only has 12 voices, but the voice architecture is powerful. They limited the number of knobs, but give you a software editor for deeper sound design.

    It's also a MIDI controller, an audio interface and a MIDI interface.

  9. Did you play it by the way? My Axiom 25 kind of fell apart on me so I'm hoping they also put some energy into the build quality. I also love the the light feel of Novation and the Blofeld keyboard – how's the action on Venom?

  10. I was thinking the exact same thing. The knobs and font section look like a Plugiator dropped into an Axiom. Truth be told I think I'd rather have a loaded Plugiator at $399 than this. If the sound is decent it might be good if you don't already have keys, interface etc.

  11. its Ok. good for new synth users, and cheap,
    but I can't believe The Chemical Brothers saying it is the best gear they have used.

  12. I believe it was The Crystal Method who endorsed this, not The Chemical Brothers.

    And one should never underestimate the power of an endorsement pay-off, particularly for a group who haven't had much relevance recently!

    As always, don't believe the hype but do trust your own ears and fingers.

  13. It's a VA synth – open it up and all you'll find is a handful of micro-controllers and DSP chips.

    Hardly hackable unless you're a hardcore hardware engineer, in which case it'll be easier to craft something from scratch.

  14. Just because it's microcontrollers and DSP chips doesn't mean there aren't worthwhile hacks for it.
    Though I guess it depends on your definition of what makes a hack. Custom drivers, modified components, circuit bending, even just modding the case are all hacks in my opinion.

    It just comes down to drive and interest. Not to mention the fact that this is a relatively inexpensive synth means people are more willing to mess around with it. Of course nothing may come out of it. To say that it's not hackable is a bit of a declaration.

  15. Oh, don't get me wrong – I fully agree that everything can be hacked given sufficient motivation and time. (NB: I'm not Analone who originally declared that this was definitively non-hackable.)

    Focusing just on internal mods for the moment, the barrier to entry and return on effort investment is far higher in modern SMT hardware that requires microscopes, tweezers and solder reflow ovens rather than pliers and big handheld soldering irons.

    Whilst $500 is an amazingly low price for this synth, destroying it by inadvertently lifting a sub-millimeter circuit track off the board is still quite costly and I doubt M-Audio will cover that in the warranty. πŸ™‚

    Circuit bending and sound mods are far easier to explore on either fully or partial analog designs, or older digital designs that used discrete through-hole chips. It's easy to find mods for the Monotron or old Speak'n'Spells (I've done some of that myself) but I don't know of any internal hacks to, say, MicroKorgs.

    However, I'd love to be proven wrong and your point about custom drivers is interesting. What kind of opportunities do you imagine with that? It'd be cool if things like the internal LFOs and modulation matrices were exported so external effects could operate more "in tune" with the internals.

  16. That's very true, and unfortunately i am certainly no expert on the topic. Though I would love to be at some point. It's hard to say what the possibilities of the machine are until someone decides to see how far they can push it. Maybe it will turn out to be a waste of time to do anything with, or maybe there will be something about it's architecture that opens it up and makes it worthwhile for tinkers.

    I guess more than anything, i was just successfully baited by Analone. *shame face*

  17. No worries. We're all comrades in sound passion here and allowing these devices to charge our creative imaginations is a large part of the fun of this stuff. :fistbump:

  18. Heh, nice one. πŸ™‚

    Although, yeah, my analogue snob heart would far prefer that SH101 mod grip be attached to a SH101than something as trite as a MicroKorg. πŸ˜‰

  19. Yeah it is the sound that counts, thats why I find it strange that there are lots of ads and videos telling us how good (and 'aggressive' and 'edgy') it is but very few examples of it actually playing anything substantial.

    I agree that microkorg XL is about where its at, but they were pitching it as a Virus killer! I have no axe to grind here, I love most synths (sad) just have an aversion to marketing spin over substance.

  20. Yup, I fully agree with that. Show, don't tell! Sounds, not spin!

    I was idly considering an Akai MINIAK recently and was quite shocked to find that their official product page listed loads of specs and showed some pictures but had nothing to hear!

    And that's sadly all too common in the industry. Given the decline of bricks & mortar stores (who often don't have a wide variety of stock) y'gotta go off to here, there, and YouTube to audition these devices via noisy show floor recordings and user generated recordings. This'll change. This'll have to change.

  21. with sampled waveforms instead of modeled oscillators though. So why isn't this a rompler ? and a very limited at that…..

  22. This is a rompler.
    blofeld although never advertised as one , is a VA along a wavetable synth.
    Thus in my book they are not comparable (there are other big differences with audio rate mod etc).

    As such i don't even find this cheap.

  23. It has changed. YouTube and Vimeo both have lots of synth demos on them; the people are making the demos rather than the companies. Sad, maybe, but also probably better for all (since the users are less biased).

    The Minak, as you know, is an Alesis Ion in terms of sound… there are TONS of demos out there for the Ion. I'd start with sytnezatory (WC Olo Garb)… he loves the Ion.

  24. Aye, absolutely.

    I've been pushing various MI companies to embrace UGC but they're all kinda reticent for various reasons which I can understand but not quite accept.

  25. Simply two of the best.

    …I still think this is cool. …But those are two of the best.

    You may need a MachineDrum, though. πŸ˜‰

  26. Heh, thanks. I kinda know that – my point was really with MI companies not simplifying the discover/learn about/decide/purchase flow – but appreciate the informative response anyway. πŸ™‚

    (S'not a kick at Alesis, either – other larger companies are just as culpable right now of missing these basic things.)

    For what its worth, it was mostly idle curiosity about the MINIAK. I realised I really didn't need any more synths and spent my cash on more cables & effects for my semi-modulars and a few sets of fancy translucent control vinyl for my decks. πŸ™‚

  27. I have one now, and it's only like 10lbs–but man it's badass. I'm using it with Ableton at the moment and I like it a lot. I have 4 real analog synths, and I never would have thought a sampled VA would hold up- but I was wrong. It kinda compares to a polyphonic version of my studio Electronics ATC-1 (running the ARP 2600 filter on it) which is the squelchiest most in your face beast I have- I have to say, to my suprise Venom really is a mean little bastard. I just made a vid with it. Checkit.

  28. I bought one, the build quality is quite nice, it feels solid. The display is actually very nice, bright green although there is no control over the viewing angle. At first I hated the sounds, could not get anything decent out of it but after a while I stared getting some really good creative sounds out of it. The problem I have is that it seems to be really crap as a midi controller, whatever i do nothing seems to come out of it, I can't get it to transmit any midi notes to my Virus Snow despite everything being enabled in the global parameters and every channel being switched on. Is it a serious instrument? NO, is it a toy? YES, but it is a fun and creative toy . . . . at least it was until I started having so many headaches getting midi out of it so it is looking like it is going to be returned. . . . . . .

  29. The build quality is nice, it is the technical performance that is disappointing to me. It is a toy. Bear in mind that there is a risk with a V1 product, it is not a mature instrument like the Virus. This is really a prototype of something that may be good in a few years. I think I am going to return it because of too many weird bugs and headaches over no standalone midi being transmitted.

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