The headline is pure genius
The trend of re-releasing or updating classic synths, which we saw at NAMM in January, continued apace at the biggest musical instrument fair in the world in Frankfurt last week. But for once there was a strong British presence, with innovative new products, as well. In Hall 5.1, where most of the synthesiser manufacturers …
Keep an eye out for people giving away old organs on freecycle. Some of the later ones have midi output you can plug in to your PC and control stuff with - Bristol, Yoshimi etc. If you can get one with the footpedals you're made!
Not so much fun for live gig but well good for winding up the neighbours!
One of the wonderful things about the web is that niche instruments have found their widely dispersed audience and become viable projects. There are also kits and open projects like the Mutable Instruments Shruthi that are affordable and provide features that for many Yeats the big boys seemed unable to realise were what people really want. To an outsider it may look like nostalgia at times, but remember that even the recreations of old synths are providing access to instruments that are very flexible. After all, no one complains that Fender Strays and Precisions are still made much the same as 60 years ago!
But no money for any of that. And no space to put it anywhere anyway.
I've got Korg, Novation, Akai, M-Audio and Native Instruments (Maschine and Kore) controllers. So I feel pretty covered. I still haven't set up and started using what I've already got, to any great potential. It's already overkill if you've got a nice 61 key keyboard (which I do in the form of an ensoniq which has a beautiful Fatar keyboard in it). I'm big on programming drums and any one of my Korg (padKONTROL), Akai (MPD) or NI Maschine, would be the icing on the cake. Plus the Korg has a nice x/y touchpad.
A lot of that stuff seemed very boutique, which is fine. I encourage it. I hope one day to be able to afford it. But a lot of people these days in the mass market just want integration. Native Instruments are providing that now with the news that they will support the VST plugin standard, so that opens up a whole new world. Quite a bold claim, but if anyone can pull it off they can. There will probably be a few manufacturers that it doesn't work with, but even if they get 70-80 percent compatibility it will make it very useful to a lot of people.
They have form in this field in the guise of Kore, but a lot of people didn't get that technology and they pulled it before most people realised its power (it hosts third party VST plugins as well). They haven't really integrated that tech into Maschine and in the process they have extremely pissed off a significant percentage of their user base. They are still supporting Kore for now, but it remains to be seen how far they will take it.
If I got anything it would probably be one of the new KONTROL keyboards (with the new VST integration). They have to run with this tech for a while, because even if they are the biggest company of its kind in this field, if they pulled the plug on Maschine or KONTROL, it might actually really hurt them commercially. They might have just about got away with the Kore debacle, but still a lot of people who got burned will never trust them again.
I have designs for an all in one workstation keyboard/controller on paper(3D) and in my head. The tech is there now, it needn't be expensive. It could be built to go out the door for a couple/few grand. It wouldn't need to be massive in size, and it wouldn't need loads of weird gizmos (though I have those too), just a basic synth/sampler/drum/recorder setup with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. But it's just a pipe dream. It does look incredible though and until I see something as good as that, I'm not going to bother with anything else.
I'm not alone, very few happy people in controller land. Maybe in a few years something striking will come out and some kind of standard will be set. For now it's just loads of different manufacturers pulling in different directions, but maybe it needs to be that way. I must do those 3D renders of my design some time.
Ho hum, I'm off to download the new FLStudio 12 with the new vector interface. I don't even have a controller hooked up. I'll probably just use my mouse like 90 percent of the time.
I've got limited space, but have a 5 tier A-frame and a tall 19" rack.
If you're into virtual synths then good for you, I just like to play on the keyboard and record the results, most of my synths send all the control tweaks as CC, so you just play and record. Can't get much more simple than that.
I tend to find that VSTs are like driving a car on a games console instead of the real thing.
That was an ace article and it reminds me just how far keyboards have come...
I recall being mesmerised by the likes of Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michelle Jarre and all those stalwarts of the analogue and very early digital keyboard era
Then the keyboards started changing, advancing and with that along came the wizzkids like Thomas Dolby, Vangelis and the synth era bands like Depeche Mode, the Human League, OMD and the brilliant productions of the Art of Noise with their extensive use of the Fairlight CMI (Something I endeavour to own one fine day)
In this era of Logic Pro and Midi compatibility, where instrument sounds can be sampled, purchased and reproduced by any Mac, PC or Midi compatible keyboard it's nice to see that some companies are still developing synths that stand out from the norm, the Seaboard is a prime example of that.
Some of the kit is simply quite amazing, but what was really great to see and hear was the old school synths in the "Analogue Ghetto" video. Those old school oscillator driven devices that look like old telephone exchanges (or badly cabled data cabinets) kick out that absolutely unique sound, man it sent shivers down my spine..
El Reg, you've outdone yourselves with this 5 pager, absofuckinglutely amazing!
The sound can be imitated, the synth is not reproduced by the computer since you can't touch it. You have to use some sort of controller with parameter mapping.
We may feel we've developed and tech is more advanced, but why is modern music so dull and plastic sounding? not to mention it is over-compressed to sound louder.
Ever since reading an article many years ago in Music Technology (or was it Sound On Sound), I've associated Paul Wiffen with the legendary Synthex. How he managed to wait 4 whole pages before getting onto the reborn Elka is beyond me.
Now, what's the minimum number of (human) organs I can survive on if I'm to get a new Synthex, a dusty old Fairlight CMI and one of them lovely new Sequential Prophets..?
Recently underwent extreme trauma when I found my otherwise pristine SH101 had developed a scratchy pot after sitting years in storage. I've got an MC202 too.
My best man's brother was an early adopter. When I told him what his mint condition DX7 might be worth after seeing a beat-up one in a Guitar Center, he almost coughed out his teeth.
Ok, I really love that proper hardware synths are coming back onto the market, but it's a market that I'm not in - partly because of space...
...but tracing cables, plugging things in and out, setting up various communication channels (MIDI in this example) and then troubleshooting the whole lot when it packs up is what I do as a day job. When I get home I don't want any of that shit - I just want to make music. Therefore VSTs (or AUs as they are for me) are my choice.