Germany’s Musikmesse 2009.


Since I lean toward the synthesizer slash software side of things the best music gear “fair” in the world is Germany’s Musikmesse. Each spring or “Frülings” as the German’s say, gear geeks, music software wizards and pro-audio companies from the States to Japan all meet in Frankfurt. This year’s shibang is from April 1-4 which if you’re reading this post today means it’s on now. Will any new product convince you it will improve your songs? Nothing I’ve seen so far is making my head explode but there are some nice new toys on the show floor.

Doepfer and Akai

One of my favorite instruments, the Persephone, has been upgraded to “Mark II” status. It’s big new feature is the addition of a second oscillator. To love a Persephone is to play one. It’s a nice feeling high end instrument. The best way I can describe it is something in between a Theramin and slide guitar. Doepfer steps away from the Lego – build your own mindset and released the Dark Energy. The Dark Energy is a mini 100% analog synth with a built-in USB/Midi interface. At 400 EUR what’s not to like? Tascam seems to have noticed Mackie’s troubles (their Chinese factory went out of business) and released a new line of inexpensive analog mixers including the M-164, M-164FX with built-in digital effects and the M-164UF with built-in USB.


SSL released a new version of it’s Duende which has an improved audio engine and includes a new reverb called X-Verb. Novation hit us with there new versions of their popular controllers, the Zero and SL now at MKIII status. I have some friends who were disappointed by earlier versions of these. Most of the complaints were in the “faders are too cheap” category. Nevertheless, Novation added more pink lights on the new babies so I can’t help staring. Akai seems to be on a mission the past few trade shows and Messe09 is no different. They have a new basic Pad box, the MPD18 and a new 88key weighted controller the MPK88. What really has my mouth ready to scream “Reactivate!” is the new Miniak synth with built-in vocoder. I always thought Akai made the best software vocoder (D.C. Vocoder) but alas it never went OS-X. If the Miniak sounds as good I’ll grab one for sure. Presonus released a DAW called Studio One. Are they crazy? Why isn’t everyone using Ableton at this point? Oh yeah, in case you didn’t hear Live 8 is out of beta and ready to buy.


Update. So a few more niceties have crossed my radar. Jomox has updated it’s popular analog kick drum module the MBase now called MBase II. I believe the compressor is the new add on in this highly recommended box. I love mine: video. Rob Papen has a new software bass synth called SubBoomBass. I doubt SubBoomBass will break much ground sound wise but I constantly go to other Papen synths when Im doing certain styles of music and want to troll a zillion presets. MFB must be reading my mind because the only thing I love more than drum machines are semi-modular drum synthesizers and that’s exactly what they just announced. They call it Schlagzwerg and I’ll be buying that (680 EURO) before you can say Berlin!

More Musikmesse 2009 round-ups here: SonicState Create Digital Music Synthtopia

photo credit: joaquinenriquezbeltran

Published by

Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

7 thoughts on “Germany’s Musikmesse 2009.”

  1. The Mini(h)a(c)k must be pretty junky. Alesis is so bad at synth.

    The Dark Energy, however looks VERY promising. Chasing one of those as soon as I can..

    As for Vocoder, Orange was classic and has a nice specifictone. There are a lot of methods available to Vocode now (EHX = fun, TC = sort of Vocoder, Korg Triton was not too bad of a vocoder, etc…).

    In the software side you can do anything you want. Live, you are still limited. I would love to see someone’s review who is pushing the EXH voice box. The Holy Strain (pitch shifting) makes me a little concerned running my weird stuff through it… For the non-software it is all about tone, but not at the compromise of tracking speed.

  2. Most people I find that knock Alesis synths never actually sat down and played with an Ion, Micron, or Andromeda.

    The Micron sounds amazing and has incredible features, unequaled in any other synths in that price range – or even above it. What other portable synth can you name that has 8-way multitimbral splits, an x0x grid drum machine, a real-time looping sequencer, transposable midi-clips (a la Ableton Live), a great arpeggiator, a very nice sounding vocoder (more JMJ than Kraftwerk), and basic effects?

    The problem is the Micron was hampered by an unusual user interface, which many people found too minimal. Once you learn it, its quite easy to navigate, and very fast. But of course, everyone just wants a million presets and a filter cutoff knob.

    I’m excited to see Akai’s revision of the Micron synth engine. Hopefully they will have made some improvements to the UI.

    Oliver – not everyone loves Live unconditionally. :)

    I use it extensively, but I always end up mixing down and doing automation in Logic. Additionally, for sequencing external hardware, Live is pretty basic and doesn’t handle bank switching easily. Of course there’s work-arounds, and the productivity enhancements are hard to turn away from, but Live still has some maturing to do as an app. I’ve been using it since its first beta, and have followed its evolution very closely. I’m excited to see what version 8 brings, but ultimately I would be happy if they finally got really solid midi sync, and a few other minor fixes.

    I applaud Presonus for bringing a new DAW out. It looks to be a far better product than the lite version of Cubase most FW interfaces ship with, and it can’t hurt to have fresh ideas and more competition in the field. Of course being a crusty Logic/Live user, its going to take a lot to get me to use it. :)

  3. Hang on – I never realised AKAI bought Alesis? – howcome the AKAI synth is using Micron/Ion engine? – I have to say I’ve always intended the Micron to be the next ‘modern’ VA type synth I buy, I’ve heard the sound is very good, but god above all I think they look awesome haha – so that AKAI is like a micron with a vocoder- sounds cool – they must be directly trying to take on KORG with that one… I never realised the Micron had a x0X sequencer in itself – that would be something Id really like.

    I’m actually sad though cos the new mBase is definitely a good bit better than my mBase01 if it has the built in compressor :( – when I first saw the press release I thought it was just ‘oh an extra knob and some more presets’ maybe – but now Im depressed lol

    The Dark Energy looks cool – but it does have a fair bit of competition in that price and class these days – Blofeld and Mopho (actually I cant think of any others but theyre must be :p)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *