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.
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!