If you had to pick a dream team to build an analog/digital hybrid drum machine, you’d have a tough time beating Linn and Smith. Roger Linn essentially invented the modern drum machine, as the creator of the first commercial programmable sampled-sound drum machine (the LM-1), the Akai MPC60 and MPC3000. (See the Roger Linn Museum.) Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits, created the legendary Prophet line, and spearheaded the creation of MIDI. (See the Dave Smith Museum.)
Dave Smith Instruments revealed at NAMM that the two are collaborating on a new drum machine, in the form of a banner that teased the upcoming “BoomChik.” Bizarrely, the various MPC-loving online forums immediately criticized the exterior look. I wouldn’t read too much into that; these are just early mock-ups and the finished product may be substantially different. (Besides, who cares what it looks like? Paint the thing if you don’t like it.)
The mock-up revealed some of the basic features planned for the BoomChik, though these may change in development. Most exciting: it’s a hybrid digital / analog drum synth, with four analog voices and one digital voice. Half of the unit is a 4×4 set of pads, while the other half handles sounds and recording facilities. The front panel also shows effects (delay with feedback, resonance, reverb, etc.), a resonant low-pass filter, and distortion.
Pricing/Availability: A represent of Dave Smith has confirmed to CDM that the product is planned, with an expected release in about a year and a price range somewhere around US$1000-1500. The BoomChik is described as “very early in development,” though, so all features, product design, pricing, and name are subject to change.
That said, this looks well worth waiting a year. A lot of us have lost interest in MPCs, given greater production flexibility using tools like Ableton Live. But nothing differentiates hardware like boutique gear, brilliant designers, and analog sound production. So, Dave Smith / Roger Linn: we’ll be waiting patiently, and eagerly await what you cook up!
Elsewhere: Music thing got the jump on this, but for some reason most of the readers there hate it. Linn lovers in particular, shield your eyes.