Guess who’s gotten really bad at keeping a lid on upcoming product announcements? The manufacturers.
We’re suddenly utterly awash with teasers. Yes, it seems from intentional leaks to advance campaigns, we’re now destined to see every significant new piece of music gear before we see it, cast in shadows and partial photos and more. Apparently, the folks doing publicity think that this will cause people on the Internet to talk about them. They’re … right, in fact. And with the biggest American trade show for music gear landing next week, we’re in a flood of stuff.
I would willfully ignore such things, but I think it’s worth a quick round-up just to remind ourselves which booths we should visit next week in Anaheim at NAMM. And amidst more predictable teasers, the other good news is, the synths just keep on coming and coming. Who would have thought it? 2012 could be the year of the synth – again. (Even with MIDI DIN, no less!)
CDM is proud to bring you all this news, last. (I made the coffee and everything, but then seemed not to actually post this stuff when it arrived.)
Let’s take a sneak peak.
The best teasers:
NI tipped me off to their new @Traktor feed. There, we see, curiously, something resembling the colored buttons on color-mod monomes. And that’s all I can see, but I’m told we’ll see more from NI soon. (Note that NI doesn’t have a NAMM booth, so I don’t necessarily expect a NAMM announcement.)
Oddly, after I made a reference to the StealthMountain account, I see that tweet reads “Sneak Peak.” I’m going to assume that either that was a cheeky attempt to attract the ire of snarky grammar-correcting Twitter bots after I made mention of them, or that I should shut up as a lot of 2012 will be about me utterly butchering the beautiful German language.
Ken MacBeth takes the wraps off his MicroMac on The Facebook. “Micro” for Ken means basically “normal size” for the rest of us – the guy designs Paul Bunyan-style modulars. The Micro looks nice, indeed, three oscillators, loads of CV, and a VCF, plus Ken hopes for portamento and glide. This is still a prototype, but we hope to catch it in person. Compare the earlier proto design, second from top (which I actually quite like – anyone else?):
French synth maker Eowave is definitely on my must-visit list, with not one but two compelling new synths. The Domino (top) is a little more in the meat-and-potatoes category, a lovely, minimal analog monosynth. Koma (second top) is a bit more modern-looking and different, combining an analog bassline synth with a push-button step sequencer.
More has leaked out about the upcoming Casio XW-P1. And yeah, basically, it sounds like what we’re getting is a general-purpose workstation, more along the lines of what Roland and Yamaha offer than the personality of the beloved CZ series. (SonicState does the math, too – it’s been since 1988.) The bad news: it’s a big workstation keyboard rather than something a bit more unique. The good news: coming from Casio, I’ll bet we see some serious value pricing … and you can still get your CZ on via eBay.
SonicState quotes Keyboard:
“A Mono solo section with up to six oscillators: two virtual analog, two PCM, noise, and external audio. Poly section with wide variety of gig- ready sounds. Drawbar organ mode. Six-way HexTone multis. Nine-track step sequencer with dedicated drum track.”
We’ve also got more details on Akai’s second controller-plus-software combo offering, the MPC Studio. (Curiously, if it’s small enough to carry with you, it’s called “Studio.” If it’s so big, you have to leave it in your studio, it’s called “Renaissance.” Got it?) As with the MPC Renaissance, the big story here is that you get a “dumb” hardware controller that doesn’t produce sound, and the operation itself all happens on your computer via software, a la Native Instruments’ Maschine. Unlike NI, though, Akai doesn’t really have a track record to speak of in software, so the big variable is how well their software works.
The MPC Studio, meanwhile, looks far more luggable and is presumably more affordable than its nonetheless cool-looking, monster truck-style bigger sibling.
It does look very, very slim. Unfortunately, with all those buttons crammed on the right side, it looks like a remote control for a home theater. I’ll be interested to try it in person and see if that’s usable in real life.
http://www.akaiprompc.com/mpcstudio.php [yup - URL still looks like "Prom PC" to me]
I’m probably most intrigued by Livid’s latest controller, the CNTRL-R, made in collaboration with M-nus Records and Richie Hawtin. That collaboration is interesting just because of the amount of live parameter control Rich and company are doing live. And Livid and their booth-mates should have loads of good toys. Livid’s Peter Nyboer writes in comments:
We (Livid) are showing with Mode Machines at E1009. We’ll be previewing some eurorack MIDI+analog things that we’ve been working on, the CNTRL:R that ships next month, and all our other controllers and DIY parts. I will also stand in the acoustic center of all the electric guitars and attempt an air guitar performance mimicking all the simultaneous shredding.
Nord has a new organ and a new drum module coming. Sweet. I’m holding out for a Nord Virginal.
“The drums of the future come from the past” is the tagline.
Or to put it another way, “The key to saving the future, can be found only in the past.” 
Or to put it another way, “The future is history.” 
Or to put it another way, “He will erase your past to protect your future.” 
Or to put it another way, “Fight the future.” 
Or to put it another way, “In the future, one man is the law.” 
Or to put it another way, “The people aboard Flight 35 are about to land 1,000 years from where they planned to.” [6, and I hope that doesn't happen during my Delta connection in Atlanta on the way to LA ... again]
If you want to hire me to do your next PR campaign – yes, conflict of interest, blah, blah – give me a call. Several commenters have said I’m a great shill. I think that’s a compliment.
 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
 Twelve Monkeys.
 X-Files: Fight the Future.
 Judge Dredd.
Show of hands – how many of you got them all?
Also on our teaser tracker:
Loads of new Eurorack by the likes of Pittsburgh Modular, WDM, Syntech, LZX, but the most eagerly awaited modules will probably be the Make Noise Oscillator (yay!) and Echophon (basically +pitchdelay http://soundhack.henfast.com/freeware/ in a Eurorack module)
We know Teenage Engineering is bringing something, and they win the award for most obscure teaser video. (TV dinner, suggests one reader.)
I look at 10 things I’m excited about at NAMM, though I think I may have to remove the one about “surprises.”
See you from Anaheim.