Like a World’s Fair of all the invention in music technology, the big trade shows still gather many of the latest creations from around the globe. And while the NAMM show in California is big, Musikmesse is bigger: spanning some 11 halls (together with a live lighting and event show called Pro Light+Sound), it’s the biggest on Earth. Having covered NAMM for German publication DE:BUG, I’m thrilled to get to do the reverse and highlight the best of Messe for California-based Keyboard Magazine.

Musikmesse 2012 Gear Report [Keyboard Magazine]

Instead of trying to cover absolutely everything, this is the stuff I found especially significant – and I got the luxury of giving into my personal bias toward things with keys on them. Some of the highlights:

  • RME getting 36 channels, 24-bit, 192 kHz audio … on a computer and on your iPad. (Also, thanks to RME for the delicious beer.)
  • Mode Machines’ wonderful German x0xb0x, SID drum machine, and other treats.
  • More accurate modeled pianos, including the epic ALPHA with its full-sized hammer action inside. (No, not what keyboard makers usually call hammer action – like, the whole hammer.)
  • Roland’s clever mechanism for using your iPhone to record and jam along with their instruments, wirelessly. (See my hands-on video, below).

And, of course, there’s lots of gear to look at. It wasn’t new to Messe, but if my ethics circuitry were to short-circuit and I decided to hide something under a coat, I sure do love that Buchla modular and touch plate, for all its quirky strangeness. In fact, apologies to the folks at Moog, but I have to recount this story. Evidently a couple of Moog reps went over to the Buchla display to try out the new modular, and came back frustrated about the touchplate and the lack of a conventional keyboard. (Believe me, they’re not wrong: these can keep you from making useful sound if you don’t have a lot of time.) Now, I cut my teeth in analog on two modulars side by side, an original Buchla and Moog setup. I was charmed by the reenactment of the controversy over Buchla – its unconventional input, its creatively-worded labels, and its different approach to patching. I talked to others with the same split reaction, not just Moog. It’s all the more topical after my passing mention of a giant sphere triggered a minor flame war in comments. (And don’t get me wrong: as I said before, I love keyboards, and still favor them over other means of input.)

I always loved both the Buchla and Moog for their differences, and the fact that these philosophical difference survive decades later gives some hope for the longevity of what we do – sometimes even the longevity of our peculiarities.

Let me know what your favorite finds were from Messe, even if you were watching online. (In all honesty, your odds may be better than if you get lost on the giant show floors!)

  • CPRoth

    Hey Peter, just letting ya know your link to the “Gear Report” calls up a blank page at the Keybard site. :(

    • Lodsb
    • Martin W

    • Peter Kirn

      Yes, all links are now fixed.

    • Peter Kirn

      Yes, all links are now fixed.

    • Peter Kirn

      Augh, sorry, fixed. I was posting this from an airport lounge and thought I was correcting the URL. Seems Keyboard’s CMS has some … very unusual URLs. 😉 Fixed now. My fault.

  • owltopus

    Alphasphere concept is great, hoping someone else picks up their surface material, or at least makes it more affordable.   Both Alphasphere and the wonderful sounding Driftbox sound the most appealing. 

    • Peter Kirn

      I have some video of Driftbox, too, hoping to hear more … they’re working on wider distribution. Stay tuned.

  • Martin W

    Buchla – Moog
    these are of course theological questions …
    West Coast – East Coast
    Mac – PC
    Barca – Real
    Arsenal – Spurs

    C’mon you Buchla …

    • Peter Kirn

      Ha. Hilarious.

  • clumma

    Something must be wrong… there are a couple of musical instruments in that photo set. Ah, never mind: one of them is no longer made and the other is not being made yet.

    • Peter Kirn

      Burn! 😉 Well, to keep everything in order, I make sure not to play any actual music when I perform. Heh…

  • Tony Galetti

    evo! … A game changer!

  • Jhhl

     I bet you meant to write:
     …the reverse and highlight the best of Musikmesse for California-based Keyboard Magazine.

    • Peter Kirn

      You win! Yes. Whoops.

  • Polite Society

    That c64 drum machine/303 looks quite mintox.  I want one. :)~

  • Oootini
    • Peter Kirn

      Yeah, I think in this case there were a number of products that were not in any way for sale. I think he just basically takes everything he owns up to the booth. 😉

    • Peter Kirn

      Yeah, I think in this case there were a number of products that were not in any way for sale. I think he just basically takes everything he owns up to the booth. 😉