Best of NAMM 2016

Best of NAMM
Every January the music tech world descends on Anaheim, California to show off its new gear at the annual NAMM show, and while the past few years have seen companies like Korg release compact synths, and Roland and Yamaha revive classic hardware in new forms, the overriding trend at this year’s event was modular synths – and lots of them.

Formerly a niche concern, Eurorack format modular gear has been growing in popularity with affordable, entry level systems like the AIRA System-1m being released over the past year.

As well as all the Modular offerings, there were plenty of other unexpected announcements: Korg’s Minilogue, Arturia’s MatrixBrute and Teenage Engineering’s intriguing audio and video synth, the OP-Z to name a few.

Probably the most talked about announcement at NAMM was the MatrixBrute from Arturia. The MatrixBrute is an all new 100% analog synthesizer, featuring a 49-key keyboard, 3 “brute” oscillators, Steiner-Parker and ladder filters, 3 envelope generators, and an outlandish modulation matrix that aims to make patch-cable systems obsolete. The matrix features 256 buttons, and allows you to route any of 16 modulation sources to any of 18 modulation destinations, as well as functioning as a sequencer and preset selector. You can watch Arturia’s new promo video below.

Another new release that looks as though it will have big implications in the future is the new wireless MIDI adapter from Yamaha. The release date is still TBA, however it should retail for $50, making it an affordable way to clear up clutter from wires in the studio.

Head on over to FACT Magazine for the full scoop on the best offerings from this year’s NAMM conference!

Interested in Synthesizers? We have a Synthesis program that allows you to work hands-on with professional hardware! If you have any questions, make sure to send me an email!

Bass Synth Reviews from a Bassist: Novation MiniNova

They say big things come in small packages. Whomever said that could not have been more right about the Novation MiniNova.

Features

First and foremost – the MiniNova comes well endowed with a whopping 256 preset sounds with space to save 128 sounds. That’s a whopping 384 sounds you can have in your arsenal. The synth also comes with a 12 band vocoder, 3 LFO’s, as well as an arpeggiator.

All of your presets are separated by categories which allows you to choose which sound you need more easily!

Experience

As soon as I plugged in the MiniNova I was excited to test it out as i’ve been looking at this synth for a while now. Naturally I went to the bass section first. I was surprised. Some of the tones were fun and some were a little dark, but they all sounded great. It was the same vibe as I went through all presets. My favorite one is the “PowaChor” setting in the Keyboard section. I will admit some of the tones were a tad-bit silly, but if used under the right circumstance could be the difference between a good song and a smash hit. They keys are smaller as well, which could be a disadvantage to those who have been hands. Nonetheless, the MiniNova is still a fantastic synth.

Highlights

  • Extremely Easy to Use
  • An almost endless amount of great sounds for you to choose from.
  • Options to Animate or Arpeggiate each sound

Below you can watch the New Jack Swing legend Teddy Riley rip the Vocoder on the MiniNova like no other.

For the Novation MiniNova’s easy to use system, size, and sounds,  I have to rate this a 4.5 out of 5!

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Ableton Live Meetup 8/21

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Interested in boosting your knowledge of Ableton?  On Friday, August 21st, the Mmmmaven Project will be hosting their FREE monthly Ableton Live Meetup.  These meetups allow musicians of all levels to fine tune their producing and mixing skills in Ableton Live with the help of Mmmmaven instructors and special guests.

These meetups are also a great opportunity to network with other musicians and get involved in Boston’s music scene.

Production Classroom

This month’s topics are:

Sound Design w/ Hardware Synthesizers in Ableton Live taught by Mitchell Owens, Berklee graduate, sound designer and electronic composer/producer from Durham, North Carolina.

Synthesizer petting zoo

Interested in learning to DJ or produce music with Ableton Live?  Click here for more information on Mmmmaven and available courses.

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Roland unveils the JD-XA synth, which brings digital and analog together

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Although most of the attention may be on Roland’s AIRA Modular, they also revealed a synthesizer at the Musikmesse show in Frankfurt; the JD-XA. This synth combines both analog and digital synthesis engines in one instrument, and allows you to use each engine independently. Roland promises that you’ll be able to blend the two, creating unique textures, and also route the digital sound through the analog filters.

The 64-voice synth also features a 16-track sequencer and a wide variety of on-board effects, microphone-controlled modulation and vocoder. There’s no details on pricing or availability yet, however you can check out more info on the JD-XA in the video below or on the Roland website.

For more info on the JD-XA reveal, check out the Factmag blogpost.

Want to gain hands on experience using hardware synthesizers? Click here for more info our new Synthesis Program!