The annual winter NAMM show in California is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for new gear releases. We look forward to this month’s event with some predictions of what to watch out for.

Each year, the excitement leading up to NAMM is unmistakable as we anticipate new releases from some of our favourite brands. Discussions circulate in every corner of the web and speculation ensues about what will be unveiled. In true pre-NAMM fashion, this leaves many of us sifting through forums, finding nothing more than tall-tales, half-truths, and flat-out lies. Like in previous years, we cut through that noise for NAMM 2019 to get you vetted leaks, rumours and hype about new releases from Akai, Waldorf, Arturia, Korg, Dangerous Music, Sequential and more.

Akai APC Live, Korg Volcas, Minilogue XD and Waldorf Kyra

On January 2, images of a potential Akai release circulated online. APC Live could be read across the device, leaving many to guess Akai will be unveiling a new controller at NAMM 2019. It looks like a cross between MPC Live, APC and Ableton Push, sporting an 8×8 grid matrix, large screen, diverse connectivity and intuitive controls. All of this to offer users, what we imagine will be, endless sampling and audio editing capabilities. The new Akai controller is also rumoured to act as a USB hub and will support condenser mics that need 48v phantom power.

Akai have also published a mysterious seven second video titled “Something amazing is coming…” on Youtube.

The video teases the words ‘Play’, ‘Perform’‘Produce’, before cueing in on the word ‘Force.’ It’s uncertain whether the video supports the APC Live leak, or foreshadows the coming release of an entirely new product called Force.  What we can assume, however, is that Akai has some big news to share, news that will likely be rolling out at NAMM. 

For months, Waldorf has been teasing their new Kyra synth. Though its appearance at this year’s NAMM is unconfirmed, it’s likely we’ll see something of it. Whether that’s a working prototype or finished product remains unknown. What we do know is Kyra will be the first fully FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) powered synthesizer, featuring 128 voices, each with 10 oscillators per voice. Kyra’s FPGA technology will significantly outperform legacy DSP, providing state-of-the-art audio quality and over 4,000 waveshapes among many other features, filters and effects.

 

Less a rumour, Korg will likely release two new Volcas—Volca Drum and Volca Modular—as well as a MAJOR update to Minilogue with Minilogue XD. Volca Drum is rumoured to be capable of complex polyrhythms, have a hybrid modelling engine, a wave shaper and resonator to produce unique sounds. Similarly, Volca Modular will aim to bring modular to the masses with a fully-patchable design, loads of patch points, CV input and powerful sequencing tools. The Minilogue XD promises to be a next-gen polysynth with 3x multi-effects, an expanded sequencer and 4-voice analog. It’s also rumoured to be built on the Prologue MULTI engine and share some similar filters and effects.

Dangerous Music, Something From Sequential, Maybe Arturia and Behringer Clones

There has been a lot of buzz around Dangerous Music lately after they published a nondescript image on their website of an unknown rack unit. The tease has formed somewhat of a consensus among speculators that it might be a next-generation D-box with an improved summing stage, two active summing outputs and other upgraded features. Similarly, with Dave Smith Instruments changing their name back to Sequential, and announcing they’ll discontinue the Prophet 12, the company has fuelled conversations about what synth they’ll release next. A release that we expect will occur at NAMM this year.

In December, Arturia finally revealed Pigments, a software synth they’ve been teasing for a few months. Pigments dives into wavetable synthesis and virtual analog circuitry, laying out the basics of a synthesizer in a single plugin. Each component is completely customizable, allowing users to combine wavetable and virtual analog synthesis to create new, unique sounds. Arturia also find themselves the topic of online conversations about the release of KeyStep Pro: a potential 4-track sequencer with up to 256 steps, 25 keys, multi-coloured backlit pads, solid construction and wooden panels. It’s not official yet, but like Arturia’s BeatStep Pro release, a Pro version of KeyStep would be a logical next move.

Though Behringer was a no-show at NAMM 2018, they’re set to deliver more clones to follow-up their recent successes with emulations of the Model D, Neutron and Deepmind. From a recent Facebook post , instead of attending the conference this year, people are invited to the company’s LA experience center, on the same dates as NAMM, to “witness the launch of super hot new products.” What are these new products? Well, the company recently confirmed a 2019 release of their Pro-1 prototype and have teased other concepts including a clone of the legendary SH-101, 808, and Oberheim OB-Xa.

And while we’re here, a special mention to Dreadbox who recently teased their new creation “Hypnosis” :

The “time effects processor”, is 80’s-inspired with three effects offering a combination of analog and digital effects: an analog three-tank spring reverb with “unique pitch modulation circuit”, analog chorus/flanger and a stereo digital delay with a freeze button. For Stranger Things fans, it would appear to be an absolute must and in time for Season 3 coming out later this year…!

Hypnosis is expected to be available in summer 2019 at a price of €499.

The NAMM Show 2019 will be held 24/27 January, at Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA. For more information visit the official site

9th January, 2019

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