Following this year’s instalment of the NAMM trade show in Anaheim, California, we bring you our selected highlights of the new releases.
Roland have unveiled a new package based on their System-500 modules. The System-500 Complete Set includes a 512 twin VCO module, a 521 twin VCF, 530 twin VCA, 540 twin envelope generator and LFO and a 572 effects module, all housed in a bespoke wood and metal flight case with integrated power supply. It’s a full starter setup in one, but it doesn’t come cheap. Price will be around £1,600.
Roland have also introduced a slightly unusual new module in the form of the A-01 Controller + Generator, which appears to be part of the Boutique range. It’s a small unit (the same size as the Boutique modules) with an on-board step sequencer, MIDI (USB, DIN and Bluetooth) and CV/gate outputs and a very basic 8-bit monophonic synth engine. Like the more powerful Boutique synth modules, it can also sit in the K-25m keyboard unit.
The big news from Korg is the Minilogue, a four-voice analogue synth priced at just $500 (£435 in the UK). It already looks likely to be a big success for Korg, marking a new affordable price point for polyphonic analogue synths. The entire synth architecture has been developed specially for the Minilogue, rather than revamping old circuit designs, and from what we’ve heard so far it sounds excellent. We’re hugely excited about it. We’ve got one on the way, so expect a full review very soon.
Korg are also showing off a prototype of a new Volca unit. The Volca FM comes in a cheeky colour scheme inspired by the Yamaha DX range and features a three-voice FM synth engine with six operators per voice. What’s more, we’re told it can even load DX7 patches via SysEx. A great addition to the range. Price and availability to be confirmed but we’d expect the RRP to be on a par with the other Volca units.
Dave Smith Instruments & Tom Oberheim
Following the unlikely alliance of Korg and ARP for the reissued Odyssey, it’s time for another couple of former rivals to team up. Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim have joined forces to create the OB-6, based on the synth architecture of Oberheim’s classic SEM modules. At an RRP of $2,999, the synth isn’t as expensive as we might have feared, clocking in at the same price as Smith’s own Prophet-6.
The ever-intriguing Swedish company has introduced three new Pocket Operator synths. The PO-20 Arcade, PO-24 Office and PO-28 Robot carry on where the previous models left off, introducing new sounds and ways of making music. All three are priced at $59. Check out the PO-20 below and the rest of the new models here.
Meanwhile, over on their website, they’re teasing the new OP-Z, a “wireless 16 track multitimbral synthesiser with fully sequenceable parameter locks, video synthesis and the introduction of step components…” More info on that one as soon as we get it.
We were secretly hoping for a polyphonic version of Arturia’s much-loved MiniBrute, but they delivered something far more unexpected. The MatrixBrute is a monstrous monophonic beast “as flexible as a modular system but offering presets… A dream machine for everyone interested in creating a sound palette of their own.” Based around a huge 16×16 modulation matrix, the full spec looks seriously impressive. It’s due on sale in spring but pricing is still to be confirmed. Be warned: all those front panel controls are likely to come at a price.