With the Winter NAMM trade show under way in California, we round up the most exciting new releases and product announcements.



Following the introduction of the AIRA range last year, Roland have surprised us again with a return to analogue technology in the form of the new JD-Xi, a hybrid synth with both analogue and digital features. The JD in the synth’s name is a nod to the JD-800, a digital synth produced by Roland in the early 90s which was notable for its knob-laden front panel. The Xi follows suit, equipped with an array of hands-on controls. There will also be a bigger and more powerful model, the JD-Xa, set to be introduced at Musikmesse in April. Dorian Concept introduces the Xi below.

Roland have also expanded the AIRA range with the introduction of the MX-1 Mix Performer. While perhaps not as exciting as the other drum machines and synths in the range, it’s a logical addition to the line-up, integrating the other AIRA units nicely.


Former software specialists and now – thanks to the MiniBrute, MicroBrute and Beatstep – major players in the hardware world, Arturia have introduced a “high-end” audio interface, the AudioFuse. Arturia have made a series of very bold claims about the performance of the product, hinting at class-leading low latency, ultra-flexible connectivity and smoother workflow than rival devices. Priced at €549/$599 and available from spring, the AudioFuse seems to offer a very impressive feature set for the price. Check out the video below:

Arturia have also expanded the BeatStep step sequencer range with a new BeatStep Pro, a larger unit than the original with two monophonic step sequencers (up to 64 steps per sequence) and a 16-track drum sequencer with one track per pad. The BeatStep Pro will be priced at €249/$299. Check it out below.


The long-awaited Korg reissue of the classic ARP Odyssey has finally been unveiled. There’s also a new ARP webpage at arpsynth.com. The new Odyssey is an 86% recreation of the original with a 37-note slim keyboard. MIDI in, USB-MIDI and a headphone socket have been added to bring the design up to date. The synth also includes all three generations of ARP’s original filter circuitry, selectable via a toggle switch, and a new ‘drive’ function to overload the VCA for a rougher sound.

Among Korg’s other offerings, we’re also very interested in the SQ-1 step sequencer that accompanies the new MS-20M module. A modern successor to the classic SQ-10 sequencer, it looks like it offers a great alternative to the BeatStep.


Casio might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of pro audio gear, but they’ve made some interesting kit over the years, from the CZ synths to the cheap-and-cheerful RZ-1 drum machine with its primitive sampling features. They’ll be unveiling their latest offerings at NAMM. The Trackformer XW-PD1 is a groovebox based on the sound engine of the XW synth series, while the XW-DJ1 DJ Controller is an unusual DJ device with a 7-inch platter to replicate the feel of vinyl, cue points, tempo syncing, effects and looping. The XW-DJ1 is compatible with Algoriddim’s djay2 app, and will also work in tandem with the XW-PD1 for live remixing.

The XW-DJ1 DJ Controller will be priced at $299 and available in January. The XW-PD1 Groove Center will be available from March, priced at $399.

casio xw-pd1 trackformer


23rd January, 2015


  • Mini keys.

    Why Roland? Why?

    The keys are bad enough on the System 1 and they’re full size!

  • Fuck knows why!

  • They made a huge mistake! Either full size keys or a module would have sold it for me.

  • Who are all these small people roland target for products with mini keys? I bet it sounds fantastic! but you will not be able to play it.

  • Its for people who dont need keys to play on but rather buttons to get a certain sound out of the synth

  • Then why not just make a desktop module? Mini keys are good for nothing! Can’t play em, can’t rack mount it!

  • Maybe Japanese people have smaller hands? Who knows… I for one am definitely getting that Beatstep Pro, the normal Beatstep is very useful in my studio, and the Pro seems too add all the features I was missing (for example the third CV out) and more…About those AKAI synthies, are they gonna sound as bad as the Rhythm Wolf? The Timbre Wolf looks interesting, but they lost all credibility with the Wolf…

  • I’m angry at korg !! I bought a MS-20 mini, and it’s wonderful, but I never ever use the mini keyboard, and now , a few years after they come back with this module !
    The same for Arturia, I bought the beatstep, and again, it’s amazing, but if I knew they were going to put out the beatstep pro I

  • I’m angry at korg !! I bought a MS-20 mini, and it’s wonderful, but I never ever use the mini keyboard, and now , a few years after they come back with this module !
    The same for Arturia, I bought the beatstep, and again, it’s amazing, but if I knew they were going to put out the beatstep pro I would have kept my cash for sure !
    I’m not angry about the products, I’m juste angry about the way the release stuff , because they want to make you feel exactly like I do. Or maybe I’m just too much in a

  • I’m just too much in a hurry ! Anyway, sorry about my double post

  • Roland what is this? A keyboard for ants!

  • Total fail for Korg with the MS-20m. Enough with the weird shaped desktop units already. A proper 19″ rack version would have been so much more useful in a studio environment.

    The NAMM winner for me was the Koma Komplex sequencer. The sheer amount of I/O was impressive. Innovative features and decent price point. Honorable mentions to Sputnik modular and Expert Sleepers for the USAMO sync box.

  • You should cover the Linnstrument. Looks really cool and an afordable option for us drooling over the Continuum.

  • Very very bad!!! Roland is going back………. 🙁

  • Ben – they probably just upgrade their products based on consumer feedback. If you and others hadn’t bought the originals, they wouldn’t know what to improve on, so smile =)


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