THE GRAND 3
THE PITCH Yamaha C7 grand and CP-80 electric grand, Steinway D, Bösendorfer Imperial, and Nordiska upright pianos.
THE BIG DEAL All-new samplng sessions compared to The Grand 2. Two mic positions at up to 20 velocity layers. Onboard reverb, EQ, plus a full tuning editor. Uses VST3 spec for best results but supports VST2, AU, even ReWire.
WE THINK You should watch Keyboard for a full review soon!
$449.99 list/approx. $350 street, steinberg.net
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS PIANOS
AKOUSTIK A LA CARTE
THE PITCH Pick and choose updated versions of the four pianos formerly available only in the $229 Akoustik Piano software.
THE PIANOS Berlin (shown), a Steinway D; New York, a Bechstein D-280; Vienna, a Bösendorfer Imperial; Upright, a Steingraeber 130. All four work with the free Kontakt Player or your full Kontakt soft sampler. $79 each or $189 for all four, native- instruments.com
BACK TO THE FUTURE
THE PITCH The PC3 gets a load of most-requested upgrades.
WHAT UPGRADES? Full backward compatibility with K series sounds and setups. Has 128MB of non-volatile sample memory, so there’s no reload wait after turning it off and on. Loads WAV files. Takes USB thumb drives. Still does everything the original PC3 does: VA oscillators, KB-3 mode, VAST, all that.
WHY NOW? Andrew Lloyd Weber’s people asked Kurzweil for a modern K-compatible synth that could load user samples. Thus began the PC3K project. $TBA, kurzweilmusicsystems.com
THIS IS A USB MIC?
THE PITCH The world’s first
THX-certified USB mic.
THE BIG DEAL Has three capsules, two of them in an X-Y orientation. Patterns include cardioid, omni, figure-eight, and a stereo mode we think is doing mid-side miking. Headphone out effectively makes it an audio interface.
WE THINK This has gotta be the coolest USB mic we’ve ever seen. $149.95 list, bluemic.com
ONE GOOD NOCTURN DESERVES ANOTHER
THE PITCH The control surface features of the sells-like-hotcakes Nocturn knob box, now with keys.
THE BIG DEAL High-quality Fatar synth action. Automap for controlling plugins. Transport and mixer control of every major DAW. LED-ringed endless knobs. Bigger drum pads than Novation’s otherwise high-end SL Mk. II. WE THINK It’s a bitchin’ controller, giving you all the essentials — keys, pads, knobs, and software integration — for a remarkable price.
25 keys: $329.95 list/approx. $300 street; 49 keys: $379.95 list/approx. $250 street, novationmusic.com
BITNOTIC OCTAVIAN 1.1 THEORY IN PRACTICE
THE PITCH The popular iPhone keyboard calculator now lets you hear the scales, chords, and modes instead of just seeing them.
THE BIG DEAL Shows you chords and scales with any root, any mode, and any inversion. Just about any chord extension or alteration you can think of is accounted for. High-quality piano samples do the playback.
WE THINK It’s a cheat sheet no keyboardist should leave home without. $2.99 at iTunes App Store, bitnotic.com
ROLAND SP-404SX GROOVE SAMPLER RELOADED
THE PITCH Roland’s most popular portable sampler gets even more powerful.
THE KEY SPECS Battery power and built-in mic for sampling anywhere. Records in 16-bit uncompressed WAV format. Glitch-free switching between 29 built-in effects, which include a voice changer and a looper. Takes SDHC cards up to 32GB for tons of sampling time. $465 list/approx. $400 street, rolandus.com
DAVE SMITH POLY EVOLVER POT EDITION GET YOUR TWEAK ON
THE PITCH Putting pots (old-school knobs) on the Prophet ’08 instead of endless encoders was so cheered that Dave did the same to the Poly Evolver Keyboard.
THE BIG DEAL Prophet-5 style knobs give great tactile and visual feedback when, say, you’re sweeping a filter in live performance.
THE GOOD DEAL A kit with the circuit board and knobs to convert your old PEK is $399 and easy to DIY. It’s $449 factory-installed.
WE WONDER Is the Mono Evolver Keyboard up next for this makeover? $2,899 list/approx. $2,600 street, davesmithinstruments.com