By Stephen Fortner
Concept: Pronounced mo’ ex, these ultra-portable workstations are essentially the Motif XS without user sampling.
Big deal: Same 355MB of wave ROM as Motif XS. Built-in USB audio interface. Includes Cubase AI plus YC-3B organ (shown) and Prologue soft synths. MOX6 weighs 15.4 pounds; MOX8, with 88 weighted keys, is less than 33 pounds.
We think: The price and portability make these extremely compelling gig keyboards, whether or not you ever use the ample sequencing and phrase-oriented features.
MOX6 (61 keys) list: $1,499 | Approx. street: $1,200 | MOX8 (88 keys) list: $1,999 | Approx. street: $1,700 | yamahasynth.com
WAVES ONEKNOB PLUG-INS
Concept: Turn up the knob to turn down the suck.
Plug-ins: Phatter bass boost; Brighter treble boost; Filter, a resonant lowpass filter; Pressure, a compressor; Driver overdrive/distortion; Wetter, a reverb; and Louder (self-explanatory).
We think: We can hear some audio pros snickering, but if you’re a keyboard-playing composer cranking out content under tight deadlines, this mix fix saves your brain cells for the music.
List: $400 bundle or $80 each | Approx. street: $240 bundle | waves.com
ION AUDIO PIANO APPRENTICE
Concept: Light-up keyboard dock for iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone with integrated lessons app.
Big deal: Lessons feature renowned TV educator Scott “the Piano Guy” Houston, and keys light up to show you what to play next. Built-in stereo speakers.
We think: Anything that makes learning music easier, more portable, and more fun gets two thumbs up from us.
Direct: $99 | ionaudio.com
Concept: Ribbon-controlled analog monosynth with three-part drum machine.
Big deal: Drums and synth alike are generated by real analog circuits, including Korg’s MS-20 filter. Step sequencer works on synth as well as drum sounds.
We think: Most of why you’d seek out an old TB-303, plus a lot of why you’d want an analog drum machine, but integrated and stable? Hip in a box.
$TBD | korg.com/monotribe
ROLAND ATELIER COMBO AT-350C
Concept: Part clonewheel and part arranger workstation, with Roland’s best sounds in a unique dual-manual format.
Big deal: Solo section with its own drawbar features 15 “Super- Natural” acoustic sounds. Both upper and lower manuals can be set to play organ or non-organ sounds. Full complement of arranger and rhythm features, plus seven-track song recorder. Supports audio and MIDI file playback from USB stick.
We think: We’re in the process of reviewing one right now, and it just may be the ultimate keyboard for modern and traditional styles of worship music alike.
List: $6,499 | Approx. street: $5,500 | rolandus.com
CLAVIA NORD ELECTRO 3HP
Concept: The Electro 3, now with 73 weighted, hammeraction keys.
Big deal: Organ sounds based on the Nord C1, and same acoustic piano, Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav sounds as the previous Electro 3 models. In spite of the beefier action, it weighs in at just over 24 pounds.
We think: If you wanted a weighted vintage keys machine, but the Nord Stage was more than you needed (or wanted to pay for), here you go.
List: $2,999 | Approx. street: $2,600 | nordkeyboards.com
MARCODI HARPEJJI G16
Concept: A guitar-like instrument for the keyboardist’s brain.
Big deal: You tap strings to play notes, so you already know the motion. Once you master a scale, it has the same “shape” in any key. Beautiful handmade construction.
We think: It’s like a Clavinet where the hammers are your fingers— or a hammered dulcimer cool enough to be played by people who don’t wear socks with sandals. We’re gonna try one.
Direct: $2,999 | marcodi.com
Concept: Lightweight, dual-manual clonewheel organ.
Big deal: Based on a PC running Windows XP Embedded, it employs a custom version of Italian programmer Guido Scognamiglio’s excellent VB3 plug-in, which you can learn more about at genuinesoundware.com.
We think: Between this, the Hammond SK2, and the Nord C2, there’s a new battlefield in the clone wars: dual-manual organs you can carry as easily as the average 61-key synth.
$TBD | bgmi.it