THE PITCH All vintage keys, plus acoustic pianos. No menus or LCDs, just lots of knobs and chunky, old-school buttons.
THE BIG DEAL Super-detailed EPs, Mellotrons, three tonewheel presets plus ’60s transistor organs, analog string machine, Clavs, electric grands, and more. Weighted keyboard has eight velocity curves. Real tube works in conjunction with amp modeling for authentic tone.
WE THINK All the meat ’n’ potatoes sounds you could want — and it looks like a Wrath of Khan-era photon torpedo? Want!
73 keys: $2,700 list; 88 keys: $3,000 list, korg.com
TASCAM US-100 AND VL-M3
BREAKING THE BONE BARRIER
THE PITCH US-100 is a stereo USB audio interface. VL-M3 are a pair of active studio monitors. Both street under $100.
THE BIG DEAL US-100 is bus-powered and features mic, guitar, and RCA line ins that also take turntables. VL-M3s sound bigger than their 3" size.
WE THINKGreat choice for a non-committal beginner, or for a more experienced musician’s hotel-room or “lives in the car” system. $99 est. street (US-100 or pair of VL-M3), tascam.com
PRODUCER LOOPS ABSTRACT ELECTRO HOUSE 2
SOUNDWARE DEAL OF THE MONTH
THE STYLES Minimal, tech house, deep tech, electro house.
THE RAW MATERIALS Lots of analog synths and drum machines were used in the creation of these loops, all sampled at 24-bit/44.1kHz.
THE CONTENT 430MB total of ACIDized WAV, Apple Loops, AIFF, and REX2. Single hits, loops, and kits of synths, basses, and drums.
$21.88 download, producerloops.com
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KONTAKT 4
SOFT SAMPLER SUPREMACY
THE PITCH NI’s most comprehensive upgrade ever to their industry-leading software sampler.
THE BIG DEAL Authentic Expression Technology uses convolution to morph articulations — a revolution over the usual switching techniques. Lossless sample compression. Bigger sound library that takes full advantage of AET. New tag-based browser.
WE THINK Even a glance at the feature list suggests this is the most advanced soft sampler out there. We look forward to doing a full review.
$399 list, native-instruments.com
MACKIE ONYX 820i
THE RUMORS ARE TRUE
THE PITCH First in new Onyx-i line of FireWire mixers that act as multitrack audio interfaces for Pro Tools M-Powered — without Digidesign or M-Audio hardware!
THE BIG DEAL We repeat: Mackie mixer. Pro Tools software. No other hardware needed.
WE THINK Two questions: Can Digi pull the plug, like Apple did on the Palm Pre syncing with iTunes? If they can, will they?
$469.99 list, mackie.com
EASTWEST/QUANTUM LEAP HOLLYWOOD STRINGS
READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP
THE PITCH The ultimate string library for conveying cinematic emotion.
THE BIG DEAL Exhaustively sampled at the famous EastWest (f.k.a. United Western) Studio 1. Finger position is totally user-controllable — a first among string libraries. True legato with slurred, portamento, and bow change variations. Sample sets for five classic mic techniques.
WE THINK Whether you’re scoring for a love scene or epic battle, and if you can’t afford the LSO at Abbey Road, this may be the next best thing.
MAMA OF ALL SQUEEZE BOXES
THE PITCH Roland’s new top-end V-Accordion kicks the technology up a few notches.
THE BIG DEAL New CPU for faster key and chord button response. New sensors detect bellows pressure with greater precision. New French, Bajan, and Italian accordion sounds. USB connectivity lets you import and play your own samples.
WE THINK If you want one of these, you know who you are. If that’s you, no other company comes close. This thing is a work of art.
NOW IN TRAVEL SIZE
THE PITCH All the power and sounds of the PC3 (reviewed Dec. ’08) in a more portable 61-key form factor.
THE BIG DEAL Like its larger sibling, the PC361 wraps evocative, super-realistic sounds in every category, full drawbar organ modeling in KB3 mode, and serious multitimbral workstation chops into a gig-oriented package.
WE THINK This’d be among our top choices for those get-in-get-out gigs where you can take one smallish keyboard, but don’t want to compromise on sound.
$2,395 list/approx. $1,900 street, kurzweilmusicsystems.com