Concept: Backpack-friendly MIDI controller with keys like on Korg’s MicroKorg XL and MicroStation synths.
Big deal: Velocity-sensitive. Pitch and mod wheels. USB-powered.
Included soft synths: Licenses to download Korg M1-Le, Toontrack EZdrummer Lite, Applied Acoustics Lounge Lizard Session, plus a discount coupon for Ableton Live.
We think: Korg NanoKey too small? Full-size keys too big? This’ll feel just right.
Price $TBD | korg.com/microkey
M-AUDIO GSR FAMILY
Concept: M-Audio gets in the powered stage monitor game with cabinets suitable for amping keyboards.
Big deal: All have efficient Class-D amps that minimize weight and heat. GSR10 drives a 10" woofer and 1" dome tweeter with 250W total; GSR12 ups that to a 12" woofer, 1.3" tweeter, and 300W. GSR18 is an 18" subwoofer powered by 500W.
We think: Here’s one for our upcoming amp roundup—if companies would stop coming out with cool new stuff, we might get it done!
GSR10 list: $499 | GSR12 list: $629 |
GSR18 list: $999 | Street prices TBD | m-audio.com
DANGEROUS MUSIC BAX EQ
Concept: High-end mastering EQ from the folks who revolutionized summing and monitor control for the DAW world.
Big deal: Recreates the hi-fi curves developed in the ’50s by engineer P. J. Baxandall. Stereo high and low bands with selectable shelf frequencies plus adjustable high- and low-cut filters.
We think: If it’s as good as the rest of their stuff, it’ll find its way into mastering rooms and serious project studios alike.
List: $2,529 | Approx. street: $2,200 |
Concept: Vocoder meets soft synth.
Big deal: In addition to classic robot-voice effects, it can impart vocalor synth-like characteristics to any audio input. Onboard waveshaping, filter with tempo-synced modulation, delay, chorus, and four-band EQ.
We think: Both the audio quality and diversity of sounds are impressive. This could be a real winner for Sonivox.
List: $149.99 | Approx. street: $99 | sonivoxmi.com
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS REAKTOR PRISM
Concept: “Modal” synth utilizing modeling and additive techniques to create unique sounds. These skew towards, but aren’t limited to, metallic and digital textures.
How it works: An “exciter” acts as oscillator, feeding impulses or continuous tones through a “modal bank” of tuned bandpass filters.
Big deal: The killer app here is that it can run with or without the full Reaktor package, thanks to the new Reaktor Player. This bodes well for future NI releases.
Direct: $79 | native-instruments.com
EASTWEST THE DARK SIDE
Concept: Heavy, eerie, processed, aggressive, and disturbing sounds for everything from electronica to goth rock to film scoring.
Big deal: 40GB library of sounds in nearly every instrument category. Co-produced by Doug Rogers and David Fridmann (MGMT, the Flaming Lips, Weezer).
We think: Fridmann’s involvement suggests that this is not your father’s gigantic sample library.
List: $395 | Street: $TBD | soundsonline.com
MACKIE AT PLASA
Here are our favorite two products from Mackie’s strong showing at the Professional Lighting and Sound Association show in the U.K. For more info on this show, visit plasa.org.
BLACKBIRD and BLACKJACK INTERFACES
Newest in the Onyx line of audio interfaces, the USB Blackjack (top) packs a pair of high-end Onyx mic pres on XLR inputs, hi-Z guitar inputs, and separate volume controls for headphones and studio monitors. The FireWire Blackbird (bottom) has eight Onyx pres, eight-channel lightpipe I/O, and a zero-latency DSP mixer for routing any input to any output.
Blackjack list: $259.99 | Approx. street: $200 |
Blackbird list $629.99 | Approx. street: $500 |
2404-VLZ3 and 3204-VLZ3 MIXERS
The 1604-VLZ3 is a staple of small nightclub systems and large keyboard rigs alike. Mackie crams everything we like about it into a larger 24- or 32-channel format, and adds twin 32-bit effects processors, integrated compression on the four subgroups plus four input channels, and four-track computer recording over USB.
2404-VLZ3 list: $1,429.99 | Approx. street: $1,200 |
3204-VLZ3 list: $1,699.99 | Approx. street: $1,400 | mackie.com