Just got back from NAMM, here's my report.
They had a partially working prototype of the Voyager. The analog parts of the synth were almost all working; the display was active, but not functioning. Bob was kind enough to walk me through his synth. Here are my impressions (mainly for those on the waiting list). The keyboard is evidently Fatar. When you first see it, it looks somewhat strange on a Mini. It seems to me the original Mini's black keys had sharper edges and were longer. The keyboard plays just fine, smooth and quick. It might even be quicker than the original. Just not sure it has the magical connection to the instrument the original had. Probably will just take getting used to. The cabinet was walnut. I thought it was stained but unfinished. It was finished. Apparently the finish is going to be a low to no gloss type (all wood choices). This
didn't seem set in stone but it's the way Bob is leaning. I'm back in the cherry wood camp right now (though they only had a walnut model at the show).
According to Bob the filter is identical to the original. There are two filters. I've seen this reported by someone else that the two filters would actually combine to be a 48db filter. Bob said no, the filters are in parallel, not serial. They are either 12 or 24db. How it works is pretty neat. The synth is monophonic until the filter. Then the signal is split in two, each going to its own filter. The spacing allows you to change the frequency of the second filter relative to the first. If you have the Voyager going to stereo outputs you can clearly hear filter 1 on the left and filter 2 on the right. Very different from what you can get out of a standard Mini. After the signal is split, it remains split through the filter and amp EGs. You can still run it in mono, the two filter effect isn't as dramatic.
Bob is still undecided as to whether or not the pitch bend wheel will be spring loaded or not. I don't think he wants it but might be getting pressure from buyers. I voiced a strong vote for spring loaded. The purist can always just remove the spring. I've just be spoiled over the years with the standard pitch wheels and I found it difficult to return to center on the prototype. If you're on the list, you might want to voice your opinion as well to Steve D.
How does it sound? While it's impossible to do any kind of critical listening at NAMM, from what I heard it sounded as it expected it to sound, like a Moog. They're hoping the first ones will be ready in April. Be patient.
Looks a bit like a Korg TR-Rack. Designed to go up against the Kurx PC2R, no doubt. They designed it along with Apple so that if you have an OS/X-based laptop, you just plug it in (USB-to-USB) and it's ready to go. Some of the sounds from the XV-5080, some from the Fantom, some new. Nice if you don't yet have the Roland sounds in your setup (but I've got a hunch most people do).SH-32
I didn't get a chance to really hear this thing, but it might be interesting.
The marketing hype claims "there's nothing 'virtual' about this synth." Uses something called wave acceleration synthesis (who knows). 32 note polyphony. Seems like the front panel is packed, confusing. "...at an ubelievable low price." $5.00 would be unbelievable. We'll see.
Detailed in other posts. My take is Korg started the workstation price war with the Triton and now they're trying to get the workstation price back up a bit. This is being promoted as the ultimate sampling workstation, but most people don't sample. I thought the keyboard on the Pro was nice. Reminded me a lot of the Kurweil K2500X Fatar keyboard. Triton Le
Has a nice price point of $1600 list for 61 notes (about 1/2 the price of a Triton 61). No expansion, no MOSS, sampling is an option.16MB Concert Grand Piano EXB
I believe this might be a version of the William Coakley piano.SP-500
Looked like a classy digital piano with real wood sides and a Touchview screen. $1800 list. Lot of competition though.
I was impressed with the build quality. Seemed very solid for a $1495 retail keyboard. Claims to have the same Graded Hammer action as the P series pianos (action did seem very nice). Might be a reasonable alternative to the Yamaha P series pianos, nothing wrong with getting a lot more sounds.
Keyboard versions of their command stations. Didn't get a chance to see Emulator Soft or Proteus S/F.
There was a new synth at the booth but it wasn't plugged in. It looked more entry level. I thought I picked up a literature pack, but it turned out to be a mouse pad.
New synth from a German company - Neuron. It features "model and template driven Multi-Component Particle Transform Synthesis ...Artifical Neural Network controlled adaptive sound analysis..." No less than four joysticks. Mr. Hartman figures it will sell for $5,000 (at least). more info at http://www.hartman-music.com
The SE booth was pumping out lots of high volume analog goodness. These guys are under appreciated, IMHO. Their stuff sounds GREAT and now they've got more configuration/customization options.
Soft Synths:TDM verion of Access Indigo
is now available. NI Kontakt sampler
Supports up to 256 stereo voices. Neat things like realtime time
stretching and resynthesis, 14 filter types, step sequencers, multi-stage envelopes (ala
Absynth, FM7), integrated loop editor with up to 8 loop points, FXs, 3 GBs of samples included. Knowing NI it will be worth the price.Spectrasonic
was showing off their new virtual instruments. These are pretty cool. Plugin samplers/synths designed specifically for the partical instrument: Stylus (drums), Atmosphere (pads), and Trilogy (bass). Each comes with ~3 GBs of Spectrasonic (some of the best stuff out there) samples. In VST, MAS, and RTAS formats.
B3 Stuff (things are looking up):Hammond
Saw the prototype of the Hammond B3, just called the "New B3." It looks IDENTICAL to the real thing. What used to be metal is metal, what used to be wood is wood. The screws are even in the exact same places as the original. The only thing different that I could see is that instead of having start and run switches, there is only one on/off switch (though it looks like the old ones). Uses sampling vs. modeling according to the rep, but some proprietary format, blah, blah. Played it a tiny bit though a Leslie. It sounded wonderful. When you press down a key slowly you hear the drawbars coming in one at a time like the original. My guess is that it will sell in the $8 - 10K range, maybe more.Korg BX3
. Dual manual version of the CX3. Keys are now waterfall with no lip.
Nice looking cabinet that looks like a chopped B3 (though you can get it with legs). No pedals and no capabilities for pedals. I believe a $4K list with a street around $3,000. This could be the one to get.Roland VK8
- Updated version of the 7. Now has "cool waterfall keys" as the marketing literature states. More COSM amp emulations, D-beam (why??, why??). The knobs are really cheesy. Played it through some cheap headphones and was NOT knocked out. Korg is the one to beat in this price range, IMHO.Clavia
Played the Electro for the first time. Nice organ action. Red wood side panels looked dandy. I still don't get this keyboard. The drawbar thingy is usable, but you have to be looking at the LEDs to make sure you're pulling the right drawbars and that they're pulled as far as you want. With standard drawbars much of this is all done by feel. Other switches are too small. It feels very strange to playing Rhodes, CP70, etc on this springy
keyboard. The B3 emulation was OK, but not up to the B4 or CX3 emulations in my book. It's as expensive as the clones that feel more like the original. Now they've got a rack version. Color me confused.
VA Hardware Guys:
I think Novation was a no-show. Not much going on at the other VA booths when I was there.
[ 01-19-2002: Message edited by: burningbusch ]