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Behringer’s first 11 Eurorack modules are here – and they’re even called System 100

Behringer promised to recreate the Roland System 100 modular system, and they’ve done that – with a system they call the System 100. $49-99.

There’s no final pricing or other details yet; everything is in a single YouTube video.

There’s not a lot to say, because spec-for-spec, this is the same as a 1975 System 100. It’s just been scaled down to make sense as Eurorack and (presumably) to keep the price down.

Roland oscillators are … well, pretty vanilla now given other options. But there are useful utility modules, a particularly interesting phase shifter, and all the other features that made the Roland system popular in the first place.

On some level, it’s a shame no one is copying the charming look of the original System 100 – or its distinctive keyboard hub. Even Roland aren’t attempting that. But of course that would mean a higher price tag, and it might not fit as readily into a Eurorack system.

But these should be expected to be solid sellers, even before knowing the price – because Behringer have done a complete set, and it looks like fit and finish and so on are dead-on. Also, Behringer have a leg up that even Roland didn’t have with their own modular additions – I suspect a lot of people will do exactly what you see in the video, and couple Behringer’s rack-mountable, patchable desktop synths with these modular add-ons. The Neutron and its ilk made an obvious entry level for selling people up to more modules.

Say what you will about Behringer, but if other makers didn’t offer that option, that’s on them.

Of course, what you don’t get here is new ideas – so as with all the remakes debuting in 2020, the best advice to any independent maker remains, make something that isn’t from the 1970s … for example. I’m not sure even the 1970s had as many announcements from the 1970s as this week.

Again, still no pricing or availability, but here at least are those stills so you don’t have to pause through (why, Behringer, did you do that, exactly?)

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Moog’s Subsequent 25 synth is here, and it’s got an animated film to go with it

For all Moog’s synths, it’s been a while since there was a sweet spot that said – oh, if I want a Moog, I should start here. The Subsequent 25 could be that instrument.

Okay, “subsequent” feels a little too much like an SAT word, compared to the endearing “Little Phatty” and “Sub Phatty.” But you could call this thing practically anything – it’s a cute little Moog, and about as Moog-y looking as anything since the 1970 Minimoog.

It’s just … adorable. I mean, someone should say that, because I fully expect this Moog will trigger some serious consumer instincts.

And appreciating that synths for a lot of musicians are about feelings and fantasy, Moog are repeating their collaboration with Flying Lotus to make an animated short film. (Scoff all you like – if you had a marketing budget, wouldn’t you want to spend it like this?) The inimitable Brainfeeder maestro FlyLo teams up with designer-musician Julian House. You might have heard House’s own music as The Focus Group and Ghost Box label, but you almost certainly know his album covers for the likes of Oasis and The Prodigy.

Anyway, this is all good fun. Here:

Okay, but you probably do want specs, too. In the year of polysynths, this isn’t that – it’s a massive bass synth that also happens to have a new Duo Mode to split osc 1 + osc 2.

So you have three oscillators – including one sub oscillator – and additionally a noise source

Four CV inputs, which is a decent-sized complement for a mid-range analog synth.

Multidrive, which combines two types of distortion to color the sound (and really makes all of this dirty and interesting).

It’s a Moog, so yes, there’s a Ladder Filter, but with 6, 12, 18, and 24 dB/octave slopes.

Audio input as well as (mono) output

USB and MIDI and full MIDI implementation – that’s actually a bigger deal than it seems, as there’s MIDI control of everything, including things like gate reset. Paired with the right sequencer, this could be a total beast.

Flexible LFO, with tri, square, saw, ramp, S&H shapes

It’s heavy – 16 lbs – over 7 kg. But you probably like that if you want a Moog.

Proper pitch and mod wheels

Now that the rational part of your brain is engaged, it’s also worth saying that you might want to save up for the powerful Subsequent 37, the Sub 25’s bigger sibling. It’s a significant price difference (though there is the used market). But in addition to more keys, the big draw of the Sub 37 is – more hands-on controls, more envelopes and modulation, and a built-in arp/step sequencer.

Sounds:

(Writing synth press releases is hard. Duophonic synths require you to sound like you’re an over-excited Leonin or Perotin attending NAMM – “opening new doors of musicality by playing two different notes at once.” Wait ’til the monks and sisters catch THIS bad boy!)

Certainly looks Moog-y. It’s almost a Mini-Minimoog… with Sub. That seems a good thing. Note the options on the filter, and the Multidrive distortion circuit, plus the easy-access, Minimoog-style mixing section.

There’s also editor/librarian software included free, so the notion is you can extend the 16 x 16 (256) onboard patches with more stuff on the computer. And that’s what makes this somewhat unique: it is an analog synth, but it’s one that you might go deep into editing or sequencing. It’s obviously a performance-oriented, jam- and improv-focused keyboard axe, but it’s got enough CV that you could still devise some detailed patches with modular or semi-modular gear.

The free editor/librarian is meant to be part of the workflow here.
And yes, Moog as usual include tons of build photos from their North Carolina factory in the press. This is really what it looks like, though, I’ve been there (as have some readers, I’m sure).

Moog have staked out this territory as the premium synth makers, and that’s what this looks like. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road synth, but with tons of detail – and that Multidrive thing makes sure it isn’t too tame.

And for all the creativity of the Moog line lately, I fully expect the Subsequent 25 will get people past the hump of trying to decide what to buy. I’d say shame about the name, but I bet a lot of people just call it Moog.

US$895 list.

For more Moog film watching, check this behind-the-scenes with Uncut Gems composer Daniel Lopatin:

As an addendum, and part of why I think this appeals to the frontal lobes (even as the design triggers some irrational emotional appeal), here’s the amount of stuff you can control with MIDI – including high-resolution output. Even if you don’t use this via MIDI, it’s an interesting window into the architecture.

The flipside of this, though – you don’t have hands-on access to a lot of this without the editor. So if you want more controls, consider the 37. (This is the other downside of Moog having those spacious layouts and huge knobs, but hey.)

  • Mono/Duo Mode  
  • Duo Osc 2 Priority  
  • Filter Velocity Sensitivity 
  • Volume Velocity Sensitivity 
  • Ext. Audio Level 
  • Osc 2 Beat Frequency 
  • VCO Gate Reset 
  • LFO Gate Reset 
  • Pitch Bend Up Amount 
  • Pitch Bend Down Amount 
  • Glide Legato 
  • Glide Type 
  • Filter Poles 
  • Wave Mod. Destination 
  • LFO KB Tracking 
  • LFO Range 
  • Filter EG Reset 
  • Amp EG Reset 
  • Legato 
  • Gate On/Ext. 
  • MIDI Ch. In 
  • MIDI Ch. Out 
  • Local Control 
  • 14-Bit MIDI Output 
  • MIDI Path In 
  • MIDI Path Out 
  • MIDI Merge DIN 
  • MIDI Merge USB 

Specs:

  • Sound Engine Type(s): Analog (2 x Oscillators, 1 x Sub Oscillator, 1 x Noise Generator) 
  • Number of Keys: 25 
  • Type of Keys: Semi-weighted, Velocity-Sensitive 
  • Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel 
  • Polyphony: Monophonic, 2-Note Paraphonic 
  • LFO: Triangle, Square, Sawtooth, Ramp, Sample & Hold 
  • Filter: Moog Ladder Filter with 6/12/18/24 dB per Octave Slopes 
  • Number of Presets: 16 (4 Banks of 4) 
  • Effects Types: Multidrive 
  • Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/4″ (ext in) 
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/4″ 
  • USB: 1 x Type B 
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB 
  • Other I/O: Filter CV in, Pitch CV in, Volume CV in, KB Gate in 
  • Software: Plug-in and standalone editor and librarian for Mac/PC 
  • Power Supply: 110V AC-240V AC (Internal) 
  • Height: 6.75″ 
  • Width: 20.25″ 
  • Depth: 14.75″ 
  • Weight: 16 lbs. 

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Moog’s Subsequent 25 synth is here, and it’s got an animated film to go with it

For all Moog’s synths, it’s been a while since there was a sweet spot that said – oh, if I want a Moog, I should start here. The Subsequent 25 could be that instrument.

Okay, “subsequent” feels a little too much like an SAT word, compared to the endearing “Little Phatty” and “Sub Phatty.” But you could call this thing practically anything – it’s a cute little Moog, and about as Moog-y looking as anything since the 1970 Minimoog.

It’s just … adorable. I mean, someone should say that, because I fully expect this Moog will trigger some serious consumer instincts.

And appreciating that synths for a lot of musicians are about feelings and fantasy, Moog are repeating their collaboration with Flying Lotus to make an animated short film. (Scoff all you like – if you had a marketing budget, wouldn’t you want to spend it like this?) The inimitable Brainfeeder maestro FlyLo teams up with designer-musician Julian House. You might have heard House’s own music as The Focus Group and Ghost Box label, but you almost certainly know his album covers for the likes of Oasis and The Prodigy.

Anyway, this is all good fun. Here:

Okay, but you probably do want specs, too. In the year of polysynths, this isn’t that – it’s a massive bass synth that also happens to have a new Duo Mode to split osc 1 + osc 2.

So you have three oscillators – including one sub oscillator – and additionally a noise source

Four CV inputs, which is a decent-sized complement for a mid-range analog synth.

Multidrive, which combines two types of distortion to color the sound (and really makes all of this dirty and interesting).

It’s a Moog, so yes, there’s a Ladder Filter, but with 6, 12, 18, and 24 dB/octave slopes.

Audio input as well as (mono) output

USB and MIDI and full MIDI implementation – that’s actually a bigger deal than it seems, as there’s MIDI control of everything, including things like gate reset. Paired with the right sequencer, this could be a total beast.

Flexible LFO, with tri, square, saw, ramp, S&H shapes

It’s heavy – 16 lbs – over 7 kg. But you probably like that if you want a Moog.

Proper pitch and mod wheels

Now that the rational part of your brain is engaged, it’s also worth saying that you might want to save up for the powerful Subsequent 37, the Sub 25’s bigger sibling. It’s a significant price difference (though there is the used market). But in addition to more keys, the big draw of the Sub 37 is – more hands-on controls, more envelopes and modulation, and a built-in arp/step sequencer.

Sounds:

(Writing synth press releases is hard. Duophonic synths require you to sound like you’re an over-excited Leonin or Perotin attending NAMM – “opening new doors of musicality by playing two different notes at once.” Wait ’til the monks and sisters catch THIS bad boy!)

Certainly looks Moog-y. It’s almost a Mini-Minimoog… with Sub. That seems a good thing. Note the options on the filter, and the Multidrive distortion circuit, plus the easy-access, Minimoog-style mixing section.

There’s also editor/librarian software included free, so the notion is you can extend the 16 x 16 (256) onboard patches with more stuff on the computer. And that’s what makes this somewhat unique: it is an analog synth, but it’s one that you might go deep into editing or sequencing. It’s obviously a performance-oriented, jam- and improv-focused keyboard axe, but it’s got enough CV that you could still devise some detailed patches with modular or semi-modular gear.

The free editor/librarian is meant to be part of the workflow here.
And yes, Moog as usual include tons of build photos from their North Carolina factory in the press. This is really what it looks like, though, I’ve been there (as have some readers, I’m sure).

Moog have staked out this territory as the premium synth makers, and that’s what this looks like. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road synth, but with tons of detail – and that Multidrive thing makes sure it isn’t too tame.

And for all the creativity of the Moog line lately, I fully expect the Subsequent 25 will get people past the hump of trying to decide what to buy. I’d say shame about the name, but I bet a lot of people just call it Moog.

US$895 list.

For more Moog film watching, check this behind-the-scenes with Uncut Gems composer Daniel Lopatin:

As an addendum, and part of why I think this appeals to the frontal lobes (even as the design triggers some irrational emotional appeal), here’s the amount of stuff you can control with MIDI – including high-resolution output. Even if you don’t use this via MIDI, it’s an interesting window into the architecture.

The flipside of this, though – you don’t have hands-on access to a lot of this without the editor. So if you want more controls, consider the 37. (This is the other downside of Moog having those spacious layouts and huge knobs, but hey.)

  • Mono/Duo Mode  
  • Duo Osc 2 Priority  
  • Filter Velocity Sensitivity 
  • Volume Velocity Sensitivity 
  • Ext. Audio Level 
  • Osc 2 Beat Frequency 
  • VCO Gate Reset 
  • LFO Gate Reset 
  • Pitch Bend Up Amount 
  • Pitch Bend Down Amount 
  • Glide Legato 
  • Glide Type 
  • Filter Poles 
  • Wave Mod. Destination 
  • LFO KB Tracking 
  • LFO Range 
  • Filter EG Reset 
  • Amp EG Reset 
  • Legato 
  • Gate On/Ext. 
  • MIDI Ch. In 
  • MIDI Ch. Out 
  • Local Control 
  • 14-Bit MIDI Output 
  • MIDI Path In 
  • MIDI Path Out 
  • MIDI Merge DIN 
  • MIDI Merge USB 

Specs:

  • Sound Engine Type(s): Analog (2 x Oscillators, 1 x Sub Oscillator, 1 x Noise Generator) 
  • Number of Keys: 25 
  • Type of Keys: Semi-weighted, Velocity-Sensitive 
  • Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel 
  • Polyphony: Monophonic, 2-Note Paraphonic 
  • LFO: Triangle, Square, Sawtooth, Ramp, Sample & Hold 
  • Filter: Moog Ladder Filter with 6/12/18/24 dB per Octave Slopes 
  • Number of Presets: 16 (4 Banks of 4) 
  • Effects Types: Multidrive 
  • Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/4″ (ext in) 
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/4″ 
  • USB: 1 x Type B 
  • MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB 
  • Other I/O: Filter CV in, Pitch CV in, Volume CV in, KB Gate in 
  • Software: Plug-in and standalone editor and librarian for Mac/PC 
  • Power Supply: 110V AC-240V AC (Internal) 
  • Height: 6.75″ 
  • Width: 20.25″ 
  • Depth: 14.75″ 
  • Weight: 16 lbs. 

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2hp have a lunchbox modular synth in a literal lunchbox

One thing Eurorack modular doesn’t normally make you say is, “awwwww… cute!” But here’s a modular synth rig that looks as likely to contain a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a synth.

Meet the 2hp Lunchbox, which is literally an oldschool lunchbox with handle. It’s 42hp – which isn’t itself a new idea, as the Erica Synths Pico System does the same. The new idea is putting that in an actual lunchbox, which is adorable – and practical, since it comes with a handle.

In order for this to be useful, you need modules that take up as narrow a footprint as possible. 2hp are already deep into that business, focusing exclusively on tiny modules. The fat-fingered or clumsy need not apply, but lovers of kawaii and tiny will be happy. They’ve got loads of stuff in their shop:

www.twohp.com/modules

Put that together with modules like the Erica Pico line and a handful of other minimalist makers, and you could have something really wonderful. It’s ambitious to say you’d use this on a plane as they claim, but … taking it on a budget short hop flight as carry-on sure as heck gets practical.

They’ve got full-blown systems in mind, in case you’re unsure how to populate your new lunch box. There are four systems coming (guess you can think of this as having mum or dad pack your lunch for you, eh?):

  • Picnic Basket
  • Synth Voice
  • Drum Machine
  • Effects Box

I don’t know what a picnic basket is, but all in all sounds, good.

And the minimalism is inspiring compelling designs – also upcoming from 2hp this spring: a compressor with sidechain, a time-domain pitch shifter with flutter, and a sound on sound looper. That looper should appeal to ambient creators; it’s got a 5-minute (!) loop time.

All of this stuff is economical to buy, meaning you get your fix of a new module for $119-149. And they’re not clones of existing modules (ahem) but new ideas.

Plus the more makers like 2hp join in with this form factor, the more choices tiny modular lovers will have. That sounds great indeed.

www.twohp.com/

www.twohp.com/coming-soon

Hat tip, MATRIXSYNTH.

Now can someone just get me a real food-oriented bento box matched with a modular? Then I’m in.

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2hp have a lunchbox modular synth in a literal lunchbox

One thing Eurorack modular doesn’t normally make you say is, “awwwww… cute!” But here’s a modular synth rig that looks as likely to contain a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a synth.

Meet the 2hp Lunchbox, which is literally an oldschool lunchbox with handle. It’s 42hp – which isn’t itself a new idea, as the Erica Synths Pico System does the same. The new idea is putting that in an actual lunchbox, which is adorable – and practical, since it comes with a handle.

In order for this to be useful, you need modules that take up as narrow a footprint as possible. 2hp are already deep into that business, focusing exclusively on tiny modules. The fat-fingered or clumsy need not apply, but lovers of kawaii and tiny will be happy. They’ve got loads of stuff in their shop:

www.twohp.com/modules

Put that together with modules like the Erica Pico line and a handful of other minimalist makers, and you could have something really wonderful. It’s ambitious to say you’d use this on a plane as they claim, but … taking it on a budget short hop flight as carry-on sure as heck gets practical.

They’ve got full-blown systems in mind, in case you’re unsure how to populate your new lunch box. There are four systems coming (guess you can think of this as having mum or dad pack your lunch for you, eh?):

  • Picnic Basket
  • Synth Voice
  • Drum Machine
  • Effects Box

I don’t know what a picnic basket is, but all in all sounds, good.

And the minimalism is inspiring compelling designs – also upcoming from 2hp this spring: a compressor with sidechain, a time-domain pitch shifter with flutter, and a sound on sound looper. That looper should appeal to ambient creators; it’s got a 5-minute (!) loop time.

All of this stuff is economical to buy, meaning you get your fix of a new module for $119-149. And they’re not clones of existing modules (ahem) but new ideas.

Plus the more makers like 2hp join in with this form factor, the more choices tiny modular lovers will have. That sounds great indeed.

www.twohp.com/

www.twohp.com/coming-soon

Hat tip, MATRIXSYNTH.

Now can someone just get me a real food-oriented bento box matched with a modular? Then I’m in.

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2hp have a lunchbox modular synth in a literal lunchbox

One thing Eurorack modular doesn’t normally make you say is, “awwwww… cute!” But here’s a modular synth rig that looks as likely to contain a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a synth.

Meet the 2hp Lunchbox, which is literally an oldschool lunchbox with handle. It’s 42hp – which isn’t itself a new idea, as the Erica Synths Pico System does the same. The new idea is putting that in an actual lunchbox, which is adorable – and practical, since it comes with a handle.

In order for this to be useful, you need modules that take up as narrow a footprint as possible. 2hp are already deep into that business, focusing exclusively on tiny modules. The fat-fingered or clumsy need not apply, but lovers of kawaii and tiny will be happy. They’ve got loads of stuff in their shop:

www.twohp.com/modules

Put that together with modules like the Erica Pico line and a handful of other minimalist makers, and you could have something really wonderful. It’s ambitious to say you’d use this on a plane as they claim, but … taking it on a budget short hop flight as carry-on sure as heck gets practical.

They’ve got full-blown systems in mind, in case you’re unsure how to populate your new lunch box. There are four systems coming (guess you can think of this as having mum or dad pack your lunch for you, eh?):

  • Picnic Basket
  • Synth Voice
  • Drum Machine
  • Effects Box

I don’t know what a picnic basket is, but all in all sounds, good.

And the minimalism is inspiring compelling designs – also upcoming from 2hp this spring: a compressor with sidechain, a time-domain pitch shifter with flutter, and a sound on sound looper. That looper should appeal to ambient creators; it’s got a 5-minute (!) loop time.

All of this stuff is economical to buy, meaning you get your fix of a new module for $119-149. And they’re not clones of existing modules (ahem) but new ideas.

Plus the more makers like 2hp join in with this form factor, the more choices tiny modular lovers will have. That sounds great indeed.

www.twohp.com/

www.twohp.com/coming-soon

Hat tip, MATRIXSYNTH.

Now can someone just get me a real food-oriented bento box matched with a modular? Then I’m in.

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Sequential’s Pro 3 is a new Prophet, while the others clone – so how does it stack up?

One person who isn’t just copying Dave Smith is – Dave Smith. Sequential are back with the new Pro-3, a flagship mono/paraphonic synth instrument.

Okay, to be fair – a Sequential synth (or Dave Smith Instruments synth) is always going to give you certain predictable elements, if in different combinations. But the Pro-3 at least continues the evolution and refinement of that line. And it offers an extraordinary amount of depth as a result – in the sense that you could really just play with this thing a … long … time … happily so …

The Pro 3 is right in line with the Pro line – the Pro 1 and Pro 2 monosynths, that is – but with some new ideas thrown into the mix. With that in mind, let’s first talk about what just went away – the Pro 2, the previous flagship monosynth. And in some ways, the Pro 2 is likely to be missed – for its uniquely accessible oscillators and architecture, and its 4-voice paraphonic mode.

The Pro 3 is pretty irresistible, though, in that it does three things:

  1. Builds a new architecture around three of everything – three oscillators (2 analog + 1 wavetable), three LFOs, and three filters to choose from to keep it fresh.
  2. Acts as a central workstation, with a powerful front panel sequencer (building on the Pro-2) and now CV integration so it fits in with modular.
  3. Costs just US$1599.

And that last one is a big deal. A producer can easily save up for this one instrument and wind up with a massively flexible powerhouse for sound design, with sequencing built in. Sequential’s stuff has managed to get more powerful but less expensive, and yet you still get something that feels luxurious, boutique, and – well, personal, in a way a big mass-produced thing might not.

This is Dave. As far as we know, no one has yet cloned him or his team.

Some highlights:

Dual digital effects – again, you can do a whole lot right on this one keyboard, but without menu diving as you might on a digital workstation

A 32-slot mod matrix for loads of modulation

Analog integration – four CV ins, four outputs, dedicated gate output – all running at audio rate (take that, MIDI!) and all assignable from that powerful mod matrix

Classic Sequential analog oscillators, times two

One wavetable oscillator for the edgy digital spice when you need it, for the third oscillator – 32 tables of 16 waves each, with wave morphing, so a lot of spice

Three vintage filters to choose from – 4-pole low pass (a la Prophet-6), 2-pole state-variable (a la Oberheim OB-6) for continuously moving between low-pass + notch + high-pass,

Analog distortion, Drive control on the filters

And all of this combines with a sequencer, included on the keyboard so the workflow is integrated. That includes ratcheting, input via both real-time and step-input, and works with both MIDI and CV (and analog and MIDI clock, too).

Plus, the sequencer integrates with the mod matrix – noticing the pattern here? That justifies the inclusion of a sequencer on the keyboard, because then integration is already done for you. Instead of spending your time programming, or working to assign your sequencer to your instrument, you can get right into playing and sequencing.

(I say all of this because – I just read some concerns from a colleague, and this is essentially my answer.)

So sure, you get 3-voice paraphonic mode instead of 4, but as deep and wild as the Pro-2 was, the Pro-3 seems deeper and wilder.

The SE edition, if you have extra money and want something more collectible. Also – tilt-up panel is definitely cool, whether or not you crave wood.

Heck, in this giant wave of polysynths, the Pro-3 is a pretty damn good argument for getting back to monosynths again.

And you know the package will be plenty luxe, as per usual Sequential standards. If you want it to be even more so, you can spring for the Special Edition, for US$2099. That includes a tilt-up control panel and “full, premium-grade walnut trim.” I’m sure it’ll be a collectors’ item, but I’m tempted to just buy a stand to tilt this up and then go with a nice bottle of bourbon while I invite friends over for some Pro-3 jams, you know?

A little birdie told me some close friends of CDM might have worked on this beautiful beast, and I know it’ll be at NAMM, so I will send our espionage network out to learn more.

But even in this deluge of synths, the Pro-3 looks really lovely.

More on the somewhat complicated endless stream of DSI/Sequential instruments can be perused in the PDF chart they put together. Basically, if you want a really cheap 4-voice, find a used MOPHO X4. The Pro-2 was all digital oscillators, but you did get more of them – 4x + 1 sub oscillator, meaning a used Pro-2 should still be on your radar if you’re thinking Pro-3. And then there are the very excellent polyphonic Prophets.

More at Sequential (formerly DSI aka Dave Smith Instruments):

Previously:

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Arturia KeyStep Pro is the sequencer keyboard we were waiting for

It’s like a BeatStep Pro, but with keys, but with KeyStep features, but with extras. And it’s still compact. Sounds like Arturia may have a hit on their hands.

Remember when we were all repeatedly saying that the KeyStep was cool, but it’d be nice if there were a KeyStep Pro? To their credit, Arturia did keep cramming functionality into their compact keyboard, and that means the latest firmware turned it into a little powerhouse – and one you still might want to consider:

But now the KeyStep Pro expands that. If you loved the BeatStep Pro but wish it had keys instead of pads, or if you loved the KeyStep but wish it had extra encoders and polyphonic features, well… mark your calendars for March the 20th. That’s the date this model launches.

Yep, it sequences all this stuff – MIDI (via minijack or minijack to DIN adapter), USB, analog, with computer or standalone.

And this is still a beat sequencer, so just because it’s a tricked out sequencer keyboard doesn’t mean you need to start making only tripped-out prog rock.

Basically, it’s an ideal performance hub for anyone who likes keyboards. You get loads of compositional flexibility:

  • 4 independent sequencers, which you can route to whatever synths or drum machines or modular or gear you want – just as on the BeatStep Pro
  • 4 tracks have 16 patterns each, and chain 16 patterns into a song
  • Scenes snapshot all the sequences within a pattern, for swapping between sets of patterns
  • Projects let you load up different scenes

And then there’s a nicely balanced complement of physical control.

  • 37 keys with velocity and channel aftertouch
  • LEDs above the keys give you added visual feedback for sequencing
  • Touch strips give you pitch + mod or other assignable controls
  • There’s an internal metronome, which you can listen to (to sync humans) or output as audio (to sync analog hardware)
  • Finally, five encoders with LED ring feedback – that’s an improvement on the BeatStep Pro, at least if you want to swap scenes without having to fiddle with the knobs to get them to pick up the right value
  • And of course step editing buttons, or this wouldn’t be an Arturia ‘step

It’s less portable than the original, but it’s still reasonable – 5.9 lbs or 2.7 kg, and slightly larger. They’re still slim keys, but that also makes this easier to drop into a backpack.

There’s also a crisp new OLED display – nice.

Price is US$449 / EUR 399 list, so it isn’t cheap – the BeatStep Pro is then a nice bargain buy if you like pads as well as you do keys. But for those of us who wanted exactly this as a hub, it looks like a good investment, rather than building a collection of keyboards that kinda sorta do what we want but not really.

More details and full specs:

www.arturia.com/products/hybrid-synths/keystep-pro/overview

And the video. Now is a good time to announce CDM’s exciting pivot to video features. Stand on one toe… good… oh, okay, stop groaning at me.

(Heh, I just noticed that Arturia’s own mailing list says this was the sequencer that we’ve “been waiting for.” Well, their product people knew that I was waiting and CDM readers were waiting, as I’d talked to them about it! Review coming soon, hopefully!)

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Novation’s Launchpad Pro is grid and sequencer, for software or standalone for gear

Novation’s grids continue getting more flexible and more open – that last bit setting them apart from products designed to be unitasker controllers for a single piece of software.

The updated Launchpad Pro is full of stuff Launchpad fans asked for, and rounds on the current Launchpad range with an advanced model. I love the mini for its size and simplicity – it’s earned a regular place in my bag as a result. But while still being relatively compact and affordable, the Pro now more than ever is the do-everything grid.

And since it isn’t tethered to the computer, it’s also useful when your laptop is switched off, or as part of an all-hardware live rig.

Plus the Launchpad Pro has velocity and pressure sensing – that’s improved in this revision.

New in this version:

Built-in sequencer (previously this was available when you hacked the firmware and wrote it yourself, which was a fun novelty but … not very user friendly!)

Transport controls

Deeper Ableton Live integration: tap tempo, print to clip, capture MIDI – all features Ableton has introduced on Push, but which also works really well with Novation’s more compact, lightweight, and simpler controller.

Eight custom modes

Components editor

Chord mode

USB-C adapter (this turns out to be a lot more convenient, as this becomes the standard – and I’ve had no problem with breakage or disconnection, since I know some of you worry about that. Unless you’re really buying crap cables, USB-C is the best USB we’ve gotten so far.)

MIDI in, out, and 2x thru (!) (expanding a bit on what was there before)

Plus – here’s the nicest trick. The pads are bigger and more responsive, but the unit itself is more compact and lightweight.

Honestly, I find I routinely pull out the mini and this new Pro for work in Live (and other tools). Novation sent me a Pro prototype, and it already feels terrific. It’s also clear they’ve taken some of the best design cues from Ableton and Native Instruments. It’s nice to see attractive, futuristic-looking gear – and basically at the same prices as before.

There’s a lot more to say about Launchpad Pro and Novation’s new approach to opening up their grids to developers. I have now all the models and am in touch with the developers. I’m personally interested in being able to seamlessly switch between tools like Ableton Live, VCV Rack, Bitwig Studio, and custom-coded/custom-patched stuff – and between computers and hardware. So thanks to the fact that there is a one-to-one correspondence between what I’d want to spend my time on musically and what might be useful to share, seems this could be the start of a beautiful grid-ship.

novationmusic.com/en/launch/launchpad-pro

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KORG have new hybrid/analog mixers, made with Greg Mackie and Peter Watts

Surprise – the best product news from KORG this year might not be a synth. Their new mixer looks like the one we’ve been waiting for.

Let’s face it – it hasn’t been a great time for mixers. The mixing class divide has only grown. So there are some excellent high-end analog boutique and live-oriented digital mixers that you can’t afford. And then at the entry level, there’s been the race to the bottom that sees armies of clones and dropping quality without much innovation. Those you can afford, which is a good thing, but there’s not much to be passionate about.

KORG have gone back to the mixer design team that made a lot of stuff that producers and live performers really love as much as mix engineers. That means bringing in Greg Mackie and Peter Watts.

I don’t want to get too excited too fast – especially not knowing the street price. But at least on paper, this looks like promising stuff.

The KORG SoundLink comes in very reasonable looking 24- and 16-channel models. They’ve got nice, compact form factors that are nonetheless packed with features. And then they have DSP and KORG effects.

So you get the MW2408 (24-channel) and MW160 (16-bit) – analog mixers with digital control and DSP from KORG.

Looking at the layout, features, and the people behind it, I’m very, very interested. Some highlights:

HiVolt mic preamps – and keeping in mind Peter Watts worked on the Trident preamps that everyone is trying to copy

Mute groups – even on a compact mixer. (YES.)

Independent musician phone outputs, with dedicated knobs so your musicians can hear what they’re doing and control their own outputs. (YES, again.)

Built-in KORG effects and easy-access DSP. All your dynamics and reverb and EQ and spectrum analyzers and essentially what you’d expect on your computer DAW are now also in your mixer. The surprise is, it looks like there’s not too much menu diving – thanks to dedicated buttons to assign these. There’s even a test tone generator.

And yes, it’s Greg Mackie – that Mackie – who perhaps more than anyone has bridged the gap between what musicians and mixing engineers want and the mixer design and engineering that delivers. That sounds like marketing copy, but once you get past the influential early studio consoles, and very practical mixers for studios, most of the design of mixers used by musicians and producers has some ideas borrowed from Greg.

Peter Watts is an equally legendary engineer, and seeing the two of them with KORG’s own input – I think that’s a big deal.

If the price is within reach, I think it’ll be a hit. I mean, if it’s in reach, it’d be on my short list.

It seems this is still a fairly analog mixer on the mixing side – so one question I know a lot of us have is if there is any audio interface functionality, and if not why not. It could also be interesting to see a shoot-out between this and Tascam – especially since it appears Tascam has recording and interface capability and this doesn’t.

I have loads of questions, as I didn’t get complete specs on this, so I’m inferring a lot from the images (click through for bigger ones). Stay tuned for some answers.

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