NAMM 2014: the best new hardware synths
24th Jan 2014 | 15:36
Analogue, digital, keytar and DIY instruments
NAMM 2014: Hardware synths are part and parcel of the NAMM Show experience. You can launch a plugin instrument online, but if you want to create a bit of buzz and give people a chance to get their hands on your new keyboard or module, a trade show unveiling is still the way to go.
Here, we've rounded up the best synths to have come out of NAMM so far. We'll keep adding to the list as the show goes on, leaving you with a complete overview of what's new.
Moog Sub 37
Based on the Sub Phatty engine, the Sub 37 has an expanded keyboard and a Duo mode that enables you to play Oscillators 1 and 2 independently (it's 2-note paraphonic, in other words).
This is a limited edition model, so if you want one, you'll need to get in quick.
Korg MS-20 kit
Not so much a new synth as a relaunch of a relaunch, the MS-20 kit takes its lead from last year's MS-20 mini but is full-sized and needs to be self-assembled. The kit comes complete with both the early and later incarnations of the original MS-20's filter circuit and, once built, users can switch between the two.
Clavia Nord Lead A1
There will be some who turn their nose up at the A1 on the grounds that it's not 'proper analogue', but Clavia is bullish in its claim that it's "a true synthesizer powerhouse that goes far beyond the current trend for limited capability analogue reissues".
Designed for fast programming and to encourage experimentation, the Nord Lead A1 includes a "unique" oscillator configuration that enables you to use shortcuts to speed up your tweaking, a comprehensive filter section, multiple modulation options, effects. and performance features.
Roland FA-08 and FA-06
Every year we wonder if the workstation keyboard concept might be dying a death, and every year we see evidence that this isn't the case.
Roland's FA-08 (pictured) and FA-06 are this NAMM Show's exhibits. 88- and 61-note models respectively, both feature a built-in audio interface, DAW integration, and more than 2000 sounds from the Integra-7 sound module. Each keyboard comes with a 16-track sequencer, and each of the 16 available parts can access its own effects engine, which sports 67 effect types.
Once something of a pariah among keyboard players, the keytar has been making a stealthy but concerted comeback for several years now.
The RK-100S sees Korg acknowledging this - it's a revamped version of the RK-100 that was originally released in 1984. It has a curvaceous wooden body, a slim 37-note keyboard and two ribbon controllers. Sounds come courtesy of Korg's MMT engine, which provides 200 analogue-modelled programs.
Everyone likes to think that they can play the Theremin, but few people actually can.
Moog's Theremini solves the problem by offering assistive pitch correction. Set this to maximum and every note in your selected scale will be played perfectly in tune (you can't go wrong, in other words), but you can dial this down so that you have more or, at the lowest setting, full control over the pitch.
Sounds are generated from an engine derived from Moog's Animoog iOS synth, and you get a built-in speaker.