GAK Winter NAMM 2018 Pro Audio Roundup!
As quick as it arrived the bustling hubbub of winter NAMM 2018 is now gone. So it is now time to recover, reflect and digest the raft of products announced and launched this year in Anaheim. With big releases from Korg, Elektron, Moog and many more, there was something for everyone from the analog purist to the seasoned session player…
Korg brought the most to the table. From an all new professional poly-synth, and the missing piece of the Volca puzzle, to a class leading Swiss army knife of a stage piano. Firstly, one of the stars of the show, the Korg Prologue. Announced shortly before the NAMM, this was the first time most people got to see and get their hands on the unit. First impressions count for a lot and this synth did not disappoint. Great sound, innovative ‘Multi Engine’ technology and a smart two product canon Korg are sure to have a success on there hands with this. If you want to read more about Prologue 8 and 16 click here.
Next up is the Korg Grand Stage, a high quality versatile performance keyboard based around the superb RH-3 key-bed. Featuring a selection of world class pianos and a full range of carefully selected instruments to fit any serious players needs. All packaged in a very classy case with enough useable realtime control over sound and effects to cover any eventuality, but still managing to retain a clear and uncluttered front panel. From big to small with the Volca Mix. A natty little unit on the tried and tested Volca footprint that allows mixing and interfacing of Volcas or any other system, with some interesting and useable performance effects built in too. Last but not least a full size ARP Odyssey re-issue in all three colour ways with a unique KORG SQ-1 in the package sporting classic matching ARP livery (matching provided you choose the black and orange version of the synth).
We were all hoping for big things from Moog. Along with DSI, Moog were notably absent from the centre of the NAMM show choosing to setup in a house in Echo Park called the ‘Moog House of Electronicus’. Moog announced DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother) (GAK Moog DFAM Blog) shortly before the show and the House of Electronicus provided many with their first hands on experience of this impressive little bit of kit. DFAM also hailed the first unit in a line of planned ongoing expansions of Moog’s ‘Mother’ family. We look forward to many more products in this handy Eurorack friendly ecosystem. But perhaps sadly this was the only product announcement from the Asheville (GAK Moog Factory Tour) massive at this time.
Elektron showed off their all new Digitone synth and sequencer. In Elektron’s inimitable style, a slightly sideways look at the FM (Frequency Modulation) based poly-synth. An eight voice FM tone generator married to a subtractive analog signal path. That’s right glassy FM operators passed through a rich analog filter envelope and effects section. Four channel poly sequencing, four MIDI sequencer parts, this gorgeous sounding little synth was a real personal favorite from this years show. Elektron also rounded out the ‘metallic’ second generation Pocket Operator series with the PO-35 Speak and the PO-33 K.O! Continuing this innovative affordable line of Pocket Operators very nicely indeed.
Roland were somewhat hardware light this year, but bolstered the roster on their excellent Roland Cloud service. Announcing soft versions of their iconic TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines available exclusively on Roland Cloud. Much, almost too much has been said about these titanic machines over the years so will not go into detail here. Suffice to say these behave, sound and integrate beautifully. If you are not familiar with the Roland Cloud service you can read more about that here > www.gak.co.uk/en/roland-cloud
Of course there was a huge array of other products shown at winter NAMM 2018, far to many to cover here, but honorable mentions go as follows. Dekards Dream a truly gorgeous Yamaha CS-80 clone that had anyone with even a passing interest in synths foaming at the mouth and likely on the phone to their bank manager. The Waldorf STVC a unit that expands on their Streichfett module with the addition of a keyboard an impressive sounding vocoder all in a package that bears a strong family resemblance to their popular Blofeld Synthesiser range.
Apogee has long been a byword for archive quality, high end finesse analogue to digital conversion and clocking. These fundaments still apply to their paradigm but this year at NAMM they have announced that they are about to loose some of their exclusivity. But not in a bad way, nor in a way that will diminish the quality or excellence of their product or core ideals. They are just opening up their borders somewhat, and as such widening the audience their product can reach a fare bit. The introduction of Windows compatibility by Apogee is a move that must not be underestimated. This small, but big shift could fundamentally influence the direction of of their product line and will surely affect Apogee’s appeal and availability at a base level.
Still hungry for more? You can get your fill of GAK’s NAMM coverage on our Youtube Channel here > https://www.youtube.com/user/GAKVision