Last week I visited the Frankfurter Musikmesse and I was really impressed by the number of people who are involved in the music business. Over the years I have seen the influence of the Chinese manufacturers growing bigger and bigger although they still occupy the more remote booths on the Messe. I noticed some companies were not present this year (or at least I didn’t find them), like Spectrasonics and Hoefner. But on the other hand it was nice to meet the people from companies like Eowave and U-he (from the great Zebra software synthesizer).
Here is a small review of the most impressing things I encountered during my visit:
Nord Electro 4D
One of the first stands I went to see was the Nord stand. Of course I tried the new Nord Electro 4D. I’m not really into the current Nord line of products (I stopped trying after the Modular G1). I expected some kind of piano, organ type of synth but it supported the Nord Sample Library so it really has a rich sound pallette. I’m kind of used to the pretty hard to grasp interfaces of Nord, but I must say with the Electro it’s all very well and simple laid out.
At the moment I’m really interested in the Nord Drum, but I was somewhat turned off by the interface (from seeing the product pictures), had hoped for some 80s Simmons kind of interface (real knobs etc.). I must say I was wrong about that one: the interface is really super simple and in a few moments you can create useful (and weird) drum sounds. I think I’m gonna order it..
John Bowen Solaris / Schmidt Matrixsynth
If you’re waiting for Moog to come with a polyphonic synth you can stop waiting Although different beasts, the Solaris and Matrixsynth were absolutely the most impressive ones I played on in a long time. The Solaris remembered me most of the DSI-line (on steroids that is) and the Matrixsynth has in some way the looks and capabilties of the Moog Voyager. Here’s a great interview with the creator Stefan Schmidt – Creator Of The SCHMIDT Synthesizer | GreatSynthesizers
..and yes it comes at a certain price…
OK, so I tried the Minitaur. I think it’s great if you’re starting out with your instrument set up and need some beefy bass sounds. But to my taste I found it a bit too restricted and limited, especially already owning a certain arsenal of synths. Talking to the Minitaur engineer from Moog he told me there was a new editor for Voyager on its way (which I think is a great thing, given the state of the current editor). A new Animoog version was also on its way, no further details.
OK, so a prototype of the Dark Energy II was there but no chance of a demonstration. As you can see at the picture design changes are minimal.
Was surprised to see the Dark Time now has colored tips on its switches. I think that’s a great thing as you have more control over what’s switched on or off. They told me it wasn’t an official product feature but if you contacted your local dealer you could obtain them.
They’re thinking about going hardware, let’s see how that one turns out.
The nice thing about the Musikmesse is always that you can come into contact with all kinds of companies that I never heard of before (blame me). So I spent some time at the Eowave booth where this French based company demonstrated some impressive products. First there was the Magma analogue bassline synthesizer with sequencer. Very user friendly, very cool product. No CV in or out though…
Domino is a super small analogue synth, that reminded me a bit of a simpler version of the Dark Energy. Absolutely nice if you want to get some great sounds, fast.
The guy at the booth showed me a prototype of a new sequencer with technology derived from the Magma, but it should have CV in/out. The format was a bit like the Korg mini controllers (or whatever they were called).
Another company I never heard of before is Zaor. Think of studio furniture combined with italian design and elegance. This stuff really turns your studio in a beautiful place to work. Looked at their monitor stand (€ 500) and the iDesk a well designed iMac styled ofiice desk.