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Kenton

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The company producing wireless MIDI instruments, MIDI and USB controllers, MIDI/CV-converters - Kenton Electronics Ltd - was established in 1986 in England. One day a professional musician John Price ran into a problem: the functions of his synthesizer Oberheim OBX didn’t allow him to connect other equipment to it, and MIDI products at that time had a significant number of digits on the price tag. So Price who wanted to provide his instrument with more functions decided to start creating something new and advanced with the introduction of MIDI. When he built his own digital interface, which appeared to be quite successful, Price thought about founding his company. The musician did it together with some of his colleagues. At the beginning the company was located in John Price's own apartment, but later the founder moved his business to a more suitable place.

Analyzing the music market and inquiring of his fellow musicians Price put his efforts into creating of a popular MIDI/CV converter. 12 MIDI devices by Kenton were followed in 1992 by PRO-2 (in 1997 was replaced by PRO-2000). PRO-2 was a MIDI/CV converter with a dual channel. The device had two independent sections - channel A and channel B (not to be confused with MIDI channels), each of which could operate individually with any of the MIDI channels. Besides, it was possible to use Wasp port to run EDP Wasp synthesizer, and the KADI port allowing you to control some drum machines (TR-808/606, CR78/8000). Also a series of instruments included PRO-4, PRO-SOLO in 1995, PRO-DCB, PRO-KADI in 1996. Later there improved versions of these models appeared. The series brought success to Kenton company.

PRO-4 multi-channel MIDI/CV interface has been developed since the launch of the original PRO-2 (a 2-channel MIDI/CV interface by the company). The PRO-4 proved to be quite suitable for serious studios - the rack converter allowed interaction with 10 instruments simultaneously. PRO-4 offers 4 CV/Gate outputs, 8 fully programmable CV outputs, 4 LFOs, 8 user memory drives and polyphonic mode support. DCB, KADI, Wasp and MIDI out ports are available, as well as DIN Sync 24 and arpeggio clock outputs. PRO-4 is quite easy to use – practical controllers and a nice LCD come in handy. The calibration process is a little more complicated but the converter doesn’t make you do that every day. If you want to use a Wasp and DCB equipped synthesizer you’ll have to purchase a splitter since both channels share one jack in order to save some space. In addition PRO-4 has proven its reliability and stability.

PRO-2000 MIDI device replaced Pro 2 which already won respect and recognition among customers – Kenton sold 3000 copies offering musicians 2 CV/Gate outputs and 6 fully programmable auxiliary CV outputs, 2 LFOs, and 7 user memory patches. DIN Sync 24 and the arpeggio clock are standard. Additional outputs can integrate it with other 3 CV/Gate synthesizers if necessary. KADI/Wasp or DCB ports are optional.

PRO-Solo model was designed to control one synthesizer and has only one CV/Gate output and also a fully programmable additional CV output, one LFO. LCD display makes settings editing easy. The settings could be saved in device memory now. PRO-Solo can be used not only as MIDI/CV converter to control the synthesizer but also as a MIDI DIN Sync24 converter. The model was presented as the most affordable MIDI converter released by the brand although it had significant features and impressive specs, plus a fairly solid body. The device not only does what it promises but it does it well and with a minimum of fuss. In spite of the fact that PRO-Solo is only a mono-channel MIDI/CV converter it perfectly copes with its task leaving no place for clever labyrinths of the menu, operating interruptions and other accidents.

PRO-DCB is a bi-directional (for example, an external synthesizer can be used as a master keyboard) MIDI-DCB interface for Roland Juno 60 and Jupiter-8. Kenton PRO-DCB offered quick MIDI support for these instruments – all you need is just to connect them. For Jupiter (Jupiter 8 must have a DCB or OP-8 jack) the unit made it possible to control notes and change programs. The device has arpeggio clock and filter control outputs, built-in programmable LFO. Later its upgraded versions came out: PRO-DCB mk2 in 2005 and PRO-DCB mk3 in 2007. Back then it was the most comprehensive MIDI-DCB converter on the market.

The multimode PRO-KADI module is designed for interaction with almost any drum machine. The module supports integration with TR-808, TR-606, CR-78, CR-8000 and other instruments. However some AMD machines still require some modification to be integrated with this device. This multimode MIDI unit has excellent configuration capabilities – connect up to 13 external units owing to 13 outputs provided.

Control Freak Studio MIDI controller ensured full MIDI implementation featuring pre-programmed settings which made the controller simple and affordable for beginners. It also allowed editing MIDI parameters for synthesizers and sound modules, adjusting sequencer control settings, and creating a variety of light effects in real time thanks to 16 detailed sliders, 16 programmable buttons, backlit LCD display. This made Control Freak an indispensable assistant in live performances, allowing a musician not to bother himself with the analog equipment scrolling enabling access to the necessary parameters via MIDI. Sliders and buttons could control values, notes, program change, pitchband, aftertouch, analog filter, panning, etc. The controller series later included Control Freak Live (with 16 rotary encoders and 8 fully programmable buttons, 4 keys for editing and 4 programmable functional ones). A more simplified version based on the functions of Control Freak - Spin Doctor - was released in 2002.

Kenton has become a successful team of experts in MIDI products which allowed their customers to synchronize electronic musical instruments and connect them to computers. The company keeps on releasing brand equipment: the well-known Killamix Mini USB controller was produced in 2006, the MIDI box Merge 4 - in 2008, and the THRU-25 (allows you to connect as many as 25 MIDI devices) - in 2015.

The company started small creating interfaces for local customers but soon its activity expanded and covered the world market. The quality equipment of the brand surely deserves trust and attention.