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Synths, samplers, grooveboxes, controllers: they were the brightest music tech news of 2016

Synths, samplers, grooveboxes, controllers: they were the brightest music tech news of 2016

The year 2016 was marked with Minimoog Model D comeback; most powerful digital Japanese synth hitting the market; Uli Behringer making analog go down in value; modular systems popularity growth (including one famous Greek brand); DJ-controller and sampler rethinking; another Japanese company claiming back its place in the sun - read about 13 most valuable instruments of 2016.

Minimoog Model D

1 Minimoog Model D – the legend is back, the prices go down. An authentic sound, same components, identical looks, hand-made - №1 for sure (the link will take you to the page featuring the original one).

Dave Smith Instruments OB-6

2 Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 – first “new” Oberheim since many years. It’s based on Prophet~6 – another renowned synthesizer which in its turn was based on cult Prophet~5. As you can see OB-6 implies triple cult and deep-rooted classics. Two American geniuses took care of it.

Yamaha Montage 7

3 Yamaha Montage – the most powerful digital stage synth so far. It easily allows to do those sound tricks which you could think of if you happen to have more than two hands – otherwise you would need to “assemble” the tracks in series to get closer to stuff Yamaha Montage is capable of in just a press of a button or a turn of a knob. Long-awaited Yamaha S70XS/ S90XS substitute (but not Motif XF).

Roland System-8

4 Roland System-8 – the real deal in the underrated though questionable world of virtual analog synths. Take this one – it’s perfect. As much as a virtual analog instrument can be. Sequencer, truly appealing plug-out feature, “one function per button” kind of interface, ACB sound engine great quality and... no aftertouch (yes, keyboard kicks us back to facing that virtual analog issue). Here you go Roland.

Arturia DrumBrute

5 Arturia DrumBrute – huge success, French company makes a direct hit and seems a threat to Dave Smith’s Tempest (which has a frightening price tag). DrumBrute sets the new drum machine standards (its every parameter does).

KORG minilogue

6 KORG minilogue – Japan is at the top and sitting there it shows you what the beauty is – analog mini synth which could mark a “new wave” in the instruments history. Quality, functionality, chiselled looks, intuitive control, reasonable price – you want it all and it’s all here. But maybe you need a sequencer or an OLED screen with a waveform displayed, well, it has those too.

Hammond XK5

7 Hammond XK5 – top digital organ from the father of electromechanical organs. It takes its lucky 7th number as a truly exclusive keyboard (even though it only emulates the real electric original).

Roland DJ-808

8 Roland DJ-808 – an ambitious DJ-controller, digital percussion and vocal processor concept – 3 in 1. Plus Serato DJ software.

TB-03 TR-09

9 Roland TR-09 и TB-03 – Japan strikes back. They’ve had enough of seeing their products being cloned and copied successfully or not so much. They revived own percussion glory and drum machine icon themselves – within the Roland Boutique series. The generous price pushes us to grab both of the instruments.

Pioneer Toraiz SP-16

10 Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 – you could just dream about this sampler, but wait, why would you dream about it? You can have it. Your dream filled with a sequencer and Dave Smith’s effects is on the market. RGB pads, big full-colour touch screen, encoders, 8 Gb flash memory, touch-strip and a considerable price – it’s up to you. If you’re determined enough.

Dreadbox Murmux v2

11 Dreadbox Murmux v2 – mini modular system from those famous Greeks who made us love their products. 3 oscillators, 1 sub, unique hyper VCO (consisted of 6 sawtooth VCOs), multimode filter, 3 LFOs, 2 VCAs, mixer – all in the compact case with a 5-year warranty. But again there is this sad and a bit annoying Dreadbox issue – limited number of units. All the 50 boxes had been already sold until many found out about the release.

Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms SV-1 Blackbox

12 Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms SV-1 Blackbox – semi-modular system including basic analog instruments for sound experiments costing not more than it should. It’s good for both professionals and beginners. The first ones would want to take it and sit in the room for a few hours digging into its features while modular newcomers would be happy to never see those scaring patch cords and a batch of specific modules.

Behringer DeepMind 12

13 Ok, let it go to Behringer DeepMind 12. Absolutely unbeatable proportion – what a big functionality and what a small price. The long-expected Behringer analog-based product didn’t come out in December as planned, anyway slowly but surely DeepMind 12 is making its way to the shelves. A special thanks to Uli Behringer who made all those mighty arrogant analog ones go down in price finally and actually made it possible to have a cool synthesizer for a decent sum of money and not to meet your dream halfway (no suffering from functionality loss).

What shall we expect from 2017? First of all let’s remember we still have KARP Odyssey to come (with full-size keys, yes). Then we hope to hear from Radikal Technologies because we were intrigued with their new Accelerator bait. We’d like Kurzweil (in the first place), Novation and Clavia Nord to surprise us since they didn’t hit the top and weren’t put on the waiting list: Clavia announced a new keyboard for their relatively new Piano 3 and then backed out due to some technical issues; Novation was busy with their Circuit and other instruments so it did make a small surprise – MoroderNova special release, though everybody waits for them to create another Supernova.

Anyway, let there be more support for good projects and steady savings growth to buy those when they eventually come out.

Published: 22:28 10.12.2016
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