Tara Busch explores the Swarmatron at NAMM
Dewanatron Swarmatron Controlled by Moog Voyager and MP-201
Time to sum up this years Winter NAMM show with a gallery of the 10 things that made this year’s event so great. I guess there will be few surprises to those who regularly follow our web magazine or any other of our web mag colleagues in the msuic creation business either
Overall trends for this year include:
a. More vendors takes the route of Arturia’s MiniBrute – analog, low price point, performance sized
b. Modular synths are hotter than ever, as well as the DIY micro synths
c. The controller / control surface segment is getting over crowded – who needs them all
d. Software retro clones of vintage classics has come to its peek
e. All analog synths are alive and kicking
f. All you can eat tablet instruments – iOS is all fed up, now vendors are looking to Android and other platforms
g. More innovation is needed in the DJ space
Here is Steelberry Clones’ top 10 list!
1. Moog Sub Phatty
2. KORG MS-20 Mini
3. KORG KingKORG
4. Arturia SparkLE
5. Dave Smith Instruments – Prophet 12
6. Roland V-Combo VR-09
7. AKAI MAX49
8. NORD Electro 4
9. NUMARK Orbit
10. KOMA Elektronik
That’s it for this year’s NAMM show, next up is MusikMesse in Frankfurt.
Please leave your comments if you agree or disagree with the listing or if anything ought to be added. We know that we probably should have included some software products as well, but we might come back to that later in the week.
“A curious instrument from the 2013 NAMM show. It has stings that move in contact with a rotating “bow” to play the strings like a violin. Yes. They are very expensive but quite lovely”
Synth design mad scientist Don Buchla is back, and this re-issue of his Music Easel is a virtually identical copy of the original from the mid-’70s. Esoteric synth expert Gino Robair goes hands-on.
Summary Description / December, 1973
The Music Easel is a highly evolved electronic musical instrument. It maintains many of the design philosophies and functional characteristics of its predecessors, the 100 series Modular Electronic Music System and the 200 series Electric Music Box. The Music Easel introduces some substantial innovations in electronic instrument design – innovations that make it a truly expressive real-time instrument for composition and performance.
The Music Easel contains many of the elements commonly used to generate and process sound: a keyboard, sequencer, pulser, preamplifier, envelope detector and balanced modulator; oscillators, gates, envelope generators and filters; facilities for mixing, monitoring and reverberating. Many of these elements possess an unusual degree of sophistication. The keyboard is solid state, with touch sensitive, chromatically organized keys, accurate and reproducible pressure output, tactile feedback, octave shifting, and voltage controlled portamento. A complex oscillator, developed through computer aided simulation studies, is a rich source of complex audio spectra. featuring voltage control of pitch, timbre and waveform, this oscillator provides the Music Easel with a timbral range unapproached by other musical instruments.
The connectives are as important as the elements to be connected. Interconnection within the Music Easel is accomplished with a combination of switching and patching, a system which is flexible, expedient, and open ended. Logical, compact organization and color coded graphic feedback facilitate rapid and effective interaction. Multiple correlations between a performer’s actions and the Music Easel’s responses are readily implemented, enabling a degree of expressive articulation heretofore impossible with electronic instrumentation.
Further augmenting the Music Easel’s real time performability is the capability of permanently storing and immediately retrieving complete instrument definitions (patches) or portions thereof. (An “instrument definition” includes settings of parameters, degrees of articulation, switch positions and interconnections.) Storage entails the installment of resistors on program cards; retrieval is accomplished by plugging in a desired program card and activating a switch.
With its extended timbral resources, unusual expressive capability, and its facility for storage and recall of instrument definitions, the Music Easel opens new horizons to the composer and performer. To appreciate its potential as a new musical instrument the Music Easel must be seen, heard and played.
Music Easels are provided with six blank program cards, an assortment of programming resistors, and a comprehensive instruction manual. Available accessories include additional program cards and resistors and a 12 volt battery pack. Complete with case and charger, this battery pack will power a Music Easel for approximately three hours per charge.
Electrical requirements are 30 watts at 110 volts A.C. or 2 amperes at 12 volts D.C. Preamp input impedance is 1 megaohm; gain is 30 dB. Nominal program output level is 1 volt R.M.S., sufficient to drive tape recorders or power amplifiers. A separate 2 watt monitor output will drive headsets or low level speakers.
Housed in a rugged aluminum case, the Music Easel is built to travel. Weight is 30 pounds; dimensions are 6″ x 17″ x 22″ (carry on baggage for jetliners).
Korg product manager Rich Formidoni demonstrates the new Korg MS-20 mini Monophonic Synthesizer at the 2013 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA.
The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have reproduced its circuitry and fit into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original.
- Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20, a complete replication of the original analog circuitry
- 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
- Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
- External signal processor (ESP)
- Extremely flexible patching system
- Miniature MS-20 that’s 86% of the original size
- MIDI IN and USB connector
- Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual
The Korg MS-20 Mini will be available April 2013 for a U.S. Street price of $599.00.
Leon Dewan demonstrates the Swarmatron at the Big City Music booth at NAMM 2013.
WNAMM13: Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 – Video 12 voices, four oscillatore per voice – massive.
Dave Smith Instruments introduced a new polyphonic synthesizer, the Prophet 12, at the 2013 NAMM Show. “After 35 years of creating synths, this is simply my best synth yet,” said Smith. “We sort of started from scratch on this one rather than spinning off another product from our previous designs.”
At twelve voices, the Prophet 12 boasts the greatest polyphony of any instrument designed by Smith. Each voice features four oscillators capable of generating classic and complex waveforms, a sub-oscillator, resonant analog low- and high-pass filters, and analog VCAs. The new Character section adds a variety of wave shaping and sound sculpting options, like Drive, Hack, Decimation, Girth, and Air. Additional features include a tuned feedback path, a four-tap stereo delay per voice, expanded arpeggiator functionality, deep modulation capabilities, and bi-timbral operation. The LFOs, delay, and arpeggiator can all be synced, either to the internal clock or an external MIDI clock. Two programmable position- and pressure-sensitive touch sliders take the performance controls beyond the standard pitch and mod wheels (also included).
“We’re already blown away by the sonic breadth of this synthesizer’s new voice architecture,” Smith continued. “It doesn’t sound like anything else and I’m very excited for people to hear it.”
The Prophet 12 is expected to be available Q2 of 2013 and is projected to cost $2999
An exclusive in-room demo of the new Moog Sub Phatty. Hear the sounds, learn it’s features and get a deep insight in to all of the sonic possibilities of the new Moog, including driving drums through the brand new multi-drive filter.
Join Korg Inc.’s own Fumio Mieda and Hiroaki Nishijima – the engineers who brought us the legendary MS-20 back in 1978 – as we take a look at the new MS-20 Mini! Both personally oversaw the design of the modern-day MS-20, which features the exact same true-analog signal path as the legendary original. The incredibly powerful dual filters with peak/resonance, CV functionality, external signal processing, and unique hands-on patching system are all here – with 5-pin and USB MIDI to boot — and all at 86% of the original size.
For More Info on MS-20 Mini head over to
WNAMM13: Korg MS20 Mini First Look Its an analog MS20 only smaller
Today Korg announced a new analog synthesizer, in a bite-size form factor. Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still coveted to this day for its thick, robust sound, powerful, iconic analog filter, and versatile patching options. It has now been reborn as the new MS-20 mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced it in a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original.
The MS-20 Mini offers the same distinctive synthesis that made the original MS-20 popular: two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with delay and hold. The VCA (Voltage Controlled Amp) maintains the original basic design, but it’s been modified to produce less noise. Particular attention has also been paid to delivering smooth parameter adjustments, which are a distinctive feature of analog synthesizers. Special care was also taken to completely reproduce the original specifications of the MS-20, to deliver the same powerful sound, from deep, growling basses to crisp, rounded leads.
One of the most well-known – and still most sought after – characteristics of the original MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided both high-pass and low-pass with peak/resonance. Maximizing the peak/resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate; producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was used many years later on Korg’s monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.
The ESP (External Signal Processor) functionality carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20, allowing users to utilize the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example, an electric guitar can be used as an input signal, and the MS-20 mini can be used as a guitar synthesizer, or the mic input can allow it to be used it as a vocal synthesizer.
The patching system enables the creation of complex sounds by allowing the rerouting of both modulation and audio (both the internal oscillators and external audio). Different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart printed on the panel, musicians of all levels can take advantage of these possibilities right away.
To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original, with meticulous care taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4″ phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is 86% of the original size as well.
The MS-20 mini is equipped with a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. Users can also connect the MS20 mini to a computer and play it from an external sequencer.
For added authenticity, the MS-20 mini packaging replicates much of the original. Also included are the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart.
The Korg MS-20 Mini will be available April 2013 for a U.S. Street price of $599.00 Additional product information is available at Korg.com.
At NAMM 2013 Akai show Future Music their new MPX8 eight-pad sample launcher complete with SD card slot, built in effects and MIDI I/O.