NAMM 2015 and the Analog Synthesizer Renaissance

Sorry for the relative lapse in new content here at TabMuse. I’ve been working hard on the new Church of Hed album, Electric Sepulcher, so my time for TabMuse is more fleeting. We’ll work on fixing that in the future.

As usual, gear lust ruled the day at this year’s NAMM show in Los Angeles. This time last year, I was cleaning up myself after spewing copious amounts of foam due to the NAMM 2014 announcement of the Moog Sub 37. After waiting impatiently for most of the year I took delivery of my own Sub 37 in October.

This year featured even more exciting product announcements in the analog synth realm, but with my gear budget essentially gone after the Sub 37, I’ll be staying on the sidelines this time out. Nonetheless, we’ll take a look at some of the promising NAMM announcements now populating the wish lists of many synth freaks.

The Return of the Moog Modular

Arguably the biggest synth news out of NAMM 2015, Moog reintroduced its classic line of modular synthesizers to the marketplace. Priced from $10,000 to $35,000, these are essentially luxury musical instruments; wise shoppers can get a similar setup from Synthesizers.com at a fraction of the price. But…. Moog!

Moog System 55

Moog’s System 55 modular synthesizer in all its glory. Photo copyright Moog Music, Inc.

Still, it was cool to see Suzanne Ciani and other industry legends, old and new, patching up a Moog Modular System 55. It is expected that Moog plans to sell individual modules from these systems, but no news as of yet. Ultimately, those larger Moog systems are beasts; Eurorack makes more ergonomic sense for this dreamer.

Dave Smith brings back Sequential Circuits

Legendary synth designer, Dave Smith, regained the rights to use the “Sequential Circuits” moniker, and what better synth with which to reintroduce that brand name than the new Prophet 6, announced at NAMM 2015. This reimagining of the classic analog poly synth set many hearts aflutter.

In addition to the standard features of an analog synth, the Prophet 6 raises the bar with 24-bit multi-effects (with true bypass for analog purists) and a polyphonic step sequencer. Street price on this bad boy comes in at $2,799. It is expected to ship in the summer of 2015.

Korg goes on a Mini Odyssey

One of the most anticipated synth rebirths at NAMM 2015 was Korg’s reintroduction of ARP’s classic Odyssey synth. Korg offers new versions of all three of Odyssey models, albeit in a plastic casing with mini keys, causing much controversy amongst synth heads. With a street price of $999, the smart shopper might spend a bit more on a Moog Sub 37 or wait to see what Behringer’s reported Odyssey clone looks like when it hits the market.

Korg also introduced a desktop module version of its MS-20 kit that includes the new SQ-1 hardware step sequencer. Considering the street price of $1,199, thankfully the SQ-1 is also available separately for $99 putting it square within my wheelhouse. The fact that the sequencer includes a separate CV out compatible with the littleBits Synth Kit, means I am all over this once the new Church of Hed album is finished and I can go back into R&D mode.

The modular synthesizer cottage industry was also in full force at NAMM with Make Noise, Doepfer, and others displaying new modules and more. I am still a couple years out from making a dive into the modular world, but it is inspiring to see a thriving scene afoot.

Well, that’s all I’ve got this time out. Maybe one year I will actually attend NAMM instead of lusting from a distance? In the next few weeks here at TabMuse expect reviews of VirSyn’s cool additive synth app for iOS, Cube, and coverage of the upcoming Sub 37 firmware update that includes full sequence editing and other neat features.

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  1. […] year, the NAMM show serves as a second Christmas for musicians both in attendance and watching from afar. This […]

  2. […] a few of the interesting announced products in the synth realm. This same rule applied in both 2015 and 2016. Like many of you, I watch from afar, typically overcome with an acute case of gear […]

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