The fact that I didn’t attend this year’s NAMM conference doesn’t stop me from writing about 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 lust. Maybe some year I’ll make it?
Unfortunately, NAMM 2017 didn’t feature the same level of innovation as the past few years, but a few synths still managed to pique my interest. Let’s check them out!
Korg’s ARP Odyssey Re-creation goes Full Size
When Korg reintroduced the ARP Odyssey a few years back, many synth-heads praised the sound but complained about the mini-keys. Now those naysayers get a chance to put their money where it counts, as Korg announced full-size versions of all three Odyssey models.
The street price for this analog duophonic synth – known as the ARP Odyssey FS – is $1,599, and all editions grace the market in February. So check with your favorite music retailer if those dreaded mini-keys were keeping you from purchasing Korg’s original ARP remake/remodel.
The Pioneer DJ/Dave Smith Instruments Toraiz AS-1 Intrigues
This mashup between a DJ equipment company (Pioneer DJ) and one of the most respected synth designers in the business (Dave Smith) looks like a Korg Monotron on steroids. An analog monosynth, the Toraiz AS-1 features a synth engine that’s essentially a one-voice version of the DSI Prophet 6. The touchpad keyboard triggers the comparison with the Monotron.
A 64-step sequencer and a host of filters and effects from the Prophet 6 help round out the Toraiz feature set. The synth also integrates with the Toraiz SP-16 sampler/sequencer. The small LED display helps DJs control the device when inside a club.
At a street price of $499, this is a product that intrigues me and my limited budget, but my eyes are still trained on the Make Noise 0-Coast – I’d already own one if not for the Arturia DrumBrute. Expect the synth in March.
The Electro-Harmonix Blurst Modulated Filter Pedal
As a drummer and synth player, I only recently discovered the sonic joy of pairing guitar effects pedals with synthesizers – late to the party as usual. I love my EH Deluxe Memory Boy delay pedal, and Electro-Harmonix’s new Blurst filter pedal looks like something to fill a current need in the studio. It’s an analog low-pass filter featuring LFO modulation with tap timing – perfect for any modern keyboardist wanting an edgier sound.
The availability of the Blurst is still TBA, but at a unique street price of $137, expect many to grab one when it arrives on the marketplace.
The Eurorack community probably had most of the innovative synth products at this year’s NAMM – new modules abound. Since I am still successfully avoiding that bottomless pool – the 0-Coast lust being an exception – these two synths and effect pedal appear to be most alluring synth-related products for my tastes in a down year for NAMM.