Virtual Dispatches from NAMM 2017

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?

toraiz as-1

The Pioneer DJ/DSI Toraiz AS-1 analog monosynth. Photo copyright Pioneer DJ.

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.

ElectroHarmonix_Blurst

EH’s Blurst analog filter effect pedal. Photo copyright Electro Harmonix.

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.


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