Virtual Dispatches from Musikmesse 2014 and Other News

Musikmesse, held in Frankfurt, Germany, is the European equivalent of the NAMM industry show, and an opportunity for me to lust a foamy froth over new music equipment innovations from across an ocean. Now TabMuse’s budget doesn’t yet allow for a quick jaunt over the sea to attend in person, but I’ve been paying attention to coverage from other sources, and there are a few items that definitely pique my interest.

Waldorf Streichfett

Waldorf’s Streichfett is all its creamy glory. Photo copyright Waldorf.

Let’s take a look.

The Akai Rhythm Wolf — an Analog Drum Machine under $200

The Akai Rhythm Wolf, an analog drum machine and bass synthesizer with a street price of $199.99, threatens to steal the thunder from Roland’s AIRA series. This device might be showing up in our studio shortly, if I can convince Quarkspace’s Jay Swanson to add it to his sonic arsenal. Boy needs some analog.

Five simultaneous drum voices are possible: kick, snare, hi-hat (open and closed), and metallic percussion. The bass synth switches between sawtooth and square waves and provides a resonant filter with an envelope allowing for some proper acid bass tweakery. The built-in 32-step sequencer hopefully lets the users change the time signature (a common refrain from me).

Six MPC pads, a ton of control knobs, and a full range of USB/MIDI connectivity round the Rhythm Wolf’s specs. The device is expected to hit the market later this summer. Can’t wait!

Waldorf Streichfett channels the Classic String Synths of the 70s

Waldorf releasing a tone module capable of the classic, milky string synth sounds of the 70s is one of Musikmesse’s biggest surprises. Cue Incomurdo, Hymn to the Atman.

The Streichfett features a straightforward user interface centered on an “Ensemble” button capable of kicking the sound into creamy overdrive. Bass, electric piano, and clavinet sounds can be mixed into the overall milk-coma, adding a bit of punch. Reverb and phasing offer some effects to the final equation.

12 user patches are stored in the unit, which also provides USB and MIDI connectivity. The Streichfett is expected to be available later this spring — hopefully in the US as well as Europe. The street price comes in at 235 Euros.

Arturia KeyLab 88 — an Impressive Weighted Keyboard Controller

While no longer in the market for 88 key weighted keyboard — we just bought a Yamaha MM8 a few months ago — Arturia’s new KeyLab 88 controller almost makes me regret that decision. Primarily known for the excellent software synths — including the iMini and iSEM on the iOS platform — recently Arturia is also garnering praise for their hardware.

The KeyLab 88 looks to be a superior controller with a host of knobs, sliders, and pressure sensitive pads for virtual synth control. It also comes with their Analog Lab virtual synth with over 5,000 presets. It is expected to hit the market later this summer with an as of yet undetermined price.

DM1 — a Top iOS Drum Machine Gets an Update

Fingerlab’s DM1 is arguably my favorite iPad drum machine app. Yes, I argue with myself. A great interface, great sounds, odd time signatures — what more could one want?

A fresh update to DM1 adds Inter App Audio functionality as well as 12 new drum kits. This is a highly recommended iPad beatmaker; check it out at the App Store for $4.99. There’s even an iPhone version too.

A knob twist to the cool folks at Synthtopia.