The 10 Top Brands of Musikmesse 2014Article
Best of Musikmesse 2014
After a big NAMM, you would've expected a quieter Musikmesse. Notwithstanding, Europe's largest audio trade show had a couple of nice surprises in store.
Many manufacturers still had something up their sleeves to make the eyes of AF fans and those of our own team in Frankfurt sparkle. This time, rather than focusing on 10 products, we decided to choose 10 brands, some of which unveiled several new and attractive products during the latest Musikmesse.
Just for a change, let's start this Best Of with a software publisher. Toontrack decided to use Musikmesse 2014 as platform to unveil the second version of its virtual drums software EZdrummer, the new love of our very own Los Teignos, who hasn't shied from sharing it with the AF community. If you still haven't read his review, go do it now. EZdrummer 2 will be available starting May 6 with a retail price of $149.
Akai Pro arrived at Musikmesse with a truckload of new products, including Rhythm Wolf, a small analog machine that combines a drum machine and a bass synth. You can tweak all five drum sounds with envelopes and a filter, and the synth with an oscillator. It features six MPC pads, a 32-step sequencer and a distortion circuit. Rhythm Wolf will be available this summer with a price tag of $199.
The high-quality audio/video recorder specialist has entered the next-generation audio interface market. After teasing us with the TAC-2 Thunderbolt during the NAMM, Zoom has showed off all its cards at Frankfurt, introducing the rest of the TAC family, including the TAC-4 and 8, as well as three USB 3.0 interfaces: The UAC-2, 4 and 8. Depending on the model, you will find analog inputs and outputs, obviously, but also digital ones and MIDI, and up to two headphone outputs. You just have to wait for them to come out, since the release date hasn't been disclosed yet.
SM Pro Audio
Rack-mountable digital mixing consoles that can be remote controlled, via Wi-Fi and Ethernet, with your computer, smartphone or tablet? That's SM Pro Audio's new bet with he new uMix series, which includes four models: 8, 12, 16, and 24 channels. The main advantage of this new mixer series is that you only need an Internet browser to remote control the console and, if you opt for one of the larger models, you have access to Waves processing on the master outputs. The price goes from $249 to $999, depending on the number of channels.
When Elektron announces something, everybody listens. And that was the case during the past Musikmesse, where they introduced no high-end analog hardware, but rather a top-flight hardware/software bidirectional communication technology. Overbridge will shortly allow users of Analog Four, Analog Keys and Analog Rytm units to send multitrack audio to a DAW just like any plug-in. Plus, it will allow your DAW to send sound to the hardware's analog circuit. Everything over USB and at 24 bits. Overbridge will be available ─ for free ─ with an upcoming update of the Analog series. Thank you Elektron!
The collection of small square Waldorf boxes keeps on expanding and Frankfurt saw the release of the 2 Pole filter and, especially, Streichfett, a well-equipped polyphonic string synth for vintage ambiance lovers. The module comprises an Ensemble effect, an octaver and MIDI capabilities (both with USB and DIN connectors). Streichfett will be available in spring with a MSRP of €279 (approx. $385).
Roland decided to reorganize its catalog and now offers all guitar products under the Boss brand. That was obviously not the biggest announcement at Musikmesse, but Boss did create buzz at Frankfurt by presenting an update of its GT-100 multi-effects and a desktop version of the pedalboard, called GT-001. The great innovation introduced by these two models lies in the communication with your computer. In fact, the audio/MIDI interface was improved, so it now allows the signal of your guitar to be sent to multiple tracks and, thanks to the Guitar to MIDI function, you can play directly with your favorite software. It's ideal for reamping. The GT-001 costs about $300.
The French manufacturer introduced three nice new products at Musikmesse: The 88-key version of its KeyLab master keyboard, a modeling of the Vox Continental 300 organ, nicknamed Connie, and, especially, the SE version of the MiniBrute synth. Besides its new look in aluminum and wood, the MiniBrute SE also saw the arpeggiator replaced with a six-pattern sequencer, each with 64 steps. Fans will be able to get this special edition starting in May for an average price of $599.
It's not every day that Focal launches a new series of monitor speakers, so the announcement of three new models, the Alpha 50, 65 and 80, at Frankfurt made a visit to their booth mandatory. All three models will be available in May, and will be €200, €300 and €350 (approx.$275, $415 and $480), respectively. And since no one can explain better their products than the brands themselves, here's a brief introduction:
Kurzweil has never been short of ideas and it is still driving the digital instruments world with its new Flash Play technology. The latter allows the integration (and thus the playing) of many GBs of samples with record loading times. This technology has just been implemented in the new Forte digital piano, which comes with 16GB of samples.
As always, your comments on this new Musikmesse edition are very welcome.