Musikmesse, the massive music trade show that takes place every year around this time in Frankfurt, Germany is the place for numerous new product introductions. The Audiofanzine crew was on the ground in Frankfurt, scoping out products and shooting and posting videos. Here is our list of the top 10 new products from Musikmesse. Interestingly, this year’s list is much heavier on the hardware than the software.
The products are presented here in alphabetical order by company. We’ve included prices where available and a video with each product.
Antelope Zen Tour
Antelope Audio has a well-deserved reputation for making extremely high-quality hardware, and it’s latest entry is Zen Tour ($1,495), a tabletop Thunderbolt/USB audio interface that offers a mix of affordability and features. It includes 8 analog inputs (4 switchable mic/line, 4 Hi-Z) and 8 analog outputs; ADAT and S/PDIF digital connectivity; built in DSP including guitar amp simulators; a Pultec EQ emulation; and much more.
BluGuitar BluBox Speaker Emulator
The German-based BluGuitar is run by German guitar whiz Thomas Blug. The BluBOX is a standalone speaker emulator box that uses convolution technology to recreate the sound of 16 well-known speaker cabinets from companies like Marshall, Fender, and Vox. Even a couple of BluGuitar cabinets have been modeled for BluBOX. The unit is designed for direct-to-PA connection for live performance and DI connection, using a guitar amp as a front end, in the studio. It’s a perfect companion for amp modelers like the company’s Amp1 . The unit is scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter of this year for $319.
Dasz Instruments Alex
The debut product from a Canadian company called Dasz is the Alex, an integrated synthesizer and sequencer platform. Alex is module-based, and the modules on display at Messe each offered 4 independent tracks (8- and 16-track modules are expected to be available, too). Each track offers the synth/instrument sound, as well as effects, a looper and a sequencer (for example. you might have a snare drum on one track and a bass drum on another). The modules can function as outboard synths, or as sequencers for other MIDI instruments and CV gear. Alex is scheduled to start shipping later this year.
Digitech Dirty Robot Stereo Synth
The Dirty Robot ($149) is a stereo stompbox (DigiTech calls it a “mini-synth pedal”) that lets you add square, sub and octave waveforms to your guitar or bass signal, along with envelope and filter controls and effects to produce synth-like tones. Create filter-sweeps, talkbox sounds, vocoder tones and more.
Future Artist MIDI Looper
Loop pedals that work in the audio domain have been around for a long time, but Future Artist’s MIDI Looper loops MIDI data, so you can create loops from your synths, drum machines and other MIDI instruments, with four separate tracks, up to 256 layers, quantization, multiple MIDI channels on each track and more. Connect to a computer via USB or send out MIDI clock to sync external devices.
Nord Drum 3P
Nord calls the Nord Drum 3P a “modeling percussion synthesizer.” The unit integrates six large pads with a sound section featuring subtractive, resonant and FM synthesis; built-in effects; an external kick trigger input; and more. Nord has updated the factory soundbank from previous Nord Drum units, and the 3P offers streamlined features for choosing sounds and customizing kits.
Pioneer DJ Toraiz SP-16
Pioneer was showing the Toraiz SP-16, a new sampler/step sequencer designed with DJs in mind, and featuring analog filters designed by Dave Smith Instruments. Its onboard 16-step sequencer can store up to 256 patterns. The SP-16 features 16 performance pads that can be used for triggering one shots and loops, a 7” color LCD, 8 analog outputs and a headphone out, a pair of analog inputs, MIDI In and Out/Thru, syncing to external devices with Pro DJ Link and MIDI clock, and 8GB of onboard flash memory.
Polyend Seq is an 8-track, 32-step hardware sequencer. You can program it manually, or populate its steps using randomization features. Single steps can be subdivided to create rolls, and each track can send CV drum gate data. You also get MIDI Out and Thru, and USB MIDI out. The unit in the video is a prototype, but the Polyend folks hope to have it to market by Christmas.
Yamaha LL-TA Transacoustic
Imagine an acoustic guitar that allows you to add reverb and chorus while still listening to the guitar acoustically (well, sort of). That’s the concept behind the LL-TA Transacoustic from Yamaha. The company describes the process like this: “An actuator installed on the inner surface of the guitar back vibrates in response to the vibrations of the strings. The vibrations of the actuator are then conveyed to the body of the guitar, and to the air in and around the guitar body, generating authentic reverb and chorus sounds from inside the body.” The idea is that you’ll always have the experience of playing in a rich, reverberant room no matter where you play.
Zynaptiq Adaptiverb & Wormhole
We're cheating here, because this is actually two products, not one. But since they were both so cool we didn't want to leave one out. You can always count on Zynaptic to come up with software that’s both powerful and unique, and they didn't disappoint with the introduction of Adaptiverb and Wormhole. The former is a reverb that the company describes as “reflectionless.” It uses “new AI technique similar to the technology that enables self-driving cars to avoid collisions,” according to Zynaptic. Wormhole is an effects processor designed to create “otherworldly” effects, via an engine that combines reverb with pitch and frequency shifting.