What it all comes down to is whether you think integrating a fully fledged PC into a keyboard workstation is a good idea or not. OpenLabs tried it for many years and now they are much more successful and much less stressed selling a $25 piece of recording software. Music Computing believe that this is the last computer you’ll ever buy, it’s a “dream machine” that’ll be making music long after you’re dead – really? My day job is building computers for studios and there’s just no way you can make a computer that permanent. Things change, technology evolves and you’ll find that you can’t run modern software on a computer that’s ten years old. This is bonkers.
So what is the Kami (other than a piece of ladies’ underwear)? Well it’s a computer, semi-weighted keyboard, controller, screen and audio interface all integrated into a single box. It’s a neat idea, it looks kind of vintage and yet futuristic and I can see the attraction of having a single workstation where everything happens. Slight distant echoes of the Fairlight I think. The spec of the PC ranges from the regular desktop Core i7 up to the extraordinary dual Xeon processors giving you 24 cores and up to 512GB of RAM. With that much memory you could load and run everything in RAM and you’re unlikely to run into any processor ceilings anytime soon. There’s room for 4 drives, it can also support 4 video outputs running at 4K resolution and apparently (yes they’ve put this as a key feature) you can burn your own CDs with the built in CD/DVD burner – wow!
The PC is the bit you can’t see. The bits you can are the 61 or 88 note semi-weighted keyboard, the XY controller pad, the 16 drums pads and controller knobs, the 2 x 1U spaces for interfaces and synth modules, the integrated qwerty keyboard and a nice big screen. These bits and pieces are very nice and handy, the spec of the PC is awesome and as the description says it could replace every keyboard, synth and sampler ever created with virtual ones all running at once.
So what’s my problem? Well, the problems are legion. Firstly the huge PC spec is amazing – I’m all for that – but trapping it inside a piece of custom built hardware makes the whole PC experience so much more trouble than it needs to be. The air flow will be poor and so the noise will be high, it will be difficult to upgrade, repair or simply clean the dust out of it. If the computer fails for any reason – something as simple as a client with a virus on their USB dongle that holds their project files – the whole workstation dies. By building it all in together you lose the modular nature of the studio – you can’t just drop in your mates laptop and carry on without dismantling the whole rig. Assuming that the PC is perfect and never going to let you down then, for me, the ergonomics are all wrong. From the images the screen gets in the way of the pads and controller knobs, you’re also having to reach pretty far over the keyboard to get to them. The piano keyboard gets in the way of the qwerty keyboard and trackpad giving you serious arm ache. The 1U space for your audio interface is cool but now you’ve potentially got mic and headphone cables dragging over the piano. And lastly the price, which starting at $5999 seems a lot for a $1500 spec computer.
Spending a good chunk of money of high spec PC should be encouraged but keeping it in it’s own box gives you far more versatility and room to manoeuvre than trapping it inside proprietary hardware. Also the product description is just a bit weird and they really need to get to grips with the concept of paragraphs and layout.
For more information: http://musiccomputing.com/