The coIt was a packed show this year with lots of releases and new ways to generate and manipulate sound. Although most products seemed to get revealed before NAMM even started. There were a few updates to products we already knew about like the Super-6 and Hydrasynth but this round-up is about synthesizers we saw for the first time and that, I feel, gave us something to talk about.
Korg ARP 2600
We have to start with this beautiful machine that’s so full of history and intention – we owe so much to the ARP 2600 and it’s a wonderful thing that it’s been reproduced with such care and detail. Korg worked with ARP co-founder David Friend to construct this reproduction of the original ARP 2600. It comes with the 3620 49-key keyboard with aftertouch, portamento, arpeggiator and sequencer all in a custom flight case complete with casters.
It has all the filter models from all versions of the ARP 2600 and is fully MIDI compatible but otherwise true to the original.
At $3999 it’s not a casual purchase. Korg are only making a few hundred and as far as I’m aware they’ve already sold out. Maybe the success of this will encourage them to produce another run to give more people an opportunity to own such an iconic instrument.
Sequential Pro 3
Sequential felt the industry was in need of the perfectly modern monosynth and that’s what the Pro 3 is. The Pro 3 a hybrid synthesizer combing two analogue oscillators with a third wavetable oscillator playing off 32 wavetables with 16 waves each all morphing into one another. You can also repurpose it as a complex LFO. You can squeeze out 3 notes of polyphony with those three oscillators if you wish running through the same filter and VCA section but I think it’s as a monosynth with everything running at once is where this thing shines.
They’ve put in three of best filters ever made, the Prophet-6, the OB-6 and the Moog ladder filter and have placed a large cutoff knob in the centre of the front panel. You can also mix in some noise or an external input. There are 3 LFOs and 4 envelopes and a 32-slot matrix for some massive modulations.
It has an awesome digital effects section which includes tuned feedback with agressive tonal distruction via a “Grunge” knob.
The Pro 3 is somehow old-school while being completely fresh with modern waveforms, modulation and creative step sequencing. Although it comes in two flavours it’s the Special Edition for $2099 that really impresses with the wooden sides and hinged front panel.
Erica Synths Bassline DB-01
You would have though that the TB-303 style synth has been done to death already. But no one brings the darkness like Erica Synths and their take on the classic monosynth is bold, fat and fabulous. It looks amazing with all those bakerlite knobs and glowing red display. It has a sound that will rattle the fillings out of your teeth and brings aggression to that acid vibe.
It pulls in features from Acid box, has a transistor based sub-oscillator, BBD based detune for massive swarming sounds and a syncable LFO with multiple waveforms.
The 64-step sequencer is enormously playable and has lots of randomisation possibilities.
The DB-01 puts some serious life and passion back into a familiar format. It’s€460 and should be available in the Spring.
Nord Wave 2
An immensely powerful performance keyboard and synthesizer that takes all of Nord’s goodness and streamlines it into one engaging instrument. Whatever sort of synthesis you want it’s covered in the Wave 2. It can handle virtual analog, sampling, FM and wavetable split and layered in up to 4 parts across the keyboard or combined into a huge sounding multi-patch.
VA has the usual waveforms but you can combine 2 or more waveforms with adjustable detuning and shaping. Wavetable mode offers a large number of advanced wavetables and FM gives 2, 3 or 4 operator configurations with harmonic and inharmonic variations.
Samples are all about the Nord Sample Library 3.0 of which the Wave 2 comes with 1GB preinstalled. But using the revamped Nord Sample Editor 3 software for MacOS or Windows you can import and create your own sampled instruments and map them and loop them etc.
The filter section offers 6 filter types including 12 and 24 dB low, high and high/low plus a band pass filter and an emulated Minimoog ladder filter. The filter section has its own ADSR envelope.
All the controls out on the front panel give it an immensely playable performance feel. This includes an Impulse Morph feature which lets you morph between various parameters quickly and easily. This is a synth for the players.
Designed as the spiritual successor to the Wavestation synthesizer Korg’s Wavestate introduces us to Wave Sequencing 2.0. It’s a fun little synthesizer packed with sounds, movement and mania. The way the sound evolves, travels and morphs is quite amazing. It’s all do with how Wavestate can change waveforms on every step of a modulating sequencer and embed that into a patch.
With this new version it has multiple lanes of modulation that can each run at their own lengths and rhythms. And you’ve got 4-layers to play with.
The original Wavestation was notoriously difficult to program and so Korg have developed the front end to offer up more instant control to the user. That said if you really want to get down to the programming side then menu diving and patience is the name of the game. But help is at hand with the “Help” button that offers inteligent randomising of parameters to take you in directions.
Wavestate is a fruity synth that has a lot of stuff going on that gives instant fun and satisfaction.
What’s your favourite?
There was plenty of other stuff to see, lots of Eurorack, controllers and interesting ideas. What caught your attention at NAMM? And just to note that Behringer were not actually at the show and so their amazing releases don’t make the cut.