The mysterious SP-2400 which has been chewing up bandwidth for the last couple of days has now emerged as a real product by a real company. Isla Instruments has finally come out as the people behind the renders and also has some early photos to show.
It’s still early days and in many ways this has all come out a bit earlier than they intended. But, you know, if you tease the internet then you kind of bring these things on yourself. In a live chat with Ken Flux Pierce, the guy who posted the original renders and was so mysterious about it yesterday, Isla Instrument’s CEO Brad Holland talks about where they are at with the SP-2400 without getting too specific about it as many things can change along the way.
Isla Instrument’s last product was the Kordbot which was successfully Kickstarted a couple of years ago. The Kordbot was a MIDI chord generator, sequencer and arpeggiator. It seems quite a leap to be building a sampler drum machine, but then that’s the beauty of being a small music tech company – you can do whatever interests you. Back before the Kordbot it looks like they used to modify HR-16 drum machines so there’s a fair bit of experience behind what they’re doing.
So, watching the live stream, what do we now know about the SP-2400? It’s a sampling drum machine. They are planning to build in as much power and memory as possible to give it longevity. Brad’s experience with the Kordbot and working with plastics to keep the prices down was hugely frustrating and so he’s very keen that the SP-2400 is of metal construction and big enough to be imposing on the tabletop and good for fat fingers. It’s been in development since August last year and they are trying to hit a sub-$1000 price point. He stresses that this is not about cloning something, it’s not about emulating the SP-1200, this is more about something inspired by the workflow that respects and reflects the sound of the SP-1200 but that can take the clarity up to 24bit.
They talked a lot about possibilities, like a USB host interface for MIDI controllers, ports for USB flash drives and regular MIDI ports. Onboard effects are certainly being considered. The filters are SSI (formally SSM) filters and they have some great sounding digital algorithms but he didn’t want to be drawn on exact specifics but they will have real-time control as opposed to being fixed like in the SP-1200. The knobs for each channel are actually dual concentric giving you two parameters to control in the same knob space (if that makes sense), so cut-off and resonance, or start/end trim all on the same pot.
One interesting possibility is that they are looking to be able to extract sample data from original SP-1200 floppy disks by plugging a USB floppy drive in the back. Brad says they can’t promise that they’ll be able to achieve it but they’ll certainly give it a try.
The fact that it’s not a clone of the SP-1200 is not going to please everybody and maybe Behringer has something up their sleeve that we haven’t seen as I mentioned in my original article about this. The SP-2400 is something different, something more and is free to be as big and as featured as they can make it. There have been some grumbles online about the time it took Isla Instruments to produce the Kordbot and fulfil preorders after the Kickstarter. So it’s important to remember that just because a product is in development doesn’t guarantee that it will get released – manufacturing hardware is difficult. But I’m looking forward to seeing the thing in action, whenever that may be.