Dubspot Year in Review – Music Tech Roundup w/ Roland, Korg, Arturia, iZotope, Moog, DS1 +

2104 was a strong year for music technology with companies such as Korg, Roland, and Arturia introducing products that got music producers excited. In this music tech roundup we take a look back at some of our favorite gear that was released over the past year. 

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Roland Aira Series

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Roland’s Aira series of instruments was quite possibly the most exciting tech release of 2014 as the company re-released some of their classic sounds in new, updated forms. TR-08 drum machine, the VT-3 Vocal Transformer, the TB-3 Touch Bassline, and the System-1 Synth all landed to rave reviews and have been selling well all year. Read more about these instruments in our Roland Aira announcement post from earlier this year and learn about some hidden features of the Roland Aira TR-8 in our TR-8 Tips and Tricks article.

Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano / Bolsa Bass / Videoscope

Critter and Guitari

We’ve been genuinely moved by all of the products that Critter & Guitari have been producing recently. The range of products from the boutique instrument creators are affordable ($175 for the basic Pocket Piano, $250 for the Bolsa Bass, $135 for the Video Scope) and offer unique fun and play-ability with tactile wooden keys and polished aluminum and wood enclosures. The Pocket Piano in particular is a brilliant little instrument that offers far more sound that you might anticipate from the toy-like name and look. You can order the instruments directly from Critter & Guitari and you can read more about the above mentioned gadgets in our feature from earlier this year.

Moog Sub 37

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Moog’s gorgeous Sub 37 synthesizer was released in 2014 and is currently one of the most sought-after synths on the market. The new instrument takes inspiration from the Little Phatty and Sub Phatty but adds a lot more hands-on control and a new “duo mode” which allows two notes to be played at the same time. To learn more about the Sub 37, check out our review from Mike Huckaby who calls the Sub 37 “one of the meanest monophonic synths on the market”

Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2

Dave Smith calls the new Pro 2 his “most powerful mono synth ever.” The DSI Pro 2 shares the same exceptional ergonomics and playability as its 12-voice sibling, the Prophet 12, but carves out distinctly different sonic territory with an all-new dual analog filter architecture, superwaves, digital bucket-brigade delay, and a 32 step sequencer. “Right now there’s a trend of reissuing classic synths from the past,” Smith explains to Keyboard Mag. “People have been asking for a reissue of the old Sequential Pro-One for quite a while. But as a synth designer, I’m happiest creating new instruments—synths that with every iteration put more power and better sounds into the hands of musicians. The Pro 2 is light years beyond the Pro-One in every way. It’s the most powerful mono synth I’ve ever made. You’ve got to keep moving forward.” The Pro 2 is currently available for approximately $1,999.

AKAI Rhythm Wolf

Akai Rhythm Wolf Drum Machine

Following in the recent footsteps of Korg’s Volca series and Roland’s Aira boxes, AKAI has released a portable rhythm and synth machine called Rhythm Wolf. The instrument is based around a six MPC pads and a 32-step sequencer that drives a five-voice analog drum machine and mono synth. While it’s currently a bit tricky to find this Wolf in the wild, you can find them at some retailers for approximately $199.

Waldorf Streichfett Synthesizer

Announced at Musikmesse 2014, the Streichfett synthesizer from German manufacturer Waldorf turned a lot of heads. The Streichfett centers around a fully polyphonic string section and an 8 voice solo section with several presets for each. There’s a balance knob in the center of the piece that allows you to mix between the two sounds as you see fit. The device also features on-board effects including reverb, phaser and “animate,” and has a 4 bank memory to store patches. If the promo video is any indication, the Streichfett will have you sounding like your favorite late 70s film soundtrack in no time.

Arturia MicroBrute SE

Arturia have released a new “SE” version of their popular MicroBrute analog synthesizer that now comes in Blue, White, and Orange variations. The MicroBrute SE is essentially the same synth as the previous versions but comes with new color choices, a messenger-style carrying case, and 4 stackable patch cables. The Arturia MicroBrute SE is currently available for $329 US.

New Korg Electribe Electribe Sampler

Just when you thought the industry had caught up to Korg’s ingenuity with portable electronic instruments, Korg leaps ahead once again with two new Electribe instruments (one synth based, one sampler based) introduced 10 years after the MX model. The two units also are tightly integrated with Ableton Live. No word on a price and they’re both set to launch in 2015. Read more at Korg’s website.

Korg Volca Sample

Korg also announced another cool addition to the impressive (and impressively inexpensive) Volca line, the Volca Sample. The Volca Sample is a digital sampler and sequencer that allows you to “tweak, play, and sequence samples – Volca style.” The Volca Sample allows you to edit and sequence 100 samples in real time. Judging from the video, there’s a lot of cool possibilities with this instrument. Imagine running the Volca Sample along with a Traktor DJ set-up or sequenced to an Ableton Live set for live performance. No word on price but expect it to be about the same as previous Volca iterations.

Roland SBX-1 Sync Box

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Just released from Roland is the SBX-1 Sync Box, a new unit that is sure to ease many headaches in gear-heavy studios. The SBX-1 allows you to sync all of your electronic instruments from many eras. It also has ways to control timing and groove over the master clock and the SBX-1 can run off of USB bus power. It also sends CV/GATE to incorporate modular setups. For more info, check out Roland’s product page.

Arturia Beatstep

Arturia’s Beatstep is an affordable ($99) 16-step analog sequencer and MIDI controller. The varied connectivity options of the Beatstep allow you to connect the device with via USB, MIDI or CV and will work as a stand alone sequencer and CV to MIDI converter. There’s nothing else like it on the market in this price point and it’s a must pick-up for hardware enthusiasts.

Pioneer PLX-1000 Turntable

Originally touted as a “concept product” at Musikmesse 2014, Pioneer have officially released the PLX-1000 vinyl turntable. The new turntable fills a gap in the vinyl market as it looks to replace the Technics 1200 which ceased production in 2010. The PLX-1000 has features like detachable power and audio cables, vibration dampening material on the inside to minimize skipping, and a variable pitch adust which can be toggled between +/-8%, +/-16%, and +/-50%. The MSRP on the PLX-1000 is $699.

Korg DSN-12 for Nintendo 3DS

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Korg and Detune have brought us another reason to pick up a Nintendo 3ds / 2ds with the DSN-12: twelve analog synths and the world’s first 3D display oscilloscope screen in one compact package on your gaming device. The software provides twelve monophonic synthesizers with three effects each and a sequencer that holds up to 64 patterns. The application is currently available on the Nintendo eShop at a discounted price of $19.

iZotope Ozone 6

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Just in time for the holidays, iZotope have released the latest iteration of Ozone, the award winning creative mastering software. Using Ozone can help you drastically improve the sound of your tracks and is a must-own for anyone doing any mixing and/or mastering. Ozone is a favorite of ours here at Dubspot and it’s an integral piece of our Mixing and Mastering course.  We’re actually giving away two licenses for this software, enter to win here.

Sugarbytes Egoist

Sugar Bytes makes some of our favorite plug-ins, so when we heard about Egoist we had to take a peek. This new VST/AU package is something like a REX player combined with Effectrix, a drum machine, and a sequencer that allows lots of randomization. The end result is loads of happy accidents that happen as a result of mangling your samples. Egoist is now available for $99. Read more about Egoist in our interview with Mike Huckaby from earlier this year.

OP1 OS Update

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Teenage Engineering announced a new operating system for the OP1 portable instrument this year that expands the possibilities of this incredible device. The new OS features a new synth engine called Dsynth and a new sequencer called Sketch. Dsynth offers a wide variety of sounds via an interface with dual oscillators, multitiple synthesis methods, attack / decay / filter controls, and a nice waveform visualizer. Sketch is what T.E. calls “a hand-drawn, free shape sequencer, with no limits to pitch or quantization.” This ingenuous piece of code is an adaptation of the classic Etch-a-Sketch toy, used as a sequencing engine for the OP1′s instruments. The result is very unique to say the least. The OP1 instrument is a powerful device that incorporates synth engines, drum engines, samples, sequencers, and a four track recording device in a very small and portable package. It’s available for $849 from Teenage Engineering as well as U.S. shops such as Noisebug and MeMe Antenna.


Open House

NYC: Sundays 11:00am and 12:00pm

Ask questions. Watch demos. Test drive workstations.

Anyone who comes by will have the opportunity to ask our instructors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy, and watch live music production and DJ demos. You can even sit down at one of our workstations and take it for a test drive. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, we suggest you stop by one of our Open Houses to learn more about the school, understand what the learning process at Dubspot entails and help you decide what is best for you. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.

 

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