Archive for February, 2013

Winter NAMM 2013

I occasionally blog about the seasonal National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show when interested stuff is exhibited. Like a less nerdy cousin to the consumer electronics CES show but with more ponytails, NAMM is crack for gear junkies who are always interested in new musical instruments and associated products. While most attention is lavished on what new variation of the Les Paul electric guitar is in the pipeline, I’m always curious to know what kind of new synths are on the horizon. The winter NAMM this year was pretty interesting from an electronic music perspective. The synth to receive the most attention was without a doubt the reissue of the MS-20 from Korg. The MS-20 is an analog mono synth from the ’70s that has been a popular item on the second hand market. Korg basically kept all the original electronics intact, but added MIDI, USB, and shrank the physical dimensions by about 15%. While I’m not crazy about the smaller form factor of this remake, I’m 100% buying this synth when it hits stores in April. The MS-20 has always been an aspirational synth for me, since it’s featured on some of my all-time favorite albums like Air’s Moon Safari, Daft Punk’s Homework, and Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain. The release of the new MS-20 didn’t come without some backlash though. Many smart folks lamented the lack of imagination on the part of Korg, since this synth doesn’t break any new ground. That’s a fair complaint, since the only new features are MIDI and USB. But I’m just happy to see a brand new MS-20 I can buy for a reasonable price and comes with a warranty.

There were some other cool synths on display at NAMM in other booths as well. Moog has a new mono synth which sounds great, but has a name that escapes me (something phatty?). Dave Smith Instruments (DSI) had a new poly analog synth on display which looks and sounds fantastic. It costs a fortune, but people now can’t complain about not having options for new analog poly synths. I suppose this sets the stage for Moog and everyone’s hopes for a poly synth from them. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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