Although 2016 has not been my “most favorite year” - to be polite - I think it was an exciting year if you are a synth-person. Or a drum-machine-guy. I didn’t buy anything except a Beatstep Pro last year - no noise-makers, no drum-clones, not even a single PCB or part.
But here are some things I was happy to see in 2016:
- Korg monologue - if ever, I’ll take a red one
- Behringer Deep Mind - Juno 106 was my first synth, so it looks familiar. But it’s a hell of another beast and sounds great
- Make Noise 0-Coast - I have never been interested in Make Noise before but this thing made me look. It seems to be a very clever design
- Cyclone TT-78 and Korg Volca Kick - really surprised me, both of them. And it’s super-nice that sampling didn’t kill drum machines after all …
These are some very mainstream picks, I know. And no Mutable, I know. But what did you buy, what was the biggest surprise, what was the synth you most wanted to have in 2016? I’m just curious.
Modal CraftSynth - A DIY synth for the masses.
Maybe it actually was from 2015 but i’m still drooling in the sound and features of the Minilogue. But i still didn’t buy one.
For me the synth years was mostly about finally putting my TTSH to good use. I got the kit in 2014 and it took quite some time to finally finish it in the end 2015. But had lot’s of fun with it in the studio and on gigs in 2016.
I had a minilogue, it is nice but too small for me. But I was really hoping for a 8 or 12 voice full size synth. If they make that I’ll get one of those for sure. I think the DeepMind is close to being that.
Yeah the 4 voices is maybe a bit limited 6 would surely be enough for me. Big chance they’ll come with a big poly this year since they have so much success with their analogs.
Four voices is okay if the synth engine is complex, eg. Poly Evolver. But make a bigger synth and you have more room.
Looking at this teardown, I think a 5 octave keyboard would get 8 voices in.
TR-09 and TB-03. Sure, they’re re-issues, but they are also pretty much flawless.
The Minilogue really caught my interest as well. If I were to buy a keyboard synth now, that would be my choice! Other than that… I’m not sure 2016 had a lot of stuff that really excited me, except for some things in the Eurorack corner.
I think 2016 saw the continued flourish of analogue gear and a surge from euro-modular scene. DJ-related manufacturers had to take a back seat to reinvent and offer something against the deluge of DJ-related controllers. Some small companies like DSI (with OB-6) and Toraiz collaboration, Arturia continued to release appealing products. Roland cleverly rode on their legacy of products, i.e. 909 Day and offered new lines such as boutiques and cross-over synths. Yamaha’s super knob is. verdict is still out there. Multi-dimensional expression also gained some limelight. Of course, there are more worthy of mention.
I have seriously mixed feelings about the new multi-dimensional expression controllers. On the one hand they’re really cool, on the other hand I’m not that interested in yet more manual vibratowowowowow and glissandowowowowow.
Also they are very computer-bound as of now…
2016 has been a tremendous year for Eurorack
> Also they are very computer-bound as of now…
The linnstrument doesn’t need a computer at all. What’s missing are proper hardware-MPE synthesizers. I have high hopes for the DeepMind 12. It would be another great selling point for Behringer and I guess implementing an MPE mode is pretty trivial. They’re still in the finalization phase, so we have good chances of them actually doing it.
The Roland MKS-50 is a perfectly fine MPE instrument from the 80s!
Regarding the Seaboard, wouldn’t Ambika make a perfect match with it? You could easily assign all six voices to different channels, and I understood that the key is that every note has it’s own midi channel as all the control information is transmitted per-note basis in stead of on cc change for the whole patch.
There is a series of episodes of the Art + Music + Technology interview podcast covering MPE. I haven’t listened to them all yet, but have listened to the Roger Linn, Geert Bevin, and Dr. Haken episodes. While MPE could make a polyphonic synthesizer more ‘expressive,’ it is also focusing the synthesizer as a performance instrument, which I think is somewhat foreign to a lot of people interested in synthesizers.
I personally found the seaboard somewhere between weird, and annoying to use. Might just be me.
I’d certainly reccomend anyone interested, should try it in real life before buying.
> What’s missing are proper hardware-MPE synthesizers
I guess that’s what I meant
> it is also focusing the synthesizer as a performance instrument, which I think is somewhat foreign to a lot of people interested in synthesizers.
Certainly a bit foreign in the modular world, but there’s also a lot of people into synths who come from a more keyboard-oriented background. Getting synths in a more performance-oriented setting is important and interesting though.
+1 on the minilogue, I find myself going to that rather than the Sledge. Also, I’m really into the Odyssey Rev3 Module - tons of fun
I was able to get the Ambika 4P this time last year and have been learning it diligently since. I can see getting a 4PM Shruthi in 2017 to play the Ambika oscillators through the various filter modes (eg: 2-Pole LP, HP Pads). In terms of new synths the Deep Mind sounds better and better with more demos but I am not shaken in my resolve to continue with what I have