AF’s Weblog

January 29, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Fender Rumble™ Bass Amps

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

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January 27, 2010

Novation Launchpad: Who’s Pad?

Novation Launchpad Gear Review

Novation surprised everyone by bringing out an Ableton Live dedicated control surface. Like Akai’s APC? Not really, and obviously not at the same price.

Even though the Ableton Live revolution already goes back several years, it is noteworthy that dedicated control surfaces started to appear very late on. Except for Faderfox and Livid – which were the first to offer products conceived for Ableton’s baby – most manufacturers limited themselves to offering Live mappings for their generic controllers. The market started to get interesting for Abletoners when Akai launched its APC40. Following Akai steps, Novation introduced its own Live controller, but with a serious advantage: it’s sold for under $200 – half price of the APC40. So let’s take a look at what Novation has to offer for that price.

Novation Launchpad

The Launchpad is basically an eight-by-eight pad matrix with 16 function buttons made out of the same smooth, translucent plastic as the pads. All buttons are backlit (green, amber or red, depending on the application – we’ll come back to this later). The device is a 6.45″ long and 1.2″ thick square. It weights about 1.5 lb. and is equipped with four large rubber feet to ensure it stays secure and perfectly stable on almost any surface, even when you hit the pads. There’s nothing to criticize the finishing quality about except for the pads’ hardness, but that ought to change with time. We appreciate its lightness and compact dimensions that allow you to take it with you in a backpack along with your notebook for mobile applications.

The device has only one USB connector. No MIDI in/out/thru, no sustain or expression pedal connector, only the bare minimum! But Novation points out that you can use several Launchpads at the same time using a standard USB hub. However, we received only one unit for the review so we couldn’t test this setup. We recommend you to use a USB hub with a power supply because the Launchpad is powered via the USB connector and it might be too much to ask from your computer to power several units at the same time, especially if it’s a notebook…

The device is, obviously, provided with a dedicated Live version (limited to eight scenes, though). Once you install Live and the drivers, you just have to declare the Launchpad as a control surface in Live and you’ll be ready to go. As a (funny) side note: the program installed the Novation Audio Control Panel on my computer, which is less than useless considering Launchpad is a MIDI-only control surface and I only got error messages when I tried to open it…

Among other regrettable details, I’ll mention the two-page Getting Started guide provided as “documentation” with the product. It’s true that the Launchpad is a masterpiece regarding intuitiveness but I still find it hard to believe that it takes only two pages to describe how it works… I bet Novation had to sacrifice such details in order to command such a low price. On the other hand, the manufacturer provides some nice video tutorials on its YouTube website which are clear enough to compensate for the lack of a serious user’s manual.

Conclusion

The rugged, compact and light Launchpad will surely be a success among Ableton Live fans who can’t afford an Akai APC40. Novation clearly gave a lot of thought to its product, and even though some aspects could still be improved, it will definitely win you time and improve your ergonomics. As a result, you can rest assured that you’ll see it on lots of stages and in home studios, and certainly under more than a few Christmas trees…

Advantages:

  • Extremely affordable price
  • Compact size and lightness
  • Rugged
  • Ergonomic and well thought out
  • Four modes for virtually any application…
  • Effective MIDI learn function
  • Several Launchpads can be used simultaneously

Drawbacks:

  • Lighting intensity hardly distinguishable by daylight
  • Not velocity/aftertouch sensitive
  • Continuous controllers set by steps: we miss encoders and faders…
  • The lack of track information display can get you lost in the matrix

To read the full detailed review see: Novation Launchpad

January 26, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Fender Jim Root Stratocaster®

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 25, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Gretsch G5191 Tim Armstrong Signature Electromatic Guitar

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 21, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Jackson JS22R Dinky Electric Guitar

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 20, 2010

Best of NAMM 2010: The Top 11

The Audio & Musical Gear that Made the Show

As the dust is settling in Anaheim, and the post-buzz is gathering wind, us here at Audiofanzine present to you our Top 11 gear picks from NAMM 2010. Why 11? Well, it’s one louder isn’t it?

With the hundreds of new products revealed and displayed last week at NAMM 2010, it is quite a battle for manufacturers fighting for attention space in the minds of consumers and partners.  It is always a challenge, and everyone of course has their favorite category, brand or particular gear need that directs their attention to this booth or that piece of hot news.  It is also extremely difficult to say hands down- this is the most innovative product to come out because invariable each product can only fairly compete within its own category.  Furthermore, like I said innovation is the outcome of a particular unfulfilled need, and not everyone will share this need.  Some products at the end are not groundbreaking but are just ‘cool’.  And that’s cool too.

Hence, without further ado, the editors of Audiofanzine present to you the Top 11 picks from NAMM 2010, in no particular order- as the products present a mixture of categories that cannot be compared.

Teenage Engineering OP-11.  Teenage Engineering OP-1:

It may look like a Japanese toy, but the OP-1 is the all-in-one portable Synthesizer, Sampler and Controller. With additional features like the FM Radio and a G-Force sensor for pitch and bend effects. Beside a creative approach to sequencing with multiple choice of sequencers, it also has a built-in Tape feature.  Check out all juicy details on Teenage Engineering .  This one is a keeper.

Pearl E-Pro2.  Pearl E-Kit:

What makes the E-Pro Live drumset truly different from other electronic drumsets, the company says, is the “real feel and response from the pads”. Pearl’s Tru-Trac Electronic Heads feature dual-zones that reproduce all of the intricacies the drummer is used to hearing when playing an acoustic drum. The smooth coating on the heads makes moving from drum to drum fast and easy, Pearl says. And of course, let’s not forget the obvious: the real sizes of the drums. The set features 10″, 12″ and 14″ toms, a 14″ snare drum, and a 20″ bass drum. Say goodbye to 8″ practice pads.

Taylor Baritone 8 Strings3.  Taylor Baritone 8 Strings:

Taylor decided to add 2 octave strings to each of the A and D strings. The resulting 8-string baritone GS complements the baritone’s lower tonal range, adding a touch of upper-octave brightness without too much 12-string jangle. The result is a guitar with great tonal range, perfect for walking basslines and rich melodies.  How does it sound?  Simply divine.

Want to see the rest of the list?  Visit us here:  NAMM Top 11

January 19, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Fender 50th Anniversary Jazz Bass

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 18, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Vigier Excess 5 String Bass

Filed under: Bass, NAMM 2010 — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:17 am

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 16, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Taylor Baritone 8 Strings Acoustic Guitar

Filed under: Guitar reviews, NAMM 2010 — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 3:27 pm

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

January 12, 2010

Winter NAMM 2010

Filed under: NAMM 2010 — Tags: , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:00 pm

The holiday season is over and the dark days of winter are cramping your style?  In Anaheim the party is just getting started.  Like every winter, and it wouldn’t be winter without it, NAMM comes crashing in with the latest in musical instruments, audio gear, lighting equipment, recording hardware etc. etc.  It’s a beautiful thing, both in timing and location, and like every year we are perched on the edge of our seats with anticipation- what magics will be unveiled at NAMM this year?  Which manufacturer will stun all others?  Stay tuned to find out.

During and after NAMM we will post key photos/videos right here.  In addition for complete coverage visit our exclusive NAMM 2010 page:  Winter NAMM 2010

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