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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

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December 31, 2009

Zoom R16: All-Rounder

Filed under: audio interface — Tags: , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 7:38 am

Zoom R16 Review

DAW systems are good but you don’t always have a computer by when you feel the rush to record music. Mini studios were created for that purpose: they are practical solutions but not very comprehensive nor ergonomic. That’s why Zoom launched the R16, an hybrid tool you can use as digital audio interface, controller and standalone mini studio. Let’s take a look at the result…

Zoom R16The R16 seeks to reconcile two different worlds: DAW fans who are willing to bear bugs and system crashes to get the utmost versatility and ease of use computer systems provide, and mini studio fans who enjoy integrated, reliable and compact systems at the cost of ease of use and expandability. So, the target user of the R16 is a half nomad, half sedentary musician who needs an audio interface/MIDI controller for his computer in order to comfortably mix and fine-tune his songs at home and a fully standalone and easy transportable recording system. First things first, so let’s begin by unpacking this two-headed beast…

The first impression is good. The white and gray finish provide it a sleek look and the plastic seems sturdy. Its lightness is surprising.  That’s a good point for people planning to take the R16 everywhere with them. This compact interface has nine faders but is slim enough to fit in any backpack. It’s obviously much more bulkier than a portable recorder, like M-Audio’s MicroTrack II or Zoom’s H2, but it offers incomparable recording possibilities! It reminds me a lot of digital integrated studios from Tascam, Roland, Korg, or… Zoom! The plastic buttons and faders feel a bit toyish but you can’t really expect more for the price. Do watch out for the faders because they get loose pretty easily. The R16 is sold with Cubase LE 4, a 1GB SD card and an external PSU. You can also use six AA batteries for 4.5 hours of life (according to the manufacturer’s specifications).

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Zoom strikes a decisive blow offering hybrid technology at a very affordable price. Surely many musicians looking for a portable 16-track recorder, an audio interface and a MIDI controller will enjoy the R16. The R16’s main advantage is that it’s a real standalone product with effects, mics, SD card reader, tuner, and metronome. Nevertheless, we wish it had more headphones or line outputs because It is impossible to provide different monitor mixes to several musicians, forcing you to buy an additional headphone amplifier. The fact that only two mic preamps have phantom power, the headphones and master output level controls are on the rear panel and the documentation doesn’t describe sound card and MIDI controller applications enough might annoy some. But considering the price, such details won’t keep you from trying to get your hands on it. Hats off Mr. Zoom!

Advantages:

  • Three different and complementary applications
  • Eight inputs on XLR-1/4″ combo connectors
  • Battery operation option
  • Effects by the dozen
  • Incredibly light
  • Four-segment LED level meter per track
  • Nice price
  • Nice design

Drawbacks:

  • Only one stereo out
  • Rather ineffective tuner
  • Obsolete ergonomics
  • Average quality of the preamps and some effects
  • MIDI controller application totally ignored in the user’s manual

To read the full detailed review see:  Zoom R16 Review

November 19, 2009

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49 Keyboard Controller Review

Filed under: keyboards — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 6:12 am

It used to be black and now it’s white. M-Audio’s controller keyboard is back with a new look and on steroids…

The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you unpack the Axiom Pro is that it looks different compared to the standard Axiom. No black and gray sleek finish anymore, instead you now have a shiny white finish to emphasize the black controls with red and gray labeling. The color combination gives it an iPod Classic, 80’s revival look–it even has a chrome detail on the top of the encoders. Some might find it a bit too fancy but the contrast of colors will surely make it easier to use in dark environments, compared to the standard Axiom, be it on stage or in the badly-lit cellar you call home studio. M-Audio also used the occasion to add nice blue LEDs to 19 buttons and the keyboard’s LCD display.

White on Red

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49The controller’s layout will be familiar to people used to the first model. Apart from the look and the LEDs, the Axiom Pro has exactly the same controls in exactly the same place as the Axiom.

 

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49From right to left you’ll find eight velocity-sensitive pads, six transport controls for the sequencer, eight rotary encoders (which aren’t notched like on the old Axiom), nine sliders, nine buttons, eight global control buttons underneath the large backlit LCD display, a very convenient 12-key numeric keypad (which also includes letters, so maybe you can send an SMS with your Axiom…), two octave change buttons, and the essential pitch-bend and modulation wheels.

 

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49No big changes on the front panel… nor the rear: on/off switch, PSU connector, USB port (so you can power it via USB), MIDI input and output with 5-pin DIN connectors, and two 1/4″ jacks for sustain and expression pedals (not included). Nothing’s new under the sun. The real innovation is found on the most important element of any keyboard: the keyboard itself.

 

M-Audio Axiom Pro 49Thanks to the new TruTouch proprietary technology, the Axiom Pro provides a much more convincing playing feel than the Axiom. Even though the keys are still only semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, the keyboard feels heavier under your fingers and less cheap than its predecessor. Nice!  When it comes to MIDI, the keyboard works fine with a sequencer: velocity and aftertouch values match the velocity curve you set on the keyboard. On the other hand, we are less enthusiastic about the pads, whose response is not consistent throughout the whole surface. When you hit the side of the pad you record a much lower velocity than if you hit the center. In short, you’ll have to hit precisely in the center of the pad to avoid ugly surprises …

One last remark regarding mechanical parts: the sliders on the model we tested were a bit stiffer than the sliders on the old Axiom. It’s neither better nor worse, it’s just different. We’ll have to wait and see if it stays that way after long hours of use.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

The Axiom was already a very good controller keyboard and it’s no surprise that the new Axiom Pro outdoes it with its improved keyboard, HyperControl technology, LEDs and ASCII message support. It will take you no time to learn it and its several sequencer mappings will allow you start working right away. Considering that it provides exactly the same control elements as its predecessor and that there is no 88 weighted key model, this Axiom is more like a Mark II than a Pro version. It’s an excellent choice for people looking for a high-quality, versatile keyboard but I’m not sure it makes sense for people who already own the previous model.

It is definitely worth the 30%-40% price increase compared with the older version, but it’s probably too high a price for Axiom users considering an upgrade. We regret that M-Audio didn’t seize the opportunity to add more new functions (more pads or an XY pad, like on competitor products). We can’t really complain about anything on this model except that it’s more like an Axiom II than an Axiom Pro…

Advantages:

  • Look
  • LEDs for dark environments
  • Very pleasant feel
  • Hyper-convenient HyperControl technology
  • Control possibility via ASCII messages

Drawbacks:

  • Still no 88-key version
  • We expected more new functions
  • No HyperControl presets for many sequencers

To read the full detailed article see:  M-Audio Axiom Pro49 Review

April 8, 2009

Musikmesse: Novation SL Mk II

Novation talks about their new SL Mk II controller.

novation

For more Musikmesse videos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

February 12, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Moog Music Theremin Etherwave

Filed under: Controller, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:08 am

Chris Stack shows us the new Theremin Etherwave from Moog Music.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

January 28, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo New Stuff from SM Pro Audio

Filed under: namm 2009, Preamp — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 11:24 am

Peter Schlossnagel from SM Pro Audio give us a short overview of their new products for Winter NAMM 2009.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

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