British Music Fair Report
The buzzword at this year's BMF was touch sensitivity. Not only were Sequential Circuits just round the corner with the Prophet T-8 and Rhodes previewing the Chroma Polaris with the Triad Interface, but SIEL (U.K.) — a new name for many of us — showed the Opera 6, a smart new dual oscillator poly with a velocity-sensing keyboard. Previous SIEL synthesisers (for those of us who have seen them) could be accused of a home organ/string ensemble look, but no danger of that here. In a smart blue-trimmed professional looking case, the Opera 6 has a clear layout. We were told Sequential Circuits had a hand in the design and this certainly shows in the In, Out and Through MIDI Interface with which the instrument is fitted. For your £1,300 (RRP) you also get 2 oscillators and 2 envelopes per voice, 2 wheel controllers and 100 programs.
SIEL also showed the PX piano which is actually being marketed in the States as the Sequential Circuits Pianoforte. Both these products show the fruit from the co-operation of the two companies.
Yamaha, whose range of FM keyboards includes the touch-sensitive DX7 (seen here for the first time by many British dealers) were also actively demonstrating the MIDI potential of their machines by interfacing them with an Apple IIe computer. The complicated timings and polyphony demonstrated thus was very impressive and gave us another perspective to the flexibility of these innovative machines.
Casio have also entered the amp market (as reported in August's E&MM) and two of their range were on show, the AS10 (8w) and the AS120 (20w). Casio's prices are nothing if not competitive at £39 and £145 respectively.
New home keyboards were shown by Korg (the SAS-20) and newcomers to the musical instrument field Seiko. However, the latter keyboard is particularly interesting. All the presets are digitally created and with the add-on of the DS202, new sounds can be created using 24 harmonics which have individual envelopes and levels. Further moves into the area of electronic music can be made by adding the DS303 sequencer.
The range of Ibanez signal processors were on display at the Summerfields stand including the new HB1000 digital delay. This tidy package covers a multitude of functions and for ease of use comes with a schematic diagram and sample settings on the top of its rack-mounting case.
Aria also added a digital delay to their processor range, the DEX 1000 a digital version of the AD-05 analogue delay (reviewed in May E&MM), with increased flexibility.
Pearl added two new effects pedals to their range, the Analog Delay and the Octaver. The latter is particularly interesting as it allows you to mix 1 octave above, normal, 1 octave below and 2 octaves below independently.
There was also a computer music system from Jen. Totally software run, it can be played from the system keyboard or programmed from the computer keypad. This, plus their new polyphonic synthesiser, the Synx 508, suggests that yet another Italian company is up and coming in the field of electronic/computer music. Elka-Orla were also showing the Synthex amongst the home organs, soon to have a computer interface as well.
Drum machines however were the rule in the Atlantex room. Not only were they showing the MXR Drum Computer and the Music Percussion Computer but they were also previewing a new British product called the Desert Drums designed by Peter Kershaw (ex-E&MM). This system comes in three parts: the actual pads in the form of a real kit, the voicing controller (with 5 digital sounds and 5 analogue sounds) and the sequencer (which will apparently also control the Simmons system). The voicing can be used with either the pads or the sequencer or with both at the same time.
Keyboard combos seem to be gaining an increasingly large share of the amplification market. Ohm showed two new models, the 4-channel PK125 and the budget-priced Hobo Reverb.