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Article from International Musician & Recording World, October 1986

So there you are on stage surrounded by all your recent hi-tech acquisitions — and you can't see any of 'em. Everything — drum machines, expanders, effects — are all a tasteful, uniform, basic black. Just a year or so ago, that wasn't such a fanciful scenario. Cheap digital-access technology did as much for the appearance of hi-tech instruments as it did for their sound. Overnight, it seemed, those endearingly individual assemblages of coloured knobs and sliders vanished from everything, to be replaced by instruments which increasingly resembled the flight decks of a 21st Century aircraft carrier fleet.

At last, though, there is a breaking of ranks over design. Akai have taken a lead here, with their right white Professional series of keyboards and effects, even taking the step of becoming the first musical instrument manufacturer to sport a designer brand. Take a bow, Roger Linn. Yamaha, meanwhile, are stretching the bounds of instrument design out into the tasteful world of hi-fi. Their latest DX-derived box, the FB-01 FM Expander, looks like it could happily sit next to your CD. Thankfully, you still get the welcome visual eccentricities of the smaller manufacturers. Take the SynthAxe for example — described by one member of the IM staff as 'Looking like a fight between a guitar and a sea monster.' We love it in spite of itself. And just in case you thought the big boys got it right all the time, there's Yamaha's Alien-style EDK, reviewed in this issue. Still room for, er, individuality then, and even some good design there. But me, I pine for orange and purple legending, puke green and blood-red knobs, and lots of dodgy flashing lights...

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Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Oct 1986

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman


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