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NAMM Report

New Orleans

A special report from the New Orleans trade show

Certainly the most necessary technological achievement in New Orleans has got to be the air conditioning. Hot stuffy streets, muggy atmosphere, expensive drinks and one of the largest music shows in the world.

The National Association of Music Merchants held their latest dealer extravaganza in an area best know for jazz and blues rather than the intricacies of electronic music and instruments. I journeyed to the deep South to see the show at first hand but first left for a 3-day sabbatical at Peavey's massive complex in the town of Meridan, two hundred miles North of New Orleans.


Here Hartley Peavey outlined his plans for world domination to the massed dealers of the US. Their Programax 10 combo has ten presets (programmable) to recall sounds and which is also controllable from any MIDI synth, a genuine benefit in live performance. Some of the other interesting sights at 'Hartley's Houses' (seven massive factories) was his first entry into electronic percussion and a new MIDI programmable Effects Processor 4000 that offers all the usual effects, a delay time of 0.1 ms to 4095ms and a bandwidth of 22 kHz. All these products should be available now.

The four days of the show proper threw up a few surprises, some of which are no doubt already on sale in your local music store. Although the general emphasis was on the conventional guitar/drums area there was still a healthy mixture of inspiration and oddness on display.


Big news from the Roland suite was that their DDR-30 digital drums have been completely repriced. The 30 module will now sell for £999 and the PD-10 bass drum pad for £175 and PD-20 snare drum/tom pad for £85 making the whole set up an attractive proposition. The much vaunted touch sensitive eight pad drum controller the Octapad has now been rechristened the Pad-8 and will sell for £399.

Amongst their new products was the SBD-10 sync box/converter which is a scaled down version of the SBX-8. Being able to synchronise previously incompatible synths, drum machines etc it has a maximum capacity of 1024 quarter notes and will sell for £299.

Following in the footsteps of the other Roland modules comes the MKS-7 and MKS 71 V Super Quartet Sound Module which combines four sound sections - rhythm, bass, chords and melody with all sections being responsive to MIDI velocity messages. There are 100 preset sounds, and it should cost £950. To complement the MKS series a new mother keyboard has been introduces the MKB-200, while following on from the success of the GR 700 guitar synth comes the GR77 bass guitar synthesiser and G77 bass guitar controller. The GR77B 4 voice poly can memorise up to 64 different sounds which can be recalled from either the footswitches or touch pads. The 77B will sell for £1600 and the controller for £8950.

On the software side Roland will be introducing two new packages - MUSE, an advanced system for sequencing, recording (eight tracks) editing and performing with MIDI instruments. MUSE offers 6000 notes per song. The program is compatible with the Apple II and CBM 64 together with one of Roland's Intelligent Interfaces.

The second package MPS, Music Processing System, is designed for use with the IBM PC to create a sophisticated musical compositional system.


Oberheim Matrix 6

Contrary to popular reports Oberheim's demise has been greatly exaggerated. Here they were able to show us the new Matrix-6, that carries on the matrix modulation sound process first used in the Matrix-12 (see ES&CM July). The keyboard features six voices, 2 DCOs, 4 pole VCF, audio VCAs, 3 envelope generators, 2 LFO's and is both velocity and after touch sensitive. It should sell for under £2000.

Oberheim also revealed their DMS digital MIDI sampler/EPROM programmer (in prototype form). It has a maximum sampling length of 5 secs at 12Hz while the memory can be sub-divided and up to 16 sounds stored at 4 sampling rates can be stored in the memory at the same time. Sounds stored can be edited, reversed, mixed and overdubbed plus they can be recorded into standard EPROM memory chips to be used in Oberheim, J L Cooper, Sequential and Simmons drum machines. No price has yet been fixed for the DMS.


Being the high tech end of Peavey their new DCR 421 demo cassette recorder allows recording of any four tracks in combination. Designed for use with the CDM 642 mixer it should be available now.


Following hot on the heels of the DW6000 synthesiser Korgs attention grabbers at the show were the DW8000 synth and SQD-1 MIDI recorder. The 8000 is an 8 voice poly, 64 sound programmable synth utilising Korg's Digital Waveform Generator System. The 8000 comes with built in digital delay and is pressure and velocity sensitive.

Korg SQD-1

The SQD-MIDI recorder is an easy to use sequencer giving you 1500 note capacity recorded with a new 2.8 Quick Disk data storage unit with up to 30,000 notes (ten songs) per double sided disk. Recording can be done in Real Time or Step on one of the two tracks and then bounced down onto the main track.

Also look out for Korg's RP-100 rhythm programmer plus the KDD-501 digital delay (16ms-1024ms) and the KDC-601 digital chorus (20Hz-16Hz) which are designed for guitars and synthesisers alike.


AHB's recently successful CMC 24 mixer (that is CBM 64 compatible) has spawned two new models — a CMC 16 and CMC 32, smaller and larger versions of the 24 so the specs are the same. At time of going to press the 16 is listed at $4100 and the '32 at $7300.


Kurzweil MIDIboard

Alongside the Kurzweil 250 sample playing keyboard the company introduced the 250 MIDI controller which is able to send data to up to eight MIDI instruments simultaneously. The keyboard has 85 wooden keys, is impact sensitive and can store up to 89 different keyboard set ups each of which can control up to eight different instruments.

The keyboard features 12 different control devices that are assigned by the player to alter any MIDI addressable parameter in the sound output device. It should sell for £2200.

Kurzweil also revealed their new 250 Expander featuring the Kurzweil grand piano, 27 other factory instruments and a 12 track, 7900 note polyphonic sequencer with extensive edit functions plus the sound modelling program that allows the user to sample sound. The 250 Expander should sell for £9980.

Also, MacAttach II, an updated version of its Macintosh PC interface is now available for around £200 along with a series of Macintosh disks of digitally sampled instruments for around £15 each.


Continuing their surge into pro-audio the AX60 synth (£699) was on display — a six voice programmable poly, which can also receive direct signal inputs from the S612 sampler. The company also revealed their GX912 studio quality cassette deck, ME100 digital delay (£119), ME15F dynamics controller (£119) ME20A MIDI sequencer arpeggiator (£119) and RZ1000 recorder sync operator board that allows the CPZ1000 music computer to be used as a recorder.The CPZ1000 was originally seen in its prototype form at Frankfurt. The CPZ1000 allows control of any MIDI compatible instrument and comes equipped with two 3.5" floppy disk drives.


The NAMM show gave us an exclusive chance to demo the new Fairlight Voicetracker. The Voicetracker uses a 32 bit microprocessor and is an interactive pitch measuring instrument with Real Time response to the pitch of a large variety of input sound sources such as your own voice or any mono or lead instrument. The Voicetracker extracts the essential elements of your voice and then provides outputs which can be displayed on a video monitor or used to drive a synth or CMI. Custom functions can be stored permanently.

The Voicetracker should sell for £2495 and is distributed by Syco Systems. A demo of it will appear next month.


Yamaha seemed to have an endless suite of rooms that contained all their latest hi-tech gear with much interest being focussed on the new DX21 synth. (see elsewhere in this issue for a review). This interest was matched by those playing with the RX21 digital drum machine that features 9 voices, 100 patterns and four song memory (512 parts per song). Editing functions include insert, delete, repeat and copy. Accents can be added to any instrument on any beat, and the level of the accent can be controlled. Destined to go for around £250 this one will sell and sell.

Yamaha RX21


Octave Plateau displayed two new interesting products, firstly some 64 track sequencing/editing software for the IBM PC. Editing on all tracks is possible, tracks of different lengths can be looped, and it has up to 60,000 notes in memory just to name a few of its exhaustive functions. While being ideal for studio usage the lack of IBM's in this country will undoubtedly limit its popularity. However, one Octave Plateau instrument that generated enormous interest was their MIDI guitar which can be played with any MIDI synthesiser. The strings have their own separate outputs so synth and natural guitar sounds can be played simultaneously.

Voyetra MIDI guitar

Different control settings can be called up via the guitar's keypad programmer, while there's an 8 segment alphanumeric readout to let you know what's going on. Guitar settings can be stored on any MIDI equipped computer. While other guitar controllers use pitch to voltage conversion to translate signals from guitar to synth the Voyetra's microprocessor scans the frets and strings for activity and converts that information into MIDI signals. Thus the guitar can be played by simply touching the strings to the frets. Each individual string is available as a controller for different synthesiser parameters, while 8 programmable knobs and switches provide instant access to other synth parameters during a performance.

The Voyetra Guitar Synth should sell for £1500.

Octave Plateau: (Contact Details)


While on the subject of guitars IVL revealed us their new Pitchfinder series of guitar to MIDI interfaces. The interface is a pitch recognition device that converts any monophonic input into MIDI events. On the 4000 model pitch dynamics and expression are converted into data that will trigger your synth. The 7000 is designed specifically for guitar usage — it can be mounted on the pickup close to the bridge of the guitar and then linked up to a synth. A separate MIDI channel can be assigned to each string allowing 'keyboard splitting' on the guitar.

Distribution in the UK still has to be finalised.

IVL: (Contact Details)


The Shark Bass Drum

An electric 'bass pedal' without a beater, which lets your foot-trigger any connected voice module or drum machine. Good action, easily portable.

Magnesium Guitars (Contact Details)


This little box plays digitally recorded notes of electric and acoustic basses. It's after touch sensitive and follows pitch bend and patch changes. It holds four sounds stored on plug-in memory chips with alternate chips available for $50. The four sound module costs $499 and the two sounds $399.

360 Systems, (Contact Details).


A real oddity. A casio portable that's had its guts ripped out and replaced by a 80 key typewriter keyboard. Now typists can play music by reading letters instead of notes or sheet music.

Rose Electronics: (Contact Details).

You can be sure we'll try to keep you up to date with all the new products in the upcoming months.

Previous Article in this issue

Eurythmically Speaking

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Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music - Copyright: Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


Electronic Soundmaker - Sep 1985

Donated & scanned by: Chris Strellis

Show Report by Joe Hosken

Previous article in this issue:

> Eurythmically Speaking

Next article in this issue:

> Glassworks

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