The latest from downtown trade and productsville
Roland have introduced a new synthesizer onto the market - the JX8P.
The JX8P is a five octave six voice polyphonic synth that not only has velocity sensitive dynamics but also after-touch control of vibrato, brilliance and volume. It has two sets of DCOs with advanced synthesizer functions like cross modulation for metallic sounds and phase synchronisation for cutting solo sounds. Having two envelope generators is extremely useful, which gives a quicker attack for high notes and slower for low notes.
It is fairly normal for keyboard dynamics and envelope generators to control the filter for brightness and amplifier for volume, but on the JX8P they also control DCO frequency (useful for phase synchronisation) and the unique voltage controlled mixer which gives great percussive sounds by letting an envelope generator determine how long DCO2 passes through it. Good use is made of the dynamic control of this voltage controlled mixer in the factory preset flute sound which, when played normally, is quite mellow but played more aggressively brings in DCO2 which sounds like the overtone is produced by overblowing.
The JX8P has 64 non-volatile preset sounds which cannot be permanently altered. They can, however, be edited and stored on 32 of the player's own presets. An optional RAM cartridge gives an additional 32 user patches. Custom made sounds can be named with up to 10 letters in a bright LCD window which also makes editing easier by displaying each parameter and its current value.
As with the JX8P, an optional programmer - this time designated PG800 - can be attached to the instrument. Parameter values are displayed when using the programmer and an Edit recall function allows comparison of the edited sound with the original.
For live work eight sounds can be programmed in a Patch Chain which remember the preset, key mode, after touch assignment, bender range and portamento time and switching. Pressing one button sets up these parameters for immediate use.
The JX8P also features comprehensive MIDI options which can be written into a patch programme. One of these options is the ability to disable the JX8P's synthesizer so that only the sound of a satellite MIDI module can be heard.
JX8Ps should be in the shops as you read this priced at £1250. The programmer will be available at an extra £180.
Yet another fabby new bass amp has arrived with a bang (not to mention a slap, a pop, a rumble and several clangs) on the top end of the bottom end market. The surprise in this case is that it's from a company more often associated with long-scale strings than long-throw horns; Rotosound.
But it's no ordinary amp that the might of the James How organisation is throwing itself behind. The Jonas Hellborg amp is an extremely loud and well-equipped piece of kit endorsed by, designed in conjunction with, and indeed named after the bassist from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jonas himself. This excessively good and well-respected musician has decided that this is a product worthy of his monicker, and who are we to argue with someone who plays a twin necked Wal?
The specifications are as follows; there's a top cab housing the amp and two twelve-inch speakers, and a bottom one containing a single 15; all made by RCF in Italy, as indeed is the amp. The amp itself has parametric mid controls, built-in chorus and reverb, and - most interesting of all - has three separate power amps, two 70 watts and a 100, making it an awesome 240 watts in total.
The price of the beast when it gets into full UK dealership is expected to be about £1,000. If sales live up to the standard of the amp itself, it'll prove a useful string to Rotosound's bow.
Allen & Heath Brenell, mixer makers of this parish, have continued the assault on the PA market that started with the SRM monitor mixer recently.
The SR range of desks comprises five models from 24:4:2 to 8:2, which will cost £541 to £1511 respectively — reasonable indeed. All the desks feature four-band Eq, long-throw faders, four auxiliary sends per channel and 48v phantom power. AHB are at (Contact Details).
Not content with revolutionising the world of sound synthesis, the wizards of Sydney, the Fairlight Instrument company, have turned their hand to video and come up with the CVI — the Computer Video Instrument, which is an effects generator and graphics system allowing you to do with pictures what its older brother allows with sound.
It sounds like a stunning concept and if it looks like one as well we may be on course for yet another boom — this time in silly pictures rather than the silly noises that popped up as soon as people bought their Fairlights the last time. Gimmicks aside, this could be another very valuable tool for the creative video man, so if you come into that category get in touch with Syco Systems at (Contact Details).
The latest in the Linn line has just rolled off the production line — the Linn 9000 is a combination of digital drum machine and keyboard recorder/sequencer with capacity to run up to 16 MIDI-equipped synthesisers.
It embodies a lot of functions that have been mooted by professional Linn users before plus somethat are quite new ideas — for instance, on the drum side it has velocity-sensitive rubber pads, linked with inputs for electronic drum pads, so real-time programming can be done complete with dynamics. There's a hi hat decay control which simulates the varying pressure of a drummers' foot on the pedal, 'tap' button temp entry, and 18 drum and percussion voices digitally sampled at what is claimed to be one of the best rates available.
The sequencer has been designed to go along with the familiar style of a tape machine, with playback, rewind, fast forward and record controls, and options include a floppy disk drive to augment the cassette capability, an SMPTE interlock for synchronisation to video or film, and a plug-in circuit board for sampling your own sounds.
And, probably most useful to the non-technical musician, there's a large button clearly marked 'Help!' in case of problems. For help and advice on how to get one, get in touch with Syco Systems at (Contact Details).
More pedal-to-the-Metal antics from the effets men — DOD have joined the heavy hordes with the release of their 'American Metal' pedal unit. It promises (threatens?) to deliver brilliant highs and fat lows and turn any amplifier into a Heavy Metal stack at the tap of a toe, and features extra high gain and extended distortion range. Whether it'll make you play like Eddie Van H is quite another matter, but it sounds just the job for all those so-so Toto solos.
On a saner note, there's also a rack-mounted effects unit from the DOD squad, the R-944 which includes a compressor/distortion, a flanger/chorus, a digital delay, and a parametric equaliser, flanger/chorus, a digital delay, and a parametric equaliser, plus a 'harmonic enhancement' circuit on the output. There are jacks to insert other units into the chain, and a foot pedal unit is supplied which has, as well as the on/off and bypass switches, a hold button for the delay.
DOD are available through many music shops over here, but their stateside HQ is contactable at (Contact Details).
An era of Rock 'n' Roll history has come to an end with the news that production of Fender Strats in Fullerton, USA has herewith ended. There are still stocks of these in dealers and warehouses nationwide, but as no more are to be produced these will probably become collectors items in very short order.
However, fear not. Fender fans, because production of a new range has started under strict Yankee supervision in Japan, home of many a good guitar in recent years.
Nonetheless, US Strats are now declared an endangered species, so stand by your serial numbers...
More info from Fender (UK) at Fender House, (Contact Details)