British Music Fair
Incorporating the News. And starring all you need to know about the new products and where they'll be. The one you need.
One story covers all the others on the page this month — the British Music Fair. This six day bash (the last three for the public) is the greatest opportunity any of us will get this year to see all the latest musical equipment under one roof.
It's a big roof... Olympia II in Hammersmith. Hundreds of manufacturers will be taking stands to exhibit their gear. All will let you look, some will let you fiddle, a few nice ones are even arranging demonstrations by famous type people to show off the stuff in various halls.
For those of you who can make it (August 1-3, £3.00, 10.00 'till 7.00 every day) this month's Making Music presents a news special. We've picked out the best stories, and each has a key telling you which BMF stand to visit to see it in the flesh.
For those of you who can't get to London, well be carrying full reports of the BMF in future issues, and reveal all the gear they kept secret until the doors opened.
And we're on stand 1-86, first floor... if you were wondering...
Just in case you thought Fender were making everything in Japan these days, UK agents Arbiter have just returned from America with the new vintage reissue US-manufactured Fenders. You have a choice of '57 and '62 style Strats, a '52 Tele, a '62 Jazz Bass, and a '57 or '62 style Precision Bass. You will also be required to part with a lot of money for these (eg just over 700 quid for the '57 Strat). In case you want to play them rather than put them in the bank vault, there are two new amps in the Fender Sidekick range: a Chorus amp, no doubt one of those trendy new two-speaker jobs, and a 100W bass head and cabinet. Arbiter will also please your ears with JVC's new KB808 keyboard, about which they tell us nothing, and the Encore Liberator Pro Kit.
New products (don't you just hate that word?) from rapidly expanding Rhino Distribution include the following: Audio Logic MI66 rack-mount stereo compressor, X324 Stereo Crossover, and MT44 Quad Noise Gate.
Also from America, Dod are in an act-getting-together situation, giving us the rack-mounting Dod 6400 stereo Digital Reverb, offering 64 preset reverbs at a reasonable price (which they wouldn't reveal), two new digital footpedals (they wouldn't tell us about them either).
But Rhino did tell us about the Dod 7000 (polyphonic) and 5000 (monophonic) Midimaster guitar to MIDI converter, built by Dod for IVL, the firm that produced the Pitchrider which started all this noise/MIDI conversion stuff. Important news, and more details when we have them.
And by the way, Rhino say that EMG pickup sales have gone up by 1500 per cent...
SM fans will be delighted to hear of three new microphoney things from Shure, c/o distributors HW International. The SM94, SM96, and SM98 are the top new products, and are backed up by two cheaper Prologue models, a condenser (16L), and a "fixed cable dynamic".
Sound technology bring big news and excitement: the Alesis Midifex, two Aphex rackmounting effects, and the Oberheim 16 channel sampler/Eprom blower.
The Midifex is a digital multi effects unit housed in the same size box as the Midiverb. It does multi-tap delays with automatic panning effects, the full range of chorus, flange, ADT and echo effects, gated digital reverb, and more. It does all this with high bandwidth, and at the same price as the £395 Midiverb. There's also a rack-mounting kit to accommodate both.
Aphex have the improved Aural Exciter Type C stereo enhancer (see review), and the Dominator, a three-band peak limiter.
The Oberheim sampler is a percussion-oriented machine, with 16 channels offering up to two seconds of sampling. It can also blow EPROMs for other machines, and should sell for under £1000.
Four summer items from Rickenbacker: two new stereo power amps — the RIC RA300, and RA600 — designed by Rickenbacker in the US, hut built in Japan. And two new basses, a five-string and an eight-string built around the famous 4000 Series body.
As ours is the Bible that people do read, you'll know how popular the Session combos are. Hot dang, you may even use one. But hold on, there's a new one coming, the Rockette 20. Production models are just coming off the line now, and they're not just 20W versions of the established Rockette 30: EQ is post-distortion rather than pre-, speaker is 10in not 12, there's no reverb, but there are five knobs to play with. It will sell for £135. Session also have a new mighty-meaty-matey footswitch for all their amps which clunk-clunks in a reassuringly solid manner. That's what Session told us, anyway.
Session distributor Musimex will soon be pleased to flog you John Pearse strings and accessories, "no more expensive than ordinary American strings", and English Tannery guitar and instrument straps which look ideal for your S&M (style and music) activities.
A plethora of new guitars this year from distributors JHS. New Hondos come in fiery colours and designs, while the long-awaited Charvel and Jackson American imports are now appearing in Britain for the first time. Additions to JHS's highly recommended Encore electroacoustics are promised, too. And Seiko have some new tuners, chromatic and otherwise.
Watch out for new Frontline effects pedals, Series II, covering the whole gamut of boxes from Overdrive at £33.50 up to a Stereo Delay at £89.95. Also from Frontline is a new eight-channel Stereo Mixer.
Their stand at the BMF will feature a Picato string making machine, if you've ever wondered how it was done.
You thought the SPX90 was good? It is — but the new Boss DEP5 will do digital reverb, digital chorus, parametric EQ, and "initial delay" all at the same time. Serious. Many words will be spoken about this in the bars of BMF — but there is plenty more from the Roland/Boss stable. Two new Roland samplers, for a start: the S10 (4.4 seconds at 30kHz sampling rate, up to four samples on the keys at a time, three different ways of keying samples, full editing and outside triggering, built-in 2.8in disc drive) and the big S50 (13.2 seconds at 30kHz sampling rate, plus wide and snazzy looking display screen facilities).
The MC500 Microcomposer (a big sequencer, if you like) handles approximately 25,000 notes internally, plus about 100,000 on its 3.5in disc drive, ie lots and lots. A couple of new amps, too: the DAC15B bass combo, 15W and 10in speaker, master gain business, and active EQ; and the JC55 guitar combo, 25W and two 8in speakers, fab new reverb noises, and fixed or manual chorus.
Boss go wild with the CE3 compression sustainer, adding a tone control to the CE2's set-up and claimed extra clarity. You'll soon be able to do wobbly things with the RPS10 pitch shifter, also disguised as a delay and offering fun at plus or minus one octave. Then you can hit the Doctor Pad, a drum pad oojah that comes in three versions each with six different on-board noises.
The delightfully titled CX5MII/128 is none other than Yamaha's new music computer — as you might guess, it scores over the original CX5 immediately with 128K of RAM (that means it has more room in which to do things), and is supported by the FD03 disc drive and MMP01 touch pad. Still in Hightechsville, Yamaha have a new MIDI sequencer, the QX5, with real and step time operation and wide editing facilities; the FB01 eight-note multitimbral FM generator, with a mere 240 preset voices and 96 spaces for your own voices; the MCS2 MIDI Control Station for serious MIDI engine drivers; the MJC8 MIDI Junction Controller for serious MIDI signal box workers; and an as-yet untitled MIDI Merge Box — dare we guess at "the MMB8"? Drum persons and other hooligans will be let loose soon on the Yamaha electronic drums which look like big black frying pans. Doubtless they'll sound better. Lastly, the BX5 bass with five strings, with trendy headlessness (well executed, ha ha) and humbuckers. Did you know that Yamaha backwards makes A-Ha May... learn to write good songs?
You've got your electronic drum thingies — what next? You expand, and you organise, suggest Simmons. At the BMF they launch the MTX9 three-channel drum expander, and the SPM8:2 programmable mixer. The MTX takes triggers from MIDI or drum pads, though Simmons naturally suggest a useful teaming with the SDS9. You get new sounds, new combination sounds (via the MTX's mixer), and wider sounds (via the MTX's built-in delay).
The SPM mixer comes rack-mountable and designed to sort out your messy pile of keyboards and/or percussion: 30 memory spaces take mixer settings, to store the positions of the eight channels' EQ, two external effects sends, pan position, and fader level, and are switched via (guess?) MIDI. You can also program on-board effects to give you panning tricks depending on how hard you bash your drum, along with automatic panning and the delights of two delays.
At press time Simmons were unsure of prices. Go and ask.
Among this month's new products from Casio: the CZ-1 (about £1000) five-octave, touch-sensitive synth uses phase distortion to fill up to 192 memory locations. Sensitivity is programable, there are 64 tone mix and 64 key split memories, mucho MIDI, and lots else besides...
The AZ-1 Remote Keyboard Controller (around £300) has a 41 note keyboard and will dangle conveniently round your neck while you flick remotely through up to 128 programs; it can also travel simultaneously down two different MIDI channels.
The CPS 2000 Piano (about £875) has a 76 key weighted keyboard, 14 preset sounds including two acoustic pianos, 12 rhythm programs, and stereo chorus.
The DZ-1 MIDI Drum Translator (around £250) takes eight drum pad inputs and converts them into MIDI talk. Has enough memory for four pad/message settings. And there's the SK-1 samplerette (see review).
Distributors FCN are splashing out this month with new Columbus guitars that come trem-equipped and with double Humbucker Strat and Tele shapes (they sell at £80, £100, and £130). Also available now are the new British-made Cougar amps (as previewed in these pages), including the CBX100 bass combo with 15in speaker, compressor, and graphic EQ.
Most interest will probably be generated by the Westone Panteras, shiny good-looking new two and three pickup guitars for the top of the hugely popular Westone range.
Arion digital effects pedals due at the end of this month include a chorus, delay, and a one second sampling delay, all encased in double pedal-size boxes. Prices will be in the region of £150.
Important percussion news from FCN is that they've taken over the distribution of Tama drums. Watch too for the forthcoming Trak Dixon range of budget drums.
Another sampler. Now keep reading, this is interesting. Distributors Rose-Morris have finally pulled back the curtains and shouted, "Here's the long-awaited Korg DSS-1 sampling synthesiser, chaps. It has built-in sounds as well as user sampled sounds, a built-in disc drive and two programmable digital delays." We replied, "Very nice. But don't forget your strange sounding Ovation/Takamine MIDI guitar system, your Korg SG1 and SG2 sampled pianos, and your Vox 100W stack, will you. Hello. Hello? Anyone there?"
Look, no pickup selector. Aria's RSB Performer instead offers a 'balance' pot to mix between the two double coil pickups, plus a set of active tone controls which can knock back to passive in case of the battery saying bye-bye. Under £390 for this top range addition, but cheaper Aria offerings in the RS and RSB Straycats — rosewood fingerboards, bolt-on necks, Protomatic IV humbuckers, coil taps and an Act-Ex trem with graphite nut... for the six string, of course. £189 in black, £199 in Candy Apple Red, £209 in four-stringedness.
New Bel BDE2400 and 3200 delay line/samplers now come with disc storage. The former can hold 24 seconds at 18kHz bandwidth, while the latter handles 32 seconds at 15kHz. The memory can be chopped up in more ways than even your butcher knows how, and then subsequently bunged into one of the four internal sequencers. Pitch shifting, internal triggering, and more facilities than our poor heads can handle. Clever, though.
Also new are Soundtracs FM rack mountable mixers, modular chaps designed for fixed installations or mobile use.
Popular 'Bible' visitors Carlsbro put seven more products up for new testament appearances. The Sidewinder 60W lead combo (all valve), a professional bass range with three 150W versions, the Rebel 8 and 12 90W leads, the Cobra 90W bass combo, the Colt 45 range (45W lead, bass and keyboard combos), the CP range of Professional, Power Amplifiers (Mosfet stuff, guv) and XLR alternatives of the Cobra and Marlin mixer amps.
It's no mirage. Well, it is — the Ensoniq Mirage Version 3 update, in fact, stored on disc and thus available to all owners. But it's not just a Mirage, or its Expander. There's also the ESQ-1 multitrack Sequencer/Synthesiser, with eight-voice polyphony, three oscillators per voice, 32 presets, 120 memories, and MIDI; could be a show highlight. Also new is the Ensoniq sampled digital piano, with 12 different sounds from piano to marimba, 76 weighted keys, stereo chorus, and full MIDI.
New Fernandes basses wing their way across the briny, bearing names like Revolver and BXB. The latter looks like an Explorer, with sharp points, humbuckers, alder body, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, while the former is a more conventional shape, but has "one of the slimest" carbon graphite necks around, and a phenolic resin fingerboard.
Also from the UK home of Fernandes, Blue Suede Music, comes the Guild range of 20 or so guitars, led by the Mini Manhattan reviewed in this ish. High quality instruments made — down to the last molecule — in the USA.
If you're going to the British Music Fair, Blue Suede are situated right next to our stand.
Do you play bass? Are your ears burning? Because Peavey are talking about you, wondering what you'll make of their new bass gear. Mega-interesting is the Megabass rackmount bass amp, which we've christened Tracey as we like it so much. It's got two 200W MOSFET power amps, biamp facilities, a seven-band graphic with presets, good FX patching routes, and on-board stereo chorus. Also for the four-stringed, a brace of new basses, the Nitro, the Foundation-S and an as yet un-named five-string, along with the Probass 1000 rackmount pre-amp, and 215D and 415SUB speakers.
Six-stringed humanoids can enjoy the intricacy of the Programax 10 fully programmable combo with MIDI — you'll need a MIDI remote unit or one of these new-fangled MIDI guitars. Oooh-er, makes you feel giddy just thinking about them. Calm down with Peavey's new 80-quid Companion 15 guitar amp or KB15 keyboard version, or perhaps the PEP 4000 MIDI digital effects processor. Get down.
As well as some new microphones, and the SED, SDB, and SLB loudspeaker systems, TOA have just introduced their D4 four-channel MIDI mixer and the D4-E six-channel add-on close by. Five balanced XLR inputs, eight MIDI-thru jacks, stereo and mono mixing.
New from Akai is the MG1214, an update of the MG1212 self-contained mixer/recorder, with better signal to noise ratio, and SMPTE mod. for easier synchronisation with video machines. Also the AX73, a velocity sensitive controller keyboard with its own voice unit and stereo chorus, recommended for use with the Akai samplers. Visible on Stand 1-96...
Washburn UK are bringing 'Bass Maniac' — high quality original design Japanese guitars — into Britain. They're rumoured to be the top-selling bass in Japan, and include in their range an unusual model with concealed pickups. If you go to the BMF, you'll be able to see the Washburn band, with the phenomenal Frank Itt on bass, demonstrating Bass Maniac, Washburn, and German Dynacord gear (including the intensely peculiar rhythm stick) on Stand 1-90...
Elka Orla, best known for home organs and accordions (see front cover), are now moving into the group gear/hi-tech market, with seven new products. Most specifically band-oriented are the EK44 digital polysynth, and its analogue sister, the EK22. Both are velocity sensitive, offering second touch, 64 presets, 32 programmable memories, 61 keys, good MIDI facilities, and piles more. Each is also available as an expander. Other Elka newies include two digital drum machines, the entirely preset DS60, and the programmable DS80 (which both feature rock and latin sounds). See them on Stand 2-01 at the BMF...
Vesta Fire are threatening to stop the BMF this year with a new price-busting multitrack recorder on Stand G-26...
all sorts of Aria add-ons at Stand 1-34 at the BMF, particularly the DD-X5 and DD-X20 digital delays, and the new Bigfoot range of effects pedals... Anything new from America that isn't violent and tasteless gets big cheers round these parts, so Audio Equipment's decision to bring over a new line of combos, mixers, and slave and mixer amps from Ross Systems has been much hurrayed. You'll know AE best for their own Custom Sound gear, and the latest new object in that line is the Dual Channel 100W MOSFET 1 x 12 Cub Combo. We doubt they'll get that all on the front, but it's bound to make a good and affordable sound.
One snip, and they were halved. HH have produced 50W versions of their 100W Series successfully launched at '85's BMF. There are lead, bass and keyboard choices, plus two new PA speakers — the full range FR210 with two 10in speakers and a bullet radiator, and the 2 x 15 BR215 bass alternative, both knocking out 200 W.
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!