Hot News - Keyboards/Electro-Music
Quark - one of the U.K's leading pro effects rack suppliers - have joined the increasing band of MIDI equipment providers with their brand new MIDI-LINK 999, said to be the first of an expanding range of MIDI interfaces and accessories from this highly inventive (and very well thought-of) British outfit.
The Quark MIDI-LINK routes 9 MIDI inputs to 9 MIDI outputs via individual busses and enables routings to be instantaneously changed at the touch of the thumbwheel switches on the front panel (see pic), which means that there's no more of that plugging and re-plugging DIN connectors from the back panel. The first two DIN outputs, however, are (sensibly) placed right on the front panel, to allow for quick changes of master keyboards - handy, eh?
Routings using the MIDI-LINK 999 can be achieved in 3 ways, we gather. Any input can be sent to all 9 individually buffered outputs, each input can be assigned its own individual output, and any combination of the above can be achieved.
According to Quark, their MIDI-LINK 999 enables full MIDI potential to be exploited without the hangups you can get when conventional MIDI through sockets are used. It can be used as the basis of a MIDI system incorporating keyboards, computers and drum machines to speed up assignment flexibility and looks, to us, like being a real boon, especially for the player who uses MIDI equipment on stage.
The Quark MIDI-LINK 999 will be available soon, and we hope to be able to sample one in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, you can get more details of this and other Quark products from Quark Ltd, (Contact Details).
Yamaha's forthcoming range of new keyboard and computer/music products will see their own ideas on the 'MIDI Mother' keyboard concept with the launch of the KX88 MIDI Master keyboard. With 88 keys and a touch-sensitive action (initial and after-touch) and breath controller facility, the (RRP £1,399) KX88 looks like having a mass of potential. Launched alongside it were other units like a 'DX7 in a box', the TX7 FM Expander (£699) which can be used it seems to expand DX7s to DX1 capabilities. More germane to the KX88, perhaps, is the TX816 expansion system which uses separate modules (TF1s, at £499 each) to develop the range of sounds and facilities on tap. The new TX216 (with two TF1s) comprises a TX816 rack with a master module and two FM Input modules. The TX216 will sell for around £1,899.
On the keyboard front itself comes the DX5, to sell for around £2,999. This could be viewed as being 'like a DX1, but with a 76 note DX7 type keyboard'.
Finally, eyes open for the QX7 Digital recorder (around £499), which offers 16 note output 2-track logic, exchange and chain functions. With real and step time editing a 6,000 note memory (8,100 without velocity), up to 1/16 note steps plus ties and rests, it looks like just the thing for sequencer recording fans. More info from Yamaha Musical Instruments Ltd, (Contact Details).
Among a plethora of new products from Roland (launched to coincide with the Frankfurt Trade Fair) is a range of MIDI accessories, a 6-voice polysynth, a new Piano Plus and more.
Starting with the MIDI gear, Roland have launched their MI-10 MIDI to CV Interface unit enabling CV synths to be MIDI compatible - it'll allow any voltage controlled gear to be MIDI run, in fact; including lighting equipment!
In essence, the MI-10 MIDI to CV interface allows a MIDI sending unit to control up to four CV/gate synths. The unit has four output channels, each with pitch control voltage gate signal and dynamics controlled voltage outputs. It also features control voltage outputs for bender, modulation, after touch and volume.
Next in the new MIDI accessory series from Roland is the MI-30, a MIDI channel filter/ converter, the MI-40 MIDI Input Selector and the MI-50, a MIDI Output Selector. Watch-out too for new Roland keyboards including the MIDI-equipped Piano Plus, a 76 key model with a touch sensitive action. Four different instrument sounds (three piano plus harpsichord) can be selected by touch buttons and there are both chorus and key transpose effects. Two built-in speakers are provided of 5 watts rating apiece. It can be used for driving Roland's own MKS Series MIDI modules or other midi units.
Also on the piano front is the new EP-50 electronic piano. 76 touch-sensitive keys four instrument sounds (3 piano plus harpsichord), chorus and key transpose functions are also provided. Again, the EP-50 is MIDI compatible so that it can be used as a keyboard controller for other MIDI synths as well as Roland's MKS MIDI Sound Modules. It, too, will also function as a MIDI piano sound unit for MIDI sequencers or computers.
On the synth side comes the new Synth-Plus 60 (another MIDI equipped unit) which is a 6-voice polyphonic synth. with 61 keys, and twin built-in speakers. The Synth Plus 60 can store 128 patches - each of two bank groups stores 8 banks and each bank takes 8 patches. Portamento function, chorus effects and a new pedal (the EV-5 'Expression Pedal') make this an interesting unit.
Launched just before Frankfurt's Trade fair (but still new to many readers) was the advanced MIDI capable JX-8P, a 5 octave 6-voice polyphonic synth with both velocity sensitive dynamics and after-touch vibrato, brilliance and volume. Two sets of DCOs offer facilities including cross modulation, phase synchronisation etc. The JX-8P has 64 non-volatile presets which can be temporarily edited and stored on 32 extra presets. An optional RAM cartridge affords a further 32 user patches. Cleverly designed (it fixes to the JX-8P with magnets!) is the PG800 programmer which also looks highly usefuL
Finally, another newcomer from Roland is the KS-900 signal indicator. Used with MIDI equipment this unit displays either the desired channel's key-on info, or all channels' key-on data via 88 LEDs. The unit (19" rack mounting) also shows program change or channel number information on large LEDs.
More details from Roland (U.K) Ltd, (Contact Details).
An update of the Rosetti 12-track RMS 24C programme allows users to employ the new 'sequence chain programme' and Rosetti tell us, makes it easy to sync with most conventional drum units. Dubbed the RMS 24C 12-track programme (update A), Rosetti will exchange existing users' RMS 24C 12 track programmes software for this new programme for only £6.50. Just send in your existing discs with a cheque or Postal Order for £6.50, made payable to Rosetti Ltd (to the address below) and they'll do the rest.
Meanwhile, look out (you computer music fans) for the RMS 27C, with features including linking of series of sequences from the 12-track studio programme, sequences of differing tempos and signatures being linked sound changes easily programmable and so on.
More new software includes the RMS 26C a sound editor for the Sequential Circuits Six Track Synth and the Commodore 64. This programme is claimed to provide clear display of parameters on screen, allows the keyboard to be edited from the screen quickly and easily, and offers up to 100 storable sounds with a large library of presets capable of being developed and stored.
More details from Rosetti Ltd, (Contact Details).
Following the launch of their already outstandingly successful CZ-101 (see last month's IT review), Casio have immediately fulfilled their promise to be moving more into performance-orientated keyboards with the announcement of the CZ-1000, using the 'phase distortion' which is claimed to give the player the ability to use complex sound patches easily.
The CZ-1000 has an impressive 33 waveforms and is said to offer the quality of digital sound whilst retaining the ease and speed associated with conventional analogue programming (huge sighs resound around the IT office at that!). It's an 8-note poly keyboard with 3 envelope generators, pitch bend programmable portamento, solo voice and transpose function. According to Casio, it's so light in weight that you can even wear it round your neck! On-board memories are supplemented by what is said to be a comprehensive library of sounds which can be built-up using a RAM facility.
Digital throughout the new Casio is fully MIDI capable and will, we hear from our spies, be complemented by new ancillary equipment from Casio, due to appear later this year. The price of all this? An RRP of £545 is anticipated.
At the same time, Casio have also launched yet more new products (will they never rest!!), including the MT-85, an 8-note polyphonic keyboard with a built-in teaching facility. At an RRP of just £275 it sounds like being yet another ideal introduction to electronic keyboards from this maker.
The MT-36 is a 3 1/2 octave 8-note poly keyboard (destined to sell for around RRP £95) which offers 6 pre-set sounds 4 auto-rhythms and the 'Casio-Chord' function, along with auto bass and chords. The MT-210 features stereo sounds with a PCM rhythm-chip, said to enhance the sound quality of the drum sounds built into this model. 'One key chords', pre-set sounds rhythm and accompaniments add to the attractions, and it should sell for RRP £225.
There are still two new Casios to go; the MT-100 and the CK-500. The MT-100 is a mini polyphonic keyboard developed from the MT-68. It features 768 accompaniment variations, a large range of pre-set rhythms and sounds plus a graphic equaliser. Expect a price of around £155.
Finally, the CK-500, claimed to be a complete 'home recording system'. It contains an 8-note poly keyboard, along with a 4-track twin cassette recorder, with a built-in stereo AM/FM/LW radio! The CK-500 enables you to multitrack from the keyboard section and external mike, 'bounce' tracks together, moving from one tape deck to the other, and mix in a voice or external instrument with the pre-set sounds and rhythms of the machine itself. Priced at only £345, this new Casio could well prove attractive for the beginner in home recording - especially if he or she appreciates Casio's 'easy keyboards' approach.
Further info on all Casio products direct from Casio Electronics Ltd at (Contact Details).
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