The latest gear
The latest goodies from the music industry...
With the success of their clinics held at Argent's keyboard stores featuring Bill Bruford and Sensible Music's Jeff Allen, and in the wake of the powerful SDS6 Drum Sequencer, Simmons Electronics have seen that the time is right to launch their new cymbal pad. The appropriate module, when triggered by the 'dual concentric pyramidal' pad, produces a sampled cymbal sound, and a digital hi-hat module is also available. The new cymbal pad is made of polycarbonate and makes a clean-cut, futuristic addition to the SDS5 kit, offering different effects on the bell and ride sections.
It seems that the Americans have really got into pad-bashing lately and the SDS5 has been doing particularly well over there. Perhaps for this reason Simmons decided to launch their new digital 'Handclap' in the USA first and make all us Britishera wait with our clapped-out Claptraps! Let's hope that the long-awaited move to larger, more modern premises from their pleasant but impractical St Albans factory allows Simmons to come up with some more new digital products.
Teac have updated their 'C-Series' cassette decks after five successful years, introducing three new models which must represent the state of the art in cassette technology. Certainly it should be possible to record a decent stereo master on decks with specifications like this; Overall Frequency response (metal tape) 20-22,000Hz (Z7000 model), s/n 92dB at 1kHz w. dbx noise reduction, wow and flutter 0.19%, 4-motor operation (Z7000), gold-plated connectors, 10% pitch control (Z7000 and Z6000), remote control and power-assisted eject.
Naturally the decks are on the expensive side, but the number of processor controlled functions probably justifies this. Tape length indicator, Test Tone generator, Auto Space and Fade In/Out are added as the larger models are investigated, although all three models feature dbx. The Z5000 retails for £575, the Z6000 for £945 and the Z7000 for £1,100. Further details from Harman UK, (Contact Details).
Marquee Electronics have introduced a new rental service for those of us who want to perfect our mixdowns with the hire of a few professional effects. Units like the Sony Digital Recorder, Quantec Room Simulator, Digital Claptrap and AMS delay are now available, and Marquee have recently become agents for Harman UK (studio monitors and drivers) and Eventide Clockworks (digital reverbs and harmonizers). The Eventide H949 Harmonizer for instance will provide pitch change, delay, chorus, ADT, flanging, reverb, time reversal, reverb and echo. Further details from Marquee at (Contact Details).
The latest additions to the Mattel Intellivision range include two units of interest to the computer musician. One allows speech synthesis by the connection of an Intellivoice module, which can produce (as in the Tron Solar Sailor games cartridge) as many as five different voices. The basic use is for commands, information and warnings during games programmes, but applications for music and synthetic singing (perhaps in conjunction with a vocoder) should not be too difficult.
Even more interesting is the Intellivision Music Synthesizer, which has a real 4-octave keyboard connecting to the Computer Adaptor and then into the master module. There are various programmes available, mainly educational games, using a maximum 6-note polyphony. One of the many options is the display of a musical stave which can be used for various compositional and educational purposes. Full details of the software available will not be forthcoming until distribution in the UK is organised, but a preliminary look at the keyboard system indicates it's pleasant to play, firmly sprung and musically useful — much more than just a toy. Further details from Mattel Electronics UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
While Casio are expanding their field of operations to revitalise the flagging home organ industry, independent companies are working hard to modify the existing popular Casio keyboards. The official new introduction is the 'Symphonytron 8000', a modular home entertainment keyboard consisting of upper and lower CT-8000 keyboards, CS-200 stand and mixer, RC-1 Accompaniment Unit, MB-1 Memory Unit, FK-1 Pedal Keyboard and matching amplifier/speakers. RAMpacks allow storage of up to four complete tunes in the Memory unit and effects such as vibrato and sustain are also stored. Price for the basic modules of the Symphonytron is around £1,500.
Meanwhile Micro Musical have clearly had a CT-1000P apart and have developed the ML-1 Micro Link system to interface its automatic facilities to external rhythm machines such as a modified Roland DR-55 Dr Rhythm. The player is given a choice of eight ratios between arpeggiator and drum machine, several stop and start modes for intros and fills and complex time signatures. The unit can be bought as a kit, can be installed by the company into an existing CT-1000P, or can be sold as part of a new machine. Prices are £75.00 (kit) £99.00 fitted and £355.00 (in a new CT-1000P). Modification for the DR-55 is £4.50 (kit). Further details from Micro Musical, (Contact Details).
News from California is that the innovative Kurzweil keyboard is beginning to reach the shops. The system, now free of the mainframe computer needed to give demos at the last NAMM show, gives unprecedented fidelity in reproducing sound samples by using technology derived from artificial intelligence research. Specifically, it uses a shorthand computer notation to fill in the gaps left by conventional sampling technology, giving a total sampling time of 10 seconds with up to 100 harmonics. The acoustic piano sample is reportedly unlike anything heard before, and according to the 'LA Times' "equally startling were the strings, harpsichord, timpani and cymbals. A guitar chord can be struck with the touch of one key, several instruments can be played at once, and the user can sing into the instrument or record any sound for playback later." Although it's hoped a UK dealership can be set up shortly, details at present are available from Leo's Music, (Contact Details).
From Siel UK, the Piano PX, a six-octave touch-sensitive design with 10 preset sounds. These include Grand Piano, Ragtime Piano, Electric Grand Piano and Percussive Electric Piano. In addition it has tremolo and stereo chorus, two pedals for tremolo and sustain and a noise reduction system which should help to avoid the 'beehive effect' for which so many electronic pianos are notorious. Split keyboard allows a bass sound with mixable volume on the lower two octaves and there is a headphone socket in addition to stereo outputs. Recommended price is £749 inc. VAT, further details from SIEL UK, (Contact Details).
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