Archive for NAMM

NAMM 2017

Posted in modular synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by pyraphonic

Since my first NAMM visit in 2012, every year I have posted about modular synthesizers (and other interests) at the end of the first day to get the word out to those interested.

In the intervening years, modulars have become popular enough that professional music media outlets cover all the new stuff, sometimes as early as the day before NAMM starts, so no more scoops for me. I am officially retired!

So I went to NAMM this year with a more casual attitude (on rainy Friday, day 2, even!) and chatted with lots of friends, met some people, saw a lot of cool new stuff and still have some photos to share. I won’t go into great detail about anything, since it’s covered elsewhere. Come on in and check it out!

Below are Kris and Stephen at the Noise Engineering booth. I had my pass thanks to them!


I am an occasional helper at Noise Engineering as a beta tester for their modules as well as sometimes making design and feature suggestions.

Here are the three cases they had this year, with many new modules coming out this year:


I can’t wait for this sequencer!

Synthrotek had this amazing repurposed rig for the show:

Of course Bryce Recordon, of the Waveform City podcast, was there:

And Bana Haffer was doing demos at the Make Noise booth.

The new Make Noise Morphagene below:

The Koma Electronik Field Kit is awesome:

Pittsburg Modular had these awesome video game cabinets set up:

Skein Modular had some really cool cases:

The WMD rig:

The QuBit bubble that everyone had to take a photo of!

  

LZX had some really cool video modules:


The new Malekko Voltage Block:

Sputnik Modular’s rig:

Skyler, with his Apogee Jam, recording directly into his phone to eliminate the insanely loud NAMMbience:

Some other cool random stuff I saw includes the new Stylophone, which is super fun with a built-in delay:

The handcrafted Theresyn:


They have built-in speakers and the tall ones have resonating strings.

Vintage Vibe make Rhodes style keyboards, but they had a couple new models that also sport a little ribbon synth built in (the ribbon is the silver strip just above the keys). This was a bass model. They had the lids off to show the mechanical parts. It sounded awesome, especially playing a bass line and occasionally doing a downward slide!


This beautiful Travis Bean:

A clear demo model of the Center Point Stereo Spacestation v.3. I have an older Spacestaion and love it. It is a stereo amp, but in a single cabinet. If you know how mid-side mic technique works, this is that in reverse!

 

And Lowrey – still in the game!

Thank you Noise Engineering for the pass – I had a blast!

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NAMM 2015

Posted in modular synthesizers, sound design, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2015 by pyraphonic

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I started going to NAMM in 2012 a few months after starting my own eurorack modular synthesizer system and I have gone every year since. I mainly go to check out the modular synth gear and hang out with the people making and using them. This year was great with many more modules and many familiar faces.

Here we go…click on the pics for hi-res!

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The eurorack presence at NAMM this year was incredible. There were several different booths in various halls of the convention representing many manufacturers. I used to know immediately what modules were new, or which were prototypes, etc. but not anymore.

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I first went over to check out Noise Engineering because A) Stephen is my friend and colleague and B) I beta test and make suggestions on Noise Engineering modules and C) he had some beer with him.

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Among the new NE modules available soon is the Sinc Iter (purple one on the right in the photo above) which is a 4HP Oscillator with an insane range of 23 octaves (so it makes a great LFO) with variable waveform and built-in quantization. On the left are prototype clock modules.

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Also available soon (above in purple) are the Tonnetz Sequent (a triad based polyphonic pitch sequencer), Mimetic Sequent (a pattern recorder and randomizer with up to 16 steps – I love this thing!), and its expander which outputs random gates related to the sequences.

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Above from the left are the Variatic Sequent (a simple gate sequencer), the Variatic Erumption (a dual burst generator), and the Numeric Repetitor which is a rhythm generator in the vein of the Zularic Repetitor but based on binary arithmetic. I’ll swap in a better photo soon – I didn’t get a clear shot of these.

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Prototype mixers above on the right.

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Dieter Doepfer! I caught him mid-blink here – I swear his eyes didn’t look like that. He showed me some new Doepfer modules below.

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the A-157 Trigger sequencer above.

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Above in the center are the A-110-4 Quadrature Thru Zero VCO, A-147-2 LFO with delay, and A-110-3 Triangle Thru Zero VCO.

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Above is the A-101-6 Opto FET VCF/Phaser.

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Above is the A-153 Ratcheting clock multipler.

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Above is the A-160 Clock/Trigger Divider II

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I also got to catch up with Gur and Tomio showing Tiptop Audio’s wares – above is a prototype of a new case. The angle is adjustable. It looks great!

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Above is the new Circadian Rhythyms module.

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The quantizer is still being tweaked but looks great.

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They also had a couple euro-fied Serge modules in the case.

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Above is the prototype case at a different angle.

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The WMD touch interface is fun! the Poly-key Array.

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Above is one of the WMD/SSF cases.

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Make Noise had the new shared system with all black faceplates (above). I tinkered with this set up for quite a while.

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Above are the new fixed filter and the RxMx. The fixed filter can be normalled to the RxMx so the six bands correspond to the six channels.

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Above is the next Make Noise collaboration with Tom Erbe called the Telharmonic. It is a triad oscillator with controls over the chord and inversion as well as timbre and of course, pitch(es).

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Black Maths!

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The Ctrl Sel above.

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The updated Wogglebug (above) looks great!

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Phonogene in black.

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Another WMD/SSF rig in a slick keyboard case.

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A fully loaded Enclave case.

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New Low-gain modules (above).

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Hexinverter’s case (above).

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A modular module from Black Market (above) that has swappable circuit boards.

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These are the boards (above) that work with their 500 series style units as well as the eurorack unit.

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The Xoac Karl Marx Stadt above.

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The Harvestman himself, looking very dapper this year.

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Qu-bit modules.

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More Qu-bit.

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The Verbos touch keyboard arrived this year. It feels nice and plays well!

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This one (above) was in its own skiff.

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The Koma Quad helmet for demoing their new quad mixer. (Apologies to those I clocked in the head while wearing this.)

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the ProModular MIIIIX and Insert (above).

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SSF ultra-random (above).

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Synthrotek’s rig. Lots of cool kits in here.

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A closer look at the upper Synthrtek case with some Mattson mults along the bottom rows.

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The new Double Andore from The Harvestman (above).

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Chris Randall hamming it up with the Audio Damage rig (above).

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Abstract Data’s rig (above).

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the Koma Komplex Sequencer (above).

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Dann from 4MS showing their goods.

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the LZX rig (above).

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the Vermona rig (above – sorry, blurry shot!)

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Sputnik modular stuff – the patch was all set up, so the shots don’t show the modules all that well!

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The Snazzy rig

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Dan showed me the new Snazzy Tidal Wave which sounded great. A compact voice synth with some performance oriented controls (above).

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Muffwiggler booth rigs!

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Another Muffwiggler booth box.

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Expert Sleepers new stuff (above).

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Circuit Shaman’s rig in a John Noble case (above).

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The Circuit Shaman Dack (above).

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The Circuit Shaman Spectra Mirror (above).

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the Kilpatrick Audio Phenol (above).

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Above is the Tipsy Circuits Emperor, which can run Windows in the modular environment. Pretty insane!

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Frap Tools UNO case folded (above) and unfolded (below). Really nice!

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Pittsburg had their new stained wood cases, which looked really great.

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Studio Electronics modules (above and below).

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More from the Muffwiggler booth.

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The Moon Modular case (above). I met John L. Rice at their booth, whom I’ve interacted with on the forums before but never met in person, which was cool.

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Analogue Haven cases (above and below).

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Mutable Intsruments new stuff (above) – Elements is awesome!

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The new Synthesis Technologies E6209 (above).

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The Big City Music booth (above).

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I believe this is a vibrato/reverb repurposed from an organ from Analog Outfitters (above – from the Big City Music booth).

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New Buchla including the 252e and the standalone 218 touch keyboard.

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Brian Kehew and Robert Robert Margouleff at the Moog booth (above). Brian is a polymath whose many hats include synth expert, audio restorer, half of the synth duo Moog Cookbook as well as being an author (check out Recording the Beatles). Robert, along with Malcolm Cecil, built and played T.O.N.T.O. and co-created those amazing Stevie Wonder records.

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The reissues of the original Moog modulars.

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Diego Stocco tinkering with the Moog modular (above).

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Klaus Shulze poster!

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Moog Voyager (above).

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Suzane Ciani live patching the Moog modular (above).

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Sir David Scott Stone checking out the Korg reissues of the ARP Odyssey!

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Twin Braids jamming in the Roland room upstairs (above).

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Black is the new Orange (above).

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The original Les Paul “Black Beauty” (above).

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Yeah, I still want one of these Rickenbacker 12-strings.

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The insane new Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator series (above)!

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And the day ended with Richard Devine falling in love with the new 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator! It does sound amazing.

Thanks to Stephen (Noise Engineering) and William (WMD) for the NAMM badge!

NAMM 2014

Posted in modular synthesizers, music, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by pyraphonic

NAMM 2014 is upon us. This post is NAMM through my narrow lens of interest, mainly modular synthesizers,  and is not meant to be comprehensive, so sit back and enjoy the ride without the incredible sonic wall of noise that pervades the convention.

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First stop is the Eurorack modular booth hosted by WMD in Hall E.

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The Harvestman rig.

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This showed up later in the day (a SubCon Vampire in The Harvestman’s case).

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Stephen and the Noise Engineering collection.

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The Ataraxic Translatron in 2 flavors (just different faceplates) and an amazing kick drum module.

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A new oscillator and a new filter. Also a rectifier and divider, which can do far more to a sound than I had imagined.

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A new gate sequencer and a new mixer on the bottom.

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A super unique rhythm generator is in there as well.

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One of the 2 Make Noise systems at NAMM.

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These are the 2 new control modules which add preset-like functionality to modulars. The CTRLSEL-G can be used to control one or more CTRLSEL-Vs to add precision to live performance situations. They communicate via the power bus, or a cable if in different cases.

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The Teleplexer is an unexpected offering. It works like this: you take a cable coming from a CV source and if you touch the tip to one of the plates, the voltage is sent to the corresponding output(s). The plates are set up so the top row of three route the voltages out of outputs one, two or three, respectively. The second row sends the voltages to one and two, or two and three. The third sends to just one and three, and the fourth is to all three. Below, the same scenario is repeated, but negative voltages are sent to those destinations. With multiple cables at play, things can get complicated.

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The Make Noise reverb, which with certain settings, sounded unlike any reverb I’ve heard before. There are no presets and all parameters are brought out to the front panel and can be controlled via CV.

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Mysteron, the mystery module aka the digital wavguide, arrives!

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Rosie – the cue system with an effects loop.

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A couple close-ups of the 1U mult/utility

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The WMD/Steady State Fate set up with new modules Amplitude, Pole-Zero, Spectrum, Ultrafold, VCMiniSlew, and the Quad Attenuator. Also Snazzy FX modules in there including the new Telephone Game module. Sorry, this shot is pretty blurry. Can’t win ’em all.

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The newly announced Verbos Electronics set. Looking great, out of the gate, with the cool Rogan knobs Buchla nod and unique color scheme. These look aesthetically and functionally great. They sound as cool as they look as well.

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Mark showing the very skiffable Voltage Multistage.

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That is a thick circuit board!

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4MS with their new modular modular case/boats which look like a great solution for people who are ever expanding, rearrange their system a lot, or want to be able to detach a portion of their system for live use.

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The QCD expander (on the left), which packs a lot of punch in a small space.

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The Delptronics Thunderbell, a CV-able cowbell.

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I believe it will be offered in both Eurorack as well as mounted in a real cowbell. CV for the pitch and the decay. It sounds great.

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Delptronics General MIDI module prototype.

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STG stuff

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New Hexinverter modules.

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Koma’s set up.

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Moon Modular sequencer.

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Next I went to check out Gur and Tomio at Tiptop in Hall A in the Big City booth. Sean Costello’s Valhalla Reverb card for the Z-DSP sounds amazing. It is my most anticipated modular purchase of 2014.

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An elaborate new sequencer from Tiptop called the Circadian Rhythm.

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Serge Wilson Analog Delay in eurorack.

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A very capable and flexible looking quantizer.

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Eowave modules.

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Another case at the Big City booth.

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Here’s Todd Barton with the Buchla Music Easel reissue.

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They were showing the new preset card that links to the iPad via bluetooth.

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It also looks like they have added (reinstated?) the nuts to the switches.

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The Moog Sub37. Roger O’Donnell (The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, etc.) is the hand model, btw.

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The Moog Theremini. I’m not gonna lie, I want one! I already have a Big Briar theremin with the CV mods done to it, but this thing was fun to play (it has quantizing) and has a great design.

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The Prophet 12 from Dave Smith.

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An Alquier guitar I checked out.

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They ship with a really unique display/stand that hooks on the back via strap locks.

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The Haken Continuum. This isn’t new, but it was the first time I sat and played it. It is really expressive. Mark Smart played Bach’s Air for me using it and it sounded amazing.

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The Pittsburg Modular Phase Shifter.

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Also the new Pittsburg / Studio Electronics collaboration filter set.

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Critter and Guitari eurorack gear.

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If this Roots board sounds as good as it looks…

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These giant wooden cassette coffee tables from Tayble are lovely.

NAMM is exhausting but fun. I hope I just saved you $12 in parking and a day of traffic jams, lines, noise and crowds. Thank you to Stephen from Noise Engineering and William from WMD for the pass!

NAMM 2012

Posted in modular synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by pyraphonic

This year I had my first NAMM experience. I only attended one of the four days. Once I saw how gigantic it is, I understood why it is four days long. I barely got to see the several main booths I wanted to see as it was totally overwhelming. Thankfully, I was only interested in the modular synthesizers and a few other musical oddities.

Here is Gur from Tiptop Audio showing off several new modules. Among them were the BD808 and SD808 which are respectively the bass drum and the snare drum circuits from the venerable Roland TR-808 drum machine adapted for eurorack format and they sound fantastic. He also unveiled an unbelievable polyphonic oscillator which is the first in a series of polyphonic modules. It’s called the P3000 and this will be part of a sub-format of eurorack using 8-pin jacks and cables. Madman, genius, or both?

Below is Tony from Make Noise who also unveiled some interesting new modules. One is a new oscillator called the Dual Prismatic Oscillator capable of some really nice timbres. Another is a collaboration with Tom Erbe called the Echophon which is a pitch shifting delay and you can hear Richard Devine running his 606 through it here. The third is a mystery module that I believe is some type of oscillator.

All this incredible new stuff coming out for eurorack and my case is full. I’m gonna need a bigger boat.

I also went to the Buchla booth where they had several systems set up, among them was the new Skylab shown below. I would love to own one some day, but this unit costs roughly twice as much as my car.

It was hard to get good photos amid the chaos of NAMM, as exemplified by the two photos below of legendary Buchla users Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani. Both with their eyes closed. Maybe they were listening to the Buchlas plunking and droning in the background.


Suzanne had on a vest with LEDs embedded in the lapel and on the back which blinked on and off in patterns powered by battery backs on the back.

Below are Don and Morton who worked together when Don was building his first synthesizers. I’m glad they did, as many of the modules in my current system were influenced by Don’s late sixties and seventies creations.

What’s funny about this post is that NAMM is all about equipment yet most of the photos I took were of people. I suppose that is because it takes these incredibly talented people to create worthwhile instruments just as it takes incredibly talented people to make decent music and sounds with that equipment. It was inspiring and fun meeting these people and talking with them about their work.

Having said that, here’s the obligatory gear shot of the Swarmatron:

Created by cousins Brian and Leon Dewan who make really interesting equipment, including the Dual Primate Console which they play together. The Swarmatron was used by Trent Reznor on the soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Thanks to Gur for setting me up with a NAMM badge – it was quite the spectacle.