MusikMesse 2014 Gearjunkies Roundup

It’s time again, MusikMesse is over, but we’ve been checking out everything for you, and it’s time for the traditional roundup of new stuff along our gear categories. The general impression is one of consolidation, but also one of new little gems that are more than welcome to be nurtured by us, junkies of gear…


Let’s start in the studio with the news from the audio interfacecs. There was news from from RME with the new 701. Also, Tascam had a nice new line up of their rack mounted BG series of audio interfaces. Stepping up a notch, we find Antelope with the Zen Studio gear. We think this is going to be real good stuff, to listen to but also to look at 😉 After careful considerations, we decided that the soundcard award must go to UAD’s Apollo Twin. This interface adds some smart innovation with a feature to adjust impedance for your specific mic connection, giving you a feature that you never knew would be helpful! Good thinking, and congratulations for that!


Keeping in the studio, we need tools for improving audio. To help you with that, there’s new gear from Audient with its 880. Also a new big update from Dynaudio’s BM monitor lineup, with their Mk3 compact series. We also found ESI to introduce Dante certified components. We’re definately looking forward to see what that will give us when more details become available. Our award goes to an impressive looking and hi end focussed channel strip, the Manley Core. We like it, for many things, among which are its reputation and its impressive looks as well! There it is, congratulations!


Our next category is for controllers. We found nice gear here, both from small innovative companies as from the bigger manufacturers. New and innovative is the Crystal Ball, a performance oriented MIDI controller that was presented at the show. Take a look at our Crystal Ball video report to see what it is! More traditional, there was CME’s Xkey37, as well as Nektar’s full range LX-lineup of enhanced keyboard controllers. When you’re looking for full size, there’s also the new Arturia Keylab 88 that’s new. And more exotic, there’s the Roli 37. But we were overwhelmed by the amount of controllers that Akai was launching, of which there were the Mini’s as well as the APC40 Mk2. And it is this one that we want to award the best of show in our controller category to: it is designed as the perfect, well built and great looking companion to proide you with great tooling for your Ableton performance. Congratulations to Akai!


On the software front, the news was divers, but in many cases spot on to provide helpful tools, both in the studio as well as in performance. We want to mention a set of new SSL plugins from Duende. Also, Zynapteq is working so hard to define new projects that build on their newly acquired Prosoniq offerings, and making the final tweaks to Unchirp. When talking about final tweaks, Elektron is not yet there, but they are doing great stuff with Overbridge, that will instantly increase the usability of your Elektron gear by being able to integratie it so nicely into your VST-based DAW; see the quick Overbridge talk through that we got from them. Targeted release is end of the year. Sooner will be the release of our winner: Bitwig. A brand new DAW, that is seriously looking good at introducing new workflows and tooling for getting productions ready, and being helpful with the features that it offers. Keep an eye on Gearjunkies, as we’ll be going in depth with it. Congratulations to Bitwig.

DJ Gear

When it comes to DJ gear, we’re far from, say, 10 years ago. A DJ has so many tools to create a performance from his set, and this has translated into many innovations the last years. Maybe too much, as this year was a bit disappointing when it comes to new DJ gear. We did see a hint to some archaeic revival with Pioneer’s turntable, that is looking for our feedback on their prototype, see the Pioneer Turntable post for more. We can guess at many things, but not in this roundup. We find Allen & Heath introducing a new analog-with-digital-integration mixer, the Xone:23C. Sweet! We expect this to be nice! Other news came from Reloop, with their spot on Beatmix 2 and -4 controllers, bundled with Serato DJ, at a price that you can not resist. When releasing this, we consider the DJ controller to be finalized. Reloop, thanks for showing us how we can have the maximum amount of fun for a price that is unbeatable for what you offer us. Award material!


And then we are already at our last category, synthesizers. Current times are exciting, as a lot of smaller hardware projects are growing into really cool gear that we as Gearjunkies are so hooked on! This is what we found at the MusikMesse this year: Nord introduced the rack version of their A1 synth, the A1R. Sweet. Arturia improved their Minibrute, by giving us the Minibrute Special Edition. Nice. Waldorf has a purpose built string synth module. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it does what it’s supposed to do very nicely and affordably. Cool! When you’re looking for a stage/performance synth, definately check out Kurzweil Artis. Maybe named after a dutch zoo, it’s really a synth (sorry; that was a bad joke 😉 ). So, any more? Yes: Akai teased us when they announced the Rhythm Wolf. It definately looks very promising, both from feature- as well as price perspective, but it is not yet finalized enough to say more about it. And there’s more, as Elektron gives us the Analog Rytm, a beast of a drum computer, that we like a lot. It sounds true to its name, being analog and being an Elektron machine. But there’s more. MusikMesse is Roland’s final introduction stage of the first devices of their Aira series (actually giving us a sneek-peak at a Sync-box as well!), which consists of the System-1 synthesizer, the Vocoder, the TB-3 bass synth and the TR-8 drum computer. All very affordable, all very much fun, all very cool sounding, but above that, they all give you a tool that you can use both for your studio productions as well as your live performances. They integrate very nicely with many environments. It was a difficult choice, but we must give the Synth-award to the Roland Aira TR-8. Thanks Roland, for creating this for us!

And there it is, the MusikMesse 2014 roundup. This year is looking good in gear, so now it’s time to get into your studio or on stage and play!











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