Namm 2011


Some interesting stuff, but not sure how much they are catered to the current market's needs.

Korg: Kronos - more engines, smooth transition of patches without cutting off (finally, somebody decided to do something about this), the look reminds me of the T1

Roland: RD300NX (not surprising after the RD700NX). Other than the SuperNatural piano sound, they have a new keybed - the "lighter" ivory feel G series. Need to feel it...

Yamaha: Not sure anything new there. Tyros 4 was already out sometime ago.

M-audio: Venom Synth. Another addition to the already saturated analog mod/digital hybrid market.

Studiologic: Numa Organ looks interesting. Acuna 88 - with iPad dock. Sorry - no iPad for me.

The most interesting keyboard: OMG-1 (by Eric Persing and Moog). It's a Moog Little Phatty, housing a Mac mini computer, with Omnisphere (updated to v 1.5 by the way), built-in iPads x2, iPods x2. Too bad it's not a commercial product. But then, even if it is, who would buy it??? Nice to look at though.
hehe, over the top synth combo, its missing a built in theremin controlled by foot!

This dock caught my eyes. Seem useful for on the go meddling.

Other releases to checkout,

Dave Smith & Roger Linn - Tempest - Analog Drum Machine

Arturia - Spark - Sample based/Digital Drum Machine

Focusrite Rednet

Eventide Space - Stompbox

Too lazy to add in pictures :p
The Kronos is simply a trimmed down cheaper version of the Korg OASYS engine with a few added bells and whistles.

From a performance workstation stand point, it just blew it's competitors out of the game, namely Roland and Yamaha. It's way ahead of the Motif XF and ageing Fantom G.

It all depends on how you want to use it? Computers still crash, so for a complex workstation setup on stage, this would be an awesome deal. The 9 synth engines are more than enough to keep you busy a long time. A polyphonic MS-20 :D Any form of wavesequencing can keep you busy for ever, heheh.
In the end, it's all about personal preference for sound. The OASYS never impressed me, unfortunately; at least the sound engine didn't.

The "nice" thing about Kronos for me (which is not a deal breaker) is the ability to change sound smoothly. Other manufacturers should start follow suit. Currently, only digital/stage pianos does that smoothly. Synthesizers and workstations, due to switching between sound engines and not just patches, always has a "cut-off" when switching. Other than that, I'm sure it's going to be expensive seeing that they are putting in an SSD in it! That's the way to go if they want to have huge realistic samples (piano esp) in it. Not surprising Korg is coming up with new sound engines to catch up with acoustic electromechanical sounds - they are way behind Yamaha and Roland (who already released their new CP series pianos/e-pianos and the SuperNatural sounds/V-piano quite some time ago). Korg is fine in the area of electronic sounds.

For the Motif XF, the groundbreaking technology is really the Flash drive - which is going to be a common thing in all Yamaha's keyboards, I believe. The Tyros 4 was the first to come up with it. Now they are adding it to all the newer keyboards. The ability to load my own samples into the keyboard and have no load time (start up and play) is very enticing.

Roland is indeed ageing. They seem to be focusing on their keybeds more than anything. Also they are adding their SuperNatural sounds to most of their new products.

The technology of keyboards are reaching a plateau. There's hardly anything else to improve on. The sound can only improve that much. Same with DAW technology. There's hardly anything new. The next groundbreaking thing will be complete integration of DAW into keyboard - and make it cheap enough for the consumers, not like NEKO which cost an arm and a leg. Only then can the capacity of the keyboard expand. The end of RAM limitation. That's where workstations should aim for. Add a VGA port and the keyboard hooks up to a monitor for easier mixing/sequencing. The issue with this is boot time and OS. We want zero boot time. And OS - well, we're somewhat stuck. Using Mac OSX and Windows are limiting. But if we have a new platform designed just for keyboards, will the DAW players (Logic, Cubase, Sonar, Protools, etc) go for it? Unlikely. Back to square one...
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I thought the Fantom G or the Kurzweil's had that patch transition feature? I could be wrong, but one of them out there already had it, if I remember correctly. Korg can never get their guitars right compared to the Motif. Though the String Modelling Synthesis should help get some great plucked sounds.
Maybe Roland will have something for Musikmesse.
Well once everything goes pure 64-bit, plugin technology could move ahead with no memory limitations. While things get bigger and bigger, I have my eyes set on the Teenage Engineering OP-1 :D
Having played a NEKO, i felt it wasn't even innovative enough.

I'd like to see how far they push the limits of the touchscreen tablets this year! And I mean REAL power!
You may be right about the Fantom G.

I think Roland's contribution to the keyboard industry ss the Audiokey feature. I wonder why the others didn't follow suit. As for tablets, this year's NAMM is all about iPads. It's iPads galore. Tablets are good, but the lack of tactile feel is a minus. Cool nevertheless.

For the NEKO, there's hardly any innovation. The innovation today lies in plugins and VSTs. We really need to get these into keyboards. NEKO and Muse Receptor just don't cut it. But it's not surprising. PC tech upgrades all the time. Perhaps the key is to have a modular keyboard - modular in the sense that I can change the "mobo, CPU" etc in it. Sounds like it's faster to built one ourselves than wait for it to happen! Like Eric Persing!
I think tablet is going to the next wave of computing. Seeming many music product developement into iOS4. We may see a different landscape of computering. For people looking alternative, there is Android. Also the mobile version of Window 7. Also this year, I think the tablet is going to see dual CPU and dual GPU.
Regarding the Kronos, I think it contains same features as recent workstations. The only difference is the 9 synth engines. But isn't this feature only subdivided the patch library into different categories with different platforms to edit or create one? For me, as owner of a G6, I find that there is nothing that new to Kronos for me to grab one.
No. Different types of sounds are generated by different algorithms. The 9 engines simply means that there are dedicated algorithms to generate different sounds. This is better, since certain engines develop certain sounds better. For example, you don't want an FM engine to create a piano sound. Yamaha, for example, uses FM, AWM, AWM2 and now SCM (for their new piano sounds). 9 engines does sound stretching it a little - I really wonder what really goes on underneath the hood. You really need 3-4 good engines and very good raw wav. On the digital side, the sound is only as good as the raw wave sampled. Which is why I've always have problem with Yamaha's AWM2, and which is also why Roland acoustic sound is better.
That's the question! So much hype about the OASYS, and when I finally got my hands (or fingers) on it, I was disappointed.
Korg promised future updates for OASYS but when I go to the website, only 1-2 updates on programs and patches.

Looks like Korg is more keen to release newer engines and synths.

David Tao's keyboardist, Goh Khen Long used a OASYS in the NYE shows.

Last seen was OASYS sold for S$6000++ at CItymusic
And of course, like all good marketing, Korg very wisely got Jordan Rudess to "sell" their Kronos.

What about this keyboard from Radikal Technologies - the Accelerator. On first look, it's another of those digital subtractive synth - until the guy who demoed it change the sound by MOVING the synth! I can imagine it's fairly light for him to do that. I wonder what it will sound like when playing with it spinning round and round!!!! Haha!!
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Heh, they need to get Rudess on the Accelerator, with his 360-degree swivelling/tilting keyboard stand. Or they should make it a keytar