Here are the top three products that I’ve discovered at NAMM 2014 to be definite purchases in 2014. By no means are they the top 3 products at NAMM 2014, but for me they align with my interests perfectly. Note that NAMM isn’t over yet and there still may be some additional gems to be announced. I wanted to do a top 5 list, but I really could only find three products that I realistically would actually buy. I think all three products I chose will fit into my studio and live rig nicely. They will also integrate very well with the Analog experience that I particularly enjoy.
First up is the mighty MOOG Sub 37.
Yes, I already have the Sub Phatty and absolutely love it. It may be a tiny bit redundant having the Sub 37, but there are a lot of reasons to upgrade to this beauty. It’s a 20 minute video, but check it out if you haven’t about the MOOG Sub 37. The price above all else is what’s fantastic though. MOOGS are expensive in general, and I find the Sub 37 for all you get will be at a pretty affordable MOOG analog synth.
Moog Sub 37 Preview from Sonic State.
Next up is the Arturia Beat Step.
This to me is one of the products where you scratch your head and wonder why none of the other big companies like Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Akai, etc. came up with this idea. The Arturia Beat Step controller is perfect to me. With USB Out, MIDI Out, CV Out, it’s a no brainer. It has a step sequencer, pads, knobs that send controller data ( hopefully sysex as well ). It’s built pretty well it looks like and will just be absolutely essential in the studio and on stage, especially if you’re an analog synth buff. Ok, I might be gushing a little with this product, but it’s definitely a “Gotta have one” product.
Arturia Beat Step from Sonic State
My third top product is the beautiful RK-100S in red.
I’m a big keytar fan. I think the Korg RK-100S is going to be great. I have a red RK100 and it’s one of the best controllers I’ve played. I’m originally a Gibson Les Paul slinging guitar player so the weight doesn’t bother me at all with the original RK100. In fact it’s lighter than a Les Paul it seems to me. The mini keys do seem to be a possible problem with the RK-100S but we’ll see. I’m not a big fan of mini keys and when you’re moving on stage, a bit more real estate with the keys is important to me. You have to take your eye off the ball a lot on stage so to speak.
I also have the Yamaha KX5 and the mini keys drive me nuts for the reason I stated above. In performance mode it’s too easy to look away and hit the wrong “mini” key…laugh. I also actually think the KX5 feels heavier than the RK100 as well but I think that’s because of the different size and weight balance. The KX5 is much much smaller too. I actually like a ketar about the size of a guitar. Not too giant looking like some of the Rolands but not too dinky like the Yamaha’s. Korg seems the closest to making it look and feel similar to a guitar. This kind of balances out the group a bit if that matters to anyone. It does to me a little. Having the keytar made from wood like the original is a HUGE plus. The creaky plastic keytars just don’t feel as good, but again I’m coming from a guitar player perspective I suppose.
The RK-100S with the ribbon controllers, tap tempo, vocoder, internal sounds, arp, etc. looks to be a possible winner and a big competitor to the Roland AX Synth. I think it’s going to be half the price as the Roland AX synth. Perhaps that might reduce the price on the Roland.
Korg RK-100S Keytar from Korg
Finally, there are other products that have peaked my interest such as the Roland AIRA products, Nord Lead A1, and a few of the Analog drum machines, but nothing that has sparked my “must buy” interest as the products mentioned above. I will say that I don’t believe anyone has hit a home run with the drum machine yet. Perhaps Roland might with their very secretive AIRA products, but I just haven’t seen anything that great. I think a lot of companies are trying to figure out the drum machine such as whether it should be analog, have sample import, etc. At home here I primarily use my trusty Yamaha RX5, Roland R5 mkii / R70, and an MPC. I sometimes use the Electribe ESX-1 which is good too. I would love to have a TR-808 and perhaps that’s why my initial interest is with the AIRA products from Roland. We’ll see what happens there.
Any disappointments??? Yes, for me there is one big disappointment and I can sum it up in one word….ROLAND. If you look at the big three in Japan, Yamaha is doing well with it’s solid Motif line and recent releases from a year ago. Korg is doing VERY well too it seems with it’s analog releases. Roland just makes me continue to buy their old analog gear and nothing new. I don’t get the Roland AIRA secretive hype. I’ve worked for several all Japanese companies in Japan over the past 20 years and I can say from my experience that this means Roland is possibly not ready and perhaps a bit not sure. I can just picture what must be going on their staff meetings…laugh. Been there and I do hope I’m wrong. I want a TR-808/TR-909!
Anyways, enjoy the rest of NAMM 2014. It’ll be exciting to see how NAMM finishes.