Arturia MatrixBrute Analog Synthesizer

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The Arturia MatrixBrute is simply a synth powerhouse..features 3x Osc, 2x LFO, 3x EG, 2x filter, effects, sequencer and that programming matrix. The hardware quality is really impressive and the Arturia MatrixBrute Analog Synthesizer is an imposing and unique looking machine, designed by industrial design guru Axel Hartmann.

The 4-octave velocity and aftertouch enabled semi-weighted keybed has a high-quality feel with a positive action that beds out softly, yet can be played fast. The aftertouch response is also spot on. The MatrixBrute features three modes; Preset lets you use the 256 buttons as patch select buttons for the 256 writable preset slots and Mod mode lets you set modulation routings – simply pick from the 16 sources on the left and select a destination at the top; set up to 16 destinations per source. There are also four user modulation slots that can be set by holding any user mod-slot button and moving a front panel control to assign. Seq mode turns the MatrixBrute into a 64-step sequencer – add steps manually or record on the fly. You can then add accents, glides and modulation per-step. The sequencer sends/receives CV/Gate and MIDI. Sequencer modes include swing, variable gate, forwards, backwards, forwards/ backwards and random. Filter 1 is a diode-base Steiner filter which has LP/HP/BP and notch modes and 2/4-pole slopes. Filter 2 retains low-end at high resonance settings and it also has LP/HP/BP modes and 2/4-pole slopes.

Besides the matrix,  Legato, Glide, Legato-Glide, Mono, Duo/Split and 3-note Paraphonic modes are also available and you can play standard leads but also 3-note chords with envelope articulation. Plus in Duo/Split mode you can run the arpeggiator to the left of the user-definable split-point and a lead to the right. On modulation, VCO1 can be modulated by VCO2, VCO3 can modulate 1 or 2, VCO3 can modulate VCF1 or 2 and noise can modulate VCO1 or VCF1. There are three envelopes;- Env1 goes to the filter(s), 2 to the VCA and 3 is freely assignable via the matrix. The three LFOs go nicely fast into audio range/overdrive and are all MIDI-syncable. To top it all, the five unique modulatable bucket-brigade delay-based analogue effects sound wonderful when blended with the VCOs; – mono/stereo delays, chorus, flanger and reverb.

Arturia have really made something special here. The Arturia MatrixBrute is most well-featured analog monosynth. It is rock-solid, capable of a genuinely mind-blowing array of sounds and it is very versatile.

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Dave Smith Instruments PROPHET REV2

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The new Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 is the enhance version of the original Prophet ’08 and, in many cases, double its power. The Prophet Rev2 Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer features 61-key 16-voice  with Per-voice Dual DCOs, Sub-oscillator, and 2/4-pole, lowpass, resonant Curtis Filters; Bi-timbral Operation, Waveshape Modulation, Onboard FX Engine, Polyphonic Step Sequencer, Aftertouch, OLED Display, and USB.

The Prophet Rev2’s 5-octave keyboard is semi-weighted and supports velocity and channel aftertouch. Perhaps, the biggest change the Prophet Rev2 has is that you now get double the polyphony – 16 voices instead of 8. In addition, because the Prophet Rev2 is bi-timbral, independent voices can be stacked or split into different zones on the keyboard. The synth engine offers two DCOs per voice; include a sub-octave generator on oscillator 1, with four waveshapes; sawtooth, triangle, sawtooth + triangle, and pulse, a 2/4 pole, low-pass, resonant Curtis filter per voice.

New to Prophet Rev2 is waveshape modulation; you can vary the pulse width of any of the four waveforms by manually dialing in a desired waveshape width or by using an LFO or other modulation source. The polyphonic step sequencer is also new; up to 64 steps and up to 6 notes per step but, again, different sequences can be created for each layer. There is also a gate sequencer and an arpeggiator.

The effects section comprises reverb, delays; standard and BBD, chorus, phase shifter, ring modulation and distortion. You can actually apply a different effect to each layer, and effect parameters can be modulated using the expanded modulation matrix. There is also USB support and an OLED display. Dave Smith Instruments’ Prophet Rev2 is another killer synth and is at an amazing value, and would be available soonest by April.

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Roland RD-2000

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The Roland RD-2000 88-keys Digital Stage Piano features Dual Sound Engines, PHA-50 Progressive Hammer-action Keybed, Advanced Controller Functionality, and Onboard 24-bit/192kHz USB audio/MIDI Interface.

The RD-2000 is Roland’s most powerful stage piano. There are two sound engines; the first handles the acoustic piano, which is said to incorporate Roland’s latest V-Piano technologies, and while the second powers an electric piano library that includes classic EPs from the 1970s, plus all-new recreations of the Roland RD-1000 and MKS-20 from the 1980s. The versatile RD-2000 includes more than 1,100 ensemble sounds that cover multiple musical styles with just one keyboard. With the 88-note PHA-50 progressive hammer-action keyboard to play these sounds on, this features hybrid keys are constructed of both wood and molded materials. There are also “extensive” controller features on the newly-designed interface.

There is a USB audio/MIDI interface built in, so you can integrate computer-based software instruments into your performances. In addition, users can control them with zones along with the internal sounds, and route their audio through the RD-2000. The interface supports 24-bit audio at rates up to 192 kHz, allowing you to access your highest quality sounds. The main stereo outs are on XLR and 1/4-inch jacks, and there is also an assignable stereo sub output.

While the Roland RD-2000’s feature upgrades are significant, its weight 21.7 kg has not changed from the previous RD generation. It is still easy to transport from gig to gig, and the aluminium body is both handsome and extremely durable. The portable Roland RD-2000 would be available in April 2017.

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M-Audio CTRL 49

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The M-Audio CTRL 49 is a next generation Controller keyboard which boasts the revolutionary ability to load, play and control any VST from a stunning color screen, as if the CTRL 49 is a fully-fledged Synthesizer with the ability to emulate any synth in your arsenal!

The M-Audio CTRL 49 is part MIDI keyboard and controller, part DAW controller and part virtual instrument controller. The CTRL 49 comprises a 49-key semi-weighted synth action keyboard with pitch-bend and modulation, together with a top panel featuring four main sections.

On the left are nine faders and 11 colored backlit fader buttons that use Mackie Control/HUI protocol for DAW control. On the right are eight rotary encoders, eight backlit switches and eight pressure and velocity sensitive backlit pads (with four pad banks), and these controls can transmit either regular MIDI CC data or be used for bespoke instrument editing.

VIP not only hosts VST instruments but also the VST effect you apply. To map individual instruments and effects VIP includes its own VST plug-in manager, and this does a full scan when you first load VIP. Once complete you get access to all your instruments and effects from inside VIP, including editing of controller assignments and direct editing of your plug-ins using their interfaces.

Over on the CTRL49 when you select Control mode you will find your instrument parameters auto-mapped across four banks of eight rotary controllers and buttons. Via the CTRL49 display you can also edit the assignments as well as page through and select plug-in and instrument presets. It all works really well, and if you want to come out of VIP Control mode and use the CTRL49 as a regular MIDI controller, you simply select MIDI mode. In addition, there is an additional software package included as well.

With that incredible screen as its flagship feature, and the ability to integrate with your soft synths and DAW, the M-Audio CTRL 49 Controller keyboard is a major triumph and the perfect hub of your studio!
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Korg ARP ODYSSEY FS Duophonic Synthesizer

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The ARP Odyssey is back. Again, but this time, it is  all grown up.. the Limited Edition, full size ARP Odyssey FS. The full-sized Korg ARP Odyssey FS feature a standard keyboard, a completely analog signal path. There are 3 designs to choose from Rev1, Rev2 or Rev3 – each with all three classic filters included:

Just like the original, Odyssey is a two-oscillator beast featuring saw and pulse waveforms, sync, FM and PWM, plus a noise generator. Two filters are onboard – high-pass and resonant low-pass, the second switchable between models of all three Revisions – and modulation options consist of an LFO, two envelopes, and sample + hold.

Unlike the duophonic hardware, Odyssey can be switched between monophonic, duophonic and polyphonic modes, with up to eight voices of unison. Further departures from physical reality include a 16-step arpeggiator, a bank of six effects; Distortion, Phaser, Chorus/Flanger/Ensemble, EQ, Delay and Reverb, and a pair of X/Y pads for real-time manual manipulation of two parameters each from an extensive list.

Ultimately, it is the sound that counts. Odyssey superb sound, doing a stellar job of recreating those famously edgy oscillators and that razor sharp low-pass filter.

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