Korg debuted the RK-100S synth for the 30th anniversary of the original RK-100. Back in 1984 haircuts were questionable and music was diverse, keyboard players sat behind their hug rigs and could only dream of joining guitarists and bassists at the front of the stage to strut their stuff but, the Korg RK-100 remote keyboard broke the chains of keyboardists, setting them free to perform as they liked.
Housed in a stylish, solid wood body, the battery-powered RK-100S offers a number of additional updates from the original model. Equipped with a full palette of keyboard sounds from the built-in microKORG XL+ engine, it enables users to perform in a wide variety of music genres wherever inspiration may strike. It also functions as a USB/MIDI controller, as well as a vocoder.
There are 200 programs available in the onboard MMT sound generation system, including a broad range of oscillator algorithms such as the characteristic sawtooth and square waves found in analog synthesizers, plus formant waveforms, noise, and classic PCM/DWGS waveforms.
In addition to the 37-note slim keyboard (as featured on the Korg MS-20 Mini), a short ribbon controller on the neck and a long ribbon controller in front of the key bed are included for controlling parameters such as pitch and filter. The long ribbon runs the entire length of the key bed and can also be used to play scales over three octaves. Also included is a built-in Arpeggiator, with six arpeggios available. Notes in the Arpeggiator can be individually switched on/off, for even more rhythmic variation.
The RK-100S comes equipped with a vocoder function that lets players use their voice, via the optional headset mic, to process the sound of the oscillator.
The Korg RK-100S synth runs on six AA batteries or the optional AD adaptor and is available in a choice of three colors: red, white and black. And would be available June 2014,
The Arturia MicroBrute has a two octave mini-size keyboard and a footprint that is about half the size of the MiniBrute. Nevertheless it is still playable enough to do the job. The MicroBrute pumps out some of the most beastly sounds you’ll ever hear. It gets a lot better once you peruse the control panel, which is filled with high quality knobs, sliders and switches that are big and firm enough to redress the quality balance.
This is an analog monosynth so that means it can only play one note at a time, and that means no chords. However, there is a control to add a “fifth” note or a duplicate note one octave down. Everything on the front panel is directly connected to the circuits that make the sound, so every control is live. While it has the classic look of a Roland SH-101, MicroBrute is keen to assert its own character and style and it is a synth that begs to be pushed beyond the normal limits. Such as in the filter section there is a control called Brute Factor. This adds a kind of low frequency feedback loop into the signal which has the effect of overloading the sound with a deep, growling rumble.
On the MiniBrute the Pulse Width and Metalizer amount have independent envelope modulation parameters as well as their own depth controls in the LFO section. However, the MicroBrute does add the very neat Mod Matrix panel, which allows you to patch the envelope and LFO depth to different locations using the 3.5mm mini-jacks.
Another fabulous feature is the flexible sequencer section. It is very basic but that also makes it easy to use. Crank the dial to select one of the eight memory slots, switch into Record mode, and then tap out the notes your sequence on the keyboard, using the Rest button to insert steps without a note. Flick it into Play mode, hold down a key and your sequence will be played back at whatever tempo you have selected. You can get more from the sequencer, such as triggering the sequence with different keys and jumping up and down the octaves.
The Arturia MicroBrute has many connectivity options. 100% analog signal path. A fine-sounding and flexible synth in a small, but highly useable package. The Arturia MicroBrute is the perfect introduction for anyone who has never tweaked a real hardware synth.
The Novation LaunchKey Mini is a 25 key mini-keyboard controller for iPad, Mac and PC with 16 x Tricolor Performance Pads and 8 x Ptogrammable Knobs, Dedicated Navigation and Control Buttons in a compact case. LaunchKey Mini is bundled with Ableton Live Lite, V-Station, Launchpad / Launchkey apps and the Bass Station soft synth.
The Novation Launchkey Mini packs more functionality than just about any other keyboard you can get your hands on. A set of 25 synth-action keys gives you two octaves to play with at a time, and you can use the 16 tricolor pads to trigger loops, launch samples, tap out drums, or even play instruments. Navigation controls provide advanced integration with Ableton Live, but you can Use your Launchkey Mini with just about any DAW on your Mac or PC. What is more, special iPad apps make it easy to create music on the go with your Novation Launchkey Mini!
The Launchkey Mini’s track-left/right buttons can be used to alternate between the apps, and when Launchkey Mini and Launchpad Mini are running, they are kept perfectly in sync, allowing the user to trigger loops and play the arpeggiator at once. Furthermore, its functionality goes a little deeper with the introduction of Novation’s “InControl” technology, which seems to be a greatly slimmed-down version of the “Automap” ability from the company’s larger SL MkII series of controllers. “InControl” allows the user to alternate between sending standard MIDI messages and a customized template i.e, the pads can be used to trigger various percussion sounds in the MIDI mode, and then once “InControl” is turned on, they can be assigned to enabling or disabling selected effects, used as solo or mute buttons, or perform any other useful functions.
The Korg MS-20 Mini resemble its predecessor Korg MS-20, originally realeased in 1978. The MS-20 is a fully analogue, dual oscillator monophonic synthesizer with two envelope generators, high and low pass filters, a modulation generator with frequency, high pass filter and low pass filter modulation. Its three octave keyboard came housed in a distinctive upright case featuring a versatile patch bay for extended modulation, CV implementation and external signal processing making it possible to affect any audio source using the famous filters or even allow a guitar to trigger the synth.
But for many, to what extend the MS-20 Mini resemble its predecessor. First and foremost, the components in the original synth are now the best part of 35 years old, something that will affect the overall character of the sound. Apparently, the new synth is a little more extreme sounding and that the filter peak plays with the sound at a slightly different point than the original. If you compare the wave forms of both machines under an oscilloscope then you will find a slight difference but to all intents and purposes Korg have come up with as close a replica, in terms of sound, as anyone is likely to manage.
There are however some noticeable differences. The new synth is a whole 14% smaller in size than its predecessor, and that includes the keyboard. The keys are halfway between the mini keys found on the microKorg series and full size keys, specially designed for MS-20 Mini. There is now MIDI in as well as USB connectivity, and instead of 1/4″ TRS jack inputs. The MS-20 mini uses standard mini jack sized cables (3.5mm) for the patch bay, headphone out and main outputs, which is in line with the overall scaled down design. The endless possibilities offered by the addition of a patch bay will help keep both sound design novices and veterans occupied for years without getting bored. The two oscillators differ slightly as VCO1 scales from 32′ to 4′ whilst VCO2 is slightly higher at between 16′ and 2′. VCO1 gives you the choice of triangle, sawtooth, pulse width square and white noise with adjustable pulse width control. VCO2 gives you sawtooth, square, pulse and ring modulator with an independent pitch tuning control.
The Korg MS-20 Mini is relatively simple to create a gritty sound that does not want to be softened. The MS-20 mini has the ability to keep up with every edgy idea that you can imagine and is a lot of fun to use in the process. A faithful resurrection of the MS-20 , at a good price. Everyone should possess one!
The Roland RD-64 Digital Piano is a pro-spec stage piano with 64-note weighted-action keys. With 64 note Ivory Feel-G keyboard action, SuperNATURAL Piano engine for authentic, playable acoustic piano sounds and more SuperNATURAL-based vintage EPs, plus essential clav and organ tones, the Roland RD-64 is also a flexible MIDI master keyboard, with one-touch setup that unlocks the SuperNATURAL sound potential when used with the INTEGRA-7 sound module or JUPITER-80/-50 synths.
The key action “Ivory Feel G”, a substantial weighted-action with a textured key surface. The default touch response curve is very dynamic, and allows zero-velocity “silent” notes, like you would find when playing an acoustic grand. Acoustic and electric pianos both benefit from Roland’s “SuperNatural” technology, which is the most current and expertly programmed sounds Roland has available to put into various products. The acoustic piano category has three tones – concert piano, bright piano, and concert mono, and all are derived from the piano sample set. Electric pianos include two Rhodes sounds (tine) and one Wurly (reed), and there are also three Clav settings and three drawbar organ settings. The organs are useful as they include a properly-triggering harmomic percussion and adjustable two-speed rotary effect. The Cons – Roland RD-64 will only recognize an expression pedal when it is in MIDI controller mode; which disables the internal sound, it would be nice to use one with the onboard organ tones.
For a gigging pianist, it is wonderful to see an instrument that balances practicality and power. The Roland RD-64 Digital Piano weighs in at just over 28 pounds. If you need to go ultra-compact while retaining weighted action and high-end piano sounds, the RD-64 just might be perfect for you.