When we heard Moog would be showing its new Sub Phatty analog synthesizer at the winter NAMM 2013 show last month, we put their booth at the top of our priority list. With a name like Sub Phatty, how could we not dash right over to turn the knobs and make those awesomely signature otherworldly sounds only Moog can produce?
Our helpful Moog booth rep walked us through our very first hands-on experience with a Moog and explained what makes the Sub Phatty special. First, about that name: Sub is for its sub oscillator that, for those in the know, outputs a square wave one octave below the main oscillator. For the rest of us, that just means the Sub Phatty is capable of producing deep bass frequencies. Phatty refers to its soft-touch brushed aluminum side panels.
Moog touts the Sub Phatty as “the grittiest Moog synth ever” thanks to Moog’s Multidrive circuit technology that creates a plethora of colorful and varied sonic distortion. The Sub Phatty was described to us as fast and powerful with 100% analog sound and a digital function to save settings and presets. It sports two main oscillators, 25 semi-weighted monophonic keys–so no chords, folks–and gets going with almost no warm-up time. MIDI connectivity is there, of course, and the Sub Phatty will connect with other devices compatible with its control voltage/keyboard gate connectivity.
Our test run on the Sub Phatty was a blast. We struck the keys, turned knobs, wiggled the modulation wheels and were rewarded with one awesome, growling, whooshing howl after another. We are hardly Moog aficionados but we loved it and had to tear ourselves away.
The luxury SUV market is saturated with good product. Big behemoths filled with leather, wood, fancy entertainment systems and big engines that whisk you down the road with very little fanfare.
So how do you make your product stand out among the crowd? Add a bit more polish, little more leather, more horsepower? That works, but what works even better is to make the overall package feel so integrated and satisfying that, well, just works.
That’s what Infiniti has done with the JX35. It also helps that it doesn’t look like anything else.
That may be the most controversial element of the JX35 – the styling. Some have scoffed at its crossover looks. The JX is slimmer than most SUVs and looks a bit longer. It’s not quite mini van proportions but certainly not a wide body. Well, it is technically a crossover, sitting on a modified Nissan Murano platform.
It certainly is roomy. The JX seats seven comfortably. The middle and rear row of seats recline. The second row will recline an impressive six inches. Getting in the rear is easier than most vehicles of this type and the room is good for medium to tall folks.
The interior is lavish, especially if you doll the thing up with almost every option. The pillowy leather seats are comfy and can be heated and cooled in front and middle. The front seats feel great and give you a great view. The dash is modern and appealing with some touches from the M sedan. The video screens in the front headrests are not only cool, but the picture is really sharp.
There is a lot more to be desired in the JX. Wood, leather and metal are used in such an artistic manner that it nearly puts other Infiniti’s to shame. There is much standard equipment but options will give you nearly the kitchen sink.
Some may be disappointed with the JX’s performance. The engine is a a 3.5-liter V6 which produces 265 and 248 pounds-feet of torque. That is enough to get the slippery vehicle to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. There are plenty of V8 powered vehicles that can zip past the JX but it will at least get better fuel economy while getting beaten. I didn’t find the performance sluggish, but the continuously variable transmission wasn’t perfect. It could be set to react like a regular gearbox but a genuine 7-speed transmission would be neat.
The JX’s handling abilities were OK, but it’s ride quality was exceptional. There is a slight trade off – it could handle better if the suspension wasn’t so soft – but for me it feels right. I like being carried about in limo style sometimes.
Once past the middling performance you have to deal with the options. They are plentiful, but vexing. Some packages require other packages, which may not be compatible with the package you really want. Warning: Once you experience this thing nearly optioned out, it will be hard to want something less. Try a couple of vehicles with lesser equipment before going for the top dog.
One of the more interesting options is lane departure warning and prevention. Just as a number of vehicles this feature warns if you cross over into the next lane. Unlike other vehicles the JX will apply the brakes. It does the same in the blind spot warning and intervention option. If it senses a car (or person, I think) while backing up you get a warning and the brakes.
My vehicle had five packages (technology, theatre, deluxe touring, premium and tow) and roof rails which totaled nearly $14,000.
My $40,450 vehicle mushroomed to $54,700 which included destination.
Yes, that’s on the expensive side but your money will be well spent. This is a rolling tour de force of technology and luxury that will please the seven folks you carry beyond words.
Casio made waves at the NAMM 2013 show last month with the debut of its Privia Pro PX-5S, the latest addition to its popular Privia line. To mark the occasion, venerable pianist and composer Joe Sample swung by the Casio press event to show off the new keyboard.
The PX-5S is the first electronic stage piano in Casio’s Privia Pro lineup. It is also loaded with synth functionality and boasts the company’s AiR sound source, which Casio promises delivers top-of-the-line, realistic grand piano sound. But all that technology won’t weigh you down–the keyboard is quite the featherweight, with the full 88-key hammer-action model coming in at just 24lbs.
Other features include tone editing, insert effects, MIDI controller capabilities, 256-note polyphony, four configurable controllable zones, Hex Layer tones, four programmable arpeggiators and multitrack phrase sequencing and newly developed electric piano, harpsichord and clavichord sounds.
“The PS-5S is the most sonically diverse instrument Casio has ever built,” said Mike Martin, general manager of marketing for Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments division. He demonstrated the many functions and features built into the PX-5S before inviting Joe Sample to give the crowd a taste of what the PX-5S could do beneath the hands of its target market: the professional musician.
We asked Sample what he thought of the PX-5S. “What I really like is just the way it responds to my playing,” he said, giving high marks to its weighted keys, sound quality and sensitivity.
The Privia Pro PX-5S retails for $1299 and will hit music stores April 2013.
Moforte showcased its new Power Chord iPad guitar app at last month’s winter NAMM 2013 show. Power Chord essentially turns your iPad into an electric guitar, with plenty of satisfying bells and whistles.
We stopped by the Moforte booth and had a go with Power Chord. A virtual set of strings over an electric guitar pickup is displayed on the screen, along with a few controls and inputs. After a brief tutorial from the Moforte booth rep we ran a finger across the face of the iPad and while it took a minute to adjust to “playing” guitar on the iPad’s smooth, glossy surface rather than strumming along a set of grippy strings, we took to it quickly.
Bend the iPad to and fro and the notes just played will squeal and cry wah-pedal and tremolo style. It kind of made us feel like Jimi Hendrix. We were entertained.
Moforte describes Power Chord as a “highly interactive mobile/tablet guitar that everyone can pay and thrash.” The app does not use sound samples and instead recreates the physics of an electric guitar. Feedback and distortion are modeled to respond and sound like they would on a real guitar. Our booth rep told us learning is easy with Power Chord because the hard part–fretting chords–is removed. Power Chord lets the user lock in a chord and strum away. Other features include:
Strumming and power chord modes
A selection of models for popular types of electric guitars
Modeled guitar articulations including harmonics, pinch harmonics, slides, arpeggios, glissando, string scraping, damping and auto-strum
Fully programmable effects chain, including distortion, compression, wah, 4-band EQ, phaser, flanger, reverb and amplifier
Authoring tools for song creation – handles custom chords and presets.
Power Chord also lets you record and share your song creations online. The app itself is free and through it you can purchase licensed songs, effects and upgrades. Power Chord will be available this spring.
Pete Townshend, renowned songwriter and sometimes notorious guitarist for rock band The Who, received the Les Paul Award at the 28th annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards Friday, January 25, in Anaheim, California.
The Les Paul award honors musicians who have made significant technological achievements during their careers. Townshend, whose work in audio production and technology earned him the night’s recognition, joins a long list of previous winners including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, Neil Young and The Band‘s Robbie Robertson.
Among Townshend’s most notable achievements is his influential role in the development of the Marshall 100-watt amplifier stack. During the 1960s and early in his career with The Who, Townshend wanted a loud and imposing backline of amplifiers and pushed Marshall to develop a stack of amps that met his precise specifications. Eventually the Marshall stack was born.
Townshend has a reputation for historically and enthusiastically embracing new technology. In 1971 he wrote “Lifehouse,” a futuristic musical rock opera that evolved into The Who’s “Who’s Next” album. In it he envisioned the “Grid,” a mainframe that emulates the Internet we know today. In the years that followed Townshend continued creating projects based off the “Lifehouse” theme and 2007 released online software called “The Lifehouse Method,” via which the user could create a musical portrait by entering data into its website.
Townshend expressed gratitude and appreciation for the technological community in his acceptance speech. He noted when he started he had only a tape machine and the desire to make music “but out on the road now with an iPad a few bits and pieces I’m capable with those things as well.
“In every hope that I ever had for a device that would do something that I wanted to do, you fabulous people made it for me…I’m so hip to what you guys do, hip to the amount of time that you spend, and as a musician and as a composer, I sincerely want to thank you!” he said.
Yamaha celebrated its 125th anniversary in style–with Elton John headlining a star-studded concert at the 2013 Winter NAMM Show Friday, January 25th at Disneyland’s Hyperion Theater in Anaheim, California. Chaka Kahn, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael McDonald, Sarah McLachlan, Toto and many others also performed.
This historic event was particularly remarkable thanks to its innovative marriage of music and technology. As John performed on a Yamaha Disklavier accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra, each of his keystrokes was simultaneously recreated on three remote Disklaviers around the country. Yamaha used its DisklavierTV™ technology, powered by RemoteLive™, to transmit John’s keystrokes to the remote Disklaviers and to stream video of the performance live over the Internet.
AllDayTech stopped by the bustling Yamaha booth during the NAMM show to get the goods on this historic event. The idea of a trio of keyboards across the U.S. striking the very notes Elton John was playing at the exact time he played them was cool but what was their goal?
We think it holds great educational potential and the folks at Yamaha agree. Booth reps told us they believe the ability to share note-for-note performances creates myriad teaching opportunities, including the ability for tech-savvy teachers to hold global master classes for students studying the same instrument.
“Our goal is to keep on innovating,” our booth rep told us when asked about the company’s overall vision for the future. Progress in the digital space is top priority for the company, which boasts an expansive product line that spans the gamut from a complete range of traditional musical instruments to mobile and web apps.
Below is a little information Yamaha provided in its press release about its history and its 125th anniversary celebration:
“Yamaha’s history dates to 1887, when medical equipment technician Torakusu Yamaha took on the task of repairing a reed organ. After studying the instrument, he decided to build one of his own and his success led the company to manufacture grand pianos, which remain Yamaha’s flagship product. To commemorate the anniversary, Yamaha will showcase some of the iconic instruments from its past, including a pre-1900’s reed organ, turn of the century pianos and the DX7, the first affordable synthesizer that had a major impact on music in the 1980’s, along with guitars, mixing boards and other important items from the company’s archives.”
We confess: We’re fans of Olympus’s handy little LS series recorders. We shopped around back when we in the market and found the features, function and crisp sound quality of our LS-10 PCM recorder more than satisfy, especially given its wallet-friendly cost. So when we spotted the Olympus booth at NAMM 2013, we beelined right over to see what was new.
The Olympus LS series is designed for consumers who require high-end sound reproduction at reasonable prices. Musicians, journalists, naturalists who need to record the delicate sounds of a babbling brook–Olympus is looking at you. These recorders are renowned for how well they capture sound. We use ours primarily for recording our own music performance and practice sessions and couldn’t be more impressed. The sound is consistently super clean, sharp and easily demo worthy. Their latest lineup lets you take your pick based on your needs and your budget. So what’s new?
LS-12 PCM recorder
The least expensive in the line at $149.99 retail, the LS-12 is designed for ease of use at a sensible price point. Record 50 continuous hours on one set of batteries. Select smart, manual or quick recording levels by simply turning a dial on the face of the device–there’s no need to scroll through the menu to find these settings. Overdub, a metronome and a chromatic tuner functions are also built in. The LS-12 has 2GB of built-in memory and accommodates SDHC cards up to 32GB.
LS-14 PCM recorder
Next up at $199.99 retail is the LS-14, which offers the same features as its little brother LS-12, plus 24 bit/96kHz recording quality Olympus promises exceeds that of CDs. Recordings on the LS-12 and LS-14 can be played back at speeds from 50% slower than normal to 300% faster–handy when you need to skip ahead or study each sound or note in greater detail. The LS-14 has 4GB of built-in memory and accommodates SDHC cards up to 32GB. It also comes with its own case and stand clip.
LS-100 Multi-Track Linear recorder
The LS-100 is the newest and most robust of the LS series recorders. It isn’t cheap at $399.99 retail and it’s considerably heftier and bigger than its little brothers. It is also different league of recorder designed for musicians who want to do a lot on a single device. The LS-100 allows multi-tracking, which means musicians can record, mix and edit recordings right on its color LCD screen. Olympus states the LS-100 also boasts its best and most advanced microphones, which they tout produce less noise and can capture even extremely loud performances with minimal loss of clarity. A built-in sound balancing function called Lissajous detects and minimizes phase difference between the two mics.
Naturally, we really like the LS-100 because everyone knows studio-quality anything is sexy. But size matters. The LS-100 may be seductive but it is also a husky, highly specialized device that will cost the average musician a few pennies more than its lesser but still extremely capable LS varieties. If you’re in the market, it’s worth taking a very close look at all three models and seriously considering which will best fit your needs.