There’s been an end-of-year deluge of new music gear. Arturia has announced the availability of Analog Factory 2.0 as a fairly speedy follow-up to the original package. There are 3500 sounds coming from the Minimoog V, Moog Modular, CS-80V, ARP 2600 V, Prophet V, Prophet VS and Jupiter-8V synths — the original version contained 2000 sounds. Virtual synth libraries like this are a better choice than a sample library if you want to tweak the parameters of the sounds in detail. Available now for $329 from Musiclink (03 9765 6565).
To play a virtual synth you need a keyboard and one of the newer compact options is the ESI KeyControl 25. It’s a standard USB powered MIDI keyboard that has pitch bend, modulation and data wheels, eight knobs, eight encoders and 20 buttons which can all be assigned to functions within your software of choice. For standalone MIDI use there’s an external power adapter supplied and a sustain pedal can be connected. $299 is the price, contact Sound-Music for details (03 9555 8081).
A more rounded-out keyboard is the Akai MPK49. It’s a 49-key controller with full size, semi-weighted keys and an LCD display. There are twelve velocity and pressure sensitive MPC drum pads and an arpeggiator that can be controlled in real time — great for live performance or recording of genres like hip-hop and R&B. It has 76 assignable controls including inputs for expression pedal, footswitch, pitch bend and modulation wheels. A Lite version of Ableton Live is thrown in that includes 28 Akai-specific presets to get you rolling. The MPK49 is funky looking to boot so $899 buys you a sexy piece of USB gear. Contact Electric Factory on 03 9480 5988.
If you’re a budding podcaster, you’ll know the challenges in getting a clean recording of your vocal. The Mic Thing is a product that offers some promise in that regard – it’s a portable, customisable acoustic treatment panel that provides some simple microphone isolation. It’s basically a foam panel in a steel frame with adjustable wings and easy attachment to any microphone stand up to 25mm in diameter. If you’ve invested in a good quality microphone, this is the obvious next step. For an upcoming AMW Weekend Edition podcast I’ll put The Mic Thing through its paces. Sound-Music distributes The Mic Thing and it’ll cost you $299.