EXPO GEAR 2022: It means nothing if he doesn’t have that swing, and starting with the beat has been key to unlocking countless all-time classic dance tracks.
Groovebox and drum machine hardware and software put rhythm first and frequently allow you to get a fully formed rhythm section in record time.
Add smart slice and dice sampling, extra timing and swing quirks, and – sometimes – synth-like functionality to add bass, chords and melody and you’ve got something with all the immediacy of a beatbox. plus the power and controllability of a CHOUCAS.
Let’s take a look at what’s new in 22…
1. Korg Drumlogue
Are you experiencing a bit of déjà vu right now? No, your eyes and your brain are not deceiving you. You HAVE seen the Drumlogue before as it was officially announced this time last year.
However – blame the pandemic or unseen production issues – the Drumlogue has yet to appear, with Korg remaining stoically silent on its progress in stores. Which is such a shame because – given our love for other Korg “logues” – this beat-based variant was very welcome, originally appearing alongside the company. miniKorg 700FS, modwave and ARP-2600M synths, all of which have made it into production.
Promising multiple analog parts, flexible digital parts and a rich effects section, Drumlogue aims to cover a wide sonic spectrum. Additionally, you will also be able to upload your own samples and add custom third-party content via a revised Logue SDK.
Plus, we’re ready to get individual assignable outputs, a performance-friendly interface, and a deep sequencer…when it finally appears.
A price is yet to be confirmed. Watch this place.
2. Benefits of Erica Synths
Another threshing machine lost in transit? After already impressing us last year with the LXR-02 drum machine, Erica Synths caught our eye at the Superbooth show in late 2021 with its Perkons Percussion Synth.
Named after the ancient Baltic god of thunder, each of the instrument’s four voices features a digital oscillator switchable between three modes and shaped by a pair of parameter knobs.
The sounds then pass through an analog filter, switchable between lowpass, highpass and bandpass modes, and equipped with a drive control for added weight.
Beyond that, Perkons has an analog brigade self-timer and an optical compressor. There’s also a global LFO with morphable waveforms, which can be routed to one of eight vocal sound-shaping parameters.
The sequencer is where Perkons looks particularly interesting – there are four tracks to program each voice independently, each equipped with probability, multipliers and dividers, clicks and playback direction controls. The shuffle and last step settings seem tuned to add more rhythmic variety.
The plan was to release Perkons before the end of 2021, but Erica Synths has now confirmed it won’t hit that deadline, saying its plans were affected by “unforeseen circumstances from suppliers”.
The company explains that it ordered microcontrollers for Perkons on the understanding that they would be delivered in September 2021, but these will now only be available at the end of 2022. A rather significant delay, therefore.
In the meantime, Erica Synths is reworking the PCB to work with other parts that are available sooner.
The good news is that the extra development time has also allowed the company to improve Perkons’ user interface in hopes that it will make it an even better product.
Pre-orders for Perkons should open shortly, presumably at the previously announced price of $1,999/€1,650. Learn more on the Erica Synths website.
3. Twisted electron blast beats
You might not have asked for a hardware groovebox based on the sounds produced by Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards in the 90s, but that’s what you get with Twisted Electrons.
A throwback to the MS-DOS era, BlastBeats, as it’s known, is powered by a vintage FM chip called the YMF-262 (also known as OPL3). It was a hog to program at the time, so it was hard to get the most out of it, but now Twisted Electrons has harnessed its power in a 10-voice groovebox that offers six drum voices and four synth instruments.
Because all parameters are controlled using faders, you get a proper hands-on experience, and each parameter can be automated and step-modulated. There are 100 kits and the step sequencer lets you create 160 songs with 16 patterns and 64 steps (storage is on an included SD card).
You can also control the BlastBeats via MIDI and use it as a 4-operator, 8-waveform polytimbral synth. Connectivity includes quad outputs with custom instrument routing and analog sync I/O.
You can pre-order BlastBeats now for €599, with delivery expected in February. Learn more at the Twisted Electrons site.