Erik    Norlander    talks about    IK   Multimedia's                      (   new )  UNO    Synth...


In the following interview, veteran keyman Erik Norlander talks about his involvement with the design of IK Multimedia's ( new ) UNO symth ( -and tangentally about "his baby", the "Syntronik" soft-synth suite ). Read through to the end for "things to come"    ( -or at least my suggestions  for some cool products I'd love to  see Erik and IK tackle in the future ). Would you like to see these products made as well?  Weigh-in and let us know!    


Preface:

When I first learned about IK Multimedia's ( new ) UNO synth I knew I'd be writing about it in CTN. Once

I found out about it's stellar feature-set and ridiculously low price I knew it would be of great interest to every CTN reader. After all, reviewing "biggest-bang-for-your-buck" gear is what we're all about! I was even more intrigued when I came across some online videos featuring Erik Norlander talking about and demoing the

UNO. Did IK merely hire Erik to promote the UNO at these trade shows or did he in-fact have a "guiding

hand" in developing and designing the UNO? I had to find out. Ergo, this interview. 

 

*P.S:  A big heartfelt "thank you" to IK Multimedia's Leslie Buttonow ( -who tracked down Erik , got him my questions and then e-mailed back his answers ). Quite literally, this interview would NOT have been possible with out Leslie's exemplary efforts to "make it happen". As well, my thanks to Erik for taking time from a grueling trade show schedule to provide the answers you're about to read.                                                    

Getting     Involved.                                                                                                                                                                                The    back-story...


( -RIGHT  )  ERIK  ON  THE  TRADE  SHOW  CIRCUIT. 

 

Explaining IK's ( new ) UNO Synth to the music media. To Erik's right is Enrico Dell'Aversana, IK Multimedia product manager. Soundmachines  is the Italian boutique design firm that collaborated with IK on the UNO.  


Tomm Buzzetta -Creative Tech Nerds ( CTN ): How did you become involved with the Uno's development? 

 

Erik Norlander: I created a virtual instrument with IK Multimedia called Syntronik  that we released last year.    It is based on samples of my own classic synthesizer collection combined with IK's modeling of the filters from some of the most famous models like the Moog 904a, Oberheim SEM and Roland Jupiter-8. And of course it includes IK's brilliant effects from AmpliTube, T-RackS and Sample Tank, plus a few new ones like the Ensemble effect that models the chorus-phaser of the famous ARP String Ensemble and the Roland Juno-60 synth and classic Roland string machine ensemble choruses. Throughout the development of Syntronik, we talked about how cool it would be to make an actual hardware synthesizer instead of a software plug-in. With the success of Syntronik, it was clear to us that we needed to finally venture into the world of analog synthesizer hardware.

"With    the     success     of     Syntronik,   it     was     clear     to     us     that     we     needed    to     finally     venture     into     the     world     of     analog     synthesizer     hardware"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Erik     Norlander


( -RIGHT:  ERIK  NORLANDER  AT  THE  ALESIS  ANDROMEDA  )   

Session player ( -on Arjen Anthony Lucassen's "Universal Migrator, Parts

1  & 2" ), "Rocket Scientists" band member and solo artist in his own right,  Erik's fascination with old-school analog instruments has resulted  in two decades of analog-oriented albums. If you haven't already, check out our review of his "Galactic Collective Definitive Edition" CD/ DVD and his latest album "Surreal".  Tapping into Erik's extensive knowledge of vintage synths and design expertise ( -hone on such synths as Alesis' "Andromeda" ), has given IK a distinct "edge-up" in the R&D department!     BEWARE:  THE "WALL OF DOOM"! 

 

*NOTE:  The paragraph ( above ) is but a "quick snapshot" of Erik's career. For a more extensive "bio" and

discography visit Erik's Website.


The     "Uno":     Specific     features...

CTN: What specific features did you push for in the Uno? 

 

Erik Norlander: My design called for two oscillators and a noise generator through a resonant multimode filter, an all-analog audio path. Then this audio path was to be controlled by two envelopes, assigned to the filter and amplifier, respectively, along with a flexible LFO that could sync to external MIDI as well and run freely on it's own. It was critical that the envelopes had the right exponential shape to them as all of the best classic synth envelopes do, so we made sure to get that 100% right. Then add to this an arpeggiator and step sequencer. That was the vision, and in the end, that's what we got! 


SPOTLIGHT:      IK    Multimedia's    UNO    Synth                                                   Tiny     Synth    with    a    Mighty    Sound....


Okay, I'm just going to say it:  IK Multimedia's new UNO synth has the BEST feature-set of any ( $300.00 or under ) synth currently on the market! Check out all of these cool features and "sonic goodies":

* An ALL ANALOG  signal path ( -with two continuously variable wave shape VCO's  -including PWM of the square wave, a Noise Generator, a Two-Pole Multimode VCF            ( -with LP, HP and BP responses ),                                                   ( -ABOVE)  IK's UNO SYNTHESIZER 

 

* An LFO with all the usual waveforms PLUS "Sample & Hold" and "Random" ( -routable to pitch, filter, amp ), 

 

* Attack and Decay Envelopes for the Filter. Attack and Release Envelopes for the VCA ( -accessible from the front panel with the other stages accessible via MIDI CC or the unit's software editor ), 

 

* A ten-mode/ four octave Arpeggiator, 

 

* A sixteen-step ( -20 parameter automatable ) realtime/ step edit Sequencer, * Five Performance Buttons 

( -similar to those on Novation's Mininova ), * A ( 27-note) touch-sensing Chromatic/ Scale Keyboard ( -with thirteen scales ). Whew, are we done yet? Nope, not yet!

 

* A Sync Delay effect, * Self-tuning with "Auto-Tune" calibration ( -no "drifty" Oscs -yeah! ), * USB MIDI and 

2.5 mm MIDI In/ Out ( -proprietary cables included ), * A nifty Audio In "Daisy Chain" connection ( -a thought-ful accommodation for the mixer-less ), * A Mac/ PC software Editor/ Librarian ( -which I'll never touch! ),  

* Full MIDI Implementation of all Parameters, * Clock controllable via MIDI CC., 

 

And lastly, two features that make me very happy:  * Economical ( 4 x AA Battery ) or USB Powering -freeing    you from the tyranny of AC outlets! The unit's compact, lightweight Italian design ( -courtesy Soundmachines ) virtually screams: "Play me in a secluded mountain meadow next to a babbling brook". Nice stuff !  -Tomm.


(  -LEFT  )  CLOSE-UP  OF  THE  UNO's  CONTROL  PANEL. 

 

( 40 ) onboard controls, an LED display, a four-knob by four      row matrix of control parameters, extra knobs for filter cut-off,  tempo and volume, 5 performance buttons, up & down buttons for choosing from ( 100 ) presets, arpeggiator and sequencer buttons and various buttons for glide, octave, delay, global and  alt functions -along with a 27-note chromatic/ scale keyboard.           -CHOOSING  AN  UNO  PRESET               That basically sums up the UNO's front control panel. 


Why    those?

CTN:  WHY did you push for those specific features? 

 

Erik Norlander: There is nothing like a real analog synth, nothing like the sound of true free-running analog oscillators. I have been involved in some absolutely fantastic virtual instruments -Syntronik is the most recent one, of course, and it is a truly brilliant VI ( -virtal instrument ). But a real analog synth is another animal. It is a living, breathing, organic instrument that is ever changing and animating in subtle ways or not-so-subtle ways.  I am so proud of the previous instruments with which I've been involved ( -and of course the Andromeda is

a highlight there ). But now the UNO Synth is another chapter.                                                                       

"But   a    real     analog     synth     is     another     animal.     It     is     a     living,     breathing,     organ-    ic     instrument     that     is     ever     changing     and     animating     in     subtle     ways     or     not     so     subtle     ways"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Erik      Norlander


Beaming like a new papa showing-off the latest addition to his "family". Erik and IK Multimedia are justifiably proud of the "new kid".  And a cute little tyke he is too!  But watch out for this toddler's analog "snarl". He may be teething but the little bugger has some real old-school "bite"! 

 

Combining lightweight ( 4 x AA battery ) mobility, an all-analog signal path and a stellar set of features ( -and doing all of this for an insanely low price tag of just $199.99 ), Erik and IK have really pulled-out all the stops in creating this nifty little "Everyman's Synth".  And at this price why not buy TWO?                                                                                                                                                 ( -ABOVE )  THE  "NEW  KID" 


Soundmachines   :     Synths "Italian    Style"

CTN:  Can you tell us a little about the Italian Soundmachines design team tasked with designing the UNO? 

 

Erik Norlander:  Soundmachines is an excellent Italian boutique synthesizer manufacturer and they approached IK Multimedia to see if IK was interested in collaborating on new products. This was a happy coincidence since we were already planning to make an analog synth. So, Soundmachines did the actual electrical design on the synth based on our specification. It has been a great relationship and I hope it continues.

 

CTN:  Are they an "offshoot" of Fatar or Crumar ( or ) an altogether new Italian synth design firm?

 

Erik Norlander:  Soundmachines is an independent company not related to Fatar or Crumar. 


                                                                                      With a pair of headphones and four AA batteries, you can    play the UNO Synth anywhere!  On a park bench. In a grassy meadow.  On a train or buss. You name it!  No longer do you have to be tethered to an AC outlet to CREATE  your music! 

 How cool is that?  The UNO can also be USB powered.   

 

( -ABOVE  ) UNO  PARK  BENCH  "CONCERTO"


An    "Everyman's    Synth"

CTN:  Obviously, the UNO is the polar opposite of the Alesis Andromeda ( -a "cost no object" dream synth ) that you had a hand in designing years ago. Contrary to the Andromeda, I see the UNO as more of a "common man's synth". A stunningly full-featured yet affordable mono-synth that finally brings electronic-music down    to the level of the average man and woman ( -as opposed to the privileged realm of Ivy League University "Electronic Music" departments and wealthy rock stars ). Was that in-fact, part of the thinking and "design ethic" behind the UNO? 

 

Erik Norlander:  Yes, I think you said it well. The Andromeda is perhaps the ultimate analog synthesizer with almost every function you can imagine, and then with ( 32 ) oscillators and ( 32 ) filters. It was a very expensive synth at the time, and now on the used market they are going for even more than the original retail price.    The UNO Synth is very the "everyman's synth". It is 1/5th the price of the Andromeda, and it is a much more straightforward instrument. However, the thread that ties the two together is the sound quality. Both are based on real, living, animated analog oscillators and filters. You can use the UNO Synth on a big album production, major film score or arena concert, and it will surely hold it's own against other analog synths. 

"You      can    use     the     UNO     Synth     on                      a    big    album     production  ,     major     film     score     ( or   )  arena     concert,   and    it     will   surely     hold      it's     own     against     other     analog       synths"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 -Erik      Norlander


-RIGHT  ) THE UNO'S  REAR-PANEL  CONNECTIONS

The diagram to the right shows the UNO Synth's extensive rear-panel connections. In addition to headphone and line out jacks, IOS/ PC and Mac

MIDI In, USB power in and 2.5 mm MIDI In and

Out ports, a thoughtful audio in "daisy chain" jack

is also provided. Nice!                                                   ( -TOP  RIGHT  ) THE  UNO  IS "WELL  CONNECTED" 


LFO    and    Pulse-Width     musings...

CTN:  The UNO's ad copy is a tad unclear on this point -so maybe you can clarify this point for our readers:    Can the UNO's LFO be used to continuously modulate  the pulse-width of the Uno oscillator's square waves      ( -or can you only "set" the pulse-width duty-cycle of each oscillator's square waves directly from the oscillators themselves ) with no continuous PWM  from the LFO? 

 

Erik Norlander:  The oscillator waveform shape as well as the pulse width of he square wave can be independently modulated for each oscillator by both the LFO and the filter envelope. 


( -LEFT  ) GETTING  "HANDS  ON"  WITH  THE  UNO        The UNO's programming matrix and clever front panel design make getting around the unit a breeze. The sheer number of features is amazing. Especially, considering it's  tiny $199.99 price tag!  Products like the UNO, Syntronik and Modo Bass make I.K. Multimedia a company worth

keeping an eye on!                                                                  "UNO"  IS  TOO  COOL  FOR  SCHOOL 


"Top     Secret"

CTN: Has there been any talk of following up the UNO with another ( -more advanced ) hardware synth next year? Perhaps one havng the UNO's current feature set in addition  to:  a three octave keyboard, VCO's: each having several mixable  waveforms ( -adjustable from front-panel sliders ) enhanced with two selectable sub-octave oscillators ( -pitched one and two octaves down from the lowest oscillator's pitch )? Perhaps a more    full-featured effects section ( -having a phaser, flanger and chorus, along with the current model's delay    PLUS  a stereo panner effect that could be combined with any of the other effects -for stereo-panning    chorus, phasing -along with stereo outputs of course? 

 

Well, that would be my "wish list" for such a model for what it's worth! Any chance of seeing something

like this at next year's NAMM Show?

 

Erik Norlander:  We have of course had follow-up conversations, but that's all "top secret" for now.                                                                          -END OF INTERVIEW-                 

STAY  TUNED!  

 

For my upcoming "Hands On Review" of IK Multimedia's UNO Synth. You'll find it right here on this webpage. The folks at Sweetwater tells us it should be delivered

sometime in mid-July. Can't wait!                                                                                                                                                                                                           ( -ABOVE  )  GETTING  "HANDS  ON"  WITH  THE  UNO


"Twice    the      Fun    of    One!"                                                                                                                                                 The    Advantages    of     owning    TWO     UNO's...


At the UNO's suggested retail price of $199.99 it's almost a "no-brainer" to buy TWO!  For what a lot of "starter" synths will cost you, you can purchase TWO UNO's. 

 

Imagine the sonic potential... 

Not only will you double the oscillators ( -FOUR instead of the two you generally get with the standard $399.99 "starter" synth ), you'll also get double the Filters, LFO's, Envelopes, not to mention the extra arpeggiator, sequencer and OTHER "sonic goodies" ( -like S&H, delay, etc. ). 

 

And since BOTH units have identical features, controls and layout -you won't have to learn a new synth. Double the              -"DOUBLING"  UNO'S  SONIC  POTENTIAL!  sonic firepower minus  the new synth  "learning curve"!


The    case    for     a     (    new )    IK  Multimedia                                           "Hybrid     Hardware    Synth"


Recently, I've been thinking:  

"How cool would it be if Erik and IK turned Syntronik  into a "Hybrid" Hardware Synth?                               

 

Companies like Arturia, Creamware/ Sonic Core GmbH and inDSP/ Use Audio have converted softsynths into hardware in the past *( -See their back stories below ). There's really no technical reason why this couldn't    be done with IK. Multumedia's "Syntronik" as well ( -especially, considering the dropping price of high-quality DSP chips ). And considering Syntronik's superb sound-quality, I can't think of a better case for doing it!   

 

Imagine the power of having all ( 22 ) "Syntronik Deuxe" analog synth emulations in a "reach out and tweak it" hardware instrument!  No fussing with computers, mice or monitors!  Just the old-school immediacy and "live performance" tactile feedback of an honest-to-goodness hardware instrument ( -sporting a front panel full of beefy, Moog-style knurled knobs and buttons ). Could anything possibly be cooler than that? 


"Syntronik Deluxe"  presents THE BEST CASE YET  for turning a computer softsynth into a "Hybrid Hardware" Synth. "Syntronik Deluxe's" suite of twenty two authentic sounding analog emulations virtually screams "tweak me"! And what better way to do that than by giving musicians a control panel chocked full of knobs and buttons to unleash

all that sonic potential! 

A laboratory full of vintage analog synths and key- boards. That sums up "Syntronk Deluxe"! An "Origin" or "Plugiator" style instrument that affords keyboard- ists the immediate tactile feedback of an old-school "instrument" ( -and one-box access to it's 22 instru-  ments- recreating the sound of 44 legendary synths and string machines ). Wouldn't that be a "dream come true" for any synth freak?  Weigh-in. Give us your "feedback"! ( -see below ).                                      A  SYNTRONIK  HARDWARE "INSTRUMENT"?    


BACK    STORY:     The     Arturia     "Origin" .                          Creamware's     ( ASB's )    &      Use    Audio's     "Plugiator"


DSP Audio Processor hardware instruments are nothing new. Arturia took their well-known "V" Series of soft-synths and tranformed them ( -via the magic of Analog Device's "Tiger Sharc" chips ) into a knobby hardware module they called the "Origin". It allowed users to create and play new hybrid "instruments" ( -by mixing and matching oscillators, filters and other synth components from the "V" Series ) into new "hybrid" synth creations. Problem was, the "Origin" didn't come cheap. Few could afford it!  Check out our interview             ( -ABOVE )  ARTURIA'S  "ORIGIN"                  with Arturia's co-founder Frederic Brun  for more details. 

 

Around 2005/ 2006 Creamware/ Sonic Core

( -known for their Scope and Minimax software ), came out with their "Authentic Sound Box" ( ASB ) line of hardware instruments. This, in the midst of the company's break-up and division of intellectual property rights. The ASB's presented gorgeous hardware instrument replicas mimicking the control panels of their software emulations of the Mini-moog, Odyssey, Sequential Pro and even Hammond B3. As nice as they were, it was inDSP/ Use Audio,    ( - co-inheritor of Creamware's intellectual property rights ) that really did something special.                                                                                                              -ABOVE  )  THE "MINIMAX" ( ASB ) 

They introduced the "Plugiator". This compact, desktop hardware module allowed users access to ALL of the ASB softsynth emulations ( -along with a few new ones ) and did it all form ONE BOX!  A brilliant concept! I owned two of these units myself. "Plugiator" came with three of the instruments factory installed and one free for download. The rest of these "plug-ins" were available for a nominal        ( -ABOVE  )  USE  AUDIO'S "PLUGIATOR"             charge ( -downloadable from the Use Audio website ). The unit's front panel presented you with a matrix style grid of knobs ( -across the top ) with eight lines            ( -each dedicated to a particular "plug-in" synth ). It afforded some basic parameter programming tweaks from the front panel ( -with deeper programming via computer ). While brilliant in concept, the "Plugiator's"Acihlles Heal  was it's over-dependence upon the computer ( -both to download/ install it's "plug-ins": a confusing, arduous process that involved voucher and activation codes ) and it's equally nightmarish "Plug-In Manager" interface that required Adobe Flash V 9 to run! 

 

LESSONS  LEARNED:  Needless to say, IK Multimedia should pay close attention to the lessons learned from these earlier "Hybrid Hardware" Instruments and avoid their pitfalls ( -especially that of depending too much upon external computers and online downloads! ). A fully-stocked, self-contained instrument that can be played like an old-school vintage "instrument" right-out-of-the-box ( -INDEPENDENT OF and APART FROM EXTERNAL COMPUTERS and WEBSITE DOWNLOADS!  ) should be amongst it's top design priorities! 


Two     Approaches:     "Expensive    Knobby"                                                                      vs.    "Affordable    Matrix"   style...


In designing such a synth, one could take the more expensive approach ( or ) the smarter more affordable "cost-effective" approach. The more expensive approach might start off by selecting 24 -25 control param-eters common to all ( 22 ) of Syntronik Deluxe's synths ( -i.e:  things like oscillator wave and tuning, filter    cut-off and resonance, LFO speed and depth, filter and amp ADSR envelopes, etc. ) and then designing a control-panel giving users direct access to these parameters. That approach would work but all of those    knobs might be expensive.  And 24 -25 parameters really doesn't allow for very deep programming anyway.   


( -RIGHT )  MOCK-UP  OF  EMS'  "PUTNEY"   VCS3  SYNTHESIZER

 

The British EMS Company's VCS3 Synth has been heard on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" ( -it was actually the Synthi-AKs briefcase version -though the circuitry is nearly identical ), on many of Brian Eno's "tone poems" and on too many other avante garde recordings to mention. It's been faithfully emulated in Syntronik Deluxe. Imagine having this unique synth ( -along with 43 OTHERS ) available from ONE  "Plugiator-sized" HARDWARE instrument!                                                                                                                  ( -ABOVE )  SYNTRONIK'S "VCF3"                                                                                           ( -THEIR  VERSION OF THE  LEGENDARY EMS  VCS3 ) 


"In    designing    such    a    synth, one    could     take     the    more    expensive    approach            (    or  )    the     smarter     more    affordable                                               "cost-effective  approach"                                                                          -Tomm     Buzzetta     (    CTN     )

A    "Smarter  "  Approach:

A smarter approach might be to emulate the Plugiator ( or even ) the UNO's matrix-style control panel. 

For example, by altering the UNO with a few "tweaks" ( -such as swapping the UNO's plastic for a slightly larger, folded steel chassis -like the one used on the Plugiator ), you could accommodate a fuller SIX -knob -    by -SEVEN line Matrix of parameters ( -leaving UNO's great arpeggiator, sequencer, performance buttons and bottom keyboard in-tact just as they are in the current UNO ). This 6 x 7 matrix would allow users direct access to ( 42 ) synth parameters ( -PLUS the arpeggiator and sequencer controls ) right from the front panel. 

No patch/ librarian software required!  

 

With SIX matrix knobs across the top panel ( -in addition to the cut-off, tempo and volume knobs to the right    of the LCD panel ), users could now program Syntronik synths having up to three oscillators ( -hopefully group-ing their "wave" and "tune" knobs adjacent to one another instead of separating them as on the current UNO  ). This would also allow full 4-stage ADSR programming for both the filter and the amp ( -since each  would have their own line ). The extra two knobs  on each envelope could be used to select "envelope looping" modes ( -such as those featured on Waldorf's "Blofeld" synth ). A large jog-shuttle knob adjacent to the      LCD panel ( * -larger LCD than the UNO's current one please! ) would allow users to scroll through

and select the Syntronik instruments and presets/ patches as well as access additional modes and info. 

 

And the expanded programming-matrix would give users access to a fuller set of effects:  perhaps a phaser, flanger, chorus and delay  ( -with a stereo panner and rotary speaker  effect combinable with any of the      first four effects ). There might even be room to give users access to three ( tweakable ) effects parameters. Perhaps: "Effect Dry/ Wet Mix", "LFO Speed" and "LFO Amount" for example. If such a Syntronik hardware instrument was produced in the $549.00 - $599.00 ( SRP ) price range I think it would sell like hotcakes!    Lord  knows I'd buy one! Or maybe IK would send me one free  for giving them the idea for this instrument. One can dream can't one?  


"If    such  a     Syntronik     hardware     instrument    was    produced    in    the    $549.00 -to - $599.00    ( SRP )            price    range, I    think    it    would                                                    sell    like    hotcakes!"                                                                                                                                    -Tomm Buzzetta    ( CTN )


A     Syntronik     "Grab    &    Go" Workstation    Keyboard? The      antidote    to    "boat     anchor"    workstations...


With Syntronik Deluxe's emualtions capturing the analog era's most endearing synths and keyboards -wouldn't an IK Multimedia "Analog Era Workstation" Keyboard be cool?  Take ( 500 -600 ) well-crafted "patches" from Syntronik Deluxe ( -perhaps IK could run a contest challenging Syntronik owners to send in TEN of their best "killer" patches -with the contestant whose ten patches ALL make the cut earning an "Analog Era Workstation" ) with the BEST patches from contestants "burned" onto a Syntronik "Analog Era" Workstation DSP chip!  


Combining          ( 500-600 ) killer"Syntronik" Synth and Key-board sounds PLUS  ( 128 ) punchy bass sounds from "Modo Bass"      PLUS  ( 128 ) newly sampled vintage acoustic and electric guitar sounds,    (  -i.e:  Martin acoustic guitars, Fender Strats, Les Pauls, etc. ) topping it off with ( 12 ) rockin' drum kits ( -reflecting the "Analog Era's" defining musical genres (- circa 1964 - 1983' i.e:  rock, surf rock, classic rock, metal, prog, space-rock, punk, new wave and electronic drum-kits, etc. ), a Syntronik "Analog Era" Workstation  would combine the most sought after analog keyboards, synths, basses, guitars and drum-kits ALL in ONE  "to die for" workstation instrument! 

 

Beyond the unit's high-demand "analog era" sounds, it's compact lightweight "Grab & Go" form factor ( -see diagram above ) would make it completely UNIQUE amongst today's workstation keyboards. Finally a comp-  act lightweight ( -under 5 lb. ) workstation keyboard small enough to slip into a gig bag and take virtually anywhere ( -courtesy of it's mobile AC, USB and AA-Battery operation ). Kiss your big, bulky ( 10 -30 pound ) "Boat Anchor" workstation goodbye! 

A    Downsized     "Powerhouse"

At nearly half the size and weight of today's smallest workstation keyboard ( -Korg's Kross-2 61-key ), the  "Grab & Go" design ( -above ) would be perfect for touring keyboardists who've HAD IT with lugging around big, bulky, behemoth ( 10-30 lb ) workstations. This ( 3-octave ) mini-key workstation "powerhouse" would cram an entire museum's worth of priceless analog synths, keyboards, basses, acoustic and electric guitars        ( -along with 12 vintage drum-kits ) into a lightweight, easily transportable "gig-bag" sized instrument.        Gigging and touring would suddenly become FUN again for thousands of performing keyboardists!


WHAT?   JUST  THREE-OCTAVES?   MINI-KEYS?                 

I can already see some keyboardists "rolling their eyes" saying this.  If you're one of them then yeah, this work-station isn't for you.  It's for keyboardists who're tired      of hefting around big, bulky workstation keyboards.      It's for touring axemen sick of stressing about having  their ( $1,500.00 - $2,500.00 ) "livelihoods" stolen            ( -or having  it "bite the dust" due the rigors of the road ).                     -FOR  THE  "EYE-ROLLERS"        *NOTE:  loosing a $600.00 keyboard hurts a lot less  than loosing $2,000.00 keyboard!  It's for the people who want the entire "analog era" available from a single keyboard ( -compact enough to "ride shotgun" alongside you on the passenger side of the front seat -as opposed to occupying the entire rear seat or hogging up most  of your car's available trunk space ). 

 

A THREE OCTAVE MINI KEYBOARD is the best compromise you can expect for a lightweight ( -under 5 lb. ) "Grab & Go" sized workstation keyboard. Three octaves is more than enough to play both monophonic leads and bass lines. In fact, it'll even allow you to do some chording -even two handed stuff!  And by the way, isn't the whole point of a workstation keyboard to build-up your compositions one part at a time ( -recording these "backing tracks" internally -so you can play along with them during your live performances?  So, really, who needs 5-6 octaves and keyboard-splits anyway? Just record your backing tracks one-at-time using the entire keyboard! ). 


Currently, the smallest full-featured workstation keyboards you can buy are Korg's Kross-2 61-key and Roland's Juno DS61. Teenage Engineering's  OP-1 doesn't count ( -not  in the same league! )                                                                                        ( -ABOVE  )  KORG'S  KROSS-2 61-Key

At almost half  the size and weight of these key-  boards, a Syntronik "Grab & Go" Workstation Keyboard ( -with the "Analog Era" set of sounds described above ) would be a very attractive      option for many touring keyboardists!                                                                                                                    ( -ABOVE )  ROLAND'S JUNO DS61 


"Project-Studio    friendly"

And what about bedroom project-studio owners like me? Today's workstation keyboard manufacturers        have abandoned us! Ever try to fit a Yamaha MOXF6 or Kurzweil PC3K6 "boat anchor" into the tight confines    of the average bedroom studio? Good luck with that Eugene! The above-mentioned Syntronik "Grab & Go" Workstation would answer the prayers of thousands of such bedroom project-studio owners. I can tell you  that based upon the comments I've received from CTN readers. So, WHY don't keyboard manufacturers      ever listen to our pleas for such a keyboard? Forget them. Maybe IK Multimedia will!

 

If IK could produce such an instrument ( -and do it in the $599.00 - $649.00 price range ),I think it would absolutely CRUSH the competition!  If IK actually takes up this project and produces such an instrument,  maybe they'll send me one for free ( -for suggesting this product idea ). That would be very cool! 


"KEY  ISSUES"  Key to the success of such a "grab & go" workstation would be it's keyboard. A 3-octave mini-key keyboard ( -with the same premium keybed and velvety "feel" ) as those used in Yamaha's ReFace line would      be essential! A cheesy, clunky or stiff-actioned key-      board would sabotage things from the get go.          Special attention would need to be paid to                               ( -ABOVE  ) YAMAHA'S  REFACE  LINE               this aspect of the instrument! 

 

*NOTE:  Take a look at the ( 4 ) ReFace models above. The compact Syntronik Workstation Keyboard that      I've described would have nearly identical dimensions and weight as the ReFace models shown above! 


Would    you    like    to    see    IK    Multimedia     produce     these    instruments?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Drop     us    an    e-mail.    Let     us    know!


If you'd like to see a Syntronik Hardware Synth and grab & go-sized "Analog Era" Workstation Keyboard  become reality, drop us an e-mail. If enough people want them maybe IK Multimedia will listen and design them at some point. It's worth a shot. One thing's for sure:  the "Big 5" synth manufacturers aren't listening.    It would serve them right to have a forward-thinking "upstart" like IK Multimedia sneak up and topple their "workstation empire"!   

 

*NOTE:  If you'd like me to post your comment on this matter ( -below ), be sure to give me your permission to do so in your e-mail. Include your first name and the first letter of your last name along with the city, state        and country you're from ( -i.e:  -Jamie Parsons, East Anglia, UK., for example ), so our readers know          you're a real  person.                  E-MAIL US HERE:  riffjamtribe@gmail.com 

 

I'll post the most concise, entertaining and pithy comments I receive below. Let's hear from you! 


The      Synth      Media      takes      note:


My "Syntronik Hardware Instrument" idea has garnered favorable response from synthesists        as far away as Spain and the Netherlands. The  synth media has taken note as well. Check out      the Gear News piece below. Weigh-in: Should        IK Multimedia turn their "Syntronik" software      into an actual HARDWARE Synth? How about a                    ( -ABOVE ) "GEAR  NEWS"  TAKES NOTE.                 Desktop Module ( or ) a Compact Workstation?

Gear News has taken note of my Syntronik Hardware Instrument idea and run an article about it on their website. If you'd like to read it -click on the page link ( -below ): 

 

                                                      "GEAR NEWS"  ARTICLE