With another NAMM show done and dusted, here’s the Noisegate team’s highlights in the production and studio world. We are extremely excited to get our hands on some of this gear back in the land downunder.

STARS OF THE SHOW:


Universal Audio Arrow

It’s no secret that the UA Apollo series of audio interfaces and DSP processors are pretty awesome. It’s also no secret that they are pricey. The current Apollo twin solo will set you back around $1200 AUD and the price only moves upwards from there. That is until now. The UA Arrow provides a new entry point to the UA range. For around $700 AUD you get a 2×4 Thunderbolt 3-powered audio interface with UA’s renowned AD conversion. But thats not all, the arrow also includes a UAD-2 Solo Core processor, meaning owners have the ability to run those game-changing UA plugins at near-zero latency tracking! Thats a lot of bang for buck at $700. Website

Arturia MiniBrute 2S

Back in 2012 many manufacturers were testing the waters with analogue synths again, but Arturia blew the game wide open with the incredibly affordable, compact and excellent sounding MiniBrute, providing an easy entry for users wanting to get that analogue sound they’d read about so much. Arturia have now taken the MiniBrute recipe, refined and expanded its synth engine, added an extensive Eurorack compatible patchbay (after seeing it’s popularity on the MicroBrute) and stripped out the keybed – replacing it with an extensive, triple layer sequencer. This incredible level of functionality in an analogue synth is usually reserved for extensive modular systems. Speaking of which, Arturia also released a Eurorack rack system that attaches nicely to the new Minibrute units. Arturia are killing it. Website

Korg Volca Mix

The much requested Volca Mixer that many users had lost hope of ever seeing is finally here. Designed in the same formfactor as all the others in the Volca series, it enables users to combine signals from 3 volcas and an fx unit with convenient performance orientated filters on each channel. It also features a couple of master effects: an analogue stereo width expander and dynamic range compressor , as well 3 DC power outputs to power up to 3 Volca units (power supply and power cables are included). Website

Elektron Digitone

Elektron surprised everyone with the announcement of their 8-voice FM synthesiser/sequencer Digitone. With the same formfactor (and likely price) as their compact Digitakt sampler it combines classic FM sound generation combined with a more subtractive synthesis style signal flow. In other words, FM synthesis with filters! Hallelujah! Add to that Elektron’s signature sequencer with parameter locks and high quality effects and you’ve got a product that has very little in the way of competition.  Website

Strymon Magneto (Eurorack module)

Strymon threatened that they’d bring their fx expertise to the Eurorack format a couple of years ago, now they’ve now confirmed they have a module called Magneto in production and it looks pretty incredible. Magneto is a digital multi-head tape delay emulator that also functions as a looper, phrase sampler, vintage style spring reverb unit, phase-aligned clock multiplier, chaotic oscillator, zero latency sub-oscillator and more, with extensive CV I/O. And, it’s a true stereo unit with L and R outputs – unusual in the Eurorack market.  It will be interesting to see if more guitar-inclined fx manufacturers follow suit. Website

Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O! and PO-35 Speak Pocket Operators

Teenage Engineering have announced two neat little sampler/sequencers to their Pocket Operators family. The PO-33 KO is a drum and melody sampler that has 40 seconds of sampling time with a built-in microphone and line-in for recording. It can pitch your recorded samples chromatically for melodies, while the new PO-35 is similar but more orientated to manipulating vocal sounds, featuring 120 seconds of sampling time. Website

WEIRD & WONDERFUL:


Sonicware ELZ_1 Gadget Synthesiser

New Japanese manufacturer Sonicware announced a new compact synth, the specs and formfactor of which made them a ‘must-visit’ booth for synth nerds attending this year. The ELZ_1 features a number of digital synth engines all developed from the ground up: FM (4 operators with feedback), 8BIT Wave Memory (waveform editing and morphing), DNA Explorer (extract waveforms from audio), SiGrinder (granular engine),  and Low-Bit OSC as well as a standard subtractive engine. Not to mention all manner of filters, EQs, effects and an arpeggiator. That’s a whole lot in a very small package. Website

Empress Effects Zoia

Although the formfactor suggests this unit is a guitar pedal, we’re including this here because it seems like an incredibly powerful unit for anyone really. Described vaguely as a compact grid of musical anything, it’s tricky to figure out what exactly the intended use of the Zoia is – it kind of seems like Empress aren’t even sure. Put simply though, it’s a group of modules with a varierty of functions that you can set-up and route to do as you please – much like Eurorack modular system. There’s effects, LFOs, synths, sequencers – all sorts of fun stuff to get creative with. Weird little unit.

AVP Cosmwave FX

The boutique Russian synthesiser manufacturer AVP has announced a desktop multi-fx box, and it looks freakin’ bad-ass. The multi-effects processor consists of three separate effects — analogue phaser, analogue flanger and a hybrid analogue/digital delay with up to 1 minute of feedback time. Each unit is hand-assembled in Moscow, Russia. Website

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: 


JBL 3 Series MKII Studio Monitors

JBL have announced an update to their very popular 3 series range of budget friendly studio monitors, boasting lower harmonic distortions and higher transient responses, as well as adding a boundary EQ setting to control the low-end boom that occurs as a proximity effect when too close to walls. Additionally, high frequency response can be adjusted with a three-position HF Trim switch. Website

Retro Instruments Retro Revolver Tube Compressor

Initially based on the EMI modified Altec 436 compressor used on Beatles recordings at Abbey Road, no expense or amount of testing has been spared on adding features and building this beautiful dual channel tube compressor. Retro Instruments wanted this compressor to be perfect from the get-go with character in spades.  This project started in 2011 and has finally hit production with side-chain filter, stereo linking and continuously variable threshold, attack and release – making it ideal for the stereo bus, tracking, mixing and mastering. Each unit is handbuilt and rigourously tested in the USA. Website

 Pittsburgh Modular 3900 Microvolt

Eurorack module manufacturer Pittsburgh Modular have joined the standalone market with the semi-modular Microvolt 3900 synthesiser.  Its points of difference to other semi-modular units are the wave-folding function that adds interesting harmonics to the standard wave-shapes, binary filter and low-pass gate VCA that have more in common with the west coast style of synthesis.

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