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Top Music Gear Picks from Day 2 of the 2017 NAMM Show

January 20, 2017
Some of our favorite pieces from day two of the 2017 NAMM Show include affordable analog synthesizers, integrated hardware/software mixing and recording products and advanced monitoring gear. There were new surprises, as well as updates and enhancements of earlier product lines.

And if you just can’t get enough new music tech, catch up on the other top picks from the show from us and from Keyboard.

Electronic Musician:
Top Music Gear Picks from Day 1 of the 2017 NAMM Show

Top Keyboard Gear Picks for NAMM 2017, Day 1
Top Keyboard Gear Picks for NAMM 2017, Day 2

Softube Console 1 MKII Controller hardware/software mixer with SSL plug-ins, $499 street, availability “very soon.”

What We Love About It:
  • Compact hardware that simplifies mixing channel EQ, compressor, gate and more from the included Solid State Logic SL 4000 E plug-in.
  • There are now 60+ Console 1-ready plug-ins (sold separately) from Softube and Universal Audio, which come pre-mapped and integrate seamlessly with Console 1. 
  • Works with any major DAW and also controls integrates with Presonus Studio One and Cakewalk Sonar to control DAW functions like channel select, sends, volume, and solo/mute.
  • About 40% cheaper than before. 
Caveat: Now that it’s integrated with a couple of DAWs, others DAW users will be pounding the table to get it integrated with theirs.

Pioneer DJ/Dave Smith Instruments Toraiz AS-1 analog monosynth, $499 street, available in March.

What We Love About It:
  • A compact and fully programmable analog monosynth with a sound that’s basically one voice of the DSI Prophet-6. 
  • Includes a touchpad keyboard and slider, 64-step sequencer, 495 presets, arpeggiator, scale mode for the keyboard and filters and effects from the Prophet-6. 
  • Integrates with the Pioneer DJ Toraiz SP-16 sampler/sequencer.
Caveat: It has limited hands-on tone controls, but the display helps to illustrate parameter changes.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo, Duo or Quad Thunderbolt audio interface, $699, $899 or $1,299 street, out now.

What We Love About It:
  • A full internal redesign with next-generation audio conversion. 
  • Two Unison mic preamps with preamp models from Neve, API and Manley and guitar amps from Ampeg, Marshall and Fender. 
  • UAD-2 processing allows real-time tracking with the bundled UAD classic EQ, tape and compressor models. 
  • Many new software Console features, such as channel strip presets.
Caveat: No ThunderBolt thru port and no ThunderBolt 3/USB-C ports in case you are already on that tip.

Electro-Harmonix Blurst modulated filter pedal, $137 street, availability TBA
What We Love About It:
  • Analog lowpass filter with LFO modulation for adding analog-synth style filtering to any source. 
  • Plays well with other effect pedals. 
Caveat: You can never really have too many fun effects, but if all you use are analog synths, most of them have this functionality built-in.

JBL 7 Series powered studio monitors, $999 each (705P) and $1,999 each (708P) street, availability TBA.

What We Love About It:
  • Image Control Waveguide technology helps to project an extra-wide and detailed sweet spot.
  • Plenty of output for their size and an extended frequency range of 35Hz-36kHz for the 708P. 
Caveat: While we love the fancy features like a back-panel menu and display for room-correction DSP EQ and delay, as well as a set of analog, digital and networking inputs, some producers will be better off simply focusing their monitoring investment on the best sound for their money.

Mackie Big Knob Series, monitor controllers/high-res Onyx interfaces: Big Knob Studio+ ($389 MSRP), Big Knob Studio ($259 MSRP), available April 2017.

What We Love About Them:
  • Finally combines the popular Big Knob monitor controller with a USB audio interface in one device. 
  • The Big Knob Studio offers three source/two monitor I/O and 24/96 audio, while the Big Knob Studio+ offers four source/three monitor I/O and 24/192 audio. 
Caveat: They don’t include MIDI. If all you want is a two source/two monitor controller, you can still get the Big Knob Passive for $89 MSRP.

Eysia Xpressor 500 and Xfilter 500 Beech Boys Limited Edition 500-series modules, $975 per module, availability TBA.

What We Love About Them:
  • Same great boutique 4-band stereo EQ and stereo compressor with an attractive beechwood faceplate.
  • Xpressor 500 includes a sidechain filter, and the Xfilter 500 has switchable wide/narrow Q for the two mid-peak filters.
Caveat: These are said to be very limited edition modules due to the rarity of the wood.

Behringer DeepMind 12, 49-key 12-voice analog synth, $999 street, out now.
What We Love About It:
  • Versatile analog sound with deep programmability that can recreate many classic sounds and also pull new tricks out of its sleeve.
  • Huge feature set for the price, including 12 voices of analogy polyphony with 2 DCOs per voice, arpeggiator, step sequencer, mod matrix, digital effects, MIDI, USB and even built-in Wi-Fi.
  • You probably know that this is not a new announcement, but as of NAMM 2017, it is finally now shipping!
Caveat: Let’s face it, Behringer has not always enjoyed the greatest reputation, but the evidence so far shows that this keyboard has great sounds and features for the price.
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