Given the amount of new gear we saw announced at NAMM 2019 in January, it was fairly unexpected that we’d be treated to another onslaught of new synthesisers at Berlin’s Superbooth - but I’m certainly not complaining. Here’s a rundown of all the new noteworthy gear.
Novation surprised everyone with a new flagship synth dubbed the Summit, replacing their popular Peak model at the mantle. It’s a full size, 61-key digital/analog hybrid synthesiser, essentially taking Peak’s 3-oscillator synth engine and doubling it, for 16-voices and bi-timbral functionality. It’s been a long time since Novation tackled the very high end of the synth market, arguably since 2000’s behemoth Supernova II synth, but this thing looks exceptional.
Korg turned up with a new addition to their Volca series, a sneaky prototype and a desktop module version of their new Minilogue XD synth. The Volca Nubass is a synthesiser based around their Nutube vacuum tube technology, promising a gritty take on the 303-style bass synthesiser/sequencer. The prototype is a DIY kit version of their open source multi-engine digital oscillator on its own, called the Nu:Tekt, which is a pretty nifty idea if you’re just interested in the experimental side of Korg. Hopefully that gets off the ground.
Mind Music Labs/Steinberg
In what is perhaps a first, Mind Music Labs and Steinberg have teamed up to create a hardware synthesizer housing Steinberg’s ‘Retrologue’ VST synthesiser. This is an interesting development for the hardware synthesiser, and one I bet purists will have a lot of thoughts on. Imagine if all your favourite synth plugins could be standalone with a dedicated and nicely laid out controller? Is this the future?
Everyone’s favourite synth-troll Uli Behringer has once again come out with a prototype remake of a classic synthesiser that may or may not enter production. This time, it’s the fabled Yamaha CS80 that’s copped the clone treatment. With prices on the original easily reaching tens of thousands of dollars, this would not be an unwelcome development for any synth enthusiast. Oh, and they’ve teased another prototype of the Oberheim OB-Xa clone. The saga continues...
Elektron have gone and slapped a keyboard on the end of their Digitone FM synthesiser and called it a day. It’s quite unusual looking, and defies the accepted standard of synthesiser layouts, but it’s not their first rodeo with this layout. It harks back to 2003’s Monomachine SFX-6 that also featured this ultra-long layout. It’s a curious move to go back to this, rather that a more traditional shape like their Analog 4 Keys. Regardless, a powerful FM synth with keys is a welcome additional to the market.
It doesn’t end there, IK Multimedia have released a new drum machine called Uno, as have The Division Department with their 01/1V model. Pittsburgh Modular have announced a range of experimental Eurorack modules called the Voltage Research Laboratory for more unusual sounds, while Dreadbox have updated their popular Nyx paraphonic analogue synthesiser to V2 - the list goes on. Exciting times, fellow synth nerds!
Stay tuned to see product reviews for some of these synths in the near future!