Akai, Zoom + more: our top five music gear releases of this week

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Akai, Zoom + more: our top five music gear releases of this week

1. Akai MPK Mini Mk III

Touted as the ‘world’s best selling USB MIDI keyboard controller’, the 25-key MPK Mini has been given a third production run by Akai, ensuring it retains its popularity among emerging producers. the Mk III retains many of the key features of the original, such as eight MPC performance pads, eight new endless rotary knobs and a four-way joystick for pitch and modulation control, as well as a redesigned keybed to ensure better expression and response. 


Akai have also added in an OLED display for the first time in the MPK Mini series, giving users visual feedback for CC assignments, parameter changes and velocity. It’s also bundled with a software package that gives you access to Akai’s new DAW MPC Beats, as well as a few expansion packs for the series and software instruments like AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand and Velvet. The MPK Mini range is a top choice for anyone making beats on the move or in need of a tiny controller for live use, and these new unit definitely seems viable for both scenarios.



2. Zoom PodTrak P4

Zoom have really solidified their name the podcasting market over the past few years, and their latest release, the PodTrak P4 Podcasting Recorder, aims to extend the reaches of their influence even further. With four XLR microphone inputs with phantom power and individual gain controls, four headphone outputs, inbuilt call recording and trigger pads, it offers everything you’d ever need to get started on all your podcasting endeavours, plus more.


The Zoom P4 even lets you phone in your guests remotely via 1/8″ jack or Bluetooth, with the unit eliminating pesky feedback and echoes while you’re recording calls. Podcasts can be recorded to an SD card in 44.1 kHz / 16 bit WAV, and can also function as a two I/O USB audio interface. What’s more, the P4 can even function on two AA batteries for up to four hours, presenting an incredibly useful option for recording podcasts at home or on the go. 



3. Lava Music x Chemist Creations Carbon Fibre Guitar 

Carbon fibre trailblazers Lava Music are up to their old tricks again, linking up with streetwear brand Chemist Creations for a whacky new run of acoustic guitars. The new guitars feature a soundboard made from Lava’s AirCarbon material that fuses carbon fibre layers into a honeycomb shaped structure, and come finished in two eye-popping designs from Chemist Creations: Coral White and Green Chaud.


Elsewhere, these new carbon creations feature a Flyneck that’s set up with state-of-the-art Plek technology, while the guitars feature a preamp with onboard FreeBoost technology, letting you achieve reverb, chorus and delay effects without needing to plug the guitar in. It’s fair to say that there’s probably more practical options on available on the market, but you can’t deny these Lava guitars have got something going for them.



4. Sitek Freya Overdrive/Boost 

Sitek are a European boutique cohort who have previously churned out well-received units such as the Pandora and Cocoa, with each pedal being hand-crafted and featuring custom etched artwork on the top. They’ve added a new overdrive/boost pedal to their range with the Freya, a signature pedal for prominent guitar YouTuber Joss Allen. 


The Freya features two unique boost and drive modes, which can be ordered to your spec via a handy little toggle switch to alter the signal path. The drive section of the pedal provides three different clipping modes that can harness low to mid-gain overdriven tones, ranging from ‘smooth, bluesy breakup’ to a ‘mid-rich lead tone’, while the transparent boost offers up to 12dB of clean volume to beef up your driven signal or cut through for leads. Check out how it sounds below, and find out more about the pedal this way.



5. Prestige Guitars Devin Townsend Empath Signature

Another signature model for Devin Townsend?!? Good grief!! The Canadian prog-metal guru has teamed up with Prestige Guitars for a new run of acoustics, featuring a Torrefied Adirondack spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides and a AAA flame maple bevel armrest, backrest and cutaway. If that’s not fancy enough for your liking, there’s also a hand-carved mahogany neck with an ebony fretboard, as well as an ebony bridge, bone saddle and nut and a natural Satin finish to top it all off. 


Prestige Guitars say that the Empath acoustic delivers “a rich soulful sound, with crisp overtones and loud sonic definition,” while Townsend himself lauded the guitar as being “the culmination of the past 30 years of trying to figure out what I want out of an acoustic instrument.” Listen to how it sounds in action below – if you’re keen, you can preorder the Empath here.



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