NAMM: Buchla 200h series and LEM3 Spider

Buchla introduced several new instruments and add-ons this year, including an entirely new modular series, the 200h. The 200h aims to be a more compact (and hopefully lower cost) series of modules, but the same esoteric sound and control that make Buchla instruments infamous. They have been assembled into “mini-systems” including the LEM3 Spider shown below.

Buchla LEM Spider

That colorful circular thing is actually a 200e series, specifically a 252e polyphonic rhythm generator. It is visually gorgeous!

Here is a short video of my attempts to play the LEMs.

NAMM: Moog Modular and More

Moog Music seems to have a bigger presence and NAMM every year. This time they had a large enclosed space complete with retro neon signs.

Moog neon sign

But that merely prepared the way for what was inside. The centerpiece and main attraction was the reintroduced Moog Modular.

Moog modular

There was quite a bit of excitement with the news about the modular. Besides being huge and impressive, it also boasts simple and easy to control modules with distinctively Moog sound.

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While some sounds that one could get out of the demo system reminded me of the Minimoog, it was a different instrument. It is a modular, so the combinations can go quite distant from the classic Minimoog subtractive sound. Since the modules are fairly basic in terms of function compared to the recent Eurorack modular releases, it does take quite a few to make a patch. The larger size of the modules and knobs does make it easy to handle and play. But it is probably more of a studio instrument than a live instruments (especially with the high price tag).

More down-to-earth but perhaps odder was the Moog, a tiny patchable synth with Moog sound that interoperates nicely with Eurorack systems.

Moog werkstatt

This one is indeed something for live use. I’d love to see how it works together with the Theremini. It does make some weird crunchy sounds, and would make a great first stage of a modular in between the Theremini as controller and various Eurorack modules as post processing.

In between, Moog does continue to provide its “Phatty” line, including the Moog Sub 37. These are quite practical to get a Moog sound for live-stage situations.

Moog Sub 37

Of course there was quite a crowd to see the Modular. We at CatSynth certainly wish them well with the new instruments and exposure.

NAMM: Dave Smith Instruments and Sequential Prophet 6

Our first stop at NAMM 2015 was Dave Smith Instruments. And they certainly had big news, with both the acquisition of the legendary Sequential Circuits (aka “SEQUENTIAL”) brand name and their first instrument under the new name, the Prophet 6.

We were able to talk with Dave Smith himself about the “new old name” and the new instrument.

The Prophet 6 itself is quite a sight. It includes the industrial design, lettering and other features from the Prophet V, and includes custom component based VCOs and analog filters.

Sequential Prophet 6

It has a rich sound that ranges from the lusciousness of the Prophet 12 to the nastiness of the Evolver, though it doesn’t really do the same things as either of those instruments. As described in the video, it doesn’t have the complexity and feature set of the Prophet 12, but it’s not intended to. It is it’s own creature, and probably best as a lead synth used in conjunction with others. And it was definitely fun to play.

Amanda tries out the Prophet 6

It does appear that both the Dave Smith Instruments and Sequential brands will be used on future offerings, which we look forward to seeing and hearing.

RIP Mimi the Synth Cat

Mimi and Juno 60

We received some sad news today. Our dear friend and frequent guest on CatSynth Mimì passed away this weekend. She was 19. Mimì had the best synthesizer collection of any cat we knew; and more importantly, she loved a long full life and was very much loved.

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Our thoughts and condolences go out to Eric Pochesci of polynominal.com for his loss. He has put together this wonderful tribute page for Mimì. You can also see her many appearances on CatSynth here.

RIP Mimì. You will be missed.