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Synth News from Superbooth 2024

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It’s that time of year again. Superbooth is happening in Berlin, and I’m still here in Maryland. Of course, I’m watching the new synth news like a hawk to see what’s new and interesting. So far, not a lot has got me really jazzed, but here are a few things that have caught my eye.

Arturia Announcements

One of the more interesting announcements actually came before the opening of the show, and that’s the new Arturia PolyBrute 12. It’s basically the PolyBrute I already know and love on steroids, with double the voices, and a few other things…

…like a tremendous new keybed! The aftertouch and MPE capabilities appear to be far more advanced than just about any other keyboard on the market, with the possible exception of the Osmose. But, this has a trick or two that even the Osmose can’t match. When the PolyBrute 12 is in its enhanced aftertouch mode, every nuance of key movement is captured, and everything about the key press is translated into a modulation source. Of course, all this wonderfulness comes at a price. US street pricing looks to be right around $4,000. That’s not out of line for a flagship polysynth, especially a 12-voice analog polysynth. But it is far out of line for my wallet.

Here are some collected videos about the PolyBrute 12:

Also new from Arturia, but released before Superbooth, is a new member of the Augmented series of VSTs called Augmented Yangtze, which I featured in my latest release, The Path of the Mystic.

All of this is hot on the heels of their new standalone Analog Lab-based performance keyboard, the AstroLab. Videos below, because that just how I roll…

Yes, I know it looks like they planted a Nest thermostat in the middle of the thing, but I still think it’s pretty cool. If I were still gigging, I might have had to own one.

What I would like to see from Arturia, possibly, is an update to the Keylab MkII with poly aftertouch (or at least the upgraded aftertouch keybed from the AstroLab). But only because I’m in the market for an additional controller and don’t want to buy something, only to have a new version appear a couple of weeks later!

Pittsburgh Modular Voltage Lab 2

Voltage Lab 2. That’s really all there is to say. It’s cool. Okay, it’s really very cool. As if the Taiga Keys wasn’t cool enough. But I’ll probably not own one even though it does fit the requirements that any new hardware I buy has to bring something different and unique to the table.

If I pick up anything from Pittsburgh Modular in the relatively near future, it would probably be an original Taiga, despite some of its challenging aspects (like a lack of oscillator fine tuning controls and a very fiddly initial setup routine). Or, maybe not. Who knows.

Overheim TEO-5

OK, now this has my attention. A collaboration with Sequential, the Oberheim TEO-5 starts with a Sequential Take 5 and swaps out the Sequential oscillators and filter and replaces them with a pair of Oberheim OB oscillators and an Oberheim filter. Everything else from the Take 5 transfers over.

And, as the Take 5 is a perfect introduction to modern Sequential synths, TEO-5 is the same for Oberheim. The DNA of the Oberheim sound is there, but there’s a new approachability that sounds so much deeper than most other Oberheim synths. At least, to me. This goes on the shopping list for someday …

Polyend Tracker +

Polyend first did for a tracker what no one had done in decades: made it user friendly-ish. The original Tracker is fun, once you get used to it, and sounds good. I don’t use mine nearly enough. Now they’ve improved on it even further by adding four additional synth tracks to the 8 sample and 4 MIDI tracks of previous versions and called it the Tracker +. And, as they did with the Play +, they’ve released it at the same price as the original (and substantially reduced the price of the original Tracker).

I don’t have any plan at present to buy a new one, but should they decide to offer an upgrade path like they did for Play owners, I’ll probably bite on that. The upgrade is pretty substantial, with greatly enhanced hardware, so I’ll not be holding my breath.

Superbooth day one is pretty much in the can at this point, but I’ll be looking out for more stuff over the next few days and update this post if anything amazing comes up.

Some videos featuring other items of interest viewed at Superbooth this year:

Several attendees posted “walkabout” videos. I’ve collected a playlist of some of those as well:

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