The Gearhead’s 2017 Shopping List

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The world’s biggest musical merchandise expo, the 2017 NAMM show, has come and gone, turning up its usual selection of exciting surprises and profound disappointments. So what new products are gearheads looking forward to in 2017?

With Roland not unveiling a single new hardware product at NAMM 2017, Dave Smith Instruments’ Toraiz AS-1, a tasty analog mono synthesiser, was able to step in and steal the show. Early indications are that the AS-1 is even more exciting than 2016’s Toraiz SP-16 sampler, but – of course – a premium price will be attached to these premium pieces of gear.

Although announced weeks before NAMM, Akai had the chance to unveil two new standalone MPC units, the MPC Live and the MPC X. The company have also released a flurry of promotional videos (see below) to showcase the new groovebox/sampling units, which – judging by early whispers – are massive improvements on previous recent installments of the MPC series.

There was also buzz surrounding the Elektron Digitakt – a new “beatmaking powerhouse” of a sampling-enabled portable drum machine (if you’re willing to take Elektron’s word for it). Unfortunately, since there was only a non-working prototype of the Digitakt at the 2017 NAMM show, there is no ways to contradict such a description at the moment – but producers who favour the ‘old school’ standalone approach of units such as the MPC1000 might want to hold off on buying one of the new Akai units until they’ve checked out the Elektron Digitakt.

Finally, innovation darlings Teenage Engineering have joined forces with Sonic Charge (the people behind the Mictrotonic drum VST) to add to their wildly popular Pocket Operator series by including the PO-32 Tonic, a minute drum machine that can input new drum sounds through a built-in microphone. The PO-32 Tonic will never be a match for full-functioning units such as the DrumBrute (by Arturia), but early signs are that it might become the new industry standard for budget-conscious producers.