Reviewed: IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O
The last six or seven years has seen the development of the iRig range grow from a simple compact mobile phone guitar plug to a full selection of interfaces, keyboards, microphones and even monitor speakers. It’s no surprise then that these products began to get morph into one another to create new possibilities and reduce the clutter of unwanted cabling. I think we can go back to the original iRig MIDI device to see the beginnings of the development process that has lead us to this new product. From a humble MIDI interface to a keyboard to a fully integrated recording and production device, we have finally ended up with the iRig Keys I/O. This is one of the coolest products released by IK Multimedia and one that will keep plenty of home and mobile music producers pleased.
Reviewed: Studiologic Numa Compact 2
It’s been a while since we were first introduced to the Studiologic Numa Compact, the 88 note keyboard that rewrote the rules on size. Now, the team at Studiologic seem to have gone all out and managed to squeeze even more features into a keyboard that by all rights should be a lot larger than it actually is. You could be forgiven for thinking this may be a toy at first glance, but the Numa Compact 2 is a serious instrument and it takes portability to a new level in 88-note keyboards. Big sound and big features don’t necessarily require a big cabinet, as we are about to find out.
Reviewed: Yamaha Genos digital workstation
Yamaha’s Tyros5 Workstation was designed as the ultimate performance keyboard, but Yamaha keeps redefining what they mean by ultimate. So meet Genos - the next generation in digital workstations. Now, Tyros could be quite an investment, and Genos is very much up there in terms of cost too, but from the second you sit down behind one, you’re going to get the feeling that not a cent of your cash has been wasted. The very first impression you’ll get is that this is a serious, pro-level piece of kit that takes what made Tyros great and reimagines it.
Reviewed: Waldorf Blofeld Virtual Analogue Synthesiser
It is no secret that I am a fan of Waldorf synthesisers. In the past I have owned the Pulse, a Microwave XT, and a Micro Q, all of which have served me well, especially when I get the urge for that thick and luscious synth-pop sound they do so well. So when the Blofeld first came out a number of years back I got my hands on one, not being able to resist hearing what was on offer. I think it was to the Blofeld’s detriment that it hit the market in a low point for hardware synthesisers and it almost went unnoticed for some time, only getting the attention of Waldorf fans. But now, with the introduction of its bigger, evil brother, Blofeld is back to take over the world once again.
Reviewed: Kawai ES110 digital piano
There are few of us that would dispute the fact that Kawai certainly know how to put together a beautiful playing and sounding piano. This also translates to their digital piano range where they implement sounds and engineering techniques recreate the tone and feel of their acoustic works of art. It is little wonder that so many people turn to a Kawai ES series digital piano when looking to learn and play piano at home. It doesn’t take up anywhere near the space of the real thing, and costs a considerably lower amount than an upright or a grand, yet still offers the playability and sound that you would expect from Kawai. The new ES110 is no exception, and being able to test drive it this month left me wondering why I haven’t touched a Kawai in so many years.
Casio MZ-X300 & MZ-X500
The MZ-X300 and MZ-X500 are Casio’s new flagship digital keyboard arrangers, with the MZ-X500 featuring a handful of extra features and sound capabilities. Both models feature nine drawbar organ sliders that double as a mixer, powerful inbuilt speakers totalling 40 watts of output, 61 velocity sensitive keys, mod-wheel and pitch bend wheel, a 5.3 inch colour touch screen, MIDI and audio recording, auto accompaniment with rhythm control and plenty more.
Nord Stage 2 EX 88
You’ve seen them on stages around the world, there is a certain presence that the big red keyboards have and that is not without reason either. And for those who are truly serious about their live sound and want the versatility to play any and all styles, the Nord Stage 2 EX 88 is the stage piano that you simply cannot go past. This is the newest update to the flagship model from Nord and it clears up a few issues that some users may have had in the past, making this the ultimate stage piano for the discerning keyboardist.
Yamaha PSR-EW400 Portable Keyboard
I have grown up using Yamaha PSR model keyboards, having started with the humble PSR6 around 25 years back. And thanks to Yamaha’s insistence on building quality instruments, that old beast is still going strong today. So, it was with some enthusiasm that I unboxed the PSR-EW400 this month – the latest model and flagship unit in the PSR-E range. This keyboard is a big step in the right direction for Yamaha in growing the PSR community as it brings in certain features that previous models could only have dreamed of, and maintains the value price point that we have come to expect from these keyboards.