Musikmesse 2014: Early Announcements


The 2014 Musikmesse International Music Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, begins today and with it comes a wealth of exciting new product announcements for making music. Several major manufacturers have already unveiled updates and additions to their product lines of instruments, microphones, mixers, DJ controllers, audio interfaces, and more. As this week progresses, B&H Explora will provide more highlights from the show.   

Akai Professional

After five years of processing user feedback about the original APC40, Akai has updated its flagship Ableton Live performance controller with the new APC40 MKII.  Building on the success of the original layout, the new APC40 MKII is now plug-n-play, USB powered, with a sleeker form factor, eight rotary encoders, eight mappable device controls, eight send busses, A/B crossfader assignments, and a 5 x 8 grid of RGB color-changing LED launch buttons.

Akai has also updated the smaller sibling in the product family, the APC20, with the new APC mini. Designed to maximize the controller’s portability and performance, the mini fits a tri-color LED 8 x 8 grid of clip-launching buttons into a compact, bus-powered chassis with eight assignable channel faders and one master fader.

New to the series is the bus-powered APC Key 25, which combines a 5 x 8 RGB tri-color clip-launch matrix, and eight auto-mappable knobs with a 25 mini-key synth action keyboard. The combination of a clip matrix and keyboard adds new possibilities to composing and performing with virtual instruments. Akai is bundling all of the new APC controllers with a copy of Ableton Live 9 Lite, as well as a suite of samples, loops, and virtual instruments from Toolroom, Prime Loops, AIR Music, and SONiVox.

In the analog domain, Akai is releasing the Rhythm Wolf Analog Drum and Bass Synth Module, a five-voice analog drum machine and bass synthesizer. The device features six MPC-style velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads for kick, snare drum, percussion, hi-hat open, hi-hat closed, and bass synth. All of the drum and bass sounds are adjustable with an array of rotary knobs, and the unit includes dedicated audio outputs for drum and bass, as well as In/Out gate trigger connections. A built-in 32-step sequencer completes its classic drum machine style workflow. The Wolf gets its namesake from a special “Howl” knob, which modulates a custom distortion signal path to crush and alter the synthesizer’s sounds.


Nord, the acclaimed musical-instrument manufacturer that's based in Stockholm Sweden, announced the new Lead A1R analog-modeling synthesizer, a desktop and rack-mountable version of their recently released Lead A1 (which features a built-in keyboard). It utilizes a 24-voice polyphonic, four-part multi-timbral, analog-modeling engine to recreate the sounds of classic analog synthesizers. 

With user feedback from the customers, company co-founder and CEO Hans Nordelius redesigned the interface to accelerate experimentation through a set of shortcuts that utilize its eight configurable oscillators. The sound engine can generate 47 different waveforms, and includes LFO sync and a three-stage ADR modulation envelope. It also includes low, high, band, Lead 4 Mini ladder, and Lead 4 TB-303 ladder filtering, which add analog-style character to the sound. New chorus and ensemble models join the delay, reverb, drive, phaser, and flanger models of the synthesizer’s effect section. A master clock sync of the arpeggiator section, and a velocity/mod morph wheel expand the possibilities for live performance.

Nord has even added new features since the January, 2014 NAMM show, including a “Like” function for incrementally saving different variations of a new patch, before committing a version to a favorite in onboard memory. The new instruments also include the mutator function from the Nord Lead 4, which allows for new patches to be generated by adjusting the percentages of parameter combinations from existing patches, or randomly generating a patch by randomly adjusting all parameters. A unison mode can be used to harmonize and add weight and warmth to a sound. 


RME, the German manufacturer of premium audio equipment, has announced the new Fireface 802, a 19" rack-mountable audio interface with both USB and FireWire connectivity. It includes four completely analog microphone preamps with manual gain knobs and dual headphone outputs. The 802 provides 30-input and 30-output channels of low-latency conversion at 44.1kHz, with reduced SNR and up to 18 channels in, 18 channels out conversion at 192kHz. It also features TotalMix FX control, which offers 3-band parametric EQ, auto level, low cut, compressor, expander, phase reversal, and MS processingall controllable via iPad.   


At Musikmesse 2014, Tascam is introducing the UH-7000: a new 4-in / 4-out USB audio interface with a stand-alone microphone preamp. The interface rocks some impressive specs with a fully balanced signal path, 24-bit 192kHz Burr Brown conversion, AES/EBU digital out, a noise floor of -128dBU, a signal to noise ratio of 117dB, 1 PPM resolution internal temperature-compensated clock to reduce jitter, DSP effects and reverb, and a total harmonic distortion rating of just 0.0009%.

Stay tuned to B&H Explora for more news from Musikmesse 2014.