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HBF’s resident tech-head, James Trigo, rounds up the latest goings on in the world of music technology with news from Namm, Elecktron, Waldorf, Universal Audio, Korg and Roland.

Welcome back to the first of this years music tech round-ups, our pick of the months best in musical gadgetry. And with Namm 2014 all done and dusted, this months round-up should make up for the recent lull.

First up is Elektron’s new drum machine, with the catchy title, Analog Rytm. Pitched as an analogue/digital hybrid, the unit is furnished with eight-voices, 12 pads, a step sequencer, reverb and delay effects, and support for sample layering. The unit also provides eight separate outputs for each drum track allowing you to record each individually into your DAW. It’s similar in look to other products in the Elektron family and should be available in the next couple of months at $1549/€1489.


German synth developer, Waldorf announced the release of 2-Pole, a neat standalone analogue filter that you can stick pretty much anything through, think of it as a fully analogue stomp box to add some analogue filtering to your setup. It has the same filter that’s in their Rocket Synth, so it’s going to be fairly high quality, and the filter can be modulated by either LFO or envelope follower, which has a trigger section for feeding in an external signal. The 2-Pole is dropping imminently for $249


Making a name in audio interfaces with the Apollo in 2012, Universal Audio’s latest creation, the Apollo Twin sees the company branching out into the more affordable end of the spectrum. Not only does it look like it should be sat next to a Mac, it currently only has support for a Mac with Thunderbolt connectivity. Delivering 24-bit/192kHz audio, the desktop interface includes two mic/line inputs, two line outputs and two monitor outputs. Due to the built in DSP the unit can bear the load of the plug-in tasks, reducing latency, and if you want to stump up more cash you can buy further plug-ins for the unit from UA’s website. Currently shipping in two flavours, the Solo and Duo, for £729/$699 and £929/$899 respectively.

Known for synth emulation plug-ins Arturia have made their first step into hardware controllers with the BeatStep, a compact controller with 16 pads that have two modes, a red midi controller mode and a blue step sequencer mode. There are 16 MIDI assignable encoders, transport buttons and a larger encoder to assign CC7 to. What stands out is the connectivity, providing both Mac and iPad support via USB, as well as MIDI and CV out so you can use the BeatStep with your old synths for step sequencing etc. Shipping at the end of March at under £100 this is looking more and more tempting.

As part of the recent analogue revival Korg have gone one step further and instead of releasing an imitation version have just re-released the original, the only catch being you’ll have to assemble it yourself. Luckily it’s mainly nuts and bolts so you don’t need to brush up on your soldering skills. With a full size keyboard and 1/4″ plugs it’s going to be easier to play with than the MS-20 Mini and with Korg stating that their engineers have insured that it’s a complete replication of the original (even the packaging) it should tempt quite a few. At $1400 and with only 1000 kits available you’re going to have to be quick to pick one up when they’re released in March.

Last but not least we can’t go out without mentioning the Roland Aira TR-08 drum machine, which has already received it’s fair share of hype as the evolution of the TR-808. The first thing we learn’t is it isn’t an analogue device, which may have turned a few people off already. But so far all Roland have really offered up is a teaser clip and a video of various producers reminiscing about the classic drum machines of the past, so watch this space.

James Trigo

James Trigo is an advocate for the craft of making a good tune. Whiling away the small hours with his head in a sequencer, if he's not making music he's listening to it, and then writing about it. Come say hello. Free free to contact James here: onetwotrigo@gmail.com