The way we create and consume music is changing. It’s time to forget what you thought you knew about musical instruments and step into the digital age, says Matthew Herbst
Move on up
With eight sound engines, a four-track tape recorder, drum sampler, effects, MIDI-controller and more all built in, the Teenage Engineering OP-1 truly is an all-in-one portable wonder synthesizer. It’s also incredibly versatile and in addition to the range of sounds you can tease out of the synth engines, you can also sample and record audio from a built-in mic, line-in source and even the radio. Who would’ve thought so much sound could be squeezed out of something so beautiful and compact? From RO326.86 at www.teenageengineering.com
Ever heard of drum pants before? Well, now you have. Don’t expect to go to H&M and find a pair, though. DrumPants are wearable triggers that fit inside your trousers and include 100 built-in sounds with a USB connection to your PC or Mac. The DrumPants Pro Kit comes with six wearable drum triggers and also features Bluetooth LE wireless functionality for iOS and Android. Prices start at RO38.11 from www.trycelery.com
Rock and roll: been there, done that. Hang on, what’s this? A guitar? But it looks so wrong! It is, however, so right. Meet the Gittler Guitar. While it may resemble an arts and crafts project, the truth is that the Gittler offers 31 playable frets (10 more than a traditional guitar), a long neck, strings and a pickup. Ditch the boy band duets and get shredding for RO1,925. Check it out at www.gittlerinstruments.com
If you consider yourself multi-talented when it comes to the world of music, then the Artiphon Instrument 1 is for you. This African hardwood MIDI device with metal speaker grilles uses an iPhone as its brain. Once the iPhone is placed in the discreet black box, use the neck to select which instrument you wish to play (violin, guitar, keyboard, banjo and many more) and strum away. Under the neck, you’ll also find some additional controls that steer the instrument in more specific directions (bass mode for fret tapping, banjo mode with arpeggios, for instance). As for the MIDI options, it sports polyphonic aftertouch, vibrato, versatile modulation and mapping. There is an octave switch on the neck, giving you a wide range of notes with ease. Prices start at RO307.61 at www.artiphon.com
It’s got wind
Wind just got digital. Meet the EWI 5000, the most expressive and versatile wind instrument to date, with a huge array of advanced features, such as digital 2.4GHz ultra-low-latency wireless connectivity and more than 3GB of built-in traditional and progressive sounds. The EWI 5000 is jam packed with top-quality sounds, including traditional horn, brass and woodwind, as well as progressive synths and other non-traditional sounds. This magnificent instrument comes with 12 touch-sensitive metal keys on its top and an eight-wheel thumb-controlled octave roller on the bottom. Either hook it up to an amplifier or plug in headphones for silent practice, the choice is yours. RO307.69 from www.amazon.com
If you’ve ever had a burning desire to play the trombone, iBone offers you the chance to do just that! This virtual master class allows you to either blow into your device’s mic or use your fingers to tap the notes on the app’s background to control the sound produced. You can even play along with songs from your iTunes. Easy and great fun. Snap it up for RO.50 at www.itunes.com
New! – Air Instrument Expansion Pack
The AIR Instrument Expansion Pack combines multiple synthesis technologies, instrument samples, high-definition digital drums, vintage electric pianos, as well as a comprehensive digital groove-creation platform. Today’s musicians, composers, and producers will be able to tap into familiar sounds or create something no one has ever heard before.
- Hybrid 3.0 combines the warmth of analog synthesis with futuristic digital controls.
- Loom is a modular extra that lets you explore additive synthesis with 30 editable modules with a sound-shifting Morph Pad.
- The Vacuum Pro is a polyphonic analog tube synthesizer that re-invents the throwback sounds of the analog age.
- Structure delivers a world of sounds with multi-timbral layering and comprehensive sample editing.
- Strike is a drum and arranger instrument with a realistic performance engine.
- Velvet puts five electric pianos at your fingertips.
- Transfuser 2 is a melodic and groove creation that offers powerful sound manipulation capabilities.
Combine all these together with 70+GB of samples, loops, effects, and 2,000+ tweakable patches and presets and you’ve pretty much got an entire recording studio in front of you. The only catch is that you now have to pay per instrument, as they no longer come in an actual digital package – disappointing. Each one costs from RO57.36 at www.airmusictech.com