I wiggled the Nyborg 12, here are my thoughts


I have slimmed down my workspace by shedding some weight in terms of analog synth gear, but I still have a soft spot for physical knobs and I will always want a solid analog instrument on my desk.

On that note, I looked around for what my next analog synth should be, and there was one that really stood out for me, the Analogue Solutions Nyborg 12. The thing that caught my eyes, besides the well rounded specs, was the fantastic design and form factor. Like something taken straight from the set of a 50s sci-fi movie I pictured it towering on my desk with its LFO led slowly pulsing…

Right??? Yes, awesome indeed!

Still it’s a pricey piece of kit, so I wanted to actually ‘play’ it for a while to get a feel before I pulled the trigger, and here are my initial thoughts after wiggling with it for about 20min in the store.


nyborg-12-rightYes, the design is fantastic, including the font and color scheme, size and slight inclination of the font panel.

Ergonomically it’s a great kit to work with. Knobs are large and easy to grip and the placement of the patch points along the top makes it easy to connect to the outside world without cables cluttering up the whole front panel.

(You really wish the Dark Energy from Doepfer would take a cue here…)

The whole unit is also a lot lighter in weight than you might think, which at first had me worried that it would tip over. Turns out the wider base is enough to support it though, and you can flip the front panel over and lay it down flat on your desk if that suits your taste.

Soundwise the filter (SEM style, 12dB, multimode) sounds every bit as nice as you would expect. Friendly, warm and creamy, especially the LP. It does lack some of the biting quality of a Moog style 24dB filter, but that’s not what the Nyborg is trying to deliver. If you want that you want another synth.

The oscillators I found to be very well behaved. Suffering perhaps a little from the same somewhat constrained qualities (a bit tame?) as I often hear in DSI instruments like the Tetra and the Prophet 12. (Yes, I know those use DCOs and not VCOs, but to my ears they sounded similar for some reason.)

The build quality was OK but not as stellar as Analogue Solutions like to tote on their website. Potentiometers felt a bit wobbly and the casing was not 100% sealed in the edges meaning dust could easily find its way in. Could just be that the unit I wiggled had stood in the store for a while and taken some abuse…


front-flatI’m sure there’s an audience for the Nyborg and that in the right hands it can and will sound great, but for me it was not that immediate fit that I had hoped for.

I had a hard time dialling away the metallic cleanliness which I did not expect to find in an all analog instrument like this, and the build quality just didn’t feel as solid as I had wished for.

Still, it’s a fantastic instrument if this is what your looking for, and there’s a good chance me and the Nyborg might meet again. Perhaps then the stars will align and it could be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship…

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Quick review of Neon Drive Expansion for Maschine

IMG_2971Native Instruments released a new expansion for Maschine today by the (as always awesome) name Neon Drive. Neon Drive promises ‘a cascade of lush chords, pads, enraptured melody, and distinct retro drums’ that will ‘teleport through 80s production techniques and arrive in the future’, and it certainly does not disappoint.

I’ve been dabbling in 80s pop sounds for a while now so getting this one was a no-brainer.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the included drum kits and one shots. The kits and individual hits really brings back the 80s in style, while at the same time feeling fresh and up to date. My favourite so far is the Neon Lights kit.

Moving on to the instruments, those sounds really good too. I’m especially impressed by the basses and the pads, not so excited by the leads. Don’t get me wrong, the leads sound good too, but you can cook up most of them in Massive without too much tweaking.

In all I haven’t been this excited about a Machine expansion since Pulswerk came out like 2 years ago and I really recommend you checkout this one if you are into synthpop, and especially the 80s / early 90s sound.

Neon Drive comes with:

  • 8 projects
  • 40 Drum Kits
  • 297 Drum Samples
  • 359 Oneshot Samples
  • 268 Patterns

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Novation Launchkey Mini vs Arturia MiniLab

I have not used the Launchkey Mini yet, the below is based on specs and photos.

launchkeymini_angle-640x412So Novation has announced the Launchkey Mini (sp ~$99). With 25 mini keys, 16 pads, 8 rotary knobs and 2 performance buttons, all assignable of course, it makes for a sweet little MIDI keyboard, not at all unlike the Arturia MiniLab that also launched recently.

I got a chance to play around with the Arturia board for a couple of days and it certainly has the upper hand when it comes to design in my opinion. Of course the two are not entirely comparable given that you get a bloody awesome collection of 5000 analog synth emulation presets with the Arturia board..

My biggest gripe with the Arturia MiniLab was the touch strips. Very poor quality and performance which in the end rendered it almost unusable for me. The keys and the pads though were very nice and responsive. The Launchkey Mini has gone a step further and done away with the traditional modulation / pitch controls entirely. My suspicion is that you can use the two ‘performance buttons’ for this by assigning them your self?

MiniLab_275In terms of connectivity the only difference is that you get a foot switch input on the MiniLab. This could be important to you depending on your playing style. Both are USB powered and class compliant. I for one really wish they had a MIDI out port for connecting straight to some of my older analog gear, but that dear old round connection seems to be an endangered species these days…

Looking at the bundles software (Launchkey Mini: Bassstation, V-Station, Live Lite, Samples, Launchkey app for iPad vs. MiniLab: AnalogLab with 5000 classic synth presets) it really depends on your style of music and workflow. I love the Arturia emulations since they fit very well with the kind of music I make, but the flexibility of the Novation soft synths where you are not limited to presets is also very attractive. In the end it’s up to you.

Check out the rivals at their respective websites below:

Echigoya, another synth power-spot in Tokyo

In January this year I presented the FiveG store in Harajuku, Tokyo, but the city is home to many other fantastic gems for synth heads. Today I’ll post some pictures from the Echigoya Music (えちごやミュージック) store in Shibuya.

Along with FiveG, I would list Echigoya as probably one of the best spots in Tokyo to go searching for vintage or just used synthesizers and other studio gear. It’s a small shop but filled floor to ceiling with some really fantastic gear. Prices are reasonable too, and the manager is more than happy to assist with shipping to just about any region of the world.

To get to this store you get off at the Shibuya station and walk towards Harajuku along the JR (Yamanote) line tracks. You’ll bump into Tower Records on your right side.


Echigoya will be across the street.


You have to take the elevator up to the 9th floor.


Inside you’ll find keyboards, synth modules, rack gear, accessories and tons of other gear.


Look at that, a used Korg Volca Beats makes a surprise appearance. I would have bought it but my mind is set on a Elektron Machinedrum now…


Lots and lots of gear.


If I had the means I would have picked up a SEM or two…


Lot’s of MPC goodness. With some custom skins too…


On a side note, when I was walking back to Harajuku I spotted this charming sign near the Yoyogi park:


It basically says that all unauthorized live music performances using amps are forbidden in the park. The background is most likely that this has traditionally been one of the most popular spots for amateur bands and performers to do impromptu shows. Thus, today the area was entirely devoid of any music and mostly desolated. Sad to see such a nice ‘tradition’ go, but I’m sure they will find other spots across the city.

Check out the Echigoya Music website here!

SKB 61 Key Case For Access Virus TI2

Quick review for all of you looking for a road-worthy case for an Access Virus TI 2 Keyboard.

I’m about to move some gear over a great distance and I’ve been looking for suitable, rugged cases for my keyboards / synths. Check out my other posts on the cases and solutions I’ve come up with, but today we’ll focus on the Access Virus TI2 Keyboard.

The Virus TI2 is a 61 full size key synth measuring roughly 40″ long by 15″ deep and 4″ tall. Based on this size I decided to get the SKB Roto-ATA 61-Note Keyboard Case from Amazon since it’s interior dimensions matched the requirements and it looked rugged enough.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 10.29.38 PMFirst in terms of build quality I would say it’s a 7/10. Not bad but also not as good as a Pelican case for example. I have no immediate concerns that the case itself will break in any joints or details, but the sturdiness and thickness of the plastic is not as high quality as I had hoped for. Still, with sufficient padding it should stand up to shipping / transportation just fine.

The included padding and wedges are of high quality, but because of the tight fit it is hard to use the wedges that are supposed to keep the keyboard from sliding around inside the case. You can squeeze them in there but then there is no room for any additional padding. I opted to leave them out and instead wrap the synth in large format bubble wrap. I also added extra foam, that I had left over from a pelican case, on the sides. Last I added sheets of bubble wrap below and on top of the synth to give it some extra padding from accidental bumps and such.

All in all I think it worked out just fine, and I feel pretty safe about seeing the Virus off in this case.