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Re: next remix review to appear in American Gear catalog
> >The NEXT! Wave Has Arrived.
> >Ahh... analog. For most DJ's and producer-types, the very word itself
> conjures up those big, deep bass tones and sharp-as-a-razor filter sweeps
> that only vintage analog gear can really deliver. But until now, scoring
> that classic piece of retro analog gear-a TB-303 Bassline, a Moog synth,
> Vocoder, or any number of pawn-shop prizes-meant scouring the swap meets
> paying big, big bucks on the vintage synth market. But thanks to a new
> company called NEXT!, all that's about to change...
> >When American Gear invited me to review four products from the new NEXT!
> lineup of analog music and DJ processing gear, I jumped at the chance.
> arrived on my doorstep days later was the real deal: the SUPERBASS 4.4
> SPACEBASS 3.3 Analog Bass Synthesizers, the REZ-30 Resonator, and the
> Vocoder. Each unit was a compact 1U rack-mount size and sported a bunch
> front panel knobs with cool retro synth names like "VCO," "VCF," and
> Anxious to drop these beauties into a house remix I was working on, I
> plugged 'em right in.
> >First up was the SPACEBASS 3.3 Analog Bass Synthesizer. This unassuming
> little unit was simple to set up. I connected my keyboard to the MIDI In
> jack on the 3.3's back panel and then connected an instrument cable to
> 3.3's audio output (the big one labeled "OUT"-duh). The front panel was
> similarly sparse: just eight knobs for VCO Tune and Wave; VCF Cutoff,
> Resonance, and EnvMod; VCA/VCF Accent; Envelope Decay and Master Volume.
> you don't know what all these abbreviations stand for, don't worry. These
> terms come from the glory days of analog synths, standing for things like
> "Voltage Controlled Oscillator," and "Voltage Controlled Filter." And
> me, you've definitely heard the sound of these knobs being twirled on
> classic techno and electro-funk tracks from Detroit to Germany-making it
> easy to just plug in and start tweakin'.
> >The devilish analog growl of the SPACEBASS 3.3 had me floored within
> seconds of hitting that first key. Squealing techno lines of the "acid"
> variety and ultra-deep dub-style bass from those hip-hop records your
> warned you about are easy stuff here. This bass synth is, in short, a
> modern-day emulation of the classic R..... TB-303 Bassline, right down to
> the built-in Accent functions, which activate when you play your keyboard
> above a certain velocity. In my opinion, this affordable little box has
> that 'must-have' 303 sound nailed-truly sick bass sounds, teeth-grinding
> filter sweeps and all. And it's a heck of a easier to use and more
> than the original.
> >Having dropped a few choice filter sweeps and a gnarled buzzsaw hit or
> into my track, I decided to explore the SPACEBASS 3.3's big brother, the
> SUPERBASS 4.4. The family resemblance was strong between these two bass
> brethren, with this big guy boasting just a few more knobs and features
> expanded MIDI capability. Namely, the SUPERBASS gives you a cool
> control for "sliding" between notes (also called portamento), a Wave
> for selecting between Saw and Square waves (the 3.3 has a continuously
> adjustable knob instead), an Envelope PWM control for thickening up the
> Square wave, and a built in Distortion knob for adding, well, you know.
> favorite addition on the 4.4 however, was the Sub Oscillator, which added
> some phat bass frequencies so low that I'm sure only dogs could've heard
> them. The Sub Oscillator can be blended with the Square and Saw waves for
> some truly luscious and full bass sounds, which I quickly used to replace
> the now-wimpy bass sound in my remix. For those who spend any time in the
> world of MIDI sequencing, you'll be glad to know that SUPERBASS 4.4 also
> offers MIDI In, Out and Thru jacks.
> >I next plugged in to the REZ-30 Resonator to see what I could do to
> tweak my almost-full house track. Thankfully, the REZ-30 opened up lots
> possibilities. This unit offers some very sharp sound filtering and
> phasing/flanging type effects based on a classic analog synth circuit
> three parallel filters. To make things interesting, it also includes a
> three-mode LFO Modulation section with adjustable rate and depth and an
> Envelope Modulation section with depth and decay controls-controls which
> react to input frequencies to make things downright scary. I decided to
> my drum loops and keyboard tracks through the REZ-30, and the resulting
> filter sweeps and tweaks were among the sharpest and most powerful I've
> heard. I filtered away at two of my loops to give them a unique "pulsing"
> feel, then I went back and used the REZ-30 to flange out the synth sounds
> and give them an ambient touch. Best of all, this whole process was
> simple, and I could easily see bringing the REZ-30 into my DJ rig to
> mix, flange a breakbeat, phase out a vocal, and more. The possibilities
> are really endless.
> >The final piece of NEXT! gear in my rack was the big, bad VOX-II
> For those of you who haven't played with a vocoder-a good analog
> VOX-II is a real eye- and ear-opener. Basically, a vocoder takes a sound
> with lots of sustain-a long synth sound, for example-and controls its
> with a separate distinct sound-usually the human voice or something with
> lots of rhythmic variation like a drum loop. The effect produced by
> combining these sounds is truly unique, as heard in the synth-like robot
> voices of some of funk and disco's biggest hits. Possible uses include
> voices, talking basslines, singing synth leads, synth sounds that "pulse"
> like drum loops, and more. Not to be overlooked in the VOX-II is its
> 11-band Filter Bank section, which I used to dial in to the exact vocoder
> frequencies I wanted to hear, as well as to create some general madness
> my loop. I spent hours just playing with the VOX-II, seeing how far I
> merge my voice into synthland. I eventually decided to run the vocals
> my remix through the VOX-II and create a very funky chorus vocal.
> >Without exception, the new analog NEXT! gear was a joy to use. Simple,
> straightforward operation, ultra-phat analog sounds, sturdy construction,
> and DJ-friendly pricing was clearly the goal here. Thankfully, NEXT! gear
> delivers on all counts. Let's hope my remix does the same in the clubs