Fender reveal 11 new Original Series guitars at NAMM

Fender have a new line of remakes for their classics which will replace their line of American Vintage guitars with the new American Original Series.

Another year, another NAMM and this year Fender are continuing their mission to put a Fender in every home. Fender are renowned for their classics and they know this, bringing out another range of their famous guitars in a modern build.

The new American Original Series will see 11 new models based on the cream of their crop from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. They promise to marry the “classic Fender vibe”with “distinct modern features”. The guitars will feature the components that made them shine back in their heyday combined with updated fingerboards and switches for the most comfortable, yet authentic experience.

The American Original Series will feature Stratocasters from the ’50s and ’60s, Telecasters from the ’50s and ’60s, a ’60s Jazzmaster, ’60s Jaguar. The Strats and the ’50s Tele will also come in left-handed options. For basses there’s ’50s and ’60s Precision Basses and ’60s and ’70s Jazz Basses.

They will come in 13 finishes: Aztec Gold, White Blonde, 2-Colour Sunburst, Olympic White, Candy Apple Red, 3-Color Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde, Fiesta Red, Lake Placid Blue, Surf Green, Ocean Turquoise, Natural and Black.

Each guitar comes with a little tagline of why it’s being re-released (not that we don’t know by now). For example, the ’50s Stratocaster press release comes with:

When Fender released the Stratocaster in 1954, we didn’t set out to create a classic – but we did. The Stratocaster’s sleek style, articulate sound and plethora of innovations redefined electric guitar and opened up a brave new world of musical possibilities.

The American Original Series is out now for your purveying or purchasing pleasure. Each guitar/bass will cost you between £1,609 and £1,879. Find out more: shop.fender.com/en-GB/american-original

Transform how you play with one MIDI Ring to rule them all

Put on this ring and your playing is transformed with new dimensions of control and it has Stevie Wonder’s seal of approval.

Enhancia is a ring that changes your playing with each movement. Use gesture controls to modulate, filter and effect your sound in numerous ways which feel as natural as playing normally.

Connect the ring up with your MIDI instrument, for example a keyboard and vary your playing with each movement of your hand. You set and control the exact parameters you want so that each movement provides the effect you want how you want it. Using an accelerometer the ring can provide vibrate from shaking your hand, change filter frequencies as you raise and lower your hand and much more.

The Enhancia Ring is another pathway to expressive playing which is becoming more and more important in musical developments in recent years. You can see similarities in products like Seaboard which transforms keyboards into one long playable surface with keys moulded into it so that you can slide, wobble, and play the instrument beyond just its notes. The Enhancia Ring lets you do this with a standard keyboard however its movement is less natural as you control the cadence from your finger.

The ring connects through a hub which can be connected through a computer or directly through a keyboard. The wireless connection is optimised for super low latency so that every movement takes its effect instantaneously.

The ring is still in development by French company Oria which hopes to launch the Enhancia ring via a Kickstarter campaign in March 2018. The ring was unveiled in all it’s glory at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week and will be exhibited further at the National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM) later this month.

The Enhancia Ring got a test run by Stevie Wonder who gave his approval, saying: “I like it… I love it.”

Sony just announced loads of new headphones, and they’re getting Google Assistant

Sony are betting big on their earphones and headphones with more than you can shake a stick at coming out this year.

At the Consumer Electronics Show this year Sony showed off their massive range of headphones. Alongside a bunch of new headphones they also revealed that Google Assistant will work with new headphones and a range of their older ones.

The addition of Google Assistant will let you use the smart AI to play music, take calls, ask questions and more all by talking to your headphones. The list of models that will be getting Google Assistant functionality will include: WH-1000XM2, WI-1000X, WF-1000X, WF-SP700N, WI-SP600N, WH-CH700N, WH-H900N.

On the new headphones front we’re getting an heir to Sony’s MDR-Z1R in the shape of the MDR-1AM phones (who decides these names, really?). These particular cans are capable of playing Hi-Res Audio of up to 100 kHz frequencies thanks to a 40mm HD driver powering the sound. These will be launched sometime in Spring for $300.

Sony’s range wasn’t just made of headphones with a trio of Bluetooth earphones announced for launch early this year as well. The earphones are all fairly similar in design and provide subtly different options for different prices. The buds are fully wireless and the most expensive will be $180 for the WF-SP700N.

Sony earphones new reveal CES music listening headphones

The earphones come with noise-cancelling abilities as well as splashproof design for going out and about in all weathers. The buds have a battery life of roughly 3 hours however with the included charging case can last up to 9 in total.

Sony seem to be going for year of the headphone with all their announcements, including their concept pair of Xperia Ear Open buds. These feature a hole in the buds so you can continue to hear your surroundings and talk to people whilst listening to music, however no release date has been set for these yet.

Pay musicians with claps for every stream with this new speaker

Volareo could revolutionise the streaming game with great payouts for artists and even the ability to tip artists with claps.

Volareo is a speaker and a music streaming service all in one that could revolutionise the game for artists. It’s the world’s first Smart speaker to be powered by Musicoin blockchain technology and seems almost too good to be true.

Using the power of blockchain the Volareo smart speaker is able to pay out higher rates for each music stream (currently $0.10 cents a stream). On top of higher streaming rates Volareo also offers a unique new way of showing when you love an artist.

By clapping, or less fun-ly clicking a button, you can tip an artist various amounts of Musicoin so they get what you think they deserve rather than a service’s set price. Each Volareo speaker comes with a pre-loaded wallet with $10 of Musicoin for your tipping pleasure so you can start tipping straight away. You can then add more money to your wallet when you have run out to tip more artists.

The founder of ROCKI, Nick Yap says: “Blockchain technology offers levels of engagement from fans and compensation to the artists that were unimaginable years ago. Powered by Musicoin, we designed Volareo to work seamlessly with this new movement.”

Blockchain is a Musicoin that generates currency using an algorithm that “enables musicians and consumers to exchange value in a frictionless environment”. It’s like a currency made just for music artists and listeners. Musicoin blockchain chief creator, Issac Mao puts it simply: “The more you share, the more you receive.”

Mao said: “With Volareo, you don’t just listen to and discover new music – you reward your favourite artist instantly. By partnering with ROCKI, we have created a device that gives music lovers the ability to kick off a revolution right from their living room. This has been a dream of mine for years.”

ROCKI and Musicoin plan to be able to deliver the Volareo speaker by the end of 2018. They hope to be able to team up with musicians to promote and brand the product with it’s artist-focussed approach.

Sony’s Xperia Ear Open are hole-y earphones that keep you connected with the world

Sony have a new pair of open-ear earphones that allow you to groove along to your favourite songs whilst never disconnecting from the world around you.

Sony’s ‘Xperia Ear Open’ headphones are the new earhole plugs from Sony that won’t block off the world around you thanks to holes in the buds. At first glance it looks like they’ve fallen apart but those large gaps at the top of the earbuds are entirely purposeful and a lot of what makes the Xperia Ear Open special.

Whilst there has been no shortage of earphones attempting to integrate real-world sound into what you’re hearing until now this has been done with a tiny microphone that records real-world sounds to play back to you. The Xperia Ear Open allows you to listen to your music whilst being able to hear like you don’t even have earphones on.

It may sound like it might be distracting having your music playing whilst still engaged with your surroundings but those who’ve tried it say it feels natural. Like playing music from your stereo when with your friends, or having muzak in the background as you navigate a shop it doesn’t distract you in conversations. They say that because they’re holed you’re hearing things almost as you would normally.

The one downside to these earphones is that, because it works with a physical hole, there’s no way to switch so that you only hear your music if you want to. Whilst it’s a much more natural effective way to hear the outside world with earphones it, the one’s that used microphones often had the ability to turn that channel off.

Whilst the sound quality isn’t bad on the Xperia Ear Open the way that you’ll be hearing music you won’t be getting the best quality listening experience. The earphones are clearly much more about function than quality, which they do well but are unlikely to replace your favourite buds. Thanks to the unique design the earphones reportedly don’t fit that snugly as they can’t go very deep into the ear.

Whilst Sony don’t have a release date or pricing details for the Xperia Ear Open and are still calling it a concept currently. They have been working on refining the earphones for over a year now so assumably we can expect a release at some-point soon.

Zoom mics have new competition in Roland’s versatile R-07 audio recorder

The announcement of Roland’s new portable recorder should send chills up the spines of competitors with quality, versatility, and most importantly affordability.

The R-07 is Roland’s new compact recorder which is capable of amazing things in a tiny package. The stylish yet simple device can record high-resolution audio wherever you are with Hybrid Limiting, wireless listening, and even remote control using a smartphone.

Now you’re probably, rightfully, curious about the smartphone connectivity. The R-07 has Bluetooth connectivity built-in which allows you to control, monitor, and listen to your recordings from a smartphone, on a smartwatch or through Bluetooth speakers. Remote recording opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

The Bluetooth technology in R-07 uses Qualcomm aptX for the smoothest streaming performance. Eliminating the need for wires from your recorder gives so much more potential for recording, not just in distance but also hassle by removing wires and therefore tangling from the equation. I can’t be the only one who get’s excited about a lack of tangled wires, right?

The R-07 has been built so that it can be used in any situation, whether that be on the road (or at home) demos, interviews, documenting lectures/speeches, field recordings or pretty much anything. The recorder comes with a range of built-in scenes which you can select and it will optimise it’s recording for your surroundings. Scenes will adjust the sample rate, record mode, limiter, low cut, and input levels for the best sound in that environment.

Fail-safes within the R-07 ensure that no recording is wasted or ruined. Using Dual Recording and Hybrid Limiting the R-07 is capable of taking two recordings at a time: a full level recording and a lower level recording. Using Hybrid Limiting the device can replace clipping within the main recording with the segment from the lower level recording, making limiting as easy as it can be.

Roland’s R-07 is available for £199 from stores now, which is roughly the same or less than you’d expect for a similar quality recorder from competitors. Find out more about it’s specs and find a store selling it near you here: www.roland.com/us/products/r-07/specifications

Sennheiser push the limits of headphones with these audiophile’s dream

Sennheiser think they’ve created the new standard for audiophiles with their new cans offering an “unparalleled listening experience”.

Sennheiser have revealed a newcomer joining their high-end Audiophile range of headphones. The new model may cause controversy though with a closed back design that Sennheiser promise performs as well as, if not better, than open back headphones.

Sennheiser’s upcoming HD 820 phones introduce an innovative technology that allows them to play spectacular quality sound that feels natural. The 820 HD is an evolution of the HD 800 S but introduces a wide open sound with closed backs. They work using a concave glass sheet to reflect the sound waves into an absorber to create minimal resonance.

The HD 820 headphones are all about how they sound brilliant with diverse technology created an authentic open sound without even being open. Sennheiser are also incredibly proud of the rest of the build with handcrafted ear pads that are “extra comfortable”, silvercladded OFC cables and gold plated plugs, and metal headband with an inner damping element.

Sennheiser’s HD 820 bring exceptional audio quality straight to your ears but it comes with a steep price tag. When they launch a pair of these will set you back £1,999/$2,399. It’s a lot for a pair of headphones, but for audiophiles they could be the next bar for audio manufacturers.

One of the world’s smallest synths can now be the world’s smallest sequencer

miniMO is a tiny synth that made modular synths affordable and simple, now it’s getting MIDI connections and a sequencer.

Created by developer Jose Gonzalez (no, not that one), the miniMO brought modular synthesizers into your hands, like it literally fits in your palm. Now Gonzalez is back with an accessory to transform the possibilities of miniMO.

Gonzalez has created midiMO, an accessory for miniMO that introduces a MIDI output for unlimited fun. The accessory connects up with Gonzalez’s new step sequencer software for the miniMO which lets you completely create and customise your own patterns with the miniMO. With the midiMO you become the proud owner of probably the smallest sequencer in the world.

The midiMO is also incredibly affordable, at just €12.36 with free shipping, and an assembled midiMO is only €25. The midiMO gives you:

  • A female MIDI adapter to connect miniMO to any device with a MIDI input
  • A three-pronged jumper to power both miniMO and the MIDI adaptor from the internal battery
  • A custom 3D-printed enclosure with flexible outer cover
  • Two laminated faceplates: one generic, one with custom markings for the sequencer
  • A Davis-1900h clone knob with brass insert and set screw

Gonzalez says of his products: “I want to encourage people to have a go at modular synths without a fear of breaking the synth, or the bank. For the average price of a typical module you can buy, or build yourself, several miniMOs, which you then load with programs according to your interests. Want to try three LFO’s? Reprogram three of your modules – no need to buy more dedicated units.”

The midiMO is the new kid on the block but if you don’t already know about the fascinating (and wickedly cheap) miniMO synth then find out more from the miniMO site: minimosynth.com/product/minimo_module/

Add, switch and remove effects from Biyang’s incredible new guitar pedalboard

The LiveMaster is a new pedalboard that lets you pick and choose what effects you want on it and when with complete control.

From Chinese effects company Biyang comes the LiveMaster, an awesome new way of creating a custom pedalboard. The LiveMaster allows you to pick and choose from 40 micro effect pedals which each slot into the pedalboard and can be switched out with any of the others.

The LiveMaster comes in 3 different editions which respectively hold four, seven, and ten effects. The mini effect modules slot into the board with a spring-locking system which eliminates the busyness of a board made up of pedals and wires. Which is another point, the pedalboard requires just one input and one output no matter the number of effects you have in the board.

The 40 effect modules includes everything you could want including Distortion, Boost, Chorus, Phase, Looping, Delay, Reverb, Compression, Tuner, and so much more. As they’re all connected in a singular chain the LiveMaster also helps to reduce noises from cable connections and strengthens the line signal. More effects are planned to be released.

The chassis for the effects is made up of lightweight aluminium and offers a true-bypass. Each module slot has it’s own footswitch so you can activate and de-activate effects live, as well as the option to program it as a tap-tempo. LiveMaster also features an internal memory so you can save patches.

So I bet you’re wondering how many hundreds this pedalboard will cost you. It’s actually incredibly cheap with the chassis going for between £47/$65 and £99/$120. Getting a big collection of the modules will cost a bit more at between £23/$19 to £34/$48 each, but the beauty of it is that you can just select the few you want or build your collection one at a time.

You can find out more on Biyang’s site and purchase your own here: https://spartanmusic.co.uk/collections/biyang-guitar-pedals/products/biyang-livemaster-looper-pedal

Behringer leaks new synths and drum machine, denies they’re real

Last week Behringer leaked a range of synths with a bunch of absolute classics getting a clone, but they’re denying it.

Last week Behringer’s website “accidentally” showed up a bunch of new synths including clones of the ARP2600, EMS Synthi, WASP, Otave Cat and more. Behringer are renowned for their low prices on gear so cloning these classic synths could introduce all new players to legendary models affordable for once.

The synths as well as a category called “samplers” were quickly taken down from the website. That left everyone questioning, was that a leak, an accident, a bizarre promo? Now Behringer have given their official statement, claiming that it was “a rather unfortunate error”.

Their full statement reads:

Dear Friends,

It was brought to our attention that early this morning a rather unfortunate error occurred on the Behringer product page. This error mistakenly posted information for a number of different product design concepts from our product management repository which is contained and part of an automated backend system for our websites. The cause of the error was due to a website glitch and was completely unintentional. The moment we realized the error, we removed the content.

As we are owning the mistake, we also feel it’s necessary to inform the public about this error as a sign of good faith. It was not our intention to mislead customers in any way nor use this as a marketing tool. To be perfectly transparent, the leaked information does not imply any availability at this time or even definitive evidence that we intend to officially develop or deliver these products in the future. At this stage, the leaked products are merely concepts and nothing more.

To be honest we are embarrassed by this glitch and sincerely apologize to you who have been so supportive of our efforts over the years. We greatly appreciate your support and understanding of the situation.

Is it likely that a simple glitch could cause multiple “non-existent” products to appear? Who are we to say, but we reckon Behringer have something exciting to look forward to.