With the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas wrapping up last week, the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade show is just around the corner. It’s the place where many electronic music companies will first reveal what are sure to become some of the biggest products of the year. As NAMM approaches, we took a closer look at 10 companies we predict will make major waves in the scene this year.
Kicking off our list is the German juggernaut Native Instruments. At the forefront of software and hardware development catered primarily to DJs and producers for nearly two decades now, they have consistently been on our radar as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the space. Despite not participating in NAMM, Native Instruments often makes new product announcements around the same time. Some possible new products that we could see from them in the next few weeks include Traktor Pro 3 or the Kontrol Z4.
The Akai MPC is easily one of the most of the iconic production tools of all time, and as such we’re always eager to dive into Akai’s new offerings. Recently, they announced a new line of keyboards known as the Advance Keyboard, which claims to unite all of your plug-in instruments and VSTs within the one piece of gear. The main selling point of these new keyboards is the high resolution full-color display, which will provide users with the ability to browse and load presets from their VST instruments, as well as tweak parameters. This could very well be a game-changer if the user experience is up to the satisfaction of modern producers.
Although Cakewalk’s flagship DAW ‘Sonar’ has been around for ages, it is seldom brought up in current discussions about the best platform for producing electronic music. However, that could all be changing very soon, as Cakewalk is is set to debut its brand new version of Sonar next week at NAMM. What makes this announcement so interesting is that Cakewalk has opted for a subscription model platform, something that has never been done to date by a DAW.
Cakewalk will release three different versions – Artist, Professional and Platinum – each of which comes with a unique set of features. These can still be purchased with an upfront payment individually, but more interesting is the fact that you can get any one of the versions by signing up to the new membership model. This is unchartered territory for a music company, and although we are a bit skeptical of a DAW that employs a subscription service, we’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt until the full details are revealed in Anaheim.
7. Mixed In Key
Created by Yakov Vorobyev in 2006, Mixed In Key is a harmonic mixing tool that quickly rose to prominence in the electronic music scene for its clever algorithms and ability to identify the harmonic scale in which a song is recorded. Since then, it has gone on to become a staple in the tools that DJs use to craft harmonic mixes and improve their live DJ sets and music cataloging.
Just last week, Mixed in Key released the latest of their software, Version 7, and it already has received widespread acclaim from users. The addition of automated cue points for Traktor/Serato only pushes Mixed in Key further towards being the only tool you need to organize your music as a DJ. We expect that Mixed In Key’s mathematical approach will continue to make the lives of DJs and producers easier this year.
Known for its excellent line of both hardware and software products, Arturia recently announced that it will be unveiling two exciting new products at NAMM next week. One of them is a next generation audio interface – and although Arturia hasn’t leaked too much information about what will make this interface stand out in an already somewhat saturated market, it does promise to solve many of the current “challenges” users encounter with many currently popular interfaces such as the Apogee Duet.
Additionally, while Arturia has been putting out budget-friendly analog synthesizers for the last few years, this year they’ve opted to step it up with a multi-voice synthesizer known as the Polyphonic Microbrute. Both of these products indicate Arturia has big plans for 2015, and as such they make our list as one of the companies to watch this year.
5. Moog Music
Moog Music needs no introduction. It could be argued that without Moog, electronic music would never be where it is today. Even those who don’t closely follow the scene are familiar with this legendary entity. Just yesterday, Moog revealed that it would be recreating a trio of its legendary modular synths from the 1970s – the System 35, System 55 and Model 15.
We’re expecting to get the full details at NAMM, but so far we do know that Moog only will be releasing a limited run of these iconic remakes. Considering the limited run – coupled with the fact that they are modular synths – we can expect these will likely be outside the price range of most producers. Regardless, we still look forward to getting the full rundown on these new offerings. This should mark the start of another defining year for the pioneers at Moog.
While endless discussions continue to circulate about the the most popular DAW for producing, WaveMachine Labs has been quietly building up ownership of the mobile DAW market with its flagship product Auria. It has long been regarded as the most professional iPad DAW, but lack of advanced MIDI recording and editing have held it back from being a viable replacement for a full-fledged DAW.
This year, WaveMachine Labs is seeking to “raise the bar in mobile recording” by offering these and other new features in Auria Pro. They have promised that the new iteration will contain MIDI sequencing and a piano roll editor in addition to “real-time audio warping, powerful audio routing, two built-in synths, and much more.”
Given that we noted mobile production was definitely on the rise at the end of 2014, this announcement is in line with the type of advancements we’re excited to see in mobile production. We’ll be keeping a close eye on WaveMachine Labs.
When one thinks of companies that are refashioning dance music technology, Casio is definitely not one of the first names that comes to mind. That being said, Casio has been releasing music keyboards and other instruments for as long as anyone can remember and has definitely established itself as a household brand.
Just last week, the company announced the launch of two controllers – the XW-DJ1 and XW-PD1 Groove Center – aimed primarily at DJs and producers. Drawing heavily influences from Star Wars‘ Millennium Falcon, these are the first products we’ve seen from Casio targeted specifically towards the electronic music niche (not including their co-branded Spin controller). It seems that Casio is taking notice of the current rise of dance music. As far as we’re concerned, that can only result in good things.
We wouldn’t ordinarily list a music company that has yet to release a single product as one to watch out for, but this company’s Kickstarter campaign is so compelling that we can’t help but get excited. Their proposed product – simply titled Jack – would be the first guitar device to stream over Wi-Fi and plug into any guitar or amp to play wirelessly and connect to a PC, tablet or phone.
Although more targeted at guitarists than electronic musicians, naturally the implications of this are vast. Most producers would be happy to see the day where they don’t have to stumble over thousands of wires and plugs in their studios, and Ingenious Audio seems to be spearheading the effort to make that a reality. The new Scottish technology company has developed what it claims is the “biggest change to home music recording in 50 years” with Jack – and given that it just recently met its Kickstarter goal, we can’t wait to give it a try.
Of course no electronic music technology would be complete with a nod to the Japanese industry leaders Pioneer. Last year Pioneer topped our list of tech innovations with their launch of the XDJ-1000 and their vinyl turntable, the PLX-1000. We can only expect that Pioneer already has a full road-map of products and releases for 2015 (just this week they announced the new all-in-one XDJ-RX), and will continue to lead the way in the space. We eagerly look forward to what they have in store for us this year, and we’re hoping for some game-changing revelations.