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Melbourne Synth Fest 2018 Roundup

The last weekend of November saw the first ever Melbourne Synth Festival take place as part of Melbourne Music Week. Held at the Meat Market in North Melbourne it was two days of music performances, seminars, demos and of course a chance to get hands-on with loads of gear! Organised by the Australian Music Association (AMA), the same team who've had great success with the Melbourne Guitar show in recent years, Synth Fest was designed as a one-stop-shop for all the major suppliers of big music technology products. We were glad to partner with CMI Music and Audio as well as Pioneer DJ Australia to showcase the best they have to offer as well as provide advice and a chance to chat with all the music production enthusiasts who attended.

On our end, working with CMI meant we were stocked up with Korg, Native Instruments, Arturia and Ableton stuff! From Korg there was a setup of all the Volca units, patched together, Minilogue and Monologue, Prologue, MS20 Mini, Arp Odyssey and some of the flagship performance keyboards (Kronos, Krome, Kross). For Arturia we had the Brutes (MiniBrute 2S, DrumBrute Impact & MatrixBrute) all on display along with their excellent controllers - BeatStep, Keystep and the new KeyLab MK2! It was also a chance for people to get a first look at the newer Native Instruments releases - Maschine Mikro MK3, Komplete Kontrol A Series keyboards and Traktor S2 and S4 MK3.

With Pioneer DJ we were lucky enough to have the TOUR1 rig on loan, which was a great opportunity for people to have a play with Pioneer's flagship DJ setup, worth over $20,000! These were accompanied by some of the latest Pioneer controllers and a cool setup of the XDJ-1000/DJS-1000/TORAIZ SP-16 & AS-1, synced and running into a DJM-750 mixer.

Other retailers and distributors bought not only their latest ranges but some older gear as well. Yamaha came with a big selection of keyboards and synthesizers including the new MODX and a vintage CS-20M and DX1 (on loan from MESS)! Roland showed their AIRA products as well as Boutiques and had a very cool display about the history of their synthesizers. Electric Factory had a big range or Nord, Akai and Denon products, Link Audio bought the Waldorf Quantum (which is epic!).

Innovate Music had Elektron, Teenage Engineering and Novation on display. They also bought the Moog One, which provided a chance for many (including us) the first opportunity to get hands on Moog's first polysynth in three decades, and the Moog System 55 which reverently sat in a corner and played ambient goodness all weekend, thanks to Mr. Ehsan Gelsi. We were also pretty excited to see Buchla there as we'll soon be getting our hands on some of their iconic instruments!

Aside from playing with gear, there were performances all day across the weekend with artists including Chiara Kickdrum, ACM, Emah Fox, Honeysmack, Amelia Arsenic, The Oddness, Sadiva, Ehsan Gelsi and Sergio Selim performing everything from hip-hop beats to electronica to heavy techno. Accompanying these were the workshops and seminars run by industry professionals covering topics like Wavetable synthesis, DAW tutorials, the emergence of electronic music and demonstrations of the latest products. MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio) were also heavily involved, giving tours that offered a unique chance to view some of the amazing vintage gear in their collection.

Overall, Synth Fest provided a great opportunity for Synthusiasts to get first-hand experience with some pretty amazing instruments. It was also a chance for people new to this community to get an idea of what these pieces of gear a capable of, speak to the experts from each brand and understand how the music is made. It was awesome to talk to plenty of people over the weekend who were established musicians and performers, but it was also very cool to meet some individuals who are just getting the world of electronic music and very excited about it!

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