Yes, I know it’s the time of year when you crave great dollops of nextlevelness being served onto these pages. And we have indeed done that for the last few days. But if you were hoping for Pioneer DJ to deliver the next slice of pure DJ ubergear at NAMM 2017, then you’re going to be disappointed. For Pioneer DJ has wondered off down the producer path again, skipping happily hand in hand with the legendary Dave Smith to bring forth the Toraiz AS-1, a bite-sized synth. And there goes the attention of a big slice of the DJWORX readership.
For those of you still here, dig into the cornucopia of press material, starting with the words:
Pure analog – Meet the TORAIZ AS-1
Monophonic analog synthesizer for production and live performances
19th January 2017: More than ever, producers are making tracks using electronic instruments such as synthesizers and drum machines. And now, in collaboration with Dave Smith Instruments, we’ve created a new monophonic synthesizer for music production and live performances: the TORAIZ AS-1. The synth is the second musical instrument in our TORAIZ series that brings new creative possibilities to the studio and stage, and its release follows the launch of our popular TORAIZ SP-16 live sampler in August 2016.
The TORAIZ AS-1 is driven by a fully programmable, true analog synthesis engine based on the discrete analog circuitry in Dave Smith Instruments’ Prophet-6 synthesizer – a modern reboot of his classic Prophet-5. Working closely with Dave Smith himself, we’ve created a synth that produces powerful analog sound and makes an ideal addition to the set-ups of professional and aspiring producers.
Our experience in making DJ equipment and production gear has been poured into the development of the new synth’s user interface and performance features. The intuitive controls include parameter knobs that let you make both subtle and dramatic changes to the tone of your music to create your own personalised sound. You can use the touchpad-style keyboard and slider to manipulate sounds during performances. And it’s easy to manipulate the seven on-board effects, which – with the addition of a brand-new digital distortion – come from the Prophet-6 synth.
You can connect the TORAIZ AS-1 synth to the TORAIZ SP-16 live sampler via MIDI and use the sampler’s sophisticated sequencer to create even more complex patterns with the powerful analog sounds you’ve created in the synthesizer. Together, the two TORAIZ instruments can be connected to your DJM mixer via Pro DJ Link and MIDI, creating a set-up where the CDJs play the track, the TORAIZ SP-16 adds loops and one-shots, and the TORAIZ AS-1 generates unique analog leads in sync with the BPM of the music.
The TORAIZ AS-1 will be available from March at an SRP of €549 including VAT.
KEY FEATURES OF THE TORAIZ AS-1
1. True analog sound from Dave Smith Instruments’ Prophet-6
Create your own fat bass and edgy lead sounds thanks to the synthesis engine at the core of the TORAIZ AS-1, which is based on the discrete analog circuitry of Dave Smith Instruments’ revered Prophet-6 synthesizer. The TORAIZ AS-1 has two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO) with continuously variable triangle, sawtooth and pulse wave shapes. Sculpt your sound using the two voltage-controlled filters (VCF) also from the Prophet-6: a 4-pole, resonant low-pass filter that can self-oscillate and a 2- pole, resonant high-pass filter.
2. Full programmability and 495 presets
Use the TORAIZ AS-1 to create one-of-a-kind sounds using two VCOs, two VCFs, one VCA,1 two EGs,2 and one LFO,3 then save each sound and its parameter settings as a program so you can access it later. There are 495 preset programs to give you inspiration, each with a different sound and 64-step sequence that can be edited independently. In addition, you can save up to 495 of your own programs in the five user banks, and you can assign up to 13 programs as Quick Programs to each key on the keyboard and instantly recall them at any time.
3. FX from the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-6 synthesizer
Get creative with the Prophet-6-derived dual effects engine. Add a single effect or pair two together to add extra texture to your sounds. True bypass preserves a pure analog signal path.
- FX1: Bucket Brigade Delay, Distortion, Ring Modulation
- FX2: Chorus, High-resonance Phaser, Low-resonance Phaser, Maestro Phaser
4. Intuitive user interface and performance features
Create unique sounds and phrases using the intuitive touchpad-style keyboard and slider. Harness features such as the 64-step sequencer, arpeggiator and Scale Mode to bring even more creative possibilities to your performance.
- Keyboard and Scale Mode: Use the touchpad-style keyboard to perform with the sounds you create. Use Scale Mode to change the notes assigned to the keys, choosing from any of the 21 on- board You don’t need a deep understanding of musical theory. Just select the scale in which you want to play and the TORAIZ AS-1 will make sure your performance is in perfect harmony.
- Slider: Add dynamism to your performances by moving your finger up and down the slider to manipulate your choice of seven different Change the pitch of two oscillators at once, adjust the amount of FX, and more. The slider is sure to become an essential tool in your live performances.
- Arpeggiator: Perform a repeating chord pattern by holding notes on the touchpad-style keyboard. Change it in real time, either by octave or by changing its key in semitones. Experiment with combinations of different scales, or match the scale with that of a track that’s playing.
- 64-step sequencer: Use the 64-step sequencer for step recording of patterns. Change the musical key of a pattern in real time by touching the relevant key of the keyboard during playback. Find inspiration from a preset sequence pattern and use Sequence Lock so you can play the keyboard and quickly edit the sound without editing the pattern that’s playing.
5. Other features
- Bright OLED display shows parameter information
- USB-B port and MIDI terminals (IN, OUT/THRU) for easy connection to a PC/Mac or an external MIDI device
- Robust metal chassis suitable for use in the studio or on stage
1 Voltage-controlled amplifier
2 Envelope generator
3 Low-frequency oscillator
Sound generation Analog synthesis
Input / Output Terminals
Outputs AUDIO OUT L/R ((¼-inch TS jacks), PHONES (¼-inch stereo phone jack) MIDI MIDI IN (5P DIN), MIDI OUT/THRU (5P DIN) USB USB (Type B) Others TRIGGER IN (¼-inch TS jack) Power supply AC adaptor (DC 5V) Power consumption 1,500 mA
Maximum dimensions (WｘDｘH) 267.4 mm x 177.7 mm x 68.6 mm / 10.5” × 7.0” × 2.7”
1.4 kg / 3.1 lb
Accessories AC adaptor, Power cord, Quick Start Guide
NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING?
Not exactly, but not really surprising either. Given that Serato and Pioneer DJ are bezzies again, I had expected an updated SP2 with RGB pads, but I guess we’ll have to wait… and wait… and wait for that to arrive.
Given Pioneer’s clear signal that pure DJing isn’t all that they’re about, I have been expecting launchpad style grid controllers, and even keyboards. I’m not far off with the AS-1 though, and it does show that if they can tap the epic resource that is Dave Smith in this area, then they will. And the result this time around appears to be a TB-03/Monotron/Volca/stylophone with knobs on. And the all important Pioneer DJ and Dave Smith logos too.
To be clear — this is of no use if you just want to play other people’s music. It’s not an effects box, and has no audio inputs. This is all about adding your own special sauce on top of other people’s music. Imagine being able to drop your own killer bass line on top of a well know beat, or maybe throw in your own lead… you get the idea. It could however also be of use from a MIDI perspective, and be used as a sequencer to trigger your own samples and cue points. Smarter people than me will see all kinds of possibilities in this.
The now awkwardly named Pioneer DJ is now firmly in the music making business. I’d expect to see more hardware coming out that will sit right into this ecosystem, and all work nicely together too. It’ll be available in March for €549/£479/$499.