Under the Hood
UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop
In last month’s “Under the Hood,” we mentioned the huge popularity of keyboards today. But not to go unnoticed is the popularity of synthesizers as well. IK Multimedia offers two new products in this space, the UNO Synth Pro and UNO Synth Pro Desktop. Developed in collaboration with Italian boutique synthmaker Soundmachines, both of these new analog synthesizers take the UNO Synth monophonic synth and expand it in nearly every section: more oscillators, more filters, more sequencer memory, more effects, more presets, more connections and more programmability.
UNO Synth Pro puts this new sound engine in a rugged metal chassis with a 37-key semiweighted keybed, made by Italian manufacturer Fatar, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides a more portable form factor to travel anywhere. The UNO Synth Pro’s dual-filter, three-oscillator paraphonic design lets it create nearly any synth sound imaginable, and it comes with 256 presets, a new 64-step sequencer and expanded CV/Gate and audio connections.
“The sound and performance, the creative inspiration and the flexibility of the UNO Synth Pros makes them unique and comparable to no other. UNO Synth Pro gives you the freedom to shape basically any synth sound you can imagine,” said Enrico Dell’Aversana, UNO line product manager.
What is the importance of three oscillators? They offer continuously variable waveshape, including pulse-width modulation. Oscillators can be hardsynced for more harmonically complex tones, and oscillator FM (frequency modulation) lets users shape everything from bell-like sounds to screaming industrial tones. UNO Synth Pro even includes ring modulation for wobbly, sci-fi sound, and a white noise generator for a wide range of percussive sounds and epic rises.
In addition to the original UNO Synth’s two-pole OTA multimode filter, UNO Synth Pro adds a new SSI 2/4-pole LP filter with selfoscillation. The dual filters can be used in series or parallel, with invertible phase, for a total of 24 possible filter modes. This unique design offers nearly limitless tonal possibilities, from recreating classic vintage sounds or forging completely new, experimental sounds, stated the company.
UNO Synth Pro offers two full ADSR envelopes, one dedicated to the filter and the other to amplitude, with both available as sources to modulate everything from oscillator pitch and waveshape to LFO (low-frequency oscillator) speed. Two LFOs can create classic synth vibrato, wah and tremolo, as well as handle more complex modulations including audio range FM.
“A 16-slot modulation matrix makes routing all these a breeze,” IK Multimedia stated. “Users can quickly and easily design even the most sophisticated modulation scheme, with both internal and external sources.”
UNO Synth Pro also offers four effects blocks: an analog overdrive circuit from the original UNO Synth, plus three new, custom-designed digital effects: modulation, delay and reverb. External signals can also be routed through these effects.
UNO Synth Pro offers a premium 37-key semi-weighted Fatar keybed, while UNO Synth Pro Desktop provides an enhanced version of the original’s long-lasting capacitance-sensing keys along with pitch and mod strips for enhanced expression. Both units add firm-touch rubber pads for the control sections, plus LED-backlit indicators and an LED display for key information, making it easier than ever to use live on stage or in deep programming sessions in the studio, the manufacturer noted.
Next up on the list of features for the UNO Synth Pro is 256 user-editable presets, each capturing the full state of the sound engine from oscillators to effects. An onboard 64-step sequencer offers both step and real-time recording, with automation of over 80 parameters, letting users create incredibly intricate and evolving soundscapes, and even write CV and gate automation. And a 10-mode arpeggiator makes it easy to create intricate patterns and runs, which can be recorded into the sequencer.
Last, but certainly not least, UNO Synth Pro offers two noiseless, balanced stereo outputs as well as headphone out, for studio audio quality in any situation. USB and five-pin DIN MIDI In and Out are designed to make it easy to integrate with other synths, Macs/PCs and mobile devices, and its assignable CV/Gate connections lets UNO Synth Pro interact effortlessly with a Eurorack or other modular system. “And now, an audio input allows access to the filter and FX section for external signals, in addition to the original pass-through for daisy-chaining multiple units together without using a mixer,” concluded IK Multimedia.
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SHINE A LIGHT
(continued from page 44) stores,” said Beacock. “Even in the beginning, with absolutely zero budget, mom could create a beautiful, interesting, cozy environment. While all of the other stores in town were more ‘commodity-oriented,’ she had great instincts and knew that an exceptional shopping environment would stand us out from the crowd.”
Helping customers navigate the shopping experience is a staff made up of both musicians and non-musicians, though Beacock said most are at least hobbyists. The most important thing Beacock looks for when hiring is finding fun, energetic people. She described her ideal employees: “Self-starters who want to be engaged in what we do, because when we open, it’s showtime!”
The larger facility that the store has occupied since 2004 has allowed Beacock Music to engage with the community on a new level, offering a variety of community events such as reading sessions, musical theatre, New Horizons Band, Group lessons, workshops, trunk shows and more. The store also started a small theatre company that produces musical theatre productions, with all proceeds contributed to school music programs.
In addition to feeding musicians’ souls with quality instruments, lessons, services and events, Beacock Music also feeds their stomachs with one of its more unique elements, the Standing Ovation cafe located in the center of the store. Not only is the family able to tap into this amenity to create exciting events like coffee tastings, but it also helps to create the one-of-a-kind shopping environment Beacock Music’s customers have come to know and love.
“We believe that retail is alive and well if you do it right! People are starved for great, local companies that they can do business with, and our job is to make it fun to come into our store,” said Beacock. “You will have a great time when you come into the store. You will be greeted, helped and left alone to browse. It smells good, looks good and feels good. That is our job.” She added, “Everything else, we think, falls into place when you start there.”
While many of these more communal elements were temporarily paused during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beacock Music hasn’t missed a beat in learning to meet its customers’ needs, and many of the lessons learned during this time will carry the store into the future.
“We will continue to offer the services added during the pandemic, including curbside pickup and delivery, because why not? We are grateful to be able to do these things for our customers,” said Beacock.
“The best realization has been that, no matter what, music matters,” she concluded. “That is comforting to us in the industry. Nobody wants to be without music!”
Sound Productions provided the following statement: “Caring for the communities in which we work, live and serve is a key thread in the tapestry of SoundPro’s belief system. While our giving spirit goes back decades, the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for our neighbors, friends and customers. Many community members lost their jobs or experienced reduced work hours as the holidays approached in 2020. SoundPro banded together to make sure six community families experienced the magic of Christmas with the help of the Salvation Army of North Texas’ Angel Tree program. Food scarcity is a known issue, but with COVID-19 restricting sources of free meals for those in need, organizations like Children’s Hunger Fund work to close the gap. SoundPro, with stores in Irving, Texas and Madison, Wis., contributed to the cause by donating more than 15,000 meals since the start of the pandemic. As live events, studio projects and more came to a grinding halt, SoundPro recognized an opportunity to ease the burden on more than 100 AVL (audio, video and lighting) industry families by providing $100 cash for groceries in the weeks following the initial shutdown in March 2020. Aside from stepping up in light of the pandemic, SoundPro has a history of giving back, including ongoing support to the AVL industry. The company has offered annual donations to NAMM and InfoComm charities since 2014. SoundPro also created the Jeff Humphrey Technical Scholarship in 2010, awarding educational funds to graduating seniors pursuing a technical degree in the audiovisual space. The scholarship’s namesake and former SoundPro executive vice president, Jeff Humphrey, was an avid music lover, A1 technician and an advocate for education. In addition to these programs, SoundPro has contributed to additional organizations whose missions center on veterans and first responders, including: • Contributing to Wounded Warriors since 2010 in honor of those in the SoundPro family who serve. • Participating in Veterans Day letter writing since 2010 as part of Heartillery Group’s goal to show love and gratitude to those who serve. • Contributing to the Gary Sinise Foundation since 2018 as its honors veterans and first responders through programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.”
FOX MUSIC HOUSE
To lift spirits of Charlestonians (South Carolina) during the pandemic, singers Leah Edwards and Dimitri Pittas are performing Social Distance-SING! concerts in the bed of a pickup truck. Edwards and Pittas had intended to launch their new venture in the spring of 2021 with a large-scale production and a black-tie gala, but their plans were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grand plans quickly pivoted to expanding opera audiences and bringing hope to all. It has now grown to well over 150 performances, and the series has celebratd its one-year anniversary. “HALO plans to continue these efforts long after our return to the opera house, as it has seen a huge surge in audience diversity, engagement, and, well, it is just kind of fun to play piano on the back of a truck,” stated the retailer.
If you know Nashville-based Fanny’s House of Music, you know it’s more than a music store: It’s a “mission.” “We are excited to announce the next phase of that mission is Fanny’s School of Music. Our current building limits the number of students we can serve and programs we can offer,” the retailer stated. “So, we formed a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and we are launching a capital campaign to build an addition for Fanny’s School of Music. In addition to tripling the number of students we can serve, the new addition will enable us to provide music therapy offices and a community space for group lessons, workshops and live performances. Like Fanny’s House of Music, Fanny’s School of Music will be a place where everyone can feel comfortable exploring and growing, especially women and girls.”
TED BROWN MUSIC
Ted Brown Music Outreach seeks to put instruments in the hands of young musicians who otherwise couldn’t afford them. To date, it has donated more than 4,000 instruments to the families who need them most. “During the COVID-19 crisis, school music has been put on hold in Washington state. Even now that schools are opening to some extent, school music has remained on the back burner. To help keep music alive in our community’s schools, Ted Brown Music Outreach donated 2,739 recorders to fourth graders in the Tacoma School district,” the retailer said. “Kids that age need something musical to get excited about,” Ted Brown music outreach president Stephanie Howe added. “These kids will get to take the recorders home, play with them, take care of them, and get excited about music.”
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CENTER
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world in an unbelievable way. This caused all music stores in Tucson, Ariz., to temporarily close for the sake of safety. Leslie Stirm, owner of Instrumental Music Center (IMC) in Tucson, saw that there was a real need in the community for a supplier of cloth masks, as surgical masks became less readily available to the public and corporate retailers had yet to start manufacturing and selling masks. Stirm also saw the struggles affecting countless people who were already in a financial deficit as well as those who were newly unemployed and struggling to provide for their families. Stirm and her family took to their sewing machines and designed and made hundreds of three-ply, cotton fabric masks in musical and whimsical patterns available in various sizes. The masks were launched for sale online through IMC’s website and were made available for purchase in its store, with the proceeds for each mask being donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Using its Facebook and Instagram presence, IMC was able to reach thousands of parents, students, teachers and musicians all over southern Arizona who were happy to find not only a helpful protective tool to meet their current needs, but who were glad to know their dollars were being given to those in need. “The community response was overwhelming,” IMC said. “During the second half of 2020, IMC sold over 500 masks, netting the community food bank over $5,000. It was an amazing position to be in to be able to help the community in this way, both for our customers and for folks in need of access to food.”
ACE PRODUCTS GROUP........25
AMAHI UKULELES ................43
DRUM WORKSHOP ................10
DRUM WORKSHOP ................11
JJ BABBITT ..............................38
KHS AMERICA ........................5
KORG USA ...............................35
HAL LEONARD .......................7
MCMILLAN MUSIC ................53
While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.
CHUCK LEVIN’S WASHINGTON MUSIC CENTER
“Based on the guidance of our parents Chuck and Marge Levin, our family foundation prefers to serve quietly and under the radar,” said Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center’s Abbe Levin of the Wheaton, Md.-based retailer. “The Levin Family Foundation supports a vast array of causes in the arts, medical research, education and the environment, but it was hands-on human service organizations that most captured our attention in this very difficult 2020-2021. I’d like to use this opportunity to shed light shed on two incredible organizations I’ve been working with in the hopes it will bring them to the attention of others looking for ways to help.” “This past year, we saw devastating storms and fires ravage sections of our country, and COVID-19 threatened the health and wellbeing of everyone,” said Levin. “Images of food and home insecurity played out across our TVs every evening. Initially, like many, we donated to various groups to aid front-line workers and provide meals to many in need. Then it came closer to home, in our neighborhood. A colleague told me about Mid County United Ministries (MUM), an organization providing bags of groceries to those experiencing food insecurity throughout the county we live and work in. After a phone call, we not only donated funds, but also provided MUM the use of a property to stage their monthly mobile pantry just blocks from our store. I unlocked the doors for them over a year ago and stayed to help bag groceries, process clients, whatever was needed. I have been volunteering at the pantry on Sundays ever since. The food lines have increased, and the need is great. MUM is there to give immediate aid, also providing emergency rent, utility and prescription assistance. “Reaching across the nation and the world, the organization Water Mission addresses the dangers of unsafe water,” added Levin. “This group designs, builds and implements safe water and hygiene solutions for people in need around the world and in disaster areas like Haiti, Puerto Rico and now Texas. We came to know Water Mission a few years back, when a local music teacher came to us to help donate and ship instruments to their sister school, The Hope Bright School, in Soweto. When the equipment arrived, we thought, ‘Mission accomplished.’ Then we discovered that these children had no access to clean water. We couldn’t ignore this and started searching for a solution. Enter Water Mission. It provided boots on the ground help, not only building a well with a solar system to run it, but also trained staff to maintain it. We have continued to support Water Mission as it currently helps Texas deal with the largest plumbing disaster on record. They are a great group of people who see problems as challenges waiting to be fixed! “If you’re among the lucky ones now, donate what you can to organizations that can help others in time of need. Volunteering makes you realize how lucky you are and how quickly that can change,” concluded Levin.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Brieske: I saw Radiohead in the early 2000s. It is such an amazing band, and they were really at the top of their game at the time. I’ll never forget that show.
The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why?
Brieske: It has to be John Bonham. He’s always been my No. 1 drumming influence, and I think it would be amazing to witness his power in person. Of course, that also means I’d get to see Led Zeppelin in their prime.
The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future (postpandemic)?
Brieske: Honestly, any of our Low Boy artists. We launched our first official artist program during the pandemic, because we really want to support the amazing musicians who play our products once they’re back on the road. I do have tickets to see the Black Crowes at Red Rocks, so that might be my first postpandemic show.
The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most?
Brieske: Probably “Yellow Submarine.” Before I knew who the Beatles were, it just felt like any other children’s song. I had no idea it was recorded by the greatest band of all time!
The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod?
Brieske: Tim Very is a Low Boy artist, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Manchester Orchestra. Its new album, “The Million Masks of God” is an absolute masterpiece. If you haven’t listened to it, check it out.
The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show?
Brieske: I went to my first NAMM show in 1996, when I was 19. That was also my first trip to California. I attended the Fender 50th Anniversary Concert, and I thought it was the most amazing thing. I think Steven Seagal was the master of ceremonies, The Ventures played, and I’m pretty sure Bonnie Raitt headlined. The bar served me rum and cokes even though I was underage, and I really felt like I had arrived!
The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be, and what would you ask them?
Brieske: I’m going to pick three musicians: Neil Young, Miles Davis and Max Roach. I’d ask them all how they continued to remain creative for their entire lives. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut or feel like you’ve created enough art to be seen as successful, but some people have to keep creating. It’s deep inside of them. I’m not sure I’m one of those people, but I’d like to get closer to that place in my life.
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them).
Brieske: My first job at Fender was on the road. Central Pennsylvania was part of my territory, where I called on a very rural shop for the first time. It was my last appointment of the day, and the store owner invited me to dinner with his crew, which was really nice of him. The closest hotel was probably 30 to 45 minutes away, so after dinner he told me he’d put me up for the night. I woke up to a huge breakfast, then went on my way. It was a very kind gesture!
The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry?
Brieske: I love the camaraderie and the mission. Of course, many of us are in competition with each other, but when it comes down to it, we’re inspiring people to make music. Whether that means musicians at the top of their craft, or kids picking up a pair of drumsticks for the first time, it feels good to know that Low Boy is a small link in that chain.
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why?
Brieske: I’ll go with Barack Obama. I’ve been listening to his “Renegades” podcast with Bruce Springsteen, and it’s amazing to listen to his views on so many of the issues that we’re dealing with today.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road?
Brieske: I think the continued use of computers to make music will have a huge effect on MI. Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing tool, and there is fantastic music being made with just a computer. That said, there’s a huge group of young musicians out there who don’t experience playing music with others. They don’t understand that magic, and over time it could really have an effect on the number of instruments being sold.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing and why?
Brieske: In addition to owning Low Boy, I also own a podcast production company, so I’d probably be doing that full time.
The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there.
Brieske: I’ve lived in Denver for 15 years, and I love it. It was really sleepy when I first moved here, but now it really feels like a big city, with a music scene to match. That said, this month, Low Boy will be moving to Santa Barbara, Calif. I’ll miss Denver, but we’re excited to set up shop close to the beach!
The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why?
Brieske: I have a 20-inch ‘60s or ‘70s Zildjian ride cymbal that would be the first thing I’d grab if my house caught on fire. I think it’s the only instrument that really defines my sound as a drummer. I bought it at a pawn shop for $40 when I was 18 or 19. It was drilled for rivets, but they had been removed. I wrote a letter to Zildjian (a real letter, sent through the mail), asking about getting new rivets installed. They wrote back and told me to send the cymbal in, and they would do it for free. I was amazed at their generosity. I had no idea that a rivet only costs about a quarter.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why?
Brieske: This is probably cliché, but I thought “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk was a great book. It doesn’t really offer great business advice, but it’s really inspirational. If you have an idea for a business but feel too scared to start, read “Crush It!”
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