Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hands On : M-Audio Venom

This is not a review. I don't own the instrument (yet!) so these are merely first contact impressions from fiddling on this at the music shop.

Let's put it simply : I was indeed impressed!

The build is good, although it's all plastic, unsurprisingly for a machine in that price range.

I can't say that the design is inspired or inspiring, but it's certainly functional. One problem though is that the writing is very pale, making it somehow difficult to read at places.

The interface is simple but easy to use, you can't expect a vast array of knobs for that price, so you've got to be a little more patient to program the beast than on a Prophet 08.

Let's not dwell on the specifications, the official site says it best :

The sound?

Well, I wasn't expecting much when it was first announced at the NAMM. I though "yawn, another virtual analog, what's the point...". Then I heard that it was a synth with an edge and I saw Mark Motherbaugh from Devo claiming how great it was, so my curiosity was piqued.

It IS badass! This is not your polished, clean digital synth, but neither is it warm, fuzzy like an analogue.

The sound bites, gnarls, cuts, growls... it's nasty, cold, distorted, futuristic, glitchy. The factory presets using the Multi mode showcase some mindblowing, earbleeding, eyespopping grooves.

The contrast is outstanding with my Prophet 08, which has a rather complex sequencer engine to build up some musical grooves. The Prophet 08 is elegant and sophisticated, the Venom is brutal and clinical. Which is why the synth interests me, by the way, it's such a departure from my other instruments.

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