I must confess I got quite excited about the VSTi playing little black box when we spotted it a MESSE earlier in the year. The size, price and capabilities piqued my interest.
Since then it's been quiet, presumably SM Pro Audio knuckling down to deliver the technology as a workable production model.
Originally called the V-Box, the V-Machine as it is now titled has stereo I/O, MIDI in and three USB connections for host, MIDI and storage connections â€“ so you can hook up your sample library on an external USB drive.
At $599, it still seems like quite a good deal, although the specifications of the computer under the hood shows that it may not be able to deal with the most demanding applications: 1gHZ with 512MB of RAM and a 1GB flash disc.
The internal structure allows four channels, each with 3 slots for instruments, plus an additional two effects slots. Each channel slot can hold a plug-in of some kind so you can layer up instruments or split etc with each effect slot able to run up to three plugs.
The V-Machine comes with a bunch of pre-installed plugs (see below), but one of the issues with any plug-in player is the question of authorization. That is, any plugs or instruments that require a dongle or some kind of authorization process will need to have some kind of workaround. There is little in the information provided to shed any light on this thorny area, but I'm sure it will be forthcoming.
All in all this looks like it could really help bridge the gap between the studio computer and the live setup, allowing the player to access some of their favourite instruments without needing to take the whole kit and caboodle on the road. The key is going to be what software you can run on it, in addition to the plugs that come pre-installed.
Shipping now priced at $599 US
External hardware host for Windows plugins (VST instruments and effects)
Banks, presets (incl. chaining, layering, splitting) can be edited with the V-Machine or the host software
Create synth layers and chain them with effects
Connect nearly every MIDI-Controller to the V-Machine
Multiple VSTi's can be combined
MIDI learn functions included
All effect and synth chains can be switched latency free
USB-Ports for external peripherals
Use software samplers and stream its content from any USB drive
sensor to adjust the display's contrast automatically