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Kenton still represent one of the only and most credible ways to control your analog synth gear from MIDI. This new unit removes the MIDI ports found on the Pro Solo MKII and Pro2000 MKII and replaces it with a USB port. This speeds up communication between DAW/Sequencer and analog units considerably, and removes the need for a dedicated MIDI interface.
Now sporting a silver aluminium case, the USB Solo also differes from the Pro SOLO MKII in a number of ways:
The USB Solo is class compliant, simply plug it in to a Mac (OS 10.4 up) or a PC (XP SP2 up) and you have a MIDI port at yourt disposal. Simply assign the output of your sequencer tracks or DAW clock to this output and the unit is ready to start taking charge of your analog.
The now familliar parameter/value mode switch is also simple to use with the list of params printed on the fron of the unit for easy reference. All changes to parameter values trigger an automatic patch save to the edit buffer, this is retained on power off. However if you want to store the setup in one of the 40 on board memories, simply press and hold the parameter button for 6 seconds.
All jack connections are mono 3.5 mm type, you will need to either buy or make up the leads you need to interface with your gear - some is 1/4 jack, some 1/8 inch. As well as the two CV (pitch) and Gate (note trigger) outputs, there are three additional Aux ouputs. These can be setup to transmit contol voltages based on assignable incoming MIDI signals to use to modulating or manipulating additional parameters, should your synth support extra control. AUX three can also output a clock pulse based on the internal clock or an external MIDI clock. In addition, there's the SYN24 clock output for driving old Roland drum machines or sequencers.
This does work straight out of the box, I literally plugged it into my Korg Mono/Poly, and it was just like I'd never put it away - which I'm ashamed to say it has been for some time.
This unit is a no brainer to use, has a ton of parameter tweaks for use with a variety of synths and polarity settings and does exactly what it should.
My only criticism is that it does eat a whole USB port for essentially a single analog device - the unit uses a single MIDI channel, although of course a USB hub will take care of that. But from a MIDI to CV control point of view, it's hard to fault.
Available now via the Kenton website, at £146.80 UK pounds.
They ship internationally.
Nori Ubukota takes us through his instrument