ARQ is like a multitool for producers and performers
Zoom has revealed a futuristic electronic tambourine at this year's Winter NAMM that leaves some drum pads, MIDI controllers and other digital music makers looking a little flat. The ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is described as a drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller, and features a Bluetooth-enabled ring with a built-in accelerometer for music creation and playback control from movement.
The ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is a beast composed of two parts. First, there's a mains-powered base that's home to an internal sound engine boasting a sampling frequency of up to 44.1 kHz at 24-bits, 468 drum and instrument sounds, as well as 70 sampled waveform tones, digital effects and a 16 voice polyphonic synth. Sonic scientists can select from over 500 oscillator types, add filtering, delay and reverb, and shape sounds with the likes of envelope generators and stepped/smooth modulation.
Up to 32 loops can be played back at the same time, with users able to create up to 99 mono or stereo loops from sounds stored in the device, from an SD card or from external audio captured via the dual 0.25 inch TRS inputs. Loops can play forward or backward, the pitch can be changed, and all of the loops synchronized to the same tempo. An integrated mixer allows for control of song parts and volume adjustment.
There's both step and real-time sequencing available, up to 33 parts can be played simultaneously and up to 400 patterns can be combined in any order to form a complete song and then converted into an audio loop which can be launched from a single pad.
The 280 x 50 x 280 mm (11 x 1.9 x 11 in), 1.2 kg (2.65 lb) base sports a 2 inch (320 x 240) TFT color display, backlit control buttons, and input and volume knobs. Songs can be output via two 0.25 inch TRS line jacks or a headphone jack.
The 520 g (1.15 lb) ring controller has 160 programmable multicolor LEDs and 96 velocity and pressure sensitive pads with aftertouch. It can be mounted to the base and played like a tabletop instrument, or grabbed like a tambourine and waved around in mid air, its 3-axis accelerometer able to fire MIDI control messages in real-time. There's no mention of latency, which can be an issue with wireless instruments, though Zoom does make mention of the ring's real-time control prowess.
In addition to pairing with the base over Bluetooth LE, it can also communicate with digital audio workstations or other music production software running on an OS X computer or iOS mobile device (there's no wireless Windows support). Grip detection prevents accidental note triggering and there are dedicated buttons for playback control and adding effects to the mix.
The ring's 450 mAh Li-ion battery is reported to be good for up to 5 hours of use for every 2.5 hours on charge, and tops up whenever the ring controller is placed on the base.
Zoom's ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is due for release in April for US$599.99, you can take a brief look at the system in action in the video below.
Product page: ARQ Aero RhythmTrak