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Clint Thompson

Anyone here actually own or use an Atari Hotz Box?

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On 12/6/2018 at 5:15 AM, kamakazi20012 said:

Nope.  But I have heard of them.

Strange how timing and such works out. A year later and many years of lusting (plus a decade) I finally had a Hotz Box sent out to me the same day you posted this but only just now catching up with everything after the holidays. I was actually in Tennessee when the unit arrived back at home in Indy so the excitement had to be contained until I got back home several days later. 

Anyways, it's a lot bigger and heavier than I thought it would be and it's definitely far cooler than I could have ever imagined. I'm going to make some proper videos for this since there really isn't much out there aside from the few videos that Jimmy has posted himself. I'm not really sure number count wise to date but the guy who did the music for Riddick said in 2004 that only 25 had been made. Naturally only 2 weeks after I receive the unit, another producer decided to offload a few of the smaller units he has that was custom made for him but I ultimately passed originally to hold out for a larger unit that I've coined The Mothership:

mothership.thumb.jpg.e37447645e166b184e004eb1b0bbbe87.jpg

And a quick test video right after unboxing:

 

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1 minute ago, kamakazi20012 said:

Does it have touch response?  That thing is beyond cool!  Its said it can help amateurs sound like a pro and conquers helping musicians play instruments they normally don't use.  Man, you got really lucky.

Yeah, depending how you press it the tone changes - it's similar to a regular touch responsive keyboard only it feels as though you can control it a lot better on this. It's one of those things that have to be experienced to be understood as describing doesn't really do it justice.

I'm wanting to do an actual review of this device since I've never seen one done but will wait to get some experience with the included software before doing so. Seems as though only a handful of people have ever used one and even less used in production. From what I could find, only 3 bands in total used it (Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Hotz himself and an indie-styled Christian rock band called Haven --  if you count movie music for Chronicles of Riddick (though I can't confirm what was created with the Hotz, it's just mentioned being in the studio of the producer working on the soundtrack so may just be a product plug) then that's 4.

I fear them marketing it as a tool for amateurs or those who don't know how to play music was a huge mistake. Truth is, this should have been very specifically targeted for the pro segment and as a professional midi keyboard for production houses. The software alone is quite complex (not in a bad way but it's very elaborate) and unless someone already knows a bit about setting it up and/or understands the fundamentals of music in general, I don't see how someone who doesn't know how to play music could really rock the world with it out of the box without a ton of help.

It's definitely one of those things that was far ahead of its time but the price is really what puts it out of reach of so many people. A real shame because it's unreal to play on in the best possible way.

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I've been a keyboardist for a couple of decades and have MIDI knowledge for half that.  To get my hands on what you have would be similar to getting my hands on a Yamaha Tyros...its a dream machine.  The STs are still the best MIDI systems on the planet, period.  I've had a Yamaha MIDI recorder combined with two Yamaha PSR keyboards (510 & 530) and always had timing issues.  I've not experienced that with the ST so far.

Does that Hotz Box have any drum sounds/patterns?

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2 hours ago, kamakazi20012 said:

I've been a keyboardist for a couple of decades and have MIDI knowledge for half that.  To get my hands on what you have would be similar to getting my hands on a Yamaha Tyros...its a dream machine.  The STs are still the best MIDI systems on the planet, period.  I've had a Yamaha MIDI recorder combined with two Yamaha PSR keyboards (510 & 530) and always had timing issues.  I've not experienced that with the ST so far.

Does that Hotz Box have any drum sounds/patterns?

Wow, the Tyros does look like a really nice toy! =D

In the case of your experience, you would for sure love this thing and truly appreciate what you can do with it I feel. I haven't been able to set it up with either PC or ST software packages yet (waiting on replacement USB MIDI cable for the PC and new disk drive for ST) so I'm unsure what to expect other than loading it without the Hotz connected and briefly going through the vast amount of options and settings available. Right now I'm just experimenting with it solo as nothing more than a stand alone MIDI controller which is allowing me to play 3 parts simultaneously. Pads on the bottom, Guitar on the top and a nice synth sound in the middle with reverb.

My next goal is to setup a drum loop trigger on either of the sides and then have an additional pedal selected so I can select dual tone harmonic guitar sounds on the top during a solo-styled playback. This thing has 6 pedal inputs for each of the zones plus 2 others for alternate options, it's incredible. Maybe there's something like this for other devices in the past but out of the 20 some odd years I've been toying around with synths and musical gadgets, I've never seen anything setup like this that would allow you to really do some crazy jam sessions as a single person all on a single device in one round.

I almost got the Roli Seaboard last year and will probably eventually pick it up (same goes with the Haken Continuum) but even those are still very much a one piece or single part playback, outside of laying sounds of course.

 

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If interested, STart magazine did an interview of Hotz and the instrument you now have.  You will want Vol 3 Issue 9, starts on page 22.

http://www.atarimania.com/atari-magazine-start_24.html

I got to sample a Tyros in 2008 in Springfield, Missouri at a Guitar Center location.  Once I started sampling the keyboard my jaw dropped, then I was told the price and my heart sank.  I went home with a Yamaha PSRe-413 instead but was disappointed in the absence of standard MIDI ports.  Everything was USB only.  Dumb.

Would love to hear what you come up with using that instrument.

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