Every time we come to the NAMM show, we are treated a wide variety of lovely, shiny new things from established manufacturers, both large and small. However, we always hope that something unknown will surface - possibly from the famous Hall E.
This year it was looking like no undiscovered gem was going to be unearthed, until we got a message late on Saturday night that there might just be something rather cool down in Hall D, which, for the uninitiated, is the home of drums and brass and a pretty loud affair all round.
We arrived on the booth to find a young man giving a demo to a keen punter, a certain Andrew Ostler of Expert Sleepers no less. Our first impressions were of joy, as spewing forth from the monitors was a truly monstrous, brassy bass tone that tickled the internal organs. This, we thought, was going to be good.
The Relic-6 is...
This is a 6-voice all-analogue synth with two VCOs and an Oberheim-style 12db 2-pole lowpass filter. The knobs are touch-sensitive and you'll note the wooden end cheeks and aluminium case.
Our demo guy is Jacob Brashears, who looks to be fresh out of school (check out Synth Anatomy's video above), but knows his way round a keyboard and has a confidence that belies his youthful appearance. His knowledge of the Relic-6 isn't that of a hired gun, but of a person who knows this thing inside out. I chat to Cheryl, the CEO of Shear Electronics, and it turns out that Jacob is 18 and the inventor of this OB-X remake. This CEO also turns out to be Jacob's mother.
The Relic-6 has been three years in the making and, while that may seem like a long time, it's worth considering that Jacob was 15 when he decided to take on the schematic of the OB-X: several spring breaks and holidays later and the Relic-6 was born.
There were two prototypes at the Shear Electronics booth, and it's hoped that early production models will be available for sale in the summer. That's all we know at this stage, but keep an eye on the Shear Electronics website for more.