Review - The Mix magazine, June 1997
Kenton's new mid-range unit has beem eagerly awaited, and boasts two basic MIDI-CV channels, individually switchable between the Moog, Roland or SCI 1V/ octave standard and the early Korg or Yamaha Hz/Volt (making it compatible with 95% of old monosynths) and caters for a comprehensive range of gate and trigger controllers.
It's in the area of extras that the Pro-2000 really scores. For each of the two instruments it's capable of controlling, an independent MIDI channel can be set , note priority canbe switched between highest, lowest and newest, single or multiple triggering selected, transpose, pitchebnd and portamento rate values can be set, a MIDI controller assigned to switch on portamento, and much more - providing more control over most monophonic synths than you'd get by playing them from their own keyboards.
The Pro-2000 was tested with an SH-101, Pro-One, MS-10, and Doepfer modular, and the results were impossible to fault. It was especially nice to have one box controlling the SH-101 and and MS-10 at the same time - something that I'd never managed before. As well as the CV/Gate channels, there are two more control possibilities. One that comes as standard is a MIDI filter/re-channel system, which can take any OMNI output from a synth and convert it to one chosen channel, or take a specific channel output from a synth with primitive MIDI (like the early DX7) and change it to any other channel. These are a nice bonus for anyone with early MIDI synths (Jupiter 6, Poly 800 and so on) which need them. The other is optional but is even more worthwhile if you own bits of quaint old tech that you want to run via MIDI. It's a digital output, either dedicated to DCB (Roland's pre MIDI Juno 60 and JP-8A interface),or dual purpose: KADI/Wasp. KADI Kenton's proprietary interface, is designed either for possible future expansion, ot to speak to Kenton modified Roland drum machines. The best bit for me was the Wasp. Although there are severe limitations on what the old EDP synth can respond to, it makes such a good sound that MIDIing it is a real treat.
There's more too. A 5-pin DIN sync 24 output socket is included, so that some old Roland machines can be rum from a MIDI sequencer. There's also a clock pulse output, for syncing arpeggiators or other drum machines with a Trigger/Clock In socket. This can be set to send a pulse at various MIDI clock rates, from 1 to 24. Even better, a clock polarity switch is enabled in software, so that something like a Korg Polysix or MonoPoly arpeggiator can be clocked without a problem. There's also the option of treating 'comtinue' messages as 'start', or ignoring them.
This is an excellent MIDI/CV box, and there really isn't anything more you could reasonably expect from it. Although the business of programming it does take you away from the immediacy of analogue synths, the interface is well designed and easy to use - and you can always store your seven most usual configurations in the Pro-2000's memory. If anyone else comes along with a rival box that represents better value, it'll be a remarkable achievement.
A superb unit that should be high on your check-list if you're looking for a MIDI-CV converter.
Review by Peter Forrest