Fairlight's First New Instrument In Over 20 Years
By James Grahame
The Fairlight CMI was a groundbreaking digital sampler from the 1980s. Last made in 1989, an updated 30th Anniversary CMI-30A will be presented at the massive NAMM music show in Anaheim this weekend.
The CMI-30A shares two things with its vintage bretheren. The first is the iconic Fairlight sound library, and the second is a stratospheric price tag ($17,000). Apart from that, the new Fairlight is leaps and bounds beyond the original. It's built around Fairlight's Crystal Core Media Processor, allowing it to reproduce the nuances of the original CMI Series II and III instruments without having to deal with the unpredictable nature of vintage electronics.
The CMI-30A ships with a 76-key Fatar keyboard (with an iPod taking the place of the original numeric keypad), 17" LCD monitor with lightpen, qwerty keyboard (with "clicky keys"), and a system unit housing a modern motherboard with 500 GB hard drive, DVD and USB, 12 channels of balanced TRS analog output and stereo balanced inputs. The machine supports 44.1kHz, 48 kHz and 192 kHz sampling and even includes old school MIDI jacks.
While the CMI-30A is priced out of reach for all but the most well-heeled musicians, the Fairlight team might release a far less expensive version that included just the Crystal Core card, software and sound library in the sub-$10,000 range.
Oh, and if ten grand is still a little steep, a little bird tells me that there are iPhone and iPad software versions in the works that includes a library of sounds from the original systems.