Finnish company Soundion have revived the GEM brand to bring us a successor to the Promega 2 stage piano — the Promega 2+.
In 2015, a little-known Finnish company named Soundion grabbed the synthesizer community’s attention by announcing its intention to re-release the Elka Synthex. It was able to do this because, following the closure of General Music and its eventual bankruptcy in 2011, Soundion had purchased the rights to its Elka, GEM and LEM brands. It was a bold move but, while the announcement caused a few ripples, it caused fewer than the company had hoped because the crowd-funding campaign established to raise the necessary funds fell short of its target. However, unbeknown to most outside the company, Soundion had also been working for more than a year on an update to GEM’s ‘DRAKE’ DSP technology, which had formed the backbone of its Promega stage pianos. While the sales of these pianos were low when compared with alternatives from the likes of Roland, Yamaha and Clavia, the Promega 3 (2002) and the cut-down Promega 2 (2008) were valued by players such as Herbie Hancock, Rick Wakeman, and Keith Emerson, and this proved to be a key element in Soundion’s decision to buy the rights and then hire members of the original team to develop a new version of the technology (which they christened UpDRAKE) in preparation for the rebirth of the Promega.
At first glance, the Promega 2+ is similar in design to the Promega 2, but it has been revised in numerous areas. Some of the updates, such as improved D/A converters and more memory for OS upgrades, are...
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