[Harp-L] DM-48 midi harmonica

David Fairweather dmf273@xxxxx
Wed May 10 02:32:50 EDT 2017

So here are some of my impressions of the DM-48 after owning it about a

1.  It's a bit cumbersome to set up with Windows.   I had to download the
REASON, free demo version which won't save anything, which means I have to
reset all the midi configuration doo-dads every time I restart the program.
  That's a bit of a pain.   I also paid $13 for the collection of "Electro
Acoustic Waves" patches recommended in the DM48 manual.  More on that in a

Today I remembered I had an old 3rd Generation Ipad gathering dust.  I
updated it to the highest OS it would accept, but that still wasn't good
enough to run the latest version of Garageband but the Apple Store did let
me install an older version.      The DM-48 was pretty much Plug & Play on
Garageband,  but the choice of instrument patches on the Ipad version was
pretty weak.   To my ears the Ipad Garageband makes the DM-48 sound much
more like a toy than the aforementioned "Electro Acoustic Waves"
instruments.    According to the DM48 manual, if you run Garageband on a
Mac Pro computer you get a better selection of instrument patches.

So it was back to REASON for me.   On my aging PC system,  there's
occasional stuttering as my processor struggles to keep up, especially when
I try to run REASON,  Band-In-A-Box and Vegas Video all at the same time!

2.  I'm so happy to be able to freely experiment with various altered
tunings on the DM48.  I wouldn't have bought it if they hadn't implemented
altered tunings.   Now I can pore over Pat Missin's "Altered States" tome
and try all those exotic tunings I'd only read about!.   That said,
 actually entering the altered tunings is kind of clunky and time
consuming.  The UI could stand some improvement, for that and several other

3.  The bending on the DM-48 is very hard to tame.  I hear Brendan is
working on that.

4. It took a while to get used to the ultra sensitivity of the DM48
compared to an acoustic chromatic.  At first unintended neighbor notes were
sounding like crazy.  There are several settings you can tweak to help, but
I think it mostly came down to getting used to it and adjusting my mouth.
After a week I'm feeling like the sensitivity is a GOOD thing.

5. Along those lines,  until you play a DM-48 you probably don't even
realize how much adjusting and compensating you constantly engage in
(mostly unconsciously) when playing a "normal" acoustic chromatic.    Every
hole and every reed on a "normal" chromatic is a little bit different
requiring minute subtle adjustments of breath and oral cavity for each note
you play.   On a DM-48, every note and hole is the same!  Unless you go in
and manually tweak each hole to be different. But why would you want to?
It's refreshing and satisfying to have every note in a gliss or trill
equally responsive.  Say goodbye to sluggish reeds and balky windsavers
forever!    Say hello to extended dynamic range with each note responding
to a mere whisper of breath.  And say goodbye to running out of breath
while you play!

Also say hello to a slide that is so quick and responsive you may even want
to slow it down.  (I found the default setting to be fine though.)   Again,
until you play a DM-48 you may not even realize how much those archaic
safety pin or coiled springs, each with its own idiosyncracies and
mechanical limitations, may have been handicapping your style.  Now for the
first time, your harmonica can even keep up with bebop fast trumpet trills!
   And you can set the trills to any interval you want.

In fact the DM-48 can be set up to have TWO slides, one for 1/2 steps and
another button on top that you can set any way you like:  whole steps,
octaves, either direction up or down.  This opens the door to all sorts of
phrasing never before possible on harmonica.

6.  The harp feels surprisingly good in the hand.   If it wasn't for the
cord coming off it,  it pretty much feels like a CX-12, with  more heft.

7.  Does it sound like a harmonica?   Maybe not,  but I don't mind. I found
a few patches I like in the Electro Acoustic Waves collection.  I think I
still sound like "myself" on this harp,  Here's a very quick demo - you
tell me!


By the way,  I'm experimenting with yet another altered tuning on this
demo.  Only started learning it today.  "Spiral Fifth" tuning courtesy of
"StreetLegal" over on Slidemeister.   I think he intended it to be a
diatonic harp tuning,  but since I can't bend much on this harp,  I use the
slide instead.

Overall, I very much like my DM48.  It could be improved in many ways, but
its a great start to a new frontier for harmonica lovers!

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