Promega 2+ sets the standard for authentic piano tone quality
With the GEM Promega 2+ keyboard, which debuted at the Frankfurt Fair this year, Generalmusic not only introduced a new flagship product, but also laid out a distinctive product development strategy. Rather than load the Promega with a lengthy list of features, engineers focused their energies on refining exceptional acoustic and electro-acoustic piano sounds and incorporating a high level of playability. Company CEO Jukka Kulmala explains, “We don’t compromise. Our goal is to find product niches where high quality is appreciated.” Two noted artists who have already expressed their appreciation for the sound quality of the Promega 2+ are Don Airey of Deep Purple, and Rick Wakeman of Yes. Both are enthusiastic endorsers of the keyboard.
Generalmusic is applying the same “no compromises” approach to other products currently in the pipeline. With the Elka Panther Software Organ library, the company has lavished the same effort in creating authentic and expressive organ sounds. The GEM RealPiano package offers a similarly expressive library of piano sounds. Both will be available in 2018.
Generalmusic traces its origins back to 1890 when Antonio Galanti and his three sons began manufacturing accordions in the town of Mondaino, Italy. By the 1980s, the company had emerged as Europe’s leading keyboard manufacturer. Generalmusic faltered in 2009, following the global financial panic, and filed for bankruptcy the following year. Kulmala, an enthusiastic bass player and singer who had spent the previous six years on the board of F-Musiikki Oy, Finland’s largest music retailer and distributor, decided to bid for the company assets. After four years navigating Italy’s complex bankruptcy court, he emerged as Generalmusic’s new owner.
Once the acquisition was complete, company operations were relocated to Salo, a small town 40 miles to the north of Helsinki. As the former site of Nokia’s mobile phone headquarters and manufacturing, the town has abundant engineering talent and a vibrant network of electronic suppliers and contract manufacturers. “Finnish engineering and quality are absolutely top notch,” says Kulmala. “We may be a little farther north, but we have the people and the know-how to compete with anyone.”
Generalmusic has a history of investing heavily in R&D. In the early 1960s, it was one of the first keyboard makers to embrace solid-state technology. More recently, its DRAKE digital sound engine, which is at the heart of the Promega series, has been described by many players as “ten years ahead of its time.” Kulmala says that the new Generalmusic will continue this tradition of pursuing advanced technology. Drawing on some of the same engineers that made Nokia phones top sellers around the world, he contends the Generalmusic keyboards will set a new standard of quality and reliability.
The European Union was Generalmusic’s largest market, and Kulmala says that there is large group of consumers “cheering for our comeback.” With production ramping up, he is planning to roll out the Promega series globally. Rebuilding a company is difficult project, but Kulmala is undaunted. “I am a problem solver by nature and I don’t give up,” he says. “And the reaction we’ve been getting from customers has made the process very rewarding.”
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