JamStik and JamStik + by Zivix
I'm excited to report that Zivix has released V 5 firmware for the JamStik + . If you have the older WIFi based model don't panic, theres an update coming your way soon!
It's a major step for several reasons. Firstly the Jamstik Connect App can once again deliver the update from your USB connected iOS device after iOS 9 broke the functionality. This is great because as soon as you connect the Jamstik a prompt comes up asking to update, Done.
The new firmware offers quite a few tweaks and improvements to the playability of the Jamstik + which is still a fairly new device. My experience is that latency over the Bluetooth connection is definitely better, something I griped about in my original review. It's still not unnoticeable however... and perhaps it never will be, which is why I still prefer a wired connection for any real recording. However for noodling on the couch and playing the Zivix teaching games it is definitely an improvement. Similarly the string-bending response is smoother and the hammer on-off triggering feels more responsive ... though I can't emphasize enough how important it is that the sound you are triggering be suited to this mode of playing. Some instruments and patches just don't work well.
In terms of new features there's now a setting to enable the accelerometer in the Jamstik to generate MIDI controller data in response to the angle at which the instrument is being held. The obvious application might be to open and close a filter on a synth to make a wah-wah effect as the Jamstik is pivoted in true guitar-hero fashion. But it could be brought to bear on all kinds of chaos!
I noticed a couple of switches in the settings which I think are new ... or maybe they were there before the update and just didn't notice them ... a 'Sustain Mode' which just lets MIDI notes ring on for sounds which naturally decay to nothing a don't need a discrete Note Off event and an option to lock note velocity to 'full' ( 127) ... both useful features when circumstances are right!
Most of all I'm glad to see Zivix digging in and supporting Jamstik. Many stringed MIDI devices have come and gone over the years. There's no question it's a niche product but one crucial aspect of establishing a market for such a thing is aggressive support from the manufacturer particularly in the early days. Zivix have made the Jamstik an appealing product for beginners, mobile enthusiasts and given it some real chops for those who want to dig deeper. I hope the momentum continues!