Edirol, the audio/video gear folks that are part of Roland Group, have a trio of announcements about new hardware. Let’s deal with them all at once, because Roland model numbers make my head hurt:

New MIDI: Yes, new MIDI interface hardware. (MIDI will never die, folks.) What’s groovy about them? The US$89 UM-3EX has a built-in USB hub — chain them and/or rack mount them(!) and you’ve got some serious multi-port MIDI. Sure, some will be building a monster studio with this using lots of vintage keyboards . . . I’ll be building some weird interactive setup with sensors. Don’t mind me, though; I’m insane.

Updated Audio: Edirol’s UA-1EX is simple, but it’s got a lot going for it: super-small, cheap (US$99), and now 24-bit / 96 kHz and ASIO-compliant.

Portable USB Speakers: Here’s the cool announcement — USB-powered, portable speakers. The MA-1EXare perfect for portability: there’s even a cable wrap for wrapping up the USB cord, and you’ll never need to plug in power. No pricing yet.

So, will you be adding those portable speakers to your bag? Key question is how they sound. Check the specs: they deliver a whopping 0.75 Watts of power! (Hint: you’re going to want the bass enhancement, because that’s basically nothing.) Then again, they may be tiny, and they’ve got digital outputs in case you want to . . . uh . . . well, I don’t really know why they have those. Anyway, could be nifty in a pinch; I’ll let you know once they’re out. And I’ll certainly be grabbing that new MIDI interface.

More hardware coming: Unless no one told Edirol the huge NAMM show is still a couple of weeks away, I think you can expect bigger announcements later on this month. Stay tuned, MIDIskateers!