Christopher Laird Simmons

Christopher Simmons

Christopher Laird Simmons has been a working journalist since his first magazine sale in 1984. He has since written for wide variety of print and online publications covering lifestyle, tech and entertainment. He is an award-winning author, designer, photographer, and musician. He is a member of ASCAP and PRSA. He is the founder and CEO of Neotrope®, based in Temecula, CA, USA.


  1. Avatar photo Anonymous
    Sep 15, 2009 @ 10:25 PM PDT

    great review man, looks like you’ve been through quite a few machines over the years. I see the 4k still sitting large in your setup, best mpc in my opinion.

    that xxl is huge man…I still like the look of the lx5 better, it’s more sleek. But I love the power you can get with the xxl.



  2. Avatar photo avace
    Oct 2, 2009 @ 1:04 PM PDT

    I’m surprised there haven’t been more reviews of Open Labs products over the years. Having said that, what I really hoped for was a review of the DBeat. It seems to be essentially the same product without the alpha control or PCI slots and of course more portable and dual core rather than quad core. This review was helpful. No product can be perfect for everyone. But this seems to come close.

  3. Avatar photo Christopher Simmons
    Oct 2, 2009 @ 4:46 PM PDT

    Hi, Avace,
    I’m actually working on a review of the DBeat. The only issue I have, so far, with the DBeat is the external power supply brick, and its short cable (and fact mine power supply was defective); the external power supply is not something you can pick up at local computer store or RadioSHack, so if on tour yours was munched, lost, etc., you would be without power and no alternative. Anybody buying the DBeat should buy a back-up power supply from OpenLabs. I spent an hour on the web trying to find a replacement unit, and couldn’t (!), and I’m a search guru (seriously). The short power cable means you have to hang the power supply on your stand if you use a multi-tier unit (it’s basically an AC cable to a power brick, to a DIN cable to the DBeat). Otherwise, it is esseentially the same as all the other Gen5 products functionally, except you have a nifty back-lit trackball -AND- the touch panel is supposedly multi-touch ready for Windows7 (at least according the the trade show videos… you’d have to confirm that, as I will in the review). Finally, other caveat is that the iPod “cradle” is not really a dock in the same way as some of the cradles out there, meaning it’s basically a sculpted hole in the case with a cable sticking out… so, if you tilt the thing forwardwith your iPod in there, it may fall out since it’s not really a “docking” cradle, as you might find on some table top audio speaker systems, car cradles, etc. From the promos it “looks” like a docking cradle, but the iPod just floats in the opening, and is not “held” in by anything other than the USB iPod cable. So, Velcro might be needed if you are carrying the unit on stage with an iPod already placed for audio playback. Otherwise, the unit is very very very cool. It’s not quite an MPC replacement, as the default settings are setup for RIff and GURU, and some things don’t bahave quite the same way at boot-up as you might expect. Very close, but it’s a bit like the MPC4000 where you have to “program” the Qlinks to actually control filter cutoff or decay of the hi-hat, where on the older MPCs, the slider defaulted to obvious things like decay for controlling hi-hat. But… a full review will follow soon!! Working on review of “TITAN” VST now 🙂

    Christopher Simmons
    Senior Editor, Music Industry Newswire

    ps – say hello to our latest sponsor for Q4-2009, SOUNDSNAP (thanks guys!).

  4. Avatar photo avace
    Oct 4, 2009 @ 3:00 PM PDT

    Hey Chris.

    Thanks for the response. Wasn’t expecting that. I watch O Live when I have the time. And the screen won’t be multi touch. I asked someone at OL and they said they decided not to implement the multi touch screen. Just thought I’d keep you posted. Peace!!

  5. Avatar photo enoch
    Nov 5, 2010 @ 6:22 PM PDT

    im just a few days a head of getting my neko xxl gen 6 and trying to get as much as i can before she arrives and i must say that this is the best review i have read on the xxl thank you so much and i noticed a spelling mistake in your review …. ”The system is pre-set to work with both Live and (Repear”) …lol 😉 cheers mate!

  6. Avatar photo Chris
    Nov 6, 2010 @ 6:28 PM PDT

    enoch – you should enjoy the XXL; great machine. Be aware the USB can get overloaded as ALL the panels and the front headphone jack are all powered by USB power, so it’s not a ports issue but power thing. On mine, it was imperative to use an external powered USB hub (I used a Belkin model) for anything like iLok, syncrosoft, or even something like the KORE controller. You can find many of my long-winded tips still in the Open Labs forum (I no longer participate in the forum there, however). Enjoy!

    I’ll repair the repear reaper, too 🙂

  7. Avatar photo Rodney D
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 7:56 AM PST

    The Neko is a great unit. But with all it has it seems strange that Open Labs chose a PC plat form instead of Mac. No offense to PC users, as I have a PC as well. But I have Mac also and my Mac is more stable and better suited for music applications. Most major studios and producers use Mac. It’s pretty much a standard like Pro Tools. I’m not trying to start that age old debate…Mac vs PC, but the demand for the Neko would have definitely been much higher if it were Mac based. It’s like buying a $300.000 Rolls Royce Bentley and then putting on 4 new tires that came from Auto Zone! It’s odd that Open Labs did that.

  8. Avatar photo Christopher Simmons
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 5:44 PM PST

    HI Rodney
    this is an old debate, I even answered in the Open Labs forum. You may be unaware of this, but Apple doesn’t allow other companies to buy their motherboards, software, or drivers /OSX to use in other electronics. Basically, if it’s not a Mac, you cannot legally use OSX. Open Labs would have been sued for taking apart a Mac Pro, and putting it into the keyboard, and then selling it as a Mac(R) based workstation. They would be sued for mis-use of patents, and trademarks, at the very least. With Windows, anybody can become a system builder as it’s fairly “open” (contributing to company name) … this means, anybody can buy motherboards, drives, various OEM Windows (or Linux) operating system discs with license, video cards, and the like. Further, while it might have been possible to “encapsulate” a Mac Mini inside an Open Labs case, the fact is the original Minis were underpowered, had no PCI/PCIe expansion, and were limited as to video support. Another contributor, is the fact that very few video displays, touchpanels, are supported in the Mac OS, whereas there are many solutions under Windows. This is why OL chose Windows, and they have had great success with this, where they would be out of business with a Mac solution due to Apple shutting them down. This argument has been made by many who don’t understand the fundamental difference in Apple being a closed platform, and Windows being an open platform (which is why you don’t see Dell branded Macs, or Sony branded Macs, right?). Hope that cleared this issue up for you, as well as the many others who continue to make this suggestion year after year, when it’s fundamentally wrong – Open Labs could never have made a Mac-based platform for their keyboards, legally.

    Also, if you get an i7 quad or hexacore processor for a Neko, this is basically the same as one of the processors in a dual processor (dual CPU) Mac, or the same a buying a top of the line iMac or MacBook Pro. And so, it’s like having the same “engine” as the Mac, as both Mac and Windows BOTH use the same Intel based processors.