Yes, we just had another NAMM...and wow, there was a lot of gear. Even with HC having multiple editors and doing a "divide-and-conquer" strategy, it's physically not possible to visit all booths of interest (well, unless you can spend under a minute at each booth, and don't have to spend transit time going from one booth to another).
So, here's a photo gallery (with brief descriptions) of gear that caught my eye. All of these have an associated video, but not all products have videos edited and posted yet...check back in a couple of days for more. And even though I'm pretty much the guy covering the "tech beat," I couldn't resist slipping a few other things in there - like psychedelic ukuleles. No, I'm not kidding. Note that these photos are in no particular order, and you can click on them to see the full-size versions.
Allen & Heath's XONEB4 DJ mixer is pretty much all-digital, with a ton of MIDI control and lots of effects.
Radikal Technologies Accelerator is a live performance synthesizer that sounds really, really good - both sweet and aggressive at the same time. And, there's an accelerometer inside so that moving the keyboard can to tricks like pitch-bending. Seriously!
Akai showed a line of effects pedals. They're made in China and look like some other pedals, but the insides are quite different. For example, one of the distortions lets you choose among three different distortion types (including LED distortion, my personal fave) and provides user accessibility to an IC socket so you can replace the main chip with equivalents for different sounds.
Fxpansion's Geist is the successor to Guru, and it's a beat-mangler's dream come true.
Olympus expanded their line of portable recorders with the LS-7, their smallest, lightest, and least expensive to date (under $100). It runs off two standard AAA batteries.
Sorry for the blurry photo, but iPad-based apps were huge at the show. Presonus showed one for controlling their StudioLive console, and it is very cool - for starters, imagine each musician being able to create their own monitor mix onstage from their iPad.
And speaking of iPad apps...here's SynthX, from Wayoutware. It's a surprisingly expressive musical instrument.
The Kemper Profiling Amp got a huge buzz at the show. Think of it as do-it-yourself modeling for any guitar amp of choice - stick a mic in front of your amp, profile it, then transfer the sound to the Kemper, which can then feed a flat system like a PA and still give you "your sound."
Okay, here's an "eat your vegetables" product: Sensaphonics has a gizmo which, when used with particular in-ear monitors, lets you monitor the levels going into your ears. And while we're here...have you had your hearing checked lately? One friend of mine avoided deafness in one ear thanks to early detection. Just sayin'...
Radial Engineering is finally shipping its Workhorse "lunchbox" rack, which was announced at the 2009 AES. This one is set up as a guitar processing system, and that's what the video I'll be posting soon covers.
Yamaha's Tyros 4 arranger keyboard has added a bunch of new sounds and styles, with an accent on vocally-oriented samples. There's also a really nice sax...
Yamaha also showed their new Clavinola digital piano line. In addition to a new keybed, do you see any controls? Nope, because there's a panel that slides over them and covers them so you get something that looks more like a piano as well as feeling like one.
Universal Audio's Satellite places a UAD-2 card (dual or quad) in an external FireWire box - there's no more need to insert a PCIe card in your computer (or an ExpressCard in your laptop). It's Mac-only for now, though.
Drumagog 5 is at the top of the heap for drum replacement software, but version 5 is a complete design that's not only much more appealing visually, but adds multiple new features - my favorite being the ability to discriminate among different open/closed high-hat sounds.
Antares and TASCAM collaborated on the TA-1VP hardware Auto-Tune-based rack processor.
TASCAM also had a new PortaStudio - hasn't that line been around for like 30 years or something?
The Bomber pedal from Morpheus blew my mind. It's a pedal-controlled, continuously variable pitch-shifter (down two octaves, up one). Pitch-shifting isn't a big deal, but the sound quality is really something - it sounds like you put a Steinberger Transtrem on your guitar (or bass, for that matter). Way cool. I want one.
The OMG-1 is not a commercially available synthesizer - it was hand-built by Eric Persing of Spectrasonics. But here's the kicker: It's going to be the grand prize in a contest that will be announced on March 15th, and involve the Bob Moog Foundation. Thumbs up!!
Softube showed their Mix Bundle of plug-ins: The TSAR-1R Reverb, FET Compressor, Focusing Equalizer, Passive Equalizer, and Active Equalizer.
Waldorf had a fun stage piano. And you gotta love that semi-retro look.
Spark is a hardware/software beat machine combination from Arturia. Note that there's a serious amount of hands-on control happening here.
Arturia also introduced the last installment in their Analog Experience trilogy, Laboratory. Like Player and Factory, it's a hardware/software combination with a keyboard (in this case, 49 keys with aftertouch) and sounds (3,500 of them). But where this differs is more control from the keyboard, and also, you can edit sounds using the GUI from the original instruments from which the sounds came (i.e., Arturia's software synths).
BIAS introduded two new versions of Peak Studio 7 - an upmarket version (Peak Studio XT) and downmarket version (Peak Studio LE).
Numark had a big hit on their hands with the NS7 - in some ways, it really put them on the map for higher-end DJ gear. The NS6 is in the same vein, but incorporates effects instead of having them as an add-on, and includes several new features.
Studio Devil had several things cooking at the show. First is Virtual Guitar Amp II, an update to the original VGA that includes way more cabinets and emulations. They also introduced Virtual Bass Amp Pro (basically a bi-amped version of the original VBA, with several additional features) and a live mode for all their plug-ins so they can be used in stand-alone mode.
Continue the tour in Part 2!
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