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Phil O'Keefe

Phil, Photos And The Fun of NAMM

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I'm not going to go running through the halls of NAMM with my hair on fire like I have so many times in the past… but that's still a sensitive subject - how do you think I wound up with this hair? :eekphil:;)

 

This year, rather than trying to catch every single booth and overwhelming you with literally thousands of photos, I'm planning on trying to be a bit more selective. I'm not giving up on trying to find the coolest things at the show - that goes without saying… but I'm going to try to go more for quality than quantity, and I'm also going to look for the weird, the whacky, the obscure, the fun and the funny… basically anything that grabs my eye.

 

 

For example, as I was sitting in traffic just outside the convention center, I spotted a cool Dodge Challenger in the lane next to me… and then I noticed his license plate… and I thought, do I risk it? You see, here in California they'll ticket you if you even point in the general direction of your phone while driving… but I was at a stoplight and there's nothing I won't do for our HC readers… or something like that. So yeah, I grabbed my phone…

 

 

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The plate said "HC I WISH" :lol: Okay, I'll bite - what do you wish? Or maybe he wishes he was posting on HC instead of driving around in Anaheim traffic. Either way, it seemed like a good omen for the start of the show.

 

 

 

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You know what an microphone iso screen is, right? Well, the concept has been taken to the max with the IsoVox.The various panels are "hinged" to provide ingress and egress.

 

 

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It's pretty heavy duty, and I was surprised by how much the din of the trade show floor was attenuated when I was inside it.

 

 

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It is lit up inside so you can see your sheet music or lyric sheet.

 

 

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Warm Audio's new WA-87 was the mic they had inside the IsoVox, and I had the chance to give it a listen for a minute. It sounds a lot like an old U-87… which is exactly what Warm Audio is shooting for.

 

 

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And when you're not using the IsoVox for tracking or practicing vocals, the Star Wars fans out there can pretend they're on Endor, with an Imperial AT-ST Walker on their heads!

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I did get to try that out, briefly this afternoon...not for the claustrophobic, but an improvement on the semi-circular mic surrounds...plus it was the only time I had my ear-valves out that I didn't feel sonically assaulted!

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You know what an microphone iso screen is, right? Well, the concept has been taken to the max with the IsoVox.The various panels are "hinged" to provide ingress and egress.

 

It's pretty heavy duty, and I was surprised by how much the din of the trade show floor was attenuated when I was inside it.

 

And I was disappointed in how much it didnt attenuate the din of the show. You must have been there at a quieter time than I was.

 

 

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And I was disappointed in how much it didnt attenuate the din of the show. You must have been there at a quieter time than I was.

 

 

It's not massive enough nor airtight, so I don't really expect very much - but the attenuation was definitely noticeable when I tried it on press preview day (Wednesday), and there was a pretty good crowd around at the time.

 

I should have done SPL measurements. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow if I go by their booth. :idea::)

 

But no, it's not like the Whisper Room over in… what is it? Hall B? Or is it Hall C? Anyway, that's airtight, much more massive and therefore significantly more effective in terms of attenuation. But having a semi-open enclosure like that attenuate audibly at all is surprising.

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My initial concern with it was that the IsoVox would be unwieldily and tricky to set up - but while I didn't adjust it myself, they didn't seem to have any problem adjusting it (and the mic) to the correct height either. I got in, they closed the side and then they asked me what I thought; I said I thought the mic was too high, and they had it right where I wanted it within a couple of seconds.

 

Even when using a semicircular type mic screen, I've often suggested setting up some sort of absorptive material behind a singer, or at least giving it a try (a moving blanket draped over a boom mic stand will do) - in some rooms it can make a significant difference. This kind of gives you something similar to that, and it looks a lot more interesting - especially if you're into Star Wars. ;) It also gives you some side absorption too… but as Daddymack said, if you're claustrophobic, it's not for you.

 

It's also worthless at low frequencies, so if you're trying to deal with room rumble or issues with bleed in the low mids, it's not going to do anything for you. But I did notice it cutting back the mids/upper mids and highs. It wasn't subtle either.

 

Like I said, if I get the opportunity tomorrow, I'll see if I can do some measurements. Saturday at NAMM - the one thing I can guarantee is that there will be plenty of ambient noise to test with! ;)

 

It was nice to see you yesterday at NAMM Mike! :cool2:

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In the where on earth did they find the time? category, the award this year goes to whoever assembled the big a$$ Huge Dynaudio Lego Speaker in the lobby…

 

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:lol: And of course, they cared enough to put connectors and controls on the back side of it. :philthumb:

 

 

 

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I can't say how it sounds - I didn't get a chance to hear it… :D

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I went by the EHX booth and the good folks there were kind enough to give me a demo of their cool new products. Stay tuned for the videos - which I plan to edit and upload when I'm less fried… :p

 

After I heard the demos I noticed a poster they had up in their booth…

 

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Hey, that looks familiar - did I say that? Why yes, I do believe I did. :):0

 

 

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I think I'm going to write an article about Ways NAMM Shows Could Be Improved for ME (the rest of you are on your own :p ) - and one of those ways would be for all other companies to adapt what EHX has done and get an iso booth of some kind to do their demos in. It would really help to help keep the overall noise levels in the halls down.

 

Another Way NAMM Shows Could Be Improved for ME would be for people to quit standing around in the center of the aisles. See someone you know and want to stop and chat? The IDEAL place to do it is right there on the spot - right in the middle of one of the main pedestrian paths! :lol::facepalm: Of course if you get enough people standing around in the walkways chatting, no one gets anywhere fast… Here's an idea folks - move to the sides if you want to chat! Leave the center of the isles open for traffic. Slower traffic, keep right.

 

Speaking of traffic, Winter NAMM is held in the United States. We drive on the right side of the road. Walk accordingly please. :wave:

 

And can we please have traffic lights or something at the major pedestrian intersections in the halls please? Anything to improve the flow and efficiency of travel would be appreciated…

 

Does that mean we need NAMM traffic cops to go along with the SPL Police? :idk:

 

Of course, the escalator dying today wasn't great for the flow of traffic, and not having someone there to direct people to the location of the stairs didn't help.

 

 

But enough about the crowds and getting around - there's another Way NAMM Shows Could Be Improved for ME, and this time, I'm looking in your direction manufacturers and exhibitors. I know you'd love to set appointments and tell us about your new products in person and have a nice chat (and so would I - although the way NAMM meetings run is a whole other Way NAMM Shows Could Be Improved for ME) but we can't always manage to connect. Got something new? Then here's an idea - why not mark it as such, clearly and in a way that is easily seen? Bonus points if you put a card or poster next to it with the main details about what makes it cool, the availability date, MSRP, and a website where the HC folks can get more info.

 

You'd be surprised by the number of exhibitors who don't do that. However, I have to give props to Korg, who had a rack with literature on all the new things, and it was clearly marked. :philthumb:

 

 

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Here's another one. While I do appreciate and enjoy the cool mood lighting and overall vibe of many booths, there are some that are so dark that you can't take a decent picture of the cool new product without a flash… and it looks bad if you use the flash. And whoever had the idea of putting a lit up surface UNDER the Roland modules? Yeah - it looks vibey as hell, but it makes shooting it (photo or video) a pain in the butt, so another Way NAMM Shows Could Be Improved for ME would have to include a safe photography space for every new product on display, complete with good lighting... and of course the clearly marked NEW!!! and info signs I mentioned earlier…

 

Presenters: You're bound to have to give the same presentation countless times, so here's a suggestion - rehearse it a few times before the show. The pros always do - and it shows.

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I have to admit I wasn't terribly impressed when I first saw a photo of the Epiphone Brendon Small Snow Falcon, but it actually looks really impressive in person.

 

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And while we're looking at Epiphone Flying V's…

 

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I shot videos of this (and it's up already) but I also took some pictures of these exotic wood Fenders that I thought looked really cool...

 

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This Tele is one of the new Fenders made from mahogany that was felled in a hurricane and that has been in storage for a couple of decades. It's nice to see companies exploring alternatives to cutting down current growth trees…

 

Dig the Charlie Christian style pickup in the neck position…

 

 

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And here's a mahogany Jazzmaster…

 

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Squier has some cool new guitars too, and plenty of bright shiny color options…

 

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Squier's basses also got the flashy colors…

 

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The Squier offset Baritone is now also available in black…

 

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Here's a close up of the Bari…

 

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Looking for a Squier Jazzmaster? Now you can get one with a hardtail or traditional vibrato tailpiece.

 

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How about a dual-humbucker equipped Squier Mustang… for (IIRC) two hundred dollars"street"? They're probably going to sell them by the boatload…

 

Of course there were colorful Squier Teles on display too…

 

 

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I ran into legendary session and touring bass man Lee Sklar, and even though he was in a hurry to get to an appointment he was kind and gracious and stopped for a photo…

 

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As long as we're doing the star photos, here's one I shot of Jeff "Skunk" Baxter… he was (as he often is) in the middle of a deep conversation, so I didn't want to interrupt...

 

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And I also ran into legendary mix engineer Bob Clearmountain, who also couldn't have been nicer and was willing to take a moment out of his busy day to stop and say hello and take a picture...

 

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I've not done NAMM in a couple of years but I have found traffic has been consistently down since my first in '04. Back then you couldn't move because of the volume of people everywhere, not peeps hanging around chatting. It used to remind me of downtown Manhattan during lunch hour, now it's just annoying for the reasons you state.

 

Noise has always been an issue most particularly around the percussion area, although there are a few [ahem] pedal/amp builders that have not had much concern for their neighbors. It has been quite comical to watch show organizers try to contain the issue by moving the drum section further and further out of the way. I realize Hall E is where the newbs go, but it might serve the overall show better if they put percussion down there where it's isolated and use one the main hall areas for the newbs.

 

NAMM does have sound police walking around with meters, but all they do is come by, chew the booth owners out and leave. Once gone, noise rises again until the next time. Sound police huff and puff but until they start banning offenders, the problem will remain ongoing IMHO.

Edited by Verne Andru

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MXL Had some new microphone models on display, including the DX-2. This is designed for use on things like guitar cabinets - the front face is flat so it can be draped over the amp / through the handle and sit right in front of the grille cloth, without a stand. Inside are two dynamic (moving coil) mic elements - one large and one a bit smaller. Each captures a different sound - with the larger one grabbing more thump and lows while the smaller capsule has more of a midrange focus. They can be combined and sent out of the single XLR output with a blend knob, allowing you to use either capsule individually, or combining them in whatever ratio you prefer.

 

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They also had a V67 Mini on display, but little information about it.

 

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It's not widely known to the public at large, but those who have worked with me in the studio know that I can do a pretty decent Dr. Evil impersonation... which probably explains why the new Aston Microphones Starlight small diaphragm condensers immediately caught my eye. They come with their own friggin' lasers? Dr. Evil would most definitely approve! They may not help you obtain world domination, but I suspect they'll help you with aiming your microphones... :idea:

 

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Percussa's new synth was pretty interesting... and they also have blocks that light up and do interesting things...

 

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Deering had some cool new banjos, including an affordable Goodtime 6 string model that will make it easier for guitarists to transition to banjo, as well as a high end model made with (IIRC) oak.

 

 

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