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Software Tech: The 2020 Anderton Awards

Sizing up the NAMM Show with a moderately bloodshot eye, the Anderton Awards return.

After that unfortunate incident involving the Anderton Awards banquet at AES New York—to be fair, we did say “hot dogs,” so if you assumed the food wasn’t from dogs, that’s on you—it looked like the awards had gone the way of the Elcaset, but like month-old shrimp from a sketchy food truck, you can’t keep the Anderton Awards down! With pro audio’s increasing importance at Winter NAMM, and no extradition treaty with New York State, the Anderton Awards have moved to sunny Anaheim, CA.

Our excited attendees and presenters have gathered at the prestigious Denny’s on 2080 South Harbor Blvd.—not just for the entertainment from famed punk band Music Mucus, the 1-star Yelp reviews (more than half of them) or the alleged food-like substances, but to find out which companies will receive recognition in this otherwise prestigious publication. The ADSR envelopes, please…

The Blade Runner 2049 Longest Time Between Sequels award goes to MIDI. Thirty-seven years after MIDI 1.0 debuted at Winter NAMM, MIDI 2.0 adds higher resolution, better workflow, two-way communication, time stamping, and all-around general goodness. And yes, your old stuff still works with it. It may even work better.

German company Rebeat picks up the Totally Cool, Even if Only a Few People Actually Ever Use It award for its Perfect Groove Virtual Cutting Lathe application. Mastering for vinyl? Give the “virtual lathe” a WAV file for analysis and the program generates a list with times for all potential pain points—groove width limit, high needle velocity and more. Bye-bye, test pressings! We never liked you anyway.

Universal Audio wins the LUNAcy Can Be a Wonderful Thing award for its LUNA recording system. It looks suspiciously like what Pro Tools would be if it were reinvented as a modern DAW, with hardware/software integration tighter than James Brown’s rhythm section, and a workflow that’s more like being in a traditional studio. But will the system clock signals be called LUNA ticks? Inquiring minds want to know.

New Gear at NAMM 2020 – Editor’s Choice, Feb. 27, 2020

If you thought software killed digital hardware, think again. Vintage digital hardware is now a thing. What’s more, the coveted Rise of Skywalker: “The Dead Speak!” award is a tie, shared by AMS, Chase Bliss and Meris. AMS’ beloved 40-year-old Model RMX 16 digital reverb has awakened from its coma as a 500 Series-compatible module, and at a fraction of the original’s price. Meanwhile, Chase Bliss and Meris collaborated on the CXM 1978, which incorporates three of the Lexicon 224’s most famous algorithms. Welcome back, 1980s! Please bring your music with you.

The Networking Isn’t Just for Millennials Who Need Jobs award goes to RME for introducing three AVB/MADI networking products: the 12Mic digitally controlled mic/line pre with 12 ins; AVB Tool with four mic pre’s, up to 128 MADI channels, and 64 AVB channels; and M-1610 Pro, a one-stop solution for live recording applications. They make casting a wide net less work.

The Soul Music Can Now Be Sole Music award goes to Drop Labs for its Bluetooth subwoofer shoe that vibrates a shoe’s sole in rhythm with music. Weird, right? Well … actually … if you wear IEMs on stage, this helps you feel the music, not just hear it. It’s like tapping your foot, except the shoe taps for you—and helps keep you in time.

ASI Audio garners the Ludwig van Beethoven “I’d Prefer Not Being Deaf” award for its in-ear monitors. Too many musicians pull an IEM from one ear to hear the room, which negates the IEM’s hearing protection. Among other features, ASI’s IEMs include binaural 3D mics that let you mix in the desired level of room ambiance, while a limiter catches excessive levels. It’s better to blow minds than ears.

Innovations: 3DME Music Enhancement System from ASI Audio x Sensaphonics, by Michael Santucci, Feb. 10, 2020

The Unfortunately, It’s 16 Years Too Late for Ashlee Simpson award goes to Radial Engineering for the SW8-USB, an auto-switcher for redundant computer-based backup tracks. If the vocal backing track goes out, the redundant system switches in—and no one will ever know that Mr. and Ms. Superstar can’t really sing.

Korg wins the Rust Never Sleeps, and Neither Do Product Designers award for its new products: the Wavestate (wave-sequencing synthesizer), an ARP 2600 modular synth reissue, a limited edition full size MS-20, several cool Arduino-based development systems, and a product preview of the Opsix FM synth. That’s enough for one show.

Music Radar reviews Korg Wavestate, Jan. 7, 2020

… And that’s also enough for the 2020 Anderton Awards! As the curtain falls, thankfully without causing any permanent injuries or significant property damage, we wish you safe travels. See you in 2021!

Check out author/musician Craig Anderton’s educational site, digital storefront, and stream his music at

Previous editions of the Anderton Awards:

2012 (December)
2012 (January)