From July 18-20, 2003, a record-setting crowd of more than 20,000 attendees packed the Nashville Convention Center and Arena for the NAMM Summer Session. For a “small guitar show,” Summer NAMM '03 was anything but: The mood was up, buyers were buying and there were plenty of cool technologies to check out. Here are a few highlights.
Moog Music's (www.moogmusic.com) booth was packed with people checking out the Moog PianoBar. The system attaches in minutes (without modifications), turning any piano into a MIDI controller. Its $1,199 price includes an 88-key scanner bar, pedal sensor, and control electronics with MIDI and audio outs for its 200 onboard sounds. Studios will love this one.
I didn't think it was possible, but Yamaha's (www.yamaha.com) Motif ES is an improved (!) version of its acclaimed synth/sampler/sequencer/workstation, with 128-note polyphony, more DSP and new filter algorithms.
Hammond Suzuki (www.hammondsuzuki.com) followed up last year's “New B3” digital tonewheel organ re-creation with the “New” Portable B3, an easily transportable version. A longtime maker of B3-emulation modules,Voce (www.voceinc.com) unveiled a full keyboard version, with dual waterfall manuals, four sets of drawbars, that classic sound and a “your-roadies-will-thank-you” 60-pound package.
FreeHand Systems (www.freehandsystems.com), maker of the MusicPad Pro, announced that it acquired Sunhawk Digital Music, the world's largest collection of digital sheet music. The combination offers a seamless experience of searching, purchasing and downloading sheet music online.
New mics were everywhere! Yamaha ( href="http://www.yamahadrums.com" target="_blank">www.yamahadrums.com) redefines the term large-diaphragm mic with its Subkick, which uses the microphonic properties of a 10-inch woofer mounted inside a 10-inch maple tom shell that sets up in front of any kick drum, outputting ultralow frequencies to a standard XLR jack. This signal can be used alone or combined with a traditional kick mic for more variety. M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) Luna mic is a striking design, featuring a large lollipop-style top with a cardioid 1.1-inch condenser capsule. Peeking under the “stem,” I was impressed to note its all-discrete, Class-A FET electronics. Luna's now shipping at $249/retail. Audix's (www.audixusa.com) OM-11 is essentially a re-issue of its classic OM-1, which is not only a great dynamic vocal model, but one of my all-time fave snare mics. SE Electronics (www.seelectronics.com) unveiled its H3500 cardioid studio mic with a huge body that houses its large-diaphragm condenser capsule. Retail is $599. SE also showed its $249 half-rack Ghost TB101, a single-channel tube preamp/DI/compressor/3-band EQ. Trident Audio's (www.oram.co.uk) M-101 is a large-diaphragm, multipattern condenser that's UK-made and features custom John Oram-designed electronics. CAD (www.cadmics.com) adds two side-address condensers to its popular Equitek mic line. The e1002 is a supercardioid model, and the e2002 is a three-pattern (supercardioid/omni/figure-8) mic; both feature onboard re-chargeable batteries that provide a huge current reserve or allow up to six hours of remote use without phantom power.
NAMM had plenty of slick new amps, from Vetta II, the next generation from Line 6 (www.line6.com); Fender's (www.fender.com) new Cyber Champ; Alesis' (www.alesis.com) SpitFire line of DSP amps; Behringer's (www.behringer.com) V-Tone amps based on its V-Amp boxes; to Vox's (www.voxamps.co.uk) ToneLab, putting the punch of its Valvetronix amps into a console-top unit. I liked Zoom's (dist. by Samson,www.samsontech.com) Fire-60: a 60-watt modeling amp with a single-12 and onboard effects; it has three mic elements built under the grille cloth with built-in mic/direct mixing. Cool!
Following up its slammin' AdrenaLinn guitar effects processor, AdrenaLinn II from Roger Linn Design(www.rogerlinndesign.com) features improved amp modeling and effects, a simpler user interface and the ability to sync to the onboard drum machine. Yamaha's SPX2000 features 96kHz audio and both AES/EBU and analog I/Os. But what had showgoers wowed was the sound, with 97 sparkling reverb/effect programs (many using the REV-X algorithm) and another 27 presets based on classic SPX90 sounds. Wave Distribution(www.wavedistribution.com) now distributes SRS Labs' Circle Sound line of pro surround-encode/decode tools and Studio Electronics' line of no-compromise analog gear, including the C2s, a discrete Class-A compressor/limiter combining 1176-style dynamics with a Neve 1272-type output stage.
Taylor (www.taylorguitars.com) unveiled the K4 Equalizer, a Rupert Neve-designed outboard EQ designed to work with its Expression System-equipped guitars. The K4's low-Z, transformer-coupled I/O connects to an ES guitar's balanced out, adding bass and treble controls, two parametric mid-bands, pre/post-EQ effects loop, phase invert, Mute switch and more.
Crest's (www.crestaudio.com) slick CP-6210 rackmount program mixer has six channels, with mic inputs (with 2-band EQ), stereo line ins and RIAA phono inputs. Stereo-cueing to monitor any channel from the booth or headphone outs is standard, as is 4-band output EQ. An expander unit adds a three-frequency, DJ-style bandpass EQ on each input channel, and direct switching to the A/B crossfader buses or program bus.
“Affordable” was the keyword when it came to new studio monitors at NAMM. Alesis (www.alesis.com) was showing its Pro-Active 5.1 System (reviewed in this issue) and debuted the ProActive 2.0, a compact, two-way biamplified unit with 6-inch LF, ¾-inch tweeter and 65 watts of onboard power. KRK (www.krksys.com) is shipping its low-cost ST6/ST8 unpowered near-fields, with 6- or 8-inch aluminum woofers, 1-inch silk-dome tweeters and mag shielding as standard. Trident Audio's LS101s are compact, $799/pair near-fields, with shielded, dual 5-inch woofers, 1-inch dome HF and a stated 30 to 22k Hz response. Designed for smaller studios or as NS-10-style surround references, M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) Studiophile LX4 systems are available in stereo (2.1) or 5.1 packages, based on a 60-watt powered sub and 27 watts to each two-way (4-inch LF/1-inch HF) satellite speaker.
DAWS KEEP COMING!
Korg (www.korg.com) has taken its D Series DAWs to the limit. The new D32XD and D16XD feature 16/24-bit re-cording at up to 96kHz, large TouchView display, eight analog compressors, digital mixing, 4-band EQ on every channel, onboard 40GB drive (up to 188 track-hours), CD-RW burner and analog/digital I/O options. Both units offer up to 16 simultaneous track recording, eight XLR mic ins with phantom, eight line inputs, DI guitar input, 128 (D16XD) or 256 (D32XD) virtual tracks, and full cut/paste/undo editing with normalizing, fade, time comp/expression and three digital effects processors, along with full mix automation with 16 moving faders assignable to inputs/buses (56-channel/14-bus in the D32XD).
Cakewalk's (www.cakewalk.com) Home Studio 2004 offers: 24-bit, 96kHz capability; ASIO, ReWire 2.0 and DXi 2.0 support; and the ability to use multiple hardware channels simultaneously. An “XL” version adds plug-ins and loop libraries. An all-in-one solution is Roland's (www.rolandus.com) MV-8000, featuring 16 velocity-sensitive pads, sampling, sequencing, onboard effects, mixing and CD burning. And from Roland's BOSS(www.bossus.com) group, the new BR-864 8-Track Digital Studio offers eight main recording tracks, 64 virtual tracks, COSM effects and 128MB Compact Flash card for 60-plus minutes of recording. Battery power and PC/Mac USB interfacing of its .WAV/.AIFF files add to the fun. The coolest lil' sketchpad? Zoom's PS-04 Palmtop Studio packs a 4-track (10 virtual) DAW with programmable drum/bass sounds, 94 effects, SmartMedia storage and five-hour recording on four AA batteries in a palm-size case.
There were more hot products from NAMM, so watch our new-products sections. Meanwhile, Winter NAMM is slated for January 15-18, 2004, in Anaheim, Calif. Book those hotel rooms now!
Hits You May Have Missed
BBE's (www.bbesound.com) DI-1000 active/passive direct box combines its Sonic Maximizer processing with a Jensen transformer, mil-spec parts and a bulletproof aluminum housing with red baked-enamel finish.
Broadjam's MetaJam (www.broadjam.com) software lets artists organize their songs, photos, gigs and events; build a Website; create press kits; and simply batch-upload music to the Internet.
Jellifish (www.jellifish.com) is a $9.95 guitar pick with molded-in, stiff bristle “fingers” that make your guitar strum emulate 12-string/dobro/cello/dulcimer/zither sounds. Weird!
Korg's (www.korg.com) microControl is a USB-compatible, compact MIDI controller with a 37-note mini keyboard; assignable controls include eight sliders, eight rotary encoders, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, four-way joystick and LEDs to display parameter names.
Lynx's (www.lynxstudio.com) AES16 provides 16-channels of 24-bit/192kHz AES/EBU (single- or dual-wire) interfacing on a half-size PCI card, with SynchroLock jitter elimination and PC/Mac mixer software. Price? Only $695, with XLR/BNC breakout cables and ADAT expansion optional.