From July 18-20, 2003, a record-setting crowd of morethan 20,000 attendees packed the Nashville Convention Center and Arenafor the NAMM Summer Session. For a "small guitar show," Summer NAMM '03was anything but: The mood was up, buyers were buying and there wereplenty of cool technologies to check out. Here are a fewhighlights.
Moog Music's (www.moogmusic.com) booth was packed with peoplechecking out the Moog PianoBar. The system attaches in minutes (withoutmodifications), turning any piano into a MIDI controller. Its $1,199price includes an 88-key scanner bar, pedal sensor, and controlelectronics 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 (http://www.yamaha.com/) Motif ES is an improved (!)version of its acclaimed synth/sampler/sequencer/workstation, with128-note polyphony, more DSP and new filter algorithms.
Hammond Suzuki (www.hammondsuzuki.com) followed up last year's "NewB3" digital tonewheel organ re-creation with the "New Portable B3," aneasily 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), makers of the MusicPadPro, announced that it acquired Sunhawk Digital Music, the world'slargest collection of digital sheet music. The combination offers aseamless experience of searching, purchasing and downloading sheetmusic online.
New mics were everywhere! Yamaha (www.yamahadrums.com) redefines the termlarge-diaphragm mic with its Subkick, which uses the microphonicproperties of a 10-inch woofer mounted inside a 10-inch maple tom shellthat sets up in front of any kick drum, outputting ultralow frequenciesto a standard XLR jack. This signal can be used alone or combined witha traditional kick mic for more variety. M-Audio's (www.m-audio.com) Lunamic is a striking design, featuring a large lollipop-style top with acardioid 1.1-inch condenser capsule. Peeking under the "stem," I wasimpressed to note its all-discrete, Class-A FET electronics. Luna's nowshipping at $249/retail. Audix's (www.audixusa.com)OM-11 is essentially a reissue of its classic OM-1,which is not only a great dynamic vocal model, but one of my all-timefave snare mics. SE Electronics (www.seelectronics.com) unveiled its H3500 cardioidstudio mic with a huge body housing its large-diaphragm condensercapsule. Retail is $599. SE also showed its $249 half-rack Ghost TB101, a single-channel tubepreamp/DI/compressor/3-band EQ. CAD (www.cadmics.com) addstwo side-address condensers to its popular Equitek mic line. The e1002is a supercardioid model, and the e2002 is a three-pattern(supercardioid/omni/figure-8) mic; both feature onboard rechargeablebatteries that provide a huge current reserve or allow up to six hoursof remote use without phantom power.
NAMM had plenty of slick new amps, from Vetta II, the nextgeneration from Line 6 (www.line6.com); Fender's (www.fender.com) newCyber Champ; Alesis' (www.alesis.com) SpitFire line of DSP amps;Behringer's (www.behringer.com) V-Tone amps based on its V-Ampboxes; to Vox's (www.voxamps.co.uk) ToneLab, putting the punch ofits Valvetronix amps into a console-top unit. I liked Zoom's(distributed by Samson, www.samsontech.com) Fire-60: a 60-watt modeling ampwith a single-12 and onboard effects; it has with three mic elementsbuilt under the grille cloth, with built-in mic/direct mixing.Cool!
Following up its slammin' AdrenaLinn guitar effectsprocessor, Adrenalinn II from Roger Linn Design (www.rogerlinndesign.com) features improved ampmodeling and effects, a simpler user interface and the ability to syncto the onboard drum machine. Yamaha's (www.yamaha.com/proaudio) SPX2000 features 96kHzaudio and both AES/EBU and analog I/Os. But what had showgoers wowedwas the sound, with 97 sparkling reverb/effect programs (many using theREV-X algorithm) and another 27 presets based on classic SPX90 sounds.Wave Distribution (www.wavedistribution.com) now distributes SRSLabs' Circle Sound line of pro surround encode/decode tools andStudio Electronics' line of no-compromise analog gear, includingthe C2s, a discrete Class-A compressor/limiter combining 1176-styledynamics with a Neve 1272-type output stage.
Taylor (www.taylorguitars.com) unveiled the K4 Equalizer, aRupert Neve-designed outboard EQ designed to work with its ExpressionSystem-equipped guitars. The K4's low-Z, transformer-coupled I/Oconnects to an ES guitar's balanced out, adding bass and treblecontrols, two parametric mid-bands, pre/post-EQ effects loop, phaseinvert, Mute switch and more.
Crest's (www.crestaudio.com) slick CP-6210 rackmount programmixer has six channels, with mic inputs (with 2-band EQ), stereo lineins and RIAA phono inputs. Stereo-cueing to monitor any channel fromthe booth or headphone outs is standard, as is 4-band output EQ. Anexpander unit adds a three-frequency, DJ-style bandpass EQ on eachinput channel, and direct switching to the A/B crossfader buses orprogram bus.
"Affordable" was the keyword when it came to new studio monitors atNAMM.
) was showing its ProActive 5.1System (reviewed in this issue) and debuted the ProActive 2.0, acompact, two-way biamplified unit with 6-inch LF, 3/4-inch tweeter and65 watts of onboard power.
) is shipping its low-cost ST6/ST8unpowered near-fields, with 6- or 8-inch aluminum woofers, 1-inchsilk-dome tweeters and mag shielding as standard. Designed for smallerstudios or as NS-10-style surround references,
)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-inchLF/1-inch HF) satellite speaker.
DAWS KEEP COMING!
) has taken its D Series DAWs to thelimit. The new D32XD and D16XD feature 16/24-bit recording at up to96kHz, large TouchView display, eight analog compressors, digitalmixing, 4-band EQ on every channel, onboard 40GB drive (up to 188track-hours), CD-RW burner, and analog/digital I/O options. Both unitsoffer up to 16 simultaneous track recording, eight XLR mic ins withphantom, 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 withfull mix automation with 16 moving faders assignable to inputs/buses(56-channel/14-bus in the D32XD).
) Home Studio 2004 offers: 24-bit,96kHz capability; ASIO, ReWire 2.0 and DXi 2.0 support; and the abilityto use multiple hardware channels simultaneously. An "XL" version addsplug-ins and loop libraries. An all-in-one solution is
) MV-8000, featuring 16velocity-sensitive pads, sampling, sequencing, onboard effects, mixingand CD burning. And from Roland's
) group,the new BR-864 8-Track Digital Studio offers eight main recordingtracks, 64 virtual tracks, COSM effects and 128MB Compact Flash cardfor 60-plus minutes of recording. Battery power and PC/Mac USBinterfacing of its .WAV/.AIFF files add to the fun. The coolest lil'sketchpad?
's PS-04 Palmtop Studio packs a 4-track (10virtual) DAW with programmable drum/bass sounds, 94 effects, SmartMediastorage and five-hour recording on four AA batteries in a palm-sizecase.
There were more hot products from NAMM, so watch our new-productssections. Meanwhile, Winter NAMM is slated for January 15-18, 2004, inAnaheim, Calif. Book those hotel rooms now!
HITS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
) DI-1000 active/passive direct boxcombines its Sonic Maximizer processing with a Jensen transformer,mil-spec parts and a bulletproof aluminum housing with red baked-enamelfinish.
's MetaJam (
) software lets artists organizetheir songs, photos, gigs and events; build a Website; create presskits; and simply batch-upload music to the Internet.
) is a $9.95 guitar pick withmolded-in, stiff bristle "fingers" that make your guitar strum emulate12-string/dobro/cello/dulcimer/zither sounds. Weird!
) microControl is a USB-compatible,compact MIDI controller with a 37-note mini keyboard; assignablecontrols include eight sliders, eight rotary encoders, 16velocity-sensitive pads, four-way joystick and LEDs to displayparameter names.
) AES16 provides 16-channels of24-bit/192kHz AES/EBU (single- or dual-wire) interfacing on a half-sizePCI card, with SynchroLock jitter elimination and PC/Mac mixersoftware. Price? Only $695, with XLR/BNC breakout cables and ADATexpansion optional.