This year’s mid-January Winter NAMM show in Anaheim was busier than ever, offering more new gear than any show in recent memory. All product categories were ripe with options, and pro audio showgoers had plenty of eye and ear-candy to fuel their gear lust. Mix’s 2017 NAMM roundup features our hits of the show..
MIXERS AND CONTROLLERS
There are now three ways you can buy Mackie’s Big Knob controller: Big Knob Passive, Big Knob Studio and Big Knob Studio+. Big Knob Passive is the most simple and affordable option, while its bigger brothers act as high-resolution USB interfaces featuring two Onyx mic preamps providing 60dB of gain.
Peavey showed its Crest Audio Tactus Digital Mixing System, built in collaboration with Waves. It is a combination of the Waves eMotion LV1 mixer, SoundGrid server technology, and Crest Audio Tactus IO interfaces, and includes 32 mic/line inputs, XLR mic and TRS ¼-inch line inputs, 16 line inputs, gigabit Ethernet switch, and more. Also at the booth was Peavey’s new UNITY DR16 Digital Mixer, offering 16 inputs, eight of which use Peavey’s Silencer mic preamps.
Radial Engineering had the new Key-Largo, combining a multichannel keyboard mixer with the performance attributes of a real-time footswitch controller.
DiGiCo had the SD12 small-footprint live console featuring the latest generation of Super FPGA chips and 72 input channels with full processing. Other features include 36 aux/group buses, a 12x8 matrix, and an LR - LCR bus, all with full processing.
PreSonus StudioLive Series III
PreSonus’ new third-generation StudioLive Series III digital console/recorders now come in two configurations: the 24-input, 16-channel StudioLive 16, with 17 touch-sensitive, motorized faders and XMAX preamps, and a 40-input StudioLive 32 offering 33 touch-sensitive, motorized faders and 33 XMAX preamps.
Soundcraft announced its new, remote-controllable Ui24R. Users can access the device via Ethernet or built-in dual-band Wi-Fi (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS and Linux). It features Lexicon, dbx and DigiTech signal processing; 20 Studer-designed mic preamps; Lexicon reverbs, choruses and delays; dbx compression; dbx AFS2 automatic feedback suppression; and two channels of DigiTech guitar and amp modeling.
Tascam RC-SS150 Controller
The RC-SS150 Flash Remote Controller from Tascam can control the new SS-R250N solid-state recorder and SS-CDR250N solid-state/CD recorder with IF-DA2 Dante card. The RC-SS150 features a full-color LCD screen, Start and Stop control and 12 flash play buttons.
INTERFACES AND CONVERTERS
The Orion32 HD from Antelope Audio delivers 64 channels of I/O via HDX or USB3 and is compatible with any DAW on the market. It also offers Antelope’s clocking technology and FPGA-based real-time effects models. Connections include HDX, USB3, MADI, ADAT and S/PDIF, with 32x32 analog I/O via DB25.
Focusrite debuted the Scarlett OctoPre and OctoPre Dynamic 8-channel mic units. Scarlett OctoPre features eight Scarlett mic and line inputs, while the Dynamic offers eight Scarlett second-generation mic preamps with analog compression on every input channel. Both feature Focusrite 24-bit conversion at up to 192kHz resolution with 109dB dynamic range.
SSL Sigma Remote Control Analog Summing Mixer
SSL’s Sigma V2.1 upgrade offers a lot of new features, including the new 16-fader Sigma Delta16 plug-in, bringing compatibility to Logic users. The plug-in allows users to write automation for Sigma’s 16 analog faders from one plug-in window, solving Logic’s inherent limitation of only being able to write data to one plug-in at a time.
UA Apollo Twin
Universal Audio had the new Apollo Twin MKII, a ground-up redesign of the world’s most popular professional desktop recording interface for Mac and Windows. The new units offer Duo and Quad DSP options, plus Unison-enabled UAD plug-in operability, all under a slick, darkgray top panel.
The Lynx Aurora(n) converter features a modular design and an onboard 32-channel microSD recorder across 14 models. The first three of these modules will include a preamp, plus an analog summing and a digital (AES3+ADAT) module to be released in 2017.
RME launched the new Fireface UFX II, 30x30 audio interface, combining flexible recording and playback using RME’s low-latency hardware and drivers. Features include DURec (Direct USB Recording) and TotalMix FX mixing and routing software, delivering a comprehensive set of features for pro and home users. (See the Fireface UFX+ review in this month’s issue of Mix.)
Blue Bluebird SL
The Bluebird SL from Blue Microphones features a new onboard switchable highpass filter and -20dB pad that provides the flexibility to track a wide variety of sound sources and keep recordings clear at any volume. Bluebird SL comes in a wooden storage box and includes a custom shock mount.
Audio-Technica’s new ATM350a Instrument Microphone Systems (reviewed in this month’s issue) provides musicians with solid mounting solutions for a host of instruments. Each of the six systems features an ATM350a cardioid condenser microphone.
The Soundelux USA U99 ($2,599) from designer David Bock uses a k67 dual symmetrical backplate, dual-membrane capsule along with the signature Soundelux USA “fat” switch. The U99 uses a “new old stock” tube and true linear high-current power supply for the fullest possible sound.
The MXL CR20 condenser microphone is a fixed-cardioid pickup featuring a gold-sputtered diaphragm and an innovative tube emulation switch. At a flip of the switch, the sonic characteristics of the MXL CR20 change from crisp and clear with detailed high end to warm and balanced with a rich bottom end, similar to the tones of vintage tube microphones.
AKG, meanwhile, debuted the C636, featuring a custom-tuned capsule with hand-selected components, plus feedback, handling noise and plosive rejection. The C636 combines a uniform cardioid polar pattern throughout the entire frequency spectrum, with a specially designed suspension and grille for the capsule.
MONITORS & HEADPHONES
The new MB2 and the BB5 from PMC are available in single-cabinet and twin-cabinet (XBD) versions. All feature a hand-built, precision-matched 34mm soft-dome tweeter and 75mm fabric midrange driver, coupled with the latest generation of the Radial low-frequency driver built specifically for use with PMC’s ATL designs (a 12-inch Radial on the MB3 and a 15-inch on the BB6).
Sennheiser showed its HD 200 PRO headphones and the new Neumann KH 80 DSP studio monitors, the company’s first speaker with processing. It features a 4x1-inch close field, biamped speaker design, with control via a central network right from your tablet or computer.
Barefoot Sound introduced the Footprint O1, a three-way monitor featuring dual opposing 8-inch paper cone subwoofers, a 4-inch aluminum cone midrange driver and a 1-inch dual ring radiating tweeter, components that all share a lineage with Barefoot’s other products. The best news? Barefoot technology at only $3,500 a pair.
The Dynaudio PRO LYD 48 ($1,529 each) features a three-way speaker design using an 8-inch and a 4-inch woofer with a 1-inch tweeter. Power is supplied by a Class D amplifier, delivering 80W/50W/50W of power per monitor. The amp features a 96kHz/24-bit signal path and selectable input sensitivity, as well as the same Standby Mode as the original LYD speakers.
Transaudio Group showed the new passive ATC SCM12 monitor and the ATC P1 PRO standalone amplifier, among much more from their extensive lines.
Blue Microphone revealed the new Sadie, Ella and the soon-to-be-released Satellite Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones.
Audeze showed its iSINE20 in-ear headphones featuring planar magnetic technology moved by the company’s patented Fluxor Magnet Arrays. (See the reviews of Blue’s Ella headphones and Audeze’s iSINE20)
LIVE SOUND SPEAKERS
RCF HDL Series
RCF had its HDL Series of line arrays with the addition of the new HDL6-A, an active two-way module for flying, pole mounting or ground stacking applications. It houses two 6.5-inch midrange drivers with a 1-inch compression driver on a 100°x10° waveguide, powered by an onboard 1,400-watt dual-channel amplifier with DSP.
dBTechnologies debuted its B-Hype Series, a compact and lightweight family that includes four two-way cabinets, each equipped with 1-inch compression drivers and, respectively, 8-, 10-, 12-and 15-inch woofers. Powered by Class D amplification, the B-Hype generates up to 126.5 dB.
Altec Lansing ALX Series
Altec Lansing unveiled its ALX line of pro audio speakers, including the ALX-S18P front-firing subwoofer, the ALX-15P two-way powered speaker and the ALX-1525LA and ALX-2528A line array speakers. The ALX-S18P is an 18-inch high-excursion driver with a 3-inch, high-temperature voice coil and 800W of Class D power, while the two-way ALX-15P features a built-in digital signal limiter and LED indication that monitors the speaker’s thermal activity.
Cerwin Vega’s new CV Series powered P.A. line includes three speaker groups. The CVE range includes four powered, full-range models featuring single 10-, 12-and 15-inch woofer tops, plus one 18-inch sub. The larger CVX Series comprises single 10-and 15-inch, full-range tops with 18-and 21-inch subwoofers. The largest, CVXL, encompasses five active speakers: single 12-, 15-and dual 15-inch, full-range tops, and single 18-and dual 21-inch subs.
ANALOG PROCESSORS & PLUG-INS
Cliff Maag Sr. and Jr. had the Maag MAGNUM-K compressor on the floor, comprising two compressor sections and a parallel EQ. Designed in Maag’s signature blue color, the compressor is full-featured, including input and output gain control, ratio, threshold, sidechain input with filter, attack and release, plus a switchable feedback or feed-forward option.
Aimed at composers and sound designers, Halion 6 from Steinberg features an all-new wavetable synthesis engine with leading-edge editing and analysis tools, a new sampling editor, which records, maps, and plays sounds directly within the software, and a new Macro Page Designer that allows users to design custom user interfaces.
Plugin Alliance and Black Box Analog Design announced a novel tube-emulation plug-in and the companies’ first collaboration—HG-2—a turbo-charged digital version of Black Box’s high-end analog processor with the same name.
ODDS & ENDS
API’s TranZformer is a high-end guitar pedal featuring an API 525 feedback-type compressor with a guitar-optimized three band equalizer, both independently in/out-switchable.
The ProMAX v2 from Auralex features a 24x48x3-inch absorptive Studiofoam panel with an updated angled reflective rear surface for tonal variability when rotated or flipped. Users may alter the quantity, orientation and spacing of multiple ProMAX v2s for changing the amount of room ambience.
The Cloudlifter Zi is targeted for use on electric guitars, bass, low-output piezo pickups used with acoustic guitars, or vintage electro-mechanical stage pianos employing a passive output. Tone-shaping features include variable input impedance from 150 ohms to 15k ohms, letting you load the Cinemag instrument transformer inside the Cloudlifter Zi to create a range of tonal variations.
Sound Tap from Ultimate Ears is a compact and versatile stage accessory that plugs directly into any on-stage speaker, passing through to a passive IEM without impacting the system. UE Pro Sound Tap has been designed to work with wedges, sidefills and other stage equipment; it supports both line-level or speaker-level inputs. (See the review of UE’s Ultimate Ears 18+ PRO)
Slate introduced the Virtual Studio, a suite of hardware and software products working together to create a studio system. The analog audio interface features onboard mic preamps that can then be altered in the box via Slate’s proprietary modeling software.
Harman Connected PA
The Harman Connected PA is free and offers intuitive setup, configuration and control of live sound products through the PA mobile app. The current and growing list of products include Soundcraft mixing consoles, AKG microphones, dbx stage boxes and JBL speakers.
Waves Dugan Automixer
Waves showed the new official software version of the Dugan automixer for automatic control of multiple mic gains, designed for integrated use inside their eMotion LV1 live mixing console.
Littlelabs had the new Monotor on hand featuring an audiophile circuit path using a single active stage per headphone output. Ideal for checking phase and analyzing artifacts in compressed digital files, Monotor features separately amplified, dual ¼-inch and ⅛-inch headphone jacks and extensive mono monitoring options: left-plus-right, left, right, and left-minus-right.