HOT PRODUCT HITS FROM SUMMER NAMMIn 1993, a slumping Summer NAMM show came to Nashville as a local expo focusing on guitars and acoustic instruments. Now, Summer NAMM is a major showcase for music and recording gear and shows no signs of slowing down - from July 21-23, hundreds of exhibitors filled the Nashville convention center and the adjacent nearby sports arena. And though attendees were treated to unseasonably mild weather outside, a bevy of smokin' new products turned up the heat on the show floor. Here are a few sizzling selections...
The price of owning an all-digital studio has just come way down, thanks to the PS-02 Palmtop Studio from Zoom (www.samsontech.com). The PS-02 packs three audio tracks of recording, drum and bass machines, guitar multi-effects, mixer, onboard microphone and even a chromatic tuner in a pocket-sized package. The AC- or battery-powered PS-02 can store more than two track-hours of material on a 128MB SmartMedia card - an 8MB card is included with the unit - and a bounce mode with panning and virtual tracking storage of multiple takes completes the package. Priced at $624.99, the Zoom PS-02 may have just defined the sketchpad recorder for the new millennium.
Korg (www.korg.com) introduced its wildly successful CX-3 organ in 1979, and 21 years later, has introduced a completely new model bearing the same name. The new CX-3 features MIDI control, 128 programs covering a wide range of pop, R&B, rock, jazz and gospel organ sounds and an advanced modeling system that captures all the nuances and complexities of a classic tone wheel organ. Adding a second MIDI keyboard turns the CX-3 into a dual-manual organ, for full polyphony across two 61-key manuals. Two sets of nine drawbars sonically emulate the proper foldback settings and individual harmonic distortion of the original, and each set of drawbars can be assigned to either upper or lower sounds.
In addition, the CX-3 features programmable percussion; key-click control to simulate the much-desired dirty-key-contact sound of an older instrument; a choice of vintage and clean tone wheel sounds; "leakage" and overtone level control levels; and dynamic overdrive, for a clean sound that gets dirtier as the volume is increased. Three amp simulators reproduce a real rotary speaker, a classic tube amp sound or preamp-only signal for connecting to an outboard cabinet rotary speaker. The onboard rotor simulator offers numerous parameters such as motor ramp up/down speed and a selection of different rotor miking characteristics. In addition, various reverbs, classic vibrato and chorus settings are provided, and for instant familiarity, the drawbars, vibrato/chorus and percussion switches are placed in the same location as on the real instrument. It doesn't happen often, but here's a reissue that beats the original hands-down, and soundwise, the CX-3 screams! Need we say more?
Since introducing the EON portable powered speaker system in 1995, JBL has sold over 300,000 units worldwide. Now JBL (www.jblpro.com) has unveiled its next generation in the series, the black-finished EON15 G2. Featuring an improved neodymium Differential Drive[TM] dual voice-coil woofer and a 1.75-inch, ferrofluid-cooled titanium HF driver, the G2 offers higher power output (300W LF/100W HF) and includes a built-in, 3-input mixer (one mic/line and two line inputs) with 2-band EQ. The G2 also has a direct out for driving a main P.A. or recorder.
Eventide (www.eventide.com) showed its new flagship stereo effects processor, the DSP 7000, said to have four times the processing power, more features - and half the cost - of the DSP 4000. Retailing at $3,695, the DSP 7000 is a 24-bit/96kHz processor with more than 500 factory presets (150 user presets), independent gain control and metering of analog and digital I/Os, and compatibility with DSP 4000 presets and library cards. Eventide also showed a prototype of its new EVE/NET remote control unit, which can control up to four stereo DSP 7000 and multichannel Orville effects processors in any combination, from one or two remote locations. Look for the EVE/NET at the AES show later this month.
Fostex (www.fostex.com) introduced the VF-16, a 16-track digital multitrack recorder/mixer designed for the project studio. This $1,399 stand-alone unit has 16 recording tracks and eight virtual tracks, and allows eight tracks of simultaneous recording with analog inputs or 16 tracks combining an ADAT interface with the analog ins; tracks are recorded to an internal EIDE disk. A Direct mode lets users record eight inputs simultaneously to eight tracks (bypassing the mixer); a Rec Bus mode assigns multiple inputs to two recording tracks. Channel EQ is 3-band with parametric mid and high bands, and there are assignable channel compressors, a master compressor, two effects sends, two aux sends and two built-in Fostex A.S.P. digital effects circuits. An LCD screen offers a waveform display, for cut, copy, move and erase editing, and up to 100 mix scenes can be stored and recalled. Audio can be imported and exported as .WAV files for editing and processing with independent software.
Tascam (www.tascam.com) has a digital Portastudio: The $1,149 Model 788 is a 24-bit disk integrated recorder/mixer offering six tracks of recording and eight tracks of playback with 250 virtual tracks; waveform display and editing with 999 levels of undo/redo and 999 locate points; 3-band EQ on each channel (high and low sweeps with parametric mid); and two built-in digital effects processors (reverb, chorus, distortion, multi-effects, pitch shifters, phasers, etc.) Other features include ten-scene memory per song, up to 128 routing memory, title edit function for songs, locate points and built-in metronome function. Balanced 11/44-inch TRS inputs accept mic and line levels, and outputs include stereo analog and S/PDIF, MIDI In and Out, plus a SCSI port for CD burning.
Priced around $4,000, the Trak2 from Apogee Electronics (www.apogeedigital.com) is a combo mic preamp and A/D converter. The discrete 2-channel preamp has a stated gain of 90 dB with phantom power, balanced sends and returns, auxiliary universal 11/44-inch/XLR front panel inputs, word clock I/O, peak/average/phase metering, LCD status/signal flow screen display, remote operation via MIDI and/or RS-232, plus optional video sync. The preamp also accepts hi-Z instrument inputs. Analog-to-digital conversion supports rates up to 24-bit/96kHz (optional 2-channel and 8-channel 24-bit/96kHz D/A cards are available), with a stated dynamic range of 117 dB, and incorporates Apogee's UV22HR, Soft Saturate and Soft Limit proprietary technologies. Two AMBus digital I/O slots interface with Pro Tools, ADAT, TDIF, SDIF-II, etc., and an AES-S/PDIF digital out is included.
NAMM marked the debut of Sony's (www.sony.com/professional) first professional CD recorder. Priced at $799, the CDR-W33 is a 2U rackmount unit with 24-bit AD/DA converters, onboard DSP and CD-TEXT support. DSP functions include parametric EQ and limiting Super Bit Mapping, while CD-TEXT support allows editing and display of disc and track names. The built-in sample rate converters operate at 32 to 48 kHz. The CDR-W33 has S/PDIF (optical and coaxial) digital and unbalanced phono analog I/Os, and supports CD-R-DA and CD-RW-DA media. A remote control is included.
In other Sony news, the DRE-S777 Digital Sampling Reverb has a number of enhancements, including two sampling reverb CD-ROMs: American Acoustic Spaces and Japanese Acoustic Spaces. Now you can record and mix in Ocean Way Studios, a Tokyo bathhouse or even the Grand Canyon. And Sony's new DASK-S704 Sampling Function Software allows sampling and storing your own reverb data on a Memory Stick.
Electrix (www.electrixpro.com) offered a sneak preview of its Repeater loop-based sampler. Housed in the versatile desktop/rackmount package used in the company's other products, the Repeater makes loop-based production effortless, offering fingertip control of up to four tracks of loops, with independent control over fader level, tempo, key, edit parameters, resampling and storage - all via intuitive front panel controls. At $699.99, the Repeater will be on everyone's "must-have" list.
Power amps aren't typically the most exciting items at any show, but we were impressed by the Peavey (www.peavey.com) GPS 1500 and GPS 900 (750 and 450 watts/channel into 2 ohms) models. These stereo amps combine variable-speed fans with an innovative air path routing that's designed to keep all the output devices operating at the same temperature for optimum performance. Peavey also debuted its RQ2300 series of affordable, full featured live mixers, with the top-end 18-input RQ2318 retailing at $699.
Speaking of amps, Behringer (www.behringer.com) - which earlier this year acquired the CoolAudio digital amplification technology from U.S.-based Intersil Corporation - showed a prototype of its new XL 2000 amp, which packs a dual 1,000-watt package into a lightweight, two-rackspace chassis.
Hot software products introduced at NAMM included Cubase VST 5.0 for the Mac from Steinberg (www.steinberg.net). Cubase VST 5.0 is optimized for the G4 and offers a new, improved user interface, new effects and up to 32-bit resolution. Bitheadz (www.bitheadz.com) introduced Phrazer, a loop-based composition application described by some as "Acid for the Mac." Phrazer mixes and matches loops and phrases with different file formats. New from TC Works (www.tcworks.de), Mercury-1 is a virtual analog synth deigned to create "analog sounding" synthesis in the VST environment. It's a multitimbral monophonic synth with dual oscillator. Get the full rundown on all these apps on page 134.
There was no shortage of hot technology at Summer NAMM and we'll present more news in our regular product columns in future issues. Meanwhile, the big news from NAMM is the winter show's much-anticipated return to the new Anaheim convention center from January 18-21, 2001. Don't miss it!
One doesn't usually think of NAMM as a transducer showcase, but this time, the mic locker was bulging with new products.
AKG's (www.akg-acoustics.com) Emotion II series of affordable dynamic mics for live performance includes handheld vocal models (cardioid, supercardioid and hypercardioid) priced from $98 to $155 and two cardioid instrument mics. The $198 D440 is for general instrument miking (guitars, horns, drums, etc.), while the $239 D550 is intended for deep bass instruments, such as kick drum and bass amps. All models feature high-gain NdFeBr magnet structures, Doubleflex[TM] internal shock mounting and gold-plated XLRs.
After months of field testing on major tours, Audio-Technica's (www.audio-technica.com) ATW-7373 multichannel UHF wireless is now available. The system uses the capsule from A-T's popular AT4033 studio mic (in a handheld body) combined with its 100-channel, 7000 Series frequency-agile UHF technology. Hot!
Sennheiser (www.sennheiser.com) expands its Evolution series of live-performance mics with the E 865, a handheld condenser model with wide response and a tight supercardioid pattern. Shure (www.shure.com) unveiled the WL50, a subminiature condenser lavalier designed for theater, TV broadcast and event production applications. The mic is available in white, beige and black, with a variety of mounting options, in wired or wireless versions.
ADK's (www.a-dk.com) new tube mics feature Class A electronics. The $795 A-51TC has a single cardioid pattern with 1-inch diaphragm capsule. The $995 model Area 51 has dual 1-inch diaphragms and nine remotely variable polar patterns. Behringer (www.behringer.com) enters the studio mic market with the B-2. Targeted around $300 - with case and shockmount - this condenser combines a 1-inch dual-diaphragm capsule with low-noise FET electronics for a clear, open sound.
Numerous companies have marketed prepackaged kits of drum mics, but CAD (www.cadmics.com) has taken the concept a step further with its Percussion 400 Series packs. These allow customers to choose from seven variations of dynamic and condenser mics - all protected in a custom foam-lined flightcase. The cases also include room for storing CAD's awesome DSM-1 drum mic mounts (available separately), which not only eliminate mic stand clutter, but offer solid support with the best shock mounting of any drum mic mount on the market.