The 2011 Winter NAMM show (held January 13 through 16) proved to be a record-setting event, with 90,114 registered attendees checking out 1,417 exhibitors, all packed into the Anaheim Convention Center, with spillover into the nearby Marriott and Hilton Hotels. There was a lot to see and hear in just four days, and selecting the Mix Certified Hits (our editors’ selection of the Top-20 products of the show) proved particularly difficult this time out, with so many interesting new technology debuts to choose from.
Listed here, alphabetically, are our choices.
During its first year of production, Apple’s iPad has proven itself ideal in all sorts of pro audio and music applications, with a near-endless supply of cool and useful apps to choose from. Its main drawback had been a lack of pro connectivity, but that’s all changed with the Alesis StudioDock, an audio interface for the iPad that features two XLR/¼-inch jacks (each with its own gain control and switchable phantom power for condenser mics) and MIDI in/out ports. StudioDock can also connect to a Mac or PC using the USB port to send MIDI back and forth for creative, new applications of the iPad and computer used in tandem. Watch a video demo of Alesis StudioDock.
Dangerous Music Liaison
Dangerous Music’s Dangerous Liaison
We got a sneak preview of Dangerous Music’s Liaison, a point-to-point, hand-wired box designed for ultra-fidelity switching, patching and routing of analog gear in mixing or mastering applications. Digital control, with six insert points and parallel effects loops, adds ease of operation for instantly trying various combinations or ordering of gear, such as EQ-before-compressor or parallel effects chains.
Dave Hill Designs RA plug-in
Dave Hill Designs RA Plug-In
New from Crane Song founder Dave Hill is RA, a non-linear plug-in that emulates amplifier overload, giving control over even harmonics, compression of low level audio and peak level. The net effect is that of an amplifier being overdriven, but users have complete control over which part of the signal is overdriven. RA is available for Mac TDM systems only, with a PC TDM version coming.
DPA Microphones’ new 2000 Series microphones
DPA Expands Reference Standard Series
DPA Microphones’ new 2000 Series microphones are the company’s first to be available for less than $1,000; the heads and bodies are separate, and the bodies are compatible with DPA’s higher-end capsules for easy upgrades.
Derived from classic design of Electro-Voice RE20, the company’s new RE320 culls key features of the venerable RE20 and RE27N/D mics into a versatile mic for studio and live performance. The RE320 also adds a “dual personality” switch that essentially creates two mics in one. One setting of the switch engages a response curve that’s ideal for voice and most instrument miking; the other position activates a response curve designed specifically for kick drums, with dips and peaks exactly where kick drums need some attention.
Fairlight CMI-30a Computer Music Instrument
The Classic Fairlight CMI sound is back as the CMI-30a 30th anniversary model, which updates the sounds and power of the original CMI system in a retro-styled package complete with light-pen control, while adding Fairlight’s CC-1 Crystal Core FPGA engine under the hood. The project is driven by Fairlight co-founder Peter Vogel and sound quality is continuously variable using the unique “Goodness” control, which spans from Series I, II, or III quality to the “best possible” 36-bit floating point. Watch a video demo of the Fairlight CMI-30a.
Focusrite RedNet units
RedNet is Focusrite’s new professional audio networking system, delivering all the features required in a professional studio environment and featuring a robust, reliable networking technology makes that simplifies design, installation and configuration. It’s based on Audinate’s proven Dante digital audio networking technology, using standard IP-based networking and components, such as Ethernet cables, routers and switches, to carry up to 256 channels (128 in and 128 out) of high-resolution digital audio over a standard Ethernet network.
JBL takes its popular 15-inch EON system to the next level with improved input sensitivity, a lowered noise floor, user-selectable EQ control and a re-voiced system for peak performance. The two-way EON515XT incorporates a JBL 2414H HF neodymium compression driver and a 15-inch JBL 265F-1 Differential Drive woofer matched to a Crown Class-D amplifier, and delivers 132dB maximum SPL, while keeping the weight at a low 32.5 pounds.
Korg Kronos keyboard workstation
Korg Kronos Keyboard
Offered in 88/73/61-key versions, Kronos
was one of the most talked-about products at the show. It has nine
synth engines of various types and can switch sounds seamlessly (or
instantaneously) while being played, thanks to its Virtual Memory
Technology (VMT) and a fast SSD (Solid State Disk)—even from huge 4GB
acoustic piano samples. From ethereal textures to complex layered
tones, Kronos covers a huge range of sonic territory, as well as
classic keyboards, pianos, tonewheel organs, electric pianos, and
orchestral, percussion and pop sounds.
Lectrosonics Quadra Digital Wireless IEM System
Lectrosonics Quadra Digital Wireless IEM System
Lectrosonics’ Quadra digital wireless monitor (IEM) system
comprises the M4R ($1,765) beltpack diversity receiver and the M4T
($2,875 MSRP) half-rack transmitter, and features digital RF
modulation, two or four channels of 24-bit/48kHz digital audio, analog
or digital inputs, and a mixing interface for users. A 4-channel mixer
enables the performer to tailor the mix in real time, based on what is
sent to the transmitter from the monitor console. Watch a video demo of Lectrosonics’ Quadra digital wireless monitor (IEM) system.
Mackie MRmk2 studio monitor
Mackie MRmk2 Studio Monitors
Mackie’s MRmk2 Series
marks a complete redesign of Mackie’s best-selling line of affordable
powered studio monitors. Both the 5.25-inch woofer MR5mk2 ($199/pair,
MSRP) and 8-inch MR8mk2 ($329/pair) are powered two-way designs with a
1-inch soft-dome neodymium tweeter on a wide-dispersion waveguide.
Inside the rear-ported cabinets is a Class-A/B amplifier section with
XLR, TRS and RCA inputs, and controls for acoustical correction.
Midas VeniceF mixer
Midas VeniceF Mixer
is a brand new analog console with a FireWire multi-channel digital
audio interface and features the full functionality and sound quality
of the much-loved Midas XL3 EQ and filter section, Midas mic preamps,
100mm faders, increased channel and input count, a dual 7×2 matrix and
a reorganized master section layout. The VeniceF’s 32×32 FireWire
capability adds 32 channels of multitrack recording and playback
(VeniceF 320) using any suitable FireWire-equipped computer. This also
offers the possibility of virtual soundchecking, and allows third-party
plug-ins to be run as channel inserts, and third-party effects routed
via aux sends and returns.
PreSonus StudioLive Remote iPad app
PreSonus StudioLive Remote iPad App
The PreSonus StudioLive Remote software
offers wireless control of any PreSonus StudioLive Series digital
mixer’s channels, auxes, effects, subs, Fat Channel processors, and
more. We’ve seen a number of iPad mixing apps, but this takes it up a
notch with slick features such as rotating the iPad from landscape to
portrait view to instantly bring up a detailed view of DSP parameters
(gate, compressor, EQ, etc.) with a flick of the wrist. The app is free
and part of the Virtual StudioLive computer-control system that ships
with PreSonus’ 24- and 16-channel digital mixers.
QSC KLA Series line array
QSC KLA Series Line Array
Built on the same power platform as the successful K Series and KW Series powered loudspeakers, QSC’s new KLA active line array system
is comprised of two models: the KLA12 12-inch, 2-way, line array
element and the KLA181 18-inch subwoofer enclosure. Both models feature
a highly efficient, 1,000-watt (continuous) Class-D power module and
include QSC’s proprietary Intrinsic Correction for optimal acoustical
performance across the entire soundfield. The KLA System’s unique,
self-contained SOLO (Single-Operator Logistics) Rigging System enables
users to quickly assemble (and disassemble) a line array in a fraction
of the time of comparable systems.
Sennheiser MK 4
Sennheiser MK 4
Sennheiser’s first large-diaphragm side-address mic, the new MK 4
is a cardioid, true condenser design. It features a nickel-colored
finish and has a large 1-inch diaphragm sputtered with 24-carat gold
and the elastically mounted capsule suppresses stand-borne or handling
noise. Specs include a maximum SPL of 140 dB, and a low self-noise of
Shure Axient wireless system
The Axient wireless microphone system
is designed to avoid interference by automatically changing
frequencies, detecting RF interference and enabling the system to move
to a clear and compatible frequency in milliseconds. The Frequency
Diversity feature transmits full-bandwidth audio on two separate
frequencies for seamless, uninterrupted audio for mission-critical
channels, even in the face of direct RF interference. ShowLink remote
control enables users to make real-time remote adjustments of
transmitter settings from the receiver or a laptop, while the mic is
live. Axient Spectrum Manager constantly scans the RF environment, and
performs frequency compatibility calculations to assign clear
frequencies to each wireless transmitter.
Sonodyne SM 50Ak monitors
Sonodyne SM 50Ak, SM 100Ak Studio Monitors
popular monitor choice in Europe, Sonodyne monitors are now available
in the U.S. The smallest monitor in the Sonodyne range, the SM 50Ak
($1,050/pair) active bi-amplified design delivers 45 watts to the
5.25-inch woofer and 45W to the tweeter for a 70 to 22k Hz response.
The SM 100Ak
($1,400/pair), also bi-amplified, offers 80W to a 6.5-inch woofer and
the same 45W powered tweeter, with more low-end response and greater
Steinberg Cubase 6
Steinberg Cubase 6
Steinberg’s Cubase 6
Steinberg’s Cubase 6 and Cubase Artist 6 offer a bevy of new features
including enhanced workflow options located within the Project window,
and the Track Edit Groups option, which allows you to group and edit
related events on multiple tracks simultaneously. Other features
include Lane Track for convenient comping of multiple takes, a
redesigned transient and automatic tempo detection, phase-accurate
audio quantization, and drum replacement functions to smooth out any
glitches in live-recorded drum tracks.
Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite
Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite
The UAD-2 Duo and Quad Satellite family of FireWire DSP accelerator packages
(with two or four Analog Devices SHARC processors) put the
entire UAD Powered Plug-Ins library within easy reach of any FireWire
800- or 400-equipped computers, with no PCIe card installation
required. Compatible with a wide range of modern Intel-based iMacs and
MacBook Pros, these let users run larger mixes in Pro Tools, Logic,
Cubase, Nuendo, Digital Performer and more—without taxing the host
Waves Aural Exciter plug-in
Waves Aural Exciter Plug-In
Long a dependable means of brightening up mixes, vocals or individual instruments, Waves collaborated with Aphex
to create the Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter, a plug-in based on one
of two prototype tube-powered Aural Exciter units developed during the
mid-70s. The software-modeled version is designed to deliver all the
unique character of the rare original hardware unit, with all the
advantages of software control.