This morning we got to NAMM early and once inside our initial sensation was that there wasn’t the same buzz and enthusiasm as there was outside. Maybe fewer stands? Or maybe too similar to previous shows? And so the impact was not so “powerful” as we expected.
But after just an hour things started to really move with incredible crowds of people filling up the halls – something that we hadn’t seen for a number of years (this is our fifth time here in six years). But it’s not only in the halls that you understand how, here in the US, the sector seems to be stronger and full of energy. The hotels and restaurants are full, and crowds of people working at the show and visitors, along with families on their way to Disneyland – the streets and shopping centres around the Anaheim Convention Center.
The idea that the US economy has started up again in these past months (the US Dollar has undergone incredible growth in the last few weeks) is confirmed by these and other signals.
Our first walk about the show and stands was less enthusiastic. Companies that can – and that have the structure to continue to introduce new products, are few and far between, and the result at the show is that of continuous deja vù, even if “dressed up” differently. And speaking about pro-mixing, the trend of iOS controllers, which was everywhere last year and, above all, three years ago, a clear signal of a market now full of products that are evidently essential.
Innovations we appreciated are those from Midas with the M32C a mixer rack unit without any control that offers a wide range of features in a well-designed and minimalist chassis, with good quality. The characteristics that can be found on the datasheet indicate that it is suitable for a series of operations and, if combined with a suitable and flexible interface, can become an excellent alternative to “all-in-one” mixers.
At NAMM, Sennheiser launched its new 2.4 GHz Evolution Wireless D1 system, not really appreciated in some countries. The redundancy and safety systems are different and the product seems to be well made and with some parts the same as those of the higher-range products. If sold at a competitive price, it could become an attractive wireless system for musicians and rentals.
Universal Audio introduced Apollo Expanded, completely “dependent” on Thundelbolt and able to offer the highest interfacing with all UA systems. Apollo Expanded in fact, enables to carry out “mix and match” operations between Apollo Thunderbolt-equipped audio interfaces. Users of Apollo Twin, Apollo DUO, Apollo QUAD and Apollo 16 audio interfaces can exploit to the utmost up to four Apollo and six UAD-2 devices, additional I/O cards and DSP.
Gator has on show a new stand, iD Microphone, worth mentioning here. Great design, strong, equipped with easy and reliable quick lock systems. A really interesting feature is the possibility of adjusting the stand of the microphone when the clamps are blocked, just by turning the back part the microphone can also be turned, avoiding working on the microphone when the stands are positioned for overhead functions.
At this year’s Arena we have seen many new companies taking over, in some cases, from bigger companies that have moved on. Apart from some doubtful looking products (Nitro), among those that attracted our attention we stopped at the stand of Prime Studio, a company from Mils (Austria) where their plug-ins definitely “speak” Italian…
We listened to the demo of Prime Compressor which really impressed us with its musicality and effective action. Prime Compressor, Prime Mix and Prime Mix (Eq) will soon be available.
For those looking for a low-cost Optometrico compressor able to do a good job, ART VLA-500 is the ideal choice. This product is a compressor in a 500 module, with really classic controls and design, with a starting price of USD 199 – so with a “real” price that will probably be quite lower – with a sound that is absolutely the same as that of an Optometrico compressor. It is able to supply incredibly stable compression and dynamic control.
At the Telefunken Elektroakustik stand we found a brand that has been renewed and is gaining interest. We obviously couldn’t listen to their products and we hop to be able to do so soon, bot we were present at the presentation of the M60 FET (Field Effect Transistor) microphone, a made in US product that is well made, with and elegant design and, above all, available in kit with three different interchangeable capsules: cardioid, omni-directional and hyper-cardioid.
We also appreciated the characteristics of BSS BLU-50, the most recent new-entry of the Soundweb London range of processors, with four inputs and four outputs, freely configurable digital processing, logical processing and BUS digital audio with redundancy. The analogical inputs have adjustable gain via software in steps of 6dB up to +48dB, with phantom power that can be chosen independently on each channel. BLU-50 is also equipped with a 48-channel BUS digital audio, low latency and fault tolerant, which uses a normal CAT5e cable to transfer signals to compatible devices, up to a distance of 100 metres between the two units, or up to 10km by means of the sue of suitable optical fiber converters. BLU-50 is set up, controlled and monitored usingHiQnetTM London Architect software and is compatible with all other products of the London range. BLU-50 has 12 Control Inputs and 6 Logic Outputs, to connect the device to other products with GPIO.
The plug-in range of Lexicon PCM Native Effects Plug-In is very interesting, made following the sound of the well-known PCM96, and is ideal for popular DAWs such as Pro Tools®, Logic®, Nuendo® or other RTAS®, AudioUnit TM, or VST® compatible hosts. Equipped with all the flexibility that you expect in a native plug-in, this bundle is made up of seven Lexicon effects able to increase the quality of DAW applications.
Last but not least, we appreciated the innovations of the 2.0 version of TouchMix made by QSC, which includes password protection, multi-level security, new options for Wi-Fi connection and the possibility of programming user buttons. Moreover, the TouchMix iOS application has also been expanded to enable mix monitor with iPhone and iPod Touch devices, allowing TouchMix operators to manage access of connected external devices.