NAMM 2024

Once again this year, as is our custom, we were present at the Namm Show in sunny Southern California. An event that seems to have reborn in terms of attendance, although still not at the level of pre-pandemic years and lacking many well-known brands. Nevertheless, it was good to be in the field again, collecting and exchanging views with the professionals who lead the companies and the many musicians because in fact this is the main target audience…

First stop the ProAudio sector where we celebrated with great pleasure a very important milestone, 75 years of RCF!

At NAMM RCF presented as many as 20 new products, in an impressive and well-organized booth, as well as a Demo Room not far from the booth where it was possible to listen to several products including the NX series and, in particular, the very recent NXL 14 A + SUB 15 AX W that impressed us positively with their power and precision, as well as the NX 932-A and NX 945-A models.

NXL is a totally portable system that gives high-level performance and comes in the two color variants of black and white. Also present is the newest addition to the iconic ART series with ART 7 upgraded to MK5 version with models ranging from 8- to 15-inch woofers, equipped with FiRPHASE and XBOOST algorithms.

TT+ Audio (presented for the first time in the U.S. here at NAMM), on the other hand, did its job admirably during the concert organized by the company inside the NAMM Arena, with a powerful and coherent sound given by a line array system that did not disappoint expectations both on the more acoustic sounds and on the more pushed and typically club electronic ones.

Meyer Sound, on the other hand, presented its solutions in a small exhibition space located outside an equally contained demo room where the Panther system and the 2100 LCF sub were present.

dBTechnologies follows Meyer’s example by giving greater prominence to the VIO series, which can be listened to with pleasure in a crowded dedicated area.

Also in the Pro Audio pavilion we meet LA VOCE and BC Speakers, world leaders in the production of top-notch components as well as the very Italian FBT exhibiting the MYRA, HORIZON and CANTO series.

One of the most interesting things on offer at the fair was PK Sound‘s technological solution, which showcased in a very futuristic demo room the T8 System, a robotic Line Array sound system that allows the speaker diffusion and system tilt to be adjusted without pull backs, facilitating adaptable performance in very diverse spaces and making the work of rental companies and PA managers so much easier. The performance of the sound did not excite us as much as the technology behind this design and that is certainly the strong point of the product itself.

On the lower floor dedicated to mixers we were able to admire the SSL Origin masterpiece, the new DiGiCo consoles and the NEVE products that smashed the Tec Awards by winning awards in the best Microphone Preamplifiers and best Production Essentials categories.
Interesting and very appealing in terms of performance were the new Amphion studio monitors as well as the Dolby Atmos system proposed by PMC.
Lots of Podcast and Live Streaming solutions offered by brands such as Shure, Mackie and BLACKMAGIC Design, demonstrating how this slice of the industry is increasingly active and loaded with new products and solutions to work, stream and perform remotely and then launch into the ether with high quality resolutions and performance.

In the crowded Arena Plaza, we noticed, with amazement, a stage completely set up by ADJ, undermining Japan’s Pioneer, a major player in this space for the past 6 years.

A clear sign of Pioneer‘s detachment from the Pro Audio world in the face of a greater focus, with excellent results, on DJ Gear and consumer audio. We met them in the pavilion dedicated to MI in a super crowded booth and an invasion of new products created in collaboration with Alpha-Teta.

Opus Quad and Omnis Duo impressed us with the design switch, much more elegant and somewhat minimalist than the all-in-one consoles Pioneer had accustomed us to over the past few years.

Despite the fact that Reloop tries to offer the MixTour Pro (which reminds us so much of the old Traktor Scratch controller) and Ercules presents its new compact console, we can safely say that Pioneer remains the undisputed leader in DJ Gear and once again this year ‘s standard product for professionals in this sector.Among the stands we still notice a lot of different solutions as far as in ear monitors are concerned: proposals for all kinds of headphones and casts created specifically for the most demanding listening are depopulating.

In the area dedicated to drums and percussion, we remain fascinated by Evan Hybrid‘s Sensory Percussion, which offers a cross over solution with analog skins that sound digital. A solution that demonstrates how much our world of lights, videos and soundsystems is definitely moving more and more towards a Hybrid world and innovation, offering products that are cutting edge but perhaps not yet too ready for the large-scale market, as has happened in many of the other sectors.
Confirming this, we were pleasantly surprised again this year by how many small, start-up or innovative companies decided to participate with very small booths around the MI pavilions, presenting a range of products such as futuristic controllers for synths and sequencers, keyboards that are portable and can be assembled with a clik, or plug-ins that use the newest AI for a variety of solutions.

There was little or none in the Lighting department, with the only notable brand being the company GLP, which presented three moving head solutions in a decidedly modest booth.

Great attention was paid to the Educational part to which NAMM dedicated almost an entire floor of the fair with various rooms in which hourly speeches and lectures were offered throughout the event.
Noteworthy was the intervention in the Members Area of the all-female association WAM, WomenAudioMission presenting their San Francisco recording studio and a real movement dedicated to the women who are part of our industry, to protect their rights, to promote them in the industry and to train them to the best in a world that has been for years led by the male universe and that, again like thousands of other sectors, is finally changing.

There was no shortage of notables, such as George Benson signing autographs at IBANEZ, Gregg Bisonette with his very long and classy drum solos, and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath signing copies of his book.

As is customary, we show up at the Saturday night gala invitation and pull out all the stops for the Tec Awards, which this year were held inside the fairgrounds and no longer in the Hilton ballroom.
The atmosphere is different, strange, perhaps in part because after so many years the amazing orchestra was not present on stage. A decidedly subdued vibe that leaves us, for the first time, a little perplexed.

So many companies not picking up the award, we counted at least 5, and few surprises. Universal Audio won best Amplification Hardware Studio, best Signal Processing Software Effects, best Signal Processing Hardware, and best Computer Audio Hardware.
Best Studio Monitors is awarded to Genelec 8381A SAM Adaptive while SSL Origin 16 wins best Large Format Console. Big surprise to us and perhaps the most interesting highlight of the Awards is the en plein of Apple Logic Pro X winning, after years of Avid’s Pro Tools supremacy, the best Workstation Technology Recording Device and Audio Apps & Hardware Peripherals for Smartphones & Tablets awards.
The decidedly most exciting moment featured the Awards presented to RZA of WU TANG CLAN, an icon in the world of hip hop, film and world music culture.

Tired and happy we make our way back to the hotel, aware of having participated in yet another edition of what, as officially announced during the days of the fair directly by the NAMM organization, is once again the world’s largest event dedicated to Music Business.

Matteo Zarcone – LightSoundJournal Contributor
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