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Archive for July, 2007

Summer NAMM ’07, Pt. 3

Although Summer NAMM has definitely scaled back compared with a few years ago, it‘s still quite fun and interesting. I am amazed at the number of companies that have no new product introductions or only a handful. Most say that they‘re holding off until October‘s AES show in New York, which will be a much larger event than this show is Austin.

That isn‘t to say I haven‘t seen some exciting products. I think the one I‘m most pumped up about is the GSP1101 from Digitech. It‘s a single-rackspace guitar preamp and processor that takes a unique approach to amp modeling and effects. It‘s designed to be used with your existing guitar amp, but its USB port can handle audio, which means you can use it as an audio interface for your guitar. I don‘t have time to give you a lot of details now, but you can check it out here.

I don‘t normally get excited about headphones, but another product I feel enthusiastic about is a new pair from Audio-Technica. The ATH-M50 headphones are the most comfortable, best-sounding phones I‘ve ever wrapped around my ears. They‘re beautiful and reasonably priced ($199 retail), too.

Okay, it‘s time for me to hit the show floor for Summer NAMM‘s final day. You‘ll hear from me again when I get back home to Charlotte. Happy travels!

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Summer NAMM ’07, Pt. 2

Over at the Roland/Boss area (it‘s much too large to be called a booth), musicians were demonstrating some new toys and others not so new. I was most excited by the Boss RE-20, a digital stompbox version of the tape-based ‘70s-era Space Echo. Also on hand were the ME-20 and the ME-20B, two stompboxes for guitar and bass that essentially pack an entire Boss pedalboard into a compact form factor. Roland‘s new SonicCell is a black box with a USB connection that puts an SRX-expandable synth on your desktop. The SP-555 is a compact sampling workstation offering 16 pads, live looping, lots of COSM effects, and plenty of interactive features. Roland‘s Cube series of amps continues to expand with the Cube Street, their largest battery-powered guitar amp yet. And for drummers and wannabes, there‘s the HD-1, a more compact, entry-level variation on the V-Drums.
Boss RE-20
When I wandered by Belkin‘s booth (Belkin at NAMM? That‘s news!), I discovered that the TuneStudio is almost ready to ship. Just in case you didn‘t notice all the publicity it got when it was announced, the TuneStudio is an iPod-based recording studio that goes a bit beyond any other iPod-recording device, and it looks pretty neat, too.
Sony had an accessory that will definitely interest owners of the PCM-D1 digital field recorder. The XLR-1 is an adapter that provides a pair of XLR inputs for balanced mics and houses AA batteries that supply phantom power.

Saturday I expect to check out new gear from Akai, Alesis, Audio-Technica, Behringer, Digitech, and others. I‘ll get back to you and let you know if I see anything exciting.

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Summer NAMM ’07, Pt. 1

Friday was the first day of Summer NAMM 2007, and the floor was a lot busier than I had expected it to be. So far I haven‘t spotted any really earth-shattering products, but I did see a few very cool pieces of gear and some nice software.

My day began with a press conference at TC Electronic, and the thing that impressed me the most was the Digital Konnekt x32. It‘s a FireWire audio interface that incorporates a digital patchbay and a format converter. TC was also showing off the cool new G-Natural, a multi-effects stompbox for acoustic guitar and vocals. (Why didn‘t I think of that?) TC Helicon did an impressive demo of the HarmonyControl, which converts chords you play on your guitar to MIDI data for controlling harmony generators–again, a very ingenious idea, and no hex pickup is required. In addition, TC Helicon introduced two VoiceTone effects pedals specifically for vocalists.

Next I headed over to Notion Music, where I saw a demo of Progression, a new program for guitarists. It‘s a composition program that provides standard notation and tablature, guitar and bass amp modeling, a chord library, and samples of acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, piano, and clav. It also hosts VST plug-ins and imports MIDI files and has features specifically for MIDI guitar.

Another product that impressed me was Focusrite‘s Saffire Pro 26 i/o, a FireWire audio interface that furnishes eight Focusrite-quality preamps, two instrument inputs, 16 channels of ADAT Lightpipe, stereo S/PDIF, MIDI I/O, A/D/A conversion, and a handful of useful plug-ins. If you don‘t need Lightpipe, you can get the rest of the same features in the Saffire Pro 10 i/o and save a few bucks.

Yamaha is here, but I didn‘t see a lot of product introductions that would interest EM readers. The MG series of mixers has been greatly expanded, with ten models to suit a variety of applications, and three of them have USB. Two new arranger keyboards, the PSR S700 and PSR S900, are relatively affordable descendents of the Tyros2. I also saw an inexpensive 12-pound piano called the NP-30 that sounded quite good but had a very light action.

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The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.


July 2007
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