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Monday, January 17, 2011

NAMM 2011 Report Part 2

Here are some of the other things that I spotted at Winter NAMM 2011. Most of these are sort of oddities that may be amusing only to me, but a few things were really cool as well. Let's begin, in no particular order.

Here's a must for every DJ. It's the All-In-One DJ System from DJ Tech. Believe it or not, this thing is supposed to have 3000 watts worth of power, which would probably make it catch on fire long before it became annoying. On second thought, maybe that's a good thing.

Down stairs in Hall E is what we affectionately call "Inventors Row." This is where you usually find the startups that have an idea and a dream but barely enough money to exhibit. It's also where you find the most unusual stuff. This year it was a reemergence of traditional analog synthesizers complete with real patchcords, just like we used to use way back when. The difference now is that most synth modules are digitally based so that they're small and more reliable, and a commonly used backplane system has been devised that's similar to the API Lunchbox, so that modules from different companies can be freely interchanged. There were 9 companies that adopted this system (all in one booth) and a lot of excitement around the movement, at least in that one booth.

Shameless plug, so look away if you're not interested. My new book (along with co-writer Rich Tozzoli) called The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook was on display at the Alfred Music booth. I also gave a presentation about it on Thursday which was well attended. Thanks for those of you who stuck around.

The Korg booth seemed curiously odd this year because they're no longer distributing Marshall. That being said, they gave a lot of space to the new Blackstar amp line, which was started by 6 former Marshall employees. I've been told by independent players that I trust (i.e. not salesman or reps for Blackstar) that the amps sound great. Couldn't tell at the show because most amps sound good on the floor.

Just like the CES show, Chinese companies were everywhere, not just in the Asian section of the hall. In fact, it was interesting that so many had 40 by 40 or larger booths. Most of the companies no one has ever heard of outside of China. Someone has too much money, apparently, but I'm sure NAMM is happy to take some of it.

You never know what you'll find at NAMM. Here's a CNC machine for carving guitar bodies, should you decide to join the 5,000 other guitar manufactures exhibiting at the show.

There were a lot of crossover between traditional instruments and amplifiers, and LEDs. In this case, this speaker cabinet had a ring of LEDs around the cone that changed color every 10 seconds or so. I'm sure it improved the sound by at least a factor of 10 as a result. Didn't you know? LEDs make everything sound better.

Some version of the Fairlight company introduced the 30th anniversary edition of the original CMI. The new CMI is updated with current hardware and even has a space for an iPhone (look down at the right end of the keyboard). I can't image that a new CMI like this can be better than any number of much cheaper software and hardware combinations, but it does look cool and "vintage." Check out Fairlight Instruments for more info.

And speaking of updates, Gibson sort of reissued a version of their famous Firebird guitar, calling this one the "Firebird X." The only problem is that this is the most confusing, incomprehensible guitar ever made. It has so many controls and configurations that I couldn't get the thing to make more than a single sound (there's a tone modeler on board). I admire when a company tries to take a classic instrument into the future, but come on Gibson, if a technie like me can't get it going, you have a problem.

That's all for today. More tomorrow in Part 3.

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1 comment:

noise said...

Love that sold style patch synth ! As a kid I played with a 2600 and a Buchla or two - nothing like programming with real buttons !


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