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Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Look At NAMM 2012 - Part 1

Another Winter NAMM show has been left behind, and once again it's time to reflect on what we've seen and heard. This year one of the things that really stood out was the enthusiasm of the exhibitors and crowd, both of which seem to indicate that the economic doldrums that we've suffered through recently may finally be in the past and better days are ahead. Most companies that I spoke with indicated that they had a solid 2011and 2012 was getting off to a better than expected start. Let's hope that continues.

Today I'll concentrate on audio gear, Tuesday on music gear, and Wednesday on oddities. Let's get down to it.

Universal Audio Apollo image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
 Maybe the most talked-about item at the show for those involved in audio was the Universal Audio Apollo, a multi-channel interface that also happens to come filled with all that great UA plugin DSP, as well as a rare Thunderbolt option.

Sonodyne SM200Ak NAMM 2012 image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Transaudio Group introduced the Sonodyne SM200Ak, a larger version of their already excellent  50 and 100 speakers. I've been using the 50's for about a month and I've got to say that it's one of the finest small desktop speaker that I've heard. Can't wait to hear the 200's for real.

SE Munro Egg image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog

Speaking of speakers, SE Munro showed studio designer Andy Munro's Egg 150 monitors. I've read a lot about the concept behind the speakers and I'm anxious to hear them for real. Unfortunately, NAMM is not the place.

Emotiva monitors image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogHere's a company that I'm not familiar with at all, but their Airmotiv 6 monitors sounded terrific on the show floor. With so many speaker companies already in the game, it makes you wonder why another company would try to take a piece of a saturated market as well, but it seems like they may really have something here.

Isoacoustics speaker stands image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogSpeaking of speakers, you can't really hear them well unless you have some great stands, and the isoacoustics stands claim to be the best there is. I don't know about that yet, but they sure seem like they're the most adjustable.

Line 6 Stagescape M20d image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogLine 6 entered into the sound reinforcement business with an entire new line of products, including the Stagescape M20d, a mixer that has a new user interface that's almost entirely graphic. Could this be the future of consoles?

The Stagescape L3T and L3M powered speaker system and sub have a tremendous amount of features that aren't readily apparent, but they sure sounded good with music played through them. It should be interesting to see what happens with these products in the future.

Dangerous Music monitor controller image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogThe always hi-quality Dangerous Music showed this cool monitor box. Sorry, but I lost the info on it. Wish I had one right now.

Masterlink Live image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blogI had expected this to be a huge iPad show, expecting a ton of interfaces, peripherals and apps. There were a few, but not what I expected. The Alto Masterlink Live is a 16 channel mixer with an iPad dock. I understand that Mackie also introduced a similar product, but I never spotted it at the show.

Marshall iPad mics image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Marshall showed a number of mics they claimed were designed for the iPad, and there were a number of devices that used the iPad as a controller, like this Pimitec personal monitor system.

Pivitec iPad personal monitor image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog

cheap headphones image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog

This was also a headphone show. It seems like the Dr. Beats phones that have become so popular exposed a huge market that hasn't been serviced and every manufacturer now wants a piece, although it's probably now too late. Just like most mics come from one Chinese factory (737, which also had a booth at the show), I wouldn't be surprised if all the headphones came from the same place as well.

Chinese Shure mic knockoffs from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog

 There were no shortage of blatant knock-off products at the show by Chinese manufacturers. Here's a box that looks like it comes from Shure, but they're all imitations.

Studio Mics?? image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
And of course, so many companies believe that if they copy the look of a famous vintage microphone, that automatically makes them a "studio microphone."

One of the funniest conversations that I listened in on was with a used-car-style salesman from a new mic company relentlessly telling producer-engineer legend Ken Scott about how cheap his mics were and how much money Ken could make because the margin was so high. Ken, being the gentleman that he is, just allowed him to rant.

Tomorrow we'll look at some music instruments from NAMM.

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Anonymous said...

hello there, just a little comment, it would be cool to see your books in the ibooks store for ios... i mean, you should have online versions for your books. im from outside the us and its quite difficult to get them

steve harvey said...

The Mackie DL1608 promo video is, erm, odd...

Bobby Owsinski said...

Sure is, Steve. It's probably worth a post actually.

Bobby Owsinski said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Most of my books are available for Kindle, and I think the latest ones from Alfred Music Publishing will be available for iBooks soon. Not my call, unfortunately, as it's the publisher who decides. You can always get the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad, which is what I do.


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