The rewards are great. Four days in shirt-sleeve temps under swaying palms with the delicious aroma of gourmet food truck fare filling the air.
It’s January, so this must be NAMM—Where buyers, sellers, media and special guests gather within’ walking distance to Walt Disney’s original fantasyland to celebrate everything musical. From quarter guitar picks to quarter million dollar computer controlled machines that carve blocks of perfect guitar necks from blocks of hardwood right before your eyes. There is always plenty to see and play, and being there is about as good as it gets this side of heaven. Getting there, however is another story. For some, the journey was fraught with biting sub-zero windchills, lengthy layovers, and overnight flight delays. Others complained that… well, the freeway traffic was a bit slow. In the end, everyone from the Live2PlayWorship Team made it out and back safely and came away with this interesting list of favorites.
The M32 is Midas’s least expensive digital mixer—Well, truth be told, the M32 looks an awful a Behringer X32 in a Midas skin. (Apparant chnges are the mic pre’s and the faders which are reportedly the same as those in the Pro Series consoles.) But I think this is a brilliant move on the part of Midas. The X32 has been out for about 18 months and has proven itself to be a good, reliable piece of gear. So, Midas takes the now time tested X32 mixer and puts it into a newly designed chassis with the Midas name on it. I would buy this mixer and pay extra just for that Midas name and I know many of my clients will buy the Midas name and appreciate that I have a Midas digital board in my live sound arsenal.
Carvin TRx Series
I also really liked was the Carvin TRx column line array and powered subs. Each sub-woofer pushes 2500 watts to an 18” speaker and nine 3 inch drivers. I was very impressed by the quality, clarity and the definition of the system. In the past, I have never thought of Carvin as a pro-sound company but this new speaker line has absolutely changed my mind. The columns sit on poles on top of the subs and have fly points for installations. Carvin had a set-up in the main arena so I had a moment to hear the system cranked up. I can see this being one of their top sellers in the near future.
Blackbird El Capitan
I am normally not a big fan of composite, carbon fiber, acoustic guitar bodies but I found a guitar that was quite impressive. The guitar is the Blackbird El Capitan mini jumbo. They call this an Ekoa guitar. It is a wood free instrument that looks, feels and really sounds like a nice vintage acoustic guitar. It is not that I was impressed as much by the materials as by the overall sound. The guitars are made in San Francisco, which is probably California’s Eco center.
Heil Drum Mics
Heil showed off some new drum microphone kits. I love everything Heil and even though it is very hard to demo drum mics at NAMM just seeing these beauties was a thrill. The kits include some Heil iconic mics like the PR22’s and the PR 38’s. Along with these mics Heil introduced the PR48 large diaphragm dynamic kick drum mic. If it sounds as good as it looks it should kick butt (pun intended). Heil also showed off some very interesting new tom mic mounts.
Fishman, the company renown for their innovation and pursuit of pure acoustic tone, has turned its eye towards the electric guitar pickup. Their new Fluence pickups use paperclip shaped aluminum bars with their own circuit board, and stack them to take the place of the copper coil windings found in typical pickups. By eliminating the uncertainty of coil winding counts and the possibility of unevenness within those windings, the Fluence pickups are consistence from pickup to pickup. The Fluence is available in several humbucking-sized models, along a with Stratocaster single-coil sized pickup.
VocoPro U-Diamond Mics
Catching just about everybody’s eye were these rhinestone encrusted mics from VocoPro. The U-diamond mics have a built-in wireless transmitter that is compatible with several UHF receivers—including VocoPro’s own moderately-priced PA heads with built-in receivers.
At first it was just a piano. Then it was a piano and an organ. Then it was a piano, an organ and a Rhodes. Then a moog was added… and then the Arp String Ensemble. Soon the keyboard player was half musician/half mad scientist. The Piano Arc controller allows the player to maintain that crazy performance appeal of being surrounded by keys, without the clutter. The practically of the Piano Arc is yet to be determined, but the visual effect was certainly a winner at the show.
Roli Seaboard Controller
Perhaps the most innovative product is the new Seaboard keyboard controller (maybe “keyboard-like” controller would be a better term). The Seaboard has a ridged silicone pad that has the familiar black and white key arrangement, but the “keys” don’t truly depress under your fingers: instead your finger kind of sink into the soft silicone foam. Pressing any one of your fingers harder increases the volume of that note, moving your finger (or fingers) side to side creates vibrato, sliding your finger upward increases the pitch. Each finger operate independently, so you can increase the vibrato or volume on one note (or two, or three, or so on) while the others remain unaffected. Revolutionary!!
Want more on guitars, drums and keys? – Check out Jake’s coverage at Live2PlayNetwork.com.
Just a couple of years, we were all gaga over the various consoles and devices with USB connectivity and iOS control. Now, they have become some common that they hardly gain notice. What did get my attention—and I know I wasn’t alone— was this creation from Tree Audio from LA. The Roots mixer is a tube/hybrid mixer that looks and feels just as if it was snatched directly out RCA’s Studio B in Nashville. With backlit VU meters, toggle switches and substantial pots, this is a mixer designed to heighten the creative, with modern day insides to insure a final product that exceeds contemporary standards. A single channel strip, the Branch, is also available for those that want to integrate the vintage vibe in a modern studio setting.
Speaking of Mixers, QSC introduced their new TouchMix-8 and TouchMix-16 compact digital mixers. The input panel includes connection points for 8 or 16 Mic/Line in with XLR/TRS combo jacks, 2 stereo line ins and 2 USB 2-track ins. XLT outputs are provided for the R/L mains and 4 or 6 AUX outs. Additionally, there’s a
TRS stereo out and a TRS for cue/monitor. The features list includes: 4-band full parametric EQ, gate and compressor on all input channels. There are 4 professional quality stereo DSP effects plus a pitch corrector and 1/3 octave graphic equalization, limiters, delay and notch filters on main and aux. outputs. With a built-in touch screen, you can either leave your iOS device at home, or use it to control the TouchMix remotely.
Taylor New 800 Series
How do you make an already perfect guitar even better? That is the assignment that was given to master guitar builder Andy Powers. When we asked how he approached making the 800 series even better he remarked, “I started by looking at a tree.” How cool is that? After numerous experiments with wood types and thicknesses, different glue types and more, the guitars in Taylor’s New 800 Series are truly works of art. As a side note, Taylor was handing out coasters that were made from sound hole scraps. I now own my first “Taylor”… too bad its primary use is to keep my drinks from sweating on my desk.
Shure GLX-D Wireless Guitar System
There are a lot of wireless guitar systems out there, so why do I love the Shure’s GLX-D? First off, it’s build out of heavy duty steel. It is road tough and will easily survive a life of gigging. Second, it is compact. The receiver fits on your pedalboard and has a built-in tuner making it a dual purpose unit. The transmitter on your guitar is also compact and will easily attach to any strap. Finally, the latency is insanely low. When it comes to response and attack, it feels and sounds just like you’re using a cable.
Waves Abbey Road Reel ADT
Waves had several major announcements at NAMM, but this plug-in received universal kudos. ADT is short for Artificial Double Tracking, which is probably the most legendary tape effect created during the ‘60s at Abbey Road. I know a lot of recording engineers who have tried to replicate it, but the exact process used at Abbey Road has remained a closely guarded secret. As the story goes, ADT was born out of the Beatles’ frustration with having to continually re-record vocals for multi-layered vocal effects. By connecting the primary tape machine to a second, speed-controlled machine, two versions of the same signal could be played back simultaneously. Then, by gently wobbling the frequency of an oscillator to vary the speed of the second machine, the signal could be moved around to make it sound like a separate take. With Reel ADT, the intuitive controls allow you to advance or delay the doubled signal to achieve genuine delay and pitch variations. You can also drive each of the signals separately to add beautiful tape saturations. With its authentic modeled tape sound and faithful emulation of wow and flutter, this extraordinary plugin can enhance any track with the impression of two separate takes, giving you the closest possible results to real double tracking.
For more of our favorite products from NAMM 2014, click over to: