Summer NAMM 2002

Sep 1, 2002 12:00 PM, BY GEORGE PETERSEN

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In its latter years, the Chicago Summer NAMM show was referred to as the “wake on the lake” because of poor attendance and lack of direction. Ten years ago, NAMM refocused the summer event on guitars and acoustic instruments and moved the show to Nashville. The new venue brought Summer NAMM to a popular tourist destination (an obvious draw for attendees), while the local recording community boosted the participation of pro audio exhibitors. From July 19-21, 2002, some 21,000 music and audio pros returned to Nashville for the tenth anniversary of NAMM's run in Music City. And this reprise was a hit, with good fun, great music and plenty of hot new products to see — and hear.

AFFORDABLE WORKSTATIONS!

The day before NAMM, the way cool, all-new — and SSL 9000K-equipped! — Paragon Studios complex (in nearby Franklin, Tenn.) hosted Digidesign's (www.digidesign.com) Digiworld event. The spotlight was on the world debut of the Digi 002, a powerful DAW controller and hardware/software package that offers a full-featured Pro Tools system at an affordable price. (For more details on Digi 002, see “Tools of the Trade” on page 100.)

The “Guitar Workstation” has arrived. DigiTech (www.digitech.com) is shipping its GNX3, which combines an 8-track 24-bit/44.1kHz digital recorder, Multi-Modeling technology (models of 19 guitar/bass amps, 15 cabinets and 10 distortion boxes), built-in drum machine, JamMan looping, digital multi-effects and more. The hardware includes XLR mic and guitar inputs, MIDI control and S/PDIF, and analog outs. The GNX3's hands-free interface makes this one fast, easy and fun.

Gibson Guitars subsidiary Opcode (www.gibson.com) showed a line of audio recording peripherals. Slated for Q4 2002, these range from a single-cable USB MIDI interface to the flagship SonicPort Studio Ultimate X192-8.8, featuring eight +4/-10 analog I/Os, digital I/Os, 192kHz/24-bit conversion, wordclock and 32 MIDI channels. Drivers are available for ASIO2, GSIF, DirectX, WDM KS, MME and Mac OS X Core Audio.

Korg's (www.korg.com) D1200 is a 12-track hard disk recorder/mixer/studio offering 44.1kHz, 16/24-bit uncompressed recording, 40 GB of hard disk space and optional CD-RW drive to produce final CD masters, all in a compact package. Standard features include an extensive array of onboard effects, eight virtual tracks per track (96 tracks total), combo ¼-inch/XLR line/mic inputs with phantom power, a hi-Z guitar input, and S/PDIF digital input with built-in sample rate converter, built-in auto-chromatic tuner and onboard PCM drum machine with 215 rhythm patterns. MSRP is $1,250.

The AW16G from Yamaha (www.yamaha.com/proaudio) combines a CD recorder, 16-channel 16-bit/44.1kHz recorder, digital mixer, 20GB hard drive, dual-onboard effects processors, and an 8-channel/4-pad Quick-Loop Sampler, with 250 preset phrase samples and 47 seconds of user-sampling time. Each track can have up to eight virtual tracks; all 16 tracks can be saved to CD-ROM for export to computer or other DAWs, and files are data-compatible with Yamaha's AW4416 and AW2816. The 36-channel (total) digital mixer features eight mic/line inputs with phantom power, a hi-Z instrument input, two effects buses, two aux sends and four channels of effects return. The $1,299 unit also includes templates to control software such as SONAR, Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools and Nuendo.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MICS

Audio-Technica (www.audio-technica.com) expanded its Artist Elite live performance mic line with the end-firing AE5100 and side-address AE3000, two large-diaphragm condensers for instrument miking, both available with the new AT8471 secure-locking, shock-isolation clamp. The big wow was the $699 AE2500, a dual-element, high-SPL design that puts side-by-side dynamic and condenser capsules in a single mic body. Intended for kick drum miking, the AE2500's 5-pin (dual-channel) XLR provides separate access to either capsule, letting users combine the two elements at the mixer for just the right blend of beater snap transients and low-end boom.

Audix (www.audixusa.com) unveiled its $349 D6, a large-format cardioid, dynamic kick drum mic, which uses the same versatile on-drum mounting clip as other D Series mics, features a 30 to 15k Hz response and is designed to sound good in any position, allowing for fast setups that don't leave time to find the drum's “sweet spot.”

SE Electronics (www.seelectronics.com) showed a full line of affordable condenser mics, including the top-end Z5600 tube model ($649), which features a huge 1.07-inch diameter, gold-sputtered diaphragm and nine remote-controllable polar patterns. In related news, SE distributor Network Pro Marketing (www.networkpromktg.com) is now handling U.S. operations for the popular SPL (www.soundperformancelab.com) products, including classics such as Transient Designer and the PQ Mastering Equalizer, and the new MMC1 Multichannel Mastering Console.

Known and respected worldwide for his no-compromise, high-performance microphone modifications, transducer innovator Stephen Paul has teamed with Alan Hyatt (of Studio Projects Microphones; www.pmiaudio.com) to collaborate on bringing a Stephen Paul Audio microphone line to market. The first product of the partnership — a high-end studio mic — debuts at AES, with first shipments expected in early 2003.

FUN STUFF!

An entire guitar collection in one instrument, the Variax Modeling Guitar from Line 6 (www.line6.com) does for guitars what the company did for amps. Two simple controls on this custom solid-body guitar offer access to the sounds of classic six- and 12-string electrics and acoustics, as well as dobro, banjo and electric sitar sounds. Variations include single-coil and humbucker flavors, all created via a (nonmagnetic) hexaphonic pickup that converts string vibrations to digital signals. These are processed using algorithms of the interaction of each (modeled) instrument's pickups, tone controls and physical structure, dynamically altering the natural string vibrations to match the characteristic tone of the modeled instrument. The signal is then converted back to analog for use with any guitar amp.

GraphiMix from Voyager Sound (www.voyagersound.com) is a Windows-based (Win98/NT/2000/XP) program that offers a slick control interface for virtually every parameter of every MIDI-compatible device in your studio: mixers, sound cards, DAWs, effects, sequencers, instruments, etc. For example, instead of searching for banks of faders, users can simply drag and drop screen-based icons and move them according to their needs for quick access to elements such as levels, pans, EQs, routing or effect sends — in stereo or multichannel. Supported mixers include Yamaha's 01V, ProMix 01, DME32 and 02R. The program can be customized to control any MIDI device, as well as consoles from other manufacturers.

ONE MORE TIME…

There were other product hits from Summer NAMM, and we'll present these in our regular new products sections in upcoming issues, as well as in Mix's 2002 New Products Guide, which ships with next month's AES issue. If you missed Summer NAMM, don't fret: Winter NAMM returns to Anaheim from January 16-19, 2003. Mark your calendars now!

FIVE HITS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Every show brings a few cool products that don't make headlines but deserve your attention. Here are a few that impressed us…

Ultrasone HFI-2000 Headphones: German manufacturer Ultrasone previewed a new line of studio headphones. The top-of-the-line HFI-2000 features a wide (15 to 25k Hz) response with a patented S-Logic Sound System providing natural 3-D imaging that's unlike any headphones you've ever heard. Amazing! (www.ultrasone.com)

AudiOtis Flight Case Systems: Imagine a custom touring console case/stand combo with fold-out legs and aluminum diamond-plate construction, which supports the mixer on gas-filled, shock-absorbing springs. Once the case is opened, the springs let the console rise to a sitting or standing height, and sliding rails bring the board to a convenient working position. Slick! (800/543-0816)

Alesis HD24 Accessory: Alesis showed a FireWire adapter that snaps onto the removable IDE hard drive media for its HD24 rackmount 24-track, offering instant, fast access to data files on virtually any system, with no external caddy required. Clever! (www.alesis.com)

DigiTech's X-Series Pedals: Studio-quality rack effects in stompbox cases! The chorus, flange, phase and compressor boxes are stunning, and the Synth Wah envelope filter offers as much fun as anyone can possibly have without being arrested. Yeah! (www.digitech.com)

Zydeco Tie: More portable than a traditional frottoir, this necktie-shaped, instrument-quality washboard clips on over your collar for jamming anywhere, anytime. It's crafted of brushed stainless steel, and the $20 price includes metal playing thimbles. Woweee! (www.zydecoplaywear.com)






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