Archive for January 22, 2012
After three days of attending Winter NAMM 2012, I have to say I’m ready to head home tomorrow. It’s been exhausting. It was my first time here, and I’ll definitely not forget it anytime soon.
As most people reading this will already know, I write for DJ Times magazine, primarily tech reviews, with the occasional feature article here and there, and it was my work with the magazine that brought me to the show. I spent Thursday and Friday nearly jogging around the show floor, meeting with various manufacturers of DJ goodies, from controllers to sound reinforcement to production stuff to lighting. Today (Saturday) I was able to “relax” and stroll the floor with few appointments (albeit with a bigger crowd; it was impossible to get around).
There was a lot of new stuff introduced, and manufacturers were showing-off a wide range of interesting products that will be coming in the months ahead. I’m looking forward to taking a look at many of those products in the months ahead, and you can read all about it on the pages of the magazine.
I was left with the impression that every company under the sun now makes headphones. Headphones that swivel. Headphones that don’t. Headphones with detachable cords. Headphones that fold. Headphones with integrated EQ control. Headphones in rainbow colors. Headphones with sleek designs. Headphones with cobranding. Given the margins in headphones, I’m sure it’s an attractive thing to want to do, but I’m not sure the market can support 2,736 different models of headphones, even if many are indeed quite good.
I do a lot of reviews in the DJ controller space, and there were a lot of those, too, although not many that were new at the show. I have reviews in the pipeline for the magazine on some of them, with more to come in the months ahead — some of which I’m actually pretty stoked about to be honest.
There were several things I thought were particularly interesting. A few of them:
- Fusion Bags out of the UK have some exceptionally cool DJ gig bags for digital guys like me. With the wide range of controllers on the market, it’s tough to make appropriate bags, and frankly I’ve never found anything that works well for me, so I end-up with several separate bags for my gear which is rather a pain in the butt. Their current line is pretty cool, and they have some new product hitting later this year that’s particularly innovative.
- iConnectivity out of chilly Calgary makes a crazy cool little box called the iConnectMIDI. I’ll be giving this a hands-on for the magazine soon, but think of it as a universal MIDI hub. Plug 5-pin DIN MIDI devices in. Plug USB MIDI devices in. Hook it to your computer. Hook it to your iOS device (like an iPad). And everything gets all happy-happy with MIDI deliciousness. One of those “doh!” devices you wonder why nobody thought of before.
- Nothing related to DJ stuff, but Peavey will have a new electric guitar on the market in a couple of months called the AT-200. Claiming to have Antares Auto-Tune technology on-board, it is basically an self-tuning guitar with automated intonation improvements. Now, I play acoustic, but this thing was cool enough that I’m sorely tempted to pick-up electric guitar just because. MAP is $499. Not only does it tune itself, but you can set alternate tunings, like Double Drop D, in seconds. I can’t imagine these babies won’t just fly off shelves in quantity.
- While it’s not a new product, it’s the first time I’ve heard of or seen the JBL MSC1. Honestly, I gotta have it. Simply put, it’s a tool to tune studio monitors to the characteristics of a room. So much music production, especially in the electronica realm, happens where it can. In my case, it’s a basement office with poor acoustics and high reflectivity. I struggle constantly with the low-end in my mixes; virtually every project has ear-tiring low-end problems that I’ve not understood, let alone been able to fix. But a big piece of the problem is an inability to tune my monitors properly. I am, after all, not a sound engineer by trade. The MSC1 is designed to address this sort of thing, and it works with any brand of monitors. Plug the monitors into the box, including your sub, hook-up the included mic, press a button, and the environment is evaluated automatically. The unit then shapes the audio feeding the monitors accordingly, essentially adjusting the monitoring system to the room. Amazing. The device itself provides some other niceties for studio work. Definitely on my radar, and it might well be the answer to a long-standing problem.
Anyway, time to get a shower, get some sleep, and get back home. And then lust after the opportunity to look at these and many other NAMM-discovered goodies in more detail soon. What a show… Can’t wait ’til next year. ;-)