1/20/2012 2:24 PM
The first day of NAMM is usually the most exciting because most new products are announced that day, and because it gives us a chance to catch up with industry friends we may not have seen for an entire year. There's not enough time to see all the products in one day, of course, but I can certainly hit some of the highlights that stand out among the dozens I saw yesterday.
The one piece of gear that I found most desirable for personal and project studio owners was the Univeral Audio Apollo, a 16-in, 24-out "high-resolution" audio interface for Windows and Mac OS X. It connects to your computer via FireWire and, optionally, the new super-fast Thunderbolt protocol. It has built-in real-time UAD processing and supports all UAD Powered Plug-ins with less than 2ms latency, according to specs. It also supports 64-bit DAW apps at rates up to 96kHz. I want one... bad!
Synth pioneer Don Buchla is here with a new partnership called Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments. Their first product is the Skylab 200e analog modular synth. It folds up to fit in an airplane's overhead compartment with all the patch cord connections intact. The price is discounted to a mere $13,950 through February. That may sound like a lot, but if you want a real Buchla, it's going to cost you. BEMI's next product will be a 49-note keyboard—yes, a real keyboard from Don Buchla—with multiple ribbon controllers and keys that sense where you're touching them. It's slated to be the first in a series of new keyboard controllers.
Another company that's causing a stir in Line 6, who's getting into live sound with the Stage series. These are products for mixing from the stage, for musicians who want to gig without a dedicated sound man. It begins with a portable tower speaker called the L3t, which combines a mixer, modeled effects, scene memory (called Smart Speaker Modes), and hands-on controls for tweaking your mix and dialing in presets to fit your performing environment. You can tailor the sound to the venue where you're playing and instantly recall all your settings the next time you're there. It's expandable, too; adding another L3t doubles your inputs and makes everything stereo, all controlled from a single L3t. For larger systems with multiple L3ts, the StageScape M20d is a very compact 20-input mixing system with a touchscreen, 16-channel recording, and lots of DSP effects. I know EM doesn't cover a lot of live sound gear, but Line 6's Stage series is just too cool to ignore.