2017 NAMM Show Wrap-Up: Top Electronic Music Gear Picks

Our final round-up of top picks includes an Ableton Live controller, a killer new drum module, Genelec monitors and several audio interfaces and preamps.
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The 2017 NAMM Show has come and gone, and while the gear news won’t go down as either the most plentiful or the most impactful, there was still a satisfying mix of new and cool hardware and software, sound generators and sound processors.

Our final round-up of top picks includes an Ableton Live controller, a killer new drum module, Genelec monitors and several audio interfaces and preamps. Catch up on the entire top picks lists from both Electronic Musician and Keyboard at the links below.

Electronic Musician:
Top Music Gear Picks from Day 1 of the 2017 NAMM Show
Top Music Gear Picks from Day 2 of the 2017 NAMM Show

Top Keyboard Gear Picks for NAMM 2017, Day 1
Top Keyboard Gear Picks for NAMM 2017, Day 2
NAMM 2017 Wrap-up: Top Keyboard Gear Picks

Gemini MAS-1 DJ/Performance Controller for Ableton Live, $299, Q2 2017

What We Love About It:
• An Ableton Live controller with a 4-channel mixing workflow aimed particularly—but not exclusively—toward DJing within Live.
• Includes 4-channel USB audio interface; Ableton Live Clip, Scene and Device controls; crossfader and headphone cueing.
Caveat: Gemini has often been infamous for its build quality, but the MAS-1 does offer step-up features like a built-in multi-angle performance stand.

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Tracktion Copper Reference stereo audio interface, price and availability TBA

What We Love About It:
• Tracktion is going for superlative AD/DA conversion by making Copper Reference the first product to use the new “exotic silicon” Sabre Pro 9038 DAC chip and sparing no expense on the input convertors or in the tube saturation stage.
• It’s got tubes sticking out of the top.
Caveat: The king of the low-cost DAWs is now taking aim at the ultimate reference audio interface? It seems like a bit of a non-sequitur, but we’re still sufficiently intrigued.

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TK Audio SP501 500-series Class A mic preamp, $799 street, availability TBA
What We Love About It:
• High-gain Class A mic preamp with a large-console sound and plenty enough gain for ribbon mics.
• Selectable output stages and a sweepable high-pass filter.
Caveat: Requires a compatible 500-series chassis.

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Black Box Analog Design HG-2 tube-emulation plug-in, price and availability TBA

What We Love About It:
• A plug-in emulation version of the Black Box HG-2 analog processor, the HG-2 plug-in models four different tubes in series or parallel to treat a mix buss or individual tracks with the full range of tube sonics, from warm saturation to overdrive distortion.
• Added Density, Mix and Air controls, the latter of which delivers a shimmering sound above 10kHz.
Caveat: We’d prefer to have the price before falling in love with it.

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Pearl Mimic Pro Drum Module, 16 I/O drum module w/120GB hard drive & Slate Drums 5, $2,199 street, available late March

What We Love About It:
• Uses the new Steven Slate Drums 5 sound library, with selectable and blendable mic positions for each drum sound and 60 high-end 24-bit kits recorded with the room sound of the greatest studio spaces.
• The module has 16 I/O, a 120GB solid-state drive, SD slot and USB for importing WAV and AIFF samples and a 7-inch color multi-touch screen.
Caveat: The drum sound collection concentrates on meticulously recorded acoustic kits. If you want electronic sounds and effects, you’ll have to import other samples.

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Genelec 8351 three-way coaxial powered Smart Active Monitor, $3,875 street each, now available
What We Love About It:
• With 8.5” x 4” Acoustically Concealed Woofers (ACW), Smart Active Monitoring (SAM) technology, and a Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE) for focused nearfiled sound, the monitor is an alphabet soup of awesome audio.
• All those technologies and more contribute to the main goals of providing a large sweet spot, incredible frequency separation and remarkable imaging.
Caveat: The price places these squarely in the high-end for nearfield powered monitors.

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RME Fireface UFX II USB2 audio/MIDI interface, $2,499, availability TBA

What We Love About It:
• 30 in/30 out interface kills the game for well-rounded features with analog, ADAT optical, AES/EBU and MIDI I/O, direct recording to USB thumb drive, iPad app control over hardware mixer setups and included DSP effects, and the reliable RME sound.
• Compatible with the optional RME Arc USB remote control.
Caveat: If you don’t really need all of its many features, you could shop around for something more focused and save money.

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Presonus Studio 2|6 and 6|8 USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interfaces, $199 and $299 street, out now

What We Love About Them:
• Pro-level 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution for an affordable price.
• For anyone just starting out, these interfaces include PreSonus Studio One Artist software, one of our favorite free bundled DAWs out there due to its generous feature set.
Caveat: The Studio 6|8 uses a breakout cable to supply its MIDI and S/PDIF I/O connections.

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