The day began with a breakfast-time press event for Audio Plus, which distributes brands such as SPL, Focal, and IsoAcoustics. SPL introduced three new rackmount units: the DMC mastering console, Passeq mastering equalizer, and 16-channel MC-16 monitoring controller. IsoAcoustics announced updates to its line of devices that acoustically separate speakers from surfaces they’re mounted on. Focal launched some top-notch new studio monitors, but what I found most impressive were two new headphones, with the nicer pair selling for $1,699. Not surprisingly, they sounded more like a million bucks.
Next up was Korg’s press conference, where I heard a fine performance on the new Grandstage keyboard, which excels at pianos and clavinets. The new Volca Mixer shone as part of an all-Volca performance, and the two men who designed the Prologue synthesizer proved that it’s more than just an analog polysynth; it’s an analog/digital hybrid with tons of effects.
After that, Electro-Voice hosted the most persuasive demonstration of loudspeakers I’ve ever seen or heard. In a very big room, they had lined every model in their current catalog up against a wall, including their latest products. One pop song after another blasted through one model after another, synchronized with lights and projected images, almost as if the speakers were dancing. The sound was consistently clean, clear, and powerful, and everyone there fully understood why Electro-Voice is such a well-respected name.
The remainder of the day was filled with more demos, more meetings, and more respect for the people who give us extraordinary tools for creating and reproducing music. Among the highlights were new guitar pickup technology from Fishman, dynamite effects processors in Apple Logic Pro X (partially resulting from their acquisition of Camel Audio a few years back), workflow enhancements in Avid Pro Tools, CEntrance's versatile little MixerFace R4, and Zynaptiq’s extended version of Orange Vocoder, which is easily the most intelligible vocoder I’ve heard yet.
An afternoon visit to Arturia’s booth reaffirmed what I already knew, that Arturia is one of the most innovative synth companies on Earth. And don't get me started about Strymon's Magneto Eurorack module, an innovative delay-based sound source and processor you simply have to see for yourself. Topping off the evening was a party at the Anaheim House of Blues, hosted by Antares Technologies, which introduced a new version of Auto-Tune Pro that promises to give its competitors a run for their money. After a good night’s sleep, now I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.