Summer NAMM Report
By Michael Ross
For its second year at the new Nashville Music City Center, NAMM expanded into another of the seemingly endless halls, indicating a bit of growth, though the show remains a smaller, more relaxed event than the winter version. Summer NAMM has become something of a guitar show, but the 2014 version still offered some exciting gear for Electronic Musician readers.
Dave Smith Instruments debuted the Pro 2 Synthesizer, and the company's first offering for modular synthesizers, the DSM01 Curtis Filter Module. Named for the original filter chip designed by the late Doug Curtis, the DSM01 provides a switchable 2/4-pole low-pass filter selectable between -12 dB and -24 dB, and a VCA featuring pre and post outputs for the filter. A boost function introduces harmonic distortion. The Pro 2 features four digital oscillators (plus sub-oscillator) with super saw waves. Newly designed, dual analog filters (one low-pass and one state-variable) run in series or parallel. Oscillators can be routed in pairs to either filter, while a step sequencer allows real-time input. Sequences control any parameter in the modulation matrix, supporting both rests and variable-length sequences. It can sync to external MIDI clock and can also be driven by an external audio input. Rear-panel control voltage inputs and outputs make it compatible with modular synths.
The glowing Crystall Ball keypad from Naonext operates five optical sensors that send MIDI messages to simultaneously control numerous effects, notes and samples. Its “Mem” function allows it to memorize the position of your hands, holding a sound, sample and/or effect active while you add other sounds.
Dwarfcraft displayed a Eurorack edition of its flagship Great Destroyer distortion/fuzz pedal. In addition to the pedal’s Starve, Gain, Tone, and Volume controls, TGD:E offers CV in for gain and tone, and a CV output, sending various signals ranging from audio rate square waves to bursts of LFO.
The Zoom H5 is a scaled down version of the company's H6 recorder, providing four tracks of simultaneous recording. Like the H6, the H5 can use all Zoom interchangeable input capsules, letting you to choose the best microphone for every recording situation.
Three products continued the trend of remote hardware and software operation: Griffin technology presented PowerMate Bluetooth that connects to any compatible Mac wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.0.PowerMate is a wireless programmable controller that replaces extra keystrokes with a twist or a click; it scrolls, scrubs, and/or clicks like a mouse, and is user-configurable to control most Mac applications.
QSC showed its TouchMix 8 featuring a color, capacitive touch screen graphical user interface combined with hardware controls. It sports four Mic, four Mic/Line, two Stereo line, and USB 2-track inputs, as well as four Aux, a Main R/L, and Cue/Monitor outputs. TRS Aux outs drive wired In Ear Monitors directly. All input channels offer 4-band full parametric EQ, Gate, and compressor. Included are four professional-quality stereo DSP effects plus a pitch corrector. TouchMix 8 offers direct to hard-drive recording and playback of multi-track wave files and is capable of recording all input channels plus a user-selected stereo output pair. It can be remote controlled via mobile devices via an included Wi-Fi interface.
Guitar meets electronic music with the Zivix jamstik [sic] guitar MIDI controller for iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It offers the nuance of guitar playing when controlling music creation iOS apps or Mac software. The 15" long device allows string bending and uses infrared light to “see” what your hands are doing in real time for fast MIDI control. The JamTutor app for iPad displays visual fret cues for instruction purposes, while a separately sold hardware device called PUC allows the guitar (or any other MIDI device) to run wireless.