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ROLAND. We took a vote and Roland won the award for coolest new product at the show. The JP-8080 ($1595) looks like a JP-8000 in a six-space rack unit, but has 10 voices with a monophonic mode and has a multieffects unit with 384 patches. But here's where it gets interesting: It also has audio inputs that can be routed through the filter sections or used as an oscillator. Using an external audio source as an oscillator brings a whole new palette of sounds.
For the DJ market Roland added the DJ-2000 Mixer ($1495). It can do all the basics, but also adds a three-band "Isolator" which can be used to radically boost or cut low, mid or high frequencies. Making Isolator control easy, the DJ-2000 incorporates an innovative Grab switch which allows DJ's to instantly trigger Isolator EQ settings on the fly for drastic sonic manipulation. The new SRJV80-14 Asia board, and SRJV80-13 Vocal Collection board are both phenomenal. The most impressive demo of the show was Scott Wilke's fluid performance of five-way velocity switched jazz scat vocals from the Vocal Collection card.
SHURE. Their new UT and UC series VHF diversity wireless microphone systems were the most significant offering. The UT series are designed specifically as a low cost solution while the UC series have selectable frequencies and are still sensibly priced. Also showing was the new UA888 networking interface which can control up to 32 of the U4S and U4DUHF wireless systems on a Windows PC.
SONY enters the DJ market? They showed the DRE-1 (as in Dr. Dre?) which should be shipping in September for around $1200. It's a Mini Disc-based platform with sampling trigger banks and all sorts of instant looping and scratching features. Speed and pitch can be adjusted independent of one another or together via a very simple dual slider mechanism. The neat thing is that, with their ATRAC compression technology, it's easy to record any performance you do right back to a Mini Disc and have it ready to play instantly all in real time. The DVS-V55 ($550) is based on the engine of its big brother, the DPS-V77. It retains the great sound quality of the V77 without the cost, but the important things are there: 20-bit converters, four inputs and outputs, tap function, easy dial up of 45 algorithms, 200 factory and 200 user presets.
SOUNDTECH has the most fantastic cable checker I've seen (I'm kind of into nerdy stuff like this): It's called the MCT-7 ($149) and checks MIDI, video, 1/4 inch, 1/8 inch, RCA, XLR, and some more I can't think of. It checks for polarity and any pins shorted together or to ground. They also have a handy polarity checking device called, well, Polarity Checker. It costs over $200, but is an extremely valuable tool in system setup.
SPIRIT. The big splash was the 328 digital mixer ($4995), a 32-channel 8-bus mixer with 16 mic inputs that comes with ADAT Optical and TASCAM TDIF I/O already built in. Their unique feature is the "E-Strip," which allows the user to view an entire channel's controls horizontally across the board. It virtually eliminates digging through menus for parameters. The FX-16 is a 16 x 4 rack-mountable board with 4 aux sends and three band EQ (mid-sweep) per channel. Really cool: A Lexicon effects processor that's built-in.
STEINBERG was in the Thinkware booth showing the new 24-bit version of Cubase VST and Wavelab 2.0 ($499). They also have announced that they will license and take over development of Apogee's Master Tools UV22 plug-in. An obvious first development will be VST compatibility.
SWEETWATER. We introduced our new SWx, a fully loaded and customized version of the K2500 (see Page 9). We also showed a selection of Oram outboard gear to a ton of enthusiastic studio engineers. The MWS and Hi Def EQ were huge hits with everyone who stopped by.
TANNOY. We found their compact new Reveal ($399) monitors in use all over the show, sounding great. The distinctive red color really makes them stand out and the shape is both pleasing to the eye and nice to the audio with very rounded off front edges.
TASCAM was out in force with the DA-98 and TM-D8000 digital mixer. The buzz, however, was centered on their TM-D1000 compact digital mixer ($1199) and the new DA-45 24-bit DAT recorder ($1999), the world's first 24-bit SAT. The TM-D1000 sports an impressive array of cool features, including backlit LCD display, channel switches that light up, built in TDIF, S/PDIF and AES digital connections. There is also going to be a FX-1000 effects board available that will add four channels of dynamics processing and a pair of multieffects processors. And finally, a long overdue product, the T3000 3-well duplicating cassette deck ($1499). It can act as a stand alone duplication system or work in a chain with nine other machines for a total of 30 potential slave decks.
WASHBURN. Their Buzz Feiten Tuning System is being incorporated in more and more of their guitars. It's both a manufacturing technology and tuning method that allows guitars and basses to be much more consistently in tune across the range of the neck. Models include the XB500TR 5-string bass ($899) and the XB925 ($1699) a 5-string that has two Bartolini pickups and is made from exotic woods. There's a Paul Stanley guitar model, the MR450 Sammy Hagar model, and the P4, which has a mahogany body and a maple top and employs sound channels inside for increased string clarity on distorted sounds.
YAMAHA. This show's smash success for them was the DJX ($459), a really powerful workstation keyboard geared towards producing dance and groove oriented music. This thing is packed with 238 sounds including hits, scratches, breakbeats, loops, human voices, and 128 GM sounds. There are 100 dynamic patterns to groove with and lots of real time controls. Also in the fun category were their new PSR-Series keyboards. There is the PSR-79 ($149), PSR-195 ($259), and the PSR-225 ($399) which adds GM sounds and EZ chord fingering with chord dictionaries and directories. Furthur information about other products shown by Yamaha at this year's Summer NAMM '98 can not be displayed on our Web site in accordance with our Dealer Agreements. Please contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for more information.
ZEN DRUM still gets my award for coolest looking product and for booth with the best vibe.
That's it. Another NAMM show is behind us. Get in contact with your Sweetwater Sound Sales Engineer to find out the latest low down on all these new toys. Many of the products are right on the brink of shipping so you'll want to get your orders in right now to get one of the first ones.