Several of us from Sweetwater Sound attended the 1996 NAMM International Music Market which was held January 18-21, 1996 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. This amazing 4-day show featured over 1,000 exhibitors and was attended by over 50,000 registered attendees who excitedly swarmed over the 410,000+ sq. feet of exhibit space! The extra added day was a blessing as there was just too much new gear and software to see in only three days. And to think we almost didn't make it due to some nasty winter weather. Space doesn't permit us to tell you about everything we saw, so if you want to read more about Winter NAMM, check out our World Wide Web site for an in-depth report with some exclusive photos and check out our next issue of Sweet Notes for more on these new products.
AKG showed for the first time their MicroMic Series II microphones: C419 Wind Instrument Mic, C420 Headset Mic, C418 Drum and Percussion Mic, C411 Acoustic Pickup, DB1 Double Bass Bridge Pickup ... all very cool!
Alesis made price-point history with their new QS8 64-Voice, 88-Key Expandable Master Synthesizer retailing at only $1,999! This roadworthy unit has 16 megs of ROM and 640 Programs expandable via two card slots. You can even load your own samples via their Sound Bridge 2.0 for Mac and PC. The keyboard action feels incredible! Also new: the ATK Integrated Drum Trigger System with DM5 Drum Module, 7 Pads, High Hat, and Kick Trigger for under $2,000!
Audio-Technica showed its new 1100 Series True Diversity Wireless Microphone System comprised of the ATW-1127 UniPak transmitter system, the ATW-1128 handheld dynamic and the ATW-1129 handheld condenser microphone system. Competitively priced in the $499 to $900 range. All three systems feature true-diversity reception with two independent RF sections for superior reliability and a selection of 20 VHF frequencies for minimum interference. The company has also expanded its 40-Series mics with the AT4041, a pressure-gradient capacitor mic with uniform cardioid polar pattern, designed for professional recording and critical broadcast applications. Retail price is just $395.
Coda Music Technology recently reduced the suggested retail price of Finale (now $545) and Allegro ($199) music notation software. Recent upgrades have made these industry standard, award-winning applications even easier to use.
Crown displayed their CM-700 Cardioid (among other great mics) for semi-pro and pro studio recording and sound reinforcement with bass rolloff/cutoff switch ($289 retail). We have them in stock now and have been selling a ton of them.
Digitech showed their new VTP-1 Tube Preamp (under $1,000 list) which incorporates a vacuum tube mic preamp, tube/line amp, flexible EQ section and a digital output plus a 18 bit A/D converter all in an attractive 2U chassis. It's fantastic for warming vocal tracks as well as running synths, guitars and basses directly into a recording device. It looks very "retro" and knowing Digitech I'm sure it sounds incredible!
The Emulator 4 Keyboard from E-mu Systems had large crowds trying to get their turn to play. It's basically the E-IV rack (128 notes plus room for 128 MB of RAM) with a 76 note velocity and pressure sensitive keyboard plus 4 Slider Controllers, an 18-bit effects board and standard MIDI sequencer. It comes equipped with a 270 MB internal hard drive loaded with more than 150 MB of new sounds. The SoundSprint feature allows you to quickly browse through the hard drive as if it were a "virtual ROM Bank". Very impressive! There are two versions: a 128-voice version ($4,895 list) and a 64-voice version ($3,995 list) which can be updated with an option board. Wow!
JBL introduced the MR900 Series Sound Reinforcement Speakers (based on the popular SR800 Series) with even better sound quality and protection with new features including SonicGuard Circuitry, redesigned crossovers, Neutrik Connectors, HF Compression Driver, SHG cast frame woofer and more. These speakers are built for the road and are available in eight configurations. Also on JBL's menu is the new TR Series. JBL wanted to make a more affordable speaker but without compromising quality. The TR Series has features from their high-end concert touring and live performance systems (like SonicGuard and liquid cooled compression drivers made with titanium). Available this spring starting at $549 retail.
The Korg booth was packed with people waiting to see Joe Zawinul push the Prophecy and Trinity keyboards to their full potential. There was also a once-a-day preview of the long awaited OASYS keyboard which all of us can't wait to play. On the recording end, Korg was showing their SoundLink DRS which is a collection of recording components designed to work together as a complete system. These include the 168RC Digital Recording Console (about $3,500), an affordable, fully digital, 8 bus automated recording console. It has a 16x8x2 configuration with a total of 24 input and 22 output interfaces in a combination of analog, ADAT Optical and S/PDIF formats. The new RM8 Reference Monitors were engineered and manufactured as a team effort with Boston Acoustics to create the ultimate in very low distortion and accurate sonic reproduction for under $500. These gorgeous speakers were designed to be driven by the new RMA 240 Monitor Amplifier, a 120 watt per side amp which uses a minimal component count so the sound quality is very open and detailed.
Kurzweil is now shipping the K2500 76-note semi-weighted ($4,720 list) and K2500X 88-note fully-weighted keyboards ($5,250 list).They also announced their newest 61-note K2vx ($3,495) and K2Svx with Sampling ($4,195) keyboards. They both have 24 MB of ROM on board, plus PRAM and 600 Factory Programs, 300 Setups and over 80 QA Banks. There will be an upgrade for existing K2000s later this spring.
Lexicon demonstrated the new PCM 90 Digital Reverberator which offers Lexicon's highest quality reverbs in a compact, single space, affordable package ($2,995 list). The PCM-90 can create realistic reverbs from large canyons down small spaces like phone booths and drum rooms. These can be controlled in real-time by preset or custom controllers.
Mackie has once again dropped the jaws of all who passed by with their new MS1202 VLZ, MS1402 VLZ, and CR1604 VLZ ($429, $599 and $1199 respectively) which all feature new circuitry that keeps these mixers as quiet as humanly possible. They also gave a sneak peek at their new SR40*8, a large-format, center-master section-style 40+4x8 mixing console with an unbelievable price-point (under $10,000).
Every time I went by the Mark Of The Unicorn booth it was packed. Industry legend Don Muro was astounding the audiences with his killer demo of Digital Performer. I even saw Phil Ramone's jaw drop!
Opcode announced OMS 2.0 for the Mac and Vision 2.5 for Windows with more impressive new features than ever.
Last year Clavia DMI made a big splash with the Nord Lead Virtual Analog Synthesizer. Now, with Software ROM Update 2.0, your Nord Lead can have from 10 to 30 Analog Drum Kits with as many as 8 zones each, plus 100 more Factory Performances, a new Notch Filter and many additional MIDI features. The retail price was also lowered. If you've already got 12 voices and want 12 more, get ready for the Nord 12-Voice Expander (price to be announced).
Panasonic showed us their new SV-3800 Professional DAT Recorder ($1695 retail) which features new 20-bit resolution DACs together with the same type of 1-bit, 64 times oversampling A-D converter employed in the SV-3700.
Rode has brought back a "classic" sound to recordings with the Classic Valve Mic ($1799 list). It uses the rare (and costly) 6072 tube which produces plenty of warmth and richness and it even comes with a custom flight case to keep it safe between sessions. The body is hand-crafted from solid brass, textured with fine glass bead blasting plus a nickel finish.
The huge Roland booth showed a lot of new products. Their breakthrough VS-880 Digital Studio Workstation is a completely self-contained digital recorder/editor with a integral mixer, optional onboard effects and removable or fixed storage media. It stole the show with a list price of only $2,495 including an internal 540MB hard drive ($2,895 with a Jazz Drive)! On a smaller scale is the PMA-5 Personal Music Assistant ($595 list), a palm-held workstation with a 306-tone GM/GS sound source, 8-track sequencer, Intelligent Arranger and serial port, all operated with a custom LCD touch-panel. The amazing VG-8 can now go even further with the new user installable VG-8 Expansion Board ($195), which adds four new instrument models including the long awaited "hollow-body" for acoustic and electro-acoustic sounds. There are also seven new pickup models, three new amp models, and even new effects including pitch Shifting and wah-wah.
Soundcraft unveiled a new professional recording console called the Ghost. It offers 4-band equalization with two fully parametric mids, 10 aux busses, a MIDI muting system, time code sync, machine transport control and 4 MIDI data faders. Prices start at just $3,950 for the 16-channel version.
Spirit showed off the Spirit 8 Live Console available in four frame sizes: 16, 24, 32, and 40 channels, with up to 64 inputs available on the 40-channel version. Spirit Live 8 mixes 8 buses affordably with suggested retail prices starting at $4299 for the 16-channel version.
TASCAM introduced the 424 MKII Portastudio for the musician looking to take the next step up in multitrack recording. Superior audio quality, balanced XLR inputs, enhanced equalization and big-studio style AUX section make this the ultimate compact 4-track Portastudio. It has to be the best Portastudio ever made, particularly at $599. A new Power Amplifier, the PA-150 rated at 150W sounds great and delivers the power you need at a list price of $400. Tascam also showed two new products, the DA38 8 Track Recorder, designed specifically for musicians and a MiniDisk based 564 4 Track Portastudio, due late summer. Watch for more details later!
T.C. Electronic introduced their new Wizard M2000 digital studio signal processor. With the heritage of the incredibly popular M5000 behind it, the M2000 is bound to be a big hit. It has incredible quality effects, a brilliant user interface and includes their new C.O.R.E. (Co-efficient Optimized Room Emulator) Reverb plus seamless Morphing during preset changes and dynamic real-time control. It's generous 250 factory presets, 250 user presets, and Dithered Digital I/O connectors are even more astounding at it's retail cost of under $2000!