- Robert Godin kindly showed us what he's been up to. The new LGX-3 looks great at $1250. It has three Seymour Duncan pickups that are dual coil in a single coil size, plus the acoustic element in the bridge. The LGX-T ($1495) has two Seymour Duncan dual coils and has the synth axe electronics on board. The A-4 fretless bass costs under $1000 and has a real ebony fingerboard. Then of course there is the Duet guitar, which has both a bridge pickup and an internal microphone. This is a beautiful recording instrument.
- JBL had their full range of new LSR products working and sounding great. Their newest system consists of the LSR28P bi-amped monitor system with a LSR12P powered sub. The compact system should go for around $2000 and from what I heard is worth every penny.
- They had a fully working version of their new MP9000 piano and controller ($2195). The keybed assembly in this unit is a whole new design that employs real hammers at the back of the key (in contrast to most companies who have the hammer under the key) for a more realistic feel. A fringe benefit of this is that key contacts are inverted so they are less likely to get dirt under them and become intermittent. It has fantastic piano sounds, which were modeled with a new process they are calling "Harmonic Imaging." The process makes the sound utterly real at any velocity. There are no samples crossfading and no filters and envelopes opening. It's a modeled technology that is continuously variable based on your playing velocity. You must hear it to believe it.
Remember the Q80 sequencer? They're bringing it back, updated as the Q80EX. It will take its position as the least expensive hardware sequencer with a built in disk drive (under $500). They're going to provide a data dump mode with a "huge" buffer, plus all sorts of other new features. Most notably the RAM will have a battery backup so your sequences will stay in memory even if power is lost - a very cool gig feature.
- The new Trinity V3 is the marriage of the famed Trinity and Z series keyboards into one incredible instrument sporting the look and feel of a Trinity. The V3 has 38-note polyphony, 100 effects, and is at version three of the software, which we noticed was much faster than the Trinity version two we're currently used to. There will be a new option called PSCD (or something like that) that will combine the PBSTri and SCSITri into one package bundled with sample CD's that include performances from the likes of Steve Gadd and James Brown. Availability of the keyboard is late September.
The N1R ($850) packs the punch of the N1 and N5 keyboards into a single rack space. There are 563 multisamples and 304 drum samples stored in 18 MB of wave ROM. The internal memory gives you access to 1,671 sounds and 39 complete drum kits. There are two stereo multi-effect processors and all the same performance features of the keyboard version. Interestingly, the LCD display can be switched from amber to Green.
- Kurzweil was did not have a booth at the show, but give our rep an E for effort. He was selling stuff right in the Korg booth. Of course their big news right now is that KDFX is shipping ($795). See our Kurzweil related announcement in the Sweetwater Sound section.
- Further solidifying their position as a premier guitar effects developer Lexicon introduced the MPX-G2 processor. It works with any amp using two separate sets of inputs and outputs allowing guitarists to place effects anywhere in the signal chain for optimal performance. They were showing their System 12P audio recording hardware ($2999) working with Steinberg's VST and their 284 signature amp ($999) was in use in many of the high end guitar booths.
- Line 6
- POD (no, this isn't Invasion of the Body Snatchers) is their Flextone on a table ($399). This kidney shaped unit has all of the front end features of their highly acclaimed Flextone amp, including all of the modeling features, a full guitar processor, and all the knobs for real time tweaking.
- The buzz of the last few NAMM and AES shows, and this one, is still the Mackie digital 8-buss console ($9999). Finally, they do have product on the assembly line and we should have a few in stock very, very soon. Rumor is that they're already shipping, however, as of the now the only units that have shipped are three early production models to a few select studios in Nashville for the NAMM show. But it's THAT close. Some minor features have changed a little bit since the last time we wrote about it, but the thing still really does look incredible. Here's the short list of some of the features: 56 inputs, 72 channels, 48 channels with EQ, compression, and gate simultaneously, hardware DPS card expandability (comes with one, can hold four), software plug in capability on generic DSP cards, SVGA 1024 x 768 display output port, Apogee UV22 process on tape and main outputs, integrated 3-way meter bridge, motorized faders, 5.1 & 7.1 surround capable, ADAT and TASCAM machine control with track arming, four multitrack I/O card slots (cards have both ADAT and TASCAM interfaces), included computer with hard drive, RAM, and floppy drive, 12 (yes 12) aux sends per channel, built in Ethernet connection for outside communication, and 12 mic preamps built in. Okay, take a breath now. The converters are 24-bit, 128x oversampling with 32-bit internal processing. The channel EQ (and some other parameters) can actually morph in real time between two separate settings, plus every single parameter is snapshot recallable and can be fully automated. And the best part is that it has the Mackie personality in it. It's "fun" to use and very intuitive. ADAT/TASCAM cards and AES output cards are both $395 (none come with it). Analog output cards ($395) can also be added for more analog I/O. FX cards are $495 and it does come with one of these. As with most products of this nature these boards are going to be EXTREMELY hard to get for a while. Thankfully, due to our great relationship with Mackie we will be receiving our normal preferential treatment in receiving product. Get your orders in NOW.
Taking a bit of a back seat to the board, but also very cool, is the new M2600 power amp ($1199). It has a 5-year warranty and will drive 425 watts into an 8 ohm load per channel. These should begin shipping in early September.
- These guys are so backlogged on keeping up with demand that we found ourselves placing orders for instruments that would ship in mid 1999 (Thankfully, the guitars we ordered last year are starting to come in now)! Heading up the, "I wish I could afford one" category was the Steven Stills model. They're only making 91 and they tumble in at a price of only $19310! Oh, but what a beautiful instrument it is. They also showed a Don McLain model ($5750), a Lester Flatt model ($8500), and a Willie Nelson model. They did not, however, reproduce the hole he has in the front of his. The East Indian Rosewood version is $5500, and the Brazilian Rosewood one is $9800. There were also three Johnny Cash models, one of which had an amazing iridescent paint job (priced between $3950 & $8200). Then there was the lowly Eric Clapton model at a mere $3500.
In the more affordable range they showed a new cutaway guitar designed for women available in three different woods ($1900 - $2300), a new JC-1 jumbo cutaway laminate with built in Fishman pickup ($1499), and a new thin body acoustic (00CME) ($1399). Their cheapest non-laminate guitar, the 00-15, is going to go out the door for $849 including a hard shell case. The DC-15E is a cutaway with factory electronics installed ($1249). They also showed a new high-pressure manufactured guitar called the DXME with electronics ($749), and also the DXM ($599) sans electronics. They're comprised of 66% wood and 34% polymer. Very few of these will be available before next year.
In the acoustic bass department they offered the BM (don't go there), a fretless bass with only side dot markers for $1249.
- This company never fails to amaze me (and I'm terribly difficult to amaze these days) with what they can accomplish in small packages. This year they have introduced SAM, a S/PDIF ADAT Mixer and format converter ($399.95). Weighing it at a whopping one pound, SAM's main function is to be an ADAT to S/PDIF (and vice versa) converter. It just happens to be able to mix eight ADAT tracks to one S/PDIF output. As usual these guys didn't mess around; it has 56-bit internal processing and can lock to sample rates from 39 to 51 kHz.
To compliment SAM they have also introduced Pipeline 8 x 8 ($899.95), an 8-channel A to D and D to A 24-bit converter box with ADAT compatible light pipe I/O. It can also work on a variety of other systems which support the light pipe interface protocol. The unit has balanced I/O (+4 & -10), dithering for lower bit depths, word clock I/O for interfacing into more complex systems (a requirement if a BRC is being used) and can be controlled through MIDI. It also has a mode where 24-bit audio can be encoded on to two 16-bit ADAT tracks. There's more, but you get the idea.
Continuing down the interface path there was a new 3 x 8 MIDI patch bay for $99.00 and were showing off their new 12 x 6 digital patch bay ($699.95), which has both ADAT and S/PDIF interconnects.
There is a new PCI version of the DMAN card ($179.95) which will replace the old DMAN. It still has MIDI I/O and wavetable sounds. Bovine aviators, Flying Cow ($399.95) and her offspring, Flying Calf D/A ($149.95) and Flying Calf A/D ($199.95) maintain their status of the least expensive 20-bit converters we know of.
- Clavia was showing off the new Nord Micro Modular synthesizer. At $895 everyone can now afford to get into the power of modular synthesis. It comes with and uses the same software as its big Modular brother, but has a smaller hardware package with four real time controller knobs (instead of the 18 on the Modular). It is expected to ship in October.
- In the big Opcode buy out by Gibson they plan to put their Oberheim division under control of Opcode. This should produce some interesting innovations for both companies in the future. They showed the MC-2000 keyboard controller with sounds on board ($1899). They also have a very interesting new effects processor called GM-1000 ($1899) and its younger brother, the GM-400 ($999).
- After being purchased by Gibson a short time ago these guys are all as enthusiastic as I've seen them. Announcements at the show include Vision DSP ($495), which will replace Vision Deluxe. They've added support for Steinberg's VST architecture and full ASIO hardware compliance. They also have built in effects and, in the infamous words of our friend Mac McCormick, "A BEAUTIFUL EQ that looks WAY cool." It should be shipping around the end of July.
DATport is a new USB interface that provides the easiest possible way to get digital audio into a computer. The interface is brain-dead simple: a USB port on one side and a pair of S/PDIF ports on the other. Simply plug it into your USB port (you can plug it in while the system is hot) on your PC and it's ready to go. No messing with drivers or (it doesn't even come with a disk), DMA's, IRQ's, or anything. It is supposed to ship in September for under $200.
- Parker Guitars showed a new model of Fly custom designed for Joni Mitchell. Easily the lightest guitar I've ever held (even lighter than other Parker models), it has only the acoustic pickup in it ($2995).
- PreSonus displayed their M80 (not the explosive), 8-channel class A microphone pre amp system ($1899.95). This is a really well thought out piece of gear that is an ideal front end for Paris or Pro Tools users. Besides the Jensen transformers on the input stage they have set it up so each channel can easily receive mic or line level signals on TRS or XLR connectors. Each channel can have a TRS and XLR balanced output on each channel provides extreme versatility in connecting to various products in all situations, which is exactly where everyone else who builds this type of product blows it. To top it off they smartly made a mix buss with XLR outputs and a high output headphone jack with level control. Each channel includes phantom power, phase reverse, -20 dB pad, low cut filter, and a unique IDSS harmonic distortion control that allows the THD to be varied between .001% and .5%. Everything about this box speaks excellence. They're in stock now.
The MP20 ($599.95) is a single rack space two-channel version of the MP80 that will begin shipping in 60 days. The new VXP ($599.95) has the same M80 front end, but adds a smart compressor (based on the highly acclaimed Blue Max) with special presets for vocal compression, an expander, de-esser, and four-band parametric equalizer all in a one rack space unit. These should start shipping mid fall. And finally, they showed a new heavy-duty rack adapter for the for the half rack space Blue Max units. Retail price is $29.95 and they are shipping now.
- Rane's only new product for this show was the MQ302L, a $599 30-band graphic equalizer. This unit provides a more cost sensitive solution to a musician's equalization needs and compliments the highly acclaimed GE30 ($799). The MQ302L has large 45mm faders, but there is a MQ302S (guess what the S is for) that has 20 mm faders and is a single rack space.
- Raxxess traveled south and added the Daytona workstation stand ($995) to their Big Apple ($995) Goldengate ($1269), and Lonestar ($1399) stands. The Daytona retains the beauty and value of the Big Apple, but has more of a curved top shelf. They both have the Ebony Fleck surface finish, all steel sub-structure, cable management system, and the long awaited adjustable monitor bridge (up, down, front to rear).
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