- We took a vote and Roland won the award for coolest new product at the show. At face value the JP-8080 looks like a JP-8000 in a six-space rack unit, and it is based on the 8000. It does much more though. First, it has 10 voices (instead of 8) with a monophonic mode (talk about killer bass lines) and has a multi effects 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 palate of sounds to the plate. Add MIDI synced LFO's and filters that can be controlled by an audio input to that and one can quickly build some sounds that are just begging to be sampled and looped. It is supposed to be shipping in late August retailing for $1595.
The VS-880 EX will replace the VS-880. It has a new backlit display and the effects board is built in now. Plus they've made it able to record on all eight tracks simultaneously (including the EZ Routing from the 1680) and it is now all 20-bit via six balanced inputs. There are now two digital I/O ports (both S/PDIF) and it will be capable of archiving to CD-R. It will be shipping in October for a retail price of $2195. The software upgrade for archiving to CD will be available for current 880 users.
Roland is keeping tabs on the DJ market by adding the DJ-2000 ($1495) mixer to the line. It can do all the basics like split headphone monitoring, 3-band EQ per each of the four channels, selectable line and phone inputs, crossfading, and selectable metering. Then they add 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. Yes it has multi-effects built in, but there's more. They can be applied to a specific frequency range (Low, Mid, High, Full) across any channel (1,2, 3, 4, Mic, Master). Catch your breath, there's more. The DJ-2000's onboard BPM (beats-per-minute) counter automatically calculates and displays the tempo from the music being played allowing effects and external MIDI gear to be synced. A tap tempo button is provided as well. Lastly, it has provisions for starting and stopping other equipment via MIDI and serves as an integrated workspace for creative DJ's.
In the soundware department Roland has been busy as usual. The new SRJV80-14 Asia board, and SRJV80-13 Vocal Collection board are both phenomenal. Vocal samples aren't easy and they pulled this card off in an impressive fashion. 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. These cards should both be available in September.
Roland also showed the new KD-120 bass drum pad for V-Drum ($495) that incorporates the same mesh type head that the V-Drums have. This gives a drummer the option of a more normal looking and feeling bass drum to play. October is the expected ship month.
Finally, Roland announced a collaboration with, Fender and Cakewalk to produce guitar products enabling guitarists to be more creative and productive in recording and live performance. The first solution from the alliance is the combination of three distinct products optimized to work together: Cakewalk Guitar Studio digital audio and MIDI recording software; the Roland GR-30 Guitar Synthesizer and the Fender Roland-Ready Stratocaster, a classic Strat with a built-in Roland divided pickup. Check out the Cakewalk section for more info on the software.
- 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 on display was the new UA888 wireless networking interface. It can control and monitor up to 32 of the U4S and U4DUHF wireless systems on a Windows PC.
- Sonic Foundry
- Complimenting some incredible demonstrations of their amazing ACID program ($399) SF debuted Sound Forge 4.5 ($495). The new version includes Netshow and RealSystem 5.0 support as well as including Batch Converter and Spectrum, which were formerly separate programs. They've also enhanced the loop editing abilities to compliment use with ACID. As if it was in doubt, these enhancements should once and for all establish Sound Forge as the premiere sound-editing program.
Also on display was their incredible Acoustic Mirror plug in ($249), which has some very sophisticated emulation algorithms for recreating specific acoustic spaces. They've also released several new loop libraries for ACID including Funky Extremes II, Signals II, and the Syntonic Generator ($59.95 each).
- Sony enters the DJ market? Yep, that's right. 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, including the obligatory big rubber scratch wheel. 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. An experienced DJ could really work some magic with this thing.
The DVS-V55 ($550) is based on the engine of its big brother, the DPS-V77. The idea is that it retains the great sound quality of the V77 without the cost. The feature set is somewhat less comprehensive, but most of 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, and very intuitive "fast find" features.
- I bumped into Paul Stanley (from Kiss) in their booth. Actually he was seeking solace from a crowd of autograph hungry fans at the nearby Washburn booth. Anyway, Soundtech has the most fantastic cable checker I've seen (I'm kind of in to 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 (you guessed it) Polarity Checker. It costs well over $200, but is an extremely valuable tool in system set up. You can easily make sure you have consistent polarity at all critical points in your system, which is normally a daunting task.
- The big splash for Spirit was the 328 digital mixer ($4995). This 32 channel 8-buss mixer has 16 mic inputs and 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's very intuitive and virtually eliminates digging through menus for parameters.
Designed to be somewhat of a Mackie killer, the FX-16 is a 16 x 4 rack mountable board with 4 aux sends and three band EQ (mid sweep) per channel. The really cool thing is the Lexicon effects processor that's built in. They just showed a new FX-8 ($699), which is an eight-channel version of the same board. Their power station 600 and 1200 were also there. These are the latest versions of their successful powered mixer line. They both have dual graphic equalizers and Lexicon effects built in. The 600 has 2 300-watt amps and 12 channels, while the 1200 has two 600-watt amps and 20 channels.
Spirit also showed their Spirit monitor board. Available in 24, 32, and 40 frame sizes, it packs quite a punch in a small space with built in snake splitter and special in-ear monitoring features.
- 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 Sound
- We introduced our new SWX, a fully loaded and customized version of the K2500. The SWX package includes 15,000 megabytes of sounds on CD ROM, a CD ROM drive, the fully loaded (including KDFX) K2500 with custom oak end panels and a custom laser engraved name plate, a deluxe oak conductors stand, free lifetime technical support, and our exclusive kid gloves treatment through the whole process.
We also showed a selection of Oram outboard gear to a ton of enthusiastic studio engineers from Nashville. Oram has a great name among those who've been in the biz', but many of them had yet to hear his latest offerings. The MWS and Hi Def EQ were hits.
- We found their new Reveal 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. At $399 these boys really pack a lot of sound in a small package.
- TASCAM was out in force with the, now established, DA-98 and TM-D8000 digital mixer. The buzz, however, was centered on their new TM-D1000 compact digital mixer ($1199) and the new DA-45 24-bit DAT recorder ($1999). This recorder is the first DAT machine to be able to record 24-bit signals, which are starting to show up more and more places. At $1199 the TM-D1000 sports and 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 multi effects processors. To compliment this and the 8000 they now offer a MAoA8, 8-channel microphone preamp ($399) with TDIF I/O and thru (thru means it can go in line between the mixer and any DA series machine), and the IFoD8 ($349) which is the complementary D/A converter with balanced XLR outputs. 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 9 other machines for a total of 30 potential slave decks.
- TC Electronic
- TC announced and showed TC Native ($549), a version of their powerful reverb processor plug-in that works in the VST environment on a Macintosh. It should begin shipping in August.
They have a new G-Card ($149) for the G-Force processor. It contains 245 presets created by top artists such as Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Frank Gambale, Dweezil Zappa, Vernon Reid, David Torn and a host of others.
Of course they are also pleased to report that the Gold Channel dual digital microphone preamp, UnitoY processing card for 02R, and the Master X mastering plug-in are all shipping.
- Their Buzz Feiten tuning system is being incorporated in more and more of their guitars. The Buss Feiten system is 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 Bortolini pick ups and is made from exotic woods. There's a Paul Stanley guitar model, the MR450 Sammy Hagar model, and a new P4. The P4 has a mahogany body with a maple top and employs sound channels inside for increased string clarity on distorted sounds.
- Yamaha makes everything and it's pretty much all great. 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. All of this is packed in a small keyboard with built in speakers. It really is a lot of fun.
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
- They (still) get my award for coolest looking product and for booth with the best vibe. While not new, the Zen Drum is an amazing percussion controller that is played entirely by hand.
That's it. Another NAMM show is behind us. Stay tuned for further updates and announcements in our inSync Internet News Daily column. More importantly, 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.
We need to catch our collective breaths now because next, it's the AES show in September...
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