Lines to get in the building are longer than ever – where are all these people coming from? It was a good day for chatting but not much new information gathered. But it’s a NAMM show.
The Focusrite Scarlett range is pretty good, but I’ve been pestering them for a couple of years to bring out a 4-input USB audio interface with their higher grade mic preamps like what they’re using in the Thunderbolt-only Claretts, and finally at this show they introduced the Clarett USB line of three interfaces with 2, 4, and 8 mic/line inputs with two switchable for instrument DI. All have ADAT optical input for an additional 8 channels outboard, and there’s an assorted number of outputs. The smaller two are desktop boxes, the large one is a single-space rack mount unit. They weren’t connected to anything (they’re still pushing the Focusrite PRO brand) so I couldn’t see any lights, but the two desktop units didn’t appear to have any metering, not even a clip light or an LED band around the input gain knobs. I’ll try harder before the show is over to find someone who knows for sure.
Maybe patchbays are really coming back, at least to those who can afford this necessary luxury. Flock Audio was showing what’s called a routing switcher in the video and telecommunications business – they call it a digitally controlled patchbay. All of the actual signal flow is through hardware relays, but the input-to-output routing is digitally controlled over USB by a computer application. There are 8 DB-25 TASCAM-wired connectors on the rear panel for 32 inputs and 32 outputs, plus two XLR-1/4″ combo connectors on the front panel to accommodate a couple of visitors. The box also has a 48v phantom power supply so it can be used for microphones as well as line level signals.
Universal Audio was showing their new Arrow desktop audio interface, a scaled down version of their Apollo series with 2 mic/line/instrument inputs, stereo line and headphone outputs, and a UAD 2 DSP engine for running Universal’s plug-ins and Unison mic preamp and amplifier modeling technology. With the same guts (converters and analog circuitry) as their flagship line, this looks like a good upgrade for someone who doesn’t need a lot of inputs but can take advantage of top quality audio. Also new from UA this show is the OX, which they describe as a complete amplifier recording system. There’s a lot of details that I don’t quite have sorted out yet, but it works in conjunction with your amplifier so you don’t lose what you have. It simulates a speaker load to the amplifier so you don’t need to wake up the neighborhood to get the tone you want (there’s a warning label telling you that it gets hot), but also provides a wide range of modeling that’s heavy on speakers and cabinets. They seem particularly proud of their modeling of speaker breakup.
It’s nice to see that recording consoles are still around. Sound Techniques had a 16 foot (measurement not guaranteed) all new re-creation of Trident Studios’ original Sound Techniques console from which the more famous A range was derived. This is one of two that they’ve built so far. Maybe someone else will want one. It looks really classic, even to the inclusion of one bank of the original curved faders (think theater light dimmers) that they built from scratch. Lovely work and I’m sure it sounds as grand as it looks.
Time to go off to the TSA-level entry security scanning to see if I can get into the building for another day of looking for neat stuff. Trust me – airports handle it much better, but then they aren’t dealing with 100,000+ people all trying to catch a 10:00 AM flight.