NAMM 2018 Tidbits – Day 3

Well, either they got the security setup under control or my strategy of getting there at a bit after 10 AM (doors open at 9:30) worked and the line to enter the building was only about a minute long, plus I didn’t see the long waiting lines at the doors during the day that I saw on the first day. That’s a good thing. I’m enjoying the new North addition to the Anaheim Convention Center – it’s nearly all audio products and the only times where there’s too much noise pollution is when there’s a band playing at a booth – much better when you wanted to listen to a compressor and there were three drummers 20 feet away.

Looptrotter is a new company name to me. They were showing a line of signal processors all of which feature “analog character” and distortion of various forms, saturation being their featured tool. They have a monsterous looking compressor appropriately named Monster, as well as an an assortment of 1- and 2-rack space and 500-series modules most of which have “satur….” in their names. I get the drift. But what I found particularly interesting was that they make a fully modular console that takes two 500-series modules in each channel strip, plus some other 500-size spaces, kind of like a more expandable version of the API Box. There must be a saturator in there somewhere.

Retro Instruments showed a new 2-channel compressor, the Revolver, based on the EMI-modified Altec 436 used during the period when The Beatles were making records at Abby Road. Revolver … Revolution – get it?

Waves Distribution always brings a wide range of small audio companies to the show (they’ve been the hone of the Distressor since its inception) and new this show was a pair of preamps from Useful Arts Audio. They showed what’s essentially the same tube amplifier circuitry in two different configurations, in the studio as a two-channel mic preamp and on stage as a direct box. The direct box offers a 20 megohm input impedance and has a simple high and low band equalizer. The studio preamp adds a “Color” control in the output section which appears to adjust the drive to a triode stage which isn’t there for the gain (it adds about 10 dB when cranked up fully), but rather, specifically to add 2nd harmonic distortion. It’s remarkably effective, and brings to mind the early Aphex Aural Exciter which creates 2nd (and higher even order harmonics) and, in its day, was used on nearly every pop music record that reached the charts.

Audio Fusion showed what appears to be a well thought out multi-channel personal monitoring system that uses a mobile device running their app on the listener end and an interface. You have to start with something to bring multi-channel audio into the computer – this can be an audio interface in the studio or a digital console with direct outputs from the channels. The computer sends a multi-channel stream to the connected mobile devices using a WiFi router. Each user can set up his own monitor mix, and the engineer (if there is one) can take over from the computer if they get in trouble. Expected computer features like naming channels and storing mixes, as well as locking things that you don’t want the talent fooling with are incorporated in several clean looking graphic screens. While there are several digital consoles on the market today that incorporate individual personal monitoring, what Audio Fusion offers is the opportunity to bring this capability to other setups.

Bose must be one of the most bashed companies in pro audio circles, but they’re coming around. What caught my eye at their booth, though, wasn’t a speaker system, but rather an educational package called BOSEbuild. Their first product in this line is, as expected, a speaker, but it comes as a bunch of individual components starting with a magnet and a voice coil, and with the help of an iPad, the user is guided through the principles of electromagnetism, how we hear, frequencies and amplitude, resonances and such, assembling components which, when finished, make a fully functional Bluetooth loudspeaker.  It can be self-guided, parent-guided, or they have a classroom kit with a teaching curriculum. If you have a kid in the 8 to maybe 14 year old range who has an interest in music and science, this would make a good gift.

Lastly, Zoom has a couple of new small recorders. Their simplest H1 handleld recorder has been updated to the H1n. It’s menu-free with clearly and sensibly labeled buttons of the front panel. It records 24-bit resolution up to 96 kHz sample rate to a micro SD memory card. The F1 is pretty much the same guts in a different package, one in a belt-clip configuration and supplied with with a lavalier mic, the other in a camera mountable configuration and equipped with a a shock mount and their SGH-6 shotgun mic which can be interchanged with other mics for their H5 and H6 recorders. Also new from Zoom is the Livetrak L-12, a 12-channel mixer that can record up to 12 discrete channels plus a stereo mix. It’s like a grown-up TASCAM Portastudio with effects and 5 sub-mixes for individual headphone mixes.

Off to the races for a catch-up day.

 

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About mikeriversaudio

Helping people getting their studios together has been a passion of mine for more than 30 years. Get yours together.
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