MusicTech.net at NAMM 2015

MusicTech Show Report – 23/01/15

Free Pro Tools, a new ARP Odyssey, speakers you play underwater, software announcements from companies not actually there, and a Roland secret room. It can only be the NAMM show. Di Marsh reports…

I’m in Anaheim, famed for being the first Disneyland location. That theme park is currently racked by measles – too many kids kissing giant plastic characters apparently. So I’m heading next door to MusicTech’s ‘greatest show on earth’, NAMM. It’s where much of the gear for 2015 is announced and it, quite literally, rocks. A bit too much actually…

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This year’s show can be described already as ‘well above average’ with perhaps few big peaks, although there were many huge announcements, many of which we knew were coming…

A free version of Pro Tools anyone? Sounds too good to be true but it does have drawbacks. Limited ins and outs and a subscription service to enjoy everything.

We’re wondering if this is the future of music software (all software?) and are quite concerned if so. More exciting perhaps is the new Propellerhead website. Even though they weren’t at the show on a stand, we bumped into the company’s Dave Dolan and Leo Nathan-Boos who explained the collaborative concept that allows instant song creation between Reason and mobile apps.

Another company not there but making an announcement was Apple. Logic 10.1 has a new bunch of features that we’ve covered here and being free does at least show the company’s commitment to the DAW going forward.

So on to more companies actually present and InMusic, currently the Jupiter of the music production gear world, sucking brands towards them like a black hole, have far too many products to list (and we haven’t even reviewed all of last year’s yet). The choice ones are some very cool looking M-Audio controllers and the Akai Timbre Wolf analogue synth and Tom Cat. More on these here.

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Korg, Yamaha and Roland were the big three companies many years ago but arguably let the software companies rule for a while but cetainly Korg and Roland are are now fighting back.

Korg have a slew of product at the show but the best is something that has someone else’s name on it, the all-new ARP Odyssey.

The original of this analogue synth has reached such a mythical status that is could soon develop its own religion but that could be undone by this new young pretender, expected to ship very soon. Korg has loads of other stuff, but I couldn’t actually see any of it as I was just staring at the new ARP for hours transfixed until I wet myself.

Now it’s time for the Roland secret room. Will this become part of NAMM folklore? I hope so as it certainly adds a bit of excitement.

Basically the secret room is actually a hotel suite across the road from the convention centre and as I stepped into the lift with just one other gent, he turned to me and nodded. So I nodded back and said ‘secret room?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘secret room.’ ‘Do you think we’ll have to knock in a funny way to get in?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Knock in a funny way.’ As we left the lift he went left and I went right and I realised I’d just made a complete tit of myself – he was just a guest at the hotel…

So I arrived at the secret room and realised it wasn’t so secret as a throng of other journalists were just ending their demo. It made me feel better, though, when they were ushered out and I was given a one-on-one demo of two new Roland synths.

The first you might already know about, the Roland JD-Xi, a small compact analogue/digital hybrid with vocoder, effects, drums and step sequencer.

The second? Well it’s a secret obviously. But I can tell you I wet myself again…

Look out for my next report tomorrow. I’m off to kiss a very spotty Minnie Mouse..

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