NAMM is a lot of things: one big cacophonous jam session, a chance to watch Brian Wilson ascend an escalator while empty-handed autograph collectors gaze longingly, and an opportunity for geeks to explore new music-making possibilities. We spent a couple (all too brief) days cruising around the Anaheim Convention Center, and this is what we found.
The iPad sure seems to be a boon for musical equipment manufacturers: not only does it provide a common platform for apps, but developers can leverage some of that tech to bring you cheaper gear — that is, if you don't count the fact that you just spent $400 on the tablet in the first place. As further evidence of the trend, Alesis brought a couple new iPad docks to NAMM this week.Read Article >
The first that caught our eye was the DM Dock, which turns your tablet into a fully-fledged MIDI drum module. Around the back there are a dozen inputs for trigger pads, a hi-hat control pedal, and 1/4-inch stereo outputs. If that weren't enough, it has classic MIDI input and outputs, and a USB port. Additionally, with an Alesis Module Mount (sold separately) you can connect it to a drum stand. Of course, as with anything there are a couple drawbacks: first of all, the build quality leaves something to be desired (it definitely seems to be made more for the bedroom Keith Moon in your life than any sort of touring professional). Second: when you factor in the cost of drum triggers or drum pads (which can get pretty expensive) and the iPad itself, this stops looking like that much of a value. But if you're already set up in the e-drum department and want to add some flexibility to your setup, this is definitely worth a second look. Compatible with iPad and iPad 2, look for it in Q2 2012 for a $249 price tag.
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We recently stopped for a quick picture with our favorite video game plumbers, and they asked us to pass this along this note: apparently Alfred Music Publishing, known for its Legend of Zelda series and Super Mario series sheet music, will be publishing new easy piano and guitar transcriptions from Zelda later this month. Both books offer note-for-note melodies recognizable to players of either series, and both books promise new and more entertaining ways for amateur musicians to annoy loved ones / roommates / dorm mates. Prices for the books range from $16.99 - $19.99, and can be found on the company website.
Ball Beats: great little device, less than stellar name. In a nutshell, it's a physical step sequencer laid on an 8 x 6 grid. Each point on the grid contains a light sensor, so when you place a marble on a point, a sample is triggered. Alex from Mode Machines gave us a quick demonstration, in which he created a beat and then changed it up by moving the position of the marbles that signified kick, snare, and hi-hat hits. In addition to the steps on top of the device, there are light sensors on the sides that can be configured for different actions. It communicates via USB to a software interface, which can then send MIDI signals to your audio software of choice — in this case, Ableton Live. Available now for $199.Read Article >
The Universal Audio Apollo, announced at NAMM this week, is a little more "pro audio" than we tend to get into on The Verge, but we figured that we'd share. Also, if it works as promised, it's pretty, pretty cool.Read Article >
Universal Audio, in case you forgot (or never knew, or never cared to know) manufactures hardware that uses its own processors to power the audio plug-ins in your DAW, freeing up your your Mac or PC to do... other things. The company's newest, Apollo, takes things to the next level by adding a 24-bit / 192 kHz audio interface to the mix. It features 4 analog mic preamps, 8 line inputs and outputs, dual front-panel DIs, analog monitor outputs, 8 channels of ADAT, 2 channels of S/PDIF, and FireWire 800. And with the Thunderbolt expansion bay — apparently this is the first Thunderbolt audio interface on the market — one could attach this to the MacBook Air they've been carrying around Anaheim for two days and instead of just bloggin' and cruisin' for animated GIFs, use the inputs and the extra processing power of the audio interface itself to record a quick demo for their friend's hardcore neo-klezmer band. We'll have to tell you how it works in practice once we get our hands on a review unit, but in theory the concept is pretty intriguing.
QuNeo 3D is an open source USB (MIDI or OSC) controller from Keith McMillan Instruments. It features a number of sliders, pads, and rotary sensors — each of which pressure, velocity, and XY location output. If that isn't enough for you, visual feedback is supplied by colored LEDs, so each pad, rotary controller, and slider changes color dependent on the state; for instance, sliding up on a volume bar will show the bar go into the green, yellow, and red. It connects to your computer via mini USB cable.Read Article >
Videos of this thing have been kicking around since the company started looking for financing on Kickstarter late last year (the company has surpassed the $15,000 goal to secure $165,914 in funding as of the 9th of this month). Still, it was great to finally get our hands on this in person. See for yourself below, or get yours for $200 when they ship in late March or early April of this year.
SmithsonMartin's Emulator Modular is a software package that lets users create custom UIs for MIDI compliant applications and display them on a multi-touch display. The UI is mapped your software package of choice (ie; Traktor and Ableton Live) and the software supports up to four points of contact. At NAMM today we had the opportunity to check out Kontrol Surface (KS-1974), a large multitouch display that the company has created just for the Emulator software. At first glance, the thing is handsome: a glass case with metal grille along the front, all set in a wooden cabinet that wouldn't look out of place in your grandparents' rec room (circa 1974, perhaps). Except, of course, for the Emulator UI that looks like it belongs on the deck of the Enterprise circa Star Trek: The Next Generation. (We're not complaining!) Compatible with Windows 7 and OS X, you can pre-order now for $2,499.Read Article >
We took advantage of a lull in the underground renegade rave party that is NAMM to quickly take a look at a number of new outings by Korg. As far as the Kaossilator 2 and Mini Kaoss Pad 2 go, these devices represent an apparent race to the bottom as far as form factor is concerned, although they definitely have that Korg Kaoss sound. The Kaossilator 2 is the phrase synthesizer, featuring 150 PCM sound presets, the ability to play two loops simultaneously, an internal mic to record audio, external storage featuring a microSD card, and a built-in speaker. Powered with either AC adapter or two AA batteries. Look for it in May for an MSRP $220.Read Article >
The Mini Kaoss Pad 2 is the Kaossilator 2's doppleganger and the latest touchpad-controlled effects processor to come from the company. And like Kaossilator 2, the Mini Kaoss Pad 2 lets you play back MP3s (and vary the pitch), which you can record yourself using the line input or mic and store on the microSD card. Also featured are 100 effects programs, auto BPM detection, pitch change and cue point settings, and more. Also available in May for MSRP $220.
It was our pleasure to hang out with some of the Teenage Engineering folks this afternoon. Although the sound inside NAMM is just dreadful — imagine a thousand teenagers from a thousand Guitar Centers practicing Nickelback while a drum circle kicks up inside your head, and you'll get the idea of what we were dealing with while demoing the new kit.Read Article >
First off, the OP-1 synth has received an OS update — and it's available now for free from the company website. The new features center around performance, and they include the Finger Drum Sequencer (actually, two sequencers, each with their own animated monkey drummer, and the ability to chain, mix, and replace on the fly) and Finger, which lets the user assign one 32 step polyphonic sequence to each key on the keyboard. In addition, there is now a MIDI Modulator / LFO that can be adjusted with an external MIDI controller, DrumBox (a new drum synth), and a rousing game of ChopLifter. If that wasn't enough, controller mode now natively supports Propellerhead Reason 6.0.2.
Jan 20, 2012
There's only one way to rock out to Devo's "Girl U Want," and that's with a keytar — but what if you want some swing with your keyboard riffage? The Alesis Vortex may be what you're looking for: a 37-key MIDI controller that adds an accelerometer to the mix. Announced this week at NAMM, the keytar boasts velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch, eight drum pads, an assignable touchstrip, and volume, sustain, and pitch-bend controls on the neck. The accelerometer lets you control any MIDI parameter simply by tilting the device, putting you just a sway away from that vibrato you're looking for. At 6.5 pounds it does have some heft, but it can draw power over USB so you can forgo the extra weight of batteries or the DC adapter, if you'd like.Read Article >
While this isn't the first time we've seen an accelerometer in a controller — the Mad Catz Fender Mustang Pro guitar for Rock Band 3 included one — we love seing manufacturers adding new methods of interaction to their instruments, particularly for use in live settings. The Vortex is compatible with Macs, PCs, and iOS devices (using Apple's Camera Connection Kit), with Engadget reporting that it will be available in the second quarter of this year at an estimated street price of $249.
Jan 20, 2012Read Article >
We've already seen widespread adoption of the iPad in music devices at this year's NAMM Show, and now Behringer has followed suit with three new mixers. The Xenyx-series iX1642USB, iX2442USB, and iX3242USB all feature two-way iPad support that lets you either integrate music from your iPad into your studio session, or record straight to an app like GarageBand on the tablet. For more conventional recording, the mixers connect to a PC or Mac via a single USB cable. The difference between the models seems to be down to the number of channel inputs (16, 24, or 32), with the range featuring 32 editable presets, mic preamps with 130 dB of dynamic range, and simple "one-knob" compression feature. Unfortunately Behringer wasn't able to get these to the show, so we couldn't check them out for ourselves. Pricing also remains a mystery at this point — while small format mixers like this tend to be aimed at bedroom producers, similarly-specced Behringer products sans iPad support can retail from anywhere between $400 and $700.
The MPC Fly is probably the first break-out gadget at this year's NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, and it highlights what seems to be the theme of the show so far: integrating the iPad with any- and everything.Read Article >
Porter and Davies' bone conduction monitoring devices have been something of an open secret among drummers for a couple years now, and at NAMM 2012's Media Preview event we got a chance to talk to Tim Porter about his company's plans to bring a new, low cost version of the device to the United States.Read Article >
Like the various headphones and hearing aids (and the prototype mobile phone) we've seen, the BC Gigster sends sound to the internal ear through the cranial bones. Unlike the aforementioned devices, however, in this case sound is sent through a series of transducers in the seat of a drum stool. Sound is sent through your posterior, up through your body, and eventually to your inner ear. We had a chance to play with one, and it definitely worked as advertised: the thing delivered a very clear sound (not just the vibration) through your body, with all the subtleties and nuances being preserved. The traditional setup calls for a kick drum mic only (the instrument that gets most easily lost in the on-stage mix), but in reality an entire mix can be sent to through the device.