After three years in other markets, the NAMM show
finally returned to Nashville for its summer session, and as the old saying
goes, theres no place like home. Popular consensus leans toward the belief
that this trade show and Music City belong together, and activity in both the
Nashville Convention Center and the surrounding clubs after hours certainly
supported that theory.
Rather than do the standard what happened at NAMM
coverage, were going to break this into a couple of key components for you.
First up, were looking at hot headphones and music software that were demoed and
displayed at the show.
American Audio has so much cool stuff. Their HP headphone lineconsisting of the 900s, 700s and 200sis well known, with the 700s leading the popularity chain.
For Summer NAMM, American Audio was all about
their new HP 550, which use similar drivers and input through a mini-plug with ¼ inch right angle adapter. They come with an extra set of ear pads, bag, and the flexible design means easy fold-up and the option of double- or single-ear monitoring. The HP 550 is American Audios high-quality, lower-priced alternative at $49.
Also from American Audio, check out the EB 700 and new 900 earbuds.
These were created for DJs and Hip-Hop artists, meaning they have good bass
response and noise reduction up to 20 dB. All metal, with carrying case, nine-foot
cord and compact design, theyre perfect for stage use. The 900s list at $169,
the 700s at $129.
Seems we always associate the Numark name with controllers, mixers and all things DJ, yet we often forget that they also make headphones.
Their PHX premium headphones, featuring 50 mm magnet drivers, come with two styles of interchangeable cuffs, three cables, are fully adjustable and made for comfort, thanks to a two-part ear cup design that incorporates rubber and silicone casing and fits securely between your ear and shoulder. They also fold and store easily in the accompanying carrying case. Pick them up for $99.95.
Numarks HF-125 headphones are made for mixing. They feature flexible, seven-position, independently adjustable dual ear cups, large 40mm Mylar speaker drivers, a six-foot tangle-resistant cord with 1/4″ connector and padded headband. They street for an unbelievable $18.
From Future Sonics, makers of the original Ear Monitors® custom earphones, comes the second revision of their acclaimed
Atrio® professional earphones, making them perfect for stage, studio and broadcast, as well as gaming and digital media players. The Atrio offers full bass response accuracy, natural midrange, detailed treble and maximum comfort with multiple fitting options. Unique to these earphones is their single studio-grade dynamic driver, designed and manufactured by Future Sonics.
New features include QuietCables II for excellent audio quality, more flexibility, less tangling and more comfortable fit, improved performance
with TrueTimbre frequency response of 18Hz – 20,000Hzmeaning less need to
crank up the volume to achieve the wider range of audio quality, and improved
cable slider for more secure positioning and greater comfort when cabling is
worn behind the ear. Invest in the Atrio for $199.
Sony offers a full range of headphones in their MDR line, beginning with the 7502. Designed for basic listening, this is a cost-effective, general-purpose headphone, lightweight with deep bass response and high sensitivity. It lists at $65.
The 7505, with acoustic design, zeroes in on detailed listening and more power. The Auto-Swivel earpiece makes it ideal for DJs and videographers who prefer single-sided monitoring. It stores easily in the included bag and lists at $115.
top seller is the 7506, an industry standard, with larger diaphragm and full ear enclosure for better isolation. The lightweight model, which also folds neatly into its bag, was designed for comfortable extended wear, making it perfect for the studio at $130.
The 7509HD is Sonys newest model. Larger and more comfortable, it features a bigger pad, handles twice as much power3000 mW power handling capacity and 80 kHz ultra-high frequency reproduction for 96-bit recordingand was designed for critical listening and studio reference. The driver units were designed to eliminate pressure in accordance with the angle of the ear. Its Sonys most expensive model at $265, but if your time is spent in the studio, where every detail counts, this is the way to go.
Yamahas new RH10MS professional monitor headphones feature S-Logic three-dimensional Surround Sound, ergonomic design for extended wear, and accurate digital-music reproduction, with frequency response at 18-21 k and sensitivity to 96 dB. S-Logic technology sends sound around the listeners head and off of multiple surfaces of the ear canal,
eliminating the need for artificial echo or digital processing. By purchasing
earphones with S-Logic, you ensure monitor accuracy and perfect detail. The RH10MS headphones sell for $129.
DJ Flex, Timbaland, Diddys band members, Kanye
West, Chris Brown, John Legend, Joss Stone, Shania Twain and Vernon Reid are
among the many artists who swear by Ultrasone headphones. Even a dedicated headphone hater like the Gadget Inspector can attest to the comfort and quality of Ultrasone, having test-driven several sets at the NAMM show. (Granted, the phones were plugged into the Cream reunion DVD, which would sound good through tin cans connected with string, but honestly, through the Ultrasones I heard every note, every nuance, with amazing clarityand no outside noise seeping in. Bliss!)
Paul Taylor, president of Ultrasone Inc., told us
a bit more about S-Logic, noting, Most headphones pull sound directly down the
ear. Weve offset the drivers and angled it to push sound from front to back,
not directly into the ear. S-Logic uses the natural reverberation of the outer
ear down into the canal to tell you where sound comes from and to create
natural Surround Sound. We dont use any digital signal processing or enhancers, just an offset driver.
Whats also very important is the 40 percent
reduction of decibel levels this provides for the potential of not developing
hearing problems or tinnitus. A lot of DJs, gamers, mixers and producers live
in their headphones and the radiation goes directly into their heads. We use a
metal buffer board to reduce that radiation up to 90 percent.
Ultrasone employs S-Logic throughout their HFI, DJ
and Pro lines, with prices beginning at $109, increasing incrementally based
upon your choices and needs. All headphones come with a two-year manufacturers
line features six models, beginning with the ultra-lightweight 15G,
Ultrasones smallest HFI model thats perfect for personal listening, and
ending with the HFI-2200, which comes with velvet earpads and detachable cable.
The Pro line, with four models, begins with the 550, professionally designed
and equipped, and maxes with the 2500 open-back. All models include hard case,
detachable cables and spare earpads.
The DJ line features two models: DJ1 and DJ1 Pro. Warning: Unless you plan to purchase on the spot, do not test-drive these headphones, as you will never want to take them off. Parting with them can be heart wrenching! Finally, if simple and portable is your thing, youll want Ultrasones iCans. Also featuring S-Logic technology, sleek, foldable and adjustable, theyre perfect for your iPod or MP3 player.
There were some firsts in software at the Summer
show, with guitar and amp manufacturers debuting amazing new gear.
Amplification introduced their first-ever software product, JamVOX, which will be in stores in
October 2008 (price TBA). Mac- and PC-compatible, JamVOX provides drag-and-drop
access to virtually any combination of amp and effects models and allows you to
import your MP3/iTunes library or favorite CD tracks.
new GXT Guitar XTraction
technology, guitarists can extract or solo guitar parts, reduce and
essentially mute guitar parts from any prerecorded track, or record their own
guitar performances over favorite tracks. GXT technology can also extract or
reduce vocal tracks. Guitars and microphones can be directly plugged into the
USB-powered hardware component. WAV/AIFF recording capabilities enable the
player to overdub vocals as well as guitar.
JamVOX features precise
models of 19 of the most sought-after guitar amps, 12 popular cabinets, 54 vintage
and modern effects and a choice of guitar pickup simulations, as well as a
Korg chromatic tuner and an array of drum tracks. The JamVOX head can double an audio interface for popular software programs and for listening to music downloads on your computer.
Peavey enters the market with ReValver MKIII, their revolutionary 64-bit amp-modeling software. It captures the true characteristics of vacuum tubes while giving you unprecedented control over their tone and gain structures. ReValver models 15 of the most popular amps, including several Peaveys. The software is user-friendly, thanks to its drag-and-drop interface and customization tools. You can add and subtract components such as amps, preamps, power amps, stomp boxes and effects, and program more than 15 features on each tube stage. Effects include chorus, distortion, wah, tremolo,
compression, limiter, delay, octaver and many more. Retails for $299.99.
Yamaha unveiled Audiogram 6 and Audiogram 3, two new computer recording systems shipping in August that can turn your computer into a powerful, intuitive tool for recording and editing audio from virtually any microphone, instrument or audio device.
series is packaged as a complete computer music solution, bundling a hardware
interface with audio inputs and outputs, software for recording and producing
music, and a USB cable for computer connection. Simply install the included
music-production application, Cubase AI, on your computer, connect the audio
interface via USB, and you can begin recording from instruments, mics, CD
players or MP3 players.
Audiogram 6 ($199.99) features two XLR combo
inputs with preamps and one-knob compression. One input has switchable phantom
power for using high-quality condenser mics. Two stereo inputs, stereo and
headphone outputs, and a USB jack complete the units connections. Audiogram 6
includes separate controls for audio inputs and computer playback for complete
control while recording.
Audiogram 3 ($119-139.99) features one phantom-powered
combo input switchable for microphones or instrument recording, a stereo input,
a stereo and headphone output as well as a USB jack for connection to the
From Numark comes ArKaos Grand VJnext-generation, powerful video mixing software for VJs, DJs bands and clubs. Hardcore VJs know and trust the ArKaos name; as the Cadillac of VJ software, Grand VJ features user-friendly, customizable interface, dual synth/mixer mode, real-time access to all mixing parameters, high-res output, an effects library and multiple camera support.
The Mac and PC-compatible software supports
Quicktime, MPEG2, MPEG4, Windows Media, Flash text and animations, and most
other common media formats. Whether youre looking to enhance your events with
existing content or create video from scratch, Grand VJ delivers.
Demoed at NAMM with the Akai MPK 49 USB/Midi performance controller/keyboard, Grand VJ is perfect for layering all video footage and attaching text and audio. Look for it in September for $399.95.