Small Things Are Cool, Too
Maybe all the big ideas are done. I mean we are at a point where you can buy a console that has all the features (except total channel count) of a console that had the same price tag as a house just five years ago. Except now you can get it (still short channels…) for less than the price of a beat to crap used car.
So was there cool stuff at NAMM? Of course. Was any of it industry changing or the kind of thing that made you really go “WOW!” ??? Well, no. As our pal Tim Harding said to me, “The stuff that is cool this year was already cool last year.”
There were actually some new cool things, But they were all small. So in the category of “cool things come in small packages….
Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone
After years hauling around big, heavy cameras, we know we can get the video and image quality we need for SPL and L2P on an iPhone. But let’s be honest here, the audio sucks. We have tried a bunch of different solutions and some worked well for a while but then they either broke (bad build quality) or became outdated when the iPhone connector style changed. The MOTIV MV88 may be the answer. It connects directly to any Apple iPhone, iPod, or iPad equipped with a Lightning connector. It’s not a cheap plastic piece of crap. The mid-side microphone element is mounted to a 90-degree hinge with built-in rotation that allows for highly flexible microphone position, even in video applications. Five built-in DSP preset modes, plus 5-band EQ, stereo width control, and other advanced features are easily accessed through the free ShurePlus MOTIV Mobile Recording App. To be released in Summer of this year.
Ultimate Support HyperPad
I don’t know about anyone else, but I do not go on a gig anymore without at least one iPad. I use it for set lists, I use it for notes, I use it for lyrics. I use it to remotely mix. It has become an essential accessory for gigging. But I have yet to find a stand that does what I need it to. The HyperPad can be used five different ways WITHOUT buying a single accessory. Out of the box, it can be a portrait or landscape ‘easel’ stand, it can clamp to a mic stand, it can clamp to a desk or other flat surface. It can screw on to a standard mic stand just like a mic adapter. There is even a 5” gooseneck included.
We know audiences — and especially corporate ones and even more especially corporate event planners/bookers hear with their eyes. And when the gig is a DJ thing or one where you need to hide some less than attractive wiring, these things could be pretty cool. Ranging in size from about 6 inches tall and covered with black fabric (big enough to sit on the table and give it a dressed look) all the way to 48-inch tall versions with frosted plastic fronts perfect for dressing up with a couple of LED, DJ-style Par or uplights.
D.A.S. Audio Gets QR Right.
Maybe someone else is doing this and we have just not noticed. But on the back of all of the D.A.S. speakers we saw at the show there was a small QR code that was easily read with any smartphone. And when you use said QR code, where does it send you? Probably to some cheesy sales page or YouTube vid made by the marketing department, right? Wrong. It goes to the product manual page in the D.A.S. Web site. So if you are on a gig and forget how to assess a seldom used DSP setting, you whip out the phone, scan the code and—viola!—you are at the manual and can look it up without delay. A little thing, But thoughtful and very cool.
Avid Pro Tools First
Guitar Guy TIm Hemingway wrote all about this so i will just chime in with this… When i started doing recording with a computer, I used a little thing called Pro Tools Free. Eventually, I outgrew it and bought a real version of Pro Tools. It was a great intro and a way to get me into the fold. But then some years passed. Mac OS versions changed and I could not open my Pro Tools anymore to get to a session I needed. And when i went looking for pro Tools Free, it had died. SO i ended up looking for options that were not going to cost me a grand-plus-hardware. To see Avid return to a limited version that people can start with and then to make it even cooler by allowing one to add to it without acutely buying a full-boat version of Pro Tools? Very cool.
Waves Tracks Live and dbx 160 plugin
Track Live was written about by Jim Roese so seek it out for a fuller rundown. Just to say, that a $99 stripped down tool made ONLY for directly capturing audio? it is something those of us with smaller I/O needs have had for a while (and free..) in the form of Capture from PreSonus. But for those who need more I/O and may already be running a SOundGrid system for Waves plugs… This is pretty sweet.
The dbx 160 intro is much bigger news than it would appear. This is 100% conjecture on my part, but i will be shocked if i am not right. Harman owns a couple of companies (dbx and Lexicon) that for decades made and sold some of the best outboard gear—from comps and gates to EQs and reverbs—in the world. But they have had very little traction moving those hardware icons into the plug-in world. It is just a hunch. But were i a betting man, I would put my money on this being the first of many Waves/Harman collaborations. I mean, when you are a worldwide conglomerate that makes somewhere north of 90% of it’s revenue in the consumer electronics and automobile industries, why would you spend the time, money and other resources required to make and sell plug-ins when you can just partner with the company in the world that does this probably better than anyone?