In its second year at the still-fresh Music City
Center, Summer NAMM 2014 saw increased attendance and more exhibitors
than in recent years. This was fortunate news for the keyboard
community; despite the absence of Korg (and Roland’s focus
on Boss products exclusively) at this year’s show, there was plenty to
see when it came to synths, digital pianos, home studio gear, and live
sound solutions. Scroll to the bottom for our gear videos from the show floor.
Dave Smith Instruments displayed the upcoming Pro-2
synthesizer. We’ve been anticipating the new 44-key analog synth, a four-voice paraphonic (polyphony that shares some common synth elements such as a filter and VCA envelope),
with a gorgeous interface and step sequencer. Also
on display was the brand new DSM01 Curtis filter Eurorack module, an
exciting development for the modular synthesist.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Ravenscroft Pianos
exhibiting at Summer NAMM. We first spotted them at previous Winter NAMM
shows, where they’ve never shied away from the busy trade show floor
(most piano makers display at the quieter upper
floors). While they had one of their beautiful grands on display, the
focus of their exhibit was the new Ravenworks piano system. The system
is comprised of the new Ravenscroft 275 software piano by V.I. Labs,
controlled by a specially modified Kawai VPC-1
weighted-action MIDI controller keyboard. Ravenscroft went under the
hood of the VPC-1 and altered the key action to their specifications.
Custom finishes are available for the personal touch.
Hammond returned to Summer NAMM with their new Leslie G
Pedal. Aimed at guitarists, it’s plenty useful to keyboardists looking
for emulations of multiple types of Leslie rotary speaker cabinets in a
small-footprint stompbox. They were also
showing prototypes of the new L-2215 Keyboard Amplifier, a heavy-duty,
stationary-speaker combo amp.
Kurzweil was showing the new Forte, an 88-key weighted
action keyboard featuring multi-gigabyte piano, electric piano,
orchestral, and synth tones. Yamaha gave their Motif line a white paint
job to commemorate 40 years of synthesizers. CME
unveiled a new 37-note version of their Xkey slim MIDI controller
keyboard. Meanwhile, your humble reporter was performing daily at the
Casio booth, where they launched two new sampling keyboards. The
CTK-2400 and LK-260 (the latter featuring touch-sensitive
light-up keys) are somewhat of a throwback to their popular sampling
keyboards from the 1980s, albeit with current preset sounds.
There were some new computer audio interfaces making
their U.S. debut at Summer NAMM. The Zen Studio from Antelope is a
20-input USB audio interface featuring Antelope’s highly regarded A/D
converters and clock technology (found in their Orion
interface). Resident Audio displayed a series of new Thunderbolt
audio/MIDI interfaces, and PreSonus debuted the AudioBox iOne and iTwo
compact USB interfaces.
PhasX showed a prototype of the PX600, a desktop
mixing and mastering system comprised of an audio interface and active
monitor speakers (with a visual target system to set the proper
listening angle for monitoring). Cymatic Audio’s uTrack
24 is a USB audio interface, standalone multitrack recorder (just add
USB drive), and live track playback unit and is scheduled to ship at the
end of July.
Summer NAMM saw some more new speakers, amps, and
mixers for studio and live use. Of note were passive studio monitor
speakers from Wathen Audiophile, in exquisite handmade wood cabinets. In
the high-end studio amp scene, there was the new
SA-250 from Emotiva. For live mixing and recording, QSC exhibited the new
Touchmix 16 digital mixer, featuring a large touchscreen, 16 inputs,
digital recording, and control of multiple mixes with multiple iPads.
Since Summer NAMM is heavily weighted towards the
guitar scene, there were plenty of effects pedals on display. Debuts of
note for keyboardists: the Pigtronix Rototron rotary speaker simulator (which uses all analog circuitry),
and The Boss DM-2w Waza Craft analog delay. All
in all, Summer NAMM 2014 showed a positive trend for keyboardists and
synthesists. Nashville is Music City, USA, and it’s not just for