Summer NAMM 2011 Gear Reports

July 20, 2011
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imgby Tom Brislin, Stephen Fortner, and Richard Leiter

As SUMMER NAMM 2011 swings into action, we'll be bringing you photo and video updates live from the show floor. Bookmark this page and check back often, as we'll be putting the most recent information at the top and bumping existing info further downscreen. We'll also post on our Facebook page when we do an update, and you can follow us on Twitter to get near-real-time photo updates beginning Friday, July 22, 2011. For new gear press info that manufacturers send us, check our news section.

--SCROLL DOWN FOR A CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED SLIDE SHOW AND THE LATEST FROM-THE-FLOOR-VIDEOS--

Saturday, July 23 Wrap-Up

The final day of Summer NAMM 2011 was Wanna Play Music Day, a  public day on which admission wasn't limited strictly to those in the industry. Scott Tibbs from Roland was giving demos of the Jupiter-80 synth. As you'll see in the video at the bottom of this page, his tongue-in-cheek '80s repertoire was much to the delight of those who found their way into the conference room. Back on the main convention floor, Electro-Harmonix was showing the two new effects pedals: The Ravish Sitar and the Talking Machine.  As with most of the effects here at NAMM, they are aimed at guitarists. That being said, there are definitely possibilities for keyboardists who like experimenting with new sounds. Morpheus debuted the Bomber polyphonic pitch shifter, again aimed at guitarists but could have interesting possibilities for clavinet, vintage electric piano, and organs, too. ART is now shipping the USB Dual Tube Pre, which in addition to being a tube preamp, is also a USB audio interface and S/PDIF interface expander. Each channel has its own opto-compressor as well. Also new was the Dual Sustain Single Pedal (DSSP), a single pedal that can be plugged into two keyboards simultaneously. There are three models, each with a different pedal polarity combination: The CE43 (both normally open), CE44 (both normally closed), and the CE45 (one normally open, one normally closed). This lets you accommodate any pair of keyboards you might have.

Breaking News, Saturday, July 23: Honoring the Mom-n-Pop Music Store

 Senseney Music, Wichita, KSSenseney Music of Wichita, Kansas has taken top honors in NAMM's first annual Top 100 Dealers Awards. Keyboard correspondent Richard Leiter, who attended, explains why he thinks this attention is long overdue:

"For years, Independent Music Dealers (including some larger ones) have been getting righteously pissed off because online retailers and big-box outlets have been underselling them. Why should someone pay $500 for the new XX-1000 when they can get it for $400 at Best Buy or $350 with no sales tax from igotnooverhead.com? So this year NAMM fired back by celebrating the IMD's, with a heightened awareness of their collective clout in the industry, and a lavish event honoring the Top 100 Dealers in the country. Also, manufacturers are offering specials deals to IMD's only, leveling the playing field a bit. In truth, these independent music stores have a vast impact on our communities. They usually offer music lessons, provide hands-on advice, feature sheet music sections for browsing, understand individual customers' needs and are a natural gathering place for musicians. Example: The brilliant guitarist Charlie Hunter took music lessons from young virtuouso Joe Satriani in the little music store down the street. Try that in a Wal-Mart. Kudos to NAMM for stepping up and to manufacturers for recognizing who butters their bread." -Richard Leiter

Friday, July 22 Wrap-Up

We began day 2 of Summer NAMM back at the Korg booth, where we got a demo of the new Monotribe "Analogue Ribbon Station,"--find a full review in the September 2011 issue of Keyboard. The Monotribe is a small box which contains an analog synth engine, with realtime control knobs, switches, and a small ribbon controller.  It's also got pure analog kick, snare, and hi-hat drum sounds, and a step sequencer for recording patterns with both rhythm sounds and a synth track. It really screams, and has a built-in speaker as well. Also new from Korg is the compact MMA130 Mobile Monitoring Amp.  This 30-watt amp sports a 6.5" woofer and 1" tweeter, can be battery-powered, and has an optional brace to hold the Wavedrum.

Back at Hammond Suzuki, Dr. Lonnie Smith was playing the SK2 organ (on both organ and piano sounds), and was joined by Akiko Tsuruga for an impromptu duet (on the same SK2). 

Yamaha presented two new keyboard models: The MOX8 88-key workstation takes the sounds and sequencing capabilities of the Motif XS, and slims it down to a 32-pound package--surprisingly light given that it has 88 fully weighted keys. Our September issue will also feature a full review of the MOX8. For the home market, there's the new PSR-S650 61-key keyboard with built-in stereo speakers, and the ability to load new sounds and styles into flash memory.

Meinl Percussion was showing their one and only electronic musical instrument: the FX10. While they call it an "FX pedal," I believe this isn't the best term, as the FX10 doesn't apply effects to an existing sound signal. Rather, this is a self-contained sound generator pedal that triggers a host of percussion samples (kick, cowbell, shaker, tambourine, 808 claps, etc).  What's more, certain sounds (shaker and tambourine) have alternate presets that trigger on pedal up as well as down (for fast sixteenth-notes). While this may seem like such a simple and obvious instrument, I've been hard-pressed to find another self-contained digital percussion pedal. According to Meinl, the FX10 has been on back-order since it came out.

Telefunken introduced the new ELA M 260 Tube Mic Stereo sets.  These high-end sets come with three capsules for each mic, one dual power supply, and flight case. Another pencil mic of interest is the SE Rupert Neve Signature Series SERN17.  These mics have an unusual shape, to accommodate a hand-wound transformer.  Also from Rupert Neve Designs is the Portico 5017 preamp/D.I./compressor. SE and Munro Acoustics were also showing the Medium Egg Speaker passive studio monitors. The concept of the egg-shaped cabinet is to eliminate unwanted resonances that can occur with a traditional box-shaped cabinet.

The iPad continues to make its presence known, albeit not from Apple itself.  The Alesis iO Dock provides a sturdy enclosure for the iPad, and gives it some real I/O. There are XLR and 1/4" audio inputs, 1/4" audio outs, RCA video out, MIDI in and out (DIN and USB), headphone out and footswitch in jacks.  With the more professional music apps for the iPad showing up, the iO Dock is ready. Digitech takes it a step further and integrates your iPad into its latest multi-effects unit, the iPB-10 programmable pedalboard.  This unit uses the iPad for programming and and a nice visual component of your effects chain (with updates and new features coming through the app store), while the pedalboard itself does the DSP heavy-lifting.

Roland has kept their new monster synth, the Jupiter-80, in a conference room during Summer NAMM. We got a chance to get up-close and personal, and, as we've stated before, it's definitely going to be making waves.  Roland is going to open it up for the public day on Saturday, so stay tuned for reaction from those who get to play it. There are a few new entries from Boss, including the Micro-BR BR-80 recorder and the RC-30 Loop station.


Thursday, July 21 Wrap-Up

The Summer NAMM show in Nashville is a smaller trade show than the massive Winter show, and it definitely favors guitar and guitar-related products and manufacturers. That said there are a small number of keyboard, recording, and other music technology-related items on display, and some were making their debut at this show.

Korg brought their Kronos and Pa3X workstations to Nashville. The Kronos made waves at Winter NAMM, and for the new flagship, is rather modestly displayed at this show. We were expecting (and looking forward to trying) the new Roland Jupiter-80 synth, but we'll have to wait for a demonstration event on Saturday--in the meantime, CLICK HERE for our latest up-close look at Roland in Los Angeles.

Hammond-Suzuki debuted their SK1 and SK2 ultra-portable stage organs.  With impressive organ sounds, real drawbars, and light weight, the SK1 (15 lbs., single keyboard) and SK2 (35 lbs., double-manual) add pipe and transistor organ sounds, acoustic and electric pianos, and more.

Casio unveiled three new home keyboards: the CTK-4200 (61 keys, $149), LK-280 (61 lighted keys, $199), and WK-225 (76 keys, $199).  All three models sport stereo speakers, 600 sounds, 180 rhythms, a six-track recorder, user sampling, and more. 

PreSonus introduced three new USB audio interfaces, collectively called the AudioBox VSL series. These 24-bit, 96kHz interfaces will be ready for Mac OS X Lion when they ship.  PreSonus also showed their sleeker and more compact Studiolive 16.0.2 digital mixer/audio interface.

Zenph was showing Home Concert Xtreme, an educational app for the iPad (or desktop or laptop computer). It features a moving score with accompaniment that will follow the player. Also from Zenph is Internet MIDI, a program that allows long distance lessons through connected MIDI instruments, combined with video-conferencing.

More to come on Friday!

Flickr Slideshow:




Breaking news Thursday, July 21 - Nashville, TN - IK Multimedia Introduces iRig MIDI for Keyboardists


imgFor keyboardists and producers, iRig MIDI also includes IK's new SampleTank free app for iOS, the mobileimg version of IK’s leading virtual sound workstation for Mac and PC. SampleTank is a 4-part multi-timbral instrument with a sound set of over 1 GB of samples for over 500 acoustic, electric and electronic instruments (including a selection of the best workstation sounds from SampleTank, orchestral sounds from Miroslav Philharmonik and synths sounds from SampleMoog) plus a selection of over 1,000 melodic and rhythmic patterns that span every musical genre. SampleTank for iOS also includes 20 studio-quality insert effects that can be applied to each individual instrument (up to 4 insert effects per part) along with a master reverb-delay effect. For more info, visit www.irigmidi.com.

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