Many of us at GC Pro are long-term veterans of the NAMM Show, and every year, we sift through literally hundreds of new products to see what will be the best solutions for our customers. The 2012 NAMM Show was one of the best in recent memory in terms of the vibrancy of the pro audio industry, as well as the smart thinking behind many of the new product introductions.
Here are some of our picks for the hottest products at NAMM 2012! As always, for more information on these or many other brands, your GC Pro representative is happy to give you more details, or to arrange for a demo. Contact us now!
Universal Audio Apollo
Universal Audio is a brand that is legendary in our industry, and has been a long favorite for GC Pro to recommend to our most discerning customers. If there was one pro audio product that got everyone talking at NAMM 2012, it was their new Apollo high-resolution audio interface with realtime UAD processing. It’s a 24-bit/192kHz interface between your music and your Mac or PC, and offers a true “no compromise” approach to audio quality. The Apollo has premium mic preamps and top-end converters, but that’s just the start. Available with either DUO Core or QUAD Core processing onboard, its onboard DSP acceleration allows for recording and mixing through UAD Powered Plug-Ins — with as low as sub-2ms latency — so that producers can quickly monitor, audition, and “print” audio using classic analog emulations from Ampex, Lexicon, Manley, Neve, Roland, SSL, Studer, and more. As if that weren’t enough, Apollo offers compatibility with Intel’s new Thunderbolt technology, as found on the newest iMacs, MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and next-generation PCs. It seems like the UA Apollo is exactly what many commercial and project studios have been waiting for. Contact GC Pro to arrange for a demo!
sE Electronics sE2200a II Mic
While many great microphone come with a great big price tag, we saw at least one new mic at NAMM that was both impressive and affordable. As the latest rendition of sE’s 2200 series, the 2200a II adds multi-pattern functionality (cardioid, figure 8, and omni are selectable). Like its predecessor, the sE2200a II uses a hand-crafted, 1" gold sputtered diaphragm. The mic also has a new look, with a black rubber paint finish which is both stylish and practical, helping to damp chassis resonance which many other low-cost mics suffer from. Studios of all kinds will benefit from adding one of these to their mic locker... and at this price, why not get two and have a stereo pair?
Just... wow. While the abilities to emulate the sought-after sound of analog synthesizers with digital synths and plug-ins has been done very well over the years, nothing compares to the brute force of the real thing. Enter the Arturia MiniBrute, a little keyboard with a sound so huge, it might actually scare you (and was a huge hit at NAMM, as you’d imagine). It offers a pure analog signal path and a host of unique features, like a a VCO wave mixer, the classic Steiner-Parker multimode filter, as well as numerous analog innovations. But unlike analog synths of yesteryear, the MiniBrute also offers complete MIDI, CV and USB connectivity. Whether you need a small synthesizer to sit next to your computer keyboard, or an analog beast to go on a stand with your bigger synths, Arturia’s MiniBrute has a cool factor that can’t be beat.
Moog The Ladder
For those of us lucky enough to have spent quality time with a Moog analog synth, we’re already aware of how powerful the onboard filtering is... it’s an essential aspect of the classic Moog sound! Well, with Moog’s The Ladder, you can take that classic filtering and add it to your 500 Series rack! Introduced at NAMM as the first 500 Series module from Moog, the Ladder is a powerful and fantastic sound sculpting tool that allows for creative and unique sound shifting and shaping. All analog Low Pass and High Pass filter... Cutoff knob to add vibe, warmth or tonal adjustment... variable Attack and Release controls... Resonance... even hard wire bypass! No matter what signal you run through the Ladder, you get amazing creative control. We love it.
At NAMM, we found ourselves a bit surprised at a cool and affordable keyboard from an old and trusted name in synthesizers: Casio! It’s an excellent performance synthesizer for gigging musicians, but also a great choice for churches, studios, and songwriting rooms. First, the XW-P1 has an onboard library of all the sounds you’ll need for most occasions. Second, you get control with tools like a full drawbar section for dialing in the perfect organ sounds. Third, it has an onboard step sequencer and programmable arpeggiator. This is a serious performance keyboard that’s way more affordable than you’d think based on its abilities. We give it two thumbs-up for both features and value.
One product category that really jumped out at NAMM 2012 was a batch of new software apps built to integrate Apple iOS devices with audio products. The one that really blew us away was PreSonus QMix software. This free app allows up to ten musicians to simultaneously control their StudioLive monitor mixes with their iPhone or iPod touch. The mobile devices network wirelessly with a Mac or PC, enabling QMix to remote-control Presonus’ Virtual StudioLive software, which in turn controls one or more FireWire-connected StudioLive mixers. In other words, it’s a personal monitoring system you can run from your iPhone. Crazy! Want more kick drum in your personal mix? Dial it in. More keyboard? Dial it in. More you? Crank it up from your own position onstage. How great is that?
TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play GTX
When we GC Pro people were young rock-and-rollers, it was a difficult task to get great vocal and guitar effects at the same time without a lot of help from our friends (or our techs, when we had them). Today, with new tools like the TC-Helicon Introduces VoiceLive Play GTX, singing guitarists’ lives just got easier than ever before. The footpedal had our jaws dropping at NAMM. It starts with pro-quality TC-Helicon effects and state-of-the-art harmony processing, but that’s just half the story. It’s also packed with top-of-the-line guitar effects from TC Electronic. The end result is having a dedicated vocal producer and an experienced guitar tech sitting next to you at your gig! There are more than 200 amazing presets, covering both vocal and guitar effects, which can be browsed either by genre or effect type. But it doesn’t end there; you can download more presets every month online. The guitar effects run the gamut from pristine acoustic to raucous, distorted guitar tones and lots in between. TC Electronic reverbs, delays, modulation as well as distortion effects, putting the guitar in the zone for full vocal, guitar and looping production all in one footpedal. VoiceLive Play GTX even accepts input from MP3 players and computers via an AUX In connector or USB. Its other great functions include a Vocal Cancel feature that reduces the lead vocal level in a recording, so users can put themselves directly in their favorite artist’s shoes. Finally, VoiceLive Play GTX can even listen to the recording and generate harmonies based on the chord progressions in the track. It can loop both voice and guitar, has built in RoomSense microphones that can listen to music nearby, automatically determining which key to set for Harmony and HardTune effects. Seriously, this will take your guitar/vocal performance into a level you never dreamed possible.
Sennheiser XS Wireless Series
If you thought having a wireless microphone system in your live sound facility or house or worship was too expensive or too hard to setup, you’ll be happy to know that Sennheiser introduced their new XS Series that solves both of those problems. Sennheiser has put together specific packages for presentations (XSW 12), for vocals (XSW 35 and XSW 65 ), for instruments (XSW 72), or for headset miking (XSW 52). These all-in-one packages include the high-quality Sennheiser components you need for every live sound miking application from churches to clubs to conference rooms and more. Setting up the XS Wireless systems couldn’t be easier... they automatically search for their available frequencies with a single touch.
Remember, your local GC Pro representative can give you more information on any of the new items from NAMM 2012, or whatever you've been wanting to get into your recording or live sound system. We have over 60 account managers and sales reps across the USA who can answer your questions or even arrange for on-site demos... contact us today!