It’s All About the NAMM

by Robert Kinsler

(Photos: Bob Steshetz)

Every January, more than 100,000 music industry professionals gather at the NAMM Show, the music product industry’s premier event.

On the eve of the world’s largest gathering of the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, there was plenty of wonderful surprises to showcase at the annual NAMM Show being held in and around the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County, CA on Jan. 21, 2015.

Here are some highlights I caught throughout the day:

IK Multimedia's iRig Mic Field is an amazing stereo audio/video microphone that will revolutionize how owners of iPod touch, iPad and iPhone users will record audio with their Apple devices.

IK Multimedia’s iRig Mic Field is an amazing stereo audio/video microphone that will revolutionize how owners of iPod touch, iPad and iPhone users will record audio with their Apple devices.

IK Multimedia, the industry’s leader in mobile music creation technology, showcased several new products at the event. The iRig UA is an affordable device (it retails for $99) that allows guitar players to use Android phones as a mobile amplifier for both practice and even recording. The iRig UA works on virtually any Android device running Android 4.0 OS or later including models from Sony, Samsung, Motorola, LG and many more.

The iRig Mic Field is an amazing stereo audio/video microphone that will revolutionize how owners of iPod touch, iPad and iPhone users will record audio with their Apple devices. Ultra-compact and super easy to use, the iRig Mic is perfect for music recording at home or at a concert, shooting video or any out-in-the-field recording. It is fully rotatable, has a headphone jack, and most importantly for those wanting to use it at loud concerts or sporting events, it boasts a precise gain adjustment feature.

Information: www.ikmultimedia.com.

It’s no surprise that the Variax Standard electric guitar combines Line 6 Variax technology and Yamaha craftsmanship. When the Yamaha Corporation purchased Line 6 last year, the creation of the stunning Variax Standard was launched. The state-of-the-art guitar allows users to play the guitar like a traditional instrument while accessing an entire collection of electric, acoustic and exotic guitar sounds/tones via a “tuning knob” and “category knob.” Indeed, with the simple use of the “tuning knob,” players can select from 10 different tunings. A digital signal processor inside runs custom software Line 6 wrote. Indeed, the instrument can replicate the sound of a six-string, 12-string, banjo and even a sitar. Free software also allows players to customize and design entirely new instruments. The Variax will ship in March 2015 and will retail for approximately $799.

Speaking of Yamaha, that company introduced the AG03 and the AG06, hybrid mixing consoles and USB audio interfaces ideal for webcasting, podcasting, music production and gaming. The AG Series offers high-resolution (24-bit/192kHz) audio recording and playback, iOS compatibility and battery operation. The mixers will ship in April 2015.

McCarthy Music‘s aptly-titled Illuminating Piano is a 61-key keyboard. Beyond it’s futuristic appearance, it is designed to teach students to play via light-up keys and features four different modes of play aimed at keyboardists at all levels of learning. Information: McCarthyPiano.com.

Master Guitar Designer Andy Powers with Taylor Guitars' Maple 600 Series instrument.

Master Guitar Designer Andy Powers with Taylor Guitars’ Maple 600 Series instrument.

Not all innovation in the music industry is achieved via apps, software and computers. Taylor Guitars premiered its beautiful redesigned Maple 600 Series. Master Guitar Designer Andy Powers explained that he undertook the challenge over the course of 18 months to develop a richer and warmer sound for a Maple guitar. Looking ahead to the future, there are concerns that some of the exotic and tropical woods traditionally used for fine acoustic instruments will become more rare –  and even unavailable.

Powers and others at Taylor Guitars became committed in seeing if North America’s renewable forests might be the source of creating a top-tier instrument. Based on Power’s masterful performance on the Maple 600 I saw, the instrument fully delivers on that promise.

“I wanted to create a warm, complex Maple flat-top guitar,” Powers told me in an interview. “I wanted to create the type of guitar I wanted to play.”

“I care about the forests, but I don’t want to give anything up (as a player).”

Information: TaylorGuitars.com.

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