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Show Report: Conversations, Observations & New Products At Winter NAMM ‘09, Part II
Custom looks, mic packages, plug-ins, anniversaries, monster bass players, and more... (Part I of this report is here.)
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apogee guys
At the Apogee booth, Brian Zarlenga and Sean McArthur were showing the Symphony production system and Big Ben master clock that’s proven popular in both live and studio applications. (See our Photo Gallery from Winter NAMM '09.)

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One of the more interesting things at Winter NAMM 2009: three major microphone manufacturers to customers to order their own “custom look” versions of popular microphone models.

And why not? Not every single innovation needs to be “high tech” to be useful, creative, productive, etc.

I’m referring to the Audix Camo Series, the Sennheiser Chrome Customized Series and beyerdynamic M(y)88 Program.

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Sennheiser customized mics - pretty cool.

Obviously these vary in scope and the products they apply to, but the bottom line is customers getting more choices.

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That’s a good thing.

Another microphone company creating a stir was Shure with its new PG27USB and PG42USB microphones that connect to any USB computer port. Both are cardioid condensers with built-in headphone monitoring and monitor mix control.

The PG27USB offers a flat, neutral frequency response, while the PG42USB is engineered to reproduce the subtle nuances of lead vocals.

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John Born, Shure Technical Training Specialist, providing the tour of Shure’s new USB options.

Perhaps best of all, Shure also introduced the X2u XLR-to-USB signal adapter that connects any XLR microphone to a computer, and is compatible with Windows and Mac (more here).

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Life’s always a little more fun when you encounter Dave Rat, and I had that good fortune at the show. We went outside the convention center for a few minutes and talked about his investment in a new, substantive L-ACOUSTICS K1/KUDO rig (more about that here), and I wanted to know his thought process in making such a large investment at such a rocky economic time.

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Does this guy ever get down?

“I started seeing the economic slowdown coming over a year ago,” Dave told me. “I could see it emerging in our work with customers, and as we engaged with them. Albeit, it was subtle - but very real - in my estimation. So I started adjusting our business in several ways last February, in preparation, and that put us in a good position to now make this investment.

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“To my way of thinking,” he continued, “you don’t want to do what the competition is doing. So if they’re downsizing right now, I want to be doing the opposite. Particularly if it’s in what I see as a smart direction, which in this case, is offering our customer base what I consider to be some of the truly great audio technology ever developed to this point.” (By the way, next week we’ll be featuring a video “introduction” of this new system, as well as further commentary about it from Dave.)

He’d been checking things out around the show floor, and noted that his pick for product of the show is the new Neutrik ConvertCON, the industry’s first unisex XLR connector. (Read more about it here.) He explained that it will save he and his crew miles of walking when hooking up huge systems, and for that, all of their feet say a big thank you.

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Above, Karl at the booth, and below, Ricky Phillips stopped by to talk and sign autographs.

Back on the floor, the positive vibe continued as I stopped by the Lectrosonics booth to catch up with Karl Winkler. He was showing the wide range of excellent Lectrosonic wireless gear, including some guitar/instrument systems that have hit the market the past couple of years.

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I had the opportunity a few years ago to visit the Lectrosonics facilities in New Mexico, and it’s quite an operation. Great people, exceptional product, and it’s all built here in the USA. Of note, Lectrosonics has recently added wireless systems utilizing three blocks at the lower end of the spectrum (blocks 470, 19 and 20), so the spectrum being lost at the high range can be compensated for on the low end.

Karl does some writing for Live Sound magazine that we’re now featuring here on PSW. (Read recent articles by Karl here and here.)

Also at the Lectro booth, Ricky Phillips, who currently plays with Styx and has been with the Babys and Bad English, among others, stopped by to pose for photos, sign autographs and chat with visitors.

Waves Audio continues to take its expertise to the live realm, announcing at the show the formation of the Waves Live Division, a dedicated branch addressing the current and future needs of the live sound market sector.

The company has a new Live Division website (www.waveslive.com), and released a load of Waves TDM plug-in bundles that run on Digidesign Venue consoles using the Waves D-Show Enabler. And, currently Waves has more than 50 processors for the Venue, a number that’s sure to grow. (Read more about it here.)

Waves was very busy overall, debuting a wide range of other products like the the Tony Maserati Collection (read about it here) of application-specific plug-ins, expanding its Durrough Meter Collection with a Surround Edition (read about it here), and much more.

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Peggy Blaze of Euphonix with PSW Sales Manager Mark Shemet

Next up was a great stop at the Euphonix booth, where I talked with Peggy Blaze about the company’s MC Control and MC Mix media controllers, which are seeing very good success.

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Euphonix also announced at the show that Metric Halo is now supporting the EuCon Control Protocol. (Read about it here.)

We’ll also soon be featuring videos here on PSW profiling recording professionals using the Euphonix System 5-MC and MC Pro.

I ran into long-time friend Greg McVeigh in one of the aisles, and he told me about some new drum mic packages that Heil Sound brought to the show. Later, I overheard a couple/few positive comments about these mics, so it looks like Heil has something good.

Three packages are available - HDK-8 Primo, the HDK-7 and the HDK-5 - and all are made up of flagship Heil microphones to meet the given application and wishes of the user. Read more about it here.

At QSC, I spoke with Evan MacKenzie about a wide range of topics, and was a bit surprised when he mentioned that it’s the company’s 40th anniversary. Intellectually, I know the company’s been around that long, but the upbeat outlook and the constant stream of new technologies that come out of Costa Mesa must make them seem more youthful - at least in my mind.

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Joe Estrick shows a new QSC CSM Series monitor wedge

And anyway, as someone who’s well past the 40 mark, I really shouldn’t be pointing out the age of anyone/anything else…

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I also checked out QSC’s new CSM Series of stage monitors. It includes three models: the CSM10, CSM12, and CSM15, and as the model numbers in the product group imply, they are respectively equipped with 10, 12, and 15-inch woofers.

All feature a user-adjustable pattern control of the high frequency section, which facilitates changes in the vertical plane from asymmetrical coverage spanning a total of 100 degrees to a fully symmetrical 150 degrees. Read more about it here.

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Roland Systems has been doing some very interesting things with digital snake and transport systems for several years now, and also shared info off the record about a huge new development that we’ll be able to announce this coming Monday (2/1). It’s a pretty big scoop, so check back.

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Rob Read and Jeremy Engel (pictured right) provided the heads-up at the Roland Systems booth, where they were also showing a wide range of products like the V-Mixing System, digital snakes, recorders and much more.

Peavey keeps moving steadily forward, as I found with a tour of numerous new technologies and products hosted by Mixer Engineer Tom Stuckman.

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Tom with the new XR Series mixers at the Peavey booth

Of particular note is the new Peavey XR Series powered-mixer line, the XR 1220 console and rack-mountable XR 1212.

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Both of these new mixers incorporate a mind-boggling number of Peavey technologies and extensive digital signal processing. They’ve also got Peavey’s proprietary Feedback Ferrit, a feedback eliminator, which I’ve seen work really effectively. Plus I like to the word Ferrit… (Read more about XR Series here.)

I’ve always enjoyed talking with the folks at TC Electronic, and they’ve consistently come out with interesting, useful gear. This time out proved no exception.

At NAMM, they introduced a number of musician-oriented products, as well as three new plug-in bundles - ‘Production’, ‘Mastering’ and ‘Studio Complete’ - which offer registered Pro Tools|HD owners significant savings on nine of the most popular plug-ins from TC Electronic, TC-Helicon and Tube-Tech.

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This lady is a monster bass player…

I also had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Alexander, the new CEO of TC Helicon, who showed me the new VocalLive 2 vocal processor. (Read more about it here.) We also had a great discussion about vocal processing in general, and how it’s now “come out of the closet” - in other words, it used to be that artists didn’t want it known when they were using a vocal processor; now, it’s often just the opposite.

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TC also had daily performances by “BASSIDA” a.k.a. Ida Funkhauser (pictured right), an outstanding electric bassist, and she was using the new TC rh450, also known as “bass amp 2.0”. It addresses a lot of key issues for bass players, and in fact, was awarded “most outstanding design” by Bass Gear magazine.

So much to talk about, so little time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour around the 2009 Winter NAMM Show; I know I enjoyed my time there.

As always, feel free to send me your comments (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), or post them here with the article.

And be sure to check out our other 2009 Winter NAMM coverage:

- Photo Gallery From Winter NAMM 2009
- Recording Gear Hits At Winter NAMM (By Barry Rudolph)
- A Deep Well Of New Products At Winter NAMM, Part I (Keith Clark)
- NAMMservations; Or How I Went NAMM And Learned About Drum Stick Free Zones (Fletcher)
- “What Me Worry?” The Fun That Was Winter NAMM (Blog Post, Keith Clark)
- PSW Winter NAMM 2009 Host Page; New Product Listings


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