The annual National Association of Music Merchants (or NAMM) Trade Show tends to evoke a good amount of excitement among music industry gear heads, and 2018 was no exception. Here we look at nine of the most notable such releases from this year's show.
Guest post by Rory Seydel of Landr
Every year the gear announcements at the National Association of Music Merchants Trade Show (NAMM) are cause for a lot of bank balance check-ins and daydreams of new sounds floating through your studio.
NAMM 2018, of course, did it again. The amount of new gear released by top companies across music is enough to make you start thinking about a bigger desk.
With so many new releases, it’s hard to keep up with everything. So here’s some highlights to keep an eye on from the show—hint: start saving now.
Empress Effects Zoia
The Empress Effects Zoia is ‘technically’ a multi-effects pedal. But that’s not really the whole story here as this pedal does much, much more.
Empress describes the pedal as a “multi-thing” which is perhaps a better descriptor for this truly unique unit.
The Zoia allows you to set up various modules to create a whole universe of unique sounds and signal flows in one compact box.
The specifics of the Zoia are still a bit of a mystery, but it seems like the Zoia is going to be a little bit of everything—from modular synth to pedal board and more as they continue to add modules.
All said, the Zoia is the best kind of head-scratcher that takes production out of the box and into a tactile and intuitive unit capable of infinite creative possibilities.
Teenage Engineering PO Metal Series
No NAMM would be complete without something new and truly innovative from Teenage Engineering.
The Speak and the K.O! are the 2 newer additions, and both include a microphone and sample memory that really expands the capabilities of what the POs can do.
Our fave has to be the PO-33 K.O! Watch it in action below:
It’s a polyphonic FM synth that simplifies the often complex world of FM synthesis. It includes 4 tracks for the internal FM synth engine, and 4 MIDI tracks.
The Digitone also includes a powerful sequencer which provides capabilities like polyphonic sequencing, parameter locking and an arpeggiator for every track.
Onboard effects (Panoramic Chorus, Saturator Delay and Supervoid Reverb) make the Digitone and all-in-one fun box, or the perfect companion for your home studio setup. Glance below:
Alesis Command Mesh
Alesis unveiled the Command Mesh 8 piece drum kit that brings some interesting and affordable innovation to the electric kit market.
The Digitone is a polyphonic FM synth that simplifies the often complex world of FM synthesis.
The 8-piece command features Alesis’ patented mesh snare and mesh kick in addition to two 9” dual-zone rack toms, an 11” dual-zone floor tom, a 10” ride cymbal, a 10” hi-hat with pedal and a 10” crash.
The Command module comes packed with 600 sounds, 60 play-along tracks, 50 factory kits and 20 assignable user kits.
There’s also USB and MIDI ports that let you assign samples to any zone and build out your own kits, or trigger sounds from your DAW.
Arturia MiniBrute 2 EcoSystem
Arturia improved on their already massively popular MiniBrute with the introduction of the MiniBrute 2, MiniBrute 2S, and RackBrute 3U/6U EcoSystem
The MiniBrute 2 adds a modular patch bay giving it tons more modulation potential.
The 2S reimagines the MiniBrute workflow by adding a powerful “triple-layered step sequencer” and mod matrix patch bay for further tweaking.
The RackBrute 3U and 6U provide 2 different sized Eurorack housings to support and integrate all your modular units with the rest of the MiniBrute EcoSystem.
The 2-oscillator desktop box includes 56-point patch bay and onboard delay and overdrive.
Overall it looks like a nice, compact and intuitive semi-modular synth capable of the rich sound only analog can provide—all housed in a handsome scarlet red.
This year, Korg added to the ‘Logue family with the flagship Prologue, the most full-featured and powerful synth in the series thus far.
The Prologue comes in a 49-key 8-voice version in addition to the larger 61-key 16 voice version, both of which are capable of providing the full and rich analog sound that’s to be expected from an analog synth in this range.
But perhaps the most exciting feature included with the Prologue is the open API and Software Development Kit “that allows developers to program, customize and extend the capabilities of the multi-engine and digital effects” for maximum flexibility—inside and out.
Epic demo video alert…
Eurorack was a common theme at this years NAMM, and Strymon (better known for their audio effects pedals) made their own entrance into the Eurorack format with the introduction of the Magneto: a “stereo multi-head tape delay that also functions as a looper, phrase sampler, vintage spring reverb, phase-aligned clock multiplier, chaotic oscillator, zero latency sub-oscillator and more.”
The move to Eurorack makes sense for Strymon as many of their pedals were already heavily used in many Eurorack setups.
Overall, seeing a pedal company move into a new format based on how musicians use their existing products is a nice nod to the ingenuity and creativity of musicians, and how companies can positively respond to the needs of sound tinkerer’s. On that note, the Magneto simply makes sense for everyone!
Watch the short doc below with some interesting insights into the development:
Mixing hardware and software is pretty much the norm these days for producers of all skill levels. Which is why your audio interface is so important for those AD/DA conversions.
Audient has already built a firm reputation as a leader in the interface market with the rest of their iD series. The iD44 takes the iD family a little further by providing an interface capable of tracking bigger sessions with a fuller suite of features.
Watch below for a full rundown of the iD44:
The NAMM Effect
NAMM 2018 showcased the infinite potential of future music gear while also highlighting the importance of improving on what’s already been made.
Either way, seeing new gear and thinking of the what-ifs is always a nice way to assess your workflow…
Is it time for a new piece?
Rory Seydel is a musician, writer and father who takes pleasure in touring the world and making records. Creative Director at LANDR.