By: Fredwill Hernandez
The National Association of Music Merchants [NAMM], kicked off its 116th NAMM show, on Thur. – Jan. 24, running through Sun.- Jan 28, , at the Anaheim Convention Center. Among companies eager to engage, demonstrate, and [or] also unveil new products [instruments] were Korg, Sennheiser, Neumann, Mackie, Gvido, Universal Audio, MXL, SPL, Shure, Gemini, and Hosa Technology, among a multitude of others.
With so much to see, one must decide which instruments, new products, or which booth or activity to attend. As I made my rounds, I stopped at the Hosa Technology booth.
“This year at NAMM were unveiling the Knucklebones [that resemble a Jacks game piece] as the latest addition to our lineup of connectivity solutions for modular synthesizers. The new Hosa Knucklebones are small, standalone mults that enable Eurorack modular synth players to take a single outbound signal to five different inputs at the same time,” explained Kyle Lassegard, Marketing Manager, Hosa Technology.
Another company who always has a strong presence at the show NAMM is Eventide, this year unveiling the very impressive H9000 effects processor, “android support” for the H9 Harmonizer effects processor stomp box through an app, and also the powerMax, which delivers an unprecedented 38.4 Watts of power capable of powering up to seven high current pedals, each switchable to 9, 12, 15, or 18V plus a USB output to power your smart phone or tablet.
“The H9000 is capable of doing multiple effects on one instrument or you can have multiple instrument’s effect each of those, there’s 32 channels possible and you can route any of those 32 channels as separate sources or instruments into 16 different [DSP engines] effects algorithms in either parallel, series or a combinations of those, to create all sorts of [cool and unique] combinations that way,” eloquently explained Pete Bischoff, Product Specialist, Eventide.
As my day progressed I ended up at the Sennheiser, an exciting and popular booth at NAMM, and this year was no different, who among other things were unveiling the fourth generation of Sennheiser’s most popular series worldwide the Evolution Wireless G4 series and two brand-new XS Wireless 1 Dual Sets, both available from April .
With the G4, Sennheiser added several additional sets: a 100 series combo set (handheld and clip-on microphone), a completely new 500 series for large film shoots, and new basic sets for the 300 series, perfect for either business and education that make it affordable for you to supplement your system as you see fit. It provides up to 300 feet [100 meters] of perfect sound, up to 50 mW of transmission power (300 and 500 series), feedback-proof microphone capsules – that provides absolute transmission reliability.
“With evolution wireless G4, we have built on the extremely rich feature set of the G3 series, expanding its capabilities even further, while still maintaining the compelling pricing of the preceding generation. Many user-inspired improvements have been included, and all systems will be fully compatible with all previous evolution wireless generations, safeguarding our customers’ investments,” explained Dennis Stegemerten, product manager for evolution wireless G4 in communication released through the show.
At the booth, Sennheiser had the XS Wireless 1 with the addition of a new two-channel receiver, the EM-XSW 1 Dual. The receiver will be available separately or as part of two XSW 1 Dual sets that combine it with two wireless microphones using either the e 825 or e 835 capsule.
Sennheiser also showcased upgrades to its acclaimed Digital 6000 wireless microphone system, as well as to their AMBEO portfolio.
According to Sennheiser, a free firmware update for all EM 6000 receivers enables a Command function that lets users set up a talkback channel with suitable transmitters. In addition, the EM 6000 DANTE has been upgraded to now feature a secondary Dante port. The secondary Dante port on the new EM 6000 DANTE receiver further increases reliability by enabling the operation of a redundant network. The port can alternatively be used to daisy-chain several receivers. Early adopters of the Digital 6000 DANTE that prefer a Dante-type receiver with two ports can take benefit of a Sennheiser’s swap service. They are asked to contact their local Sennheiser sales rep for more detailed information. The swap period starts on April 1 and ends on May 31, 2018.
Meanwhile leading studio microphone manufacturer Neumann was presenting a re-issue of the U 67, the quintessential [tube] studio workhorse of the 1960s.
About its history Neumann explains, on its launch in 1960, the U 67 was quickly adopted as the new studio standard because of its extraordinary versatility and sound quality. The U 67 was the first microphone equipped with the famous K 67 capsule, which has since become associated with “the Neumann sound” and continues to be used in its successor, the U 87 A. No less important is the U 67’s masterful tube circuit, which features a clever pre-emphasis/de-emphasis scheme to minimize tube hiss. The U 67 was also the first microphone to address modern recording techniques such as close miking, with its switchable low-cut filter compensating for the proximity effect occurring at short recording distances. Using its pre-attenuation, the U 67 can handle high sound pressure levels of up to 124 dB without distortion – and much more if users do not mind a bit of “tube grit”…
Sonically, the current re-issue is identical to the U 67 made from 1960 – 1971. It uses the same capsule and electronic design. Key parts, such as the BV 12 output transformer, have been meticulously reproduced according to original documentation. Its EF86 tubes have been carefully selected in a dedicated measurement facility for optimal characteristics and lowest noise.
Korg, is also another exciting and popular booth at NAMM, and this year was no different, who among other things were unveiling the impressive monophonic analogue synthesizer Prologue, a fully-programmable, full-featured, professional synthesizer. Preceded by the four-voice polyphonic minilogue, and the monophonic monologue, it’s [Korg’s] long awaited debut of the: prologue [flagship].
The polyphonic analog synthesizer is equipped with a full-sized keyboard, with a powerful analog circuits that are descended directly from earlier models of the series, together with a newly developed digital multi-engine and gorgeous DSP-based affects, prologue expands the variety of sounds and the possibilities of the user customization. The line-up is comprised of two models that cover musicians’ needs for not only stage use, but also studio, home, or touring use: 16 voice 61-key prologue-16, or the eight-voice 49-key prologue-8. These instruments are capable of sounds that [according to Korg] go beyond existing analog synthesizers.
As I walked through the show floor, I ended looking at instruments used by [predominately] Latin artists from KHS America, their colorful Anacleto [Hohner] accordions, and H. Jimenes “Colección Palomazo” which consist of six bajo quinto’s showcased during NAMM last year, but were ready for customers this year. Their accordions and bajo quinto’s are very popular among musicians, especially within Regional Mexican genre and [veteran] acts such as Los Tucanes de Tijuana, or [newcomers] like Lizzeth Olivo, who is [also] a Hohner [Accordion’s] female singer/songwriter endorsed artist and was at the booth bringing the accordion’s to life.
“I have been playing Hohner Accordions ever since I was ten years old. The first accordion I played was a [Hohner] Corona II, I began playing a Hohner and have always played Hohner’s, so there’s that brand loyalty aspect of it,” explained Olivo. “I met Gilberto [Reyes, Jr.], Latin Instrument Business Manager, Honner [KHS America], through my uncle Juan Olivo, who is also a musician, they’ve known each other for quite awhile. I come from a family of musicians, my other uncle Lupe [Olivo] was the original saxophone player for [Regional Mexican act] Los Tigres Del Norte, who played on classic songs like “La Puerta Negra” [Spanish for “The Black Door”]. I compose and sing and I recently recorded an album as a solo artist, I also penned four of the album’s twelve songs, and I’m currently promoting the song titled “Al 100%.” When I found out Hohner was going to be here, I wanted to stop by. I was here [at NAMM] last year, so I wanted to stop by and check out the new accordions, like the new [Hohner] El Italiano, so since I’m here, and with Hohner’s permission, I thought It would be cool for me to demonstrate how they sound.”
As my journey through the show floor continued, I stumbled on some [not new, but] unique bass guitars known as U Bass[es] made by Kala Brand Music Co., that caught my attention which I can describe as “having the best of both worlds.”
“Even though these 21 in. scale U Basses have been around since 2008, for 2018 we have revamped the Wanderer, Passenger, and Journeyman [models] which now come updated and equipped with a GraphTech TUSQ® nut, Hipshot Ultralite™ tuners, and a Shadow® U Bass NFX preamp with EQ and built-in tuner. The Striped Ebony U Bass will also be available in fretted and fretless models with Road Toad Pahoehoe strings, the fretted model will also be available with optional Kala Round Wound strings,” eloquently explained Joy Cafiero, Marketing Director, Kala [Brand Music Co]. “The Shadow® U Bass NFX preamp with EQ and built-in tuner not only senses and responds to string vibrations, but it also senses the vibration of the instrument’s body simultaneously. The 100 percent hum free and noise free preamp lends to the classic, clean, and upright tone players come to love from our U Bass[es].”