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Coolest (to me) things at NAMM
Old 27th January 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Coolest (to me) things at NAMM

1. Focal Trio 11 Be. These were really spectacular. $8k for a pair is spendy, but these would definitely be at the top of my list in that price range.

2. CLA MixHub. This gets me excited about the future of plugins. It's been great to see so many companies working on plugin workflow and coming out with great products. From Softube's Console 1 to Slate's Raven and so on, companies are really innovating so that those mixing in a sub-$1M studio can have not only amazing tools but a great workflow. I think the CLA MixHub is a big step forward for plugin workflow. I know it's not perfect (the MixHub thread identifies some shortcomings), but this is a really cool step forward in many ways. I look forward to Waves and other companies doing things like this with other plugins.

3. In-ear monitors. There weren't any breakthrough technologies announced, but it's amazing how far this technology has come in the last decade. I was sufficiently impressed that I sprung for a pair today.

It's always fun to see the guitars, amps, and PA systems, etc., but they tend to be awfully similar to the guitars, amps, PAs, etc. in prior years. These three things were the things I got excited about.
Old 27th January 2019
  #2
Here for the gear
Coolest Things at NAMM2019

It was definitely about AI and Blockchain/AI.

Then, I was superbly amazed with the some innovations in some new synths like Pigments by Arturia and especially the update for Omnisphere 2.6 as well as several unique updates, like the String Studio 3 synth by Eric Thibeault of AAS.

AAS has built loads of libraries and great solid reputation with its products but you have to buy into the deal to really get the full effect - I am strongly recommending to check it out.

I loved the Korg Prologue and I own a gold Kronos so all good on the home front. Roland's drum machines (TR8) beat (pun intended) everyone.

It would have been good for Moog to create a single display with all synths from old to new and I did miss seeing the Bowen Solaris *its new OS is kickass* and the inimitable Stefan Schmidt with his 8-voice poly.

What I missed was the high end gear:

1) What happened to the CMI II clone? Of course, its now an ipad app
2) What happened to Fairlight?
3) Where is the real advancement in synths (okay, I have to admit Waldorf Quantum does qualify).

The I guess there is gear that never sees the light of day at NAMM

1) Symbolic Sounds Kyma - a simply amazing system
2) Vintage High End Keyboards (maybe a special section in upcoming years?)
3) A historic progression of all know drum machines


Feedback welcome!
Old 27th January 2019
  #3
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laser's Avatar
 

Hey GM

What was it about Omnisphere 2.6 that warranted superb amazement (being that I couldn't make the show this year and that I use 2.5 religiously)?

Laser
Old 28th January 2019
  #4
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charlieclouser's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by galaxiesmerge View Post
1) What happened to the CMI II clone? Of course, its now an ipad app
2) What happened to Fairlight?
3) Where is the real advancement in synths (okay, I have to admit Waldorf Quantum does qualify).

The I guess there is gear that never sees the light of day at NAMM

1) Symbolic Sounds Kyma - a simply amazing system
2) Vintage High End Keyboards (maybe a special section in upcoming years?)
3) A historic progression of all know drum machines


Feedback welcome!
1= CMI-30a a few were made, Deadmau5 has one I think.

2 = Fairlight was bought by BlackMagic Design. Their large post console / audio workstation was on demo in the BlackMagic booth with both Fairlight and BlackMagic logos on the front and the slick all-OLED qwerty keyboard that changes icons to match the task. But since many years Fairlight has been a post company with no real connection to Peter Vogel's groundbreaking CMI instruments. The iPad app and the CMI-30a were products of Peter Vogel Inc., who were not there that I saw. But Cameron from NED had an actual Synclavier iPad app (just the FM and additive synths, no audio sampling stuff) and.. dang. Two iPads, one running Vogel CMI and one running Synclav? What a time to be alive.

3 = Waldorf Quantum does qualify, and then some. It is a BAD mofo. At times the UI feels a bit clumsy / complicated when you're touch-screening it, but dang it's got the goods. Capable of things I've never heard before (and that's saying a lot). The new Kernel mode for the oscillators was installed and working on the demo unit I played, and it goes DEEP. Sort of a 6-operator algorithm per oscillator. Wild. It is the top of the top shelf of hardware synths for sure. I also played Kyra and it's definitely the successor to the super-saw throne that the Virus built and owned for almost two decades. Trance-heads have a new champion. Something like 1024 oscillators, each with 32x super-saws? Nuts. Capable of what you'd expect but oh so much more. Really great sounding, but not going too far off the VA road, which keeps it out of Quantum territory. Between the two you're covered.

Symbolic Kyma is a bit of a tragic tale. World-beating functionality, 10-15 years ahead of anything else, but hampered by outdated / discontinued DSP chips / architecture, and obtuse UI. My glutton-for-punishment buddy who still rocks Synclaviers had a PacaRana-based Kyma system for a while about five years ago and this guy knows, I mean really KNOWS what the heck he's doing, and can put up with the most punishing, arcane, and complex systems - and after a while he just couldn't take it anymore. So he sold it. But we all recognize they were the first and best at a lot of things. Their audio morphing still amazes. They are still around and still bringing new features to the table, and still very relevant in the upper stratosphere of cinematic sound design - but for civilians and musicians it's just a little bit too much of a time-vampire wormhole. But still it can do things that simply cannot be done any other way.

My favorite things at NAMM 2019 were:

- Expressive-e Touché and Arché combination - that is shockingly useful for those of us who are in too much of a hurry to bother a real violinist to come over to record one little tremolo part. Amazing things can be done. Watch the demo and you'll be hitting "add to cart".

- Sensel Morph. Like a ten-inch, multi-touch, pressure-sensitive trackpad. Rechargeable battery, no moving parts, Apple-level build quality and industrial design, USB and/or BlueTooth MIDI, and interchangeable rubber overlays including keyboards, drum pads, authorized Buchla Thunder surface, and even the ability to design and print out your own surface templates. Perfectly calibrated, wickedly sensitive, nicely priced. Another add-to-cart moment.

- Black Corporation Xerxes which is an Elka Synthex clone. I went in there wanting to play Deckard's Dream again to see if I liked it any better than I did last year, but I didn't. Still sounds like a home organ to me. (Sorry, CS-80 fans). Their Poly-Kobol clone also didn't rub me the right way. But the Xerxes - holy crap. I never gave much thought to a Synthex but the Xerxes made some sounds that I loved. Real-deal analog, wicked filters, wickedly buzzy squares and saws, and of course MPE and poly aftertouch. Surprised me. Maybe not add-to-cart, but definitely worth a listen.

- The Genelec Atmos demo was great - at least the track by Crystal Method was. Got dang it but Scott laid down a track with the juiciest subs, the most bad-ass slow beat, and these Arp 2600 filter-mod noises that were flying around the room in Atmos and I've still got that track stuck in my head. Really made that dishwasher-sized 7380 sub work for a living, and it sounded so satisfying. Everything below my waist was jingling. The coaxial "Ones" were deployed - three 8351 across the front, four 8341 on the sides and rears, and four 8331 on the ceiling. It sounded great. But due to the program material I couldn't judge overhang on the subs, and whether they were stopping on a dime like you want them to. But the horsepower is definitely there, and the point-source / coaxial thing works - for me anyway. Another smaller demo rig had a pair of 8331 playing mono program material and the phantom center from them was unbeatable - even when you put your head above the meter bridge, almost behind the plane of the speakers, the sound was still in front of you dead center. 8351 LCR + 8341 LsRs + 7380 + GLM + SAM are at the top of my list.

- The PMC Atmos demo was... good but not great. I've heard Tommy Lee's BB6 stacks at his studio and got dang it they sound great in his room. Power and thump and clarity for days, but no pain. The PMC Atmos room had like $140k worth of speakers in there, I think in the full 22.2 configuration. I think they were BB6's across the LCR and some new wall-mount Atmos speakers on the sides and tops - and I don't know which subs. It sounded a little... skanky at 2k-4k. Not exactly harsh, but not as smooth as the Genelec coaxial setup. They had these tracks that were Jay-Z /Public Enemy / Beach Boys vs Royal Philharmonic Orchestra or some such, and those were... interesting. BUT. Greg Penny's Atmos mix of Elton's Rocket Man, with no added orchestra or other crap, sounded HOLY JEEZUS amazing. Elton's voice front and center, the piano creeping around to the sides a little, and when the BV "ooohs" come in all around you it's serious goosebumps time. Like bring-you-to-tears beautiful. Then those guitar bends travel upwards in space from eye level to above your head and fade out into the sky into reverb. Best use of vertical dimension in Atmos I've ever heard. Stupid good. But then again it's Greg Penny who has mixed a lot of Elton's stuff in surround, so.... no wonder it's good. Although he mixes on Dynaudio AIR-6 at his place in Atmos. Another AIR orphan, like me.

- The Ocean Way booth. Allen freaking Sides himself standing there, in person, flogging speakers on the show floor. Kind of like back in the day seeing Bob Moog in the Big Briar booth asking, "Can I show you our new products?" Wild. So I sat down to give respect to Mr. Hi Fidelity and then he cranked up the bigs and.... DAMN. I mean, I've worked at Ocean Way a few times back in the day, and even on the show floor I was hearing bigs like I remember BIGS. Of course all of his demo tracks were recorded at Ocean Way (duh) and the transients... I've never heard 'em so crisp, with so much lack of overhang (if that's the right word?) and the bottom. Oh god the bottom. So clear, so tight, so so low. Down to 25 he said, even in free-field. So juicy. The best I heard. No hang time. Bottom stopped on a dime. I think it's all bespoke drivers, with cast baskets, massive magnets, aluminum mids and tweets. Bespoke amps too I think, they had Ocean Way logos anyway. I realize it's on the show floor, but imagine what they sound like in the soffits in a built room. I had never given them a second look until today. And the price is way below Westlakes, Augspurgers, big Dynaudios or PMCs. Like, WAY below. Destroyed the JBL M2's I auditioned a while back. He was across the way from Barefoot, who use what seems like a dozen drivers to do what he does with three. And he's louder by a large margin. And those horns... they look funky, but the off-axis is sick. Wander around the room and you're still in the zone. Phantom center hard as a rock. Even the little two-way trapezoid-looking things sounded way juicy for near-fields. They are no joke. Worth a serious look for sure. Took me totally by surprise. Right after that I went across to Barefoot and confirmed what I just heard. Haven't heard the other heavy-hitter bigs in a while, but....it's all horses for courses (of course), but the Ocean Way HR 3.5, HR 4(s), and even the little Pro2A's did impress me. I liked 'em all.

It's a great time to be in the market for speakers. Unless you're indecisive!

Last edited by charlieclouser; 28th January 2019 at 09:28 AM..
Old 28th January 2019
  #5
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cheu78's Avatar
No words on the new inward connection roots console?
Looks like they have upgraded it..



Cheu
Old 28th January 2019
  #6
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by laser View Post
Hey GM

What was it about Omnisphere 2.6 that warranted superb amazement (being that I couldn't make the show this year and that I use 2.5 religiously)?

Laser
I loved the automation/control arpeggiator update.
Old 13th February 2019
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
- The Ocean Way booth. ... I've never heard 'em so crisp, with so much lack of overhang (if that's the right word?) and the bottom. Oh god the bottom. So clear, so tight, so so low. Down to 25 he said, even in free-field. So juicy. The best I heard. No hang time. Bottom stopped on a dime. I think it's all bespoke drivers, with cast baskets, massive magnets, aluminum mids and tweets. Bespoke amps too I think, they had Ocean Way logos anyway.
What speakers are you referring to in specific? The HR 3.5?
Old 13th February 2019
  #8
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charlieclouser's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari88 View Post
What speakers are you referring to in specific? The HR 3.5?
Yes, the HR 3.5 were the ones that impressed me the most with smooth, deep, tight low end, and were the ones I briefly spoke with Allen about where he mentioned the 25hz figure.

All of the models I heard had a very similar tonal balance, even the little trapezoid-shaped Pro2 models. But the big HR 3.5's were definitely the loudest and seemed to not be even putting any effort into sounding great at the volume levels permitted on the show floor.
Old 13th February 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieclouser View Post
Yes, the HR 3.5
Thanks. I'm curious to hear these. I'm a big fan of the JBL M2 and its small brother the 7 series because of their incredible dynamic response which is important for film work. So it's interesting to hear you comparing it to the M2.
Old 14th February 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
 
charlieclouser's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari88 View Post
Thanks. I'm curious to hear these. I'm a big fan of the JBL M2 and its small brother the 7 series because of their incredible dynamic response which is important for film work. So it's interesting to hear you comparing it to the M2.
Well, with M2 and the 7 series in a film mix situation you've got options like the Intonato system, etc. and it really seems like the Ocean Way stuff is aimed at people making records in stereo like the old days. As good as they sounded, for my application I need surround, calibration, and all the mod cons, so I wasn't walking out with a pair. But for guys building stereo rooms they are worth a listen for sure.
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