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The Official Mike Greene NAMM Report! The 2013 Edition!
Old 1st February 2013
Gear Maniac
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The Official Mike Greene NAMM Report! The 2013 Edition!

There have been all sorts of posts this year about the NAMM show with all sorts of discussion about this and that. But the question that's still on everyone's mind is, "But what does Mike Greene think?" Well, wonder no more, because here are my impressions of this year's show.

Synths, Synths, Synths! - Yeah, you're probably thinking I'm going to yack about the new Moog or the Korg MS-20 or the Prophet 12. They're are all really cool, mind you, and it was great that Moog and Dave Smith (Prophet) were right next to each other. I got a chance to play these and they're great. A definite highlight.

But they've been talked about to death already. Besides, I already have a Prophet 5 (which I guess is only 42% as good as a Prophet 12) and a MiniMoog and Memory Moog (which for some reason don't sound at all alike) and a couple Korgs. (Feel free to hate me, because I bought them all really cheap when "digital" was all the rage.)

So the synths I'm talking about here are more along the lines of what makes going to NAMM so much fun. Discovering hidden gems. There was an entire row downstairs of these upstart synth guys. They all chipped in with each other and got a long booth where they could show their latest inventions. (Click for picture) Tough to find, (the farthest corner of Hall E downstairs,) but what a treat. This is why a thorough visit to Hall E is mandatory, even if all your friends whine that "there's nothing interesting." (Never trust your idiot friends. If they didn't warn you that that girl you were hitting on that night had an Adam's apple, then can they be trusted for reliable NAMM information?)

Schmidt 8-Voice - One of these Booth 1170 synths was a cool looking knobfest called the Schmidt 8-voice. Apparently this was a synth this guy built just for fun. But literally by popular demand, he's going to make a short run of them for sale. Only $19k. Juuuuuust a little out of my price range (my Oberheim OBXa cost me $180,) but I predict we're going to be hearing about this synth.

The rest of Hall E was fun, but nothing remarkable. The usual Telefunken mics (I don't know why they're still in Hall E) and ukuleles and some other cool stuff, but other than the synth guys, no real wow moments. So are you ready to head upstairs? Good, because it's time we visit the highlight of the show:

Realitone - Is it just me, or does Mike Greene get better looking every year? (Answer = Yes!) For those who made their way through the usual throngs of women surrounding the Realitone booth, they were treated to an actual release of Realivox! You see, after many embarrassing years of living up to (or rather, living down to) the NAMM acronym (Not Available, Maybe March,) Realivox - The Ladies has finally been released. And what a triumphant release it is! Five solo singers, each more amazing than the other, each doing 30 articulations selectable via keyswitches with full legato. And only $295??? Seriously, you should get over to Realitone immediately and buy it before the web servers run out of electrons trying to fill all the demand.

Guitars by Sampleholics - Bear with me on this, because this is going to sound crazy. Guitars by Sampleholics is a collection of four guitars (Strat, Les Paul, Schecter Blackjack and an Acoustic) as well as a Bass that are playable on . . . wait for it . . . Stylus RMX. Why Stylus, you might ask? Because as I was making Acoustic Kits for Stylus RMX, I noticed Stylus had really good effects including . . . guitar amps! I figured it wouldn't be too hard to do a guitar collection as well so I could take advantage of these amps and effects. I dare say it came out pretty damn good. We even give you presets so you don't have to be an expert on guitars to get some gnarly tones. Check out the Sonic State video and you'll see what I'm talking about. For now, it's only 20 bucks.

Waves and DiGiCo - Waves and DiGiCo won "Best in Show" for their collaborative hardware. I have no idea how that sort of thing gets decided, but I found this new association with DiGiCo very exciting. As the owner of two Platinum TDM licenses and dreading whatever it is I'm going to have to do as Avid moves completely to AAX (who wants to throw perfectly good 192's into the trash heap?), it looks like I have some great options. I'm not completely solid on the details and no doubt this has been discussed to death elsewhere, so I'll just say I really enjoyed my visit to this booth.

Digidesign . . . err, I mean Avid - Speaking of Waves, I'm still unclear what's happening with ProTools. I didn't get a chance to visit Avid, but I heard mumbling about PT11. Good thing I never upgraded to 10. Or even 9, for that matter. Mike is cheap. Did I mention I only paid $180 for my OBXa?

Interfaces and Controllers - One thing people often overlook when they come to NAMM is that NAMM is the perfect opportunity to hit a few booths and see what controllers or interfaces you might not have even known about. More than once I've played with something cool and asked, "So when is this coming out?" only to be told, "Uhhh, it's been out for a year and a half already." This is what I love about NAMM. Visit Korg (for instance) and I guarantee you'll see cool stuff you never knew existed. From this show, I saw US-366 and 322 interfaces from Tacam that looked cool.

Steven Slate - First off, I really like this guy. He has a true passion for this stuff and his tastes in artwork are similar to mine. (I still love that original graphic of the sexy waitress holding a platter of drums.) Steven was showing his Raven console, which I'm sure has been talked about to death. It's a huge touchscreen, but with software to make it work more intelligently with Pro Tools or Logic or whatever. I'm not normally a fan of virtual knobs, but I thought this one worked really well. I might snag the 27" one of the when it comes out this summer.

Acou6tics - This is an acoustic guitar library by Vir2, the same guys who made Electri6ity, which I have. (Great library, even though it doesn't use Stylus RMX amps like a certain other library I'm much too classy to mention.) It sounded really good, which is no surprise. the reason I mention it though, is that they were demoing it with a guy playing it on a keyboard and a girl singing. Which brings me to . . .

So You Got a Gig Playing at NAMM! - I felt bad for this poor girl. Here she is, undoubtedly excited to be here and singing her heart out . . . and no one's listening. Everyone's just walking by. Welcome to the reality of live music on the NAMM floor. Don't get me wrong, if you get a gig at the Hilton or Marriott, you're gonna have a great crowd. And granted, on the NAMM floor, there will be some people who will listen to you. But for the most part, it's a pretty jaded crowd, and none of us are starved for music. My assistant here had a couple gigs on Friday, one with a rock band on the Peavey stage. Really good band. And loud, which I like. All for the benefit of a dozen Peavey employees and a few friends like me. Open mic night at Hollindawall would bring a bigger crowd. Then his second gig was at the Sennheiser booth doing an acoustic set. Good singer. She really connected with her audience in a way that I thought she was singing just for me. Oh wait, she was singing just for me. Okay, maybe there were a few other people there, but you get the idea.

Take 6 at the Shure Booth - Okay, I'm rambling now, but was it just me, or was that an absolutely horrible mix? Seriously, what is it about 100hz that some mixers think needs to be boosted 20db? I love Take 6, by the way, but this was unlistenable. Good crowd though, in contradiction to what I wrote in the previous paragraph. Big names draw huge crowds. Even if the mix is horrible.

Playboy Jazz Festival - All right, now I'm reeeally off on a tangent. One bad thing about being an audio guy is that whenever I'm somewhere where the mix is bad, everyone looks at me and suggests I go "help" the mixer. (I'm not the only guy this happens to, right?) I explain to my wife or friends that the mixer probably hears the same problem(s) we're hearing and is doing what he can to fix it. And the last thing he wants is some bozo like me telling him he should put a compressor on the singer. (Even though the singer could really use some compression.) So I always leave the sound man alone.

So we're at the Jazz Festival last summer. My wife has an in, so we always get a box. (I love Hollywood.) We're watching some jazz quartet and the piano is completely inaudible. My wife does her usual, "You should say something to the sound man" and I do my usual "I'm sure he's got it, honey." But then I look over at the mixer (oh I forgot, the reason I mentioned we had a box is because we're close to the mixer) and he isn't doing anything. Just standing there like a doofus. So I dusted the potato chip crumbs off my shirt and walked over and said, "You know we're not hearing the piano, right?" He answered, "That's because he's not playing." I kinda looked at him a minute. Then pointed to the stage. He then realized he must have had a fader mixed up and eventually got the piano player into the mix.

So to anyone who was at the Jazz Festival that day, you're welcome. Sorry for the tangent, but the Take 6 thing kinda got me worked up.

Rob Papen - Okay, back to happy thoughts. I absolutely love this guy's synths and visiting his booth is always a treat. Nothing really new this year, although he's finishing a standalone dock (so you don't have to have a sequencer running) and he has a new book (with DVDs) on synthesis. I have no idea how someone could fill 200 pages on subtractive synthesis. Maybe he threw in some stories about Playboy Jazz Festival or something. Anyway, nothing groundbreaking as far as new product goes, but I mention Rob Papen because his synths really are so damn cool.

DJ Madness - I really should edit this "Official Report!" (with mandatory exclamation point!) better, because I meant to mention this as I talked about the girl singer at the Big Fish Acou6tics booth. But it's already Thursday as I'm writing this, so "good writing" will have to take a back seat. (Which it kinda does anyway whenever I'm writin' these things up.)

Anyway, in the next aisle over from this singer is a DJ scratching continuously for the supposed enjoyment of anyone walking by. So not only is the girl singing to people who are just walking by, but she has the additional accompaniment of wri-uh-wri-uh-zip-zip-whrrrr. Insult, meet injury. The poor people at IK Multimedia (my former neighbors) got to listen to this all day, because they were across an aisle from both. And to think they thought hearing the same Realivox demos over and over again was annoying . . .
Old 1st February 2013
Gear Addict

Love the wrap up as usual mike! Great seeing you again. So who ended up winning realivox?
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