Winter NAMM 2012 – UniqueSquared Awards
So, as we come to a close with our NAMM coverage, we feel a strange need to complete this in the time honored tradition of so many who have gone before us: with a crocked up awards ceremony! We aren’t wasting time trying to cull some kind of authoritative top ten either. This is a quickly slapped together list of things that made surprise impressions on us or just made us scratch our heads and say “oh… um… yeah.” You might say “um, whatever happened to awards shows with high standards?” We simply point to the Academy and shrug. Let’s present some awards with practically no prestige and definitely no monetary value!
The Gadget Most Resembling a Sex Toy Award:
Given the sordid history of the music biz, one would think this field was filled with contenders. Shockingly, no, it isn’t. So you can write it off to thoughtful design or even coincidence that the Redwave DJ “stickphone” for DJs was so oppressively phallic. I felt the strange need to pull out my ID before checking it out. If this thing doesn’t take off in the DJ market, it may live a second life being sold in bundles with “sensual massage oils.”
The Best New Face Award:
Keith McMillen instruments are having a hell of a debut. Crocked up or not, this list would be remiss if we didn’t mention just what a welcome addition they are on the floor. I’m not gonna lie, I’m always partial to any company that caters to me like they have done with the QuNeo. However, I have a funny feeling that this is just the start for a company that had such amazing success as a Kickstarter startup. I love seeing companies in this phase and then looking back on it a decade later. It’s easy to forget that so many names who are established now were the new kids only a decade ago. Remember those whippersnappers with that Ableton thing?
The Biggest Surprise by Established Manufacturer Award:
I am sure that even a quick browse of the coverage at NAMM reveals that this year DJ controllers were everywhere. The moment of confirmation for so many trends comes when Behringer releases their take. That moment has come for the DJ Controller. Behringer dropped a full line of CMD DJ controllers this year. The devices fill a comprehensive list of roles, with different pieces targeted at a number of DJ controllers available on the market today. These things look great and are liable to lead a revolution not necessarily typical of Behringer gear because… well… honestly, they just look pretty cool. We’re all eager to see just how well loved they are by the end of the year.
The Biggest Spectacle Most Likely to Make You Forget Your Name or Why You Came Here Award:
If you were at NAMM, you probably already know why Peavey are getting this award. Peavey’s booth was less a booth and more of a Bio Dome. Erected in the middle of the floor, this white, glass pane lined structure occupied so much space the air pressure changed when you went in. Contained inside was Peavey’s product line which seems to grow exponentially with each passing year. While they might not be the first stop name for every piece of gear you can think of, Peavey’s broad range of offerings fills a number of niches and does so well. From staple devices and PA equipment, to a line of strat-a-like guitars with Super Heroes printed on them, it was all here. Seriously, though, I’m not kidding, this was disorienting. I spent a good five minutes waiting for Willy Wonka to come take my golden ticket and lead me around.
The Holy Crap These Guys Have Their Act Together Award:
T.C. Electronics don’t have to impress anyone. Decades in the business making some of the finest effects processing units on the market set TC apart from so many companies who address effects as part of their all encompassing product ranges. The success of the Voice Live Touch was being followed up on by the new Voice Live Play and Voice Live Play GTX. Upon our arrival at the booth, we found out that they had just received USA Today’s nod for “Best Product at NAMM 2012.” The reason we found this out is that we were immediately met and ushered around by an eager, cheerful product rep. We didn’t have to even try, it was like she just appeared at our side, gave us the skinny and pointed us where we needed to be. This immediate assistance happened during a high volume period too. I don’t even know what was going on at the booth, but whatever it was had drawn an oppressively large crowd of people who were all hoisting cameras in the air, apparently seeing and hearing something that we just couldn’t.
The Blast From the Past Award:
While we are aware that the Keytar has seen a bit of a revival already from Roland’s Ax/Lucina releases in recent years, we are still tipping our hat to Alesis for this one. Among other things, I was charmed when Dan from Alesis approached the marketing of the device as a “cure for the sad keyboardist blues.” The accelerometer is also a pretty slick feature, and here Alesis have taken a gimmick from the past and added all new performance possibilities. I suppose we could call it the “blast from the past with a new spin” award. We aren’t going to though, because I already blew my long title credit on the “Biggest Spectacle Most Likely to Make you Forget Your Name or Why You Came Here.”
The Best iPod Dock Ever Award:
Let’s face it, iPods and all their devices have had an absurd focus on practicality and portability. I say, that crazy iPod is too dang tiny. I need something big… like car sized… so I can remember where I put my iPod. Well, Behringer are apparently eager to cater people as dumb as I am (so long as they have deep pockets.) That’s why I find the 8-foot wide, 4-foot tall, $30,000 iNuke Boom iPod dock to be the perfect product for these economic times. Imagine the kind of irritating of audiophiles you could do blasting them with 64kbps Mp3s through this thing’s 10,000 watts of power? Unnecessary? Completely. Ridiculously sized and priced? You bet. Am I going to get one? No way, but if you get one I will totally come over and make jokes about it while I drink all your whiskey. Don’t miss that opportunity!
So, with that, we conclude the first ever Golden TAG awards. There were tears shed and laughs had by all. Years from now, in the book of the movie of the comic about the beginning of our award, there will likely be a chapter about the office disrupting rift formed when we tried to name the awards. The water cooler chatter about the wrestling matches between Scott Magno and I to determine the awards categories will some day be the stuff of legend. Today, however, 2012 stretches out before us. Hopefully these companies will maintain the honor and integrity of the prized Golden TAG Award. If they don’t, they’ll just have to deal with the kind of award that gets them next NAMM.