Top 10 Products Announced at Winter NAMM 2012
The Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California is always a lot of fun for the UniqueSquared Team. We have captured content for the last 2 years, specifically to cover and report on the hottest and latest gear in the realm of remix, recording, live PA, and DJing. Not surprising, there were some huge announcements from a lot of the major manufacturers and some from those that are less well known. In addition to running around the show floor with cameras, our team got a chance to talk at length to some of the product specialists at their booths. After the same memorized overview and sales pitch that they recite thousands of times for the whole week, they got down to the dirt of what they were trying to hock. After careful consideration, the UniqueSquared team has put together their Top 10 Product Announcements from NAMM 2012.
10. Numark MPC DJ Concept Controller
DJ MadFlip says: This was probably the most lauded soon-to-be released DJ product of the NAMM Show. Not only is it a “boss” controller with rotating platters likened to the Numark NS7 with 4 channels, but it has an Akai MPC FLY built in as well. Have Numark and Akai lost the plot or are they two steps ahead…AGAIN? To be fair, we have been told that the Numark MPC-DJ is a concept for now, but it is going to be a reality, for this reason it wasn’t in the Top 3 on our list. This is not “vapor-ware”. It is very easy to see the magnificent potential of Akai and Numark’s marriage of production and performance. Especially since these days the word “controllerism” is thrown around quite a bit in the DJ world, and for good reason. Pad controllers are super hot and their visibility and capabilities in the DJ universe are ever expanding. Our art form is evolving again, and this future product is a sign of the times. I personally see this product first as a solution for my love of creating music and performing as a musician with turntables, then secondly as a means for me to play gigs purely as a DJ. But however you look at the MPC DJ it has to be recognized as an innovative, forward-thinking piece of equipment and it’s appeal is undeniable. Check out the video and blog post Lonely Paul was able to write on the Numark MPC DJ concept piece.
9. Mackie DL1608 Digital iPad Mixer
Taylor says: Like last year, iPad’s were of course all the rage and manufacturers made no exception with touting their latest foray into the iPad and gear combinations. The one piece that really impressed me was Mackie’s 16 channel iPad mixer, the DL1608. While this technology is nothing new (see Presonus Studio Live and accompanying app), it is great to see a company who is known for making great mixers, try their hand at a digital mixing iPad console. The real gem here was not so much the mixer, but the iPad app they were using in conjunction with the mixer. Some of the font and layout looked a bit unfinished but what it lacked in style, it made up for in functionality. The graphic EQ section was the most impressive with a lot of real estate to put your fingers on to manipulate the sound spectrum. Everything seemed bigger on this app which makes it stand out when compared against the Studio Live Remote from Presonus. To get real in-depth with the Mackie DL 1608, be sure to check out Lonely Paul’s blog post.
8. Tascam DR-40
Taylor says: While we were not able to get you video of the Tascam DR-40, I was able to pick it up and investigate what Tascam did with this new portable recorder. The design is nothing new if you are familiar with their DR line of recorders but there are some new construction features that are giving Zoom’s H4n a run for its money. This recorder has combination 1/4 inch/XLR inputs, phantom power, and the familiar adjustable X/Y mics that are second only to Egon’s PKE meter. At a retail price that is $100 cheaper than the H4n, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of my fellow filmmakers using this recorder in lieu of Zoom’s industry leading recorder. This is only a snippet of what this recorder offers so go ahead and read what Lonely Paul has to say about the Tascam DR-40 on his blog post.
7. Akai Max 49
Lonely Paul says: Akai Max 49′s new system will likely do very well, being a true bridge between what we all love about our vintage gear and the new features we have become accustomed to in all our wonderful software. Being able to offer analog step sequencing standalone will likely make this a great candidate for studios where the owner even hates the computer and just wants better analog control. I like the thought that went into this product and was overall very impressed by the forward thinking mentality so obviously on display by Akai at NAMM this year. I dive into the Akai Max 49 a little more in my blog post.
6. Line 6 Stagescape M20d
Taylor says: The unit is actually an all-in-one touch pad stage mixer which sets it apart form its Mackie and Presonus counterparts. This mixer has 12 mic/line inputs so it is not tailored just yet for the club, venue, or house of worship. It does double as a recording interface and has USB 2.0 connectivity which has me really excited. The real power of this thing is the intuitive interface which looks and functions in ways similar to GarageBand. This should make those who are a bit more novice feel less intimidated by live sound and recording mixers. All of the instruments have their own sounds which you can manipulate. For instance if you want your vocalist to sound like they are in an arena, you can call up the pre-set for that sound and get to rocking. Line 6 seems to have really geared this towards the budding sound engineer or the band who would rather spend their time working on guitar spins and drum stick twirls instead of front of house mixes. All great things! Lonely Paul has his own thoughts on the Line 6 Stagescape M20d which he talk on his blog post.
5. Rane Sixty-Two
DJ MadFlip says: For Serato Scratch Live users the Rane Sixty-Two is a dream come true. You can finally play and perform with the quickness, efficiency, and accuracy similarly to existing Traktor users. Okay, that sounded patronizing, but I really am EXCITED about this mixer (for my fellow SSL users), particularly because it shares practically all the features as the much more costly TTM-68 but in a more common to SSL users, 2-channel battle mixer size. You have instant control of loop setting, serious cue point configure-ability, sampling, and FX select and tweaking directly on the mixer. The layout is very impressive and logical too, and the button/pads respond very well to hot-cue style playing. The best feature by far is the dual USB inputs which allow for uninterrupted transitions from DJ to DJ between sets, and/or for intricate tag-team performances, sweet!
4. Arturia Mini Brute
Lonely Paul says: Arturia’s surprise venture into honest to goodness hardware synths was a quick contender for device most likely to consume entire weekends of my life… The voices on offer and unique distorted tones that can come out of this thing are inspiring and beautiful. I can’t wait to see it chugging along beside my vintage beauties; mostly because I know it will blend right in with them. The old school design of the thing instantly recalls older Roland SH synths. Fitting, given that I think this will become a widely adopted little guy that appears in studios for years to come. I dive more into the Arturia Mini Brute on the blog.
3. Behringer CMD Studio 4A
DJ MadFlip says: It’s safe to say that Behringer has been a virtual no-show in the DJ controller market for the past 3 years since first having success with the BCD series of controllers. This year looks to be big with the upcoming release of the CMD Studio 4A. My good friend Craig Reeves at Behringer gave us the goods on this 2 channel, 4 deck controller and it is definitely one to keep and eye on for a couple of reasons. First off, the CMD Studio 4A boasts 6″ touch sensitive, super accurate jog wheels, and 8 hot cue buttons. Craig had this mapped with Traktor Pro and his mapping was so tight on the jogs that it truly rivaled NI’s NHL protocol. They are big and each cut and scratch followed effortlessly with no drift. You can also control 4 decks on 2 channels easily by using LED lit deck switching buttons. The rest is pretty standard and oh yeah, it’s $199. BOOM!
2. Moog MiniTaur
Lonely Paul says: The MiniTaur from Moog, I was excited from the minute I heard the announcement and now that I have seen it in the flesh I can’t wait. Spring basses and rich filtered squelches await me on the release date of this tiny wonder. Having access to this kind of Moog power at this price is the kind of thing that leads to multiple units ending up in my racks. I was lucky to talk with one of the engineers at NAMM and you can see the video with him and the specs for the Moog MiniTaur on the blog.
1. NI Traktor Kontrol F1
Lonely Paul says: We’re just going to stop pretending Native Instruments didn’t “do NAMM” this year. No, they weren’t in the building, but their just nearby 10th Anniversary Party and their spotlight stealing announcement were no coincidence. This is the thing I saw this week that basically changed my game for the year. Synths and production elements are always going to be coming and going from my studio, but my live rig is of particular importance to me. That’s why I am very excited to be expanding it in April with an Upgrade to Traktor 2.5 Remix and adding in the new Traktor Kontrol F1 grid/clip launcher styled controller. I had been a little complaint oriented on the subject of the sample decks in Traktor just because I knew they were on the right track. With the new loop sync improvements and this dedicated system, I see my S4 based system becoming the rig that no longer compels me to pack anything else for shows. I can’t wait til April, but until then, you can read about the Traktor Kontrol F1 announcement.
NAMM 2012 brought a lot of surprises and only time will tell if our Top 10 Products will live up to the hype of being on this list. We will be sure to have full reviews of these products once they are released and look forward to answering your questions about them. We had a pleasure covering this year’s NAMM and look forward to what the rest of 2012 brings us. If you don’t agree with our list then let us know what you think in the comments below, as we always look forward to answering you.