All about producing and mastering audio for disc, the web and beyond

Friday, January 14, 2011

Report from NAMM

Survived day 1....well, really better than survived. The show is busy busy busy and there is a general sense of busy-ness and business taking place.

There is a LOT of innovation put on display here. Some of it leveraging existing technologies including software emulations of chaotic (read analog) signal processing, some of it new. Witness the continued evolution of instrument controllers, for instance ROland has a new VLSI chip that puts a layer of software in between a hardware controller and a virtual instrument that creates more 'authentic' performance by taking the input from a controller and adding instructions that are characteristic of the (virtual) instrument being played.

THere are guitars with sound holes at the top of the resonating chamber rather than the center, mini church organs, a 'black box' single rack space 24 channel recorder daisy chainable for up to 96 channels and much more.

The DAW continues to proliferate AND mature. Peak showed a prototype multichannel version designed with stem mixing and surround in mind. iZotope unveiled a new product developed with artist BT that makes the creation of the 'stutter' edit, characteristic of BT's work, easy for users to implement in their own work.....

While there was a lot of 'stuff' all round, I think the pervasive idea I notice on the floor in conversation and in products is collaboration. Using ProTools 9 as a prime example where users of the mainstay of audio production can now choose their hardware interface inevitably, MANY more companies are using ProTools compatibility in the messaging, front and center....and there is a lot of collaboration being discussed around business development, artistic projects and generally people coming together under the banner of music making that in other times might have chosen to work in isolation.

There were several Asian companies offering a HUGE variety of recording gear branded with names such as 'Just Right Sound' whose booths were empty. In one case there was a sign that read 'US distribution sought'. It's hard to know if these companies are selling high quality gear or not, but I suspect we'll see a greater influx of such products in the near future. It's very much in keeping with what I witness when I go to the music market in Seoul.

The Audio Mastering talk I gave in the 'H.O.T. Zone' was a blast. I had about 150 people in the room and for an hour we managed to overcome the horrible convention acoustics and had an interesting and dare I say meaningful conversation all about audio mastering. It was more fun that I dared imagine it would be.

On to the iZotope booth tomorrow to see if I can make anything out of a talk in the middle of the convention floor....

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