2003 Summer NAMM Show Report


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Both my gear lust and yearly 'jones' for Southern-style barbeque were well sated at this year's Summer 2003 NAMM (SNAMM) Show held at the downtown Nashville Convention Center and the Gaylord Entertainment complex. At SNAMM, new products introduced six months earlier at Winter NAMM are now actually fully working, debugged, for sale and/or ready to be shipped. I found a lot of new worthwhile products introduced at this show with my top 10 faves listed here.

Yamaha SubKick

What's the world coming to when Yamaha lets a drummer design a microphone? My pick for the coolest new product at SNAMM is the Yamaha Subkick transducer. Subkick is a special mic that captures audio below 100Hz. Subkick uses a standard loudspeaker (it looks very much like a NS-10M woofer to me!) in combination with a drum shell. The 6.5-inch woofer (frequency response 20Hz to 8kHz) is shock-mounted inside a 7-ply maple shell fitted with black mesh heads. Designer and Yamaha Drum Artist Russ Miller figures that the drum shell focuses sound waves in a strong, directional pattern through the speaker. The heads, although sonically invisible to those frequencies, add a small amount of sustain to the overall sound. There is a standard XLR mic connector and no phantom power is required. To demonstrate at a demo you could actually hear, Yamaha had a simple PA/subwoofer setup with a Subkick on both the bass drum and floor tom. With or without regular drum mics, this system really works adding loads of big bottom end and sustain. Sells for about $499 MSRP complete with stand. www.yamaha.com/proaudio.

AKG Acoustics Tri-Power Mics
AKG Acoustics has the Tri-Power Series of hand-held microphones made for either wired or wireless operation. The salient advantage for sound companies is there is no need to buy two sets of mics—just swap the XLR mic cable with AKG TM 40 UHF plug-in transmitters and compatible WMS40 UHF receivers as needed for the gig. The three models shown were the D 3700m ($195) and D3800m ($252) Varimotion™ dynamics and the (pictured) C 5900m ($398) supercardioid condenser. I liked the triangular shape, feel and different look of these mics plus they come with a hard shell road case and a newly designed unbreakable SA 61 holder/clip. On the C 5900m, there is both a low frequency roll-off and a –6dB pad and the dynamics are available with on/off switches for $15 extra. www.akgusa.com.

KRK Systems ST8
KRK Systems has a new line of passive monitors both with aluminum woofers and one-inch silk dome tweeters. The ST8 (pictured) has a single magnetically shielded eight-inch woofer housed in a dual-ported cabinet made of 7/8-inch MDF. Both the 120-watt ST8 and 100-watt ST6 use molded woofer "beauty rings" said to improve midrange frequencies, five-way binding posts and nominal eight-ohm impedances. The ST8 has a 52Hz to 20kHz +/- 2dB response while the ST6 (with six-inch woofer) is specified at 62Hz to 20kHz +/- 2dB. www.krksys.com

Trident S80
It was great to see John Oram at Trident Audio USA. His S80 Producer Box is a pair of input channel strips from a Trident 80 board packaged in a nice wood box—the same English ash used on the original Series 80 boards. These are exact Trident modules with a pair of 100mm faders, mute buttons and pan pots that feed a stereo mixing buss for combining the two modules' outputs—or not. With phantom powering and a four-band equalizer made up of two sweepable midranges, switchable high and low pass shelving filters and a low cut button, the S80 is 'the way' to achieve an aggressive and classic British Rock sound. www.tridentaudio.co.uk.

Audix Micros Line
Audix makes two very small condenser microphones to start up their MICROS line. The M1245 and M1290 are said to be the smallest condenser microphones in the world with an integrated preamp and detachable cable. The M1245 is less than 2-inches long and weighs only 0.6 oz while the much larger M1290 is 3.5 inches in length (90 mm) and weighs in at a full 1 oz. These jewels are made of precision machined brass and coated in black E-coat with every microphone laser-etched with the model and serial numbers. You even get a variety of polar patterns with cardioid, hypercardioid, omni-directional and shotgun gold-vapor deposited capsules choices. The pre-amp circuitry is based on the SCX series and the mics use a mini XLR connector. The M1245 has a frequency range of 80 Hz to 20 kHz, while the M1290 goes from 40 Hz to 20 kHz. Requiring phantom power of 48-52 volts, the MICROS are beautifully packaged in a rosewood case with 12-foot cable, mic stand adapter, and snap on foam windscreen. The MICROS also fit the Device and Dclamp accessories for a wide variety of instrument miking setups. Prices range from $379 to $429 depending on model and capsule. www.audixusa.com.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20/40 Headphones
Audio-Technica chose the Summer NAMM show to introduce the new ATH-M20 professional monitor headphones. Following the ATH-M30 and ATH-M40 professional monitor headphones, the new ATH-M20 headphones are a closed-back design for better isolation and a frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz. These phones feel great and you'll have no problem keeping them on your head for hours. The headphones feature 40 mm drivers, each with a neodymium magnet structure, and a lightweight, adjustable cushioned headband. The ATH-M20 headphones will be available in August 2003 with an MSRP of $69 and feature a gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) connector with strain relief and snap-on 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter, as well as a sturdy, ultra-flexible 10-foot curly cord. www.audio-technica.com

Behringer PX1000
Behringer had a lot of new professional gear at this show and the Ultrapatch PX1000 at $39.95 seems to be a great value. The PX1000 is a 48-point 1/4-inch TRS balanced patchbay row in a standard 19-inch single rackspace size. Two rows of 24 TRS connectors make this perfect for stage or studio with five different modes (half-normal, full normal etc.) for maximum flexibility. www.behringer.com.

Sennheiser Evolution Mics
Easy to miss if you run around the show floor as fast as I sometimes do was Sennheiser Electronic Corp's new and improved MZH 604 drum-mounting microphone clamp. The rim-mounting system, which has been designed for the Evolution 604 drum microphone, replaces the older MZH 504. The clamp redesign fine-tunes the previous version to ensure that the E 604 microphone is optimally positioned on any drumhead without the risk of the mic being struck by an errant drumstick. The MZH's new straight upright bracket prevents the microphone from projecting too far into the center of the head. (Good) They're available separately if you are already using the E 604 or the older MD 504 drum microphones and are tired of collecting dented microphones when you break down a drum kit mic setup. www.sennheiserusa.com.

Digidesign Pro Tools 6.1
Both Digidesign and Focusrite elected not to have a trade show floor presence this year but both had significant announcements to make. Digidesign announce that Pro Tools 6.1 is now available for TDM, LE, WIN XP and MAC OSX with Windows users now enjoying feature parity with MAC users. The DV Toolkit adds desktop post production to any Pro Tools LE system like: time code integration, DigiTranslator 2.0 for full AAF/OMF import/export, the AudioSuite DINIR noise reduction plug-in and Synchro Arts' VocALign all for an intro price of $795 MSRP. Both MassivePack 2.0 and MassivePack Pro 2.0 plug-in bundles are now available through August 15th, 2003 with the Waves Renaissance plugs now replaced by Line 6's Echo Farm. www.digidesign.com

Focusrite TwinTak Pro
Focusrite has the new TwinTrak Pro, the ninth Platinum product that's a two-rack space stereo processor/DAW monitor interface they say eliminates the need for a traditional console in a home/project studio. Hmm? Having not seen or used this $700 unit yet, I'm very interested! Digi offers a TwinTrak Pro and Blue Dragonfly microphone bundle until Oct. 30th, 2003. Focusrite also chopped $300 off the price of their ISA220 Session Pack to $1,995—saving money is always good news. Check out: www.focusrite.com.

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