It is great being a music technology journalist, getting to play on all the new gear months in advance of anyone else, and enjoying the perks of the job like being whisked off to Los Angeles every year to keep abreast of the hot new technological developments, on all the bits of kit soon to hit the streets.
Every January the music tech world descends on Los Angeles en masse for the NAMM Music Convention. NAMM is the primo of music trade conventions, a four-day extravaganza/exhibition of every conceivable music related bit of kit that can be imagined. Every manufacturer of music and musical related products from all over the world pop over to this one, a chance for them to show off their wares and a chance to network and meet like minded individuals
It also offers up opportunities for showcases with some great DJs and artists, taking the stage at the various events that are going on, in and around the NAMM convention.
There are some serious club nights with some big names gracing the stages, in fact as you make your way around the show itself you bump into many music industry legends walking the floor and talking to the fans and enthusiasts and even doing impromptu gigs, Stevie Wonder is a regular at this event as are many other big time musicians from all over the music world.
Anyway what we are interested here is in the huge space that is dedicated to electronic music in all its forms. This is the one, a haven for the DJ and dance music producers, the performers and the artists and the army of people who make all this gear.
One of the big announcements coming out of NAMM this year was the press conference from Richie Hawtin announcing that he was releasing a piece of DJ orientated gear in collaboration with Allen & Heath. Some eagle eyed clubbers may have spied a certain bit of kit being used by Mr Hawtin and Dubfire throughout last years Ibiza season, sources close to the team have confirmed that the Techno market are going to love it!!!
This year NAMM didn’t disappoint, there was some amazing bits of kit being showed off. Rane totally hit the ground running with their new MP2014 Rotary Mixer, just as last year they announced the MP2015 to the world again in 2016 they introduced another piece of uber cool DJ ware.
The MP2014, a two channel rotary mixer that takes all the hi-end trickery and engineering of the MP2015 and places it into a more compact frame. Aimed at the discerning DJ who doesn’t need the luxury of four channels. The MP2014, just as the MP2015, sounds and looks great. Rane’s booth was definitely getting a lot of attention.
Another area that was getting a lot of love was the Pioneer DJ stand, partly down to the newly released NXS2 range - CDJ player and DJM mixer - that were on show. Pioneer have raised the bar with these new additions.
But it wasn’t just the NXS2 getting all the attention, Pioneer’s DDJ-RZ and RX controllers with rekordbox dj were also a big hit amongst the crowd. And their concept set up the TOUR1 comprising of four bulked up CDJ 2000 players and a modified DJM mixer, all hosting huge LCD type monitor screens, showed off behind a glass casing was causing a stir.
A pleasant surprise amongst the major players was Denon DJ with their MXC8000 DJ Controller, this thing is great, a well built piece of kit, which seems to have caught the eye of professional DJs as well as aspiring jocks and the mobile fraternity.
Denon DJ might have a giant slayer on their hands with this one. The ability to use the MXC as a conventional controller for Serato DJ or utilising Denon’s own Engine software to use it as a standalone unit without a laptop connected was well received.
inMusic had a lot to show off, covering every corner of the DJ market. inMusic are the parent company that holds Numark, Akai, M-Audio, Denon, Alesis and Alto Professional in its stable. This was a big stand and as mentioned catered for a wide range of DJ and dance music uses.
Numark’s Dashboard was getting a lot of love, a handy DJ accessory for Serato DJ users. Dashboard is an add on visual display that shows off all the vital visual information associated with the Serato DJ Software, a three screen hi-definition display showing track and wave form information as well as your track library.
Dashboard can be used with any other manufacturers gear which adds to the appeal of the unit, Dashboard is useful for DJs who are using Serato DJ but have controllers with no detailed visual representation and don’t wont to rely on using the laptop’s screen during their sets.
It also breathes new life into older controllers and is a more cost effective way for DJs to upgrade their setups without having to spend more cash on new bits of kit. There was a lot of DJ orientated stuff being showed off here at the inMusic Booth taking in all areas from the mobile DJ to the Professional gigging club DJ.
Turntables were a big hit at this years NAMM, Akai had two decks on show whilst Denon DJ showed off a working prototype of their new turntable. A black slick looking piece of kit that is due to drop in the summer. Nearly every major manufacturer of DJ kit where showing off their take on the humble vinyl spinner, another great indication that the vinyl revival is storming on!
Something for the producers; Arturia showed off two bits of new technology with their MatrixBrute Synthesiser and new KeyStep controller. The MatrixBrute is a beast of a synth, sounds amazing, and looks pretty damn cool as well. Should be dropping in spring. Korg also showed off some tasty products - their new MiniLogue synth and Nano Controllers.
Hercules gave a good representation of themselves with their new P32DJ Controller, a compact controller that features 32 performance pads, they also had a pretty cool stand with DJs showing what can be done with the P32 and their Jogvision controllers.
Apple are determined to muscle in on every piece of the music/DJ/production action, showing off their latest Music Memos app as well as serious upgrades to their Garage Band app and Logic Remote app for Logic Pro via iPad/iPad Pro and iPhone.
GarageBand for iOS now has serious muscle in the dance music department with it’s new Live Loops mode, a clip launch, performance pad style production mode that shares the same ideology as Ableton’s Live and Novation’s LaunchPad app.
A fun quick and easy, yet powerful way to capture your ideas and produce new tracks. Live Loops mode is fully loaded with some cool performance features and tight integration with the original GarageBand mode as well as easy sharing with Apple’s Pro Music Production software Logic Pro X.
Once again Pioneer showed off two customised CDJ2000s and it was fitting that they took on a Star Wars theme, the Millennium Falcon and a Tie Fighter, the force was definitely awakened at this year’s NAMM.