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For what was widely thought would be a minor event with the return of [url=http://www.namm.org/]Summer NAMM[/url] to Nashville, TN, this year, this show proved to be well attended and full of surprises for the worlds musical instruments, sound reinforcement and with the usual leanings to Apple products in many cases. Even as many vendors and manufacturers in pro-audio opted out of Summer NAMM this year in lieu of presenting at [url=http://www.infocomm.org/]InfoComm[/url] in Las Vegas, all indications were that a trip to Music City was the better option.
And now...the winners are:
GoStudio by [url=http://www.infocomm.org/]Belkin[/url]
This great sounding portable audio recorder is a podcasters dream that features built-in microphones as well as combo 1/4 inch and XLR jacks for external mics. Bright LED's surround the selector dial beneath a large view screen that allows easy use in nearly any environment. Great for recording live music or to capture the audio from a lecture or presentation. The price point will be appealing to nearly anyone as well although we'll have more information with our up-coming full product review and with the official street date once announced.
[url=http://www.moogmusic.com]The Moog Guitar[/url]
If you are musician with a love of the classic Moog sounds, but perhaps are not a keyboardist or are just looking for a new way to explore the reaches of your musical realm, the new Â Moog Guitar is the marriage of classic sounds with a modern guitar body and controllers within just a finger's reach of your strings. While not for everyone, the signature Moog flavor is apparent in the simplicity and tone with nearly limitless possibilities. The instrument/controller, itself, is very attractive and has the elements of the best made guitars while the strings control the input and the selectors control the sound. By the way, this is not a MIDI device by any means and the sounds you create emerge from what you play and how you choose to play them using the controllable sustain and mute that is just incredible. Textures, moods and details you cannot produce from any other guitar. Available in several colors and styles, the ebony on the swamp-ash body is slick and comfortable to play as well. If only to admire this pricey beauty, there is a video online that showcases the latest offering from a classic company.
$199 and up
We've seen lots of wild guitar gimmicks over the years -- especially mini and "backpacker-type" models -- but we've found something different that really eclipses them all in this category. Ministar guitars are, in effect, neck and pickups only with a body bar where the full body might otherwise be. The most significant difference beyond that is the sound which is quite impressive and very surprising â€“ especially at this price point. Each model is designed to replicate a classic sounding model of either guitar or bass including the Castar (Stratocaster type), Lestar (Gibson Les Paul type) and both fretted and fretless bass guitars to name a few. Budget aside, these things sound really good, are user-adjustable, feature full scale lengths and adjustable bridges, headphone pre-amps and weigh almost nothing.Â
Piano Wizard Academy by [url=http://www.musicwizard.com]Music Wizard[/url]
$269 and up depending on volumes, hardware
If you are looking for a great piano learning tool or nearly any age, the teaching tools seem to be everywhere. This one really makes it fun putting a huge gap between the days of reluctant afternoons with an in-home teacher and other similar products, even if it may seem a bit pricey. Â The Piano Wizards is a great way to embellish any teachings from any other source by making the user really want to practice. Songs can be downloaded from a huge library of artists and the learning system can be used by almost anyone. The company offers their own cabling and keyboards as well, but you can go with your own as well. If you've always wanted to play piano or keyboards, at any age, this is really an attractive way to do it.
DTXtreme III Electronic Percussion System -- Standard Edition by [url=http://www.yamaha.com/yamahavgn/CDA/Home/YamahaHome/]Yamaha[/url]
$4,199 and up
When are electronic drums not electronic drums? When the have the samples, sounds and flavors of nearly any drum kit you could image, that's when. By employing the Yamaha Motif XS technology and more than 1,000 on board samples in the 15 input sound module, the standard edition DTXtreme III (slightly smaller than its "special set" version with an extra cymbal and floor tom pad) is an excellent choice, albeit a pricey one. The responsiveness of the pads is excellent and picks up anything from a buzz roll to a rim-shot on the snare responding well to velocity from each impact of the stick. The ability to sample and assign your own sounds is truly limitless in this day and age, but the realism is what was so impressive from this drum rig. There are also demo tracks and songs that can be edited on demand so that you can play along, replace the drum track, or any/all of the things that you would expect from a one of the best sounding electronic drum systems available.Â
BodyBeat by [url=http://www.petersontuners.com/]Peterson Strobe Tuners[/url]
The makers of what are widely considered to be the finest strobe tuners, Peterson Strobe Tuners, has delivered a new pulsing metronome that uses a vibrating clip so that the beat if felt rather than clicked or blinked at you. This compact iPod-sized, if you will, device has an easy to read LCD read out and A440 reference tone as well. No more annoying clicks or phony sounding cowbells when you can just clip the transmitter on and save your ears some needless fatigue. With a BPM tempo range of 40 - 216, this tiny wonder runs on a standard 9v battery and weight about a third of a pound. Durable, nice looking and another classic from the people at Peterson.
MR816csx byÂ [url=http://www.steinberg.net/]Steinberg[/url]
If you are searching for a great Firewire interface, this is a Class A analog D-Pre set of mic preamps that combine with 24bit/96kHz AD/DA converters developed with Yamaha for an excellent solution. For you pro-audio geeks, this is a zero-latency DSP-powered FX device with Cubase integration and what the company describes as "instant setup" so that your Cubase software is automatically detected. You can daisy chain up to three units for up to 24 analog inputs and outputs, plus they've included Cubase AI4 to get you started. The icing on the cake is that, unlike some gear still catching up, this is OS X 10.5x-ready. A very sweet sounding and simple solution for nearly any sized studio.
ATB-SB Aluminum-Body Guitar by [url=http://www.normandyguitars.com/]Normandy Guitars[/url]
We see guitar manufacturers come and go a lot, but very few make the leap to your local musical instrument dealer that go beyond a smaller name knock-off of the guitar you might really want. In this case, seek out what you want and hold on to your strap when you hear the monster tone of Normandy Guitars. What they offer is something different with a combination of elements one might not expect to produce the cajones, if you will, of these axes. The combination of fat, beefy Normady-made humbucker pickups with a maple neck, big frets and an aircraft-grade aluminum body belts out a bigger sound than this combo might lead someone to believe. The Bigsby vibrato completes a stunning sound as well as a look that is absolutely going to be the ice-breaker for many conversations. In my head, I kept thinking that aluminum and maple might be too bright, but how wrong I was. Yep, big, chunky, monster tone for DAYS and a look that makes you want to listen. Turn heads with your sound, but cause whiplash with a Normandy.Â
BlowIt Personal Cooling Fans by [url=http://www.blowitfans.com/]Personal Cooling Concepts[/url]
When you are on the live concert stage, it gets hot. Even under today's L.E.D. lighting systems that are popping up in nearly every size venue, musicians are working hard and, in many cases, playing with an intensity that you won't find in any gym. To resolve the temperature issues, a variety of turbo style portable fans might be used but placement can be difficult and obtrusive as well as an eyesore. BlowIt fans are small, powerful fans that connect to music stands, cymbal stands or drums and feature a sturdy gooseneck positioning system to keep them in place. Seven inch turbo-fan blades generate wind at three speeds so that you don't get wind noise in your mics while keeping the performers a lot more comfortable during a performance. Engineers will enjoy this as well. Clamp on, cool off, play on!
Magnet and Clamp Microphone Mounts by [url=http://www.stageninja.net/]Stage Ninja[/url]
They've done it again! The wizards at Stage Ninja who made our previous "best of show" lists with their innovative retractable XLR and 1/4" professional cabling continue to make life easier for the musicians, techs, and engineers who deal with mic'ing up the stage. Their latest smart idea is their strong magnetic microphone mount that adheres to the metal grill of, e.g., a Vox guitar amp â€“ or any other similar item â€“ but with a very shallow magnetic field depth to avoid disrupting the drivers of the speakers. Like their Sound Booth Light Grips, they've added a rugged gooseneck for proper ease of positioning your mic as well. Gone are the days of tripping over the tripod feet or heavy base of a short mic stand when you can set it and forget it. If you don't have a steel face on your amp, play acoustically, or if you are a drummer who doesn't like mic mounts that pinch down on the hoops of the drum (possibly causing damage or detuning the heads), they have a super strong "booster cable-like" clamp option that can support even a large microphone from the handle, stand or tom mount. Rugged, simple and super strong without damaging your gear. Stage Ninja solves the ol' "mic stand tripping dance" with this great new addition to their line. Yep, there's nothing like a clear stage when you're playing, but it's even better when you save so much time breaking down to get out the door when you're done. Another kickin' idea from Stage Ninja!