Moments after I got my TIE fighter back from the mechanic (he made some custom mods to the Twin Ion Engines), I jumped in and headed for Anaheim to visit the Winter NAMM Show. It was great to run into old friends like Palpatine and all those Rebel Rogues I don’t like to mention (…you thought I had no friends), but the real reason I went was to check out the gear. Of course there was plenty. Here are 10 highlights…

AKG announced their new DMS800 Wireless Microphone System. Designed for live sound, theater and touring applications the DMS800 is available with either the DHT800 handheld transmitter or the DPT800 body pack transmitter. Features include digital transmission with 512-bit encryption for secure operation, analog and digital audio outputs, optional network remote control and choice of microphone heads for the DHT800.

dbx jumped into the 500-Series pool with the introduction of five new modules. The dbx 560A Compressor/Limiter is a VCA-based compressor that features the same compression curves (OverEasy® and Hard Knee) as dbx’s 160A rack mount ‘comp, with controls for compression ratio, threshold and output gain. The 530 Parametric EQ is a 3-band parametric equalizer. All three bands have controls for bandwidth, and the high- and low-bands may be switched to shelf-type filters. Designed to rattle the rafters, the 510 employs dbx’s patented Subharmonic Synthesis to produce a new, waveform modeled bass note an octave below the bass in the original audio. Engineered for sonic transparency, the dbx 580 Mic Pre boasts low-noise preamp circuitry that provides up to 60dB of gain, and can accommodate mic or line-level signals. Its analog VU meter reminds me of my days at the Academy. If you have issues with sibilance, the dbx 520 de-esser can help reduce it, with a frequency range from 800 Hz to 8 kHz and attenuation ranging from 0 to 20 dB.

Sennheiser rolled out their evolution wireless D1 system, a digital wireless system operating in the 2.4 GHz band that even Jar Jar can comprehend. The evolution D1 can automatically locate an optimum frequency, and automatically pair with a transmitter. Sennheiser offers a variety of transmitters including a handheld microphone with a choice of six capsules; instrument pack with response down to 20 Hz; headset mic with body pack, or lavalier mic with body pack. All versions incorporate aptX Live codec for secure transmission and intelligent channel backup to prevent interference from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Onboard audio processing includes EQ, automatic gain control and de-esser. As many as 15 compatible channels of evolution D1 may be run simultaneously.

From Electro-Voice comes the EKX Series of portable loudspeakers. There are eight models in the EKX Series, four active (powered) and four passive. Active models include the EKX-12P (12-inch/two-way), EKX-15P (15-inch/two-way), EKX-15SP (15-inch subwoofer) and EKX-18P (18-inch sub). The passive models follow the same configurations and omit the “P” from the model number. All models incorporate E-V’s patented Signal Synchronized Transducers™ (SST) waveguide design for controlled and predictable coverage. Active models employ E-V’s single-knob user interface, Class-D amplification, QuickSmartDSP, intelligent Thermal Management for reliability, and are able to deliver maximum SPLs of 134 dB.

Looking like a control panel that would live on the bridge of the Millenium Falcon, the Qu-Pac from Allen & Heath is a super-compact digital mixer for live sound applications. Looking like someone chopped off the top of a Qu-Series mixer, the Qu-Pac’s front panel provides a combination of pushbutton and touch screen controls for accessing all console parameters. When used in conjunction with A&H’s Qu-Pad app the mixer can be remotely controlled via iPad. Around back you’ll find 16 XLR mic/line inputs (with AnaLOGIQ™ mic preamps), two stereo TRS inputs, and 12 XLR mix outputs. Qu-Pac’s I/O can be expanded by adding A&H’s AB168 remote box which would increase system capacity to 32 in/20 out(!). Qu-Pac also features 32×32 USB streaming, onboard stereo or multitrack recording via A&H’s Qu-Drive and a wide variety of built-in effects and processing. 


New mixing boards also came from Soundcraft, who uncloaked their 

Signature Series and Signature Series Multi-Track analog mixing consoles. 

Signature Series mixers come in 10-, 12-, 16- and 22-channel frames; the Signature Series Multi-Track models 12 MTK and 22 MTK feature 12 and 22 channels respectively. All consoles in the Signature Series employ Soundcraft’s Ghost microphone preamps with high-pass filter and 48-volt phantom power; Sapphyre Assymetric EQ, GB Series audio routing technology and onboard Lexicon Studio-grade effects including reverb, chorus and modulation as well as dbx limiters on the input channels. Signature Series mixing boards provide a 2×2 USB audio interface while the MTK versions provide 14×12 USB I/O (MTK 12) and 24×22 USB I/O (MTK 22). The Signature Series chassis are constructed using tour-grade construction, top-quality components and use an internal universal power supply.

Audio-Technica wasn’t letting any grass grow under their feet, announcing several new products. Two new headphones join their successful line of cans: the ATH-R70x is the company’s first pair of professional open-back reference headphones which feature newly-designed drivers and acoustically transparent housings constructed from aluminum honeycomb mesh for accurate and natural open-back sound. The ATH-M70x is the newest member of A-T’s popular M-Series, boasting 45mm, large-aperture drivers tuned to accurately reproduce extreme low and high frequencies (5 to 40,000 Hz). Ninety-degree swiveling earpieces facilitate single-ear monitoring, and the ATH-M70x frame collapses for compact transport.

Audio-Technica also showed off their System 10 Pro Wireless systems with several variations including Stompbox Digital Wireless intended for electric guitar and bass, System 10 PRO handheld vocal, System 10 Camera Mount, and System 10 Stack Mount. All System 10 wireless devices live in the license-free 2.4 GHz band with 24-bit/48 kHz digital  operation, easy setup, and three levels of diversity assurance: frequency, time, and space. The chassis are able to house two receiver units that may be operated locally or released from the chassis and mounted remotely (up to 328 feet away) via Ethernet cable.

Shure introduced the MOTIV™ line of digital products designed to capture audio through direct connection to an iOS, Mac or PC device. Products include the MOTIV MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone, MOTIV MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone, MOTIV MV51 Digital Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone, MOTIV MVi Digital Audio Interface, and the their newest iOS app, ShurePlus™ MOTIV Mobile Recording App. All of these devices incorporate various DSP modes to ensure that entry-level users can achieve great sound by specifying the program material while gain, EQ and compression are adjusted automatically.

Radial Engineering showed off their Decoder™ which facilitates creation of mid-side stereo recording. The Decoder is a microphone pre-amplifier and mid-side stereo matrix that replaces the need for a recording console. The Decoder can be used in the traditional two-microphone sum-difference method, where a bidirectional ‘side’ mic is duplicated and phase reversed on a second channel, then blended with the mono ‘mid’ mic for a spectacular stereo image. Since the Decoder has three built-in mic pres the ‘side’ signal can also be captured with stereo mics or even two different microphones. As an added feature, the Decoder may be set to line level to Reamp tracks and create mid-side imaging during the mix-down process. 

Click to access 2015-namm-intercom.pdf

MOTU’s 112D is a Thunderbolt-equipped digital audio interface, router, format converter and mixer. Part of MOTU’s new series of high-end audio interfaces, the 112D is the flagship digital interface of the new line, providing 24 channels of AES/EBU, 24 channels of ADAT optical and 64 channels of MADI (AES10) for a total of 112 simultaneous digital I/O channels, all in a single rack space. Whether operated on its own or as a component of a MOTU AVB network system, the 112D shares the many powerful mixing, routing, networking and wireless control features found in MOTU’s award-winning AVB interface lineup. The 112D can serve as a digital audio hub, allowing you to unify your mixing console, audio workstation and other digital audio gear, and then link it all to an AVB audio network with sub-millisecond routing, hundreds of audio channels, standard Ethernet infrastructure and long, affordable cable runs. Onboard DSP enables console style mixing with 48 channels, 12 stereo busses, and 32-bit floating point effects processing, including modeled analog EQ, vintage compression and classic reverb.

OK, that made eleven. Whacha’ gona do? Slice me with a lightsaber?