Winter NAMM
Hot new gear and other treats for your studio

By Stephanie Jorgl / Nathan Smith

Audiohead Interviews Tech Tips Events Goods and Gear Featured Music

In they came from far and wide, sonic junkies again flocked to the NAMM conference in Anaheim. The conference is the largest audio trade show of the year in the US. This years NAMM show proudly boasted over 1500 exhibitors hocking their latest audio, musical, midi and recording and performing-related gear to over 85,000 audio-addicted registrants from 100 different countries.

Ever-evolving Software
Ableton unveiled its latest incarnation of Live: Live 8 which features five new effects, including Frequency Shifter, Limiter, Multiband Dynamics, Overdrive and Vocoder, plus a Warping Engine and Groove Engine, so you can apply patterns in real time, and extract grooves from audio or MIDI sources. You can also quantize audio and MIDI in real time. Live 8 also comes with a brand spanking new groove library. Additionally, Ableton Suite 8 features an expanded sound library, and the Operator synth has also been upgraded.

BIAS made another mark on the mobile and home studio market with its release of an iPhone recording application: iPro Recorder for iPhone/iPod Touch.

Digidesign introduced two new ProTools LE bundles: Factory Complete and 003 Rack Factory. Both are designed for Digidesign’s 003 hardware interfaces and Digidesign’s Complete Production Toolkit, which became available with the release of Pro Tools 8. This toolkit adds 7.1 surround mixing and support for up to 128 simultaneous audio tracks to any Pro Tools LE 8 system. It also gives users the highly coveted Beat Detective, which has previously been unavailable outside of higher-end HD systems.

This bundle includes virtual instruments and pro-grade plug-ins, including Eleven LE classic guitar amp emulator, Structure LE advanced sample player, Hybrid 1.5 high-definition synthesizer, Smack! LE compressor, DINR noise reduction, TL Space Native Edition convolution reverb, X-Form, a time compressor/expansion and pitch shifter, and Neyrinck SoundCode Stereo surround-to-stereo mixer.

MOTU released a new virtual instrument plug-in called Volta that lets users play and automate modular synths, or any hardware equipped with control voltage (CV) inputs, from their favorite host DAW.

IK Multimedia added another member to the Amplitube family: AmpliTube Fender Software Amp & Effects Suite. This new amp emulator gives you 45 pieces of vintage gear, lets you tweak virtual settings to replicate a collection of of stompboxes, heads, and amps.

DigiTech Time Bender Delay

Native Instruments cranked up the volume on its GUITAR RIG 3, while showing off its other hot ticket item, , a hardware groove production studio that blends a computer-based music production with a tactile interface — all within a stand-alone groove box.

Novation kicked out some plugs with its Super Nova Plug-in FX Suite, a collection of five VST/AU plug-ins, including Chorus, Delay, Tremelo, Phaser, and Filter (overdrive). Some of these effects come from the SuperNova II, and the Filter produces effects similar to the classic ones achieved via Moog and Oberheim synthesisers and the Roland TB303.

In the Submersible Music booth, industry veteran Kord Taylor was touting the latest incarnation of its award-winning percussion software, DrumCore 3. This latest version comes in RTAS/AU/VSTi plug-in formats and adds a host of drummers to its roster from bands like Heart, Jeff Beck, Velvet Revolver, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Stewart, Bob Marley, Santana, John Lennon, Yes, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Testament, Helmet, Jane’s Addiction, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Lenny Kravitz and more.

Spectrasonics lured in the crowds with an updated RMX, a new bass instrument and an updated sound library for Omnisphere. Trilian is Spectrasonic’s new virtual bass instrument, and RMX 1.7 features Time Designer technology.


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UAD2 Laptop
UAD To Go Laptop rockers rejoice.

Rocking the DSP
Focusrite introduced liquid heaven in the form of a pre-amp in Liquid Saffire 56. This delicious rackmount gift from the gods includes two Liquid pre amps, six high-end Focusrite pre amps, a whole suite of Focusrite VST/AU plug-ins, 28 ins and outs. Better yet, the interface is Firewire connected and records at 24 bit/192 kHz. Sweet!

Universal Audio finally delivered what mobile audio fiends far and wide have spent years begging for: a UAD DSP card designed for a laptop! The UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop is a compact ExpressCard version of UA’s UAD-2 SOLO DSP Accelerator card. This new SOLO/Laptop DSP card puts Universal Audio’s world-class analog Moog, Neve, Roland, SLP and other authenticated emulations to work for laptop engineers and artists.

The UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop works with VST, AU and RTAS plug-ins and is both Mac and PC compatible. The UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop is scheduled to arrive to market in Q2.

Axe Goods To Grind
DigiTech unveiled a brand-spanking-new pedal called TimeBender delay, giving guitar gods — and those in the making — ten delay types including Digital, Analog, Fixed Head and Moving Head Tape, plus a 20-second looper. With the TimeBender, you can also create custom repeat rhythms or patterns on the fly using Strum Pattern. You can also add harmonies by choosing from over 100 different voices to create your own unique delay effects.

DigiTech also showed off its Vocalist VLD3 Vocal Harmony Processor, an effects processor that makes sure your “backing vocals” sound uber perfect. This box produces 3-part harmonies using DigiTech’s breakthrough musIQ technology, analyzing a singer’s voice and adding musically correct harmonies and real-time pitch correction.

Proven hardware and software effects processor company of the gods, Eventide, decided to bless guitar players with some tasty little stompboxes: the TimeFactor pedal gives guitarists 10 delay effects, while the ModFactor has 10 modulation effects.

Gretsch showed off a new Fall Out Boy modeled guitar, the G5135-PS Patrick Stump Signature STUMP-O-MATIC Electromatic Corvette guitar. The guitar comes with three Mega’Tron pickups, a special two-position rotary switch, and multiple combination settingsm, including the ability to have all three pickups on at once.

TC Electronic unveiled a new treat for guitar players, designed by guitar players. The G-Major 2 single rack unit gives you all of the classic TC Electronic effects in G-Major, plus a huge selection of new effects and features requested by users, including delays, reverbs, modulation, Tri-chorus, through-zero-flanger, modulated delays, and Univibe.

VOX Amplification and legendary amp designer Tony Bruno put their heads together to kick out an amazing new 15-Watt, all-tube guitar amp head called the NT15H Night Train, featuring both classic and new VOX tones, all in a compact, portable, less-than-17-pound design. Inside this puppy, a pair of EL84 tubes drive 15 Watts of power, as two 12AX7 tubes kick through a harmonically rich preamp to deliver clear and defined sound.

VOX also revived and showed off an old classic in its new AC4TV, a 4-Watt, Class A Tube Amplifier, which is based on the popular 1960s VOX AC4. This remake will be available as both as a combo, and in a head version.

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Mac Audiophiles

Read about these Mac-using audioheads (featured in the Interviews section) for insights on what gear they use and why.


Chris Vrenna

Hans Zimmer

Butch Vig

Keith Hillebrandt

Richard Devine


John Digweed

Prior Audio Event Coverage

For’s 2008 NAMM Report, please click here.

To read Steph Jorgl’s prior NAMM and AES coverage, please click here.

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