The recording and live sound worlds saw some great new products introduced at NAMM. Although there weren’t as many new toys to get excited about as some of the other product categories, what we saw definitely had us checking out our credit card spending limits!
Could Presonus become the Mackie of the new decade? Through most of the ‘90s and ‘00s, Mackie mixing boards ruled the project studio and live world. We can’t begin to comprehend how many albums were recorded and mixed on their SR series mixers, and there were an equal compliment of their live sound boards in use on tours, in venues, in PA systems, you name it. But PreSonus has released in their StudioLive series a mixer that is poised to be all things to all people, combining the features you need from both live and recording worlds and bringing them together in a modern digital mixer. With an expected street price under $3,300, you can expect to see a lot of these soon.
We were thrilled to check out the new 24-channel StudioLive console in person. Expanding upon their 16-channel board and featuring 24 Class A XMAX mic preamps, we predict that this mixer will become the go-to board for more engineers... and project studio owners… and club owners… and musicians… than anything else out there currently. Picture one board that can be your live sound mixer, with onboard compression and effects for all channels, four buses for monitor mixes, Firewire interface for computer recording (and bundled StudiOne DAW software), and DB-25 d-sub direct outs for interfacing with other A/D converters. It even has software for computer-based control with real-time control of all settings and faders, and engineers can save their favorite channel strip settings and easily take them with them in their laptops for instant recall when traveling to new venues equipped with these boards. We will be giving it a thorough evaluation in our studio as soon as it ships.
Two Notes Engineering
We covered this in our guitar report, but it’s equally important if you’re just looking for great studio tools. One of the best products we found at Winter NAMM 2010 was the Torpedo VB-101 from Two Notes Audio Engineering. This clever studio and live tool combines a power attenuator with cabinet, microphone, and room modeling to deliver your guitar or bass tube amp’s full tube tone at headphone and line levels for direct recording, carefully sculpted live sound, and middle-of-the-night jam sessions. Think of it like a DI with cabinet simulation on steroids. If you’ve been looking to record guitar tube amps in your project studio without the facility to mike loud speaker cabinets, this is going to be your studio’s dream device. Check it out!
Just a month or two before Winter NAMM, Waves started making a splash with their new Vocal Rider plug-in. It’s one of those ingenious, simple plug-ins that makes you immediately wonder why nobody figured it out before. Forget about manually drawing or automating volume curves on your vocal tracks. With Vocal Rider, you send a music sub-mix side-chain to the plug-in, set a few threshold and level controls, and the plug-in creates the automation for you. Thank you, Waves! We’ll have this in our studio shortly for review, so stay tuned for more details.
We don’t know how it sounds yet, but the new Blue en•CORE 300 stage mic looks really cool. They have a great track record for designing mics that sound as good as they look. Whether or not this one makes it into your hands will be a pretty subjective thing, though. How well does it suit your voice? How’s the noise rejection? How’s it feel? We hope to find out these answers soon.
Wowee! It’s hard not to be excited about the new Shure PSM900 Personal Monitoring System. Shure has taken their benchmark monitoring platform to a new level of sound quality and performance.
Besides significantly improving the audio quality, the best new feature may be what it does for your monitor mix engineer… CueMode enables your monitor engineer to listen to up to twenty different monitor mixes from a single bodypack. You no longer need to plug into each of the different performer’s receivers in order to hear the different mixes! Starting at $1,650 USD, it’s priced comparably with the PSM700 series that it replaces.
Recently acquired by Logitech, Ultimate Ears was showing off their new flagship UE 18 Pro in-ear monitors. Custom fit, these feature six hi-fi speakers per earpiece — that’s twelve drivers!, with a noise isolation of 26 DB. These top-of-the line monitors sport a MRSP of $1,395, with an ambient feature (allows some room noise to get in, providing much less noise isolation) for $50 more. Custom colors and artwork are available on most lines. No, it doesn’t come bundled with a wireless mouse or universal remote control.
Check out the other cool gear we saw at NAMM: