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2007 NAMM Show Report: Recording and Live Sound
By: Scott Kahn


Our time exploring these areas was cut short this year due to a few less editors making it out to the show than originally planned. We didn’t get to spend any time exploring the world of live sound this year enough to personally comment on new products other than some in-ear monitoring options. Now if only NAMM were two days longer… but that would probably completely wipe out everyone working in the booths!


First came two-inch reel-to-reel tape. It was warm. It was saturated. It was good. And then came digital recording. It was dark. It was cold. It was sterile. For those of you who think the digital recording world is still suffering in the dark ages, Digidesign came to the rescue at NAMM, bringing back the warmth with their Reel Tape Suite Analog Tape Emulator collection.

We listened to the set of new plug-ins, starting with Reel Tape Saturation, designed to restore the warmth and saturation typically associated with analog recording. Just slap the effect on your drum tracks (or anything else, really) and… listen closely. The difference was subtle to our ears, but then with the volume of everything around us in the Digi booth… still, there was a difference, though we’ll have to listen in a better studio environment to hear how significant the plug-in is. Reel Tape Delay and Reel Tape Flanger had more obvious sonic characteristics.

Also noteworthy was yet another virtual instrument – the Structure sampler plug-in! We’ve been extremely impressed with other recent virtual instruments from Digidesign’s A.I.R. group, and Structure looked to be a pretty cool sampling instrument plug-in. It supports sound libraries from SampleCell, EXS24, and Kontakt 2, and Digidesign have partnered with EASTWEST to bring their award-winning sample libraries into the Structure environment.



In-ear monitors were out in force at NAMM, and the latest trend we observed was numerous companies offering generic-fit in-ear systems. They ship with multiple different-sized earbuds, some as molded plastic, and some with replaceable foam attachments.

But we were particularly drawn to Westone’s selection of make-to-order custom in-ear monitors. Their latest ES3 actually has three drivers per in-ear, with a mid-range bump optimized for guitar and vocal signals. Even cooler is their custom shop – you can order your in-ears with a wide range of colors and art designs. Why look like you’ve got hearing aids when your ears can scream to the world “Hey! There’s something cool going on in here!”

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