Where do we even start? NAMM 2017 was the normal blitzkrieg of old heavy metal gods, randoms and gear geeks but we managed to navigate it all and find some gems. Here is our list of stand out gear from the show along with some video interviews conducted on the floor with brand specialists.
Easily the biggest thing at the even this year. The amount of different companies they had in that section, let alone the location of said section was incredible. It was a busy start to finish. Great to see the DIY community coming together to inspire people both new and old to synths. Check out all our interviews with the modular brands here.
The blocks have been out for a bit now, but the new software, as well as the ability for you to use them as modular DAW controllers were awesome. Leave it to Roli to continuously push the boundaries, having to literally create the coding to enable them to do what they’ve envisioned.
Although I may never fully integrate something like the MPC X or Touch into my rig, it’s great to see a return to form for the legendary company. They have truly created some powerful machines, and the CV inputs just furthered that by allowing them to connect with the growing modular market.
For years, Denon had tried to innovate and catch up with Pioneer and the like, but this year they may have finally done it. The hardest part might be to get artists to try their new hardware, but after having a go on it, I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing these machines showing up in top DJs' riders.
Interviewing Jean-Michel Jarre was an incredible experience. A true pioneer of electronic music, and the reason we have music like we do. After that, the Roland booth was awesome. Getting a proper look at the TR-09 and TB-03 was cool, but the stand out for me was the new mobile audio interface. I generally detest mobile DJing and producing, but with live streaming being the future, this little device could be a game changer.
The Kontrol Master was one of last years biggest highlights, so seeing the production version was great. Such a simple concept, yet so powerful. MIDI mapping can be tedious, but with the controller allowing you to set points and automate without actually having to lock the device to something is such a time saver. Worth investing in.
Getting to see the new Macbook Pro in action, as opposed to on a live stream was eye-opening. Logic has come quite a way, and its integration with the new laptop is flawless. The touch bar was something many scoffed at, but when the team explained that it wasn’t so much an additional feature, more so an easier way to do things we already do, this changed my mind.
The second generation of Bitwig is no joke. Learning the program is a lot like Ableton in that there isn’t a singular way to make music or do something, which is both liberating and frustrating. However, with the next gen software allowing you to directly control your modular rig via CV, this is the future of music production, plain and simple.
While the tour series is cool and all, the biggest surprise to come from the company was their new mono synth in partnership with Dave Smith. It all started with the sampler, but the new power and tone of the 100% analog synthesizer blew me away. The little black box is extremely deceiving, but for about $500, you can have a real instrument built by Dave Smith. And seeing the name AS-1 leads us to believe there are more things on the horizon. Don’t be surprised if Pioneer dominates the studio in the coming years...