Barry Wood's NAMM Oddities 2017 Edition

Packrat Barry

Techno Geek Toys

Class Act

This year instead of a booth full of gear, Moog Music paid tribute to all the synthesizer pioneers that we lost in 2016. They had quotes from various people and they asked you to find one that resonated personally. I read a quote from Morrisey about Isao Tomita that took me by surprise.

Laser Guided

If you are extremely picky about the angle of your microphones, the Startlight is a dream come true.

Post Apoc Power Supply

When the power grid is gone you'll want to have this candle-powered effect pedal power supply.

Thank for reminding me where this came from Logan.

360° Capture

This intriguing bit of kit is a 17-element microphone. Using their software you can get a high degree of separation from a live recording of multiple performers which will allow you to rebalance levels without individually micing each performer.

Ear in the Sky

Once you get your microphone way up in the air it's a pain to reposition it, unless you've got a robot to do your bidding.

Modules or Super Villains?

If I read the names Argos Bleak, Bionic Lester, and Contempt I think I would have a clearer picture of their powers as super villains than I would have of the sound they might produce as synth modules.

Latvian Fusion

You might expect some beet soup dish from a trendy food truck but in this case it's modules that often include obscure Russian tubes in the circuits.

Mecha Piano Mover

As an owner of an aging back I applause this application of technology. This thing even has treads and will take your piano up and down stairs.

Not Just a Pretty Faceplate

For not an obscene amount of money you can get short runs and prototype faceplates made up. Perfect for vaporous products in NAMM booths.

Audio Controlled Oscillators

You can hate Antares for AutoTune but my biggest beef with them is discontinuing their pitch tracking synthesizer Kantos. Fortunately there is a company now making something very similar in hardware and it's suitable for interfacing with modular synths too.

Mix 'N Match

With interchangeable overlays, the Morph can be a drum pad, piano keyboard, computer keyboard, knob interface, or even graphics tablet.

Natural Input

I got a demo of an early beta of their notation software. I really liked some of the features and I think this has some real promise.

The Soundtrack of Your Life

…shared with everyone within range at 120dB via this battery-powered backpack speaker.

Toque Tunes

If your soundtrack is more personal, and experienced in a cold climate, the UGO is your goto.

Ondes Martenot Reborn Again

A company in Japan is now manufacturing an Ondes Martenot intended for travel. It's been more than a dozen years since I've seen a company showing one of these.

Ultra Panavision Touchscreen

The Neuman (Neuro+Human) keyboard sports a 42"x16" touch panel, which seems like a bit of overkill.

Pretty Panel

That's about all I can say about this synth because every time I stopped by the booth there wasn't anyone there who could get sound out of it.

I'm Ready For My Close Up

I spent a fair amount of time with the CloseUp mic people at NAMM and I must say that I was very impressed with the quality of the captured tone and the level of isolation that they've been able to achieve with their system.

The Protoype is the Product

Every year I'm seeing more 3D printing at NAMM. These guys have some very high quality printers that can create guitar knobs complete with the knurls. They also have some way to print a wood-like object.

Axes of Awesome

They guys at McMillen Instruments always seem to come up something new and interesting at just about every NAMM show. The K-Board Pro 4 provides X, Y, and Z data generated by each key independently, which creates all sorts of interesting modulation potential.

Bonus points for anyone who didn't read the title as the plural of axe.

Doppelgänger Mic

I used to own the discontinued MidMod from Antares and I've heard Slate's offering but it sounds to me like Townsend has taken the mic modeling to a new level with the Sphere.

Cloud Looping

This is a browser-based four-track looper that can also transform your vocalizations into drum beats and MIDI tracks.

Playing With Blocks

Roli's Blocks are interchangeable controller modules that magnetically connect in whatever order you like. It seems that Roli is trying to mainstream this technology because you can buy these at Apple Stores.


If you've got a desktop studio and you don't much room, the RM5 speakers will give you back a little bit of your desk.

Next Up: You Figure It Out

©2017 Barry Wood