Barry Wood's NAMM Oddities 2020 Edition

Packrat Barry

Techno Geek Toys

Hexcraft

The Lumatone is the spiritual successor of the defunct Axis controller I saw at NAMM in 2007. This improves on that product by adding multi-colored LEDs for each key as well as the ability to output whatever tuning or notes you like from each pad.

lumatone

Annular Upright

I saw the mPiano last year but it wasn't quite ready for prime time. This year they have a full-fledged product. They've added MPE support with the ability to slide your finger about half the length of the (very long) keys so that you can use that as a modulation source while playing.

alpha-pianos

Bow Before Our Outboard Overlords

This Borg-like getup is for remote controlling outboard processors that you rent by the hour and access via a plug-in in your DAW. The plug-in uses latency compensation to deal with the non-lossy round trip and provides a UI for the box you've rented.

Jaw Dropper

I was drawn to the Tectonic Labs booth by something designed to catch eyes and I'm glad that it did. They weren't demoing in the audio-hostile environment of NAMM, but they were doing off-site demos with the promise of refreshment.

What I heard at the demo blew me away. These are not speakers as you think of them but something entirely new. They've got dispersion of 165° and they don't couple with the room at all, even when placed right next to a wall. They are also basically impervious to feedback. The audio experience with these can only be described as immersive.

They do, however, only reproduce audio down to 58Hz so they need to be paired with subwoofers, but since they are designed for live sound, that's not really a drawback.

tectonicaudiolabs

Expressive Hockey Puck

This unassuming disc is actually a very capable MIDI controller with multiple axis sensors and MPE implementation. Watch the video and you'll get the whole picture.

Octo Auris

The latest entry into the AR/VR Abmisonic space can be connected via USB or ADAT lightpipe and offers live binaural monitoring.

voyage

The Mothership is Listening

This eight-transducer array is designed for outdoor use in applications like sports events.

schoeps

Like Being There

At the show there was a challenge where if you could tell the difference between your ears and the two-foot-long Barnaby mic ten times in a row, you got a $100 bill. All it took for me was one pass to give up. The 3D spatialization was stunning. With the mic, you record to a stereo track and then use its plug-in to decode the audio.

After listening to this you could say that I have the Barnaby jones.

3daudio

NAMM Boogie

This is a talkbox purpose-built for keyboard (or other line level) input. It's basically a driver that feeds an amplified signal up the tube so that you can use your mouth to change the sound. I've used one of these before and it's a weird feeling--or not, if you already enjoy vibrating teeth.

Beyond Pitch-to-MIDI

This software has two features that impressed me. When it does pitch-to-MIDI conversion, it also can detect the vowel you're using and AAA, EEE, and OOO can each output continuous controllers based on how open your mouth is. The other is that you can beatbox with this and train it to learn multiple sounds that can each be assigned to trigger different drum sounds.

vochlea

Seeable Shimmy

Instead of putting a mechanical transducer at the end of the spring to produce reverb, the Light Pedal uses optical sensors at points along the spring to "see" the reverb, without losing energy and harmonics as with the traditional mechanical process.

gamechangeraudio

Tremble Before My Power!

The guy demoing the multi-axis Mo-Band controller looks like he could be an anime character trying to intimidate an opponent.

Prepare to be Assimilated

The PNOmation OT system can make just about any piano into a player piano. If there were horror movies for pianos, I think one about this would give pianos nightmares.

qrsmusic

Soft Sell

I love this company motto, especially given the stellar reputation their products have.

jcfaudio

Perforated Display

This might be good in high-wind applications or situations where you need to be able to see from the behind the display.

Duuuude!

If these LED curtains were available in the '60s, drug use would have been even more prevalent.

Fortnite Ranger

I wasn't expecting to see a company selling e-sports gear at NAMM, but we all spend so much time sitting in front of computers these days that it does make a certain amount of sense.

egeardistribution

PCB Vacuum Tube

The Nutube is an actual triode vacuum tube that takes up less space, generates less heat, and requires less voltage than traditional tubes.

korgnutube

More Like Shims Than Wedges

I love the design of the VIO W10 floor monitors. They use an array of four smaller speakers aimed at the performer and since the low frequency driver isn't particularly directional, it doesn't need to take up any sight line.

dbtechnologies

Microphone Mackintosh

Odds are the minute you show up to do an outdoor recording, it's going to rain. This clever device keeps your mic dry and the spikes will prevent birds from perching on it. There is also an optional mic heater for those arctic climate gigs.

isemcon

dIY

The "d" above isn't capitalized because the Nu:Tekt kits are assembled without the need for any soldering. That lowers the bar for getting into making stuff, but it doesn't seem to include much actual making.

korg

Scaled Scope

Last year at NAMM, Game Changer Audio was showing (and building) a prototype Motor Synth keyboard using their spinning disc oscillators. That was a little over-ambitious, so they scaled that back and are bringing a tabletop box to market.

gamechangeraudio2

Bow For Show

Under the tutelage of Paul Lehrman at Tufts University, these students have coupled a driver with the violin body so that the sound it produces uses the violin as the speaker. The bow is programmed separately just for fun.

Clean Machine

The first thing that struck me when seeing Korg's reissue of the ARP 2600 is that I've never seen one that was quite that clean before. That's to be expected when all the ones that I've even come across were so old they should be called AARP 2600s.

arp2600

VolcaRama

This was designed as an in-store display for the Korg Volca line but I know a couple of Volcaheads that would buy one.

korg-volca

The Deepest of Rabbit Holes

I'd never considered the idea of writing music in Javascript, let alone the idea of it being possible in a browser. Every curve ball question I threw at Ben was hit out of the park. Microtonal? Polyrhythms? Multiple MIDI CCs? No problem.

Click on the link below and play with it yourself.

motifn

Mixer for the Modular Synth Crowd

I pride myself in being able to quickly grasp the concepts of the products that I see at NAMM, usually to the surprise and delight of the people in the booths. I don't know that I still quite grok this mixer with CV ins and outs.

zaehl

More Me

This is a new twist on personal monitoring. Instead of sending multichannel audio out to each person, they use an iOS device to control software that creates their mix. You can have as many different mixes as you have output pairs on your audio interface.

mofonix

Fun at Your Fingertips

This is a great little filter/delay/reverb unit designed for live tweaking.

enjoy-lab

Spaghetti for Lunch

You can pack a low-calorie lunch of modular synthesizer. They need to license classic cartoon characters to go on these. Who could resist a Scooby Doo lunchbox synth?

twohp

Monitor Controller of Substance

This Soviet Era Cold War-looking beast is a tube monitor controller meant to go between your DAW or console and your monitors. And yes, it's as pricy as it is heavy.

treeaudio

Fits Like a Glove

When you have an unusually shaped product, you need to provide an unusually shaped flight case.

allen-heath

Personal Control Room

It's really difficult to mix properly using headphones. This system models the sound of multiple studios and uses a photo of your ear to create an accurate representation of what you would hear in that studio on the selected monitors. I got an extended demo and while I found many of the options added too much ambience, there was one that was close to a room I could accurately work with.

embodyvr

The Sights, The Sounds… The Smells

Mara is keeping the dream, and the old MCI tape machines, alive. My first inclination was to lean down and smell the tape. It's been a while.

maramachines

Practice With Accountability

This app not only runs you through your vocal exercises, the mic is live and it shows you how close your pitch is to what you should be singing.

Swarming Sound

This software applies particle system algorithms to audio. Particle systems are normally used for things like the visual simulation of flocks of birds, but in this case it's used for localizing audio. While this is intended for film mixing, it could have intersecting musical applications.

soundparticles
Next Up: You Figure It Out

©2020 Barry Wood