NAMM 2011 quick notes pt.1

We had one of our collaborators at NAMM 2011, here’s the first part of his report…

Fairlight CMI Reproduction

The Aussies are at it again with a limited run of 100 of and updated version of the venerable Fairlight CMI sampling computer.
Arguably the first professional sampler, these are still in use by many major artists today. They’ve redesigned the machine using some obvious modern upgrades like a 500GB HD (no more 8″ floppies ;), DVD R/W, USB, and more, but many of the original quirks that give it its signature sound have been retained.

I had to ask why go through all the trouble when you can put together a powerful computer, audio interface, and MIDI controller to have total control over the myriad sampling engines and libraries available today for a lot less $ (estimated price of the CMI-30A is $19,000 AUS, not including shipping from down under).
One rep said that for some it’s a mixture of nostalgia, others just don’t want to fix what’s not broken (the Fairlight sounds are on countless Billboard hits), and that there’s just a proven blend of confounding factors that give this instrument a special mojo that has yet to be matched in the software domain. While it’s hard for me to imagine incorporating it into my rig, they had a keyboard every key of which was autographed by an artist/producer to whom I look up, and who has used the CMI on a hit track, so maybe they are on to something.

Stage Ninja retractable cables and Scorpion series mounts

Stage Ninja has developed a few simple tools to solve problems that any performing musician is bound to encounter. The Scorpion series mounts provide versatile means of mounting a maglite (via fitted clamp) or mic (via standard mic thread) on a 12″ gooseneck with 360 degrees of rotation. These mounts have the option of a clamp or magnetic base, enabling quick and solid attachment to mic stands, guitar cabs, racks, and more.

Who hasn’t cursed when trying to set up during a rushed sound check only to find your 50′ cables knotted in a rat’s nest? Stage Ninja came up with retractable cables (signal, power, and data) to make set up and teardown quick and painless. They feel solid, and I’d seriously consider them for any venue, stage, or touring act.

iConnectMIDI iOS MIDI interface

This is the missing link between iOS devices and other physic controllers, your computer, or DMX lighting (with additional adapter).This is the first iOS MIDI interface compliant to the iOS CoreMIDI Framework (which was released weeks ago).
There are a lot of interesting sound generators coming out of iOS (Korg iMS-20), but I find playing keys on an iPad surface to be about the most uninspiring keyboard imaginable. The iConnectMIDI provides a high speed means to use existing physical controllers to access the power of iOS synths. Conversely, the number of control applications for iOS is astounding (Lemur emulators, Ableton Live Controllers, etc.), but sometimes the wireless connection to the machines they control can be unreliable or unresponsive. The iConnectMIDI allows for a high bandwidth physical connection ensuring reliability. All ports are bidirectional, so this device can be a central MIDI hub for an artist who needs communication between MIDI devices of all types.

Trident A-Range dual channel discreet mic pre/channel strip

I got to hear a prototype of the new A-Range channel strip (based on Malcolm Toft’s original console) and it is impressive. The silky smooth EQ can air and bump to a mix without any harshness, while the input/output sections can provide pleasing saturation if desired. This isn’t a tweaky surgical EQ for detailed problem fixing, this is the tool you use when you need to guarantee that it will just work.

Also on display were channel strips from the forthcoming Series 82 console. I saw the entire thing assembled at AES in SF, and it’s a beast.

Sanyo Pedal Juice rechargeable 9V power for effects pedals

Prevent AC ground loop hum while saving money and not contributing to piles of 9V batteries in your local landfill. There are only 2 output jacks, but the pedal supplies a maximum of 2000mA so you can use a daisy chained adapter to power more than 2 pedals.

Resonari Live Tone Block

The Resonari replaces the tone block under a tremolo and provides increased sustain and resonance.
I was really skeptical of this until I tried it. First I played a standard Mexi Strat, then an identical model with the Resonari installed. It felt like I added a clean boost and sustain-style compressor, plus I could feel the resonance of the instrument against my body. I immediately made arrangements to purchase one for my Strat as soon as I get home.

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