California (Gear) Love BY: Jake Feldman

March 9, 2012 by Jake Feldman

ONCE AGAIN, NAMM DAZZLES WITH A SUNSHINE STATE OF EQUIPMENT BLISS

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The truth is, NAMM is looked at every year as a chance by midwest music gear retailers, northern media nerds, and northeastern exhibitors alike as a chance to escape the frozen tundra in their hometowns and travel to a place less wintery. Sure, there’s smog, heavy traffic and a unusual rodents, but SO-CAL is better than NO-CAL in January. Put together an escape from the cold with the siren call of new entertainment technology, and you have a winning combination for gearheads everywhere. Once again the NAMM organization invited members and followers out to the Anaheim convention center to feast their eyes on the latest-and-greatest the music instrument retail sector has to offer, and also to catch glimpses of myriad of artists that make those musical machines sing. We only have room for DJ-centric items here, but that will be enough to fill the allotted space nicely.

THE SKINNY

I actually began this year’s floor tour with long-time Rane lead-man Mike May, who showed me the exciting things that the company has been working on this past year. For starters, the new series of the Sixty-One and the Sixty-Two are like the little brothers of the TT57. Both have exciting features. Especially interesting was the Sixty-Two’s ability to facilitate the ease of use of two computers being switched seamlessly, making guest DJ spots at your events attainable with much less support hardware needed.

In the next hall over, American DJ had set up a very impressive set of booths for their family of companies, including ADJ Lighting, Elation Professional, and American Audio. On the lighting side of things, some very exciting new technologies were represented, including: the Funfactor LED, which has RGBW color mixing and an LED strobe; the Jelly-Par and Mega-Par all-in-one 4-head par system, and the rebirth of rollers: the Double Phase LED and the InnoRoll LED (also available in scanner). I like big lights and am a fan of the phrase “There is no such thing as overkill,” so the new moving head LED screens by American DJ?s other lighting affiliate, Elation, were the absolute coolest video-centric product on the floor at NAMM 2012. Similarly, American Audio had a few new players,
mixers, and speakers as well. On the cabinet front, they just rolled out their Sen Series full line of speakers, which boast German engineering and design. PA-wise, I was impressed by the new XLT line of amps, which put out impressive power and utilize new technology to weigh in the range of 16 to 25 pounds. The show saw the release of the VMS4 Traktor edition, which has been heavily anticipated as the highly-popular controller’s marriage to the also well-liked software.

At SKB, the case manufacturer has some interesting things in the works for this next calender year. Besides the supersleek military grade offerings that are for the inner soldier in everybody, SKB also has a new “Gigrak” and an updated version of the classic slant-top rack, the R-102. Talking with the honchos of the (traditionally) hard molded case company, it seems that they’re refocusing their strategies on how they can better serve the DJ Industry and mobile DJs specifically, which was a pleasant surprise for the MB contingent.

DJ-Tech was once again represented by a neat booth. On one side was DJ-Tech, the back-to-basics supplier of controllers and media players. A couple of products to watch for include the Dragon Two controller and the 4-Mix controller. The second side of their booth showcased their new “DEEJAY LED” brand that featured some slick new LED effects (such as the MyDerby) and wash lights (such as the LED PAR), all geared at very competitive price points for consumers doing “everyday” events.
One thing about NAMM is the presence of security and the number of times you must show your badge and ID to navigate the monstrous expo floor and move booth to booth. With that in mind, upstairs and through two sets of security barriers was Line-6 in their demo room. New for the first quarter of 2012 were their updated digital wireless mics, the XD75 and XV35, encompassing even more features than their older siblings. The most exciting new product from Line-6, however, was the announcement of a new line of powered speakers known as the StageSource series. The Stagesource L3t is a tri-amped 1400-watt digitally referenceable speaker that’s just about the “smartest” cabinet I have ever seen. It is also the first speaker I know of that is targeted at DJs that has a built-in digital gyroscope that senses when the speaker should be used as a main or a floor monitor. Also, the speaker has built-in crossover modes that lend itself to certain circumstances, such as the frequencies of live music, recorded music, keyboards or pianos, or guitars. If you’re also into live sound, the company also introduced an extremely advanced 20 channel mixer known as the StageScape 20m that, when hooked up to the speakers, can change the dynamics of the crossover inside the speaker with a click of a button (or a finger poke on the touch screen of the 20M). Of course, this is all done through the wonders of Line-6’s new “L6 Link” technology.
Back on the floor in the Chauvet Booth, the Miami-based lighting innovator was pumped to be releasing a broad range of products in the next 365 days. First and foremost, one was hard-pressed not to notice the impressive Nhimbus low-lying fog machine that was cranked up every hour upon the hour. The machine uses dry ice and is extremely mobile and relatively conservative in regards to the energy it uses to create the fog the machine was ably pumping out. Indeed, rollers are back in a big way (this time with LED), and Chauvet was showcasing their versions, along with their “Freedom Wireless” series, which encompasses the FreedomPar and the FreedomStrip Mini.

Both versions are, of course, wireless DMX equipped (remote controlled) and battery powered, hence the name “freedom?” freedom from cables. The new Intimidator Spot 250 and 350 also are worth a look at your local gear shop.
Pioneer DJ is always a highlight for me. This year the focus was on the absolutely “friggin'” awesome conversion of a few of their prime media players to a white limited-edition style. Their main new controller product that is targeted towards mobile DJs is the Ergo Controller, which was graciously shown to me by DJJAY Brannon and by Pioneer Marketing whiz Ryan Barnes. The Ergo, or DDJ-ERGO-V as it’s known on inventory sheets, is designed as a solution for the DJ who likes to hone his or her skills in small places. Complete with a laptop dock under the backside of the controller (allowing the user to still control and view the screen), the unit is also designed to give the user a touch of style, with LED inlays that compliment the DJ’s natural environment.

Elsewhere on the main floor, Eternal Lighting showcased their new trussing and LED lighting effects. Their CUBE series, the ones all over Facebook, were a definite hit with end-user DJs who managed to score a pass to NAMM (not usually open to endusers) to talk with company reps.
Stanton also had a nice, relaxing room in which to view their new wares. In fact, they presented their new SCS 4DJ controller, along with the SCS-3 that has been recently upgraded to perform with Virtual DJ.
The company seemingly is roaring forward into 2012 and was recently acquired by Gibson guitars, the Nashville-based Guitar giant who has single handedly headlocked the guitar market for the better part of a century. Mark my words, big things are coming for Stanton DJ!

Electro-Voice always has a big presence at trade shows, and NAMM was no
exception. They have re-launched their ZX and ZXa series of speakers and had a very neat demo of their previously-released Live-X series that showed off A-B comparisons of the cabinets.
Gemini was also present at this year’s conference, showing off their new 2700 Media Player, which is touch screen equipped and very (to use a new word) “Clutch.” The top controller piece is a 2U unit that is complimented by a 1U-sized CD tray. Once more, the touch screen even presented audio waveforms (much like some expensive software) making beat-mixing easier for the visually-inclined crowd. The company was also showing off the CDMP7000, which is a combination controller with CD player and mixer.

My last stop was over at the Yamaha complex to view their brand-new generation of powered speakers, the DXR Series.
The plastic-molded series comes in twoway 8′, 10′, 12′, and the mighty 15′. The DXS Series also got 12′ and 15′ subwoofers to augment the low-end. These digital speakers were also represented by an enclosed sound-proof booth demo that highlighted the impressive sound output vs. physical blueprint of the series.

And there you have it; another year, another NAMM winter gear extravaganza.

Thankfully, this year we got out before Saturday, because Saturday is the day in which anyone who knows anyone can score a pass to the expo floor. What does this mean? Every person who has ever picked up a guitar is in a booth pretending to be Eddie Van Halen, and every person who has every picked up a drumstick is pretending to be Neal Peart (20-minute drum solo and all). With all the rock & roll fashion and musician uniqueness that is part of NAMM, the people watching is almost as fun as the new gear gawking.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my recount of the NAMM floor, and if there’s anything you want to ask me about my yearly visits to NAMM, please email me at jfeldman@mobilebeat.
com to fire your questions at me.

Until next time, we’ll see you on the road to MBLV! MB

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Jake Feldman (34 Posts)

Jake Feldman
Mobile Beat Gear Guru – ProDJ Publishing

Jake started his career in the Mobile DJ business as an entertainer for the local production company of ProDJ Publishing (then ProDJ.com) at the age of 17 while still in high school. When Mobile Beat was merged with ProDJ.com to become ProDJ Publishing, Jake came on board as the resident gear aficionado as well as trade show logistics/production coordinator. While still performing nearly 70 events per year for the local production company plus his full time responsibilities with Mobile Beat, you can say Jake lives the Mobile DJ industry.


Filed Under: Issue #141, Lighting, Sound, Video