namm08thumbs

Don’t believe what you see in the press releases, in the glossy write-ups of shiny, new technology from the NAMM show. Wandering the NAMM show is a truly surreal experience, like falling into a giant music store that acquired its own zipcode crossed with a swap meet crossed with a convention of badly-dressed rocker cosplayers. With apologies to Barry Wood’s superior NAMM Oddities, we couldn’t resist telling you what we really thought of some of the things we found. NAMM find: win or fail?

Part one, the items that registered fail (with one very sweet win that managed to undo one of those failures.)

(Warning: one mind-bogglingly not-safe-for-work close-up photo toward the end. If some things offend you, try not to scroll very far.)

Liz McLean Knight also contributed photos and editorial to this report.

Korg’s X-50 Camouflage Limited Edition: We suspected, and a Korg booth rep confirmed, that this would finally solve the problem of what to do when you’re up for playing some keyboard in your duck blind. FAIL.

Hmmm, now how can Korg possibly redeem themselves for something this utterly random (well, other than the pink polka-dot OASYS we asked them for)?

Oh, yeah. Black keys on a MicroKORG. We forgive everything. WIN.

The X-Tempo Pok Logo: The Pok is a nicely-built and compact wireless foot controller unit, as seen at Robotspeak. We’re a little concerned that its street is around US$400-500, especially when compared to a far more powerful new Moog multi-function pedal or our own Mike Una’s $10 DIY foot pedal. (Is it really worth more than 40 Unapedals?)

But the logo for this foot controller is a big hand. Note the cards in the corner, which look like either crippled hands or hands with webbed fingers. So, as far as the logo goes, FAIL.

Ratango: uh, pronounced “rah tango”? “Rat tango”?

“A sexy mix of tango, rap, and hip-hop.” FAIL.

Anaheim: Not pictured in this photo: the endless parade of Best Westerns (really, like dozens of them), IHOPs, and Denny’s that replaced that orange grove, or the one-mph traffic jams around the convention center, or the hour-plus drive to LA which is where you actually want to be most of the time. And can you even see mountains from Aneheim? FAIL.

Addendum: skipping some of NAMM to go to Disneyland, as even Roger Linn did? WIN.

This slogan: “Desire Analog … Embrace Digital.” Hmm, so in other words, “Analog is Better … But You Have to Settle Because You’re Cheap”? I’m sad on behalf of both analog and digital. FAIL.

Guitar Hero’s Relentless, Inescapable Presence: Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great game. But, uh, this is a real music show filled with real guitars, yet the biggest crowds were around a video game everyone’s seen before. At least with Rock Band there were hooks to the Roland V-Drums, real electronic drums that were used in development at Harmonix. I love video games. But standing in line to play video games at a music show? FAIL.

Da-Cappo‘s mannequin, Princess Hollywood: I might have an idea of how this mic sounds if I could hear it over the piercing, terrified screams of small children. FAIL.

Wittner’s Laughing Penguin Metronome: Long practice session with this thing? Prepare to completely lose your mind. Oh, it’s laughing at you. Yes, it’s laughing. The penguin WINS, but you FAIL.

Addendum: Elton John probably could make this look at home on his piano, somehow.

Ultimate Support’s Keyboard Stand Model: We really feel for the two women modeling the keyboard stands at Ultimate. Not only did they have to stand awkwardly around a keyboard stand (sure, other models get guitars and stuff), but they spent most of the day bent over having to talk to random onlookers. I can’t imagine what their lower back was like Sunday night. FAIL.

(Addendum: those boots? Totally WIN.)

The Metasonix G-1000‘s “Ream Your Ass” control. Technical edit: this appears to be mislabeled. This parameter should clearly be, if worded in this fashion, a momentary switch or toggle, but below you’ll see it’s a potentiometer. Suggest rewording as “How Deep.” FAIL.

(The G-1000 itself would be a win, but Eric told us we’re not supposed to buy them. More on that later. And, yeah, that in itself = WIN. “Metasonix Announces It Wants You To Stop Buying Its Newly-Announced G-1000″ was easily the best PR announcement of the show. We’ve got the video.)

  • dead_red_eyes

    Ugh, the X-Tempo Pok Logo doesn't look like it's worth $400-500. The design looks a bite shit too, it's too clunky/tall.

    You got it right with Ratango. It's epic fail, and then some.

    Ultimate Support’s Keyboard Stand Model is FAIL for me, mainly because it's purple and looks like one of the stands used to hold up the velvet rope at movie theatres.

    That's really odd of Metasonix, telling you not to buy their product. Then what's the fucking point of having it at NAMM?

    I'm guessing that there's a fair blend of kitch/campy/crap stuff blended in with the real toys at NAMM, which is a damn shame I think. And having Guitar Hero there just makes it worse. I love the game, but I don't think that it should be at NAMM.

    Can't wait to see Pt. II !!!

  • dead_red_eyes

    Also, I don't get the black keys for the MicroKORG. If anything, it would be win for me if they'd release the damn thing with a full set of keys, instead of the gummy midget sized ones that are on it. And Korg’s X-50 Camouflage synth is probably the ugliest thing I've ever seen. For shame Korg, for shame.

  • http://toilville.com peter

    I am lso a big FAIL on the microkorg, but perhaps im just still pissed at that craigslost post for electro rock keyboardist in brooklyn where the main requirement to be with the band is playing a microkorg.

  • http://www.chuckivy.com/ ChuckEye

    Cool. Thanks for linking to Barry's site. I used to run into him when I was hanging out with the LA Stick community.

  • Mr. Tunes

    +1 on failing keyboard companies for using booth babes like that. we're not as pathetic as the guitar industry and shouldn't be doing that to helpless LA women who are even more desperate for moeny now that the strike is fully in place. and metasonix – no comment

  • http://www.creativebump.com Myles de Bastion

    Hehe, great, and a little nauseating at the same time.

    Thanks for the uncensored and more "truthful" look at NAMM, it was sorely needed.

    I guess overall a pretty disappointing show this time.

  • Moonbase Alpha

    About Ratango, I see it's being distributed independently at CDbaby.com, with free samples.

    OK, so it's night-time music and NAMM is held during the day, but I never expected to see an independent artist dissed on CreateDigitalMusic.
    :-(

  • http://schubert.ece.drexel.edu/drupal-5.2/ Patrick

    what in the world is that black-bodied, white/blue buttoned synt? (Photos 3 and 4 in second row of thumbnail grid)… I do hope you cover it in the next Win/Fail updaite.

    It looks novation, or something wierder. Definitely not alesis, akai, roland, or yamaha. Is it a synth or a drum machine? I'm chewing off my fingers in anticipation of what kind of machine has pads and a dedicated feedback control.

    AHHHHH.

  • http://www.creativebump.com Myles de Bastion

    @ Patrick:

    LinnDrum II innit?
    http://www.sonicstate.com/news/shownews.cfm?newsi

  • dead_red_eyes

    The LinnDrum II is looking really nice, and I like the black and white color scheme. I can't wait to hear more about it.

  • http://www.myspace.com/dancingmandy Amanda

    I am SO GLAD that I am not on the part of this list.

    Good call on the Guitar Hero. FAIL.

    But you forgot the most annoying new security implementation of the show – checking Visitor Badge Holders for IDs. MASSIVE FAIL.

  • Vurnt22

    I am sick to DEATH of the childish and SOPHOMORIC TITLES that Metasonix inflicts on its products. Grow the f@#K UP.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Okay, just in case it's unclear to anyone — all of this stuff made us laugh. For that, we salute it. Take it as any more serious observation about NAMM or music in general and, well, you kind of miss the point.

    NAMM is in fact full of hideous wonders, and it's too loud to hear music, which is supposed to be what we're about. But any show that let us hang out with some of our favorite people is worth it, even if they had been in town for a floor tile expo.

    And yeah, that camo makes my eyes hurt.

  • http://dr.xnlb.com/music/ dr.xnlb

    um, seriously, why did they make that keyboard stand look like a bong? and much less put it on a tall stage?

    big ups to metasonix for the unnecessarily graphic control labels!

  • bizzaro lord ZOOL!

    big proprs to metasonix for making new and creative distortion and what not cant wait to get my g 1000

  • velocipede

    I think that you caught most of the bad weirdness that I noticed at NAMM, too.

    I was also disappointed in the deployment of "booth babes" (and use of similar decor) by several companies. I did not go into the Ultimate Support booth and some others because I was annoyed by this. However, I have to say that I have seen this practice even more at other types of trade shows.

    WIN to the many demo people who were professional, enthusiastic, informed and honest. They far outnumbered the ones that wanted to sell, sell, sell.

    WIN on skipping out to go to Disneyland, especially if you have a 3-year old.

    Big WIN on randomly meeting Peter and Liz at the Dave Smith Booth!

  • 3F05Q

    Metasonix just took the biggest dive in my book. First they were just overpriced, now they've got something that purposefully sounds like crap. Give me a kazoo and Roland V-Accordion over that any day.

    Anyway, good comedic coverage! Appreciated!

    What'd you think of Spectrasonic's Omnisphere? I honestly didn't know Genelec made speakers that big. :)

  • 3F05Q

    Ohh.. and..

    Seeing Stevie Wonder, Jordan Rudess, and Shiny Toy Guns? WIN

    Making the M-Audio guys squirm on three seperate occasions concerning lack of 64-bit drivers? WIN for me, LOSE for them. 8Þ

  • devlebert

    there's a a Seeing Stevie Wonder now?

    Cool.

  • http://andrew.hicox.com plurgid

    Aaah Korg …

    I love my microkorg to death, but instead of inverting the colors on the keyboard (so that it looks even more like a toy), could they just release a patch manager for OS X isn't horrible to use and designed in 98 (just guessin' based on the copeland gui kit)?

    just sayin.

  • dead_red_eyes

    @ 3F05Q,

    Did you get to hear more than 1 patch from Spectrasonic’s Omnisphere? That's all they're offering on their website. I'm just hoping that there's true UB support coming soon for Atmosphere, instead of using a wrapper that runs in Rosetta.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Well Eric from Spectrasonics stopped over to chat in a thread over at The Big Blue Lounge, and it looks like the true UB support for Trilogy and Atmosphere comes in Omnisphere. I guess that Spectrasonics liscenced the engine for both of their flagship products, so they've been having to build their own engine from the ground up, hence the wrapper for both Atmosphere and Trilogy. It's confusing, but I don't think that Omnisphere will include the Atmosphere and Trilogy libraries in full. So it looks like those 2 products are going to stay where they are. It's a shame, but Omnisphere does sound nice. Guess we'll have to wait until September to see the final cost and the upgrade cost for Atmosphere and Trilogy users.

  • dead_red_eyes

    For anyone else interested in Spectrasonics Omnisphere, there's a 10 minute demonstration video up on Sonic State right now :

    http://www.sonicstate.com/news/shownews.cfm?newsi

  • Moonbase Alpha

    tongue-in-cheek, got it.

    Thanks for the clarification.
    :-) again

  • 3F05Q

    dead_red_eyes,

    Yeah, even got to play around with it VERY briefly, but mostly said "do this, change that". So yeah, I heard more than one patch including one called burning piano. It's a piano layered with the sound of a burning piano. They actually lit a piano up and recorded it.

    The entire interface seems to be done and functional. There were, however, a limited number of patches they had available. My guess is the wait until Sept. will be for library development and fine tuning/resource efficiency. Maybe even more effects or implementing them fully. Come to think of it, they only really showed the effects and didn't showcase any. Seemed that DelayLama is in there though as the formant filter.

    So much to talk about. I posted what I could remember here: http://www.tranceaddict.com/forum/showthread.php?…

  • dead_red_eyes

    He shows off that burning piano stuff in that sonic state video I clicked too. It's cool to see that they're sampling some really wacky stuff for Omnisphere. I'm intrigued.

  • 3F05Q

    Yeah, they're playing off the term 'psychoacoustics' with their Psycho Acoustic patches. Basically playing (read: getting some sort of sound out of) acoustic instruments. Should be some fun stuff!

  • http://www.quantazelle.com/ Liz McLean Knight

    Likewise, velocipede!

    I have to agree with Peter that besides dorking out on music gear, meeting and hanging out with lots of cool and dedicated people was really the highlight. Added bonuses were running into quite a few Chicago people on the floor, discovering the vegetarian ciabattas in the Hilton, laughing uncontrollably at an innocuous fake rock that played music (yes, I was getting a bit burnt out at that point), finding a cool hidden zen corner of said crowded Hilton to chat with an Ableton rep, getting a ride back to Anaheim the morning after the CDM party in a super rad partybus, and scoring a number of earplugs on our way out the door on Saturday as we headed to a Richard Devine interview and then a party he played at–exactly the thing Peter and I had wished for after experiencing the aftereffects of RDV live in a mostly concrete art space. I'm sure more things will spring to mind, but yeah.

    Stay tuned while we both type, edit, and upload furiously to share more of what we loved.

  • 13rian

    nice, thanks for taking all the pics. i only got a few and they were all of puremagnetik. nice to see you both, sorry we didn't make the party after all. too exhausted from having our own booth. next year we will have a staff of 14 employees to cover it so we can go to parties (not really).

    - brian (overclock/puremagnetik)

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  • kobe

    liz, you & peter went to the droid party on 3rd downtown? i was there, it was my friend's party.. fun times!

  • http://www.myspace.com/symmetricalsyndrome Symmetrical Syndrome

    That MicroKorg looks awesome with inverted keys.

    But without being able to mold your own presets..

    I say.. Pooop !

  • http://www.djtechtools.com Ean Golden

    Peter, thats a freakin hillarious post. props.