There’s a pretty significant upgrade coming to this page before the winter is up. However, until then, let me continue my tradition of pointing out some things I saw at NAMM that caught my eye. This is by no means intended to be a complete rundown of the show, just a quick look at things that I personally could see in my own studio.
Koll Guitars: Gold/Copper Leaf Duo Glide
Yes, I’m definitely biased because I’ve got two custom Koll Guitars. But I was completely blown away by the gorgeous gold/copper leaf finish on this Koll Duo Glide. The sound quality on these instruments is as good as they look. And honestly, a lefty guitar like this one would look so nice in Ember Studios….
I used to play in a band with another guitar player with a JC-120, and while I’m generally in the “toob snob” camp, I have to say that I really loved the amazing chorus on this amp. Not only that, but it had this “pristine clean but with harmonics” tone that was impossible to beat for sparkling clean tones. And of course it took pedals amazingly well. But alas, while the JC-120 is still made, it’s way too heavy and too expensive to justify a place in my studio.
For the 40th Anniversary of the JC-120, Roland has released the JC-40, which is only some 35 pounds, 2×10 inch speakers, and that same clean and chorus tone. Sure, it’s not the same as big daddy, but at half the price, and less than half the weight, I was really, really impressed. This may find it’s way into my studio, absolutely.
Vox Nutube Guitar Amp Head
Speaking of guitar amps, this is just a prototype, but I gotta say, I’m impressed. I’ll let the video do the talking, but basically, it’s a circuitboard sized vacuum tube that is tiny, light, and let Vox design a modern 150W amp that looks nice and small. But more to the point, it actually sounds good and has tube amp responsiveness. This beats any modeling amp I’ve tried. Not out yet, but might be a real contender when it’s out.
Dave Smith Instruments OB-6
Tom Oberheim is back! There’s very little I can say about this instrument that hasn’t already been said. The OB-6 has all the technological advances that Dave Smith threw into the Sequential Prophet-6 but with Oberheim’s oscillators, filters, and amplifiers…I stood with my jaw on the floor listening to the thing for about 20 minutes. The only negative is the price. You get what you pay for, and this baby is definitely worth the $3000 it’s gonna set you back, but if you’re not a working synthesizer performer, that’s a lot of money to cough up.
Speaking of synthesizers, I’ve always been a bit gunshy of the Eurorack build-your-own synthesizer systems, simply because the idea of having to have a rack for my individual synth modules and a separate keyboard, a MIDI-to-CV converter, and so on seemed like a lot of work. Well, Waldorf had an amazing idea—make a controller keyboard with built-in MIDI, CV, USB, and a lot of Eurorack spaces. The Waldorf kb37 is the first Eurorack device that I could really see adding to my studio, and if it’s Waldorf, you know it’s quality. You also know that it’s going to ship incredibly late (they say Q3 2016 but I wouldn’t hold your breath) and when I asked how much it cost, the Waldorf employee smiled and said “I don’t know yet.” And of course you have to factor in not only the (likely high) cost of the kb37 but all the Eurorack modules you want to put in it—without modules, it makes no sound. So…yeah. But when it is out, I’ll be paying attention!
After the two high-priced synths above, I have to mention this one, which is in all likelihood the one that will end up in my studio for real: the Korg Minilogue. Korg managed to create a 4-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer complete with built in delay and step sequencer and arpeggiator that sounds incredibly good for $499 street. Seriously, this thing sounds like a far more expensive analog beast, and manages to sound contemporary and like it’s own thing rather than just a copy of another analog synth. My prediction is that they will sell cartloads of this little thing.
IK Multimedia iRig Acoustic
When I read that IK was going to introduce a mobile acoustic guitar mic, I was interested. I write a lot on acoustic first, and being able to quickly get my riffs down on my iPhone appeals to me. But when I then read that this thing was going to retail for $49, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. Until I sat through a demo. I gotta give them props, the combination of this mic and the IK Multimedia acoustic processors on iOS sounded far better than I would have imagined. So I’ll definitely be picking one of these up.
Okay, like I said, this is by no means comprehensive. There was a lot of stuff that looked cool. But these are the things that got my gear lust going.