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The Thrill Of The New

I could swear that we now have at least three Christmases a year — I’ve only just finished clearing up after Christmas 2013. But then the same could be said of January’s Winter NAMM show, because as soon as we walk in there it seems like we never left.

I’ve now spent over six months of my life on Winter NAMM trips, but the excitement never wanes as there’s always something unexpected waiting to be discovered. On the one hand you know that there will be more mics, more monitors and more ‘same but newer’ lines on show, but tucked away there are always surprises too. On the live-sound side of show the wireless mixer seems to be making greater inroads each year with companies such as QSC, Mackie, Line 6 and Behringer all building compact units for the gigging performer. It also seems that small line-array speakers are on the increase, so it will be interesting to see if those trends continue this January.

When it comes to pedal effects, it is probably no secret that I was astonished by how well the Electro-Harmonix B9 organ pedal worked, and that lead me on to discover how great the Neo Ventilator rotary speaker simulators sound. I now have one of each firmly fixed to my pedalboard, and they are a key part of my live show. I’d love to see more pleasant surprises along the lines of the B9 because if I see one more Tube Screamer clone it’s going to be me doing the screaming!

When it comes to recording, the escalation in the release timetable of new computers and new operating systems just goes to show how tied we are to consumer platforms whose designers take far more notice of what social networking users and gamers need than what we musicians consider important. I have the greatest sympathy for plug-in developers who have to spend valuable time and resources reworking their plug-ins to cope with new hardware or new operating systems, and sometimes I wonder how they have time to come up with any new products at all.

Apple have just launched their Yosemite operating system to replace Mavericks, but I haven’t been brave enough to upgrade my own studio system, which is still happily running Mountain Lion. I’ll see what happens to other users first. I did upgrade my MacBook Pro to Mavericks, but since then most of its CPU power seems to be going into turning the coloured beach-ball of death for longer and longer periods of time.

Despite these inevitable obstacles, I’m absolutely sure we’ll be seeing a lot of cool and worthy new recording hardware and software at Winter NAMM 2015, so look out for those online news updates, NAMM videos and forthcoming reviews.

Paul White Editor In Chief