My First NAMM—A Pictorial Journey

Now that I live on the left coast, in the land of fruits and nuts, and so very close LA, I find myself with opportunities I didn't have before. For example, paying more for everything. Or going swimming, outside, in January. And going to the NAMM show. For at least 10 years, people have been asking me, "Hey, are you going to NAMM this year?" And for 10 years I've said, "Nah, can't afford to go, and it's not deductible for me." But now that it's literally 25 minutes from my house, I figured, what the heck. Let's rock the NAMM show this year. So here we are.

Not Open To The Public. I feel so exclusive!Someone asked me on Twitter yesterday how I got in, since it's only supposed to be open to dealers. I wish I could say, I got people. I wish I could say it's because I'm a world-famous blogger who gets actual invites to shows like this. In fact, it was really easy to get in, especially for church techies. Show up at the first ever night of worship, get a NAMM badge. Really, I'm not that special.

I did get to see some cool stuff, however. I spent a good 25 minutes talking to Bruce Meyers, President of DPA. He schooled me on flat phase response microphones. They have some very cool stuff coming out, which I'll tell you about in another post. We also spent some time with Countryman and learned about a few of their new products; again, more to come. Today's post will be a collection of interesting things and people. Let's get started.

They really are beautiful boards.For starters, Toft Audio Designs mixing consoles. I've seen the ads, and looked at the pictures, and they really are as beautiful in person. Anodized, machined aluminum knobs, wood edges, clean graphics; just gorgeous. Not really suitable for live sound, but they are fun to play with.

Remember, this is for professionals...On the other end of the floor, we found this. If the Toft is too rich for your blood, you may want to consider this one. Pretty much a Peavy/Mackie/Behringer knockoff. I know digital is all the rage right now, but how many of your digital boards say "Professional Mixer" right on them? Probably not too many. So the next time some schmuck with a cup of coffee comes hanging over your booth asking, "Do you really know what all those knobs do?," you can point to this and say, "Yup, I sure do. I'm a professional!"

Finally, a rack-mounted power conditioner for iPhone users.Professional seems to be the new marketing buzzword. Over at Furman, we checked out their new Pro series rack-mounted power conditioners. These are actually pretty impressive. Gone are the night-light bulbs, finally replaced with dimmable LEDs. In typical Furman fashion, there is a model with a blank front, a step up to a bar graph voltmeter, and a model with a digital readout. All models feature better filtering, and non-sacrificial surge protection. The big news is you can also get the two models with volt metering with front panel USB charging ports. That is worth the upgrade! Speaking of upgrades, they told me if you have some old semi-working units lying around, they'll give you 40% off new ones. Check it out.

Me and my new friend Neil. Don't stop believin'Of course, NAMM is all about celebrity endorsements. Some guy named Jason Mraz generated a line that wrapped twice around the quite substantial Shure booth. That same situation was repeated with Sara Bareilles. But I'm an old guy, so I was more excited to meet Neil Shoen, guitar player for Journey. I grew up listening to his music. So that was cool.

The guy makes great mics. What more can I say.It was also fun to meet and talk with Bob Heil about microphones. Sadly, our talk was cut short when Neil showed up, but I enjoyed hearing his passion for making high quality microphones in the USA. If you're not familiar with them, read my posts on our new drum mic kit, here and here.

I was talking with someone from our staff who has been to NAMM a number of times and she said it was kind of a freak show. You have presidents of big companies in three-piece suits making multi-million dollar deals walking side by side with crazy looking rock-n-roll types. Sure enough, there was an amazing cross-section of people. Some were blending in, some stood out and some well, some stood out more than others who stood out.

I really have nothing to say about this. Other than that is her real hair.So there you go. A quick tour of NAMM without the sore feet and knees, ringing ears (next time, I'll skip the drum hall) and hazy feeling from rubbing shoulders with a few thousand people. More to come with a few very cool new products.