If being thoroughly overwhelmed is your thing, then the music trade show they call NAMM is a great way to kick off the year.
The 2014 North American Music Merchants expo, held as always in sunny Anaheim, CA this past week, offered up its usual massive overload of instruments, gear, and people.
According to the organization, there were 5,010 different brands to feast your eyes and ears upon at this year’s show – if anyone tells you they saw them all, they’re probably suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder that NAMM is fully capable of provoking.
The energy on the convention center floor was positive and pretty intense, pushing attendees and exhibitors along at a fast pace that never let up. The early arrival of the GRAMMY awards, broadcast on the same night as NAMM’s final day, also provided a welcome sense of motivation to all involved.
Those on the lookout for The Huge Breakthrough were probably disappointed – but they almost inevitably are. While there is still no holographic DAW interface, or mental mixing app on the market, hardware and software evolution is proceeding at a brisk pace: from monitors to 500 modules, audio interfaces to outboard gear, DAWs to digital drums, the tools used to produce music are constantly improving.
We combed NAMM looking for the latest and greatest that the industry is offering up to studios, producers, engineers, and artists. Without further ado, here’s what we experienced (click on any photo to enlarge — many more pictures are at the end of the article):
Outboard & Recording
AnaMod Realios A9052 EQ: This 500 series EQ module is based on the Olympic Studios Helios console designed by Dick Swettenham. Known for its incredibly musical characteristics, the new iteration of this EQ includes a class-A transistor output stage, a step-down input transformer and a step-up output transformer that pushes the headroom up by 6dB more than what 500 series modules typically allow.
Aphex D 500 DUO and Project 500 Channel Strip: Were always interested in what’s brewing at Aphex, and their booth didn’t disappoint in 2014. First off, we liked the D 500 DUO, a 500 series rack with analog and digital I/O – it offers S/PDIF digital inputs and outputs going up to 192k, 880mA power supplies for highly demanding 500 series modules, chaining and stereo linking, balanced inserts, and word clock in/out ($499 MAP). Aphex also showed the project 500, a unit that they say is the first full channel strip in a 500 series module – that’s a class a mic preamp, optical compressor, and dual-Dan semi-parametric EQ in one little space ($399 MAP). Availability commences in March.
Bettermaker EQ 232P & EQ 232P Remote: A marriage of analog and digital, this clean sounding, versatile EQ unit features discrete analog processing with digital control. With a classic Pultec section, this EQ includes 999 user presets with instant recall. Using a USB link, the 232P can act as a plug-in, with AU, VST, and RTAS capability at both 32 and 64 bit. Furthermore, you can save these presets not only in the unit itself, but in your DAW and in your individual sessions with automation. Pulling more of the plug-in mentality into the analog world, the 232P also allows you to A/B between settings.
Bettermaker EQ 542: This is essentially the 500 series version of the Bettermaker EQ 232P with 399 user presets, steel screen isolators for analog/digital separation and connectivity of up to 99 EQ 542s to one DAW, controlled via plug-in.
Coleman Red 48: Analog console features in a compact piece of gear with three basic sections: control room monitor, communications and the mix buss. In short, the control room monitor section is made up of a passive stepped attenuator and a remote dim switch, located on the classic P&G fader box. Also on the remote fader box are slate and talkback switches. The communications section is a talk back mic and a level control summing into the headphones. The mix buss section has 48 hard left and right (24 stereo) analog inputs that sum to left and right. Other features include three balanced input sources in the control room selector section, alternate speaker source, built in talk back mic with input for external talk back switch, and engineer headphone out with separate level control that selects either the cue feed or control room signal.
Crane Song Syren: A classic tube pre-amp in a compact 500 series module. Versatile in its design, the Syren has a dual gain stage allowing for overdrive and a choice of negative feedback through the second stage to change the color of the sound. By changing how the two tube stages interact, the pre-amp can deliver a wider frequency response and a clearer, more accurate sound when negative feedback is utilized, while creating a more open, classically warm sound without negative feedback.
Daking 500 Recording System: A fully stocked 500 lunchbox system that includes two mic pres, two compressors, two EQ’s and an API PSU. Made with Class A circuitry and discrete transistor technology, the modules are high performance with low current draw. The Pres include Jensen transformers, 70dB of gain and an instrument jack direct input on the front panel. The Compressors include single-sided amplifiers delivering high headroom, fast and transparent compression and a stereo link that allows for “any number” of units to be linked. Finally, the EQ’s also use single-sided amplifiers and offer five frequency selections in each band, high and low shelving and inductor based high and low mid peaking. Also, according to the Daking cut sheet, the EQ’s are gluten free.
Dangerous Compressor: NAMM is where we got our first good look at the Dangerous Compressor, coming in February for $2799. An all-VCA design, it displays virtually no distortion even with 20 DB gain reduction. Its simple layout is easy to master, featuring tools like Dangerous’ “Smart Dyn Dual Slpe Detection” which automatically limits errant peaks while it compresses the average, and a time-saving auto attack/release. Its transparent sound is made all the sweeter with niceties like internal sidechain circuitry, bass cut, and sibilance boost.
Focusrite iTrack Dock: Another device generating steady interest was the iTrack Dock from Focusrite. We covered the launch earlier on SonicScoop, but feeling the substantial build of this professional dock for iPad recording took our appreciation to the next level. A high quality portable interface, it features two preamps from the Focusrite Scarlett range of USB interfaces. Especially fun was trying it with the free Tape app, which makes it incredibly fast and easy to record a track and upload it directly to SoundCloud.
Lavry Engineering LK-Solo: This intriguing new unit from the mind of Dan Lavry should make its way into many Studios this year. A 1/2 rack-size version of the original 2RU latency killer, the solo serves two functions. First, it serves as a high-quality headphone amplifier with super-accurate analog stepped volume control (½ dB increments). But it’s also an extremely useful tool for 2-channel recording and overdubbing, which gives the performer 100% zero latency from any digital recording system. In essence, the LK-Solo contributes zero signal distortion and noise to the recording, due to the fact that each LK-Solo output connector is hardwired to the respective input connector — with no electronics in the signal path between. As Lavry points out, mixers place many additional circuits in the signal path, adding coloration, phase distortion, and noise to the signals, but the LK-Solo does not. Intrigued? Definitely give it a try.
Little Labs Pepper: The intermediary between pro gear and guitar gear allowing you to blend pedal effects with pro audio effects, such as a rack of compressors or EQ’s. Both inputs have a hard bypass and there’s an instrument thru so the user can blend in a dry guitar signal for more attack and intelligibility. Built with hi-fi differential op-amps and UTC style transformers, it’s pro audio with musician capabilities, including a mic-level DI out and level matching capabilities to ensure insert in and out level matching for re-amping purposes.
Manley Core: One of the most buzzed about new releases in the Pro audio section was the Manley CORE reference channel strip. Designed with the working musician firmly in mind, the unit sports a very efficient yet attractive layout, allowing home studio producers to dial in their sound faster. Fewer knobs, fewer dollars – at just $2,250 retail the CORE puts a Manley tube-driven channel strip complete with mic preamp, compressor, EQ and limiter combo-unit, within reach. Availability is slated for end of March.
Phoenix N90-DRC/500: Designed by David Rees, this is a reconfigured 500 series compressor/gate with class A amplification and VCA control. Wanting to steer away from engineering with your eyes, this piece is meant to be used “by ear,” with no “perfect” settings for all situations. The compression is musical and smooth; inaudible processing due to the hi-fi components and classic design.
QSC TouchMix: More than one informer told us that we HAD to swing by the QSC booth and see what was a-brewin’. There we saw the TouchMix, a compact digital mixer designed for musicians, production pros, and live performance venues. Described by QSC as the sonic equivalent of a “point and shoot” digital camera, it’s a completely self-contained system designed to get great results quickly. The TM-16 (there’s also an 8-channel version) has 20 inputs, 4-band full parametric EQ, touchscreen GI, direct t0 hard-drive recording and playback of mutitrack .WAV files, and remote control via mobile devices. Judging from the buzz, QSC may have a hit on its hand with its very first mixer.
Radial Engineering Space Heater and HeadLoad: It’s a safe bet that you’ll find something innovative and interesting at Radial Engineering, and that held true again in 2014. We loved getting a look at the Space Heater 8-channel tube drive summing amp, which promises to bring attitude to mixing in the box. And recordists and performers alike will get off on the Headload guitar amplifier and attenuator, a smart design that allows to reduce their volume levels even while driving the amp hard for maximum tone. After witnessing the demo we saw how it would not only be a help onstage, but to home and personal studio recordists who crave a huge guitar sound without being able to make it too too loud. If you lack the amp closet or fully isolated live room, this is a welcome solution.
Rupert Neve Designs 551 500 Series Inductor EQ: SonicScoop readers were ecstatic about the recent announcement of this unit, the first and only 500 series EQ designed by Rupert Neve himself. We certainly enjoyed seeing this black beauty in person…touching it…FEELING his audio aura. Featuring three bands of EQ inspired by Neve’s beloved vintage designs, custom-wound inductors, transformers and class-A gain blocks, all for $950, it’s a welcome chance to have Rupert in the room.
Universal Audio Apollo Twin: Introduced at NAMM, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin is an extremely solid-feeling desktop audio interface, bolstered by a big package of classic UAD plugins, with the new Unison preamp technology. We can see the Twin proving to be a serious contender for the attention of singer/songwriters, touring musicians, and anyone else who wants an extremely high quality interface in a compact – and affordable (priced under $1,000) – form factor.
Blue Microphones “Hampton”: Another SCOOP on display was Blue’s upcoming small diaphragm pencil condenser mic. Code-named “Hampton” and coming out later in 2014 for under $500, it will provide great transient response and features an extremely convenient rotating mic head, for perfect placement. While a whiz-bang teaser AV presentation was running for their much ballyhooed Mo-Fi headphones, alas the cans were not onsite.
Bock Audio iFet: Spied at the Trans Audio Group booth was not just the mic, but the man behind it. We saw this phantom powered (P48) FET condenser mic before, but we still love that it’s two mics in one – it has two different sets of electronics (mic amplifiers) sharing a K47 type capsule and large core, specially-designed Bock output transformer. The result is two “modes” for the Bock iFet that offer two distinctly different sounds: the ideal FET mic for kick drums, and a classic FET vocal mic for a plethora of voices.
Sontronics ARIA Valve Mic: At the Professional Audio Design booth, we were treated to our first look at the lovely Sontronics ARIA microphone. A valve condenser mic with a fixed cardioid pattern, it was designed by company founder Trevor Coley specifically as a secret weapon for tracking vocals. The UK-based Coley outfitted ARIA with a large 1.07-inch edge-terminated capsule, a hand selected European tube, and an accompanying power supply with pad and filter switches, plus a “tube ready” LED indicating that the mic is properly warmed up. Beta-tested by Paul Epworth, PJ Harvey, and multiple Abbey Road engineers, the ARIA sports silky smoothness, accurate response, and a smooth high-frequency roll off. It is available now for $1,199.
Telefunken M60 FET: There’s nothing we like better than a good SCOOP, and that’s exactly what we got when we traversed the Telefunken booth. Hiding in plain sight was their upcoming M60 FET, a solid state beauty that represents their first non-vacuum tube-based condenser mic. Built with the same capsules as the mighty ELA M 260, this mic should be a honey for drum overheads, acoustic guitar piano, and other instruments. Availability will commence in the beginning of Q3.
Monitors, Headphones, & Amplifiers
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones: Another NAMM first look was happening at the Audio-Technica booth, where a steady stream of visitors were experiencing the newly introduced ATH-M50x headphones. The deluxe version of their recently re-imagined M-Series headphone line, it shares the sound of their top-of-the-line ATH-M50, while adding refined ear pads and three detachable cables. Designed for recording, mixing, broadcast, DJ, live sound, and personal listening applications, we found these headphones to be extremely comfortable while delivering very clear and accurate sound. They will be available starting in February, with a price range between $239 and $259, depending on the color scheme.
Equator D8: The latest from the company best known for their unique co-axial driver design where the tweeter sits in the center of the bass/mid driver. The D8 is a larger and more technologically advanced version of the D5s. In short, this speaker can be several. Using a wi-fi powered dongle that plugs into the back of the monitor, the user can choose from 3 or 4 presets, including NS10s, Auratones or simply a flat D8 response. The DSI software is both Mac and PC compatible and allows the user to access the internal DSP of the speakers, to not only set presets but make subtle changes in the EQ to better suit various listening situations. When listening to the flat D8 response, the speakers are tremendously clear without being too nice. They deliver transparent, honest sound with impressive stereo imaging, depth and focus.
JBL 3 Series Monitors: We were very impressed by our first listen of this group of powered studio monitors, plus subwoofer. Boasting the waveguide technology from JBL’s flagship M2 Master Reference monitors, they create a sizable sweet spot and illustrate great detail in the sonics. With the 305 priced at $149, the larger 308 at $249, and the 10-inch 200 W sub at $499, the 3-series provides excellent value to the personal studio producer.
KRK ROKIT Generation 3: We got our first listen to this latest addition in KRK’s series of studio monitors. Ranging in price from $149 for the 50 watt ROKIT 5 to $249 for the 100 watt ROKIT 8, they put out plenty of power with very realistic imaging. Watch out for the white versions coming soon – they’ll blind you with science!
Line 6 AMPLIFI: Upstairs from the main hall, Line 6 likes to maintain its own personal complex. Visitors to their room were greeted with a pyramid of AMPLIFI – what Line 6 is describing as an entirely new kind of guitar amplifier. And they just might be right: it converges a high-performance 5-speaker stereo design guitar amp, streaming Bluetooth capability, and an iOS app control & cloud connection. Available in 150-watt ($499) or a more portable 75-watt ($399) version, AMPLIFI covers an extremely wide frequency spectrum, and can even match its tones to the music library selections that are being streamed through it. Plus, favorite and customized guitar tones can be shared and stored in the cloud, making AMPLIFI a strong resource for tone discovery. Ideal for jamming or intensive home-listening, it’s a “digital lifestyle device” and uniquely versatile new addition to the music world.
Sennheiser HD8 DJ Headphones: Sennheiser had a tough act to follow with its long-running HD 25 DJ headphones. However, it looks like they may have surpassed their reputation with the newly introduced line of professional mixing and DJ cans. In addition to the HD 8 headphones http://en-us.sennheiser.com/on-ear-headphones-stereo-hd8-dj you see here twisting the day away, Sennheiser also unveiled the HD6 Mix ($279.95) and HD7 DJ ($329.95). We thought the HD8 ($389.95) sounded amazing, felt extremely comfortable — and clearly have built-in durability.
Shure SE846 Sound Isolating Earphones: Moving from on-ear to in-ear, we were blown away by our first listen of the Shure SE846 (MAP $999) . Built with quad high-definition micro drivers and a sure-as-shootin’ subwoofer, these were created to put as much sound as possible safely into your ear canal. Customizable frequency response only sweetens the deal. Ideal for onstage use or extremely high-fi personal listening.
Sonodyne SRP Studio Monitors: Known for their unique capabilities when it comes to power amplifiers, electronics integration, and acoustics + die cast cabinet technology, Sonodyne launched their expansive new range of competitively-priced SRP monitors at NAMM. Available for between $800-$2500/pair, the SRP line is distinguished by a unique acoustic waveguide, resulting in clear, detailed high frequency response over a wide sweet spot. Meanwhile, an aluminum pressure die cast molded enclosure eliminates vibrations and standing wave buildup, for a smooth and extended low frequency response and detailed midrange. Neodymium magnet HF tranducers, a Kevlar cone, DSP enabled biamplifier, and toroidal transformers are all employed in the design.
Avid Sibelius 7.5: Avid has made its commitment to Sibelius plain with the release of Version 7.5. It will ship with the Sibelius Sounds library, which includes 36+ GB of content, including a specially recorded Symphony Orchestra, rock, and pop instruments. Also impressive was the “Espressivo 2.0″ feature, which allows for entirely new levels of expressiveness; the extremely deep collaboration and sharing features for publishing to ScoreExchange, and even as video or audio files on YouTube, Facebook, and SoundCloud. Finally, full Scorch app integration allows composers to optimize their scores for iPad display. Availability is “soon”.
Bitwig Studio 1.0 –It’s not every day that a new DAW comes along, so we found ourselves magnetically attracted to Bitwig Studio 1.0. Designed by a team of rebellious programmers, its attractive interface offers a notably fast, creative and musical workflow. A tabbed document interface allows users to have multiple projects open at the same time, with drag and drop between them. A Clip Launcher can draft a songs layout on the fly, or be used exclusively as a performance tool. Or trip out on the Dynamic Object Inspector, for intuitive note/event editing. Plus, multiple audio events are possible per clip, allowing for the automatic cutting of samples and on-the-fly rearranging. Bitwig Studio debuts in March, for $399.99 MAP.
iZotope BreakTweaker: It’s safe to say we dug upon BreakTweaker, the “future beat machine” from iZotope. Designed by BT himself, this is a highly flexible tool for making beats. Getting glitchy is just the beginning – you can use it to introduce melodic elements to your grooves, and invent new rhythms you would never even have dreamed of without it.
Instruments & Controllers
Arturia Beatstep: It wasn’t difficult to see the potential for the new Arturia BeatStep. A gorgeous portable pad controller, it has MIDI, CV, and USB connectivity, meaning that it can trigger everything from Live clips to vintage analog synths. A 16-step analog sequencer as well, there are a lot of groovy tunes you can imagine putting in motion with BeatStep. It ships in March for $129.
Nu Desine Alphasphere: One of the more fun pieces at NAMM, this USB globe-like device has 48 pressure and velocity sensitive pads that serve as MIDI triggers. The Alphasphere can be mapped and programmed using existing 3rd party software or the custom AlphaLive software. Polyphonic, with loop, and trigger capabilities, it can also be used to for lighting and visual setups.
Outside the Box
Auralex Gramma: Visitors to the Auralex booth were treated to a sneak peek of the next-generation GRAMMA (Gig and Recording, Amp and Monitor, Modulation Attenuator). The company’s patented device for floating amps or loudspeakers is about to get a host of improvements including new materials and a better handle (no small consideration for the gigging musician). The outcome: enhanced performance with a lower profile.
Roadie Tuner: A fully mechanized automatic guitar tuner with accompanying iPhone app technology. When tuning an electric guitar, plug your 1/4” into a mini adapter into your iPhone (Android compatibility on its way). The Roadie tuner app allows you to select your tuning and as you hit a string, using Bluetooth technology, the Roadie tuner will spin the tuning peg to the appropriate pitch. When tuning an acoustic guitar, the same Bluetooth technology applies, but uses the onboard microphone instead of a cable.
– Eleanor Goldfield & David Weiss
Friendship, music and whiskey have converged in an unprecedented new way at the Brooklyn HQ of Grado Labs.
This NYC audio hotspot has distilled – and just launched – the limited edition Bushmills x Grado Labs headphones. Designed by none other than acclaimed actor Elijah Wood and LA music maven Zach Cowie, these gorgeous-to-behold headphones are crafted from recycled white oak bodies from the wood of old barrels from Bushmills Distillery in Ireland.
Over-engineering was NOT allowed in the design, which retains Grado’s trademark sound and feature a vented back design — representing a first in Grado headphone history. They also sport a custom brown leather headband, with a wooden outer box.
These intoxicating headphones sell for $395. The first run sold out in one day, but visitors to this page can sign up for an email alert if/when the next shipment arrives. PLUS, five more pairs are up for grabs: visit the Giveaway’s FB page to enter by December 9th.
If you need to get geeky about it, the tech specs of these Grado/Bushmills beauties are as follows.
• transducer type – dynamic
• operating principle – vented back
• frequency response – 16hz to 26kHz
• spl at 1mW – 98dB
• nominal impedance – 32 ohms
• driver match – .05dB
And don’t miss this “making of” vid!
These headphones were developed in conjunction with Grammy-winning audio engineer, Young Guru (Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Alicia Keys), who personally designed and engineered a unique frequency response for the TMA-1 Studio.
The AIAIAI TMA-1 Studio reference headphones will be available worldwide July, 17th for $249USD MSRP. Here are more details from AIAIAI and Young Guru:
“The TMA-1 Studio Young Guru Edition is the latest professional headphone from acclaimed audio technology manufacturer AIAIAI designed and engineered in collaboration with Grammy-winning sound engineer Young Guru whose work includes Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, and Alicia Keys. The Young Guru Edition is design for the highly discerning on-the-go producer and sound engineer in need of a durable reference headphone that delivers high-quality, full clarity, detailed audio for the studio and on the road use. The professional reference headphone is centered on a signature sound design by Young Guru offering an accurate audio representation of a physical studio environment in a pair of headphone whether producing, mixing or engineering music.
- Sound – developed in collaboration with the Grammy-winning sound engineer, the Young Guru signature sound accurately replicates the studio environment for discerning reference monitoring, supported by a high-grade 40mm titanium driver.
- Cushions – the interchangeable earpads are made of soft Japanese memory foam polyurethane ensuring maximum comfort for lengthy sessions, while a high-quality microfiber material covers the earpads adding durability and an extra layer of comfort.
- Headband – the one-piece headband is designed for high durability to withstand daily use, and the polyurethane headband cushion is covered in a high-quality microfiber material for added comfort, while the adjustable earcups offer perfect ear positioning,
- Reduced Weight – the Young Guru Edition of the TMA-1 Studio is the lightest weighing TMA-1 model at just 180 grams (0.4 lbs), resulting in minimal weight-stress on the head during mixing sessions, making for a more comfortable fit and reducing listener fatigue.
- Cable & Plug – a robust all-metal plug with polished finish is accompanied by a top-grade, high-gauge flexible headphone cable designed to withstand the rigors of the road as well as minimize cable memory for ease-of-use in any listening environment.”
Comfortable headphones with good fidelity and a low price point will never go out of style in the studio.
TASCAM aims to complete that trifecta for music producers, engineers and artists with the new TH-02 closed-back headphones. Available now for a street price of $29.95, the new headgear is a result of significant R&D – according to TASCAM, the company spent over a year comparing technologies, designs and methods to provide a $100 dollar headphone for less than a third of the cost.
Here are more details about the TH-02, in the words of TASCAM:
“The sensitivity and frequency response of the TH-02 deliver clear balanced sound to fit all favorite tunes, regardless of genre or application. These high-powered headphones produce pristine highs, clear mid-range, and rich low end where most other headphones leave one yearning for more.
TASCAM understands that just as important as the sound of ones headphones is a clean modern design and comfort. Featuring plush cushioned ear cuffs and a padded headband; TH-02 can be put to work for hours of comfortable use. Both left and right
ear-cuffs offer full 90° rotation, making TH-02 flexible to wear when listening to favorite albums, tracking for hours or performing all night. The folding design of the TH-02 allows them to compactly fit wherever they need to go.
TASCAM’s TH-02 headphones can easily be a part of one’s everyday accessories but also fit into a recording or performing workflow. Don’t just hear with any pair of headphones; truly listen to the details of music and media while enjoying comfort and flexibility. With the TH-02 headphone, TASCAM (as always) has delivered first-class quality, style and design at a price everyone can appreciate.
Main TH-02 Features:
• Foldable Design for Easy Compact Transport
• Tightly-Stitched,Padded Headband and Ear Cuffs for Stylish Comfort
• Closed-Back Design with Clean Sound – Rich Bass Response and Crisp Highs
• Snap-on 1/8(3.5mm)to1/4(6.3mm)Adapter
• Loudhailer Diameter: 50mm
• Impedance: 32O
• Sensitivity9dB± 3
• Frequency Response: 1H–2kHz
• Cable Length: About 9.8ft (3m) when fully extended”
These days, it’s all about leveraging your assets in as many ways as possible.
Maybe that’s why CAD Audio has designed its newest professional headphones line, Sessions MH510, with a trio of applications in mind: for performers in recording sessions, players in live audio environments, and audio enthusiasts who are just listening to music.
The MSRP of the MH510 is $159.00. Here’s what CAD says about the latest pair for your ears:
“Growing from a decade long collaboration of CAD’s experience and expertise in the design of professional audio equipment, the MH510 headphones produce a wide frequency response (10Hz – 24kHz) with extended lows, smooth mids and articulate, life-like highs for accurate and natural reproduction.
The MH510’s high SPL capability delivers ample volume while the design provides exceptional isolation ensuring a private listening experience that virtually eliminates bleed through into the playback environment.
In addition to professional specifications and performance, the Session MH510 phones are available in a distinct and modern cosmetic design with four colors––Black, White/Red, Back Chrome and Black/Orange to choose from.
The MH510s feature exceptional power handling capability along with high quality construction to stand up to the most demanding use without sacrificing extended listening comfort. Each headphone is supplied with two cables (coiled and straight) and two sets of earpads to satisfy changing user demands.”
OK, we admit it – we can see this making the music pro in your life pretty happy this holiday season.
“AMPED UP SOUND
Designed specifically to mark 50 years of loud, the Major 50 FX brings the big stage directly to your ears. Engineered to deliver a sound all its own, the Major 50 FX pays homage to the massive Marshall legacy with its punchy lows, clear mid-tones and higher-than-human highs. This is a headphone that brings you a rich and crunchy sound throughout the frequency range.
The inner ear caps borrow the fret detailing used for the Marshall 50th anniversary line of amplifiers, while the outer parts are adorned with gold accents. Vintage Marshall is also echoed on the headband, constructed from the same vinyl used for Marshall amps, and as a nod to Marshall’s glory, the inside is inscribed with the date and place it all began – London, England, 1962.
CANVAS CARRY CASE
The Marshall Major 50 FX comes with a roadworthy canvas carrying case for transport and storage.
The outer parts are adorned with gold accents. The inner ear caps borrow the fret detailing used for the Marshall 50th anniversary line of amplifiers.
WITH FX (COMES FULLY LOADED)
As a FX product, the Marshall Major 50 FX comes fully loaded with an Apple-certified microphone and remote, and volume control.”
This week, AKG introduced a newly designed version of its classic D12!
The new D12 VR large-diaphragm cardioid microphone has been rebuilt specifically for kick drum recording and live applications.
According to AKG…
The D12 VR (vintage sound re-issue) offers a thin diaphragm within its newly designed capsule, which enhances low-frequency performance. With phantom power disabled, the D12 delivers accurate, pure character from the sound source. With phantom power enabled, one of three switchable active-filter presets can be used to quickly adapt the mic’s response to suit the user’s desired kick drum.
The “vintage-style” premium bass microphone offers three active sound shapes for recording: open kick drum, closed kick drum and vintage sound. D12 is manufactured with the original AKG C414 transformer from the 1970s.
The AKG D12 was originally introduced in 1953 – the world’s first dynamic cardioid mic with a unidirectional design. The AKG D12 VR is expected to retail for around $560 and to ship in October 2012.Click for more details!
Both the Anniversary Edition C451 microphone and K702 headphones are available for 599 Euro, or $766 at today’s exchange rates. They are now available globally.
Since it’s AKG’s big day, we’ll let them do the talking – here’s all of the details from AKG on their latest launch:
AKG’s C451 65th Anniversary Edition condenser embodies sound from the legendary C451 EB with the CK1 capsule delivering stunning quality and precision accuracy. Since its introduction in 1969, the C451 has been continuously improved and has demonstrated its durability under the harshest onstage environments. The C451’s transformer-less preamp enables high sound pressure capability, allowing for close miking of high-energy sound sources up to 155 dB SPL without distortion.
The reference small-diaphragm is an excellent tool for capturing the smallest details of any instrument due to its lightweight membrane and sophisticated acoustic design, which makes it the perfect choice for accurately capturing drums, percussion, acoustic guitar and overhead miking.
The K702 Anniversary Edition headphones bring a new level of precision to the line with newly designed genuine leather headband and soft velour ear pads for maximum comfort during long recording or listening sessions. With its patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm and revolutionary flat-wire voice coil, K702 delivers pristine sound with incredible impulse and treble response.
K702’s reference-style headphones boast an over-ear, open-back design, with extremely accurate response. Its sophisticated technology allows for spacious and airy sound without compromise.
AKG’s C451 and K702 65th Anniversary Limited Edition sets both stun with a new Titan semi-gloss finish.”
Headphones are more popular now than ever before — and today’s music fans aren’t just listening on cheap earbuds, either. Although the consumer audio sector didn’t perform very well on the whole during the great recession, Hi-Fi headphones were the one category to boldly defy that trend. While the rest of the consumer sound market dropped by 14%, sales of headphones grew by 25% in the UK during 2011 alone.
But this growth hasn’t been limited to the number of sales. The average cost of headphones has been rising as well. In the US, sales of headphones priced over $100 have more than doubled, adding over $200 million in new revenue to the market. Unfortunately, some of us audio geeks may think that listeners’ priorities can be misplaced at times. 54% of consumers said that the “brand” of headphones was “very important” in their choice, while only 48% said the same for “sound quality.”
But before we get all high and mighty, let’s take a look at what headphones we’ve been listening on in the studio, and then evaluate where they serve us well — and where they don’t. Because today, having a reliable headphone reference may be more important than ever.
Sony MDR-7506 ($99)
Pros: They’re hard to break, they’re loud, and they’re everywhere.
Cons: Extremely quirky frequency response; Have been out-classed by many new models.
Everyone who knows audio knows the MDR-7506 headphones. They are quite possibly one of the most ubiqutous models of headphones of all time. They’re loud and hard to break, and the 7506′s rugged closed-back design make them a sensible choice for the tracking room floor, intensive day-to-day handling and live sound applications.
On the other hand, the MDR-7506 headphones are not without their quirks. How can you tell if your mix sounds right on these Sonys? Well, if it strikes you as too bright, too brash and too boomy, you’re probably headed in the right direction.
In the interest of sounding loud and exciting, the 7506s are unusually bright headphones, with a frequency response somewhere between a smiley face and a roller-coaster. This may help them overcome the “boxiness” of older closed-back designs in order to easily win audio “sip-tests”, but it doesn’t mean they’re an ideal choice for all users.
For some listeners, this hyped-up response may sound refreshing over short periods of time. The unfortunate flip side is that these headphones can become grating over long listening stretches. In any event, their hyped-up sound doesn’t stack the deck in your favor when it comes to making smart choices about EQ and frequency balance.
The larger, more expensive MDR-7509 can sound a bit bigger in the lows and smoother on top than the MDR-7506, but still have a frequency response of Appalachian proportions. The smaller, more affordable MDR-7502 may be a little brighter than what some other brands of headphones have to offer, but they might sound the most neutral of this series – although perhaps not the most impressive.
Sennheiser HD-280 Pro ($99)
Pros: Hard to break, great isolation, un-hyped sound.
Cons: Lacks the benefits of more expensive open-back designs; Not ideal for mixing or critical listening.
The Sennheiser HD-280 Pro headphones are now established as one of the rising stars of a newer generation of headphone designs.
They can handle a lot of abuse, and their extremely well-insulated closed-back design reduces bleed and cuts out significant levels of outside noise. This makes the HD-280 an exceptional choice for tracking sessions, and its acoustic-isolation properties are especially useful in live sound applications.
Although the HD-280 headphones may be one of the best tracking models available for under $100, they’re not without their limitations. Since the HD-280 lacks the uncolored performance of more expensive open-back headphones, so they’re not recommended for critical listening decisions or as a mix reference.
Additionally, some singers can find the isolating effect of well-insulated headphones to be confusing, and the old “removing one headphone” trick can be necessary more often than not with this type of design.
AKG K240 Studio ($99)
Pros: Affordable, comfortable open-back design delivers neutral frequency response.
Cons: Larger than many other studio headphones; Wire-to-body connection may not be rugged enough for heavy-handling situations; Open-back means more headphone bleed (in both directions).
The AKG K 240 is one of the modern classics of high-quality headphones. Of all the models we’ve listed here so far, they’re easily the most un-hyped and reliable from a critical-listening standpoint.
The one drawback is that although the open-back design of these headphones allows for a better frequency response, it also means more sound can get in and out. Headphones in this class are ill-suited for live sound scenarios and for tracking sessions that involve loud bands.
Some singers, however, may enjoy the relative lack of acoustic isolation the K240 provides, and this style of headphone can sometimes help improve pitch issues without the need to remove one ear-cup. If you don’t mind a smidge of headphone bleed in the mic, they can be terrific in this application.
An updated version, K 240 MK II, is also available for $199.
Grado Labs SR-325is ($295) & RS2i ($495)
Pros: Neutral, durable, compact open-back design ideal for critical listening; Made locally in Brooklyn, NY by a classic and committed family-owned business.
Cons: Fairly expensive; Not ideally suited for tracking or live sound applications.
When you put on a good pair of Grado headphones, don’t expect to be blown away by their sound. Instead, expect not to hear them at all. That’s the beauty of all of Grado’s best designs. They stand aside and allow you a direct link to your music.
Although the SR-325is and RS 2i are not technically part of Grado’s “Professional Series” (The PS-500 and PS-1000 sell for $600 and $1,000, respectively) they are a great set, and would make a near-ideal headphone reference for most engineers and musicians.
The entire Grado line is worth investigating, and they offer superb models that run from $79 on up to $1,700.
In this general price range, open-backed models from AKG like the K701 and K702 (both $349) are also worth a look, as are their closed-back K271 MKII ($269) which are suitable for tracking and live sound as well.
Is this the hybrid headphone we’ve been waiting for? A newcomer on the scene, MultiSonus Audio, has officially launched their new line of EartBombz in-ear headphones, which combine the performance of a professional isolating in-ear headphone with the functions common to use in phones, iPads and other portable consumer devices.
There are three tiers of the EarBombz product line: the “A-Bombz” (Absolute Audio Resolution) (MSRP: $24.95), the “H-Bombz” (High-definition Sound) (MSRP: $39.95), and the flagship “EB-Pro” (MSRP: $79.95) series, the latter of which are designed to meet professional standards in and out of the studio.
All three products include in-line microphones and are compatible with a wide range of professional and consumer technology including tablets, smart phones, computers, mixing boards, and stage monitors.
The founding team of Seattle-based MultiSonus Audio, which includes performers, engineers, producers, and avowed techies, developed the EarBombz using carefully considered acoustic engineering, high-quality materials, and components configured for durability
“Things seem to be quieting down—until you slip on a pair of wireless headphones and jump into Brooklyn’s wildest dance party, where a live DJ is spinning tunes directly into your head . . . and onlookers are watching one crazy silent movie.“
Where: Brooklyn’s Great Googa Mooga Festival in the Nethermead Meadow of Prospect Park.
What: Silent Disco
When: Saturday, May 18th from 7pm – 9pm; Sunday, May 19th 6:30- 8pm
Admission: General Tickets, Free; Extra Mooga $249.50 — visit here to see if general tickets are still available
Have you heard of Silent Disco? Or shall we say experienced the Silent Disco? Silent Disco creates a “Dancing to nothing” utopia for live music event attendees by replacing a live speaker system with wireless headphones. Each guest receives an individual pair of wireless headphones, then channels into the live music broadcast via FM-Transmitter and listens to the live music act. Thus, creating a silent atmosphere without violating local noise restrictions in evening hours.
The Silent Disco was first spawned in 2005 at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival. But, it was San Francisco DJ Robbie “Motion Potion” Kowal who brought the concept stateside to Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in 2006. Since then this oxymoron phenomenon has been spreading worldwide from festivals to rooftops.
But, is Silent Disco encouraging a more isolating environment or does it inspire communal interaction? The headphones are creative because this allows you the same experience whether in the front row of the crowd or in the back. You can also turn the headphones off or turn down the volume providing no reason to escape the loudspeaker noise to have an intimate conversation.
With all the delicious food and beverages that the festival will bring, ending in a Silent Disco, will be a great way to people watch, digest and dance! Expand your palate and your mind!
Check it out at Brooklyn’s Great Googa Mooga festival in the Nethermead Meadow of Prospect Park. Silent Disco will be grooving on Saturday from 7pm – 9pm Sunday 6:30- 8pm. Get in FREE or pay $249.50 — timing is everything!