The best audio tech at Winter NAMM 2010

We check out the best in music-making tech

  • NAMM is one of the biggest music trade shows around, showcasing everything from high-tech DJ equipment to the latest piano accordion fashions. Winter NAMM 2010 was held January 14 to 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center, California.

    Modern DJ setups may bear some resemblance to the turntables of days gone by, but these days disc jockeys pack more technology than most musicians. Numark's recently announced NDX800 CD-based turntable boasts an adjustable touch-sensitive platter for better control over the music. The turntable offers a number of effects and the ability to cue a track from different points. Best of all you can use the NDX800 as a software controller in conjunction with software like Traktor or Ableton Live.

  • Roland's V-Combo VR-700 attempts to roll all the organs, keyboards and grand pianos you will ever need into a single, relatively compact device. The stage keyboard is built to accurately emulate traditional organs down to harmonic bars on top and the sound of the speaker cabinet, and it promises to recreate grand piano sounds well, too. You also get plenty of other keyboard sounds and the ability to call-up backing tracks from USB flash drives. However, at 76 notes, this keyboard is a little shy of the Mozart-esque experience we pine for. For now, we'll stick to our prog rock-inspired eight keyboard setup.

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  • Korg used the Winter NAMM 2010 trade show to announce the Kaossilator Pro, a new addition to its range of synthesisers. Though it retains the same size and basic capabilities as its predecessors, the Kaossilator Pro provides double the number of synthesised sounds, as well as the ability to simultaneously loop four individual channels and even use vocoder patches. Tracks and whole songs can be downloaded to SD cards, or transferred via USB or MIDI cables to computer. Korg plans to release the synthesiser in March.

  • Akai's IPK25 is the first MIDI keyboard we've seen that's been built specifically for the iPhone. The keyboard has 25 velocity-sensitive keys, as well as a dock that plugs directly into an iPhone or iPod Touch. Download Akai's SynthStation Studio (US$9.99 from the App Store) and you'll be able to create music using one of the app's three available synthesisers and drum pads. Both the app and keyboards can be used independently; the app provides its own keyboard and the keyboard itself can be used as a standard MIDI controller.

  • Digital emulation of analog devices is nothing new (there have been countless attempts to revive the unique sound of Moog synthesisers, for example). The latest attempt comes courtesy of Universal Audio, which announced "the holy grail of audio plug-ins": tape machine emulation. The audio company has teamed up with engineers from Ampex to recreate the sounds of the original tape machines that became the cornerstone of modern multi-track audio recording. We can't be sure yet how successful the partnership will be, but it sure is a good sign if you have ever wanted to recreate Beatles-era rock 'n' roll.

  • Alesis' Videotrack camcorder shares some similarities with Linksys by Cisco's [[Artnid:309930|Flip range]]. Both fit in the palm of your hand and are designed to let you quickly shoot video for uploading to computers and YouTube. However, armed with a stereo microphone setup and proprietary recording technology, Alesis' pocket camcorder should be able to record gigs and rehearsals with better video and audio quality than the Fli. Alesis is planning to release the Videotrack in April.

  • Ableton and Serato are two of the biggest names when it comes to DJ software. That's why many people were probably elated to hear that musicians and DJs would be able to use both applications together. Announced at Winter NAMM 2010, [[xref:|"The Bridge"]] essentially lets you use Ableton Live set files in Serato ITCH, while also being able to save ITCH sets as Ableton files. The creative potential for leveraging the multi-tracking and time-stretching capabilities of Ableton Live within the virtual DJ interface of Serato ITCH is certainly exciting. The Bridge will be available for free for owners of both Serato Scratch Live and Ableton Live 8 or Suite 8.

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