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January 18, 2011

Best of NAMM 2011: The Top 11

Following tradition, we present to you Audiofanzine’s Top 11 gear picks from NAMM 2011.

The organizers of NAMM 2011 promised us to ‘take it to 11’ this year at Anaheim.  Were they referencing Spinal Tap or giving a nod to the year 2011? Or maybe even Audiofanzine’s traditional Top 11 NAMM list 😉 ?  Either way, this was a very busy and interesting NAMM.  Pre-NAMM rumors came true, the Steinberg website crashed, and Audiofanzine started shooting reel the night before doors opened.  Being jet-lagged from Europe apparently has its advantages.

NAMM 2011 will be remembered as the year of the tech hard gear.  From the deluge of products that were released this year, it was really hard to limit our list to just 11 items.  Hence, we added our Very Honorable Mentions section.  I remind our readers again, that the list is presented in no particular order (the products at the top of the list are not ‘better’ than others), there is no real way to compare products from different classes, and at the end, this is just our opinion.

The Top 11

omg11.  Spectrasonics and Bob Moog Foundation OMG-1

Oh my god!   Designed by Spectrasonics’ Eric Persing, the OMG-1 is the product of a collaboration between Spectrasonics and the Bob Moog Foundation.  The components are a Moog Little Phatty analogue synthesizer, two iPod touches, two Apple iPads, an Akai LPK 25, an Apple Mac mini, Spectrasonics Omnisphere and the new Spectrasonics TR app. These are all integrated into a hand-crafted curly maple cabinet created by American artisan Daniel Auon.

It is a sight to behold – and strictly a one-off that you can’t buy [note: gear that you can’t buy…a strange concept indeed]. However, Eric Persing is donating the OMG-1 to the Bob Moog Foundation, which will be offering it as a prize in a competition that kicks off on 15 March.

2.  Cubase 6


cubase 6Wasn’t 5.5 just released?  Well, Cubase 6 and Cubase Artist 6 offer enhanced features within the Project window. The newly introduced Track Edit Groups option is designed to refine the work with multitrack recordings, allowing related events on multiple tracks to be grouped and edited simultaneously, while the new Lane Track offers convenient multitake comping for selecting and consolidating audio parts to form the perfect take. The redesigned transient and automatic tempo detection, phase-accurate audio quantization and drum replacement functions incorporated in Cubase 6 help to smooth out  glitches in live-recorded drum tracks. The Key Editor has further been enhanced with an Inspector panel and the groundbreaking Note Expression feature for creating and editing multiple controller values on a single-note level. Also included is the new Dynamics Lane, which allows real-time listening of dynamic changes while automatically in sync with dynamic notations from the Score Editor.  For all new features you can check out Steinberg’s site, which has since recovered…

3.  Eventide Space

The little reverb box that could! Eventide Reverb in a compact case for Guitar, Stage and Studio. Space features 12 of Eventide’s signature reverb combination effects taken from the H8000FW and Eclipse V4. These effects, previously available only in Eventide rack processors, are now available in a compact package.  It has reverb algorithms combined with delays, pitch shifting, tremolo, modulation, and special effects.  And how does it sound? Wonderfully wicked!

4.  Dave Smith Tempest

tempestDave Smith is tempting us again with his new analog drum machine.  Tempest is a collaboration between Smith and instrument designer Roger Linn.  Tempest is Smith’s first to utilize analog synthesis to generate the sounds. “We’ve designed a very flexible new synth voice for Tempest,” said Smith. Linn added, “The design of Tempest reflects a rethinking of what a drum machine needs to be in the current era. It’s not so much a drum machine as a new musical performance instrument for the creation, manipulation, and arrangement of beat-oriented music, with an intuitive and efficient use of human gestures.”  Tempest’s 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads are arranged in an 8 x 2 array to facilitate both real-time and step entry of beats. Two pressure- and position-sensitive Note FX slide controllers provide a new method of performance and control.

5.  Korg Kronos


Korg teased us mercilessly before the show started, but finally Korg introduced the Kronos Music Workstation. Kronos unites nine individual synthesis engines in a single instrument. Together, they represent the legacy of Korg, and the history of the electronic keyboard industry itself, Korg says.  Kronos’ details and features are too numerous to include here so please check out the official press release here.

6.  Kemper Profiling Amplifier

The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is a new concept for guitar amplification in the digital domain. Following the idea that every guitar player should be able to bring his personal sound of the tube amp setup he owns into a reproducible format, The Kemper Profiling Amplifier is designed to “learn” the sonic behavior of a guitar amplifier and offer the tone and feel the player knows from his “real” amp. According to the manufacturer,  “now there will be a profile available of basically any sonic condition the tube amp setup can provide.”  The Kemper Profiling Amplifier comes with profiles of classic tube amps, including the classic speaker cabinets which are a part of the profiling result…

And the list goes on till 11!

Very Honorable Mentions

The following products represent other gear that we simply could not fit on the Top 11 list, but would have certainly made it had the list been longer or NAMM 2011 less hectic!  Congrats to the manufacturers for making this NAMM one to remember.


To see the full Top 11 list with video demos please see:  Best of NAMM 2011


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