Hey folks - I'm still recovering from a long four days at the NAMM show (and have the hacking cough to prove it) and thought I'd chime in with some notes and a pic or two. I spent most of my time at the Arturia booth, since they had a new hardware synth, the Origin - and new virtual analog plugin, the Jupiter-8V - and both caught a lot of buzz at the show. I was expected to fill in for a few hours each day - but because the booth was pretty much overrun the whole time, I ended up being there nearly from bell to bell. And with the Jupiter-8V still pre-beta, I spent as much time re-starting the standalone app and re-acquiring the audio drivers as I did playing the thing for folks. Still, when it played - what a sound...
Arturia brought a really great keyboard player along with them from France - a monster cat by the name of Stephane Deriau-Reine. He whipped up some tracks that ranged from Dream Theater to his on jazz, funk, and raggae grooves. It attracted quite a few players (some of which he knew from touring in Europe) which made things a lot of fun, but more than a bit crowded.
Here's a pic of Stephane playing the Origin early on in the weekend:
... and a Sunday crowd that formed when Stevie Wonder stopped to check out the Origin and listen to Stephane jam with his friends - all monster players in their own right.
It was just about as crowded at the Garritan booths this year, with their announcements of JABB, Marching Band, as well as the Gorfiller Solo Cello, their new official Steinway piano plugin and drag-and-drop instrument player (I'm still hoping that they'll name it "Garritan Personal Soundstage") They had a really nice rig set up - a headphone amp with sound isolation headphones. That allowed the detail of these libraries to really shine. That, and the fact that they had some really comfortable couches made it especially nice to sit down and rest the ears and feet a bit - when you could get a seat, that is.
The Steinway D was a truly gorgeous instrument. The player interface had a really nice, elegant look to it, but one glance at the "stats" screen and you could see all of the cool things that were going on under the hood. It was startling to hear that the demo was created with a *fraction* of the samples available for that mic position, and that there were going to be multiple mic positions with the final instrument had a tendency to leave listeners speechless - myself included. Gary performed the "two forearm test" to show how robust their new player was - which was impressive - not a single glitch or hung note in the bunch. That's a lot more than could be said for other sampled piano demos at the show. The drag and drop interface was equally impressive - the response was smooth and immediate, even while the sequence was playing - on a laptop, no less. Garritan and the DSP geniuses at Plogue have become a real "dream team" and I have the feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I checked out a few other booths in Hall A, long enough to hear what they had to offer and move on. Emu systems has a "new" modular system - I think it was a commemorative thing - but a cool one. There were also some other hardware modular systems in the neighborhood, but didn't get a good look at them - just that it was interesting that they seem to be re-surfacing. Some of the other sample library vendors seemed to be doing some re-hashing and a few were still ferreting out technical issues on Saturday afternoon, the last time I passed through. I also went to the TASCAM booth to check out the latest on when the plan to release Vista drivers for the FW series of interfaces - which is by end of Q1. They did have some pretty cool stuff, including a new amp that sounded cool *and* had a bunch of stuff built into it for learning and practice - pretty slick.
That's about it from my perspective - there were the requisite number of freaks and geeks, has-beens, never-weres and wannabes. It's been more than ten years since my first NAMM show, and in that way it never changes.
I have some MP4 footage of Stephane and friends playing, even if the audio is pretty terrible, you get to hear some real moments of genius. If I can find a way to get the clips to read into my video editing software, I'll trim them and upload them for folks to see (and presumably hear). Stay tuned.