June 16, 2024

IntecStudio

Buzz The Music

NAMM 2024 live report: rolling news from the world’s biggest music-making gear show – as it happened

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Boots, meet ground

We’ve got boots on the ground at NAMM to take an exclusive look at what’s in store for the biggest event in music-making before it opens its doors tomorrow morning. 

Keep an eye on our socials and this live blog for up to-the-minute coverage of the latest announcements in synths, guitars, studio gear and much more as the weekend rolls on… 

NAMM sign

(Image credit: Future)

Audio bus

We snuck in to the show floor to see how things are shaping up. Amazingly, they’ve not laid the carpet yet!

namm showfloor pre-show

(Image credit: Future)

Of course we had to have a closer look at that Celestion Route Master. We’ll definitely be coming back for a proper look at the speaker company’s centenary celebrations.

Namm media preview gear

(Image credit: Future)

ADX3 wireless

Unveiled at Wednesday’s pre-show Media Day, Shure’s ADX3 is an update to the brand’s AD3 wireless transmitter, which will transform any XLR mic into a wireless microphone. ADX3 has been upgraded with remote control functionality so its settings can be tweaked from off-stage or behind the scenes. 

Namm media day preview products

(Image credit: Future)

Chris Martin IV 50th Anniversary beauties

martin

(Image credit: Future)

More 50th anniversary guitars below in the from of the D-50 CFM IV and D-CFM IV coming in at $50,000 and $5,000 respectively. TBH, if we knew it was that much, we might’ve taken more photos. 

martin

(Image credit: Future)

Same goes for the OM 20th Century Limited with an exquisite headstock design. Coming in at $26,999, this collab with Pennsylvania watchmakers, RGM, also comes with a custom, hand-crafted railroad-inspired watch – bargain!

martin

(Image credit: Future)

Sustainability is a high priority at Martin. Exploring domestically-sourced woods has led the company to dive back into maple with the GPCE Inception Maple. 

Wanting to create a smaller-bodied guitar than is usually expected for maple has brought some interesting bracing designs. The back features a larger walnut section for greater resonance around the bridge area. 

Namm media preview gear

(Image credit: Future)

Here he goes again!

Adrian Vandenberg at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Dutch ex-Whitesnake master Adrian Vandenberg unveiled his re-released Peavey Signature model at the Media Preview event.

Coming in three models, Rock-it Pink, Purple Flame Maple, and Matte Black, the Vandenberg Signature Series comes with a Floyd Rose original tremolo bridge and Seymour Duncan pickups.

Adrian Vandenberg at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Amuse-bouche?

The big show kicks off later today, so while we wait for our intrepid reporters to wake up and enter the NAMM-hole, how about a small selection of the biggest pre-show stories already out there?

We’ll be bringing you the most significant stories here through the next few days. Such as…


Fender 70th Anniversary Strats

(Image credit: Fender)

The Big F isn’t actually at NAMM this year, but they’ve been busy regardless. After the big statements of the Tone Master Pro and Highway Series, Fender is now in celebratory mood with an old friend. The Strat is turning 70, and rather than a last-minute bunch of flower from the gas station, Fender has clearly been planning something much bigger for the icon. 

Read more >>


Taylor Circa 74 amp

(Image credit: Taylor Guitars)

Taylor walks its own path with acoustic guitar design, and with a CEO and chief designer talent like Andy Powers at the wheel now it isn’t any wonder. But acoustic amps? Not its thing. Until now.

Read more >>

None more purple

When Prince died in April 2016, he was in the midst of what was being billed as his Piano & A Microphone tour, which saw him perform solo reinterpretations of some of his greatest hits. Tragically, his death came just a few shows into what would turn out to be his final musical project, but one of the legacies of this is a custom-made Yamaha piano that Prince planned to use on further dates around the world.

Read more >>

Party starter

The Pioneer DJ parent company celebrates its slightly confusing new brand by throwing a party, and OMNIS-DUO is playing the tunes…

OMNIS-DUO

(Image credit: AlphaTheta)

And while we’re on the subject, a spot of clarification on that name switcheroo…

Far from the NAMMing crowd

We headed up to Sunset Strip, Hollywood, for a sneak peek at some brand-new Gibson and Epiphone guitars. Plus, a couple of amps. 

At the Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

At the Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

The biggest star of this particular show was clearly that Dave Grohl DG-355 in Pelham Blue. 

The body is layered maple with a one-piece mahogany neck, Indian laurel fingerboard and Graph Tech nut. The pickups are a Gibson USA Burstbucker 2 in the neck and a Burstbucker 3 in the bridge.

At the Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

At the Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

Other notable debutants included a trio of Gibson’s high flying ‘birds. Gibson Custom Shop and Epiphone have teamed up once more to create a ‘63 Firebird I, ‘63 Firebird V and a ‘64 Thunderbird all inspired by the Gibson originals. 

Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

All three are 9-ply mahogany/walnut neck-through and both Firebirds are rolling Gibson USA Firebird Mini Humbuckers with Alnico 5 magnets, while the Thunderbirds rolls with two ProBucker 760 bass humbuckers.

Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

Gibson NAMM sideshow

(Image credit: Future)

The Ted McCarty designed Theodore, once a limited edition Custom Shop model, now comes as a Standard in three finishes: Ebony, Antique Natural and Vintage Cherry. Loaded with a 57 Classic in the neck and a 57 Classic Plus in the bridge, the body and neck are mahogany with an Indian rosewood fingerboard. 

While Theodore’s shape might not be to everyone’s tastes, we’re huge fans of the old hockey stick headstock and the neck felt very fast and eminently shredable.

Gibson Theodore

(Image credit: Future)

There’s more. The Everly Brothers J-180 Ebony is a beaut and proof that some guitars are just impossible to capture in low light. 

Rest assured, the black moustache double pick guard looks every bit as cool as you’d expect. It also happens to be Taylor Swift’s favourite guitar, apparently. This J-180 is made from maple with a Sitka spruce top and comes loaded with an LR Baggs VTC. 

The Everly Brothers J-180 Ebony

(Image credit: Future)

The Everly Brothers J-180 Ebony

(Image credit: Future)

Other brand new guitars shown off at the showroom for the first time were…

  • Slash ‘Jessica’ Les Paul Standard in Honey Burst. Complete with Custom Burstbucker Alnico 2 pickups, mahogany body and neck with a 3-piece maple top.
  • The SG Supreme in Fireburst is dripping in high-end refinery, such as the Burstbucker Pro and Pro+ pickups, AAA figured maple top, gold -plated hardware and gorgeous split-block mother of pearl inlays.
  • Les Paul Classic, Exclusive, Deep Purple. This is the combination of time-honores design and modern refinery. It’s an early ‘60s style with open-coil Burstbucker 61R and 61T zebra pickups with 2 push/pull volume (coil-tap) knobs and 2 push/pull tone (pure bypass/phase) knobs.

New Gibson guitars namm

(Image credit: Future)

It’s not all about the guitars though as we also got see the new Gibson Falcon range with a surprise addition, the Gibson Dual Falcon 2×20 combo amplifier with its 2x 6L6 power tubes (optional 2x 6v6) and 4x 12 AX7 preamp tubes. 

Still no word on prices but we’ve been told the Dave Grohl DG-355 will be available in March and the Dual Falcon following up in April.

Gibson Dual Falcon

(Image credit: Future)

Gibson’s sneaky sideshow Grohl reveal and more

Epiphone DG-355

(Image credit: Future)

Gibson isn’t at NAMM, but that didn’t stop them from hosting an event in LA its showroom on the evening before the show officially kicks off in Anaheim. And it dropped real-life confirmation of what’s going one of the most requested Epiphone models ever and sure to be one of the very biggest electric guitar releases of 2024.

Read more >>

We’re calling it

Best synths

(Image credit: Future)

This year’s NAMM show is shaping up to be one of the best ever. Well, for the hardware synth fan anyway. As the show gets under way, we’ve already been blown away by the quality and quantity of new synth announcements…

Read more >>

Throwback Thursday

A nice little throwback from the Bob Moog foundation here, celebrating the Minimoog’s first NAMM appearance in 1971, back when the show took place in Chicago <cue wibbly-wobbly time travel effect>.

Yamaha’s big upgrade

Pacifica Professional Standard Plus

(Image credit: Yamaha)

 Yamaha has extended its Pacifica line of guitars with two new Professional and two Standard Plus models, and they feature a range of additions that move these specific Pacificas away from their entry-level roots. And with so many extra features, these high-priced new Pacificas are a long, long way from the ‘entry-level’ rep of the series…

Read more >>

Made it

We’re about to tick off another NAMM 2024 to-do, having secured a seat to see Mark Ronson interviewed and given NAMM’s Music for Life award in recognition of his lifelong contributions to music and commitment to inspiring music makers. For now, Mary Spender is performing. More soon…

Mary Spender at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

Oops

Remember the time Kurt Russell busted up a museum-loaned Martin instead of a prop guitar on the set of The Hateful Eight? Well, it’s here in all its utterly knackered glory.

The Martin Guitar Kurt Russell smashed in The Hateful Eight

(Image credit: Future)

The Martin Guitar Kurt Russell smashed in The Hateful Eight

(Image credit: Future)

Mark Ronson on AI

NAMM CEO John Mlynczak welcomed Mark Ronson to the stage this morning as part of the Industry Insights event that opens this year’s show. Mlynczak asked the superproducer to share his thoughts on the future of the music industry and what role AI might have to play. 

Mark Ronson speaks at NAMM 2024

(Image credit: Future)

“The AI thing is so interesting to me. I believe in the power of humans to tell a story,” Ronson replied. 

“Nobody can recreate the feeling of a Stevie Wonder vocal or an Amy Winehouse vocal. But I’m also a fan of using technology to chase any emotion, and I’ll use any tool available to do that. 

“With the LinnDrum and these things that were really great, it wasn’t until somebody used it in the wrong way, until Prince detuned it in this crazy way and we got When Doves Cry, or when Cher accidentally left the AutoTune on the wrong setting and that led to Drake… 

“With AI, we haven’t even seen how people will use it in the wrong way that they’re not supposed to, the exciting ways that will push music forwards.”

Triple threat

Donner / Third Man Hardware Triple Threat

(Image credit: Donner / Third Man Hardware)

After the teaser, it’s now official – Donner Music and Jack White have collaborated on the $99 Triple Threat multi-effects pedal, combining distortion, echo and phaser.

The Triple Threat is designed by Third Man Hardware and manufactured by Donner, with an exclusive limited edition yellow version also now available from Third Man’s Reverb store for $129.

Read more >>

Is that a…

NAMM 2024

(Image credit: Future)

Pocket Piano may not fit in your pocket, but it will fit in your backpack. This keyboard conveniently splits up into 8 separate segments then snaps back together to be played anywhere and everywhere. We were surprised by the Pocket Piano’s impressive action and playability considering its thin dimensions.

Look mum, no stylus!

Dubreq, the maker of the Stylophone, surprised everyone this NAMM with the announcement of the CPM DS-2, a two-oscillator analogue synth designed for creating sustained and evolving drones and tones. 

Dubreq's CPM DS-2

(Image credit: Future)

We’re impressed not only by its sound, but by the amount Dubreq has packed into this portable, Eurorack-compatible marvel, especially considering its £209 price point: in addition to its analogue oscillators, DS-2 boasts two analogue filters, reverb, delay, an onboard speaker and a powerful LFO section for modulating those drones. 

Dubreq tells us that more instruments in the CPM line will be announced later this year.

SSL is all around

SSL 360

(Image credit: Future)

Today, SSL has unveiled the SSL 360 Link plugin, which allows users to control any third-party plugin using the brand’s UF8, UF1 and UC1 controllers. SSL tells us that 360 Link ships with a set of pre-mapped templates from industry partners such as Waves and UA to make controlling their plugins quick and easy, though it can be used to control any VST plugin you like through an intuitive manual mapping process.

In this picture, SSL’s UC1 controller is being used to adjust the EQ on UAD’s 4K channel strip through 360 Link.

It’s a wonderful Lifeson

Alex Lifeson signature model

(Image credit: Future)

Lerxst and Godin have teamed up for the brand new Alex Lifeson signature model, Limelight. Unveiled were both Floyd Rose and Vega trem variants.; these are the first to be built and are signed by the man himself. They feature swamp ash bodies with ebony fingerboards and Lerxst pickups. You can even head straight over to the Reverb shop right now and pre order.

Read more >>

“Not your typical pro audio company”

Telegrapher is a new pro audio brand making its debut at NAMM 2024 with three high-end active studio monitors: Gorilla, Fox and Elephant. The company’s co-founder, Erce Kaslioglu, draws on decades working at the top of the automotive industry with Bentley and Aston Martin to apply his expertise in precision manufacturing to the speaker market.

telegrapher

Telegrapher Gorilla active three-way midfield studio monitor (Image credit: Telegrapher)

Telegrapher monitors boast a striking (and rather ’70s) visual aesthetic and come in an array of custom colours and finishes that includes carbon fibre and wood grain. Not only do they look good, though, but they sound good too, thanks to all-analogue circuitry and electronics designed in-house and manufactured by hand to exacting specifications at Telegrapher’s Istanbul factory. 

telegrapher

Telegrapher Fox active two-way nearfield studio monitor (Image credit: Telegrapher)

Telegrapher may be a new brand, but they’ve already earned themselves some high-profile fans; we’re told that Richard Kruspe of Rammstein is on board, along with EDM kingpin Deadmau5, who has partnered with Telegrapher on a signature version of the Fox monitor adorned with his logo, pictured below. 

telegrapher

Deadmau5’s Telegrapher Fox  (Image credit: Telegrapher)

OP-Z killer

seqtrak

(Image credit: Seqtrak)

Yamaha’s Seqtrak is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things unveiled so far at this year’s NAMM. A capable groovebox at an affordable price point, Seqtrak houses a synth, sequencer, drum machine and sampler, along with an impressive array of effects that includes 12 types of reverb, 9 types of delay, modulation, distortion and compression, a 5-band master EQ and low-pass and high-pass filters on each track; we’re big fans of the glitchy stutter effect on the master channel. 

Prince’s piano

prince

(Image credit: Future)

On display at Yamaha‘s booth is a grand piano designed and built for Prince in 2016. The piano was the last instrument Prince played on stage, during the Piano & A Microphone tour, a series of shows tragically cut short by his untimely death. 

This custom-designed purple version of the Yamaha C7X Silent Piano was equipped with a specific string sound requested by Prince that he would use to transition between songs. The piano’s appearance at NAMM marks the first time the instrument has left Paisley Park, Prince’s former studio complex.

Kicking ass and changing names

Pioneer made the headlines last week after some confusion surrounding a rebrand; it was thought that the DJ brand was changing its name to reflect the name of its parent company, AlphaTheta Corporation, but it’s since been confirmed that Pioneer DJ will continue to release different products under both its original name and AlphaTheta.

alphatheta

(Image credit: Future)

The first products branded with the AlphaTheta name are OMNIS-DUO, an all-in-one DJ system, and the WAVE-EIGHT speakers. OMNIS-DUO, pictured above, signals a new direction for the brand both aesthetically and functionally; with a blue matte finish and sleek, minimal design, the battery-powered controller places an emphasis on portability that’s echoed in the WAVE-EIGHT speakers, which make use of AlphaTheta’s ultra-low-latency SonicLink technology to transmit audio from the bundled transmitter and between up to eight speakers.

wave eight

(Image credit: Future)

IXO facto

Steinberg is expanding its range of audio interfaces with IXO, a new series aimed at content creators. IXO 12 and IXO 22 both offer loopback, latency-free direct monitoring and mute buttons, all useful features for live streamers, and both will hook up with mobile devices via their USB-C connections.

stein berg

(Image credit: Future)

IXO 12, pictured here, is equipped with one mic/line combo input running through a Class-A preamp designed specially for the IXO range, and an additional Hi-Z instrument input; for outputs, we have a pair of line outputs and a headphone output on the front. IXO 22 adds an additional input and preamp and independent volume control for the headphone out.

The Iceman cometh… again.

Ibanez Iceman

(Image credit: Future)

Over on the Ibanez booth, it seems that practically every series has got some new models, but we weren’t expecting to see the return of this particular icon, the Iceman. 

Coming in three different finishes; Antique Autumn Burst, Antique Blue Metallic and Violin Sunburst, all three models are made with Okoume neck and body with a Jatoba fingerboard and Super 80 pickups.

The curl of the burl and signatures

Elsewhere at Ibanez, you couldn’t help but be drawn to some of the more lavish finishes Ibanez had to offer. Our particular favourites include the S Series with the S1070PBZCKB finish comprising of Polar Burl/Walnut/Curly Maple/Panga Panga top on an African mahogany body, and its stablemate, the S770CZM with its Nyatoh body and rather alluring Cosmic Blue Frozen Matte finish.

Ibanez at namm

(Image credit: Future)

More transparent action in the RG Premium range, courtesy of the RGT1270PBCTF and its Polar Burl-topped American basswood body.

Ibanez at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

On the Signature side of things we were treated to another finish on Tim Henson’s (Polyphia) TOD10MM, called Metallic Mauve. Also unveiled were two new Pat Metheny hollow body and Andy Timmons concept guitars.

Ibanez signature models at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Legends reborn

A brief sojourn into the world of drums, because we had have a closer look at a true legend reborn (a recurring theme at this year’s show), the Mastercraft Bell Brass snare (below) from Tama. For something so legendary in the world of rock/grunge/metal it sure didn’t get as much fanfare as the Superstar reissue. 

• Read more: “The purest snare sound ever achieved…” Tama’s 50th Anniversary Mastercraft Bell Brass puts the snare drum behind Metallica, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and more back on the market

Tama drums at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

No matter as the whole Tama booth was playing tribute the Japanese drum manufacturer’s 50th anniversary. Plenty of limited edition kits were on display including the seamless, clear acrylic shell of the Starclassic Mirage, the matte finish Blacked Out Black of the Imperialstar – which you wouldn’t sweat anywhere near for the fear of having to endless clean it – and some new ones, too.

The eye-popping Candy Red Sparkle of the Stagestar with 7mm 6-ply poplar was joined by the more muted Superstar Classic with 5mm, 6-ply TT/FT and 7mm, 8-ply BD shells in Gloss Natural Blonde finish.

Tama drums at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

Pick hole

Back to Ibanez (you can tell the Tama and Ibanez stands were close together) and we couldn’t help but be drawn to the new AE acoustics, especially the all maple number with contrasting Aqua blue sides and back with a natural top in a high gloss finish. It was really hard to tell if the extra sound hole made much difference in the loud and proud environs of Hall A.

Ibanez acoustics at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

Mind you, I know for a fact that I would lose more picks down there than down the side of the sofa. More A.I.R. port action with the Advanced Acoustics and we were drawn to another lighter finish standing out from the crowd. The Open-Pore Antique White finish on the AAM370 perfectly punctuates the flame maple back and sides.

“Staggering quality”

Dare we say it, but already we think we’ve spotted our favourite guitar of the show (and from where we were least expecting) in the form of the new Yamaha Pacifica Standard + and Pacifica Professional models. 

The standard of quality in the finish is staggering and they play so well – effortlessly, in fact. A fair amount of R&D has gone into this pro-spec reimagining of Yamaha’s classic entry-level electric. The extra routing and complimentary bracing has been meticulously 3D-modelled to achieve strength and resonance. 

Yamaha pacifica at NAMM 2024

(Image credit: Future)

Then there’s the story of how an engineer at Rupert Neve Designs’ hobby of hand-wiring his own pickups got into the hands of and impressed developers at Yamaha so much. On top of all that, both models come in some lovely finishes, but our favourite has to be the Beachburst.

(Image credit: Future)

• Read more: “Inspired by both Japanese city pop art and the sun-drenched vibes of SoCal” – Yamaha launches a new generation of Pacifica guitars

Wood you believe it? (Sorry)

/imagine prompt: Natural Geometric 2024

(Image credit: Future)

The Boutique Guitar Showcase is advertised by some of the more outstanding creations on display. We’re particularly taken with OD Guitars’ “/imagine prompt: Natural Geometric 2024”, whose design explores the relationships between AI technology and human design.

/imagine prompt: Natural Geometric 2024

(Image credit: Future)

Vend for life

The Ernie Ball vending machine at NAMM 2024

(Image credit: Future)

Fancy winning a lifetime supply of Ernie Ball strings? We thought you might. Head over to the Ernie Ball website to register your details and be in with a chance to win this epic giveaway.

ESPecially for you

Another manufacturer who wanted to break journalists and content creators with the sheer number of its releases was ESP, who unveiled a staggering 50 guitars at this year’s show and yes we did photograph them all. However, for the purposes of brevity, we’ve cherry-picked some of the standouts.

Entry to the ESP booth is usually past a rare guitar from a legendary player, and this year it was George Lynch’s turn. His Desert Eagle was loaned by the man himself, while he’s also been honoured with an LTD Signature model.

ESP guitars at NAMM - George Lynch’s Desert Eagle

(Image credit: Future)

Walking around the booth we were instantly drawn to all the single pickup models and there were many. The ESP USA M-I DX with the Bone White open-pre finish with a brand new hand-wound Seymour Duncan Custom 14 pickup is pure simplicity, but also comes in Cherry Bomb with a Fishman Fluence humbucker. 

Both models feature the Gotoh Magnum Lock tuners, a recessed TonePros locking TOM bridge with string-thru-body design.

ESP at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

These exclusive-to-ESP Seymour Duncan Custom 14s look like they might be the perfect pairing for all these single pickup guitars. The Phoenix gets a luscious Tobacco sunburst on a quilted maple finish. 

A trio of Flat Top EC-01s might be be our favourites of the lot, coming in Black, Vintage Burst and Olympic White.

ESP at namm

(Image credit: Future)

The SN-1 HT Baritone with Hipshot bridge rolls a Fishman Fluence and the satin black pick guard on the solid swamp ash body finished in gloss black just works. Plus, the reverse headstock firmly places this model deep in chugging territory. 

We’re also loving the natural finish of the Koa on the SN-1000 with its Evertune bridge, lso loaded with a set of Custom 14s, but there are two of them and we promised you a selection of single pickup guitars only – sorry. Moving on.

esp at namm

(Image credit: Future)

There’s something about the charcoal metallic satin finish and gold hardware of the M-1001 that screams money. Whereas the flat top alder body and three-piece, extra-thin u-shaped maple neck scream speed. 

All perfectly finished with a Floyd Rose 1000 double-locking tremolo, Grover tuners, and a direct-mount Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker – one for the shredders.

esp at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Last but not least in this ESP/LTD single pickup roundup is the return of the XJ shape under the LTD badge, the XJ-1 HT. The Fluence Open Core Classic bridge pickup with three voices perfectly exemplifies the range in sonic character and tone that can be achieved with a single pickup. Who needs two anyway?!

ESP at namm

(Image credit: Future)

theremini break

Dubreq, the makers of the Stylophone, had more than its new analogue drone synthesizer on show today; also on display was Stylophone Theremin, its cute and retro take on the classic gesture-controlled synthesizer invented in the ’20s. 

Stylophone Theremin

(Image credit: Future)

The OG theremin used the performer’s hand movements in mid-air to control pitch and volume, but Dubreq’s version is pitch-only and easier to play. The instrument is also kitted out with a modulation control, vibrato and delay effect for processing those unearthly tones.

Major time-saver

The Audiomovers team hosted us in an Atmos-equipped studio last night to demo several of their groundbreaking software products; ListenTo, Binaural Renderer, Inject and the newly-updated Omnibus. 

Audiomovers at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

Omnibus is a virtual patchbay for Mac that allows audio to be routed from any application or Omnibus-equipped machine to any other over a local network; a major time-saver in the studio, the software’s third iteration features a redesigned UI and improved routing flexibility.

Audiomovers has also announced that its Binaural Renderer plugin, which lets engineers preview a Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 session exactly as it’ll sound in Apple Music, is now available as a macOS application.

casio trio

Three new digital pianos were on display at the Casio booth, all in the Celviano range. The AP-S540, AP-550, and AP-750, pictured here, have been equipped with multichannel speaker systems that deliver an immersive and authentic 3D sound. 

Casio at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

A new Hamburg Piano tone has been developed specifically for the new Celviano models, which joins 38 more built-in tones in the AP-750; it sounds fantastic through the piano’s Grandphonic 8-speaker sound system.

Harrison Audio takes its first foray into the 500 Series market with three new modules launched at NAMM this year.

Harrison Audio

(Image credit: Future)

Based on designs from the brand’s legendary 3232 and MR3 mixing consoles, the MR3eq equalizer, 32CPre+ preamp and COMP compressor pack Harrison’s sought-after sound into an accessible package.

Studio line

Two new keyboards have been announced by Studiologic this year, the Numa Compact SE and Numa Compact X SE, pictured here.

Studiologic at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Both of these semi-weighted, 88-note keyboards offer increased polyphony when compared to their predecessors, along with a new sound engine that features 60 more sounds spanning acoustic and electric pianos, synths and organs, which can be controlled using the drawbars found on the more expensive Compact X SE.

Nord star

Nord’s Grand 2 is here in all its glory, and it’s a joy to play, thanks to a new responsive hammer keybed designed by the experts at piano manufacturer Kawai. 

NORD at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

Those looking to venture beyond its ample selection of piano sounds will be pleased to know that the Grand 2 has been upgraded with advanced layering capabilities, made quick and easy through its redesigned interface, which let the player stack up to four piano and synth sounds together in a single patch.

Convertible Catalyst

Here we have two new Eurorack modules from 4ms: Catalyst Sequencer and Catalyst Controller. The former combines a conventional clocked step sequencer with a phase-based sequencer in which each step is selected by CV; sequences can be scrubbed backwards or forwards using the crossfader in the centre. 

4ms at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

The Catalyst Sequencer can transform into the Catalyst Controller using a separate detachable faceplate, a macro controller with eight CV outputs that makes use of the crossfader to seamlessly morph between scenes.

MiCreator Studio

NAMM Austrian Audio

(Image credit: Future)

Announced late last year, Austrian Audio’s MiCreator Studio is a mobile recording system that brings together a condenser microphone and audio interface in a single device. 

Designed for content creators and bedroom musicians using mobile devices, MiCreator can be paired with an additional Satellite mic (sold separately) to record as a stereo pair. We were impressed with the MiCreator’s rock-solid build quality, especially considering its accessible price point of $199.

Opsixy beast

Korg opsix at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

This is the latest version of Korg’s Opsix synth. With 64 voices, the Opsix mkII offers double the polyphony of the original and makes use of the same Altered FM synth architecture, a six-operator FM engine that’s also capable of subtractive, analogue modelling, waveshaping and additive synthesis, alongside two analogue-style filters modelled on the Korg MS-20 and Korg PolySix.

Read more: Korg unveils the Opsix mkII, an updated version of its six-operator ‘Altered FM’ synth

KINGKORG

If you’re after something a little more advanced than the microKorg 2, Korg has you covered with the KingKorg Neo, a new and improved version of a synth launched a decade ago. 

KingKorg Neo

(Image credit: Future)

The Neo slims down the original to 37 keys but retains its XMT virtual analogue synth engine, running this through an extensive selection of filters and a ton of effects that includes distortion, bitcrusher, phasing, chorus, tremolo, reverb, delay and even amp simulation. There’s a sophisticated 16-band vocoder on board, too, which we’re told is a step up from the microKorg’s in terms of resolution.

Read more: The KingKorg Neo promises a virtual analogue synth experience that’s in “a league of its own”

korg desktops

Korg is showing off new desktop versions of three of its most popular synthesizers: Wavestate, Modwave and Opsix. These new editions pack all of the originals’ features in a 4U/19” package that can be rackmounted or plonked on your desk. 

Korg desktops at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Korg has tweaked the synths to play nice with MIDI 2.0 keyboards, as each of the three synths now supports MIDI 2.0 Property Exchange, a feature that lets you exchange tones and programs between devices through MIDI messages, and factory sounds have been redesigned to work with polyphonic aftertouch.

Korg Grandstage X

nutekt dream

Korg’s Nu:Tekt range invites you to build fun, portable music-making devices yourself; the line launched in 2019 with the NTS-1 synth, and this year sees the release of two new DIY gizmos, a mkII version of the NTS-1 and the NTS-3, a mini version of the Kaoss Pad effects processor. 

Korg nuTekt at namm

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NTS-1 mkII improves the original with the addition of an 18-key multitouch keyboard, an 8-step sequencer and expanded connectivity, while NTS-3 lets you control up to four of its 35 digital effects simultaneously via an XY pad. We’re told that both can be put together in under 20 minutes.

korg ps-3300

kaoss theory

Korg’s Kaoss Replay builds on the concept of its popular effects processor, the Kaoss Pad, by placing its sound-mangling capabilities in the context of a pad-based sampler to create a powerful tool for live electronic performance. 

Korg Kaoss Replay

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Replay’s 5-inch OLED screen is joined by 16 velocity-sensitive pads for triggering samples, which can be imported via microSD card or recorded directly through the audio or microphone inputs, before being processed by its extensive selection of 128 effects.

BAGGSY

You might not need to mic up an acoustic guitar in the same way ever again with the new HiFi Duet system from LR Baggs. Building on the two-pickup system of the HiFi, the Duet adds a brand-new microphone capsule that has been developed to sit between the two bridge plate pickups. 

LR Baggs HiFi at NAMM

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Called Silo, the microphone capsule is tiny and completely suspended within a shockmounted enclosure. The results are phenomenal and the system sounds like it really does negate the need to mic-up your acoustic in the traditional sense. Exciting stuff for any acoustic player who knows the battles of playing live with a microphone – a proper game-changer indeed.

Three and easy

The unlikeliest collaboration of the show award must go to Chinese manufacturer Donner and Jack White’s Third Man Hardware for their collab on the Triple Threat pedal. 

Donner Third Man Triple Threat

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Three effects in one, Triple Threat’s signal flow starts with Distortion with Tone, Gain and Volume controls; then moves over to a Phaser with Depth, Rate and Level; and finally ends on Echo which features controls for Time, Feedback and Level. 

We’re still getting our heads around the fact that it’s roughly the size of a pencil case and is only $99. Oh, and it’s fully analogue – bargain!

Read more: NAMM 2024: “It has been my hope for a while to make an affordable pedal for beginning musicians” – Jack White and Donner Music unite for $99 Triple Threat multi-effects

Teasey does it

Neural DSP Soon tease

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Probably fed up with everyone asking them when Archetype plugins will be finally making their way to the Quad Cortex, Neural DSP has taken the novel approach to appearing at the NAMM show by erecting a huge sign that just says ‘Soon’ on its pitch. A baller move indeed.

tyred?

We headed over to the Dunlop stand to check out the new MXR Joshua delay pedal and with plenty of opportunities for folks to try it out, we also spotted a brand new overdrive pedal called the Gran Torino, with little fanfare to its appearance at the show, we might add. 

Dunlop at namm

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Obviously a continuation of the recently discontinued Il Torino, the Gran Torino features the same layout and switching between a clean boost and OD. We’ve little else to go on at this time as there we were unable to get a demo during our visit to the both, but we’ll be back to get some more info soon.

The second korging

Practice partner

KORG

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Korg’s made some big announcements this year, and some rather small ones too; this cute little gadget is the KR-11, a lightweight and battery-powered drum machine aimed at guitar players looking to accompany their playing with basic rhythms that are quick and easy to program. 

Arriving bundled with 126 preset patterns categorized by genre, the KR-11 has a pedal jack for hands-free control and 16 velocity-sensitive pads for tapping in custom-made beats. 

Off the beaten traxx

Korg takes a detour into the DJ market with Handytraxx Play, a portable turntable inspired by the Vestax Handy Trax that was designed in collaboration with the late Vestax president, Toshihide Nakama. 

korg

(Image credit: Future)

The battery-powered, scratch-friendly turntable is equipped with “creative” filters, a built-in looper, cue function and monitoring capabilities, along with a crossfader for fading between loops and live audio, so you should be able to DJ with just one of these.

innovation of the show?

Guitar innovation award for this year’s show might well be going to Casio for the Dimension Tripper. This modern take on the B Bender comes in two parts, a transmitter attached to the end of your gutar strap and the receiver, a pedal unit with two expression outputs. 

The transmitter connects to the receiver via Bluetooth and then you can connect to two expression inputs on your favourite pedals. You can then adjust the expression parameters by pulling down on the guitar, simple yet effective – literally. 

casio dimension tripper

(Image credit: Future)

The project is currently being crowd-funded on the Green Funding platform. However, there is one big caveat. Purchases are only being made available to Japanese addresses and there has been no decision as to whether the product will be available outside of Japan. Let’s hope the decision to show it off at NAMM will change that.

swede merchant

The Boden Essential from Swedish guitar makers Strandberg is the company’s first sub $1,000 model. The renowned headless marque has been given cost-effective shavings at every point of the design process, but still delivers on the Strandberg ethos of sustainability and quality. The most obvious difference is the straight 25.5” scale length, but you still get the stainless steel frets. 

strandberg at namm

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The most obvious difference is the straight 25.5” scale length, but you still get the stainless steel frets, mounted on the familiar roasted maple EndurNeck and rosewood fingerboard with its flat, angled design, making the Essential feel every bit as fast and comfortable as its more expensive counterparts. 

The body material has been switched to meranti for its mahogany-like properties and near-sourced for minimal environmental impact. 

While the hardware looks exactly the same to the untrained eye, the new EGS Arc hardware is designed with fewer moving parts but still retains all the resonant features of the NX/Rev 7 hardware.

VOX pops

Vox announced four new Valvenergy pedals prior to the show along with two new wah pedals. The 2nd wave of Valvenergy pedals comprises the Smooth Impact tube compressor, Tone Sculptor tube preamp equalizer, Power Burst tube booster and Fuel Injector tube overdrive. Over on the wah side of things, the Real McCoy harks back to the OG wah pedal from Vox. 

vox at namm

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Originally designed to replicate the sounds of Clyde McCoy’s muted trumpet sound. The release comes in a standard black and silver and an all-silver limited edition. After the initial failure of the McCoy wah, Vox later introduced the 846, revoiced for rock guitarists. The VRM-1, VRM-1 Limited and V846 wah pedals will be shipping in March 2024.


Wanting to fully recreate the mojo of the original AC30, Vox meticulously tore down every component of an original. Then scanned and 3D-modelled every part to faithfully reproduce brand-new components. All to achieve the best results and most faithful reproduction yet, the new AC hand-wired range. From the bottom is the AC4 Handwired featuring two ECC83/12AX7s and an EL84, with a 12” 16Ω Celestion G12M Greenback.

vox amps ac 30 and more

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Then we have the AC10 Handwired with two ECC83/12AX7 and two EL84s with the same speaker configuration as the ‘4. Moving up to the AC15 Handwired, rolling with four ECC83/12AX7s, an ECC81/12AT7, two EL84s and a GZ34. In the box is the same 12” Celestion Greenback. A Handwired X version of the ‘15 comprises two ECC83/12AX7s and two EL84s, with a 12” Alnico Blue Celestion speaker. 

The AC30 comes in three guises; hand-wired and hand-wired X combos and a hard-wired head. The vacuum specs are the same as the ‘15 and come with two 12” speakers in the combos. Finally, we have the Handwired X cabinet, with two 12” 116Ω Celestion Alnico Blue speakers.

vox amps ac 30 and more

(Image credit: Future)

heart of darkglass

Our visit to the Korg stand to see the new Vox gear also allowed us to check out two new combos from Finnish bass mavens Darkglass Electronics which are distributed by the Japanese manufacturer. 

Its first foray into the world of lightweight combos comes in two flavours; the feature-rich digital 500-watt Infinity and the more stripped-back, 500-watt analogue Microtubes M-combo. 

darkglass at namm

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Both models come in 2×10 and 1×12 variants, loaded with custom-made ceramic Eminence speakers. The Infinity model has all the tech with preset recall, seven IR slots, a preset-specific six-band EQ, five different drive settings (Leo Bass/Vintage Microtubes/Microtubes B3K/Alpha·Omega), a noise gate, compression, octaver filter… the list goes on. 

We’d say the more stripped-back Microtubes 500 combo is aimed squarely at the analogue purists with fewer bells and whistles than the Infinity. Here there are two drive options (Vintage Microtubes/Microtubes B3K), a parametric EQ with low-shelf, high and Low mids and high-shelf treble control.

teenage kicks

Teenage Engineering’s EP-133 KO II is the latest in its line of Pocket Operators, portable and affordable music-making devices that have been hugely popular with bedroom producers.

The KO II is a step up from its predecessor, larger in size and offering more functionality; we love its user-friendly sampling workflow and the “punch-in” master effects, which are heaps of fun to perform with.

teenage engineering namm

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In typical TE fashion, they’ve gone all out and customised three arcade machines to house their KO IIs.

Read more: “A lot of creative fun to be had within its limitations”: Teenage Engineering EP-133 K.O. II review

donner-able mention

Donner at Namm

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Last year Donner upgraded its DDP-80 digital with the Plus model, and this year finds the Chinese manufacturer pushing the DDP-80 line even further with the DDP-80 Pro, a stylish instrument with a drawer-style design that sees the keyboard roll away inside its solid wood exterior. 

The Pro is equipped with Bluetooth audio and MIDI, so you’ll be able to use the piano as a wireless MIDI keyboard or play an accompaniment or backing track through its dual 25W speakers.


Unveiled a few months ago, Medo is a portable music-making device from Donner that the manufacturer funded through Kickstarter. Incorporating a digital synth, sampler and a looper into a lightweight, battery-powered instrument, 

Donner Medo

(Image credit: Future)

Medo is operated using both the grid-based interface and gestural control. It’s a fun little instrument to play with that had us recording loops and bashing out rhythms in no time.

BURNING MANTIS

In what’s undoubtedly a bumper year for synths, PWM has one of the most promising new noisemakers on show; the Mantis is a “hybrid analogue” synth that runs digital oscillators through an analogue signal path and filters.

PWM at Namm

(Image credit: Future)

Developed in collaboration with legendary synth designer Chris Huggett, who sadly passed away before the product was finished, Mantis’ architecture draws inspiration from the EDP Wasp and OSC OSCar, two of Huggett’s most popular designs. A duophonic synth that can access four-voice polyphony through its Quad Paraphonic mode, Mantis is almost ready to be unleashed as PWM puts the finishing touches on the instrument before shipping first units in March.

baby love

Plugin developer Baby Audio gave us a sneaky preview of its latest plugin, due out next month; Atoms is a physical modelling synth that joins the BA-1 as the second synthesizer in Baby Audio’s rapidly expanding family of popular software tools.

baby audio at namm 24

(Image credit: Future)

Modelling the “interconnection of mass-spring networks” played by a virtual bow, Atoms aims to make the complex world of physical modelling synthesis a little more accessible through a simplified interface based around six key parameters. Those working with MPE-compatible instruments will be pleased to know that Atoms will play nice with polyphonic aftertouch, too.

Sennheiser

Sennheiser is showing off a newly-announced pair of open-back studio headphones at NAMM this year, the HD 490 PRO. The 490s ship with two types of switchable ear pads aimed at distinct studio tasks; fabric pads offer a neutral frequency response geared towards mixing, while velour pads deliver a slightly warmer, more lively sound for production and regular listening. 

Sennheiser at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

The cans also come bundled with Dear Reality’s DearVR MIX-SE plugin, which emulates the experience of listening to your mix through speakers in various environments, from pro studios to stadiums and clubs. This should help those without the ability to test their mix through reference monitors ensure the finished product translates across a range of systems and environments.

Sennheiser at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

BIG MACK

Mackie at NAMM

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Mackie has revealed a range of new products for this year’s show; here we have the MobileMix, a USB-powered mixer for streaming, live sound and A/V production. 

Eight channels and two mic/instrument preamps are joined by stereo line inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, per-channel EQ and onboard effects to make a decent solution for mixing on the go.

Third Man Hardware

Aside from announcing the Triple Threat colab with Donner, Third Man Hardware’s booth was a bustling hive of activity with Jack White’s heavily modded Fender Three-Wheel-Motion Low Rider Telecaster in blue sparkle and Gretsch 1957 G6199 Jupiter Thunderbird, plugged in for anyone to have a go. 

third man at namm

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Elsewhere, Bill Skibbe, was busy soldering up pedals, while there were also twice-daily raffles for the new Fuzz-A-Tron DIY set, which you can also buy for a mere $75.

third man at namm

(Image credit: Future)

Guild Polara

New finishes are the order of the day for Polara base model at the Guild stand, comprising of Blue Steel, Phantom Green, and Voltage Yellow. The yellow was indeed a much more vivid hue than we initially thought, going off Guild’s press release. In the flesh, all three are standout colours. 

Polara namm

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The base model Polara features a mahogany body with a set neck design and 24 ¾ scale length. You’re also getting a rosewood fingerboard with modern u-shape neck and Guild’s hot wound HB-2+ pickups, promising lots of character and boutique quality tones. 

Also on the stand we were treated to the new vintage white version of the Kim Thayil signature model, rolling HB-1 pickups with Alnico II magnets. The finish plays opposite to the original black model and while that is quintessentially Kim, we’re loving this new white version even more.

Read more: Guild updates its Kim Thayil-approved Polara range, including a Vintage White refresh of the former Soundgarden guitarist’s signature model

A slew of new releases adorned the Hotone booth and a few that caught our eye were a 30w desktop amp called Pulze, although the rather abstract laser-cut logo looks more like it says ‘duize’ but perhaps that’s just us. 

Hotone namm

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The Ampero II modelling pedal now comes in a new ‘Stage’ format. This model features a larger chassis wth far greater hand and feet-on control than that of the normal stompbox version. 

Finally, our eye was drawn to the Tuner Press, a sort of do-it-all pedal that can be a tuner, volume, expression and buffer.

Valeton

Valeton namm

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Hotone sister-brand Valeton was also sharing booth real-estate to show off some new pedals, most notably the new bass version of it’s Dapper series. 

This combined effects unit comes with chorus, fuzz, octaver, boost and an amp section. Also on display was a prototype of a new looper pedal, called the VLP-200 multitrack sampler. It can sample at a rate of 24bit/48kHz and features two ins, two outs and switching for instrument or mic level sources. There are also 100 built-in rhythm patterns, a metronome and drum sync input.

Slim pickings

There have been many surprises in the hallowed Anaheim halls of NAMM over the years, and this Eminent Technology Professional speaker is certainly one of them. We heard word of a lightweight and very loud speaker, about the size of a briefcase, and had to check it out.

Eminent Technology Professional speaker

(Image credit: Future)

And we weren’t disappointed. Kicking out an impressive max 120 dB at 350w, the speaker only weighs 11 pounds. While the slim guitar cabinet isn’t strictly new, it was certainly impressive to see and hear it in the flesh.

PJD Guitars

PJD at namm

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UK-based PJD guitars took to NAMM this year to show of an entirely revamped range and a brand new model. The standard range has had a complete refresh and the boutique brand is now fitting all of its hand-crafted guitars with its very own hand-wired pickups. The standout models had to be the goldfoil beauties set into the new Valhalla offset.

Aristides multiscale monsters

Dutch custom guitar builders Aristides were proud to announce a new range of multiscale Evertune guitars, coming in 6-, 7- and 8-string variants, plus a 9-string whopper with standard hipshot bridge. 

Aristides guitars at NAMM

(Image credit: Future)

The composite-bodied brand was also showing off its brand new mulitscale bass range that comes in 4-, 5-, and 6-string models with plenty of custom shop options and prices starting at €2895.