NAMM Show Continues To Grow as Genuine Pro-Audio Expo
A new three-year agreement with AES extends through January 2021
Martin Dyster, VP, business development, TV Solutions Group, Telos Alliance, was approaching the portal to Anaheim Convention Center North Hall, a 200,000-sq.-ft. addition opened in 2018 as the home to the Winter NAMM Show’s growing portfolio of more than 2,000 pro-audio exhibitors at this year’s show (Jan. 24-27). It was his first visit to this 100+-year-old show, which had been built on the retail musical-instrument industry, and a colleague had told him what to expect: a dense, two-level warren of professional-audio brands and products reminiscent of the AES Show in its prime in the 1990s, before music production was decimated in the early 21st century by a combination of pirated-file sharing and DIY recording. Looking out on the banners proclaiming brands like Solid State Logic, DiGiCo, Clear-Com, Riedel, Shure, and Sennheiser, Dyster, whose career in broadcast audio spans more than 20 years, proclaimed, “These are my people!”
In fact, the National Association of Music Merchants’ emphasis on pro audio led to the recent announcement of a new three-year agreement with the Audio Engineering Society (AES) extending through January 2021. Under the rubric AES@NAMM, the initiative will develop and deliver a range of educational offerings, including expert-speaker sessions, technical presentations, and hands-on trainings “to benefit current and future industry professionals,” according to the announcement.
AES@NAMM 2019’s more-than 300 offerings included half-day classes, augmented by hands-on training, in line-array loudspeaker systems and workshops on wireless systems providing classroom training of hardware- and software-based products.
This year’s Winter NAMM Show attracted 115,301 attendees; last year’s version drew 115,085.
New Products With a Broadcast Bent
Although the pro-audio–enhanced NAMM Show does not have a dedicated broadcast theme, plenty of new products with broadcast-audio applications from familiar brands were on display.
Sony showed its latest professional hi-res recorders, the PCM-D10 and PCM-A10. Common to both new portable recorder models are such features as Bluetooth wireless playback; NFC-compatibility; adjustable hi-res (~40 kHz-capable), three-position stereo mics (X-Y, zoom, wide); smartphone monitoring and remote control via Sony’s REC Remote app; recording linear PCM and MP3 formats, with playback support of MP3/AAC/WMA/WAV/FLAC file formats; and 16 GB of built-in memory with additional SD card support.
Sennheiser, which showed a new immersive AMBEO 9.1 soundbar, introduced the XS Wireless Digital microphone system, and it’s at least in part intended for the burgeoning X sports and esports arenas. The 2.4-GHz system creates a wireless peer-to-peer connection. Single-button operation allows one-press to power up and link simultaneously, click once to mute, and hold to power down. Also making its U.S debut was the new SK 6212 mini-bodypack transmitter for the Digital 6000 wireless microphone system.
Electro-Voice introduced the RE3 UHF wireless-microphone product family. RE3 receivers and transmitters are available in 10 packaged sets, each of which contains a half-rack-space diversity receiver with antennas, universal power supply, rack-mount kit, transmitter, batteries, and an input device. It operates on three bandwidths for the North American market, chosen to minimize the complexities of today’s challenging RF environments: two 36-MHz-wide bands in the low and high 500 MHz spectrum and one strategically chosen to operate within the 600 MHz duplex gap, which the FCC has dedicated for wireless microphone use. It will be available in March.
HARMAN Professional Solutions showcased the new JBL Professional One Series 104 compact powered reference monitors. Newly engineered JBL 4.5-in. coaxial drivers are specially contoured using the same waveguide model as the M2, 7-Series, and 3-Series monitors. Sister company AKG showcased new 2.4-GHz DMS100 and DMS300 professional digital wireless systems. The eight-channel DMS300 and four-channel DMS100 are available in two configurations: a handheld microphone and a headset-ready bodypack, both offering 24-bit/48-kHz uncompressed audio coding, ultra-low latency, and signal security provided by AES 256-bit encryption.
The NAMM Show also had a sizable live-sound component, including systems designed for sports-venue applications, such as Bose Professional’s new ArenaMatch Delta Q array system, intended for outdoor installed-sound applications, which was introduced at the show.
TEC Awards at NAMM Show
One of the things solidifying the NAMM Show’s position as the new pro-audio destination was the move of the TEC Awards, which recognizes 23 technical- and eight creative-achievement categories around professional audio, from the AES Show to the NAMM expos eight years ago. Companies with extensive broadcast divisions, including a number of SVG sponsors, were among those recognized at the awards ceremony, which took place on Jan. 26: Audio-Technica, ATH-M60x (category: Headphone/Earpiece Technology); Yamaha, CL/QL StageMix v.7 (Audio Apps & Hardware/Peripherals for Smartphones & Tablets); Solid State Logic, SSL Live L100 (Large Format Console Technology); Sennheiser, HSP Essential Omni (Microphones – Sound Reinforcement); JBL, VTX A12W (Sound Reinforcement Loudspeakers); JBL, 3 Series MkII (Studio Monitors); Sennheiser, evolution wireless G4 (Wireless Technology); and Avid, Pro Tools Ultimate (Workstation Technology/Recording Devices).
The next Winter NAMM Show will take place in Anaheim, CA, Jan. 16–19, 2020.