Another NAMM is done and we’re back in the UK to lashings of snow. It was a great show and again the massive physical size is quite overwhelming. Of course we can’t cover absolutely everything, but the team have worked really hard to bring you all that they have - good work!
This year we filmed our long walk around the show floor, handing out the awards in an ad-hoc way, sort of entirely the opposite of most awards ceremony.
So without further ado:
NAMM 2019 Best Mono Synth
Aurturia MicroFreak - with a digital oscillator based on open source code from Mutable Instruments, the sound source is DSP, but there’s a multi-mode analogue SEM filter as well. This combination giving a pretty unique sound.
The MicroFreak is available around April at a price of €299/$349
Pictured: Bryan Borcherds and CEO Frederic Brun
Best Poly Synth 2019
The Korg Minilogue XD might seem to be a little diminutive to receive this award, “where’s the Moog One?” you probably ask, well it wasnt at NAMM...
But having said that, we loved the original Minilogue, a really great affordable analog poly and the XD adds some very cool new features including the 3rd digital oscillator which can load 3rd party models - like the Prologue, the stereo digital DSP effects, the additional CV and the redesigned filter. All go to make an impressive sounding instrument.
Korg Minilogue XD is available soon priced at £565/$619
Pictured: James Sajeva
NAMM 2019 Best Newcomer
This one goes to the Gamechanger Audio for the Motor Piano - a unique concept that uses cv controlled motors as oscillators, It's still at the concept and development stage, but the sort of out of the box thinking that we can appreciate from the team from Latvia.
Pictured: Ilja Krumins, DD
NAMM 2019 Best Controller
This one goes to the Effigy Labs Control Pedal foot controller, MIDI multi axis MIDI controller with both MIDI and USB connectivity. The main pad gives you high responsivity on left, right and forward movement with MIDI CCs (up to three per axis) plus an additional knob and footswitch for additional control. The pedal can store five presets, and with a little practice high levels of expression can be achieved with one foot. Freeing up the hands for playing.
Available now priced at $299
NAMM 2019 Pro Audio
Aston Audio mic, a unique new concept which houses an end address dynamic mic with 4 switchable voicings (Vocal 1, Vocal 2, Guitar and Dark) that will work in passive mode and also can sense if there is phantom power to drive a built in class A mic preamp. Internally the Mic is shock mounted ,so you don’t need a cradle. It's a unique microphone design that is well suited to voice, over, vocals and instruments.
A lot of unique and “world’s first" tech inside. Plus it looks cool
Available February in the UK £299
Pictured: James Young
NAMM 2019 Top Presenter
A tough one this, there are so many good ones out there now, but we decided this year to give it to Robert Becker from Quilter Labs, he’s the guy who’s behind the Panoptigon - a modern Optigan disc player with MIDI and on board effects. It’s a bonkers device and Robert’s enthusiastic presentation won us over. Big shout out to Blake Angelos of Yamaha and Lauren from Bandlab as strong contenders.
Pictured: Robert Becker
NAMM 2019 Best of Show
Akai Pro and the Force smashed it this year, we know the MPC Live won it in 2017, but this is another tour de-force (geddit) from Akai. A stand-alone music production and performance device that takes the Ableton Live workflow as a concept and runs with it. As a platform, it looks set to develop with additional native synth and effects plug-ins, oh and it also controls Ableton Live too.
Available in a few weeks priced at $1499
Pictured: Pete Goodliffe software designer for Force
NAMM 2019 New Technology
Mind Music Labs ELK - developing an operating system that allows the running of VST, AU and Reason Racks on a general purpose processor such as ARM with extremely low latency. Ideal for embedded usage such as Eurorack or other as yet un thought of applications. So basically you can run plug-ins on ELK hardware, providing a gateway for software developers to create hardware manifestations of their code.
Pictured: Matt Ward, Michele Benincaso
NAMM 2019 Best Plug-In
Expressive É Arché Collection - stringed instrument modelling with Violin, Viola and Cello expertly modelled and eminently playable, especially when paired with the Touché, though you can use any MIDI controller. Impressive articulation and bowing techniques from this collection of instruments.
Available now priced at €99
Pictured: Christof, Roméo and Louis
NAMM 2019 Best Music Software
Omnisphere 2.6 update, yet another free update from Spectrasonics which brings the paired hardware synth s count up to around 60 including of all things the Roland Juno 106 - which uses sysex!
A big overhaul for the arpeggiator too with many complex and interesting modes to assist with creative flow.
A deserved winner.
Pictured: Eric Persing
So that's it for this year, big thanks to our team: Andy, Rob, Edd, Mera and Jim, and also our sponsors - without whom we wouldn't be able to make it happen - Thanks!
The philosophy of designing organismic instruments