I switched shoes, from New Balance to Keens, to try to preserve the most abused portion of any tradeshow attendee’s body – da feet. Walking three to four miles on concrete floors day after day takes its toll, but you have to keep up. Each day starts with a massive crush of people trying to beat you into whatever hall you’re trying to explore. OK, what’s on today’s menu?
Calling all keyboard players looking for that vintage Fender Rhodes sound! Vintage Vibeis a New Jersey-based keyboard tech firm that has been a mainstay of the tri-state area for 15 years. Having serviced thousands of vintage pianos over the years, the team at Vintage Vibe decided to build their own line of Rhodes-style electric pianos, but “with all the things that players complain about on the original models fixed,” said Bryan Kwasnik, one of the firm’s reps.
Dare I say they took what they had learned from the legendary Rhodes pianos and made them better? The new pianos sound identical to – I should say, sound even better than – the originals. Available in 44-, 64- and 73-key versions, these models cut between 60-100 lbs. from the back-breaking weights of the originals. And while digital samples and emulations of the original classic Rhodes get pretty close, the Vintage Vibe pianos sound perfect. The feel of the keys and the sound, since they use the same tuning fork model, is just what you’d expect from a vintage Rhodes, but with 21st century builds. Ranging in price from $2,500 for the 44-key version to $3,800 for the 73-key model, they aren’t exactly an entry level product, but if you want the real deal, this is it.
Ever been frustrated when listening in “random mode” on your portable music player, and you have to jack up the volume of a quiet piece, only to be blown out of your ear buds on the next selection? Enter McDSP (McDowell Signal Processing), a plug in company from Silicon Valley that has a wonderful set of dynamic processing tools. This year, McDSP has gone mainstream with a new app called LouderLogic. I guess their software engineers have had the same issues with volume fluctuations on their iPhones.
LouderLogic, which is currently only available for the iPhone, levels out the volume differences between the tracks in your digital music player while keeping the audio fidelity at its best. They do it with a proprietary algorithm called Audio Level eXtension, ALX for short, which looks at each track and balances the overall volume to feed a consistent level to your headphones.
In the demo given by McDSP chief, Colin McDowell, he flipped between a pounding rocker by U2 and a classical piece. Without LouderLogic, the U2 intro was quiet and the classical piece was basically inaudible as it started out. He played back the same two pieces using LouderLogic and immediately, the U2 intro was clearly audible. The louder sections of the same track were still louder, but not four times louder, like it was without the app.
Same result with the classical piece. Its soft intro, probably a double P (pianissimo), still came through our headphones, and as the piece built, we weren’t scrambling to cut the audio level down. Bottom line: LouderLogic seems like a great add on to digital music players, especially if your iPhone has become your default music player. Right now, McDSP is offering a free 30-minute listening trial from the App store, or you can purchase the app for $3.99.
My third and final product for Day Two is something called the Emulator DVS. Not to be confused with the ground-breaking sampling keyboard of the 1980s, the Emulator DVS was brought to the NAMM show by a Canadian company called Smithson Martin, and it is a whole new way to look at MIDI control, especially for the DJ market. Whatever combination of mixers, turntables, CD players, video sources, or DAW programs you’re using, the Emulator DVS combines them on a display with a tactile, fully customizable touch screen that can withstand the rigors of nightly performances.
Pre-made templates are available for Traktor, Serato, Ableton, Virtual DJ, Logic, Pro Tools, and a variety of applications. As long as the sources have the option of MIDI control, it’s 100% customizable, so you can program and create your own faders, buttons, control wheels, knobs, and more. Even better, The Emulator DVS allows projection of your entire control surface to the house, allowing the audience to see and experience your creative process as you build your mixes or sets.
It retails for $2,499, and for DJs and mixers who perform live, this is a must see product. Note: it requires a separate computer, AC mains, and a VGA connection to larger screens to deliver its full capabilities. Bottom line, this is one of the coolest products I saw at NAMM 2012.