That's a wrap on NAMM 2015, and like every year, the world's largest music gear convention has left us glazed over after four days of thorough overstimulation. As media, we're just there to take it all in and make sense of it, and while that's a daunting enough task, it's nothing compared to the actual work taking place there. The chasing down of contacts, the putting of names to faces, the handshakes and deal making–NAMM is where, for four winter days at the Anaheim Convention Center, the entire music-making ecosystem meets to plan out the year ahead. That's the major underlying gist of the story. Here are 10 other lessons we learned at this year's NAMM.
-While it is commonly understood that NAMM is short for National Association of Music Merchants, it actually an acronym for Not Available, Maybe May. That's a buyer joke, but it's mostly true–a lot of this gear isn't quite ready for retail, some of it is even in prototype form.
-If there's an emerging trend this year, it is modular analog synthesizers. Think of the original Moog Synth from the early '70s, with its desk-sized network of plugs and sockets, but reduced tenfold in size and price.
-The big announcement is that Avid will release a free version of Pro Tools, called Pro Tools First. There wasn't a solid release date (maybe May?) and the free version is bare-bones–you will get 21 audio effect plugins for free, the rest will cost you. Also, it only lets you store three projects in the cloud, and expect to pay if you want to download it to offline storage.
-Here's something cool for using your new free Pro Tools: this condenser from Shure clips onto your tablet. The compact form factor houses front facing and bi-directional microphones, offering users a legit way to record vocals and acoustic instruments.
-To get a little more out of said acoustic instrument, this device fits onto the back of a guitar and adds digital effects to the tone without the need for amplification. ToneWood-Amp inventor and co-founder Ofer Webman had a soundproof booth to demo the gadget. Having couple minutes of silence at the festival was heavenly.
-Wear comfortable shoes. Chuck Taylors are fine for holding down a booth all day, but if you're on the move, you'll want something with more cushion and support. Drum tech Jeff Poole measured his steps with his iPhone and posted some impressive numbers.
-Leave your drugs at the hotel. The Anaheim PD sent drug sniffing dogs through the convention on Friday. No reports of arrests despite plain-sight maryjane vaping later that day.
-At age 73, George Clinton still funks super hard. His Friday night set packed the pavilion, which sparked a night of hard partying up and down Harbor Ave.
-Funk was the word of the evening; Anaheim Plaza was the venue. Members of Grammy-winners Snarky Puppy helped us get down in epic fashion, aided by the cheapest beer to be found in the vicinity. Remember that for next year–drink cheap north of Katella.
-Some of these things you wish you had thought of yourself. These are Option Knobs; they fit onto your guitar pedals so you're able to adjust them with your feet, without having to bend over like a tool in the middle of your set.