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NAMM 2017 Music tech predictions  ·  Source: namm.org plus photoshop

The music tech industry likes to take time off over the holidays. Then NAMM comes like a rude alarm clock at the end of January as the most important trade show of the year. In the run up to the event, the airwaves and internet are awash with rumours and leaks of launches and possible new products. 

Most manufacturers are tight-lipped until the event arrives in Anaheim but when you’ve been in the industry as long as I have you can sense new products in the ether, and my Spidey-sense has been tingling. So here’s my predictions for new products and technologies for NAMM 2017.

1. Open Mic

We recently saw the amazing Radio Garden spinning a globe of international radio. It lets you listen to radio stations from anywhere in the world. Following that idea is the Open Mic sound design and sampler software which gives you access to any microphone, anywhere in the world. It could be from a studio down the road, the iPhone of a taxi driver in New York, the laptop of a technician in India, the XBox of a gamer in Australia. Anywhere microphones are present Open Mic can fix a line and capture a signal. Imagine being able to generate the environmental sounds of a Morrocan market simply by accessing some local phones. So you can sample conversations to drop into your cafe scene. Maybe use some shouting, or animal noises, or a waterfall as a waveform for an oscillator. The interface, like Radio Garden, is a globe so you can browse to any microphone in any place.

Open Mic mock-up

Open Mic mock-up

2. Korg Dialogue

Following on from the hugely popular Minilogue and Monologue comes the new Korg vocoder synthesizer which is, of course, named the Dialogue.

Korg Dialogue Mock-up

Korg Dialogue Mock-up

3. 2-Penny

You can now make grooves, loops and entire tracks with a controller the size of a 2 pence piece. Simply squeeze it, flip it, tap it, scrape it and the loops and beats will flow. No battery or Bluetooth required, and the body of the coin acts as a contact mic, integrated speaker and resonator. Multiple sounds can be generated depending on the orientation of the spin. MPE implementation is simple but effective with 5 dimensions of expressiveness. Stack them up for awesome elbow drops or get a number spinning on a table for sustained, evolving drones. The 2-Penny is a duo phonic instrument and rumour has it that they are also working on a monophonic 1-Penny and polypyhonic 5-Penny or “Shilling” as it’s become known. A pocket full of change can now become a full orchestra.

2-Penny multi-instrument controller mock-up

2-Penny multi-instrument controller mock-up

4. Patch-Halo

An LED control voltage technology that generates a halo around the patch cable jack to display CV information. When plugged in, the technology measures the CV through the cable and throws out a constantly updating circle of light around the socket. It’s perfect for being able to see levels of modulation at a glance. The Halo supports full RGB so you can use colour to sort cables into categories of use. One additional feature is that when you touch one end, the other end will flash, making it a doddle to navigate the mess of cables strewn over your modular. Patch-Halo will be available as ready made patch cables, or you can clip them onto existing patch cables.

Patch-Halo mockup

Patch-Halo mockup

5. AmazeBalls

MIDI and OSC controllers in the shape of levitating balls of glowing plasma. These balls can be placed in space and respond to vibration, movement, location and pressure. You can define the space, set the parameters within 3-dimensional space and then position yourself in the controlling environment like a human trigger. The balls flow, both resisting and obeying the laws of physics depending on the settings, generating MIDI and OSC control via a dongle into your laptop. You can jump, collide, dance and wave your arms around to combine physical and cerebral performance. The more balls you have, the more involved the performance. Think David Bowie in Labyrinth with a MIDI interface.

AmazeBalls in action mock-up

AmazeBalls in action mock-up

You heard it here first

What unlikely technologies are you hoping to see at this year’s show? Let me know, in the comments.

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