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Thread July 11, 2015 editorial: comments

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1 July 11, 2015 editorial: comments

New Old Gear at Summer NAMM

The motto for this year’s Summer NAMM could be, “Forward, into the past!” Why? Because many of the new products creating the most buzz are modern remakes of older gear.

Exhibit A is Yamaha’s Reface series of keyboards. It comprises four mini-synths, each recreating a classic type of Yamaha keyboard sound. One gives you CS synth sounds, another DX sounds, a third CP electric pianos and the fourth combo organs. The Reface keyboards don’t have much in the way of internal memory, but they can save and load sounds via a connected iOS device or a computer’s USB port. Best of all, they offer great sounds. Hearing the DX Reface’s version of the famous DX-7 electric piano didn’t fill me with nostalgia for the ‘80s (I'm not sure anything would), but it sure sounded authentic.

Another nod to an old idea is the Roland JC-40, a 40W version of the legendary JC-120 amp. Anyone who’s ever had to carry a bulky JC-120 around will like this newer, lighter version, which retains the clean tone and lush chorus and vibrato of its ancestor.

A lot of people are jazzed about Gizmotron 2, a remade version of the long-defunct infinite sustain device. If you crave the sound of a bowed guitar or bass, and don’t fancy using a real bow on your strings like Jimmy Page, or a violin on them like Nigel Tufnel, the new Gizmotron is for you. Seriously, it’s ability to sustain notes was mind-blowing.

Naturally, there have been plenty of new products introduced that aren't revivals of old gear. Some of the more impressive ones are the Line 6 Helix guitar multi-effects processor and the DD-500 digital delay from Boss. Check out our NAMM coverage page for product announcements and videos. I’d love to hear any comments you have about the new products.

One non-NAMM-related task I had while in Nashville was to shoot several video stories, which we’ll be rolling out over the next couple of months on Audiofanzine. One was shot at a major studio with an awesome gear collection; another at a small, funky all-analog studio; and the third at the factory of a major guitar manufacturer. Stay tuned.

I like the idea of some of these products, like the Gizmotron 2 and Helix. Couple issues though: do they try and do too much to the point that they don't do it successfully?

Specifically, I've always wished I could get a bowed instrument (specifically cello) sound even though I just play the guitar. Gizmotron 2 makes this somewhat possible, but at the same time in a live setting or tracking, I think it would probably stick out like a sore thumb. Like a cello sound mixed with nails on a chalkboard.

I guess we'll have to wait and see. Overall, I'm not too impressed by summer namm, I'll stick with the gear I already have for now, thanks
Gizmotron 2 and Helix. Couple issues though: do they try and do too much to the point that they don't do it successfully?

They're very different products. Gizmotron 2 seems to work very well, and it sounds great. Helix has some very intelligent user interface design, but it's pricey as hell, and I really couldn't get a good idea of the sounds based on the setup Line 6 had a the show.