This year's NAMM was a strong show with plenty of great new gear releases. After the covid pandemic gear drought, ensuing parts shortages and ongoing manufacturing issues, it feels like the industry is now in a bullish mood for the future.
Here's our favourite picks from NAMM 2024... there's lots to talk about!
Danish manufacturer Gyraf Audio make very cool kit and it was great to see their new G25 VOCALSHAPE voice recording channel in the flesh. G25 is an all-in-one all-valve processor consisting of a pre-amplifier, filter and EQ section, vari-mu compressor and a final stage of frequency-selective clipping for resonance control.
Jakob Erland (“Mr. Gyraf”) explains that all parameters have been specifically optimized for recording vocals – you can easily use it for other purposes of course, but this is primarily aimed at vocal recording. The idea for the unit came about after Jakob was increasingly getting feedback from engineers - who were already using multiple Gyraf units to create vocal chains - that it would be useful to have all the key functions in a single unit. Gyraf make proper gear for proper audio professionals, so another suggestion was to create something more user-friendly that artists could get great results from themselves, rather than relying on more technically-minded engineers.
We’re big fans of Gyraf Audio here at KMR. Their gear is always interesting, and although some of the ideas may seem a little quirky at first, once the gear is put into use you quickly understand the effectiveness of the designs - and the audio results speak for themselves.
Barefoot have expanded their Footprint range of compact monitors with the new FOOTPRINT03 - offering an even more compact design at a more affordable price.
As with all Barefoot monitors, this new model is packed with innovative technology. Barefoot’s proprietary MEME technology is retained in this smaller model, offering multiple voicings (like having several A/B monitors in a single cabinet) and introduces Barefoot’s new SPOC (Spectrally Optimized Conversion) technology. SPOC utilises an analogue crossover section prior to the A/D conversion, allowing high frequencies to pass into the converter unattenuated, yielding 5-bit higher resolution or a 15dB signal-to-noise ratio.
Footprint03 uses a side-firing ported speaker design. This fast transient bass reflex system allows Barefoot to achieve their remarkable low-end extension.
A new 1″ ring radiator tweeter is based around a more powerful magnet and motor system, resulting in longer excursion capabilities, increased volume output, and reduced compression for exceptionally dynamic audio performance.
These new monitors are powered by three Class D amplifier modules, each dedicated to a specific driver. The tweeter channel has a 60W amplifier, while midrange and woofer drivers utilise separate 100W amps. The amplifiers maintain a super-low total harmonic distortion of less than 0.005% when delivering maximum power. This configuration ensures well-balanced, powerful audio performance, optimizing signal levels for each driver and facilitating optimal sound reproduction.
At £1995 inc. VAT, Footprint puts Barefoot performance within reach of even more users – we expect these to do very well.
AEA announced their 44-CX LE - a 25th Anniversary Limited Edition "museum quality" version of the classic RCA 44 ribbon microphone. Manufactured with an attractive umber-grey satin-nickel finished bronze investment-cast yoke, custom Cinemag transformer and optimized inductor-transformer pairing, the mic offers a choice of three switchable sound settings – “M” for the unaltered 44 sound, “V1” for a subtle HPF on vocals and “V2” with a more aggressive filter aimed at close-miking applications and enriching deeper vocals. The result is a definitive version of this iconic mic offering the smooth, rich warm sound of the original with modern tweaks for more flexibility. A very lovely thing indeed!
After the introduction of their Carnaby 500 Series EQ last year, UK manufacturer Cranborne Audio have released their new CARNABY HE2 dual-channel 3-band analogue parametric “HarmonicEQ” 19-inch rack. The secret sauce is Cranborne's groundbreaking Saturation Core technology offering variable frequency-specific harmonic saturation. It’s a very different way of implementing equalisation, but operates in the same intuitive manner as a regular parametric EQ. Also included are variable HPF and LPF controls with independent bypass for each of the three bands.
Operation can be in stereo, dual-mono or mid-side modes with insert points allowing users to patch in any existing processors. A DAW plug-in offers full automation and recall capability via USB or network connectivity (AU, VST and AAX). Attractive, colour-coded LED rings surround each rotary encoder control for instant feedback of settings.
UK pricing is £1799 inc VAT. Another great product from this relatively young company.
Few compressors can compete with Fairchild's almost mythical reputation - due no doubt to the scarcity of working vintage units and the astronomical price tags they have subsequently commanded. Fortunately, the last few years have seen a spate of excellent reproductions so it’s perhaps no surprise to see the Fairchild name resurrected and starting to faithfully remake these most iconic of dynamics processors originating from the 1950s. Renowned for its warm colouration – derived from 12 valves, no less - Model 660 has been out of production for nearly six decades. This rather gorgeous single-channel processor is painstakingly built to original specifications using the same valves, custom-wound transformers, point-to-point soldering and Turret style construction. Pricing in the UK is a pocket shredding £25,995 inc VAT – almost a snip compared to its dual-channel Model 670 big brother @£35,995 inc VAT. Clearly not aimed at the jobbing studio owner, but for those fortunate enough to have this kind of budget to throw around it’s certainly going to be a conversation starter in the control room!
API were celebrating their 55th year in the audio industry with the release of their great-looking 5500 ANNIVERSARY EDITION equalizer. Whereas the standard production 5500 is in a 1U 19” rack format, this (very) limited edition release of 55 units is housed in a 3U chassis in a vintage-style cream livery.
An expanded frequency range offers 20Hz on the LO band and 50Hz in the LO-MID band, with 15kHz on the HI-MID and 40kHz on the HI band. Each channel has a variable HPF, adjustable from 40-600Hz - the same HPF from the input module on the AXS and Vision consoles. Finally, a MS decoding circuit allows for separate EQ control of the separated Mid and Side signals, then recombined at the output.
This is a really nice version of an already popular piece. 55 units worldwide seems a bit stingy though – maybe write to your local API dealer and petition them to make more of these beauties?
API’s second NAMM announcement was their updated THE CHANNEL STRIP II (TCS-II) with a few welcome tweaks to refresh this 14 year old product. TCS-II is a complete mono recording strip offering a “best of” combination of API’s classic processors including a 512c preamp (now with peak LED metering), 527A compressor (upgraded from the former 527), 550A equalizer and 325 line driver. Now shipping.
In what looks to be a smart move, Neve have launched their GENESYS G3D system, adding Dolby Atmos mixing functionality to their class-leading Genesys hybrid console. Neve already have a long-standing partnership with Dolby from the Atmos integration developed for their mighty DFC3D film console. Now music recording studios can benefit from the same 3-dimensional mixing capabilities. A comprehensive software package is supported by hardware upgrades including a new future-proof SSD-based 64-bit computer system and G3D monitor panel with touch-sensitive logicators, each with a 30-segment LED halo for 3D co-ordinates at a glance. Speaker outputs can be remotely configured and controlled from the control surface (7.1.4, 9.1.4 or 9.1.6). There’s also a bank of new dedicated software-specific controls for the Dolby Atmos Renderer to speed workflow. The Genesys hybrid console platform already combines Neve’s classic analogue audio with the advantages of digital mixing – the new G3D system now makes this into a hard-to-beat package for Dolby Atmos music production facilities.
G3D is available immediately to order with all new consoles, priced @£13,745.
If you’ve ever looked at Kii Audio’s Three monitor, you’ll know to expect a highly technical offering in these latest SEVEN monitors. Each cabinet utilises two 6.5” bass drivers, a 5” midrange driver and 1” tweeter with a custom waveguide driven by 600W of amplification. SEVEN offers two listening modes – “minimum latency” for recording applications where low roundtrip latency is essential, and “minimum phase” mode for optimized accuracy while mixing. Sophisticated DSP creates Kii’s signature advanced cardioid dispersion pattern – not just a gimmick, this effectively minimises interference from room reflections and allows these monitors to perform well in otherwise acoustically challenging rooms.
Connectivity is very comprehensive with analogue XLR/TRS, digital connectivity over AES/EBU, Dante and Wireless/Bluetooth for playback from consumer devices such as Apple iPhone. Compared to the earlier Three model, the new Sevens are a smaller cabinet at a friendlier price point of £7785 inc. remote. Like the Threes, it’s hard not be impressed by the large soundstage and flat, effortlessly detailed sound coming out of these relatively diminutive cabinets.
Heritage Audio were showing their new range of i73 PRO USB-C audio interfaces – all equipped with “73-style” pre-amps. The range includes three models:
- i73 PRO ONE: 2x4 interface with 1x 73 style preamp
- i73 PRO 2: 2x4 interface with 2x 73 style preamp
- i73 PRO EDGE: 12x16 interface with 2x 73 style preamp & ADAT
These new interfaces incorporate the same Class A transformer-balanced circuitry as Heritage Audio’s highly-regarded 73 style pre-amps, providing users with the ability to track with all the classic mojo you expect from this type of pre-amp straight into your DAW. We were particularly impressed by the i73 PRO EDGE which includes a further 8ch of expansion via ADAT - opening up the possibility of using this for multitrack location recording.
All i73 PRO interfaces include a low-latency software monitoring mixer and a growing collection of DSP-powered plug-ins modelled on Heritage Audio’s own products and their private collection of vintage gear. This looks like a compelling package and the interfaces are well-priced from £595 - £1299 in the UK.
Tegeler Audio’s new MythVCA 500 is a single-slot VCA compressor for 500 Series. Typical of Tegeler designs, they’ve managed to distil all the essentials into an intuitive and easy-to-use device allowing users to get great sounding results fast. With three well-chosen ratio settings (2:1, 4:1 and 10:1), variable Attack time from 0.1-20ms and Release from 0.1-1.4s (inc. an Auto Release setting) users have a wide range of control without the risk of destroying transients. A Low-Cut filter can be set from 60-120Hz and the Link feature allows bridged processing of stereo signals. Gain reduction is displayed with a 9-segment LED meter. A really neat design. Shipping immediately at a price of £635 inc VAT.
Polish manufacturer WesAudio came out fighting with their new ngTubeEQ – a 4-band passive EQ offering stereo, dual mono and mid-side modes with digital recall and automation.
Each of the 4 bands has 12 selectable frequencies, variable Q, bell and shelf modes with each band being individually bypassable and both channels having active HPF and LPF. A very cool feature is the choice of two switchable output stages – a GREEN electronically-balanced output stage for a cleaner, punchier sound and a RED Carnhill transformer-balanced valve stage with IRON PAD. If all that wasn’t enough, there’s also a Total Harmonic Distortion saturation control.
What really sets off this already powerful feature set is total automation and recall via a DAW plug-in.
With this kind of spec they’re clearly pitching themselves against current heavyweight EQ offerings from companies like Manley and Chandler. Very impressive. UK pricing @£5499 inc VAT.
Neve’s new STARNET ADA16 is a high-end 16x16 analogue line-level AD/DA converter that seamlessly integrates into Dante Audio-over-IP for use in larger recording studios, live sound venues and broadcast/post-production applications.
Neve are no slouch when it comes to digital converter technology and this new multi-channel AD/DA is solidly in the upper echelons of mastering grade quality with incredibly low distortion (<0.0007% ADC, <0.0008 DAC) and a flat frequency response that extends far beyond the audible range (+/-0.1dBu 5Hz - 40kHz). The numbers are impressive with the A/D conversion producing 119dBFS of dynamic range and the pristine quality D/A converters 122dBFS (derived from the 88R console) with selectable headroom of +18, 24 or 26dBu. Dual Ethernet ports offer redundancy in case of network failure and the ability to daisy chain multiple units in switched mode. A remote muting app allows remote control of the analogue outputs of all units on the network.
Starnet is expected to ship in early February with a UK price of £2795.
In a clever collaboration, HEDD Audio have partnered with IsoAcoustics to offer custom decoupling wall and ceiling mounts for their entire range of studio monitors. Aimed at Dolby Atmos and other immersive room installations, these new mounts aim to make Dolby Atmos room certification easier to achieve by significantly simplifying monitor positioning and room treatment requirements. This comes off the back of the introduction of a range of Atmos monitor packages now being offered by HEDD. With their “Atmos Dream” 3-way 9.1.6 package including three Tower Mains, six Type 30’s, four Type 20’s and four Bass 12 subwoofers, you can start to understand why monitor manufacturers are very enthusiastic about the Dolby Atmos platform!
A new Elysia product is always something worthy of attention and this year’s NAMM show debuted two new great looking releases. Channex|Studio is a Class A recall channel strip boldly promising the “ultimate recording front-end” for your recording projects. Featuring a high-end pre-amp, dynamic EQ, compressor and zero-latency monitoring section, Channex|Studio is designed to be an all-in-one device, producing “mix-ready” audio including a “Flavour” control with five colouration options – all with full recall capability from the hardware itself or via a DAW plug-in. Anybody familiar with Elysia gear will know their kit is consistently intelligently designed, very intuitive to use and built to a very high standard – all at a refreshingly sensible price. Not available until this Autumn, but this is one we’ll be keeping a close eye on.
Elysia were also showing their new Xpector, a portable monitor controller with flexible high-quality headphone amp functions allowing routing control by a producer in addition to an artist output with Hi & Lo shelf EQ controls - enabling them to tailor what they’re hearing through their headphones. Loop outputs of the stereo mix inputs means multiple Xpectors can be combined for independent headphone control by several musicians. A really nice design. Shipping in summer – price to be confirmed.
ORIA is a new immersive audio interface and monitor controller from UK console manufacturer Audient. With Dolby Atmos become more established in the music industry, we’re seeing more products being developed for the platform.
ORIA provides true immersive monitoring control (up to 9.1.6) and onboard room and speaker calibration. Comprehensive connectivity includes 16 outputs via TRS or AES, two dedicated stereo outputs, two independent headphone outputs, BNC Word Clock I/O as well as two Audient Console Mic Preamps, 16 ADAT inputs and an optional 16 input AoIP Dante card for larger studio facilities.
Working with multi-channel speaker arrays requires a perfectly calibrated room and ORIA’s Advanced Speaker Processing lets users create up to 32 custom onboard calibration profiles for any monitoring format by utilising per-channel 8-band EQ, Speaker Delay, Trim and Bass Management tools. This allows users to ensure their rooms stay calibrated when monitoring different formats such as stereo, 5.1 or immersive.
A nice feature allows Dolby Atmos mixers to take control of the Dolby renderer’s downmix functionality directly from ORIA’s user interface allowing fast switching between different downmixed monitoring formats, such as 7.1, 5.1, stereo and more without having to jump between your project and the renderer.
ORIA is due to start shipping in Spring, priced @£2520 inc VAT.
High-end console manufacturer Harrison Audio have entered the 500 Series market with the introduction of three new modules based on circuits from their renowned desks.
32CPRE+ is a transformer-coupled mic pre-amp from their 32Classic console offering up to +70dB of gain to easily drive even gain-hungry ribbon mics. Features include HPF and LPF, phase reverse, -20dB Pad and Hi-Z input. Users can expect Harrison’s signature smooth natural HF, open mids and a weighty LF resulting in an overall rich, warm tonality. UK pricing is £599 inc VAT.
The MR3EQ equalizer is taken from Harrison’s MR3 recording console. A straightforward 3-band design with a 800Hz–15kHz 6dB/octave HF shelf band (inc. switchable 2nd order bell mode), 40Hz-800Hz low shelf - again with switchable bell mode – and 400Hz-8kHz mid band with variable Q. Finally, there’s a separate HPF with characterful 2dB resonant peak. UK pricing is a very reasonable £319 inc VAT.
Finally, the COMP module is a classic feed-forward VCA design based on a THAT 2180 chip, offering a wide sonic palette from transparent leveling through to highly saturated tones. UK pricing is £319 inc VAT.
For fans of the Harrison sound, it’s easy to see how you could create a very neat (and affordable) stereo tracking setup in a single 6-slot lunchbox.
Radial excel in producing solid, high-performance workhorse products. Although possibly not the sort of thing to get your heart racing, these are recording tools you need to be well designed and work reliably so you can get on with the job in hand. Their new NUANCE SELECT monitor controller is just such a product. With dual stereo sources, balanced outputs for two sets of monitors, a switchable subwoofer output, Mono/Mute/Dim switching and two independent headphone amplifiers this is a comprehensively featured controller claiming an ultra-low noise and crystal-clear signal path. There’s space in the market right now for this kind of product – it should do well.
While there has been a glut of impressive high-end headphones in recent years, the £1k+ price point of cans at this level are still beyond the wallets of most mere mortals. With their new HD 490 PRO, Sennheiser have introduced a professional open-back headphone at an affordable price. A frequency range of 5Hz–36kHz and 128dB SPL allows HD 490 PRO to deliver it’s neutral, detailed sound stage with very low distortion for optimum transparency and tight extended LF. Thoughtfully, a detachable mini-XLR cable can be connected to either side of the headphones which also ship with two sets of earpads – one set optimised for mixing and the other for production. UK pricing around £349 inc VAT.
It’s been 12 years since Lynx introduced their HiLo 2-in/6-out premium AD/DA. That’s a long time in the world of digital technology and testament to the success of this great product. With HiLo 2, Lynx have implemented some nice features to keep it up to date in 2024 – lower noise and THD levels, an improved sample clock with SynchroLock 2 technology for 7ppm accuracy, faster lock-up times and better tracking when controlled by an external master clock source. The unit now uses a brighter, more responsive capacitive touch screen with wider viewing angles and there’s an upgrade path to sample rates over 192kHz and DSD on input/outputs stages. Suitable for high-end recording and mastering applications alike, it’s good to see this venerable digital workhorse future-proofed for the next generation of users.
That's it for another year..!