Little bits of NAMM.........
This year’s NAMM was a little different from the norm, being the first proper event since 2020 and it definitely felt like a “first steps into normality” rather than the turbo charged, hi-octane experience it usually is. There was a much smaller event last Summer but it wasn't well attended, especially from those outside of the USA, so this was really the first time people had a chance to be in the same room with each other for the best part of 3 years.
Why is NAMM even important? It's the largest show of it's kind in the world, nothing else comes close in terms of scale (the figures for the last show pre-covid were 110,000 attendees) and although events like Superbooth are much more closely focussed on our Synth-Nerd interests, if you want to know what's happening in the world of music technology and what the general feel of the industry is for the coming year, NAMM is the place to be.
However, for manufacturers/exhibitors, NAMM is a major challenge. It requires at least 3 or 4 people out of the office for at least a week (the event is 4 days plus a day for Press events, a day to set up and a day to tear down and pack up) and with smaller companies this can mean all hands on deck for the show and nobody back home doing support emails, paying bills or the other wheels of industry that need to keep turning on a daily basis. It’s a slog basically.
The show is usually in late January but the only slot open to the organisers this year was an early April one which had three problems. Firstly it’s slap bang in the middle of Easter holidays (or Spring Break as it’s know in the US) which, if you have family/kids causes immediate logistical problems.
Secondly, it fell on the same weekend as Coachella Festival which is only an hour or so’s drive from the convention centre. This meant that a significant proportion of LA’s sound engineers, lighting riggers, and band backstage crew were at the festival rather than checking out new gear at the show and on the Saturday, when musicians and some educational establishments/students are allowed to attend, ditto. The show wasn’t quiet in the traditional sense of the world but it was noticeably less hectic and some of the brands I spoke to felt they definitely weren’t getting as much exposure to new folks as they had hoped for.
Here's some Sound Engineers who should have been checking out the latest advances in Dante digital networking for live sound but were at Coachella instead:
And lastly…….this year’s show is only 4 weeks from the mighty Synth behemoth, Superbooth in Berlin. For a great many Eurorack and niche-synth companies the choice was was both stark and pretty easy to make. Fly several thousand miles around the globe to attend what it a fairly mainstream event or keep your powder dry and hit the mecca of weirdo synths in a 24 hour party city that's a couple of hours drive for many European brands. That meant there was a distinct lack of modular brands at the show this year compared to previous events. Boo.
The one thing that was a definite disappointment was the Hall E closure this year - it’s the basement of NAMM and usually where I find the weird and wonderful stuff that hasn’t bubbled to the surface of the music making world yet. Hall E is where, many, many moons ago, I first came across some weird looking boxes with an ungodly amount of cables poking out in every direction and some decidedly unusual synth tones and…….yeah, all the early Eurorack folks tucked up in one wee booth in among all the Chinese component manufacturers and the OEM suppliers (this was when you could more or less fit every Eurorack brand in existence onto one table).
There was also a distinct lack of mascots and promo people this year so no Gator Cases guy :(
So…that’s all the negative stuff out of the way, it almost sounds like I didn’t have a great time and I didn’t see any cool new stuff for us to salivate over…of course nothing could be further than the truth, More info to come in the next day or three.........