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Synth and Software Goes to the 2023 NAMM Show



It happened April 13 – 15 at the Anaheim Convention Center

For decades the entire music industry has convened at the NAMM Show to see what all the companies in our industry have been up to. (NAMM = National Association of Music Merchants, but the companies that show are international.) There have also been more guitar-ish Summer NAMMs, held in Nashville in recent years.

Covid forced a break from the regular Winter NAMM, so last year it was held in June, this year in April. The plan is for it to return to its regular January time next year.

But Covid aside, the world is changing – more equipment is being sold online rather than through dealer networks. That creates less of a need for companies to meet face-to-face with their dealers than in the past. Between the two factors (covid and online shopping), this year’s show was busy, fairly crowded… yet still quite a bit smaller than NAMM Shows have been historically.

It’s hard to estimate how much smaller, so let’s paint the picture this way: there was a fairly long line to pay and get into the parking lot, but I was able to arrive at 9:45 (the show opened at 10:00) and park in an indoor structure at the Convention Center. In other years I’d have had to park at an overflow lot a good 15-minute walk away, or hope to catch a shuttle, and no way could I have made my first appointment at 10:30!

The buzz. While I wasn’t able to walk up and down every aisle this year, here’s a very limited list of things that were drawing crowds and being bandied about.

– First, everyone has been talking about the Osmose Expressive E, a new hardware synth with a novel keyboard that senses velocity, release velocity, polyphonic aftertouch, pitch wiggles, etc. Its sound engine is designed by Haken Audio, and it’s a very appealing instrument. From all appearances they can’t make them fast enough.

– Above is a picture of the great Michael Whalen playing the heck out of Casio’s new Privia PX-S7000 piano. He was very enthusiastic about its feel, and we were very enthusiastic about the music he was making with it.

– Unfortunately we arrived just at the end of the demo of the latest versions of Audio Modeling’s SWAM instruments, but there was a crowd. These software instruments are physically modeled, but that doesn’t tell the story of how they respond like acoustic instruments. We’ll tell it when we get a chance to review them.

– Synthogy’s Ivory German D is an outstanding virtual piano library, combining sampling and modeling. I used the word “stunning” a lot in my recent review.

Virtuoso keyboardist Jordan Rudess would probably attract a crowd if he were demoing a kazoo, but there was standing room only when he played the Ivory German D. It helps that there actually were no chairs there, but still – he’s a serious talent and there were dropped jaws in the audience.

– Realitone Choirs. Remember those fabulous Synth and Software reviews of Realitone’s Sunset Strings, Nightfall Hybrid Strings, and Realivox Blue?

Well, company head Mike Green was drawing crowds with demos of Sunset Choirs, their forthcoming  library release. This was one of the last sessions at historic United Recording studios in Los Angeles before they shut down. That they’re shutting down is very sad, that Realitone was able to get in before then is not.

– How about a combination sustain and expression pedal in one? That’s the BlackBT SusEX pedal, and we award no extra points for figuring out how they came up with the name. 

– Yamaha came out with the ProMix 01 digital mixer almost 30 years ago. It was the first affordable digital mixer, but more than that it had automation, motorized faders, and built-in effects and processing. Everyone was amazed.

Now there’s the DM3. It’s in that context that we’re amazed again.

– We got a brief look at/feel of the new Yamaha CK stage pianos, which had some very nice bread-and-butter sounds (plus some that were more baguette and brie) and would make great controller keyboards.

– Loopback done right: Audiomovers Omnibus 2.0 has it worked out properly. What’s loopback, you ask? It’s routing the output of one program to another one running on the same computer.

Audio Design Desk 2.0 is out. It’s a special-purpose DAW designed for slapping together music and sound FX tracks to picture. This certainly makes things quick and easy, but of course the days when it was considered amateur to write scores in pencil rather than pen are long gone. And using a piano?! Cheating.


So that’s all we’ve got, but it’s only a fraction of what was at NAMM. And a good time was had by all.

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