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NAMM 2024: Bringing back the Buzz

This year the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) made an effort to reach out to social networks, YouTube channels, and TikTok Creators to stay in the forefront of modern music making. And it appears to be working because, despite some notable absences, the NAMM Show is growing again.

There were no game-changing products or category disrupting tech innovations, but that didn't matter to the 62,000+ attendees, which, from our perspective, included many young people looking at the latest instruments for music creation and performance. Well, everybody looks young these days for some of us, but the best reason that OGs attend is the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. Here are a few facts about the show courtesy of NAMM:

  • 62,000+ show attendees, including 10,000+ international attendees from 125 countries, regions and territories.

  • 1,600+ exhibitors representing 3,500+ brands.

  • 2,000+ global media, social influencers, and content creators reaching over 120 million followers.

  • Over 6,700 students, educators, and non-profit leaders.

TEC Talk Modular Seminar

The show featured 250+ education sessions with 650+ speakers and panels, offering attendees insights into the latest trends, techniques, and business strategies in the music industry. This educational aspect of NAMM is helpful for both newcomers and veterans.

TEC Talks

For example there were several excellent TEC Talks showcasing veterans and attended by newcomers. One Talk, called Modular Synthesis, featured Anthony Marinelli, known for his pioneering synth work, Modular Expert, Chris Meyer, and music technologist educator, David Mash, and was moderated by Oscar Carabello of the Sound Synthesis Club. While discussing the past, present and future of modular synthesis they asked the question:

Is Artificial Intelligence a collaborator or a competitor for Musicians?

That's a question most people who make a living with music will need to find an answer for in the coming years.

Another TEC Talk was music historian and author Brian Kehew's fun and raucous interview with the legendary musician and composer Patrick Moraz. Brian needed all his experience as an interviewer to navigate Patrick's active and wandering mind.

There's some "history" inside and outside of Patrick's Minimoog

Mr Moraz also spent several hours each day in the Bob Moog Foundation booth, where he signed autographs and posed for pictures with his many, many fans. He is more than the keyboard player who took the prog rock band Yes in a temporary Jazz Fusion direction, but also a composer of many works of his own.

TEC Awards

Hollywood Fantasy Orchestra

The TEChnical Excellence awards were held on Saturday night. The awards were dominated by Universal Audio, the winner in four different categories, including Signal Processing Hardware and Signal Processing Software. EastWest Hollywood Fantasy Orchestra was the winner in the Best Musical Instrument Software category. These libraries are becoming more important as Orchestral mockups find their way onto final film cuts. Here is a list of the winners.

Buskers take note

There were lots of products that could have been designed with busking in mind, including small battery powered amps and even electric guitars that didn't require amps at all.

For example there was the Positive Grid Spark Live 4-Channel Smart Amp & PA System ($499 on Pre-order). Spark Live is a portable, multi-channel, all-in-one. Plug in guitar, bass, vocals, keys—or all at once. Fueled by Sonic IQ Computational Audio, this 4-channel smart amp and PA system is packed with amps, effects and a mixer. It's compact and loud, and comes with with optional battery power for any event.

One innovative idea was executed by Triple G Ventures. Think Shark Tank for MI. In this case the entries were judged by a panel of MI professionals like musician/entrepreneurs Jordan Rudess, and Scott Page, and educator and author Jonathan Wyner, among others. The winner was Ciari Guitars, who have developed an innovative folding guitar. It's weight is in the Les Paul range, and the engineering is a marvel.


NUGEN Audio showcased its latest utility plugins, including AB Assist 2, Jotter, and Aligner, aimed at providing artists, music producers, and engineers of all skill levels with tools that ease and streamline their work and enhance the creative process. Additionally, NUGEN presented VisLM 3, the forthcoming version of its loudness plugin, featuring new innovations to help users manage loudness.

The BomeBox

Bome Software was showing MIDI Translator Pro ($59), which is one of the best deals out there. It can take any MIDI event and convert it to just about anything. For example, you can easily assign a footswitch to send an All Notes Off command when you are performing live and you get an occasional stuck note. They were also showing the Bome Box, which is a small MIDI Networking device that runs basic or complex mappings and scripts on MIDI data in realtime. It can load and execute MIDI Translator Pro project files.

Sound Radix was in their usual location in the North Hall showing Auto-Align ($199) and Auto-Align Post ($399). These are not new products (they were demoing Version 2) but they do an incredible job of parsing recordings where multiple microphones have been used to capture a single source (such as a drum kit, guitar amplifier, or a vocal performance with room mics). Auto-Align addresses these problems by automatically detecting and compensating for the time and phase discrepancies between the microphones.

Ilio is committed to software

Although fewer and fewer software companies have booths at NAMM, many are still represented, especially in the Ilio booth, where some of the best brands are displayed. This includes Audio Modeling with their SWAM line of very expressive physically modeled instruments. The most popular to date has been their Saxes.

Also in the booth was VSL showing their new Duality Strings Series (595-950€), which is basically two string ensembles that were sampled at once, playing in separate rooms at Synchron Stage Vienna. And another KVR favorite AAS was showing the latest version of their Multiphonics CV-2 plugin, their take on modular synthesis.

Audio Modeling announced a partnership with GPU and they become the second Ilio distributed brand to support GPU's tech that uses graphics processors for additional audio performance.


Other software companies present were KVR favorites u-he and Bitwig. u-he was showing Zebralette 3, a reduced, but incredibly powerful free version of their awesome Zebra synth. Like its predecessor, Zebralette 3 is a single oscillator plucked from the mothership and embedded within a minimal environment: The multi-stage envelope generator, LFOs, modulation matrix, delay and reverb effects are just enough to turn the oscillator into a powerful little synthesizer in its own right. Zebralette 3 is also a wavetable editing tool: You can export the pure wavetable in .WAV format, which can then be loaded into your wavetable synthesizer of choice.

Bitwig was showing the latest features of Bitwig Studio 5.1.3 and both companies were demonstrating the unique qualities of the new CLAP plugin format. The group of developers that now support it is growing fast.

Musik Hack Master Plan

One company we had not seen yet was Musik Hack. They have an interesting product called Master Plan ($175). It is an algorithmic Loudness controller for the Master bus, designed for simplicity. It sounds pretty good despite the ambient noise of the North Hall.

MIDI Association and deployment of MIDI 2.0

The MIDI Association had an unusually huge presence in the area that was once called the MIDI Ghetto because it was inhabited by so many MIDI 1.0 companies in the 80s and 90s. MIDI 2.0 products are hitting the market - there were over 20 software and hardware displayed at the booth. They are now working with SAE Mexico to create MIDI In Music Education teaching materials and give it away for free under a Creative Commons License. The Music Accessibility Standard Special Interest Group has started work on a MIDI 2.0 profile for music accessibility to make sure music is accessible to everyone.

Michael Whalen in the MIDI Association booth

There were non-stop music performances from artists like Jordan Rudess, Scott Tibbs, and Michael Whalen as well as tech discussions that highlighted the benefits of MIDI 2.0.

Pro Audio

Beyer Dynamic was celebrating 100 years of doing business by releasing an updated version of the popular DT-770 ($169 at Thomann or Sweetwater) headphones.

SSL UC1 Controller

In the Pro Audio area there was Solid State Logic demonstrating their UC1 Controller ($799) the latest addition of their DAW control family of products. SSL has been a pioneering force in the professional audio industry and they continue that pattern as the industry has evolved. Their 360° System is an integrated hardware, software, and services intended to provide users with a complete toolkit for professional audio engineering and music production.

Spatial Audio

Immersive and Spatial Audio were buzzwords at the show, but one company who is taking the category very seriously is Embody. On the Pensado's Place stage, Embody announced their latest effort to remove the barriers of cost and accessibility to spatial audio creation. It's called Immerse Virtual Studio Signature Edition Apple Music, and it allows users to monitor their 7.1.4 mix as Apple Spatial Audio from any DAW. Designed for newcomers and Grammy-winning veterans alike, the software integrates Apple's official AUSM binaural rendering engine into the Immerse ecosystem along with new quality of life features including custom input routing and binaural exporting. It shares an interface with their Alan Meyerson and Lurssen Mastering virtual studios, which allow you to monitor channel-based 7.1.4 and 7.1.6 audio binaurally with your personalized HRTF.

GPU Audio, has spent the last year making some new friends. Building on their partnership with Vienna String Library. In the GPU booth we found Esteban Maestre showing Living Sky, a spatial reverb plugin set to redefine three-dimensional spatial audio production.

Blast from the past

Korg PS-3300

One product that had a lot of people talking was the Korg PS-3300 FS ($13,000), a full-size reissue of the original Korg PS-3300 that stays true to the 3300's iconic status while incorporating modern enhancements to propel it into the digital era. Korg also showed a variety of other new products.

Unlike previous NAMM Shows there didn't appear to be a guitar-specific area and our 4, 6, 7, 8, and 12-string friends were interspersed throughout the convention center.


Kemper was showing their new Kemper Profiler Player, ($698). It comes in their smallest form factor to date, but it will play any profile created on one of their larger Profilers, including their Liquid Profiling technology. There are three assignable footswitches, and, like its larger siblings, can be controlled from Rig Manager. One of the best things about Kemper is how they consistently update the operating system with new features that span all of the Profiler products. Newcomer KIT Plugins was demonstrating BB A Chamber, an AI powered emulation of the legendary Blackbird Studios Studio A reverb chamber. You can never have too many reverbs...

Larabee vocal session setup

Field Trips

There were many NAMM music performance events during the show, at the Anaheim Convention Center where the show is held and even in other parts of LA. Some visited the legendary Larabee Studio in North Hollywood, home to records like Michael Jackson's Bad, and a who's who of modern R&B artists. Highly successful producer Manny Marroquin owns the studio and the aptly-named Verse restaurant next door to the studio. Most weeks you'll find jazz pianist and synthesist, Scott Tibbs with an assortment of very talented players. All performances are recorded with a Pro Tools system in the kitchen, and the food is great too.

There were rumours that NAMM is thinking about expanding the Winter get together from four days to a week, similar to what is done with South by Southwest. An interesting notion because so many NAMM attendees live and perform around LA, but a lot of driving would be involved and LA freeways aren't always kind to out-of-towners.

Wayne Kramer in a bygone era

It would be remiss not to note one sad event, the passing of guitarist Wayne Kramer. We remember Mr. Kramer well from a visit he made to the Muse Research booth. Our CEO was approached by a man who looked and dressed like an attorney and wanted to know about the Receptor. He was very articulate and asked excellent questions. We were really impressed...

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