NAMMbulating 2018
NAMM Convention January 2018, Anaheim, CA
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I managed to battle Friday traffic and arrive just in time to meet up with some friends just after 5 pm and head out to dinner. After meeting at Dave Bryce's Amphion booth, we headed out for dinner, hanging out. A few of us share a lot of photos on Facebook as well and discuss photography, so it was especially great to meet them and do this in person as well.

I did not wander the floor at all on Friday. I did NAMMbulate on Saturday morning for a little bit, however.

This is not meant to be comprehensive. It's not even close. It's just what I saw while NAMMbulatilng, and nothing more, with my iPhone in tow. Enjoy!

Oh, and the first bunch of photos are Murray Judy with his Nikon DSLR, after which are mine, with an iPhone 6.

Photo by Murray Judy.

Anne with Mike from Casio. I unfortunately didn't see Mike this time around, as we did not go around to Casio, although my friend Brian met him later since he had a Casio question.

Photo by Murray Judy.

Anne with Dave.

Photo by Murray Judy.

Wandering, we found a place that would take us in an hour. The manager was kind and let us hang out in the patio, just sitting and catching up.

Geoff and I participating in the inaugural Chicken Pot Pie Club. I'm not giving a thumbs down, but rather, pointing out these lovely square that are the chicken pot pies.

Photo by Murray Judy.

The full group together, with Murray, Anne, Mark, Gus, Elton, me, Geoff, and Dave.

Photo by Murray Judy. Well, okay, the waiter used his camera. Yeah. Close enough, right?

iPhone pano photo of the inaugural meeting of the Chicken Pot Pie Club, begun here in January 2018 in Anaheim, CA. We hope that this will become even more of an international sensation in the coming years.

iPhone 6 image.

I stayed overnight in the Anaheim area.

The next morning, I met up with my friends Brian and Chris.

Whoooey. A giant new building. Where is everything now? Coming out of the new building, it was easy to begin walking the wrong way. Everything is much more spread out than before. Still seems absurdly chaotic and loud, though.

Brian wanted to show us the IK Media Syntronik, which is the most impressive analog-style software synth I've heard, sampled from Erik Norlander's extensive collection of vintage analog synths.

Analog-style software synths I've heard don't have that sort of physicality, earthy buzzy solid visceral bottom end, or other aspects of analog keyboards that I love. However, this seems to have that.

They even have managed to emulate the slight drift that analog keyboards of yesteryear often have, which adds richness and complexity and is part of the sound. And of course, there are effects. And you have the ability to stack synths...but not only that, tweak them, detune them against each other, etc. You can also apply different filters, such as, say, appliying a Moog filter to an Oberheim sound or whatever. It's an impressive software synth. And bear in mind that I'm an analog synth lover who is usually dismissive of software synth emulations of analog synths.

And at $300, it's a rather good bargain as well, I think.

There's a free download, a sort of sampling of this as well if you follow the link. Currently, although I have a new computer, my Pro Tools rig is still on my venerable old Mac Pro 1,1, an eleven year old desktop tower running OS 10.7.5, so I can't install this. But when I eventually migrate Pro Tools over to the new iMac, I will install this if it's still available.

Chris and I record music as The Mercury Seven:

The Mercury Seven on Bandcamp
The Mercury Seven on Facebook

Brian is a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays with the Tikiyaki Orchestra.

Tikiyaki Orchestra

iPhone 6 image.

Chris plays a Buchla. After playing an Arturia emulation of a Buchla, he walked across the aisle to the real thing. Aaaaaaaahhhhh......

iPhone 6 image.

This was impressive.

"The HyVibe Guitar is the World's First Smart Acoustic Guitar. It uses a vibration control system, high-speed processor, and Bluetooth module to become its own amplifier, connected speaker, recorder, looper, and multi-effect board. Having all these tools built into a high-quality acoustic guitar will change the way you play. It will make you a better player and inspire you to create more music." - HyVibe's Indiegogo Page

Playing the guitar and having the effects feel like part of the guitar instead of coming out a speaker is a special thing. Having the guitar resonate with the phaser or delay or other effects felt great. I especially loved the phaser, which gave a beautiful psychedelic effect in parts. Extremely clever and great sounding. The Indiegogo price is only $550 as well.

iPhone 6 image.

Hanging out at the Strymon booth. High quality pedals. I especially love the BlueSky reverb, which has this beautiful Enoesque shimmer.

iPhone 6 image.

The BigSky is an absurd amount of sounds in that box.

iPhone 6 image.

The Hologram Dream Sequence is a pattern-based octave generator, as they describe it. Just fiddling slightly, it was hard to get a handle on it completely, but it does generate quite a few rhythms, after which you seem to be able to tweak it to produce all manner of bizarreness. It does not seem to be an Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine, which I own and love, but it's own thing. It gets some beautiful sounds regardless:

The Hologram Infinite Jets pedal is a re-synthesizer which seems to create these beautiful swells behind the notes. Here's a demo here:

It's difficult to determine something from the NAMM floor sometimes, and it's also difficult when you're not sure how to use something. So I wasn't blown away by this in person, but listening to the YouTube tutotials and demonstrations, they really do sound pretty great.

Regrettably, I never went by the Earthquaker Devices, Moog, or EFX booths.

iPhone 6 image.

I am getting lazier and lazier, or perhaps more and more weary at walking the NAMM floor, shouting above the din, and...well, at this stage, if anything, I am downsizing my gear, not trying to acquire more, although that's occasionally difficult to do when passing by these pedal and analog synth booths.

Here, though, Chris and I attended a panel discussion with noted basssists Nik West, Jenny Mason, Rhonda Smith, Leland Sklar, and a drummer whose name I cannot remember. Note here that many of the bassists are female too even though this wasn't a female bassist summit. They discussed working with Jeff Beck or Prince or doing sessions or how they got their foot in the door.

And that is Brad Lunde of Trans Audio Group, whom I met a long time ago at some of the old dinners and hangouts.

This is an especially dreadful looking iPhone photo of Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, and Craig Doerge, who played on Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty" album.

The panel discussion was an interesting discussion on recording the album on the road, including on the truck while it was moving, various hotel rooms, and other locations, and some of the hiccups and funny stories along the way, including Leland Sklar telling about an instance in which he had bass cabinets made with 24" speakers, cabinets so large and heavy that they got stuck to the insides of the their cases. They had to destroy the cases to get them out.

And they talked about how Jackson Browne was NOT mellow, how he wanted the sound of the truck driving in some of the songs, and how driven the producer/engineer was. You can hear not only some of the truck driving on "Nothing But Time", a song in which Russ Kunkel also used a cardboard box as a kick drum, setting his kick drum pedal against it.

Chris and I went to Thuyen Vien vegan vietnamese restaurant for a post-NAMM dinner before heading home. Last time, I had the bun bo hue soup, but this time, it was an energy bowl, basically, brown rice with a ton of veggies. Spring rolls with peanut sauce for appetizers too. Definitely enjoyed the rice bowl and spring rolls, which I liked more than the bun bo hue I had last time. It's not that the bun bo hue was bad. It's delicious. It's more because there's a place sort of near where I live that makes it so good that all others pale in comparison.

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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NAMMbulating, January 2018

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