NAMM 2014: what to expect

Posted Dec 11, 2013 at 8:40am
Read more about NAMM 2014: what to expect at MusicRadar.com

Believe it or not, the 2014 Winter NAMM show is only seven weeks away. This annual trade event, which takes place in Anaheim California from 23-26 January, is one of the biggest in the music-making calendar, with many of the major guitar, tech, drum and DJ product manufacturers using it as an opportunity to launch their latest gear.

In the run-up to the show there are sure to be rumours aplenty about what might be shown, while leaks - both non-intentional and otherwise - are also inevitable. We'll tell you about everything we're allowed to right here, updating this page with relevant tidbits and morsels as and when they fall onto our plate.

In the meantime, here are some general predictions from our industry experts...

Tech

If 2013 was the year of the analogue synth, expect 2014 to be... also the year of the analogue synth. Manufacturers seem to have found a way of producing affordable hardware instruments that also sound great, so expect to see more of them at NAMM.

Some of these will come from smaller companies, but we'd be surprised if Korg didn't continue to celebrate its glorious re-marriage to all things analogue in some capacity. Many musicians will be desperately hoping that Roland will follow suit; we don't expect it to slavishly recreate any of its past products (a la Korg's MS-20 mini), but we do wonder if it might just be ready to start acknowledging its rich heritage a little more.

Below the headline launches we can also expect the usual re-jigging of companies' MIDI controller and audio interface lines, but it'd be nice to see a keyboard from a big manufacturer that has sensors on its keys to give you an extra level of expression. Oh, and more 'click-together' products along the lines of LittleBits' and Korg's Synth Kit seem like a good shout, too.

If you're a software fan, don't expect to see any major DAW updates, though we do hope that NAMM might be the place where Bitwig Studio finally gets a release date.

Beyond that, look out for a raft of plugin announcements, plenty of iOS peripherals, and some stuff that we can't even imagine.

Guitars

If there's one thing that we know we can expect from NAMM 2014, it's the customary avalanche of new guitar gear, some good, a little great and most either quirky, downright strange or totally impractical.

Broadly speaking, there are key trend in the offing: one, the subtle (very important word for most guitarists, that) integration of newer technologies with old-school looks and playability.

You only need to look at Gibson's already announced 2014 models to see the first trend in action. The wider roll out of the Min-ETune system gives players the convenience of technology but not loads of bulky weight or ugly, in-your-face looks. Expect more of this sort of design-first approach to guitar design this year.

Amp manufacturers will be doing similar things, and we've heard rumblings that Blackstar, Orange and Peavey will all have new products that'll raise eyebrows in Anaheim.

Of course, the idea of fusing together new developments with tried and tested guitars and amps isn't new, but companies seem to finally be getting the balance between tone, looks and functionality right, and that's the golden ticket.

DJ

It's tricky to predict how eventful NAMM 2014 is likely to be for DJs. With big brands including Pioneer, Numark, Native Instruments and Denon having already announced or released major products in the second half of 2013, it's uncertain how many truly new bits of gear we'll see in Anaheim in January. But it's fair to predict we'll see at least a few new controllers, mixers and players at the show.

If September's BPM show was anything to go by, we can expect plenty of iOS DJing gadgets, particularly with the portable/entry-level DJ market growing at such a rapid rate at the moment.

In terms of what we'd like to see, it would be nice to find more companies unveiling products that bridge the gap between digital and traditional DJ setups in the way that Reloop's MIDI-equipped RP-8000 turntable does. For the time being, however, we'll just have to keep quessing.

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