Anaheim’s winter National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference – with the theme Believe in Music Week this year – took place entirely online in 2021 for the first time in its history. The free virtual event on Believeinmusic.tv gave hours of product showcases, performances and workshops by music professionals across the global industry.
While Believe in Music Week is more focused on traditional stage instruments, DJ gear and software products were a major player in this year’s presentations. MIDI 2.0 is on the way soon, PLAYdifferently has a new mixer, and Korg took its award-winning Gadget app into the VR world. Believe in Music Week’s debut AI-powered marketplace also gave manufacturers a safe and secure setting to sell these products and more to a much wider audience.
Selector has put together a breakdown of the standout innovations revealed during Believe in Music Week that are coming out in 2021 and beyond. Read on to learn about this highlights of this year’s NAMM.
1. MIDI 2.0 Is Here
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is the technical standard digital instruments use to communicate with each other. Founders Dave Smith (of Sequential Circuits) and Ikutaro Kakehashi (of Roland) along with Yamaha, Korg and Kawai released MIDI 1.0 in 1985. MIDI 2.0 was introduced at NAMM 2020 by the MIDI Association, 35 years after the organization’s inception.
MIDI 2.0 provides a faster and clearer communication environment between both digital instruments and software. The standard also allows expressive, intricate control on single MIDI notes – ideal for arranging strings or orchestral sections. Pitch and modulation attributes assigned to one knob across the entire MIDI arrangement are also available in single-note control.
Current controllers are being outfitted with the new MIDI 2.0 firmware, and 2.0-ready controllers – like the Roland A-88MKII – are already on the market, with many more brands to follow suit. The MIDI 2.0 standard specifications for controller developers is free with membership to the MIDI Foundation.
For many, MIDI 2.0 is a welcome upgrade improving future productivity and creative expression in the studio. More on MIDI 2.0 will follow next week.
2. Sensaphonics 3DME IEM System
$2,000, Releasing Q1 2021
Sensaphonics’ 3DME Custom Tour In-Ear Monitors (IEM) System was an interesting addition to Believe in Music Week.
The Chicago company, who also specializes in custom-fit silicone IEM solutions for DJs and stage performers, released a more affordable earbud version of the 3DME IEM system last year. The 3DME Custom Tour boasts powerful binaural microphones, capturing room sounds and adjusting its dual-driver speakers to fit every ambiance. The final sound is then run through a bodypack with a Bluetooth-enabled, seven-band EQ and limiter controlled by an accompanying mobile app. Overall, Sensaphonics’ 3DME Custom Tour is a very powerful monitoring device for artists and performers touring in the future.
3. Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio
$699, available for preorder
Roland remains a leader in the digital synthesizer realm, and VERSELAB is a new addition to their innovative collection.
VERSELAB is an all-in-one song creator, designed specifically for modern music making and vocal recording. The VERSELAB moves like its newer siblings in the Roland family, with TR-REC step sequencing and a 4×4 pad to record instrumental parts. Other features include looping, pitch shifting and a high-quality XLR input with phantom power.
Mix and master finished songs with over 90 effects or connect the VERSELAB to the Roland Zenbeats production app (coming February 2021) to expand on ideas.
Workflow improvement is a recurring theme at Believe in Music Week, and Roland’s VERSELAB will prove useful to artists seeking to create strong ideas on the fly.
4. PLAYDifferently Model 1.4
$2,299, available for preorder
MODEL 1.4 is the latest introduction of the Richie Hawtin-designed mixer – a slimmer version of the iconic MODEL 1. MODEL 1.4 carries the same 100% analogue circuitry, four stereo channels, and two phono preamps found in it’s bigger, six-channel predecessor.
Hawtin said, “We always felt a compact version would be [welcomed] in home studios and perfect for streaming. At a more affordable price, but with no compromise to the purity of design and components, this is a smaller format MODEL 1 with four channels, perfect for the home, as a compact club mixer, or as a nimble tour instrument.”
MODEL 1.4 mixers can also link with MODEL1 mixers to move as a fully working 10-Channel unit.
“MODEL 1.4 remains true to our original concept of ‘DJ mixer as instrument,'” Hawtin concluded. “I can’t wait to see and hear how it’s going to inspire the current generation of DJs.”
5. Korg Gadget VR (Coming 2021)
Korg’s award-winning DAW is making its way to VR headsets soon.
Korg Gadget VR provides over 40 combinable drum machines and synthesizers (“gadgets”) to use in a one-stop DAW or mobile device. This VR version heads into new territory, creating an immersive 3D studio landscape along with Gadget’s ever-growing instrument library.
A short clip of Korg Gadget VR in action during Believe in Music Week is available in the video above. Virtual reality along with Gadget’s groundbreaking DAW could very well usher in a brand new era of music production.