My Trip to NAMM 2010

I caught a demo of the remarkable Melodyne software. If you haven’t been paying attention, Melodyne uses a proprietary musical DNA method of analyzing your sound files. Would you like to change one note in the stereo file of your string quartet? Not a problem. Is your recorded guitar part slightly out of tune? Not a problem. Want to export your sound file to midi data? It can do that (I’m pretty sure they said you could do that…) Anyhow, amazing stuff.

I know that many of you are big Spectrasonics fans, so I stopped by to see what was new. A lot, as it turns out. This Jan 22nd a 1.2 beta will be released for Omnisphere and Trillion which will be 64 bit native! For non-64 bit computer users, there is also a feature within both Omnisphere and Trillion that will work as a 32-64 bit bridge, which allows the 32 bit user to use memory in Ominisphere outside of their DAW. They also introduced a new “ratings” system into both synths (much like what Native Instruments does in many of their instruments) and also a “projects” system, so you can rate and organize your sounds according to both ratings and projects. There are so many sounds in Omnisphere, the added organizational features are more than welcome.

There is a new “Live” mode, allowing the user to create and load “live” settings with several patches set up in groups, with easy access to any of them. In addition to this new mode, is a new Omnisphere iPhone app, which will allow the user to be away from their setup, and wirelessly change the sounds they had setup up within “live” mode. We were treated to a demo by Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, who played the Zen Ripper (sort of a fancy ‘keytar’ instrument) out in the crowd, and he handed the iphone to several people in the crowd who would randomly change Omnisphere’s sounds as he played. That was fun! While the beta update is due Jan 22, the non-beta, stable public update is due Feb 22d. And it’s a free update (I believe the iPhone app is free as well.) Man, do I love Spectrasonics.

I stopped by the McDsp booth, to ask about their game audio engine plugin plans. As you may know, they’ve created plugins that will operate within Wwise, so I asked what their plans are for Fmod or other middleware solutions. They said they they do plan on heading that direction, even as far as creating their plugs that will work within proprietary audio engines (Sony, EA etc), but they are currently concentrating on getting all their plugs into Audio Unit format (which I think is great.) They were very aware of the real time DSP stuff that’s taking place within the game audio engines, and definitely want to be a part of that.

I checked out the new update to Sonivox/FableSounds Broadway Big Band library and was thoroughly impressed. The library has been updated to work within Kontakt 4, and the way that they’ve organized the playability of all the different articulations is impressive. It goes a bit beyond keyswitching, and once the user learns the notes affiliated with each switch (falls, gliss, mutes, etc), the controls are consistent throughout the library. One example: you could be playing a legato trumpet note, add a keyswitch note, and add a ‘rip’ quality to the existing note being played and then add a new “fall” keyswitch note, which would then smoothly trigger a new sample of the trumpet note transitioning from legato to ‘falling’ and then the note would end. It’s pretty impressive. And I would’ve checked out more of the library, but the guy who was showing it to me was obviously sick, and kept coughing on me. Seriously, he wasn’t even trying to cover his mouth.

I spent some time with Chicken Systems, discussing their sample library database manager, which I’m sure that many of us would find useful. So cross your fingers, as we might get to see a new GANG discount coming up for some of their software.

Noticeably missing: Native Instruments and EastWest? Did I miss them? They weren’t in the directory. Strange.

The best for last…

My favorite new item this year is the You Rock Guitar and it’s perfect for us GANG folk. For a retail price of $170, the You Rock Guitar is a wonderful MIDI guitar instrument, that tracks extremely well, it has both USB and standard MIDI outs and can be plug and played with your favorite sequencer. It also has a 1/4 inch out, with built in sounds so you simply play it through an amp or through headphones, using a variety of built in sounds. For beginner guitarists, you can put it into “You Rock” mode, which plays background chord progressions that early guitarists can play along to, and if they pick a note on a wrong fret, the fret won’t play a note, so the student can learn the correct patterns. But there’s more.

Plug in the cartridge for your given game system (Wii, PS3, 360) and you can use the You Rock Guitar as an ultra precise controller for both Guitar Hero and Rock Band. You play the strings with a pick (for better precision) and while the frets are marked with colors, the player can choose any string they want to play, as long as the correct fret is used during gameplay.

I enjoyed this much more than the new Moog MIDI guitar (which is obviously an instrument in a different league, and a hugely different price point, but bang for buck and fun factor really goes to You Rock). In speaking with the CEO, they have plans to also create wood versions of the You Rock Guitar (they are currently plastic) and they even want to use accelerometer (iPhone) technology for future models. They are scheduled to start shipping in February. And I can’t wait!

Interview written/edited by Dren McDonald