by Alec Lee
Day 1 of NAMM had a few recurring themes for me:
- Compact speaker simulators: A number of manufacturers are launching pedalboard-friendly devices offering speaker simulation: Neunaber Iconoclast, DigiTech CabDry VR, and the Atomic Ampli Firebox were the three that I saw today.
- Better integrated pedalboards: I saw more than one new pedalboard with switching built into the unit.
- Non-traditional retail: Reverb.com and eBay both had booths at the show. I’m not sure what it means but it was interesting to see them exhibiting.
- Digital modelers in a floorboard format: Joining Helix and AX8 were the Head Rush, Atomic Amplifire 12, and the ISP Theta Pro.
Amps & Cabs
I got to spend some time with Kyle Rhodes of KSR. He ran us through his amps’ features and these high gain beasts have some interesting differentiators:
- Separate V1 for clean and dirty signals. Not only does this enable him to optimize the input stage for clean/dirty tones, it also allows for some interesting possibilities like have a lower gain 12AT7 V1 in the clean path with a higher gain 12AX7 in the dirty one.
- Dual switchable master volume sections
- Weight relieved cabinet designs combined with neodymium speakers offer a 2×12 combo that only weighs about 70 lbs
It was an impressive amp and when cleaning up the tone using the guitar’s volume control, the amp’s tone didn’t thin out they way it does with many of its siblings.
Satellite Amps isn’t just in the amp business anymore. They have their Coronet guitars as well as a range of pedals. Their Eradicator overdrive pedals (one for guitar, another for bass) use real tubes and real tube voltages (300V) despite using a 9V power supply. Oh, and their amps are nice, too. 🙂
Mojotone had a really cool iso cab (shown below). When the iso cap is removed, you have an angled speaker cabinet that looks like it would work great as a stage monitor for your amp.
Digitech had a lot of new stuff this year. At the top of the list is the CabDry VR speaker simulator. It uses convolution but does not allow for use of 3rd party IRs. The FreqOut feedbacker reverses Harman’s feedback suppression algorithm and uses it to enhance, rather than suppress, feedback. It’s very effective at getting natural sounding feedback at low or no volume. The RubberNeck analog delay gets a full second out of four bucket brigade chips. Holding the foot switches can either send the device into (controllable) oscillation or into “rubberneck” pitch shifting. Finally, there are new mini volume and expression pedals. The volume pedal uses a treble bypass circuit to maintain frequency response throughout the pedal’s throw and the expression pedal has resistance and polarity options to allow it to work in nearly any rig.
Atomic Amps had their (relatively) new Amplifire 12 on hand and introduced the Firebox, a stomp box will full amp/reverb/cabinet modeling built in. It has toggles allowing you to select one of three “channels” on one of three amp models, yielding a total of 9 possibilities. The third toggle allows you to select an IR for speaker emulation.
Neunaber had its new Iconoclast speaker simulator as well as the Immerse delay. While the Iconoclast doesn’t use Impulse Responses for its speaker simulation, its app does allow for the loading of IR frequency curves so you can tailor its parametric EQs (plural) to match the IR.
Jam Pedals had some jaw-dropping case designs.
ISP’s Theta Pro
Suhr had their complete range of amps and pedals in addition to their guitars. They have a widening range of signature guitars and below you can see Pete Thorn talking about his personal signature model.
Ogre guitars has some very interesting looking guitars and pedals
Pons Guitars offers modular guitars with HH and SSS cores and six different body styles.
Koll’s cool VW
Some lovely quilted maple
Other / Accessories
One nice thing about NAMM is seeing folks you wouldn’t otherwise get to visit with. Here is Chicken Picks founder Eppo who again made the trip from the Netherlands. In keeping with their Dutch heritage, they were offering stroopwafel to the booth’s visitors.
Coherent Sound in Light has some amazing looking aftermarket bridges and trem blocks. They offer drop-in replacements for traditional fulcrum, hardtail, Floyd Rose, and even Tune-o-matic bridges. They also offer aftermarket tone blocks with global tune (much like the adjustment wheel on the Parker Fly) and built-in trem stabilizers. The bridges are lovely and quite comfortable as well.
For those using a laptop or IOS device in their rig, SMASHmouse introduced a USB/Bluetooth foot controller that offers a lot of control options in a compact pedal that will sell for under $100.
I didn’t frame this picture particularly well but this board from Accel Audio features an integrated controller.
The curiously-named picks from Anatomy of Sound were 3D printed based on a hand-carved jade pick that founder Larry Hierholzer made for himself.
I had to share this very unique-looking piano.