NAMM 2020

This annual gathering brings together the folks closest to making music: musicians and the makers of musical instruments. Although I can’t play a lick of music (but for the opening riff of “25 or 6 to 4”) I always enjoy a visit to NAMM to revel in the seemingly endless array of instruments, equipment and music stuff.

A few highlights from my visit.

Solid State Logic introduced an incredibly powerful interface that brings its four decades of pro quality hardware within reach of the amateur.
“We need to go where the music is being made,” Phil Wagner told me. He is SSL’s Senior Vice President, and he has worked at the highest levels in this sector.
The amount of software packed into SSL’s latest product is mind boggling. Over $1000 of programming is preloaded in the SSL2, which retails for $229.
Designed to be at the heart of a personal recording set up, the SSL 2 personal studio was designed in England (like all SSL products) and is perfect for individual singers, songwriters, or media producers.

I wish I knew what all these buttons and knobs are for.

Capturing the same look and feel that made SSL the preferred brand for road and recording engineers, the units introduced at NAMM should establish SSL as the leader across an impressive range of target customers.
There was a noticeably larger contingent of Rush shirts and hoodies, especially in the drum display rooms; the recently departed Neil Peart is a god among drummers.

A tribute to Neil Peart.


Daniel Sennheiser.

Daniel Sennheiser celebrated his family company’s 75th anniversary. He pointed out the wireless microphone with which he was speaking was first born in 1957, and like many of the company’s products it has been iterated over the years, ever closer to perfect sound. As part of the celebration, Sennheiser will be rolling out a series of amazing discounts across their product line, starting February 3rd at the company website. The first product in the company’s price reduction program will be the storied super-cardioid e 865 condenser microphone, which is an ideal choice for speech and vocals. Mark your calendar.

Sennheiser was an aspirational brand when I first became aware of the possibility of high fidelity, and I have been fortunate to step up to the quality delivered by Sennheiser.

Gibson hosted a great party, with Slash leading an array of stars through a great setlist. He was at NAMM as part of Gibson’s launch of his eponymous line of guitars.

Loys of keyboards to try.

Lots of saxophones to try.

Lots of cymbals to try.

Lots of stage effects on offer.

The rooms with brass and drums were the loudest; I am uncertain how the salesmen there lasted the entire length of NAMM.

And one of the coolest things I saw all weekend from the perspective of a non-musician was the Orba from Artiphon. It is a grapefruit size gizmo containing a synth, looper and MIDI controller that lets anyone make songs in seconds.

Their Kickstarter campaign just closed and surpassed 1.4 Million dollars. Units will sell for (wait for it) $99.

I will be doing a deeper dive when I get one in my hands.

25 or 6 to 4, indeed!

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.