US: The announcement by Roland that it is to acquire a major share of Cakewalk, and the introduction of a new environmentally-friendly acoustical foam from Auralex were just two of the highlights at this year's Winter NAMM exhibition, held in Anaheim last month.
The event also provided a venue for the METAlliance - a group of prominent audio engineers and producers whose board of directors includes such industry luminaries as Frank Filipetti and Elliot Scheiner - to announce its first set of 'Pro Partner' manufacturers, who will work with the organisation as it continues to pursue its objective of ensuring "the highest standards of audio production and delivery through developing consumer formats", writes David Davies.
The news that Roland is to acquire a major share of Cakewalk follows a long history of collaboration between the two companies that stretches back to the mid '90s. A minor shareholder in Cakewalk since 2003, Roland has since expanded its commitment to the other company's product line by bundling Cakewalk software such as Sonar LE with a wide range of Roland/BOSS/Edirol products. In turn, Cakewalk has adopted Roland's REAC (Roland Ethernet Audio Communication) technology to develop the SONAR REAC Recording System.
As a result of the latest arrangement, new products for musicians and professional audio producers will be branded as 'Cakewalk by Roland'. "We all look forward to working on new projects we have planned with Roland," commented Cakewalk founder and CEO Greg Hendershott. "Our two companies work well together and our respective customers will benefit from our ongoing collaboration. Roland makes great hardware. Cakewalk makes great software. The combination has the power to make a powerful difference in the world of music and audio creation."
Winter NAMM also paid host to some notable product debuts, among them Auralex Acoustics' introduction of what it says is the first 'green' acoustical foam product on the market, Eco-Friendly StudioFoam. The StudioFoam brand products - manufactured without CFCs - now include soy components, reducing petroleum-based chemical usage by up to 60% and lessening dependence on fossil fuels, including foreign crude oil.
"Green initiatives are no longer reserved for environmentalists. Consumers as a whole are moving towards ecologically-friendly lifestyles and products," commented Dave Paxton, director of operations at Auralex Acoustics. "Auralex is proud to be doing its part in conserving the environment and reducing global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels. Auralex will continue to create products that are beneficial to the audio industry as well as those that are conducive to our environment."
In addition, the company - which unveiled its 2008 product catalogue at the show - also drew attention to a recent, environmentally-minded project that involved the fit-out of a multi-purpose space for Texas-based corporate attorney and musician David Ronn. The facility, customised by Bob Suffolk (Suffolk Studio Design) features several Auralex treatments, including the EliTE Custom Fabric System, pArtScience AudioTile, Custom ProPanels, SonoFlats and S-CORE Panels.
Meanwhile, Pro Partners who joined the METAlliance at the press conference held during Winter NAMM included Audio-Technica, Cakewalk, GML, JBL Professional, Lexicon, Manley Labs, Millennia Media, Royer Labs, Sanken Microphones and Universal Audio. Once named a METAlliance partner, the organisation supports evaluated products of the partner companies.
"The idea of the partnership is for us to stand up and speak for quality," says METAlliance's director of business affairs, Jim Pace. "The certification is a little separate - it's part of what you can do as part of the Alliance, but it's not mandatory. Some people want to join because they just want great sound, they just want to elevate what people do, but maybe they don't want a product certified. That's OK, too. We're not going to say that one product is better than another - it's a pass/fail thing. And we will give those who fail a chance to remedy the situation."
Asked whether METAlliance harbours any ambitions to initiate change on a cross-industry level, Pace responds: "What's important right now is to discriminate [between] what is professional and what is not. We don't want this to be adversarial."
For more about Winter NAMM, see the February print issue of Pro Sound News Europe. Look out for more on METAlliance in the March edition.
PICTURE CREDIT: Leah Lee