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Numark, Focusrite, Shure make the NAMM headlines

Three stories defined the show: Numark’s acquisition of the Alto Professional product line and innovative new system launches from Focusrite (RedNet networking system, pictured) and Shure.

Three stories defined the show: Numark’s acquisition of the Alto Professional product line and innovative new system launches from Focusrite (pictured) and Shure, writes David Davies.

The 2011 edition of the NAMM Show took place from 13-16 January at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, US.

Arguably the business story of the event was the announcement by Jack O’Donnell – president and CEO of Numark Industries, Alesis, Akai Professional, MixMeister and ION Audio – that the Alto Professional product line had been acquired from Seikaku Technical Group. Offering a wide range of high-quality, Alto launched a number of new items at NAMM, including the TRUESONIC and TOURMAX speaker lines, ZEPHYR mixers, EMPIRE powered mixers, MIXPACK portable PAs, APX amplifiers and LIVE series MIDI keyboard controllers.

Jack O’Donnell, president and CEO of Alto Professional, commented: “The acquisition of Alto strengthens our existing brand portfolio by adding a strong complementary product line to the DJ, Electronic Percussion and Music Production product lines offered by our other brands. We’re dedicated to bringing the same level of product innovation to the Alto brand that has been the hallmark of our other brands.”

Dominating many of the product-related headlines, meanwhile, was a new network audio system for professional studios from Focusrite. Launching with five products and control software, RedNet is structured around Audinate’s Dante digital audio networking technology and is said to provide extremely low latency: under three milliseconds analogue-to-analogue at any sample rate when using the optional Focusrite RedNet PCIe card. Effectively bringing Dante – already a fixture of the live scene – into the pro studio environment, RedNet is scalable, non-proprietary and operable alongside any supported PC or Mac with an Ethernet port.

But RedNet was by no means the only aspect of Focusrite’s NAMM Show presence. The company also highlighted the Midnight Plugin Suite – which models the ISA110 and ISA130 as VST, AU and RTAS plug-ins – as well as the VRM Box compact headphone monitoring system with Focusrite’s Virtual Reference Monitoring technology. Also under the spotlight was the RTAS MixControl plug-in, which enables a blend between ProTools and the direct input, allowing artists to benefit from ultra-low latency monitoring.

Meanwhile, a seemingly significant moment in the development of wireless systems arrived with Shure’s preview of its Axient Wireless microphone system. Axient is reportedly the first wireless system to both detect interference and automatically change frequencies, undetected by the user, to avoid interference. Features include: Axient Spectrum Manager to scan the RF environment, perform compatibility calculations for frequency assignment, and monitor/rank/deploy back-up frequencies; Interference Detection & Avoidance for movement to a clear and compatible frequency “in milliseconds” if RF interference is detected; and the new Shure Wireless Workbench 6 software interface. The system will be made available in Europe in the second half of this year.

“Uncertainty and volatility in the RF spectrum are the new reality for professional wireless users.” said Sandy LaMantia, president and CEO of Shure Incorporated. “They face increasing pressure to deliver interference-free performance in the most critical live broadcast, theatre, music and corporate events, even though conditions are more unpredictable than ever before. Shure Axient wireless was designed from the outset to withstand interference from the analog and digital sources that exist today and will exist in the future.”

For an extensive sweep of NAMM Show highlights, click here.