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A guide to NAMM 2019: Everything you need to know about this year’s show

Steve Harvey fills us in on what to expect from this year’s NAMM show and how to get the most out of its busy and exciting programme, revealing its highlights and NAMM’s new app

The NAMM Show has long been the MI world’s top event, but in recent times, it has become increasingly important to the pro audio industry as well. This was evident in 2018 with the debut of a two-story exhibition building devoted to live sound and recording, as well as with NAMM’s notable addition to its educational sessions through the AES@NAMM collaboration.

The 2019 convention finds NAMM bolstering its educational offerings even further. While attendees may head to Anaheim to see the latest gear, they also have the opportunity to come away with far better insight into how to actually apply that equipment. On-hand to share their expertise will be top industry pros, legendary producers and engineers, and for good measure, Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap.

Held in Anaheim, CA, Thursday, January 24 through Sunday, January 27, the NAMM Show 2019 will be featuring more than 250 pro audio sessions dedicated to every aspect of production, presented in the Anaheim Hilton Hotel’s NAMM U Education Center. The show will once again include the four-day AES@NAMM symposium and will see the launch of the Loudspeaker System Showcase, running twice daily, in the Anaheim Convention Center’s arena.

The Audio Engineering Society’s AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium, Live & Studio is returning following its successful premiere at last year’s show and will continue annually through to 2021. The industry leaders organising this year’s AES@NAMM programme are Mark Frink, programme director and manager, live sound content; Charlie Hughes, manager, scientific and technical content; and Bobby Owsinski, manager, studio recording content. Expert presenters will include live sound professionals Robert Scovill, Dave Rat, Dave Shadoan and Ike Zimbel, and studio production professionals Andrew Scheps, Sylvia Massy, Gavin Lurssen, Reuben Cohen and Ron McMaster.

New for AES@NAMM 2019 are the Microphone Academy: Studio & Live on Friday and Saturday, and the Digital Audio Networking Academy on all four days. The Line Array Loudspeaker System Academy, Live Mixing Console Academy, Entertainment Wireless Academy, In-Ear Monitoring Academy, Control Room Academy, Main Stage: Studio, and Main Stage: Live, as well as a series of Sound System Measurement & Optimisation sessions, all return by popular demand. AES@NAMM requires a registration fee, but all other sessions are open to NAMM Show attendees.

According to Frink, “AES@ NAMM is an opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills in an intimate classroom setting. The presenters for the AES@NAMM symposium are some of the best minds in the business, and the programme takes maximum advantage of their knowledge.

“For instance, in the new Microphone Academy, Dave Rat will lead a session on double miking, while ‘Coach’ Connor takes us on tour with Paul Simon. The Digital Audio Networking Academy will include Dante Level 2 certification and feature sessions spanning network ownership, AVB, MADI, AES67 and AES70, with presenters including Ethan Wetzell from Bosch and OCA, Yamaha’s Patrick Kilianey and QSC’s Bob Lee.”

Audinate’s two-day Level 2 Dante Training and Certification courses, which will include a demo of Dante AVIO adapters, will take place Thursday and Friday.

A host of pro audio manufacturers are providing resources for AES@NAMM, including Allen & Heath, Alteros, Applied Electronics, Audinate, Auralex Acoustics, Bose Professional, d&b audiotechnik, dB Technologies, DPA Microphones, iSEMcon, KLANG, Lectrosonics, My Mix, Powersoft, Rational Acoustics, RME, Royer Labs, SCHOEPS, Sensaphonics, Studio Six Digital, Townsend Labs, Ultimate Ears, VUE Audiotechnik, Waves and Yamaha Commercial Audio.

Thirteen manufacturers are lined up to present their flown and portable systems as part of the Loudspeaker System Showcase, including products from Alcons Audio, BASSBOSS, Crest Audio, dbTechnologies, Martin Audio, RCF, TW Audio, Verity Audio and VOID Acoustics. The showcase will reportedly feature a music track selected by a popular vote of participating companies and be hosted by a neutral industry expert. Systems integrator 4Wall will host a series of lighting demonstrations, as well as provide video walls and the infrastructure for the showcase.

TEC Tracks will present more than 60 sessions on a range of topics, plus a series of keynotes by Al Schmitt (Thursday) previewing his autobiography; Alan Parsons (Music Production is Everywhere, Friday); Chris Lord-Alge (We are the Studio Heroes, Friday); and Spinal Tap bass player Derek Smalls in conversation with CJ Vanston (Sunday). 

Highlights include The Future of Music with Craig Anderton; Mr. Bonzai interviewing musician Danny Kortchmar on classic records and artists and the rollercoaster of the music business; Pioneers of Analog Synths, a special panel presentation by Michelle Moog-Koussa; Prince: The Making of a Legend, with the original arranger from Prince’s team, Brent Fischer, who, with his late father Dr. Clare Fischer, collaborated directly with Prince over three decades; and Birth of a Record: Cheap Trick at Budokan. Additional presenters will include Michael Beinhorn, Ed Cherney, George Massenberg, Eddie Kramer, Jack Douglas, Ross Hogarth and Frank Filipetti.

For those with an eye on the future, A3E, running Thursday to Saturday, is offering a program exploring how advanced audio applications are transforming the music industry, production and performance sectors. Other unmissable sessions include Driving the Future of Music Production, Powered by Intel with electronic artist BT, The Impact of Blockchain on the Music Industry, Developing Disruptive Technology: The Risk and Reward and The Art of Artificial Intelligence: The Science of Creative Tools.

Pro Production sessions, curated by ESTA, will offer education across production technologies, including professional audio. If keeping track of all these events seems overwhelming, well, there’s an app for that. The new NAMM app, available in early January, has been built on an entirely new framework and is said to feature innovative ways to plan and manoeuvre around the show floor using 3D Google-style maps plus easily searchable listings. The My Show Planner feature is an app-linked calendar that gives dynamic access to information with the ability to export notes to email. 

For more insight into The NAMM Show 2019, check out our exclusive interview with NAMM CEO, Joe Lamond.