2013 Winter NAMM Show - reviewed by Paul Cortez

2013 Winter NAMM Show and Music Production's Hottest Products for the upcoming year By Paul Cortez for RAPstation.com The 2013 Winter NAMM Show has officially ended, but, as always, left us wanting more. Rather than just focusing on the free key chains, there are guest lectures and appearances, music education sessions, and after parties (with a particular special appearance by Stevie Wonder, who couldn't help but jump on stage and show us why we write about him on history books). This year, we have concentrated on the highlights of the show that will help you kick off the year with an eye on the upcoming products to make your music the freshest sound, whether beginner or professional. Not to mention, new toys for your studio make you feel like it's Christmas all over again. For your newest soundwaves and effects, we have SWAGG by Bigfishaudio, "the ultimate hip-hop, R&B, and pop synth." It’s a software synthesizer with over 7GB of content and over hundreds of patches; with heavy low end beats and sounds custom crafted from sine waves. You are going to come across sounds unique to the program that you won't find anywhere else. Just plug in your midi controller and you're ready to go. It is available later this year. Arturia couldn't help but be on our list. Although they are always coming up with amazing products, their new drum machine is something you may want to consider adding to your list. SparkLe promises to take your beat to the next level, with LED touch sensitive pads to let you know exactly what's going on every time you hit play and a 16-key/64-step sequencer to quickly shift from one beat to the next. Transform your beats with the FX pad that features 8 filter modes and 7 different slicer modes. Just play your loops and build on the spot. Another great beat pad/drum machine is the new AKAI MPC Renaissance; a music production controller, with two midi inputs, 4 MIDI outputs, dedicated turntable input, 16 MPC pads, 16 Q-Link controls and custom software. Avid has for the first time partnered with InMusic so now you get your Pro Tools Express with select M-Audio and AKAI products without having to purchase Pro Tools Separately anymore, which is a huge saving and the perfect setup to get you making music ASAP. Now, as great as your conventional drum pads, synths and recording software may be, we also like the not-so-conventional toys; the newest devices give you a peek at how music production in the future may look. The first of its kind, the Alphasphere is a new MIDI controller that looks just like its name hints. It’s a sphere composed of tactical pressure sensitive pads all around to give you a 360-degree 3D experience. The sphere lights up and as your tone changes, so do the LED colors. The controller comes with its own software but connects to any DAW so you can work independently with it or add it to your established workstation. Although it’s still not available in America, the guys at Nu Desine in the United Kingdom are working hard to make this available to you within the next year. And saving the most interesting for last, we have the new Numark Orbit, a wireless handheld MIDI DJ controller that will make you feel like you're playing with your old handheld video game. The Orbit offers 16 backlit pads, 4 selectable banks, 16 virtual knobs per bank and internal two-axis accelerometer with shoulder trigger controls. In other words, you have your beat pads that can be assigned to any midi function and a programmable control wheel that can control anything from volume to scratching effects, and just by tilting the controller you can make your beats stutter or increase or decrease pitch. Functional with most DAWs and synths, you can literally step away from the workstation and make music just with this little device in your hands. By far one of the coolest toys we have seen in a while, it makes you wonder what they will come up with next. The invention of new products is what has made The NAMM Show the hottest music convention, so if you are ever curious to see the evolution of music production for yourself, don't miss out on the annual Winter NAMM Show held yearly in Southern California.