Random thoughts from the NAMM floor:
Some devices looked cool, but I was completely unable to figure out how they worked: The Dave Smith TEMPEST drum machine, the Korg Electribe, the Elekton AnalogDrums - all tech that I think looks cool, but beyond hitting stop and start, couldn't work out how to change patterns, highlight instruments, change sounds.. it may just be something where the manual MUST be consulted, but I try to fancy myself a knowledgeable techie, and not to have ANY idea how to work these was a bit off putting (naturally it's their problem, not mine…. HA!)
There was a huge renaissance in modular synths, between Moog, Vermona, Buchla, Dave Smith (Again), Oberheim, Doepfer, and so many others. Mini and maxi racks of modules with cables patched all over the place. Most of the sounds coming from these areas were very beep-boop-bloop-skssssssshhhhh. I walked up to one and started to play with it - and spent the better part of a minute trying to figure out how to get the wailing siren sound to stop going. I took off the headphones and walked away - this is not anything I need to concern myself with. I saw online that I had only just missed Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, who was apparently quite impressed with the same unit. I am at peace with not knowing this technology.
Rows and rows of extremely high end microphones - my friend Steve had me put on headphones and insisted I sing a little into one of his favorite mics and hear how amazing it sounded. It sounded like me singing badly in a noisy tradeshow, but I concede it represented that sound VERY ACCURATELY.
There were a thousand variations of a simple theme - a set of glowing pads you plug into your computer to make the drum sounds with your fingers. I get it. And nobody could explain why THEIR version was any better or worse than anyone else's.
There was an alternate keyboard called a "Seaboard" - it looks like a keyboard that has been pooped out - it is black, and squishy: The idea is that you can change the sound by pressing into the soft key - adding a new layer of pressure sensitivity. I played it briefly and ran screaming looking for Purell: The thing belonged in a David Cronenberg movie and was PROFOUNDLY CREEPY.
Booth Babes seem to be on the wane, thankfully - I only saw them at 2 booths - one for a DJ lighting booth company, and one for a second-tier heavy metal guitar company (who proudly had Playboy Bunnies at the booth signing guitars, and a huge throng of iPhone wielding fans). Mostly, it was guys who looked almost exactly like me, earnestly talking about their cool toys. That's just nice.
There was one booth of electric guitars that had a distinctively weathered look - they all looked like they had been buried for 50 years, dug up and just had the dirt blown off. Post apocalyptic guitars - I actually really liked them.
That's it for now…