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NAMM Show 2012
Brands M-Z. (
A-B    B-L   M-Z)
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19- 22 January 2012   Audio Reviews   All Reviews

Top of NAMM 2012 Report (A-B)     B-L   M-Z



Manley Labs

Some of Manley's pro gear. bigger.

Manley Labs showed mountains of gear. In the professional world, just about every studio has something by Manley, and by Manley's estimate, 60-70% of every piece of recorded music has been through at least one piece of Manley tube product at some point in its production. Even if you're not a tube fan, your music has been through tubes, and probably Manley tubes at that, before it got to you.

Manley is mostly known for tube amplification, and also makes condenser microphones. Don LaFontaine, the man whose voice led every movie trailer ("in a world where...") used a Manley mic.

Manley Mic

New from Manley is the $2,250 Chinook phono preamp (45 or 60 dB gain), which pretty much does the core of what the Steelhead does, for less money. The new Chinook is essentially a baby Steelhead.

Manley Voxbox

Manley limited edition VOXBOX. bigger.

New in the pro market, which is most of what Manley does, is an anniversary VOXBOX (15 years) and Reference Cardioid Mic (refcard) (20 years). They'll make 50 of each.

Manley Stingray iTube

Manley Stingray iTube.

A big hit in Hi-Fidom are Manley's power amplifiers. Their Stingray is a brilliant integrated speaker and headphone amp, and if you get the iTube version, one of the four inputs is its own iPod dock! The remote control is a awesome American-made metal objet d'art: unlike wimpy imports, it uses both IR and RF at the same time, so it will work no matter where it or the amp rests.


Mojave Audio  MADE IN CALIFORNIA, USA     top

Mojave Mics

Mojave MA-300 (with control box, left ) and MA-301fet mics.

Ribbon-mic great David Royer is the designer of Mojave Audio's condenser mics.

Now shipping is the MA-300 tube mic, which has a continuously-variable pattern selected on the control box.

Brand-new is the MA-301fet, a multi-pattern condenser mic with a 3µm, 1" capsule that's especially well suited to high SPLs, like drums and bass amps. It adds pattern, pad and rolloff controls to the MA-201fet.


Sennheiser      top

Sennheiser showed Neumann mics, as well as the new HD700. It sounded nasty on display, driven by some shrill AC/DC which didn't exactly do it justice. I hope to get an HD700 for review; it's expected in March 2012, and has got to sound better than it did at the show.


Sony      top

Sony C-800G

Sony C-800G mic.

Sony showed it's $8,000 C-800G mic.


Sony Headphones

Sony Headphones and Recorders.

Sony also showed a lot of Sony PCM-M10 and PCM-D50 recorders.

For their headphone display, they had a herd of PCMs feeding their various headphones. The eternal classic MDR-7506 sounded by far the best of anything else in their booth. The others were all very midrange-boosted by comparison. I remember the MDR-7509 from the late 1970s, when they were also very good. At under $100 today, they are a steal. I need to get some for a formal review against the $300 Germans, and I think the $80 Sony MDR-V6 are the same thing too.

The MDR-7502, new MDR-7510, new MDR-7520, and new MDR-7550 didn't sound as good as the classic MDR-7506.

The MDR-7506 are rated as 63 Ω, 106 dB at 1 mW (251 mV), 1,000 mW power handing. 1W into 63 Ω is 7.9V, at what ought to be 136 dB SPL, too hot for me!


Tascam      top

Tascam makes everything, although most of it feels pretty cheap. It's not Studer, but it's not $15,000 either.


Tascam Portastudio App

Tascam Portastudio

Tascam Portastudio App, with new iU2 I/O.

We all remember the TASCAM PORTASTUDIO, a 3-3/4 IPS 4-track cassette deck with mixer. Here it is recreated for iPad.

The iU2 USB-MIDI I/O feels too cheap; even the chrome knobs are just plated plastic, but the app is a hoot.


Tascam DR-40

Tascam DR-40

Tascam DR-40

Tascam DR-40.

I have a new DR-40 on order for review.


Tascam DR-100 Mk II

Tascam DR-100

Tascam DR-100

Tascam DR-100

Tascam DR-100 Mk II.

The DR-100 Mk II is a replacement for the Zoom H4n. I have a DR-100 on order for review.

The DR-100 Mk II is much nicer than most of the Plascam items; especially its classic Tascam rotary level control.


Tascam iM2

Tascam iM2

Tascam iM2.

The Tascam iM2 is a $75 stereo mic for your iPhone, iPod and etc.


Tascam DR-680

Tascam DR-680

Tascam DR-680.


And more...


Tascam showed far more than this, too!


Telefunken   MADE IN CONNECTICUT, USA     top

Telefunken U-47

Telefunken U-47.

Telefunken made the microphones the world keeps trying to copy since before WWII.

The U-47 has been made in Connecticut since 2004. How much is original and how much is reproduction I leave to you to decide. I was lucky enough to use a pair of original U-47s back in the late 1970s; these trade today for five-figures as far as I know.

Telefunken U-47

Inside of a modern Telefunken U-47.


Ultrasone     top

Ultrasone Signature Pro

Ultrasone Signature Pro.

The new Ultrasone Signature Pro are folding headphones somewhat less expensive than the excellent Ultrasone Edition 8. They sounded OK at the show (no one can hear anything with the noise on the show floor).


Ultrasone Edition 10

Ultrasone Edition 10.

On the other hand, the new Ultrasone Edition 10 sounded awful! Everyone's ears are placed differently, and on my ears, the Edition 10 had about a head-splitting 15 dB peak at about 7 kHz. Less skilled listeners may perceive this nasty peak as an awesome window into clarity, but we engineers call the sound "drilling into your head;" not a good thing.

It reminds me of the late 1970s when everyone bought graphic equalizers, and people would slam the 2k and 4k sliders to +12 to emphasize their favorite vocalist: "it sounds like Geddy Lee is rocking out in my bedroom!" my pals would say, until they got sick of it after 72 hours.

Stick with the Ultrasone Edition 8 (closed) or Beyer DT 880 (open), either of which have far better sound for a lot less money.


That's it.

Back to brands A-B    B-L    M-Z.


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