An Alternative Look At The 2019 Winter NAMM Show

NAMM 2019 outside photo

If you weren’t able to attend the 2019 Winter NAMM this year, undoubtedly you’re going to read a number of reviews that will be long on new gear. As usual I’m not going to give you much of that because it’s been covered to death and probably in much better depth than what I could do. I can give you a different look at NAMM though – a global picture so to speak. Here we go.

NAMM – The Vibe

NAMM Floor
NAMM North Hall floor

This was a booming show with lots of enthusiasm. There were no complaints from anyone about the state of the business as it seems like the industry is firing on all cylinders at the moment. The show was expecting around 120k attendees, but I suspect the figure was much higher in the end. From the time the doors opened on Thursday, the place was packed.

A New Layout

Last year was the first year for the new North Hall building which now houses most of the audio-related displays. This is divided into two floors, of which the upper most was a bit quieter in terms of attendee presence than the lower. That move rippled through the rest of the show however. Hall A, which used to pro-audio hall, now still has a few of those exhibits (Universal Audio, for one), but now most of the lighting and sound reinforcement companies have moved there. The other halls also have audio-related companies interspersed as well.

The Evolution Is Here

Once again, I walked around the show hoping to be knocked out with something completely new and groundbreaking. Maybe it was there, but I missed it. As with most NAMM shows, this was one of evolutionary technology, but more of the same of what we’ve been using, only more refined. In some cases, it wasn’t even that much different, just a different package.

USB-C Is Here

Without much fanfare, most manufacturers have adopted USB-C on their new gear. This wasn’t displayed or promoted, it was just a matter of fact. As an owner of two new computers equipped with USB-C, all I can say is get ready to buy either a dock or lots of adaptors (or both).

AES@NAMM Gavin Lurssen - Reuben Cohen
Gavin Lurssen-Reuben Cohen


I spent 2 of my 3 days on the NAMM site at the Hilton at AES@NAMM where I was the program director for the studio-related sessions. Here’s the Mastering For The Streaming Age session with Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen of Lurssen Mastering. Excellent session, by the way!

Air Hush 2019 NAMM show floor
Air Hush Wall

I wasn’t aware of these guys or this technology before, but it was all over the show. These are Air Hush walls, an inflatable air wall that seems to do a great job of isolation. I have to check these out more in the future.

Big SVT NAMM 2019 Floor
Giant SVT

Ampeg celebrated its 50th anniversary of the SVT bass amp with this custom-built, one-of-a-kind 11-foot tall SVT bass amp at the Winter NAMM Show. The 600-watt amp head sits on a 3-by-10-foot speaker cabinet, measuring 11 feet tall and weighing more than 800 pounds. They would turn it up once an hour for an earth-moving rumble that you’d have to hear to believe.

Bob Berryhill – Bobby O

Finally, I had the pleasure to meet someone who has influenced countless musicians through the decades. This is Bob Berryhill, who was one of the co-writers and the guitar player on the Safari’s hit “Wipeout.” I don’t know if it’s like that now, but once upon a time every guitar player, drummer and band had to know how to play this. In fact, this might have been the very first song you ever learned to play on guitar.

While this wasn’t much of a show for innovation, it was filled with smiles, old friends and some good times. What more can you ask for?

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