As a member of the NARAS organization, I get access to the annual NAMM Show coming up next weekend in Anaheim, California…you know where Disneyland is located. NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants. The companies that exhibit at this show range from small companies that produce exotic Plug In software for you ProTools DAW, to mom and pop outfits that make custom guitar straps, to the big guys Gibson and Fender. I have never seen such a diverse group of people attend any event. There are the Midwest music companies dressed in suits trying to sell marching band instruments to schools one row over from the percussion and drum section populated by the “rocker” image. As you move from one “instrumental” group to another the volume changes, the people change, and the costumes change…it’s really very overwhelming.
I go as much to see people that I don’t see that often. Moving through the aisles, I’m likely to run into Albert Lee, Alan Parsons, Laurence Juber, or Carl Verheyen. We stop for a few moments and catch up. These celebrities are their working the booths of the their sponsors. I watched Albert play for about an hour last year in the Ernie Ball booth. His band was all pre-recorded but he was tearing it up just like he always does.
The NAMM show is loud. This is especially true in the drum section. Everyone is encouraged to sit down and beat the drums until they can’t play anymore. It’s not a competition to see who’s the fastest or most imaginative player…it all comes down to who can hit them the hardest. There are young kids as well as oldsters hammering out the big beat. And it’s crowded. A friend wrote me back and said I should stay away if I’m recovering from the lung thing I picked up in Vegas…she called this coming weekend’s event NAMMthrax because so many people get sick being in close proximity to so many other marginally sick people. I’ll see how I feel by the weekend. I still have to make it through the week…and the university semester starts tomorrow.
I thought about calling in sick…something I don’t think I’ve done in 25 years of teaching. But it’s the first day of class. I’m starting another 15 weeks on advanced digital audio (it’s really not that advanced but the students think it’s really hard). I may simply take attendance, pass out the tests from last term and call it quits; I’ll have to see how the drugs are working.
I noticed that Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records is holding a “high-resolution audio” session on Saturday afternoon. She’s got the right idea. The audience of engineers, musicians, and tech geeks is perfect. If there’s to be any chance at improving the fidelity of today’s commercial music releases, it has to start with the people making the recordings. And I doubt whether any of the thousands of people cruising the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center have ever heard real fidelity in a recording. It’s not on their radar nor should it be. They need to know how to make their records punchy, loud, and big…not dynamic and clean.
But there’s till hope that someone will be inspired and begin to realize that recording high-resolution audio projects doesn’t mean simply turning up the sample rate to 96 or 192 kHz.