By {{Roby Duke}}, courtesy of {{Christian Musician}}


Editor's Note: This year's NAMM millennium convention didn't really break a lot of new ground technologically speaking, but it did push forward the existing technologies and continued to make things more versatile and affordable for musicians. That point is respectable enough. This month's articles (part one) will cover acoustic guitars, studio/home recording systems and a high-tech overview of where things are going. Next month we'll feature bass guitars, keyboards, electric guitars and drums in part two of our special report.

As in all things high-tech, there was a lot of anticipation of the next best new whatever, at the first NAMM of this millennium. I think that the lab coats prevailed via all of the catching up to steam that is transpiring for them.

We have been standing in the shadows of Pro-Tools and ADATs for quite a spell now. With all of the new and well QC'd independents, there is a pretty great little component competition going on out there. For instance, we now have soft synth and soft samplers on a rampage. This is the last developing link in the capability chain for those who wish to have a one-stop music machine that is housed totally in the archive of some large PC or MAC. Imagine this: some new up-and-coming with the ability to read and understand an entire stack of manuals can now plug a vocal mic or a guitar cable into some interface with the right rize jack and start a signal flowing through nice analog to digital converters, good EQ, good compression and limiting, onto a friendly reliable storage, effected by good mixing with tons of features like really nice reverbs and effects.

At that point the signal is virtually the same, if not a bit better, at least audibly. That signal, with a ton of info about its state, can be viewed on the same aesthetically pleasant screen, as what we referred to in the past as sequenced midi devices. The only difference here that is substantial, is HUGE. You can have all the sequenced music you need by having the synthesizers, samplers, and sound modules, etc. all right there with virtually NO MIDI. You simply click on the device icon, and there is your drum loop, trumpet, orchestra or whatever, in its pre-assigned usual place. If you have ever waited for a sampler to load a sound that you may or may not use, you should be jumping around your room just about now. Wait! There is more: you can then do a really nice mix of all of this and have over-all compression, EQ, normalizing, etc. You can then save it right there somewhere on a storage file, master it in a very cool mastering program, and render a CD-R that is ready for the vendor.

One may be thinking that all of these things have been around for quite awhile and this is already old hat. Maybe so, but there have been some very weak links in the chain, ala and simply: a real nice looking program, hailing all kinds of promises that sounds and performs horribly. It seems at least that the new millennium has brought us an even playing field and may the cream rise to the top.

The pros of NAMM 2000 are this: it all sounds pretty great. The cons are that there are learning curves at every juncture.

The guitar guys are still trying to beat a '59 Bassman or an AC-30 and they are getting close. There is an on-board computer for $2600 that you can install in your guitar that will hold over 300 alt tunings and with one push of a button it will tune your instrument for you in real time. I wish that I had invented the Glider Capo. My blue-haired 14-year-old wound up hanging in the LimpBizkit limo with the guys. I was a bit disappointed. It was a Lincoln Limo. I was at least expecting a Hummer the length of a football field.

That's my 35 cents. "Listen before you leap," and for goodness sake, don't listen with your eyes! That's for consumers.

{{Roby Duke}} has been an artist and producer in the CCM and pop market since 1980. Check out RobyDuke.com this spring.