The NAMM Show appeared busier than ever this year with first-time exhibitors numbering in the dozens, suggesting that the industry-wide economic recovery continues. Yet the marketplace is apparently becoming more polarized, with inexpensive items flying off the shelves and big-ticket, high-quality products also selling very well, according to some retailers, while the middle ground remains a tougher sell.

A cursory glance at the products on display also suggests that the industry is increasingly in the grip of commoditization, with 500 series modules, mobile apps, and cheaper and cheaper entry-level products proliferating. As for music trends, manufacturers catering to Electronic Dance Music artists, DJs, and analog synthesizer enthusiasts were very much in evidence at this show.


Aside from Fender’s surprising announcement late last year that it would begin selling direct via its web site, perhaps the biggest news was Harman’s announcement that it had acquired Melbourne, Australia-based SM Pro Audio. The first results were already on show—a repackage of SM Pro’s Wi-Fi connected uMiX digital mixer presented as the Soundcraft Ui series, with built-in processing from dbx, DigiTech, and Lexicon.

British based ROLI continued to amaze and fascinate in equal measure with pr