While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.
Zoom has revealed a futuristic electronic tambourine at this year's Winter NAMM that leaves some drum pads, MIDI controllers and other digital music makers looking a little flat. The ARQ Aero RhythmTrak is described as a drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller, and features a Bluetooth-enabled ring with a built-in accelerometer for music creation and playback control from movement.
Taylor has developed a new health monitoring system for its guitars. Similar to fitness trackers like the Tickr X or Garmin's Vivosmart, TaylorSense keeps track of an instrument's well-being and sends status updates and alerts to a companion app running on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone.
Thought to have originated as a simple communication tool for slaves, the cajón has been accompanying traditional music for many years. More rhythmic flavors have been added to today's boxes in the shape of snare springs, jangly accessories and kick pedals. At Frankfurt's Musikmesse last year, Germany's Flink Labs brought the instrument bang up to date with a cajón-sized electronic drum machine called the Flink, which had rubber pads out front that triggered samples when bashed. Roland has opted for a best of both worlds approach and married acoustic with digital for the EL Cajon EC-10.
At NAMM 2013, IK Multimedia announced two portable streaming speakers that it claimed were "on par" with conventional studio monitors. At this year's trade show, the company has added what's said to be "the smallest studio reference monitoring system in the world" to its iLoud range. Aimed at musicians and producers who are not necessarily confined to the recording studio when mixing and mastering, the iLoud Micro Monitors are reported to deliver stunning clear and accurate audio.
There's no doubt that digital music formats offer a convenient way to listen to lots of music on the move. Factor in on-demand streaming services and you don't even have to worry about running out of storage space on your portable device. But even though digitized music reigns supreme, demand for analog formats like vinyl is on the rise, with US sales in 2015 up 30 percent on the previous year. Austria's Horch House says that when it comes to analog, you can't beat reel-to-reel tape and has announced its intention to develop a new consumer reel-to-reel player.
Tweaking settings on effects stomps for different song requirements can be a bit of pain. Not only do you have to indulge the patience of the audience by crouching down to your pedalboard to turn the knobs, but you also have to remember which value positions give the desired sound. GigRig's AutoPot allows players to set value presets and have up to three of its arms change the settings for them.
Back in 2012, Vox reached back through its mold-breaking design history for the launch of the Apache travel guitars. The swinging 60s have again provided some inspirational fodder for next generation instruments, though only in name this time around. The Starstream Type-1 guitars feature an onboard modeling system that includes 27 different tones to play with, and a rather distinctive body shape.
Fishman's TriplePlay MIDI controller and pickup gives guitar players access to a world of digital sound generation, whether it's playing a funky vintage synth from your fretboard or blowing a haunting melody on a flute. The controller wirelessly links to music creation software running on a laptop, which then outputs the tones via the audio jack to headphones, powered speakers or even an instrument amp. But you don't really want to be leaving your laptop, which may contain personal information, just off stage when touring small clubs, so Fishman has launched the FC-1 Floor Controller. This allows players access to patches and presets from connected sound modules and synths.
The humble audio jack has served music lovers well over the years, but listening to tunes on mobile devices can be something of a disappointment for budding audiophiles. Manufacturers naturally concentrate on upping processor performance, squeezing more pixels per inch into the display and extending battery life, while audio components often appear something of an afterthought. Folks who like to groove on the move to high quality playback can opt for a portable DAC like the DacMagic XS, but the P5 Digital Headphones and Z1 Digital Earphones have their own hi-res DACs and are compatible with both USB and Lightning connections.