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.
There's no doubt that tablets and smartphones have made multi-track audio recording on the run easier than ever. But connecting instruments to iPads and iPhones has never been quite as simple. The iRig Pro Duo from IK Multimedia helps make that final connection and allows musicians to truly record on the run.
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.
One could get ridiculously carried away in the quest for the perfect headphones, but there are no shortage of options for those of thus for whom money is still very much an object. Among these is Soundpeats' A1 Bluetooth over-ear headphones.
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.
In an age of wireless speakers dominated by singing soda cans and the occasional light show, the Zeppelin Wireless from British audio firm Bowers & Wilkins keeps the focus refreshingly on the task at hand. The latest in the Zeppelin line takes what was previously a muscle-bound iPod dock, upgrades it, and delivers a top-tier speaker that just happens to be wireless. Let's take a listen.