2015 NAMM Show To Feature Double The Synths

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The 2015 NAMM Show, scheduled for January 22-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center, promises to be a huge event for synth fans.

We just got word from the NAMM Show organizers that synth manufacturers have nearly doubled their show floor square footage since last year, making this one of the show’s fastest-growing segments.

And you know what double the area for synths means….. double the synths!

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If you’re not familiar with the event – the NAMM Show gathers about 95,000 members of the music product industry,  from around the world, to preview new products from every category of music making. The show is a popular event for manufacturers to introduce new gear, because they can get new products in front of thousands of industry professionals.

More Synth Companies

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In addition to more show floor space being devoted to synth gear, there will be a lot more synth companies at the show.

More than 130 companies that produce synthesizers and related equipment will exhibit at the event. This is a 20% increase, compared to 2014.

NAMM organizers say that the increased floor space for synths follows sales trends.

Since 2009, retail sales of keyboard synthesizers have increased 15.9%, propelled by an increase of 13.5% in 2013 alone. And the number of synthesizers sold annually is up more than 32% in the last decade.

“EDM artists have noticeably re-energized the market,” according to synth pioneer Tom Oberheim. “The boom is spilling over into other genres and once musicians get into synthesizers, they want to take them into other arenas, and create more sounds.”

More Modular Synthesizers

moon-modular-mu-modular-synthesizer-2014-namm-showAnother big trend is the renaissance of the modular synthesizer.

William Matthewson of William Matthewson Devices (WMD), which will exhibit 20 emerging modular analog synthesizer brands at the 2015 NAMM Show, notes, “Pop culture is shifting toward the nerds and geeks who know how to really immerse themselves in this kind of analog equipment that is tactile, customizable, creative, and above all, totally inspirational.”

“They appeal to those of us looking for a deeper connection to the instrument,” says Tony Rolando, co-founder of Make Noise Music.“People used to just play these instruments; now they are crafting their own sounds. It’s meditative, artistic and escapist.”

Oberheim, who will return to the NAMM Show as an exhibitor for the first time in more than a decade, also credits an overall interest in retro sound for the renewed fervor for analog. “There is a warmth to analog, an organic quality that captures the imagination,” he said. “It’s sort of like the recent affection for turntables and LPs versus CDs or MP3s.”

Synthtopia will be on site to cover the 2015 NAMM Show. You can find out more about the event at the Show site.

42 thoughts on “2015 NAMM Show To Feature Double The Synths

    1. NAMM events are open only to reps from music shops, so all you’d have to do technically is get a job at a music store and ask to be signed up to go, depending on how lax the shop is they may give you the thumbs up.

  1. People were afraid that softsynths would kill hardware synthesizers. That hasn’t been the case. It’s likely that softsynths expanded the number of people exposed to the fun of synthesizers, and a significant portion of the new enthusiasts have wanted to get into hardware synths too (or instead).

    1. That’s a good point

      When Synthtopia shared those concept photos of the Yamaha digital synths the other day, I was actually pretty psyched about the possibility of new digital synths, too, which I didn’t think I’d ever be.

  2. Am I the first to state my NAMM 2015 wishlist? Probably not, but here goes…

    For Korg I’d like to see: Matching SQ-10 and MS-50 re-releases to accompany their MS-20 Mini – and a new Mono-Poly. Also first debut of the Korg-ARP Odyssey, and some pricing and release date information.

    For Roland (I can but dream) – re-release the System 100 – not as an Aira plug-out – but as a real hardware analog synth. Also replace the Jupiter 80 with a real Jupiter 8.

    In terms of new gear, (as opposed to re-releases), how about a new Moog Modular? How about a Nord Modular G3 (that is compatible with Windows and Mac OS as well as iOS)? A new analog polysynth from Novation? Might Arturia update their Origin Keyboard with an Origin Mk II?

    I’m sure I could come up with other ideas given time and enough encouragement.

        1. I could quite happily skip the MS-10 – I believe it adds a ring modulator – but with the MS-20 Mini, plus the MS-50 and SQ-10 really that’s all I’d need. Having said that – the VC-10 Vocoder always was of interest.

          I hope Korg build on the MS-20 Mini, and deliver the rest of the family.

  3. Some company needs to recreate the legendary ARP 2600P. Sure, it would be a boutique instrument (similar to Moog’s modern offerings), but there would be enough artists wanting it to justify building it.

      1. I don’t fancy the thought of picking up a soldering iron and building a TTSH… I agree – a re-release of the 2600 would be good. In fact…I’d go so far as to say Korg should go for broke and re-release the entire ARP range once sales of the Odyssey are established. The loss of the ARP brand was a loss to a generation of electronic musicians, and if Korg can bring back the Odyssey, it should be able to bring back the rest of the range.

  4. Yo! We (Tipsy Circuits) be there at the Muff Wiggler booth #1371 debuting our insane new eurorack module! It’s going to be a synth extravaganza!

  5. The Korg/ARP thing should be fantastic. Hope they use full sized keys tho…

    It’s going to be Access’s 15th anniversary of the VIRUS line of synths… Maybe something new for us at NAMM???? I’ve been dying for a new version of the Virus TI range for a while now… Most versatile Hardware VA ever made(imho) can only get better… I’d buy one before any of this new analog stuff.

    Maybe DSI updates the prophet 12 with the sequencer and dual filters from the Pro 2?
    Elektron Overbridge demo? Updates for the Analog Keys? More noise violations? lol
    Arturia Poly Synth? Behringer Poly?
    NI Komplete update? Updated modules from Harvestman, Makenoise, etc?
    A new audio interface with some unique features… (hehehe)

    1. Agree totally re the Arturia Poly Synth. An update to the Origin Keyboard would be great, especially if they redesigned the front panel such that it incorporated a higher resolution and larger central display.

  6. Sorry Mr. Oberheim, while you can say analog synths are warm, they are hardly “organic”. That term should not apply to something that is inherently artifical sounding. Rather, it should apply to something that sounds natural, like some digital synths or samplers.

    1. I’m sorry but I just can’t get into the Aira System 1 or plug-out. It seems a cheap approach – rather than going to the effort of really building a new synth, they simply update the SH-01 Gaia in a new box with lots of flashing lights, and then turn it into a glorified MIDI controller with the softsynth in the hardware controller. I’ll give them credit with their approach to sampling an original synth and recreating it in ‘plug-out’ form – that’s very clever. But in my view, whilst a plug-out SH-101 may sound like the original, but its not the original – I’m not really playing an SH-101 or an SH-2. I know some people like the System 1, but to me, Roland are missing the point. They have produced such great synths in the past – the System 100, 100m and System 700, the SH5 and SH-7, the Juno 60, the Jupiter 8 just to name my favourites – they need to recapture that brilliance rather than taking a shortcut via software. They need to take the approach of re-releasing some of their classic instruments in the original hardware, and also build some new instruments that are hardware only. And whilst I feel that digital synths have appeal if done right (look at the broad support for the recent concepts for the Yamaha DX-10 on this website), more and more users are wanting analog, and without wanting to touch off an analog vs digital war again, why can’t Roland produce some real analog hardware as a new synth?

      1. Dude, you are so off base here that you really don’t get it. How are Roland missing the point when the line is a success and sounds amazing. Way better than anyone expected. Have you even heard the SH-2? I have a 101 and the plugout nails it. What does “recapture that brilliance rather than taking a shortcut via software.” even mean?? You clearly have zero understanding of how product development works or what is possible with the latest DSP and FPGA tech. The future is digital. While analog is great and will always remain in small niches, it has inherent issues with what types of synthesis it can do and what you have to charge for it. Look at the analog crap like the the Akai Rhythm Wolf. Maybe Roland will do something analog but it will not be a re-issue. What do you think it would cost? What are you willing to pay? How many could they sell?

        1. Well I respectfully disagree. I don’t think the statement ‘the future is digital’ is entirely accurate. I’d argue that there are good digital synths out there, but there is a rapid groundswell of support for turning back to analog. I don’t want to wage an analog vs. digital war because its unhelpful – both contribute effectively. In the same way, I think hardware and software instruments both contribute towards creating good electronic music. My own preference is hardware analog, but I’d not be averse to looking at purchasing good digital or software instruments.

          My point above relates more to the issue of re-releasing classic gear for a new generation. Look at the excitement generated by the Korg ARP Odyssey re-release. The success of the Korg MS-20 Mini re-release. People want these old synthesizers but they don’t want to necessarily pay thousands on ebay for an instrument that is 40 years old and then costs a great deal to maintain – they want brand new MS-20s and Odysseys and classic Roland synths. I don’t think the System 1 and Aira offers that sense of playing the original instrument – even if the sound is the same. I’ve played the SH-101 on the System 1 and yes, it sounds the same – but I don’t get the same enjoyment of playing a real SH-101.

          So I’d argue that two factors – the rennaissance of analog, and a strong nostalgia for classic analog instruments – is coming together to create a window of opportunity for companies to exploit, and they’d be silly to ignore it. That’s why I think the System 1 Aira is not taking Roland in the right path. A better option would be to create something like the System 1, but develop new software expansions for it that don’t necessarily emulate classical instruments, but expand the capability of the System 1. I think that would be a better approach, than pressing a button and turning the System 1 into a copy of a SH-101. I’d rather have the real thing – even if it is a re-issue.

          1. Shit, I’m just glad Roland released SOMETHING!!!
            The new question should be how long will we wait for the next thing!!!!
            10 more years while ten more people go knocking off something else of their line, Juno for instance.

            If Korg can release a MS-20 mini, you can’t tell me that Roland could not release a Juno 106 mini, DAMN IT!

        2. The AIRA line is a success for because of marketing… Sales don’t tell the whole story and certainly don’t prove if an instrument is good or competitive. Just because people fanatically buy a product, doesn’t mean the product is any good. Justin Beiber anyone? Is McDonald’s really good food? etc…

          The AIRA line is rehashed VA of played out 80s products disguised as part of the whole analog resurgence. Plus, REAL 303 and 808 clones have been out for years and are more authentic and offer modern features. That, and Roland will probably kill support for it after a few years, leaving you with a cheap plastic prosumer instrument that wont work with your new computer.

          1. I’m more interested in the native System 1 synth that the plug out models – but think that a poly isn’t served well by a 2-octave keyboard with that limited key travel, and the inner/outer jogwheel thing is even worse than those Roland joysticks.

            If they had released the same engine on a 3-octave keyboard and added a few traditional wheels, there’d be wider interest.

            2 octaves is barely acceptable for a mono synth, but a crippling experience for a 4-voice poly.

            1. the 80s joysticks were awesome! try a d50 if you can, it’s got amazing satisfying spring to it, very intuitive to use for guitar-like bends. they’ve lost the springy sense lately tho. not sure how far back into the 90s the old feel lasted.

          2. Some readers may remember how Roland killed off support for the 303, 808 & 909 – before those became classics.

            Not saying that the TR-8 is a future classic, just that it’s hard to predict the future and that the cream eventually rises to the top.

            1. What do you mean they killed off support? What kind of support was there supposed to be? Those boxes were failures at the time and didn’t gain any traction until after the dance scenes in Chicago and Detroit used them for sounds not related to their original intended markets. 808 also gained traction after the early hip-hop scene in NYC. Any classic status came after they were discontinued.

          3. Marketing can help a product but marketing cannot save a bad product. Have you even heard any of the AIRA line? If you really believe that they are rehashing old VA I would have your hearing checked. I have used many of the clones out there and while some are close they have their own issues, primarily in pricing and reliability.

            “Sales don’t tell the whole story and certainly don’t prove if an instrument is good or competitive. ”

            What does this even mean? I don’t think most people have bought the aira line without careful consideration. If anything, most were probably very sceptical of the release. I was, and was proven wrong after hearing and using them.

            “That, and Roland will probably kill support for it after a few years, leaving you with a cheap plastic prosumer instrument that wont work with your new computer.”

            What support is there except for computer interaction ? They work as stand-alone devices and should continue to do so even if you don’t update them.

            1. I’m saying EXACTLY that… Many people who buy this stuff are not music technologists… just musicians. Most people who buy this stuff are also on a limited budget, and most don’t live exactly close to a shop where they can try out other options. Even more so for products like the AIRA line that play on the heart-strings of nostalgia and hype.

              Blogs are useful, and so are reviews, but actual use and time with gear is the best way to make an informed purchase. Most people don’t have access to or a working knowledge of this stuff in a grand context…

              Lots of AIRA stuff will sell. Not mostly to career musicians… mostly to bedroom hobbyist djs and producers. Good luck doing ANYTHING novel an 808 or 303. Smarter people have already been there and beat it to death.

  7. I would think that the term organic means in this case sound waves flowing without any discrete characteristics which are modulated by also natural sources that do not contain discrete elements..

  8. I am just waiting on a synth manufacturer to release something new and innovative. So tired of the analog rehash and throw back stuff.

  9. Access Music doesn’t even have a booth at NAMM this year. Kemper does so they may share under the Kemper name – but Access is not in the Vendor Directory for NAMM 2015

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