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Our favorites from NAMM 2024
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention is the best place to check out emerging trends in the music and audio world. This year, the SoundGuys team scouted the convention floor to find the coolest and most interesting products. These are the products and experiences that caught our eye at NAMM 2024.
Sennheiser HD 490 PRO
Sennheiser announced a new open-back headphone with a few features that caught our attention. The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO is a reference headphone with two types of ear pads: velour for more low-frequency biased response and fabric for a flatter, neutral response. Swapping between the two ear pads is easy, and they are even machine-washable.
Sennheiser includes a license to the dearVR MIX-SE plugin with each set of HD 490 PRO headphones, which simulate different mixing and listening environments and come with tuned presets for each of Sennheiser’s reference headphones. The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO is available for $399, while a Plus variant with a transport case, headband pad, and 3 m cable is available for $479.
Reloop Mixtour Pro
In collaboration with DJ and music producer Laidback Luke, Reloop announced the release of a new compact DJ controller at NAMM. The Reloop Mixtour Pro is a highly portable controller that packs all the essential features you need to perform live. We saw Laidback Luke himself perform an entire set live at NAMM using nothing but the Reloop Mixtour Pro connected to a smartphone.
Designed to work with djay Pro from Algoriddim, the 4-channel controller has eight performance pads and a whole FX section. With Neural Mix software from Algoriddim, the EQ knobs can be set to separate vocals, drums, and instruments from a track. Aside from jog wheels for scratching, the Reloop Mixtour Pro brings everything you need to deliver a mobile DJ set.
Austrian Audio MiCreator
The Austrian Audio MiCreator is a high-quality condenser microphone with a simple USB-C interface. You never know when inspiration will strike, so this is the perfect tool to capture your ideas on the spot. With a max SPL of 130db, it can handle just about any level you throw at it, so you could also use it to record your rehearsals to help dial in your performance. Austrian Audio also offers a “satellite” microphone if you’re after a stereo recording. With various applications and durable, all-metal housing, the MiCreator is an easy-to-use and convenient recording tool for any recording musician.
Spatial Audio is all the rage these days, and so, of course, Sony is offering a headphone solution for mixing in those audio environments. Released in November 2023, the Sony MDR-MV1 are open-back headphones designed with a wide soundstage in mind. With a neutral frequency response quoted from 5Hz to 80kHz, these headphones could find their way into many studios.
We got to listen to the MDR-MV1 at NAMM, and right off the bat, we were struck with how lightweight the headphones felt and how comfortable they were to wear. While playing standard MP3 tracks on the Sony ZX707 Walkman, we were impressed by its wide and neutral sound.
Audeze and mixing with Dolby Atmos
The Audeze Maxwell is one of the best gaming headsets we’ve reviewed since it launched in 2022, and a recent firmware update the company rolled out for them during the show made them that much better. Adding to their spatial audio capabilities, the headphones now natively support head tracking in Dolby Atmos Renderer, regardless of whether you have a PlayStation or Xbox model.
Experiencing the headset’s binaural effect at the show, we were struck by the pinpoint accuracy of sound localization as we turned our heads in real-time. Also, at the Audeze stand, we attended a compelling presentation by legendary mixing engineer Andrew Scheps, where he discussed his process for mixing tracks in Spatial Audio using Dolby Atmos Renderer. Scheps is now exclusively using the Audeze LCD-MX4 for their exceptional monitoring characteristics — and honestly, after hearing them for ourselves, we get it.