30 April 2023
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Oh No! Not More Trade Shows!

With Apologies to Everyone, I'm Afraid So

I don't spend my life going to trade shows, even though you, my thousands of millireaders, must think by now that I do. It's not all travel! A much greater percentage of my alleged life I spend at home in Sedona. But that rarely engenders photography of more than our beautiful sunsets and gorgeous sceneries. As nice as they are, they don't come with goofy signs and odd features to be admired and ridiculed, sometimes simultaneously. They're rocks! Nice rocks, but rocks. Also, we're learning to commit golf! And practicing Mah-jongg*.

I could write a blog about Mah-jongg. Maybe I will, but only after we've had more experience. Did you know that you can't use jokers in pairs? Did you know that if you take a tile that someone discards for a "concealed" hand, you're dead? Our opponents/teachers are merciless. Fortunately, it's a different kind of dead, the kind from which you recover at the end of the game, lest your opponents have no one further to belabor.

So Trade Shows It Is, NAMM and NAB

This year the scheduling gods provided me an unparalleled boon: The two shows dovetailed to the extent that I was saved about five hundred miles of driving. From Sedona to Anaheim to Las Vegas to Sedona in one trip with Tesla Superchargers along the way. NAMM is the music show, with the Hall of Ukes. NAB is the broadcasting show, whatever broadcasting means nowadays. My last NAMM show was in 2019, and in effect it was their last NAMM show, too. I tend to go on alternate years because, well, there's another, different trade show for public safety that I go to on non-NAMM years. And you may recall that a certain pandemic affected public gatherings in 2020 through 2022. It's been four years-plus since my last trip to Anaheim. There are worse fates, and one of them would be for me to repeat a lot of what I wrote about the 2019 version. There's a conveniently located link above for introductory material.

I was sure to check out the company that did nothing but make conductors' batons. Still thriving! Could I find an equivalent? I think I did!

I was initially attracted to their exhibit by the lovely blue T-shirt, and secondarily by their seemingly unnecessary injunction against microphagy**. Upon investigating, I discovered that their product was a piece of wire with a knobby bit on one end and a round clamp on the other. It's worth taking a look! The whole point (well, the knobby end) is to keep the singer or speaker the proper distance from the microphone. This is enforced by the rigidity of the assembly and, presumably, the desire of the user to avoid injury to delicate facial tissue.

Unlike the baton company, Mictrainer has multiple products: Not just the trainer itself, but 3-packs and 5-packs of them. And yes, the T-shirt itself, in many colors and sizes.

If I sound like I'm mocking them, perhaps I am. But it's an "I wish I had thought of that" kind of mockage. Their real product is less expensive than even the T-shirt, but there are perhaps hundreds of millions of microphones in use. If they have a patent on their spacer, which isn't mentioned on the web site, they could get rich selling them. With sufficient custom, perhaps they could merge with the conductor-baton company and make T-shirts for them, too.

Above: Direct from Spinal Tap, a knob that goes to 11. That wasn't the only one! This was a very swag-heavy show and I picked up a smaller one for myself. Next year, 12?


What I didn't get, since it would have involved either bribery or battery, is the shirt at the right. Not everyone has the class of Roger Federer. I certainly don't, but I would happily wear his shirt or this one. Alas, my email to the RatFink company has gone unanswered for a couple of weeks.

The twisted piece of metal at the left is the TEC Award won by the SplitEQ plug-in that Eventide introduced last year. It's a breakthrough software product that changes the way recordings are "equalized."

Somebody with a marker pen draped the "WINNER!" flag on the "finalist" card that was given to all the competitors for the award. Wonder who did that! The SplitEQ product is pretty amazing. Not to be commercial about it or anything, but here's a blurb:

The Eventide SplitEQ parametric EQ plug-in offers an entirely new level of sound-shaping potential, thanks to its innovative Structural Split engine. With its ability to separately process the transients and tonal core of your audio, SplitEQ is a fast and effective tool for de-essing, stereo widening, transient shaping, and much more.

NAMM is not all music! Above is represented an actual trend in sound, which is to add noise in what at least some must find a pleasing form to their sound creations.

OF COURSE there's a Hall of Ukes!

Did Doug Wimbish of Living Color perform with his amazing pedalboard and the new Eventide H90 at our booth? See for yourself.

Hey! What about NAB?

We leave the NAMM show in record blog-time and drive from Anaheim to Las Vegas with a stop in Baker, California, to charge the Tesla. I've heard of Bakersfield, but not Baker until it was festooned with a field of Tesla Superchargers. Was it even there prior to their planting?

The NAB show wasn't exactly a disappointment, since I wasn't expecting much. Industries change, and this was the 100th anniversary of the National Association of Broadcasters. Reflecting on this, I realized that I had been to my first NAB show more than half its existence ago. Extending that thought, I realized that not only am I older than commercial television, but my corporeal existence has overlapped by far more than half that of radio itself. Emitting a relatively soft "yikes," I put aside the wool I was gathering and move along to my minimal reportage.

Broadcasting Barely Exists

Instead, it has become Balkanized, with actual broadcasting using Hertzian waves radiated through the atmosphere uncomfortably joined with satellite, wire, and fiber transmission. Furthermore, it is far more interactive, beyond calling a DJ on the "telephone***" and asking for a song to be played. I've decided that this is OK, in the same sense that it's OK that my postal mail*** no longer is bulked with "magazines" and consists primarily of lawyer ads and class-action-suit notifications. In the run-up to the show, several emails per day from NAB itself reminded me that the new, gorgeous West Hall of the convention center would actually feature broadcasters and their appurtenances. You know, transmitters, antennae, and other semi-obsolete trappings of the trade. It was almost true, although even those exhibits were compressed by the surrounding jargon booths, with OTT, ingestion, playout, and "The Future Of" exhibitors.

Reading the above, you might conclude I am bitter about modern developments. No, I only sound bitter, which is more my literary intention than my real feelings. In fact, I find it—understanding the jargon, extrapolating what it will mean for the world, for the business, and for life as she is lived—fascinating and challenging. The future is and was before us.

Even Nearer and Dearer to This Blogger...

Above: Recognize them? These are "vacuum tubes" used in high-power transmitters, or at least the innards thereof. Precious few companies still make them; this vendor reconstructs old ones. We had a nice discussion regarding thoriated tungsten filaments. Nostalgia! Below: Recognize them? These are individual unishrimpular cocktails, kindly provided by Women in Podcasting. After feasting on their shrimp and other victuals, I attempted to engage one in a serious conversation. (We actually have a podcast and it might have been valuable.) But...They were so busy taking pictures and selfies of each other that conversation was impossible!

Left: Unlimbering my Jargon Decoder Ring, that's Media Access Management and Artificial Intelligence go together like...
peanut butter and chocolate! Get it?

There's even something from Insta360 for Winston the Puppy, who has aspirations to be a videographer.

Here's Ricardo Ryan of Merging Technologies showing the beautiful Neumann MT48 mixing console, of amazing provenance and capabilities. We'll be reading more about this product, I'm sure.

NAB was a big show; I'm not even trying to do it justice here. Unlike NAMM, there was an NAB show last year, and I provided a slightly more gear-intensive write-up last April. Hopefully I'll get to commit some trade-show-free blogs between now and the next one, the must-attend Audio Engineering Society convention in New York City in October.

More Mah-jongg? Golf exploits? Who knows?



* Or maybe Mahjong or maybe Mah Jongg. Nobody's quite sure.
** After I neologized, I had the suspicion that microphagy might be a real word. I discovered that singers and blue whales have more in common than some of the former's distorted body images.
*** What's that? Can you say "vestigial"?

Richard Factor


"I Am No More"

Magna Carta



Now that's a chip! Most likely a voltage regulator, it's designed to mount on a chassis or a heat sink and deliver many watts. It has the Motorola "bat wing" logo, and I imagine chips in that form are still manufactured.

Better than the near-invisible ones used in modern packages.

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