Happy New Year everyone!
We made it through another trip around the sun and thankfully, things look slightly less bleak than this time a year ago where most of the world was stuck in their homes, or suffering while stuck in their homes.
But in any case, one thing has remained consistent, which is my privilege to continue to write this blog, and what better way to start this year's posts off, than with a healthy and hearty dose of predictions for the new year - hopefully, this post will age well!
Let’s dive in.
More Digital Amp Modelers
Digital amps have been exploding onto the market this year featuring more and more realism as expected with the huge advances in modelling technology over the years. But with the release of NeuralDSP’s Quad Cortex, the game has changed completely.
They had already been dominating the market quite heavily thanks to the sheer class of the plugins, as well as the signature plugins from Tim Henson, Adam Getgood, and most recently John Petrucci.
Now all this being said, I do think it’ll be difficult to beat the bar that has been raised by NeuralDSP, but we’ve not seen any new releases for a couple of years now from manufacturers such as Kemper, Headrush, or even Line6!
To put some perspective on this, the Helix guitar processor from Line6 was released in 2015, the Fractal Systems Axe-FX 3 released in 2018, and Kemper hasn't released a new advancement other than the floorboard version of the profiler since 2011!
Even though the modelling market is booming right now, and the digital age is taking full effect, there’s many major amp makers still doing very well, and moreover, pedal manufacturers are doing great too.
One of the main things I’ve seen happen throughout the years though, is more and more of those amp companies making a pedal version or something similar to stay relevant in the modelling market for one main reason alone - powering the modeller to a cabinet.
In the last few years, we’ve seen 2 massive breakthroughs into the market from Seymour Duncan and Orange Amps making the jump to pedal boards before most competitors, Orange more notably creating a class A/B power amp to power your digital effects processor or preamp pedal (which, by the way, I can see them making more of these as well) in the form of the Pedal Baby. I doubt these 2 products will continue to dominate the market as they have so far, so keep a watchful eye out at NAMM this year.
Home Studio Focus
With the breakout of COVID, the world has shifted to both a much more digital age, and much more isolated, while still super interconnected via social media. This has forced others to find a new way to stay creative and continue with their passions outside of the everyday studio environment; everything from full band demos, to simply getting ideas out of their head has resulted in one simple solution: Home Studios.
Thankfully, many people are finding their way into the world of engineering via an ever expanding plethora of cheaper options on the market for people to sink their teeth into. One recent example being the new range from M-Audio making interfaces far more accessible in terms of price with the M-Track series starting at £35 (roughly $49).
Another great example is Klark Teknik bringing coveted analogue gear such as the 1179 and LA-2A compressors down to a much more affordable price, well under $200 and $350 respectfully, as well as the more recent addition of the Bucket Brigade Dimension D Chorus recreated and under $150 which was adored during the 80’s and 90’s and is still considered to be one of the best units for chorus to this day.
I can’t see the foot being taken off the pedal, more likely actually that most companies will double down this year to strengthen these entries into the introduction to engineering and continue to create new and innovative first-steps gear options for many more that will likely find the world of audio in the near future.
New General Advancements
It wasn’t just all of us audio engineers stuck inside throughout a lot of last year, many inspired minds have also had much more time to create independently as well as teams within companies circumnavigating the global pandemic through online platforms like Zoom to continue to develop and inspire. Because of this, I think in general terms we can expect to see some interesting developments in general at this year's NAMM 2022.
One example I’ve been trying to follow closely is the implementation of MIDI 2.0 which looks to prove a major breakthrough in the capabilities of something we all consider to be a major part of everyday engineering life - the details of just what doors this advancement will open is a little clouded currently, but I have faith that many major companies haven’t stopped their plans entirely due to the pandemic, but rather have seen this as a reason to come back even stronger, which means only good things for us as the consumer!