Over the four days at NAMM, I saw literally hundreds of pieces of really good equipment for recording engineers - from home studios to large commercial facilities, and everything in between. It may seem hard to pick 10 - or even 20 - top pieces of gear, but I narrowed down my list to a Top 5! Every piece of gear on this list is of high quality, a great value, and would be a perfect addition to any project studio!
Getting started in recording can be really expensive, but the folks at Samson keep coming up with great products to help close the gap between low-cost and high-quality. The G-Track really impressed me; it's a good quality large-diaphragm condenser microphone, no-latency headphone amplifier, and two-input USB audio recording interface all in one high-quality package. Offering pristine audio recording with both the microphone and line-in connector (you can run two channels simultaneously), the G-Track is bundled with Cakewalk's Sonar LE for multitrack recording. Available soon, priced at $149.
Riding on the heels of their wildly successful TranzPort control surface, Frontier Design showed off their new, high-quality control surface, the AlphaTrack. Featuring a 100mm, touch-sensitive motorized fader, a 32-character LCD display, and over 20 useful knobs and buttons for everything from mute, solo, track selection, record, pause, play, and everything in between. Priced at $199 - a steal for the features - and compatible with all major recording software packages, the AlphaTrack will surely be a huge success, especially as useful as it is.
This is too cool. I'll spare you the preamble: 8 channels of preamps with combo XLR/TRS connectors, 16-track playback, 80 GB hard drive, a CD-R drive, 16bit/44.1Khz .WAV recording quality, built-in drum machine with pads, sampling functions, and USB 2.0 interface for use as a control surface, all in one unit. An extremely easy interface rounds out this nearly-perfect stand-alone recorder for musicians on a budget, built to similar specs as the Zoom H4. A price isn't announced yet, but look for the units to hit the market in the spring.
Getting really effective isolation is hard in a home recording studio, where the room you're in wasn't necessarily built for good acoustics. Enter SM Pro Audio and the "Mic Thing" - a three-panel foam isolator that can be adjusted to form a tight isolation area around a microphone, effectively canceling room noise without expensive isolation treatments. Mount the Mic Thing on a mic stand behind a good-quality microphone, and the amount of separation and absorption can be easily be manipulated to your liking. You can even stack them together to form small isolation rooms! No pricing announced yet.
Cheap microphones have long meant sacrificing quality; along comes Superlux, distributed in the USA by Avlex. Yes, they're affordable mics - this particular mic goes for just over $100 - but they're really high sound quality, especially for use in home studios. This mic features a 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, three-position attenuator and three-position low-pass filter, and fantastic included accessories including a windscreen, pop filter, and shockmount clip. Perfect for overheads, acoustic guitar, and piano, this mic also won't disappoint for concert taping (with a good preamp and something like the Zoom H4).