NAMM 2016: IK Multimedia showcases mount, page turner, clip mic

This year we made our annual swing by the IK Multimedia booth where cool things are always afoot. Here are a few of their many offerings that caught our eye this year:

iKlip A/V - a complete mobile solution for professional audio and video recording with your smartphone.
iKlip A/V – a complete mobile solution for professional audio and video recording with your smartphone.

“The first smartphone broadcast mount for pro-quality audio/video.”
HANDY. That was our first thought upon taking a gander at the presser for this device. As smartphone technology rises to the demands of high-quality video, photography and recording, users now increasingly trust them to capture professional events in professional settings. Good rigging remains key and the iKLIP A/V offers a deft solution.
The iKLIP A/V features:
– XLR mic preamp with phantom power and gain
– integrated wireless receiver support
– headphone output for monitoring in real time
– standard tripod and camera mount threads
– battery powered by two standards AAs
– compact and portable
– $179.99 retail

BlueTurn easily lets you turn pages and scroll through material hands-free.
BlueTurn easily lets you turn pages and scroll through material hands-free.

iRig Blue Turn:
” The Backlit compact Bluetooth page turner for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac and Android.”
Oh, the flashbacks. This little device snatched us straight back to a more complicated time–a time when a page turner was a human being, preferably another musician who could read the score and didn’t need to be cued. Talk about dependencies and gambles–page turners had to be on point; turn too soon, too late, accidentally turn two pages ahead instead of one or, heaven forbid, knock the music off the stand and the performer might be in a very bad way very suddenly.
iRig Blue Turn to the rescue. While not a complete solution for musicians like pianists, whose feet must be engaged during performance, we still want one now and wish we’d had one way back then. Check it out:
– turn pages and scroll sheets wirelessly over Bluetooth
– two backlit buttons ensure visibility even in dim lighting
– runs on two standard AAA batteries
– highly portable
– $69.99 retail

An affordable and compact professional-quality mobile lavalier microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.
An affordable and compact professional-quality mobile lavalier microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.

iRig Mic Lav:
“An ultra-affordable and compact professional-quality mobile lavalier microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.”
You’ve seen similar mics on professional news broadcasts. Now you can have your own. The iRig Mic Lav is a clip-on lavalier microphone that allows high-quality hands-free recording.
iRig Mic Lav can be connected to a second Mic Lav and fed into the same device. The company calls this “chainable. That means it can double your recording power by letting you easily chain up to two iRig Mic Lav’s to the same device. Each iRig Mic Lav captures high-quality audio thanks to its omnidirectional condenser capsule and foam pop shield. And recording convenience is taken to the next level thanks to its on-board headphone monitoring output, secure mounting clip, generous cable length and durable roadworthy design. And best of all, you can have all these premium features at a price as small as the device itself.” The iRig Mic Lav features:
– high-quality omnidirectional condenser capsule
– foam pop shield and durable mounting clip
– 1/8″ TRRS jack connects to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android
– Combo 1/8″ TRRS port can be used for headphone monitoring/line out to    powered speaker and for chaining up to two iRig Mic Lavs to the same        device
– compatibility with any audio app that accepts audio from headset input
– a suite of powerful recording apps
– 150cm/66” cable
– $49.99 retail
– Also available as 2 Pack – iRig Mic Lav 2 Pack

For more information:

NAMM 2016: Corning Optical offers high performance cables

Corning booth at the 2016 NAMM Show.
Corning booth at the 2016 NAMM Show.

High performance cabling is cool and all but we confess: We’re also in this one for the kitsch. Might this be the same Corning of CorningWare fame? That iconic white ceramic glass cookware with its blue flowery trademark that shaped so many childhood kitchen memories? Yep–and while Corning no longer owns the CorningWare line, it was that fun little connection that lured us to the booth; we’re quirky that way.

But we’d also done our homework. Corning, Inc., an historic glassworks technology giant, sold off its charming CorningWare cookery line in 2000. The company now focuses on a number of progressive technological glasswork endeavors, including optical and cabling solutions for a variety of industries and high-end applications. You can also thank these folks for the  Gorilla Glass protecting your i-device

On display were Corning’s Thunderbolt™ and 3.Optical cables™, both touted by the company as “the fastest protocols at distances up to 60 m.” These cables are designed for commercial use in audio, video, photography and medical imaging markets. The cables are thin, light and stand up well to tangling and bending–the kinds of daily abuses that quickly wear down most cables. Copper cable maxes out at around 10 feet or so but Corning’s cables are not bound by such limits. These cables can easily reach a couple hundred feet without compromising high data transfer speeds. We liked the extra reinforcement at the Thunderbolt’s stress point–this is always where our cables tear and fail over time from routine manipulation–and would like to see that on the intriguing 3.Optical cable as well. The 3.Optical courts machine vision, educational, digital, point-of-sale automation and digital signage market applications.

Though Corning is presently targeting the professional audio-visual segment, our friendly booth rep said the company is also looking into developing a line for the consumer market.

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NAMM 2016: A groovy return to Moog’s Island of Electronicus

Moog Music Island of Electronicus sign, NAMM 2016.
Moog Music Island of Electronicus sign, NAMM 2016.

The 70s were a groovy time.

This year Moog’s 2016 NAMM booth took us back to its seminal 1971 Moog Island of Electronicus, in tribute to the company’s first successful immersive marketing event/experience of the same name and vibe. The original Moog Island of Electronicus event was held on an island off the coast of Florida and was a success. Trippy, 70s, totally retro and replete with sky-high cacti, bean bag cushions, blankets and plenty of retro gear all in the round, this year’s Moog was a sight to behold.

The welcome sign read:
“Welcome to the Island of Electronicus. This is our tribute to David Van Koevering, Moog’s former marketing guru, who founded the Island of Electronicus off the Florida coast in 1970. Back then, the Island took in the spectacle at the foot of the stage, seated on pillows, Van Koevering encouraged audience participation and had synthesizers set up at the front of the stage for people on the pillows to play. Part show, part happening, part concern, part a revivalist meeting – the Island of Electronicus had it all. Although the Island happened after the psychedelic 60s, the use of electronic music and light show to induce transcendent states was similar. Van Koevering wanted his audience to experience a Moog-induced state of reverie. We invite you to do the same.”

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NAMM 2016: Strumstick design ensures no wrong notes

Sometimes progress is achieved through reverse engineering, by the stripping down of the burliest thing to its leanest bones. The good folks at McNally Instruments’ Strumstick have done just that with their innovative, three-stringed instrument of the same name. Strumstick ensures that, fumble as you may across its fretboard, you simply cannot produce a wrong note. Daunted by the challenge of learning to play a traditional guitar? Wish there was an easy way to make cool-sounding music even if you have no particular musical ability? Enter Strumstick.

We stopped by their booth at the 2016 NAMM show this month out of curiosity. The streamlining of multi-stringed instruments into lean, reedy minimalist and easily digestible musical models geared to first-timers and novices is a musical movement that seems to be trending. Slaperoo, we passed you on our way and yes–we are looking at you, too.

We play traditional 6-string guitar here at ADT, which we learned through years of good ole’ practice. Why would one interested in guitar not want to start with the real thing? The friendly booth representative walked us skeptics through all our burning questions.

Strumstick comprises a slight wood body that supports three strings: The top and bottom strings are tuned an octave apart; the middle string is tuned to the fifth step in between. Don’t worry if you don’t know a thing about music: If you can press a guitar string you can play Strumstick. Its tonal alignment ensures you’ll always strike the right musical chord–literally–no matter where you place your fingers on the frets. You can clunk your way all over the fretboard and never not create a pleasantly straightforward melody.

Strumsticks are available in two tunings, D and G. A variety of models and species of wood tops are available. The lineup includes a three-string ukelele and a smaller children’s model. Prices range from $169 for the base model to $259 for the top-of-the-line. An instruction book and companion CD are available to aid learning.

Our conclusion, in short: If you thought you could never play guitar but always wanted to, if you want to ease yourself or a child into the world of music starting with something simple and always rewarding, this could be a good place to start. If you have more lofty aspirations, we recommend you skip this and start with the traditional stringed instrument of your dreams. Wrong notes and overcoming challenges are critical to productive musical development. We also took note of Strumstick’s price points: A decent student guitar can be had at similar prices; something to consider.

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Land Rover LR4 handles any terrain

2016 Land Rover LR4

I am fond of Land Rovers. The British really know how to build a luxury SUV.
But why would I buy a $100,000 vehicle to take it bashing through the woods? A dent in something this good looking would be a pity.
Yeah, I know, you can say the same about almost any other SUV of today. Heck, even pickup trucks cost a lot and look good as well.
OK, so do not buy the Range Rover. You can always step down to the Land Rover LR4. It’s more truck looking and it doesn’t cost a hundred grand.
Nope, the LR4 starts at a more modest $50,400 base.
Ummm, yeah, right.
Still, It’s a fine truck that is designed to go where only angels dare to walk. It’s also designed to take you through this treacherous territory in style.
I’ve always liked the look of the LR4 (which is called Discovery in the rest of the world). It’s tall, which gives it tremendous headroom. It also looks like something that can handle the outback with no problem.
The interior isn’t as spectacular as the Range Rover. It doesn’t have nearly the switchgear as its big sister, but I don’t think you will be left wanting. The materials feel good and solid – as should be so in a vehicle in this price range. Your gear selector is a round knob that rises from a flat position when you start the car. I think all Jags and Land Rovers have this feature.

The view is panoramic and the interior has been tweaked.
The view is panoramic and the interior has been tweaked.

There is plenty of room for seven adults. Yes, the third seat is comfy. Fold it and you have 42 cubic feet of storage. There is also a roof rack for more stuff.
The 2016 LR4 comes with a very potent supercharged V6 which replaces an even more potent V8. That engine was heavy and dated so the lighter V6 saved some weight and added some fuel efficiency. Not a whole lot of economy is gained, however. The LR4 still weighs about 3 tons. Once you pack on all that four-wheel drive stuff it’s hard to get the weight off. The V6 makes 340 horsepower with 322 pounds-feet of torque. It will move the LR4 sufficiently quick, but a weight loss would probably give this thing some sweet moves.
The transmission is an eight-speed unit that works well with the engine. It never lagged and it shifted crisply.
On the highway I don’t find fault in the LR4’s ride. Yeah, you can tell it’s more of a truck but a well sorted out truck. Its standard air suspension helps absorb bumps as well as offering adjustable ground clearance. This is a tall vehicle but I never noticed a lot of swaying about.
If I wanted, I could have taken the LR4 rock climbing. The adjustable suspension has a crawl setting that can take you just about anywhere. If you want that kind of ability, it’s available in the heavy duty package with includes a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire on an alloy wheel.
My test vehicle was an HSE LUX version. That alone adds $10,200 to the bottom line. It also adds a plethora of equipment that includes climate control system, navigation system, adaptive cruise control, 360 degree backup camera, blind-spot detection system, 17-speaker system and upgraded leather seats. A Black Design package includes 20-inch black wheel, grille, door handles, mirrors and other trim.A suite of Apps and a two package round out the options.
The as-tested price of my HSE LUV was $68,270 which included destination.
Yes, I like this vehicle a lot. If I owned it I might even take it through some rough terrain. Maybe. That Fuji White paint job looks awfully good.

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Murano gets bolder styling, better ride and handling

2015 Nissan Murano
2015 Nissan Murano

Nissan continues to make its SUV and crossover lineup interesting. It isn’t afraid to push the styling envelope which is seen on the restyled 2015 Murano. A little bigger, bolder and more fuel efficient than the model it replaces, this new Murano may be all the SUV you need.
I say SUV but I think the proper term is crossover since this is more car than truck. Oh, it will handle the truck stuff you throw at it, but the comfort and creature features this thing comes with tells you it does double duty.
The 260 horsepower V6 and continuously variable transmission are virtually unchanged from last year. Yet, this vehicle gets better gas milage than the old one. It’s also a tad bigger for people and cargo.

Stylish, spacious interior
Stylish, spacious interior

What’s new is the look of the Murano. The lines are bolder and the grille is far more aggressive. The roofline drops off dramatically in the back, but doesn’t effect the rear passenger headroom much. There are sharp, crisp lines near the waist and bulges around the fenders. It is mean but not menacing, powerful, but still pretty.
The interior of the Murano is striking. The materials feel high quality and look the part. Front and rear outboard passengers get the company’s Zero Gravity seats. They are quite comfortable and offer support on long trips. The driver and passenger sets are power operated. Leather covers all seats. The rear bench is a 60/40 split design in case you need to carry a little more cargo than people. There is plenty of room for five people and a lot of their stuff.
There is a lot of standard equipment. Kudos to Nissan for keeping the CD player despite the vehicle’s ability to steam music through apps and Bluetooth. We old-timers still enjoy still enjoy a good CD every now and then. The Bose unit has two subwoofers but does not sacrifice the highs. I’m liking HD radio the more I listen. There is also Sirius/XM.
Nissan also includes cruise control, heated front seats, voice recognition for hands-free operation of navigation and radio, ABS, blindspot detection, lane departure, traction control and dual zone climate controls. This SL model has about all you need.
Optional equipment includes a technology package with a huge sunroof, intelligent cruise control and predictive forward collision warning.
You could forget to drive this thing because of all the gadgets to play with. You would miss a treat. The Murano handles very well under a variety of circumstances. It’s not as sporty as it was but you won’t pine for last year’s model. If you want to get a little aggressive you can and the vehicle will not loose composure. Steering feels nicely weighted and braking is good for the class.
Without question it is comfortable. The ride is smooth and quiet. If your purpose is to carry your passengers in a very pleasing and relaxing manner, you’ve found the vehicle you need. The Murano doesn’t pitch around or float. It’s a firm but comfortable ride that will please nearly everyone that rides.
The base price of the Murano SL is $36,950. With options and destination the as-tested price was $40,095.
You can keep going if you want the platinum edition and all-wheel drive, but the SL will be enough for most – even without the tech package. There’s stiff competition from the big three and all the other Asian brands, but the Murano will hold its own. This needs a serious look.

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2016 Chevy Camaro SS is job well done

2016 Camaro SS
2016 Camaro SS

Chevy and Ford would like you to think there is a war going on between the Camaro and Mustang. I say there isn’t.
I say that because people who like Mustangs like Mustangs. The same with Camaro fans. Yes, one may outsell the other for a while but then the other takes over and, well, you know the rest.
I’m sure Chevy will experience a big sales surge with this 2016 Camaro. This car is good to look at, a blast to drive and built better than any other Camaro ever.
Let’s look at it’s looks, shall we? The 2016 SS has been hammered, chiseled, shortened and to a point crushed a bit. It has a lower profile and is wider and meaner looking. There’s a tad bit of Corvette in the grille but I see more Lexus spindle than anything. Not a bad thing for me, but a bunch of auto journalist don’t like that look. This is actually smaller than the 2015 because they wanted something lighter and more nimble.
Chevy, mission accomplished.
Does that mean you have less interior space? Yes, but who buy’s a sport’s car for space? It’s tight for dumpy builds like mine and not forgiving for someone six foot four like my friend who complained but his head didn’t touch the headliner. It was close, however. Let’s call the interior cozy. It’s also nicely finished. Chevy has used high quality materials and an ergonomic design to make the interior inviting. The large touch screen is good and one of the options is Apple’s Car Play. It essentially turns the screen into your iPhone. It worked well, but it’s a bit intrusive at times. Apple likes being the center of attention and it shuts off bluetooth and a few other things while engaged. More on Car Play in a separate article to follow.

Interior is nicely finished
Interior is nicely finished

The backseat is for children or cargo. The trunk holds enough stuff but if its non essential stuff you can throw it in the back seat. At the back of the center armrest console is a wireless phone charger which is optional.
My test vehicle was a 2SS model. That comes with ambient LED lighting to set a mood or just look cool – whichever you desire. A lot of cars are doing this now because it’s cool and LED lighting is inexpensive to use.
There is also a premium Bose stereo with satellite radio. If you like, you can turn your Camaro into a rolling hotspot for the plethora of devices we can’t live without. Actually, you can only connect seven but that’s plenty considering you can’t get seven people in this vehicle.
OK, so it looks good and seems to be built well but how does this thing drive?
Glad you asked. If speed is your thing you will be satisfied, amazed, wowed, pleased and every other positive adjective I can think of. The SS comes with a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 455 horsepower and 455 pounds-feet of torque. With the standard short throw six-speed you can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.0 seconds. You may ask why a Corvette, then? Answer: have you seen a Corvette lately? That car is a sexy beast.
When you hit the Camaro’s accelerator, it will press you deep into the seats. A fury of energy is released and that dual exhaust sings a mighty tune. The handling is superb. Throw it around a cure with force and ti digs in and stays planted. You can adjust the suspension to a track setting and you really get to know just how capable a car you have. This Camaro simple devours pavement without sweating. Steering, braking and handling were top priority in development and I’d say Chevy got it right.
I do quibble about the gear box, though. It has that 1-4 shift thing. Sometimes it forces you to engage fourth gear immediately after first. It can be annoying if you really don’t need to be in that gear and you have to downshift. However, the more time I spent with the car the less that happened.
Any other gripes? Well, the greenhouse is kinda squinty. I can’t say the car is hard to see out of, but it can feel a tad

claustrophobic. Just a tad. There is that gas mileage thing. I’m glad fuel is cheap because this thing likes premium fuel a good deal. Highway driving isn’t so bad. You may get close to 30. I averaged about 16 miles per gallon in the city, which isn’t terrible for the monster of an engine you get, but be warned.
Anything else? No. I found the 2016 Camaro SS to be very enjoyable. You could always move up to the Corvette if this isn’t enough power or style, but I think you may have to open up your wallet a lot wider if you make that choice.
How much is this beast? I didn’t get a window sticker. I went to Chevy’s website to build one and came up with $43,840. I don’t know if I added all the options or if there were packages so that’s a rough estimate.
If there is a real war between the Mustang and Camaro Chevy just loaded up some heavy artillery to take into battle. I’m a Mustang guy but I’s consider this Camaro SS. It’s got a lot going for itself for the money, if you want to spend that kind of money. Bravo, Chevy, bravo.

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