January is a big month for trade shows, pro audio, and event tech industries. That includes NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants Trade Show.

Ben MacKinney, Audio Services Manager for Alford Media, was Alford’s boots on the ground for the event. He joins host Daniel Litwin on this episode of Backstage Pass to give us the NAMM 2020 recap, and shares all the exciting products and innovations that he saw at the event.

Ben said that one trend driving the conversation at the show was providing more options in speakers. He said that one cool thing he saw was a small speaker that allowed individual control with signal and power coming from a single cable.

Another trend he saw at the show for the event tech crowd was networking becoming more and more integrated with their systems.

“We’re not far away from microphones having a network port on it, and we’re not plugging it in with an XLR anymore, we’re using a Cat 5,” he said.

Some microphones with the port already exist, and Ben said that the trend is coming whether we like it or not.

On the more quirky side of technology, he mentioned some interesting finds at the show. One was a soft release of a 360-degree camera on top of a Zoom 360 audio recorder. Another product he saw was initially a gag item — a bed in a road case. What started as a joke to lure people to a company’s booth turned into a product they actually sold.

One of Ben’s biggest takeaways from the show is that audio technology seems to be more or less settled.

“We’re now just refining,” he said. “There’s not really a new way to put sound into the air, but you can refine the unit that puts sound into the air and make it better and more efficient.”

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