By Dan Ferrisi
Several sure signs mark the welcome transition of winter into spring: the gradual lengthening of days, steadily warmer weather that seems to chase away winter’s frigid bluster and, for movie fanatics such as me, the most welcome sign of all is the arrival of the Academy Awards. Sure, the majority of moviegoers might not have seen most of the films earning nominations in any given year, but, at the very least, we get to see some eye-popping style, old-fashioned Hollywood glitz and, of course, our favorite stars delivering their acceptance speeches.
Well, much as the Academy Awards serve to honor the greatest achievements in cinema each year, the Music & Sound Awards pay tribute to the very best in MI products, manufacturing and retailing. These awards, now in their 26th year, are eagerly sought after, for reasons not least of which is the fact that manufacturer and product awards are voted on exclusively by dealers. The Retailer invited a number of award winners up to our metaphorical stage to deliver their acceptance speeches. (Unlike the Academy, however, we have no orchestra at the ready to hurry our honorees along.)
Taylor’s Model 814ce Acoustic/Electric prevailed in the category of Best New Acoustic Guitar of 2011. Brian Swerdfeger, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Taylor Guitars, said, “Thanks to all Taylor dealers and friends who voted the 814ce as the Best Acoustic Guitar in 2011. Since its introduction, the 814ce has become a favorite of players and dealers alike for its well-balanced tone and ability to complement players of all styles and genres. It’s with sincere gratitude we say thank you for once again recognizing Taylor in this prestigious category.”
Fender won a total of three Music & Sound Awards, including the Pawn Shop Series Guitars as Best New Electric Guitar of 2011 and the Blacktop Precision Bass as Best New Bass Guitar of 2011. Justin Norvell, Vice President, Marketing, Fender, took to ConventionTV@NAMM to say, “Thank you very much! Thanks to all the dealers who voted. Thanks to The Music & Sound Retailer. Let’s have a great year this year in 2012. Thank you so much!” On the amplification side, Fender’s Mustang Series was named the Best New Instrument Amplifier of 2011. “Many thanks to The Music & Sound Retailer for naming our Mustang series Amp Of The Year. We had a great 2011 with Fender amps, and can’t wait to do it again!” said Shane Nicholas, Senior Product Manager, Fender Guitar Amps.
Fishman’s Blackstack Soundhole Pickup earned Best New Guitar Accessory of 2011 honors. Larry Fishman, President, remarked, “When we introduced the Blackstack Soundhole Pickup last year, we really took a gamble on a product that was a little left of center for Fishman. But consumers had been asking us for a long time to come up with a passive pickup that has a little bit of ‘bite’ to it. After a lot of R&D, we arrived at something for acoustic players who are looking for a little more edge and color in their sound. All of us at Fishman are delighted that the Blackstack was voted Best Guitar Accessory in this year’s Music & Sound Awards. Of all the exciting guitar accessory products introduced in our industry last year, it’s pretty cool that this one stood out so much to people. Thanks to all of the voters and to every dealer out there who took a chance on the Blackstack pickup!”
The Best New Keyboard/Sound Module of 2011 was Roland’s JUPITER-80 Synthesizer. According to Roland Corporation U.S. CEO Chris Bristol, “The Music & Sound Award validates the concept that we are moving in the right direction with the JUPITER-80. Studio and touring musicians alike were constantly around the JP-80 during the NAMM show. The clear focus of this unique instrument is live performance, and bringing power and renewed flexibility back to the stage. It’s also cool that musicians can bring the JUPITER-80’s live stage sounds into the studio. It’s really a Ferrari for stage and studio musical performance.”
Peavey was another multiple award winner, having been named Best New Power Amp of 2011 for its IPR 3000 Amp, as well as Best New Music Software/Multimedia of 2011 for its ReValver MKIII.V. Hartley Peavey, Founder and CEO of Peavey Electronics Corporation, stated, “The Peavey IPR 3000 power amplifier is a very significant development in professional audio technology, providing enormous power, incredible efficiency and light weight at just pennies per watt. The feedback from dealers, end users and media has been very positive, and we’re honored to receive back-to-back recognition for the revolutionary IPR Series power amps in the Music & Sound Awards.”
Turning to the ReValver, Peavey said, “Peavey ReValver is an entirely unique amplifier modeling software, because it models the actual amp components, and that gives users unprecedented control over their tones. Other modeling software only lets you adjust the tone controls on their virtual amps. With ReValver, you can also change internal design features like tubes, power amp rectifiers, output transformers and tone stacks, as well as the individual component values, which is probably a decade ahead of our nearest competition. Peavey has always tried to create better products to provide dealers with profit potential and end users with unmatched performance. I want to thank our dealers for growing with us and supporting new technologies like ReValver that provide a path to the future of MI.”
Zoom’s H2n Handy Recorder prevailed in the category of Best New Multitrack Recorder/Recording & Mixing Software of 2011. According to Mark Menghi, Director of Marketing for Samson Technologies, “Receiving this award means a tremendous amount to everyone at Zoom. From the moment of its inception, we knew the H2n was a very special product that would bring handheld recording to the next level. And knowing all that went into getting the H2n into consumers’ hands, it being named the Best New Multitrack Recorder/Recording & Mixing Software of 2011 is all the more meaningful.”
The Best New Speaker of 2011 award went to QSC’s KLA Line Array. Ray Van Straten, Marketing Communications Director at QSC, stated, “We’re delighted to have received this recognition from our retail channel partners. With KLA, our dealers now have an opportunity to present a line array solution to a wide range of customers, and we know they will enjoy success with it this year.”
PreSonus’ StudioLive 16.0.2 was officially named the Best New Mixer/Console of 2011. Steve Oppenheimer, Public Relations Manager, PreSonus Audio Electronics, said, “PreSonus is delighted that its StudioLive 16.0.2 digital mixer has won The Music & Sound Retailer’s prestigious Music & Sound Award. This award is particularly meaningful because the winners are chosen by the dealers—people who understand the strengths and weaknesses of a huge variety of products and are intimately aware of what end users want and need. We could ask for no better confirmation that we are on the right path with our StudioLive series…and there’s more to come, as PreSonus continues to develop new features and capabilities for the
StudioLive 16.0.2 and its siblings.”
There’s no doubt about the fact that Shure was a big winner this year. Its Beta 181 won in the category of Best New Cabled Microphone of 2011. Chad Wiggins, Category Director for Wired Microphones at Shure, said, “It’s always nice to be recognized, but what makes winning the Music & Sound Award for Beta 181 so special to us is that it shows how the readers and dealers value unique approaches and design innovation. We’d like to thank all the voters for making Beta 181 cabled microphone of the year.” In addition, Shure’s PGX Digital Wireless earned Best New Wireless System of 2011 honors. According to Erik Vaveris, Category Director for Wireless Products at Shure, “We’re very proud of PGX-D, and it means a lot to me and our entire team that Shure’s first-ever digital wireless system has been so well-received…especially by the readers of The Music & Sound Retailer, many of whom are our dealers.”
Last, but certainly not least, Shure’s PSM1000 earned the 2011 Product of the Year award. Matt Engstrom, Category Director for Monitoring Products at Shure, remarked, “The past few years have been very exciting for us at Shure as we’ve re-established our position as an industry leader in the in-ear monitor market, first with PSM900 and, this past year, with PSM1000. We are very grateful for this award and would like to thank all of the dealers who voted for PSM1000 as the Product of the Year.”
The KMCMusicorp family did exceptionally well this year, having earned three Music & Sound Awards. The Best New Lighting Product of 2011 was MBT Lighting’s LEDBRITEPACK. According to Roy White, Product Manager, “MBT Lighting is proud to accept the Lighting Product of the Year award for the LEDBRITEPACK, especially as this is the ninth award we’ve received in this category! We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to our customers who voted for us, and we will continue to work on exciting products for 2012 that will allow music retailers to easily incorporate outstanding lighting into their showrooms.”
Billy Bohanna, for the second year in a row, was voted the Representative of the Year. He commented, “It is truly an honor to be personally recognized as Representative of the Year for the second year in a row. I want to thank my dealers, who allow me to be a part of their business each and every day.”
And—also an award for which KMCMusicorp has become known—the company has once again prevailed in the category of Outstanding Community Service. Catherine Polk, Director of Marketing, said, “Serving our community has always been a top priority for us, and we are thrilled to receive the Community Service Award. With the tremendous support of our employees, we have contributed to some very deserving charities in the past year, and look forward to continuing this tradition of service in the future.”
In the category of Best New Cymbal of 2011, the winner was Zildjian’s Z3 Ultra Hammered Chinas. Paul Francis, Zildjian’s Director of Research and Development, said, “What’s unique about the Z3 19-inch and 21-inch Ultra Hammered Chinas is the new inverted ‘volcano’ bell and extensive hammering that produce a trashier sound than the 18-inch and 20-inch Z3 China counterparts. Designed to explode with penetrating sound and projection, the Ultra Hammered Chinas have been added to the setups of some of the best drummers in the world, including Carter Beauford of The Dave Matthews Band and Matt Nicholls of Bring Me The Horizon.” Craigie Zildjian, CEO of the Avedis Zildjian Company, added, “We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with the Ultra Hammered Chinas, and honored that they are being recognized by The Music & Sound Retailer as the Best Cymbal of 2011.”
Remo’s Powerstroke Pro Bass Drumhead has been named the Best New Percussion Accessory of 2011. According to Bob Yerby, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Remo, Inc., “We are honored to receive the award of Best Percussion Accessory for 2011. This was a collaborative effort from our Product Management Team, along with our Research and Development Department, to develop the finest pre-muffled bass drum head in the business. We would like to thank our dealer and distributor networks worldwide for their support in making the Powerstroke Pro one of the most successful product launches in Remo’s drumhead history.”
Best New Floor Effect of 2011 honors went to Tech 21’s Roto Choir. “Winning the Music & Sound Award for the Roto Choir is the proverbial icing on the cake! And such sweet icing it is. There were many great reviews from the press, lots of artist purchases and substantial sales all over the world. The Roto Choir was also nominated for a TEC Award, so we couldn’t be happier or more proud,” enthused Andrew Barta, President, Tech 21 USA, Inc.
In the category of Best New Bag/Case of 2011, the winner was Gator Cases’ G-Club DJ Bags. Crystal Morris, President, stated, “We truly appreciate all the dealers that voted for Gator Cases’ new Club series bags as Best New Bag/Case for 2011. We continue to work every day to provide our dealer partners what we believe to be the very best carrying solutions in the market. Showing your support for us through your votes for us to win this prestigious award speaks volumes to the entire team here at Gator Cases. Thank you. We look forward to a great 2012 together!”
Another multiple award winner this year was Yamaha, which took home two Music & Sound Awards. Yamaha Drums’ Club Custom Drum Sets prevailed as the Best New Drum Set of 2011. And, Yamaha was given the singular distinction of being named the 2011 Manufacturer of the Year. Speaking about the drum set award, David Jewell, Yamaha Drums Marketing Manager, Yamaha Corp. of America, said, “We put a lot of time into creating a drum set that would give a drummer that vintage/retro sound complemented by a completely new swirl finish process. Working with artists, dealers and designers is a painstaking process to get everything right, so it’s very gratifying to have drum dealers respond to the Club Custom like this. Thank you.”
And, speaking about the Manufacturer of the Year honor, Rick Young, Senior Vice President, Yamaha Corp. of America, said, “Because the results were determined by dealers, receiving the Music & Sound Award for Manufacturer of the Year is particularly meaningful to us. We’re thankful for our dealers’ recognition and support, which inspire us to propel our music and sound products and services to new heights.”
Dealers voted Gemini’s CDJ-700 as the Best New DJ Product of 2011. Alan Cabasso, President, commented, “Gemini is truly honored to receive the award for Best New DJ Product from The Music & Sound Retailer. We’ve invested a lot of time and effort into the CDJ-700—which is in stock and now shipping—and this kind of recognition validates our hard work. We’d like to thank The Music & Sound Retailer, along with our loyal employees, dealers and users. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. Manufacturers strive for a distinction like this, and we’re thrilled the CDJ-700 could earn this accolade from one of the most respected publications in the industry.”
The best New Manufacturer of 2011 was Asterope. According to Dariush Rad, President and CEO, “Asterope is honored to be named New Manufacturer of the Year for 2011. As a company, we are dedicated to providing musicians with the best sound possible, while offering our distribution partners profitable programs for carrying our audio cables. Our rugged, unidirectional cables—designed and manufactured in the United States—provide musicians with greater clarity, spectral balance and tone, and have fast become popular with many of the leading musicians in the industry.”
And, last but, again, certainly not least, the Lifetime Achievement/Hall of Fame Award, which is universally recognized as one of our industry’s most prestigious honors, was bestowed to Seymour W. Duncan, of Seymour Duncan Guitar Pickups. “It is quite an honor to receive this award from The Music & Sound Retailer. Also, it’s an honor I will cherish, and be proud of, to be included with other top winners in the industry. Thanks to everyone, too, who nominated me for this wonderful award.”
Additionally, the Best New Instructional Book/Video of 2011 award went to Hal Leonard’s Instrumental & Vocal Recording.
Our sincerest congratulations to all companies and individuals who won.