After the relative mundanity of last year's Winter NAMM show, the 2007 event didn't have to offer much to be more exciting. Happily, there were some notable launches this time around, but to say that this was a golden NAMM for music software would certainly be an overstatement.
The lack of a new version of Reason was obviously a major disappointment, but at least we now know that this is in development. Elsewhere, countless manufacturers were launching digital DJing products, but I do have to wonder how many of these will prove to be successful. The software mixing market is growing, certainly, but will it really be able to support all the applications and controllers that are being launched into it?
It should also be said that what's happening in the DJ market isn't particularly revolutionary. A majority of the products being launched are designed not to reinvent the wheel but to enable vinyl and CD DJs to transfer their respective workflows to a computer-based system.
If you're looking for another trend for 2007, consider the fact that several NAMM exhibitors launched audio interfaces that also work as MIDI controllers. Manufacturers seem to have realised that a simple I/O box probably won't cut it in today's market (there are loads of these already) so they're endeavouring to offer products that can perform multiple roles. These are likely to be of particular interest to mobile musicians – why carry two boxes when one will do?
There were fewer new soft synths than in previous years, but this is only to be expected. We already have most of the hardware emulations that we need (more than we need?), and forward-thinking sound designers have plenty to chew on too.
In truth, this line of argument could easily be applied to music software in general. Most of the products are now so mature and sophisticated that to improve them radically from now on will be very difficult, so it's hardly surprising that we're no longer seeing the frequent big leaps forward. To be honest, I struggle to think of ways that my current setup could be bettered, so for me to criticise developers for a lack of imagination would be rather churlish. Maybe it's time for us to accept that the future we always dreamed about is already here.