NAMM 2024 has barely commenced and yet a plethora of exciting new products have already been announced. From handheld recorders, streaming mixers, and compact audio interfaces to headphones, microphones, and wireless systems, we’ve assembled some of the most interesting new pro audio products coming out of NAMM this year. And without further ado, let’s jump in.
Zoom H-essential Series
Zoom’s original H Series revolutionized the portable audio recording landscape by providing users with an on-the-go solution featuring high-quality stereo mic arrays and easy-to-use recording functions. Not content to rest on its laurels, the company has added three new models to the lineup: the H1essential, the H4essential, and the H6essential. All three offer 32-bit float recording capabilities and streamlined feature sets that make it even easier for content creators and musicians to get hassle-free broadcast-quality recordings anytime, anywhere.
The H1essential provides the smallest form factor, with a built-in stereo X/Y mic array for 2-track recording. An external mic or line source can also be connected to the 3.5mm stereo input, which offers 2.5V plug-in power—great for lavalier microphones. If you need four tracks, step up to the H4essential, which also offers an improved mic array capable of handling up to 130 dB SPL, along with a pair of XLR/TRS inputs for mic and line sources. Power users will want to head straight for the H6essential, the flagship model, which features 6 tracks and a modular microphone system. It ships with the new XYH-6e stereo mic capsule, an X/Y array that can handle up to 135 dB, which is the volume equivalent to a jet plane taking off.
Shure SLX-D Digital Wireless Microphone System
Good news for on-the-go content creators, journalists, and videographers—Shure has expanded its rock-solid SLXD rackmount wireless microphone lineup to include a portable, camera-mount single-channel receiver and a plug-on transmitter for any XLR microphone. Now you can put the SLXD’s tried-and-true technology to work in the field. And with versatile powering options for bag users, intuitive setup, high spectral efficiency, leading digital-audio technology, and a rugged, durable design, you can record professional-sounding audio directly to your camera.
Component-wise, the big news now is the SLXD5 single-channel receiver, featuring a slim and durable metal chassis with an easy-to-read OLED screen and a mount for your camera’s cold shoe. It’s powered for up to 5.5 hours by a pair of AA batteries, but if you use Shure’s SB903 rechargeable battery instead, the remaining operating time is displayed in hours and minutes.
Of course, the bodypack and handheld mic transmitters originally introduced with the SLXD rackmount systems work perfectly with the new camera mount. But in addition to those, Shure is introducing the SLXD3 plug-on transmitter, which allows you to incorporate the XLR microphone of your choice, including handheld and shotgun microphones.
Sennheiser HD 490-PRO Open-Back Headphones
Over the years, Sennheiser has become a name ubiquitous with headphones. Historically well regarded by audiophiles and professionals for the sleek, reliable build quality and smooth, balanced sound of its HD series headphones, Sennheiser is trying to up its game even more with an addition to the lineup: the HD-490 PRO.
Aiming to maximize clarity, comfort, and reliability all at once, the HD-490 PRO are open-back headphones with new Open-Frame Architecture technology and a state-of-the-art neodymium magnet at the core of its sound reproduction. These headphones sport extremely smooth and accurate sound reproduction across the entire frequency spectrum and are an ideal choice for engineers seeking comfortable and honest references for producing, as well as audiophiles looking for quality cans to enjoy long listening sessions in comfort. They also come with a free download of the Dear Reality dearVR MIX-SE plug-in, letting you test your HD-490 PROs on a variety of world-class mixing environments.
I was able to get my hands on this product, thanks to an early demo graciously provided to B&H by Sennheiser. In short, I not only fell in love with the nearly impeccably smooth sound of these headphones, but I feel they may be setting a new standard in open-back reference headphones. To find out more, jump over to our hands-on review article.
Mackie Mixers and Streamers
Mackie has a stellar reputation for supplying musicians, producers, and performers with streamlined, easy-to-use mixers that sport comprehensive feature sets and deliver professional-level sound quality without breaking the bank. Recently, the brand has expanded its lineup with some new streaming mixers, including the DLZ Creator XS, the MainStream Interface, and the MobileMix.
The DLZ Creator XS takes the terrific feature set from the full-sized DLZ Creator and shrinks it down for smaller, 1- to 2-person podcasts, giving you two mic preamps with up to 80 dB of gain and all the automated mix functions that speed up your workflow, including MixAgent, Automatic Gain, and Auto-Mix.
For more basic gaming and streaming needs, Mackie’s MainStream interface provides a quick and easy way to integrate video, audio, and stream control in one unit. In addition to the single XLR/TRS combo input, it offers an HDMI input with video capture card, and an HDMI pass-through for your monitor so you can stream live and game at high quality.
For musicians and technical content creators looking for a portable streaming and recording solution that can accommodate multiple microphones and inputs, Mackie has created the MobileMix, an 8-channel live sound and streaming mixer featuring Bluetooth, 2-band channel EQs, and reverb effects. Plug mic, line, or Hi-Z sources into the two XLR/TRS inputs with available phantom power, while an additional stereo ¼" input feeds channels 3 and 4.
Heritage Audio i73 PRO Series USB-C Interfaces
Musicians, engineers, and producers have been singing the praises of Heritage Audio’s carefully crafted recreations of the Neve 1073 preamp since they were first introduced in 2011. Now, Heritage Audio has expanded the lineup to include three USB-C audio interfaces, the i73 PRO One, the i73 PRO 2, and the i73 PRO Edge.
Each interface allows users to record with a Class-A transformer-coupled 73-style preamp and brings that vintage golden-era analog character directly to their Mac and Windows productions. All the i73 PROs feature an advanced built-in mixer that allows the processing of tracks in real time via a comprehensive and ever-growing set of tools modeled after Heritage Audio’s own outboard and private gear collection running internally over the interface’s DSP.
The most portable option is the entry-level i73 PRO One, offering a total of two inputs and four outputs (including the front-panel stereo headphone output). You can plug a guitar into the front-panel dynamic JFET DI input or a mic/line source into the single rear-panel XLR/TRS combo input; a second rear-panel TRS input accommodates line-level sources. If you need to track two mics through 73-style preamps, step up to the i73 PRO 2, which basically duplicates the layout of the PRO One, but adds a second mic input and the accompanying controls.
With four line inputs, four line outputs, and ADAT expandability, the i73 PRO Edge provides an ideal studio centerpiece for creating inspired analog-flavored productions. This unit also offers two mic preamps with top panel controls pretty much identical to the ones on the PRO 2.
RØDE NT1 Signature Series
From bedroom musicians and studio professionals to voice-over artists, podcasters, and streamers, the NT1 is revered for its silky smooth, transparent, and natural reproduction of vocals and instruments. Now RØDE is offering you some of the features and improvements introduced with the NT1 5th Generation while letting you pick a color for any mood with the NT1 Signature Series.
The NT1 Signature edition ditches the A/D converter and USB connection from the 5th Generation but brings that model’s redesigned analog circuitry to deliver improved performance, now with even lower self-noise of just 4 dBA, and higher SPL handling capability up to 142 SPL; that’s a 10 dB improvement over the original.
If you need to match your mic to your streaming/podcasting set up or simply have a favorite color, the NT1 Signature comes in a wide array of colors, including black, blue, red, green, pink, and purple. Color your sound the way you want and stand out from the crowd.
For more information about these new products, including additional features, specs, and highlights, be sure to check out the detailed product pages. Or drop us a line below, and we’ll do our best to reply to your comments and questions.