Winners in 23 technical and eight creative excellence categories were announced at the 35th Annual NAMM TEC AWARDS, Saturday, January 18, from the global NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. Presented by The NAMM Foundation and held annually, the event recognizes the exemplary achievements and innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games and multi-media. Comedian, actor and musician Fred Armisen took to the podium to host.
For the first time, three companies won two awards each in Outstanding Technical Achievement. They were Genelec (for their Aural ID and S360 A SAM products), Universal Audio (for Apollo x16 and their Capital Chambers PlugIn), and API (2448 Console and the 550A 50th Anniversary Edition 3 band EQ product).
In Technical Achievement, winners picked up honors in Wireless Technology (Shure), Microphones-Recording (Townsend Labs), DJ Production (KORG), and several additional categories in Headphone/Earpiece Technology, Music Instrument Amplification & Effects, Production Essentials and beyond, that celebrated companies producing impactful products that have landed at the top of the field among their peers.
The Outstanding Creative Achievement category winners in one case, reflected a year (2019) filled with a slew of superhero films, and featured Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment, taking home the top prize for Interactive Entertainment Sound Production. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” from Darkroom/Interscope Records was the top slot in Record Production/Single or Track. (Eilish’s brother Finneas O’Connell presented a TEC Tracks panel earlier at a Friday NAMM Show event themed to the recording techniques of his famous sibling). “Bohemian Rhapsody” (20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films) won in Film Sound Production and The Grammy Awards continued to sweep its multiple year-to-year NAMM TEC Award wins, with another trophy for its 61st Annual Grammy® Awards (CBS).
Innovative producer, songwriter and artist Joni Mitchell was given one of the night’s most anticipated honors from The Les Paul Foundation: The Les Paul Innovation Award. The Foundation’s Executive Director Michael Braunstein introduced the award and called Mitchell “a true renaissance woman,” while pianist/composer Herbie Hancock presented the award to Mitchell and noted “it’s hard to imagine a world without this courageous woman’s brave songs and records.”
Mitchell remarked that she was “truly honored,” as several artists took the stage to give the folk songwriting heroine a musical celebration worthy of her long and revered career. The repertoire included Suzanne Santo for “The River;” Kevin Ross for “A Case of You;” Weyes Blood for “Woodstock;” and Venice performing “Free Man in Paris.” The Les Paul Innovation Award has been presented annually to remarkably-distinguished individuals from the music industry, such as Jackson Browne, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and 2019’s recipient, Peter Frampton.
Earlier in the evening, recording engineer Dave Pensado and record industry veteran Herb Trawick, the creative duo behind the weekly web series Pensado’s Place, were named recipients of the 2020 TEC Hall of Fame award. Both were honored for successful and impactful careers in the music industry, as well as long-standing efforts to share their knowledge through their global online show. The duo has also engaged in tireless mentoring opportunities and teaching tomorrow’s audiologists, producers and musicians. The announcement was made from the stage by Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director for the Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing®. “I’ve always felt like the next best thing to music is to talk about it,” said Pensado. Trawick noted, “I thank the sponsors, guests, legends, artists, streamers, tech companies. We’ve had a very lucky career and worked very hard at it.” Trawick also thanked their peers in the audience “because of all of your gifts, tools, talents, abilities.” Pensado’s Place reaches an audience of over six million per year.
The TEC Awards ceremony kicked off with a Don Wilson Tribute performance and medley of Ventures tunes that warmed up the crowd before guitarist “Skunk” Baxter presented Wilson with a Music for Life Award, saying “You gave us a great gift that keeps on giving!” Billy Bob Thornton added a special video greeting calling his in-studio time with Wilson one of the “greatest honors of my life.”
The NAMM TEC Awards is held during the global crossroads of the music, pro audio and entertainment technology industries, The NAMM Show. NAMM TEC Awards supporters include The Les Paul Foundation, Amazon Musical Instruments, Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, Neumann, Solid State Logic, Softube, Yamaha, Antelope Audio, Universal Audio, AVN Systems, Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, Hal Leonard, Broadjam, Inc., Pioneer DJ, PreSonus Audio Electronics, d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc., United States Postal Service, L-Acoustics, Cable Wrangler, Slick Audio, Genelec, The Recording Academy: Producers & Engineers Wing, Izotope, Inc., Leapwing Audio, Adam Hall Group, Oktava Design & Marketing, Musilla, Inc., NTi Audio, Inc., IMSTA (International Music Software Trade Association), Gearslutz.com United, CITT/ITS (Canadian Institute of Theater and Technology), Sonic Scoop, Wonder Wonder Sound and AMS Consultants, among many others.
Congratulations to the 2020 TEC Award recipients:
Amplification Hardware/Studio & Sound Reinforcement Auratone – A2-30
Audio Apps & Hardware/Peripherals for Smartphones & Tablets Genelec – Aural ID
Audio Education Technology iZotope – Pro Audio Essentials
Computer Audio Hardware Universal Audio – Apollo x16
DJ Production Technology (Hardware/Software) KORG – minilogue xd
Headphone/Earpiece Technology Neumann – NDH 20
Large Format Console Technology API – 2448 Console
Microphone Preamplifiers Rupert Neve Designs – 5211 Dual Mic Pre
Microphones – Recording Townsend Labs – Sphere L22 v1.3
Microphones – Sound Reinforcement Aston Microphones – Stealth
Musical Instrument Amplification & Effects Line 6 – HX Stomp
Musical Instrument Hardware Moog Music – Moog One
Musical Instrument Software Spectrasonics – Omnisphere 2.5
Production EssentialsCable Wrangler
Signal Processing Hardware Solid State Logic – Fusion
Signal Processing Hardware (500 Series Modules) API – 550A 50thAnniversary Edition
Signal Processing Software (Dynamics/EQ /Utilities) FabFilter – Pro-Q 3
Signal Processing Software (Effects) Universal Audio – Capitol Chambers
Small Format Console Technology Allen & Heath – SQ Digital Mixer Series V1.3
Sound Reinforcement Loudspeakers JBL Professional – VTX A8 Line Array
Studio Monitors Genelec – S360A SAM
Wireless Technology Shure – Axient Digital ADX Transmitter
Workstation Technology/Recording Devices Avid – Pro Tools 2019
Film Sound Production Bohemian Rhapsody (20thCentury Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films)
Interactive Entertainment Sound Production Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games | Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Record Production/Album A Star is Born (Soundtrack), Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper (Interscope Records)
Record Production/Single or Track “Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish (Darkroom / Interscope Records)
Remote Production/Recording or Broadcasting 61stAnnual Grammy Awards (CBS)
Studio Design Project Old Mill Road Recording (Francis Manzella Design Ltd.)
Television Sound Production Game of Thrones (HBO /Warner Bros. Television)
Tour Event Sound Production Freshen Up, Paul McCartney