18th Annual Dealers’ Choice Awards
Results from this year’s annual survey of MI retailers to establish top products in key categories saw the return of some longtime champs (the Fender Stratocaster as Electric Guitar of the Year, the Shure SM58 as Microphone of the Year), some brand new entries (The Snark Tuner as Accessory of the Year), and the continued reign of some seemingly unstoppable winners (Yamaha’s Disklavier as Product of the Year, Hal Leonard as Print Publisher of the Year). Votes were cast via online ballot, e-mail, and old-fashioned snail-mail with the total number of replies (well over 600) representing the largest response in the history of the Dealers’ Choice Awards.
As always, we extend our thanks to all participating retailers..
Product of the Year: Yamaha Disklavier
Last year, upon considering that Yamaha’s Disklavier had been awarded “Product of the Year” for nine years straight, we postulated that the console was likely to again be in the running for top honors in 2010. Sure enough, this year marks the Disklavier’s 10th Anniversary at the top of the food chain. “What’s to say that hasn’t already been said?” we asked last year. Well, for perhaps some greater insight into the phenomenal staying power of the instrument, we chatted with Jim Levesque, Disklavier Marketing Manager, Yamaha Keyboard division, who had this to say:
“There are several factors: for one thing, our dealers say that it gets people excited about music. There was a time when the piano was the central entertainment system in the home and this new technology is helping to put it back there again. Also, they are able to offer customers a fully integrated system consisting of a top quality piano and a player mechanism that are built around each other, which results in an ultra-smooth action that uses optical sensors rather than a pressure sensitive pad so there’s no touching parts or noise. The reproduction of the playing is so smooth it sounds as if there’s a concert pianist performing on it. Dealers also love it because even though it offers revolutionary technology, it will never be outdated because it’s an upgradable and lasting product that illustrates Yamaha’s staying power. In addition, it is entertaining but educational, as well. It’s an amazing tool for teaching and learning that makes it easy to become a player oneself, but it also offers the extra feature of being a home entertainment center in and of itself, so even if one doesn’t play, you can put on Disklavier radio or insert a PianoSoft disc and have world class piano music from Elton John, Elvis Presley and George Gershwin play in your living room.”
Electric Guitar Line of the Year: Fender Stratocaster
Last year saw the Strat’s multi-year winning streak come to an end, as the Gibson Les Paul took home the top prize in this category. The change was short-lived, however, as once again voters in ’10 pointed to the Stratocaster’s versatility, variety of price points and available options, and popularity with high profile players as strong selling points.
Acoustic Guitar Line of the Year: Taylor Guitars
Taylor boasts an extensive line of acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars (and, now, electrics, too) that connect with players of all ability levels and
means – all of which helped make the El Cajon, California-based manufacturer the winner in this category for 2010.
Recording Equipment Line of the Year: Zoom R24
Zoom’s H4 and, in 2009, the upgraded H4n were “Recording Equipment Line” winners for the past two years. 2010 sees the company’s R24 multitrack digital recorder/audio interface/sampler walking away with top honors.
Electric Bass Line of the Year: Ibanez
Much like last year, many respondents in this category simply replied “Ibanez,” without singling out a specific bass. The variety of available models allows the brand to appeal to players of all types, skill levels, and budgets.
Sound Reinforcement Line of the Year: Peavey
A wide array of comprehensive product offerings and a wellrespected name made Peavey the go-to choice for schools, churches, clubs, and other venues in 2010.
Microphone Line of the Year: Shure SM58
After a one-year hiatus courtesy of Audio-Technica in 2009, Shure’s venerable SM58 is once again hitting all the right notes as Microphone of
Pro Digital Piano Line of the Year: Yamaha Tyros 4
Roland owned this category for the past two years, but Yamaha’s new Tyros 4 Arranger Workstation takes the prize in 2010. Enhanced functionality, over 1,800 sounds, and hard disc audio recording capability appealed to pro players.
Band & Orchestral Instrument Line of the Year: Yamaha
Consistently a hotly contested category, Yamaha emerged victorious due to it’s varied product offerings, including a number of high quality instruments at relatively affordable price points.
Home Digital Keyboard Line of the Year: Casio PX Series
Remember those jokes about horrible-sounding ‘80s Casio keyboards? Well, no more. If you’re still living in the acid-washed jeans and big-hair past, it’s time to forget what you think you know about Casio. Though this category was (as always) crowded with a number of instruments receiving high vote-counts, Casio’s Privia/PX Series was clearly the winner, with sound quality, realistic playing action, and value being named as compelling features.
Six years in a row as lighting line of teh year – American DJ has emergeed as one of the “Can anyone beat them” category champs. As in previous years, voters noted ADJ’s extensive product offerings and commitment to cutting edge design.
DJ Line of the Year: Vestax
While some categories seem to go back an dforth between a handful of candidates, DJ line of the Year is consistently one of those where the fast-paced nature of product innovation and fierce competition within the industry make it seem up for grabs. This year Vestax finds itself in the winner’s circle, thanks to a savvy understanding of the market and quality product.
Winners in this category since day one, Hal Leonard benefits from a massive library of in-demand titles, sterling reputaion and brand recognition.
Software Line of the Year: Cakewalk
Cakewalk has long been an industry leader in music production and editing software and, in the past year, dealers reported that it’s many products, including Sonar, V-Studio, and Guitar Tracks Pro – are hits with consumers.
Accessory Line of the Year: Snark Tuner
According to their official site, “Snark says tuning should be easy and fun!” According to voters in this year’s Dealers’ Choice Awards, that philosophy is resonating with end-users, who’ve been snapping up the relatively inexpensive (around $29) clip-on tuners all year.
Website of the Year: Alfred.com
Alfred Publishing fields a streamlined, easy to navigate, interactive and highly functional website. But, according to voters, what set www.alfred.com from the competition in 2010 was the newsly added Sound Innovations feature, which allows music instructors to fully customize their own method to create educational literature unique to their programs and classes.