19th Annual Dealers’ Choice Awards (2011)
Once again, we’ve asked MI retailers to share their thoughts on which products, in a number of key categories, were standouts in the past year. Results of our annual survey have, this year, produced perhaps more surprises than usual…
To be sure, there were a handful of expected results (Will anyone unseat the Kawai K-3 as “Acoustic Piano Line of the Year” anytime soon? Who’s got the quality, value, and reputation to knock off American DJ’s crown in the Lighting category?). However, relatively few awards are repeats of the results from 2010, with the biggest surprise being – unquestionably – the end of the Yamaha Disklavier’s decade-long reign as “Product of the Year.”
Selections were cast via online ballot, e-mail, and snail-mail, with the total number of replies (just shy of 650) beating out last year’s record as the largest response in the history of the Dealers’ Choice Awards.
As always, thanks go out to all participating retailers. Congratulations to the winning companies and we’ll see you again next year!
Don’t shed too many tears for the venerable Disklavier, for though the console is no longer the overall winner, another instrument from the Yamaha family takes its place as “Product of the Year.”
With pleasing aesthetics, a lower-than-expected (though still undeniably steep) price point, and drawing upon over a century of piano craftsmanship expertise paired with cutting-edge technological capabilities, the AvantGrand line of hybrid pianos took top honors in convincing fashion in 2011.
Since the introduction of these innovative pianos a few years ago, we’ve watched the AvantGrand steadily gain ground in the “Product of the Year” category. Yamaha’s innovative Spatial Acoustic Sampling and Spatial Acoustic Speaker System allow for playback that is virtually identical to that of an actual acoustic grand piano. While it can’t be expected that anything will duplicate the lengthy reign of the Disklavier, the realistic sounds, true touch and response of the keyboard action, and versatility of the AvantGrand may make this a formidable contender for years to come.
ELECTRIC BASS LINE OF THE YEAR
Hoshino USA, Inc.
Ibanez is emerging as a bit of a bruiser when it comes to this award, but it’s easy to see why. While there are plenty of worthy competitors in the field, Ibanez offers a staggering variety of models that appeal to players of many genres, ability-levels, and budgets.
AMPLIFIER LINE OF THE YEAR
Fender Musical Instruments Corp.
Putting the three-year winning streak for Peavey’s Vypyr line of amps to an end, Fender’s new Mustang series offers a number of amp models, USB connectivity, Fender’s proprietary FUSE software, and a sizable bank of built-in effects. “Bang for the buck” has long been the key to success in this category and the boys (and girls) at Fender seem to have figured out how to offer users a great deal of functionality at a reasonable price.
ELECTRIC GUITAR LINE OF THE YEAR
Fender Musical Instruments Corp.
Fender’s no stranger to this category, so it may – at first glance – illicit yawns and a collective “ho-hum” to see that the Scottsdale, Ariz. guitar manufacturer is, once more, sitting pretty as the “Electric Guitar Line of the Year” champ… But wait!
Sure, Fender has won in this category 11(!) times, but it’s always been the much-loved Stratocaster that has gotten the nod. Why the Tele this year? There’s no easily quantifiable answer, though it bears mentioning that while the Telecaster has long been a go-to for the country set, it’s made greater inroads into the hard rock and indie rock scenes in recent years (which is not to suggest that Teles haven’t been beloved by rockers since… well, since the beginning: James Burton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer – ring a bell?). Fender’s recent Blacktop Telecaster, featuring high-output humbuckers and a low price-point, was singled out by many as especially appealing to younger players.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR LINE OF THE YEAR
Lâg USA, Korg USA
And the winner is… wait – what? While it’s quite possibly not one of the names you may’ve expected to see in this spot, Lâg Guitars have – in a very short time (official U.S. launch at the January 2010 NAMM Show) – made a real impact with dealers and end-users. Remarkably high quality instruments with a top-notch European lineage and an impressive range of models/price-points have resulted in Lâg emerging as a very popular (and profitable) line for retailers.
RECORDING EQUIPMENT LINE OF THE YEAR
Zoom owns this category – though dealers are nice enough to mix it up some when it comes to specific products that get the nod, keeping it interesting for all of us. While the H4 and upgraded H4n were winners in ’08 and ’09, “Recording Equipment Line” honors went to Zoom’s R24 multi-track digital recorder/audio interface/sampler last year. 2011 sees the H4n reclaiming the crown, as dealers cite functionality, quality, size, and price as key selling points.
PRO DIGITAL PIANO LINE OF THE YEAR
Roland Corporation U.S.
Roland is back on top after being bumped from this category by Yamaha’s Tyros 4 last year. The RD-700NX scores points for its SuperNATURAL Piano sounds engine, PHA III Ivory Feel Keyboard, and an improved user interface with a larger, high-res LCD display.
ACOUSTIC PIANO LINE OF THE YEAR
Kawai America Corporation
Easily earning (by far) the most votes of any one, single model in any category, the popular Kawai K-3 is again top dog. It’s hard to imagine any competing instrument loosening the seemingly unbreakable stranglehold the K-3 has on “Acoustic Piano Line of the Year” – we’ll just have to wait and see what surprises the 2012 results may have in store.
HOME DIGITAL KEYBOARD OF THE YEAR
Yamaha Corporation of America
Yamaha is certainly no stranger to the winners’ podium when it comes to the Dealers Choice Awards and neither is the Clavinova, having walked away with a DCA in 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003… (you get the point). Much like the Disklavier, the Clavinova has proven to be a hit with players and retailers for a long time.
SOUND REINFORCEMENT LINE OF THE YEAR
Peavey Impulse 12D
Featuring a true ribbon driver and 12” field-replaceable dual voice neodymium speaker, the Impulse 12D utilizes Peavey’s IPR power amplifier technology to product 1,200 watts of power – all while weighing in at a manageable 39 lbs. Ease of use and versatility were cited as key features that draw consumers to the Impulse 12D.
MICROPHONE LINE OF THE YEAR
Audio-Technica provided an upset back in 2009, but the Shure SM58 has long proven tough to beat in this category. When you’re offering the undisputed “industry standard,” it’s a safe-bet you’ll garner a good amount of votes…
DJ LINE OF THE YEAR
GCI Technologies Corp.
Gemini has been serving the DJ market since the early ‘70s and that deep understanding of the market, coupled with products that match technological innovation to value, makes the company’s product offerings the overall DJ Line of the Year for 2010.
PRINT MUSIC PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR
Hal Leonard, Corporation
The only winner in it’s category every single DCA annual survey since year-one, Hal Leonard has set a standard unlikely to be met by any other. A massive library, unrivaled reputation for service to dealers and customers, and an active marketing strategy make this Midwest giant tough – if not impossible – to unseat as champion.
BAND & ORCHESTRAL INSTRUMENT LINE OF THE YEAR
Yamaha Corporation of America
Much like last year, this category resulted in votes cast for essentially all major players in the B&O field with no clear winner emerging until late in the process. Due in large part to the sheer volume of products offered – coupled with a sterling reputation for quality of manufacturing and service – Yamaha once again came out on top.
PERCUSSION LINE OF THE YEAR
This is consistently amongst the most hotly contested product categories. However, when the dust settled, Pearl Drums was again (third year in a row) victorious.
LIGHTING LINE OF THE YEAR
American DJ Supply, Inc.
Last year, we asked, “Can anyone beat them?” The answer would seem to be a resounding, “NO!” as ADJ is king of the hill for the seventh consecutive year….
SOFTWARE LINE OF THE YEAR
Avid Technology, Inc.
Versatile enough to meet the needs of beginning students as well as professional-level composers, this latest generation of Avid’s iconic music notation software scored a solid hit in 2011.
ACCESSORY LINE OF THE YEAR
D’Addario & Co.
Mini-tuners? Check. One of the most exhaustive and well-respected lines of strings? Check. Cables, straps, polish, picks, apps, capos… “check” to all that and more. D’Addario and Planet Waves products are a favorite with so many players and dealers, and there’s so much that the brands offer, that it’s almost not fair…
WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
The Avedis Zildjian Company, Inc.
Whether visitors want to find a nearby dealer, get product updates, hear from their favorite artists, apply for scholarships, or satisfy any number of other needs, www.zildjian.com offers an easy-to-navigate, attractive site that can do all that and more.