20th Annual Dealer Choice Awards
We’ve reached a fairly significant milestone: two decades of MI retailers across the nation determining the winners of the MMR Dealers’ Choice Awards.
Looking back across those 20 years, there are those suppliers who’ve regularly dominated in their respective categories (Yamaha, Shure, American DJ, Peavey, et cetera), but – perhaps surprisingly – there’s also been a good deal of “motion.” 2012 is no exception, with a few surprises (Gibson’s Les Paul stealing the “Electric Guitar Line of the Year” from Fender, some shake-ups in the Acoustic and Digital Piano categories), as well a handful of companies who look to be establishing impressive long-term winning streaks (Pearl, Ibanez) or maintaining long-held dominance (Yamaha).
Votes in each product category were cast via online ballot, e-mail, and good old fashioned snail-mail, with the total number of responses – over 660 – besting 2011’s record as the largest in the history of the Dealers’ Choice Awards.
Many thanks go out to all participating retailers, without whom we wouldn’t have enjoyed two decades of competition. Congratulations go out to all the winning suppliers!
Yamaha AvantGrand: Yamaha Corporation of America
After “beating itself” by unseating the longstanding winner in this category last year (the Disklavier), Yamaha delivers a repeat performance with the AvantGrand once again taking top honors as “Product of the Year.”
As with last year, voters pointed to an impressive array of features, quality craftsmanship, and the overall aesthetic appeal of these hybrid pianos as strong selling points. Yamaha’s Spatial Acoustic Sampling and Spatial Acoustic Speaker System were often praised for their capability to product “highly realistic” acoustic piano sounds.
Time will tell if the AvantGrand has what it takes to match the Disklavier’s run at the top of the heap (10 years!), but it’s off to a strong start…
Electric Guitar Line of the Year
Gibson Les Paul: Gibson Guitar Corp.
Gibson has been in the news (and in the pages of MMR) quite a bit lately. With all the tales of federal agents raiding facilities, discussions about Lacey and CITES, and political discourse of a broader scope relating to the company, it’s almost easy to forget what Gibson is actually all about: crafting beloved and hugely popular guitars.
Players and retailers haven’t forgotten, though, and this year the iconic Les Paul is once again in the winner’s circle as “Electric Guitar Line of the Year.”
Electric Bass Line of the Year
Ibanez: Hoshino USA, Inc.
This was a tighter contest than in recent years, with plenty of strong candidates in the field receiving numerous votes. Ibanez held strong, however, and its exhaustive line of models that appeal to players of many styles and budgets once again came out on top.
Acoustic Guitar Line of the Year
Martin Guitars: C.F. Martin & Co., Inc.
For many acoustic players of all stripes, it’s “Martin or nothing” and the ballots this year reflect that, with the Nazareth, Penn.-based institution taking a commanding lead early in the voting process and never letting up. A sterling reputation founded upon over 175 years of expertly crafted guitars that have been embraced by generations of legendary players makes Martin tough to beat.
Amplifier Line of the Year
Fender Mustang II: Fender Musical Instruments Corp.
Last year, Fender’s feature-rich Mustang series –USB connectivity, Fender’s proprietary FUSE software, and a sizable bank of built-in effects – took top honors in this category. In 2012 the votes were specifically for the newer Mustang II amplifier, which appealed to both retailers and end-users, thanks to the unit’s capabilities and comparatively low price-point.
Recording Equipment Line of the Year
Zoom: Samson Technologies
In 2011, we noted that, “Zoom owns this category” and the voting results in 2012 offered very little to suggest otherwise. The significant difference between this year and previous being that, at this point, Zoom fields so many popular recording products that there was no one, single winning device, but instead the entire line received top marks.
Acoustic Piano Line of the Year
Hailun HU 5P: Hailun Pianos
Now here’s a surprise. For many years there, it appeared that Kawai’s K-3 had established a veritable lock in this category, but in 2012 China’s Hailun won “Acoustic Piano Line of the Year” in convincing fashion. The HU 5P was praised for meticulous craftsmanship and classic deigns.
Home Digital Keyboard Line of the Year
Kawai CA95: Kawai America Corporation
Kawai made up for any lost ground with a strong showing in this category. Dealers pointed to the CA95’s impressive array of features – Grand Feel Wooden-Key Action, Harmonic Imaging XL Sound Technology with 88-key piano sampling, the ability to play and record MP3 and WAV files, built-in practice exercises and Alfred Lesson Songs – as key selling points.
Pro Digital Piano Line of the Year
Yamaha AvantGrand: Yamaha Corporation of America
Given that the AvantGrant is the 2012 “Product of the Year,” it should come as no surprise that this console also wound up in the winner’s circle in its specific instrument category…
Sound Reinforcement Line of the Year
Peavey: Peavey Electronics
Similar to the case with Zoom, this is a category that has been dominated by one company of late. This year no specific product is a winner. Peavey’s extensive line of sound reinforcement products got so many votes that we had to grant the win to the entire category of products offered by the company.
Microphone Line of the Year
Shure SM58: Shure
What can you say about the SM58? When virtually every performance stage and recording studio has at least one (and usually more) of these microphones, it’s almost a “gimme” that Shure is going to take the prize as “Microphone Line of the Year”…
Band & Orchestral Instrument Line of the Year
Yamaha: Yamaha Corporation of America
Once again, due to the sheer volume of popular, quality products offered, the overall Yamaha B&O line once again came out on top.
Percussion Line of the Year
Pearl Drums: Pearl Corporation
Four years in a row – that qualifies as a legitimate “streak.” Pearl is a consistent favorite with players and dealers, even though this category remained as hotly contested in 2012 as in recent years.
Lighting Line of the Year
American DJ: American DJ Supply, Inc.
Speaking of streaks… For the eighth year in a row ADJ wiped the floor with the competition, winning this category by a wider margin than any other award presented in 2012.
DJ Line of the Year
Pioneer’s powerful DDJ-SX performance DJ controller gets the nod in this category, thanks to its versatility, high quality audio reproduction, and intuitive user interface.
Print Music Publisher of the Year
Hal Leonard: Hal Leonard, Corporation
There’s only been one winner to sit at the top of the heap in its category since the very first year of the Dealers’ Choice Awards: Hal Leonard. The massive library of titles is an obvious reason behind the company’s success, but many dealers also pointed to Hal Leonard’s efforts to work with retailers in effective, helpful ways as a reason why this print giant once again rose above the competition.
Accessory Line of the Year
D’Addario/Planet Waves: D’Addario & Co.
With so many accessory needs met, D’Addario/Planet Waves are repeat winners in this category. The mini-tuners have proven hugely popular, providing serious “bang for the buck,” while the company’s well-regarded line of strings remains a favorite with players and retailers.
Website of the Year
usa.yamaha.com: Yamaha Corporation of America
It’s really more than just one site, with plenty of pages providing information on products, music education resources, news & events, and more. However, MI retailers most regularly pointed to the portal for Authorized Yamaha Dealers, as the primary reason why Yamaha is a winner in this category.