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Computer Musician

Computer Musician - Rumblings

The latest on Atari's astonishing new musical micro, plus news from software people Mimetics and Passport Designs.

This month's round-up of all that's new in the world of computer music.

Passport Designs have now updated their MIDI/4 software to 'MIDI/4 plus' status (amazingly logical, these Americans...). And they've also got a brand new package out called 'MIDI/8', which offers double the number of recording channels of MIDI/4. No kidding... Both items of software provide drum, tape, and MIDI sync, plus oodles of editing facilities including auto-correct, punch in/out (the previous version of MIDI/4 required punch-in recordings to be completed to the end of the track, which was hardly the most endearing of features), fast forward, and rewind. As Passport themselves put it, 'a complete recording, editing, and printing system'.

Both packages are available for the Apple II/IIe and Commodore 64, together with the all-important MIDI card (a cool $195 for either micro). Curiously, there's still no sign of Passport's MIDI products really breaking into the UK market. Some of the market resistance is probably not unconnected with the swinging effect of the declining pound on the cost of US imports, but more than any other music market, the UK also seems flooded with MIDI software at present, so perhaps market saturation also has something to do with it. Anyhow, for more info, contact Passport Designs Inc, (Contact Details).


No further news on Mimetics' efforts at updating the hardware side of the alphaSyntauri to report yet, but at Frankfurt they were splashing around review copies of some nice DX-oriented software for the Commodore 64, IBM PC, and Apple IIe. First off is the cryptically-titled 'Data/7', which 'is designed to expedite cataloguing of (DX7) preset information through the use of a high-speed storage and retrieval system'. Promo hype apart, it all seems very user-friendly (courtesy of plentiful graphics), and allows the user to load or save 32 voices between disk and DX7 in under two seconds.

Mimetics' other product is 'Performance/7', which they claim 'provides access to 288 voices instantly'. Which may or may not thrill you to kingdom come. Both programs cost $125, and also require the relevant MIDI computer interface (Passport MIDI card for the Commodore 64 or Apple II, Roland MPU401 for the IBM PC or Apple II). Mimetics Corp invite enquiries to be directed to (Contact Details).

Caged Artist

...definitely most bizarre name of the month - the US company behind a software package called (almost equally bizarrely) 'DX-Heaven', which claims to provide DX7 and 9 owners with the ability to store 1000 DX sounds on a single Apple floppy disk. On-screen editing makes life easier when it comes to sorting out which parameters do what, and the whole shooting match then gets sent down to the DX keyboard via (you've guessed it) a Passport MIDI Interface. The price of this potentially juicy slice of FM heaven is $59.95, and Caged Artist Productions can be found locked away at (Contact Details).


Rumours turned into reality this week when Atari's Jack Tramiel appeared with his high-spec 520ST micro on Channel 4's 4 Computer Buffs programme. Mind you, unless you'd been forewarned, you might well have switched off before the rotund Tramiel even so much as appeared, what with the general air of ineptitude emanating from interviewers and interviewees alike. Still, at long last, we saw the proof behind the hype that accompanied the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, and evidence that refuted Sinclair's comment that 'Atari doesn't have a computer - it has a box... we remain unconvinced by Atari'. Indeed, if I was in Sinclair's boots, I'd be getting worried. The ST range really does deliver the goods, and it also looks set to be delivered on time - mid-May, in fact.

The projected package deal of the top-of-the-range 520ST (that's the 512K version) plus a colour monitor and 1 megabyte disk drive is likely to sell for between £800 and £900, and if you bear in mind that the equivalent (though still only monochrome) Apple Macintosh system costs well over £2500, that's exciting by any standards. When you add on the ST's wonderful Mac-type Digital Research GEM operating system, the built-in MIDI port, the MIDI software that companies are already developing for it, and the addon keyboard and digital synth that Atari have produced for it, there's really not much doubt left in my mind about Tramiel's claim that, 'by 1986, we will have captured 25 per cent of the UK home computer market'.

If you ask me, he deserves it.

Stop Press!

David Ellis, moments before being knocked over by a feather (out of shot, top left).

...just launched: 'DIMPLE', standing for Diminished Intelligence Music Production LanguagE, which turns the Acorn Music 500 into an authentic sonic replica of the average British typing pool, complete with Olivetti typewriters, spark-jet printers, grunging disk drives, and Italian tea ladies singing arias from Il Trovatore... Sinclair C5 User magazine starts an obituary section - Sir Clive launches a DIY embalming and funeral kit... Prince Harry astonishes the computer gaming world with his megagame 'Elitism', programmed on his dad's BBC Micro - British Telecom are rumoured to have paid £250,000 into the royal coffers for the royal rights... Acornsoft finally publish Creative Sound on the BBC Micro - David Ellis is knocked over by a feather...

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Datel Sound Sampler

Electronics & Music Maker - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Electronics & Music Maker - Apr 1985

Donated & scanned by: Stewart Lawler

Computer Musician

News by David Ellis

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