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Article from Music Technology, March 1993

A Vocal Sequel

New from DigiTech is Vocalist II, a rackmount voice processor specifically developed for live applications. The new unit offers many of the features found on the Vocalist VHM5, introduced by the company in 1991. Included are DigiTech's exclusive digital splicing system, a method of pitchshifting vocal notes without changing their overtones or resonance.

Vocalist II offers an editable harmony library with intelligent chordal, scalic and chromatic harmonies provided. You can program the volume of the harmonies, along with speed, depth and attack rate of vibrato. The unit can also be programmed to change chords automatically in synchronisation with a drum machine or sequencer, and is capable of storing lengthy song lists of sequenced harmony chord changes.

For more information contact UK distributors John Hornby Skewes at (Contact Details).

The Audio Doctors

Following the recent demise of Thatched Cottage Audio, the former members of the service department have established a new 'service only' company called Sound Surgery.

In addition to servicing a wide range of recording equipment, the new company will be offering a custom cabling service equipped to produce looms and cables to meet customers' individual requirements.

For further details, contact Sound Surgery at (Contact Details).

Notator Magic

Now operating under the company name Emagic, Gerhard Lengeling and Chris Adam, joint developers of the famous C-Lab Creator and Notator sequencing software, have finally released their long-awaited 'fourth-generation' sequencer, Notator Logic. Initially available for the Apple Macintosh only, the new sequencer will also be released in an Atari ST/TT/Falcon version soon, while a PC version will follow later in the year.

Among the many new features offered by Notator Logic are an unlimited number of user-definable objects (from MIDI Instruments to faders to arpeggiators and beyond), an unlimited number of sequencer tracks, infinite loops within loops, real-time scoring with WYSIWYG page editing, a 960ppqn resolution, a tempo range of 0.05 to 9999.99 bpm (!), and an unlimited number of staves and notation styles. At the same time, existing Creator and Notator users will find many familiar features, including Hyper Edit and Real-time track parameters.

Notator Logic for the Macintosh is priced at £499 including VAT.

For more information, contact Sound Technology at (Contact Details).

Sounds of the City

From 5th-10th April, Sheffield will be playing host to Sound City '93, a six-day music festival featuring live bands, seminars, workshops, films and more.

Jointly run by Radio 1 FM, the British Phonographic Institute and the Musicians Union, Sound City is intended to be an annual event based in a different UK town or city each year - the first Sound City took place last year at Norwich, where it attracted some 50,000 visitors.

Each night at Sound City '93, up to six bands - a combination of local outfits and chart names - will play at various venues around Sheffield. Radio 1 FM has already committed to broadcast more than 20 hours of live music during the week. In addition, Radio 5 will broadcast excerpts from a series of lunchtime talks to be held at the Crucible Studio.

Among the many events taking place during the week are a PA workshop run by Peavey, a MIDI workshop, a Roland seminar showing off the company's latest instruments, a seminar on copyright, and - appropriately enough for a city with Sheffield's techno credentials - a techno seminar called 'Beats 'n' Basslines' and a discussion titled 'Techno Is Art?'.

For more information, contact the Sound City Hotline from 1st March on (Contact Details).

ADAT's Expanding World

Following their licensing of ADAT technology to Fostex (see 'Marriage of Convenience' in the December '92 issue of MT), Alesis have been busy encouraging other third-party developers into the fold.

Under the terms of the Alesis Developers' Program, the companies will license the ADAT Multichannel Optical Digital Interface and/or the ADAT Synchronisation Interface to either produce new products or adapt their current products to interface directly with ADAT.

The new licences will see ADAT interfaced digitally to hard disk-based recorders (Digidesign's ProTools and Studio 8 systems), professional video recorders (via Timeline's MicroLynx and Lynx synchroniser/controllers) and MIDI sequencers (Steinberg/Jones Marketing plan to convert ADAT's sync output to MIDI Machine Control commands).

Alesis have also introduced the ADAT Worldwide Network Multitrack recording group to make it easier for ADAT users to get in touch with one another.

For more information on ADAT, contact UK distributors Sound Technology at (Contact Details).

Making a Mark

Coming soon from Kurzweil is a new range of digital keyboards, the Mark Series. Three instruments will be available in all: the Mark 5 (£2499, due end of March), the Mark 10 (£3499, due late April/early May) and the Mark 150 (£tba, due June/July). All are presented in piano-styled casings - the Mark 150 in a grand piano-style cabinet.

Each instrument features 32-note polyphony, an 88-note weighted keyboard, MIDI capabilities, built-in autoplay songs, and a quad amplifier/speaker system which was developed in conjunction with Boston Acoustics (80W, 130W and 200W respectively).

The cheapest instrument, the Mark 5, provides 23 sounds, including acoustic and electric pianos, harpsichords, jazz, rock and pipe organs, string and choir ensembles, basses and drums. Reverb, chorus, echo and symphonic effects are provided, and split and layer functions allow up to three sounds to be played from the keyboard at once.

The Mark 10 adds 63 more sounds, broadening out the instrumental range with the likes of mallet instruments, woodwinds and saxes. Also provided on the Mark 10 is an auto-accompaniment section with 32 preset musical styles and the ability to load in additional styles from disk, an onboard eight-track sequencer and 3.5" disk drive.

The Mark 150 has a superior seven-channel, seven-speaker sound system which has been designed to emulate the sound characteristics of an acoustic grand piano with its lid opened or closed.

For more information, contact UK distributors Washburn at (Contact Details).

Cheetah Roll Over

As this issue was about to go to press, news came in of Cheetah's surprise withdrawal from the hi-tech musical instrument market. From now on, they will concentrate solely on producing joysticks for the computer market, their traditional moneyspinner.

Coming so soon after the company's announcement of several significant new musical products (see Incoming Data in last month's MT), this move seems contrary to say the least. However, a spot of digging beneath the surface reveals a depressingly familiar situation. Read on...

Cheetah is owned lock, stock and barrel by a British investment company called Cannon Street Investments. Altogether, CSI own about 50 companies, including hotels and leisure chains. In the current recession, with share prices well down, the company have been indulging in a spot of rationalisation - at which point the brutal realities of the business world enter stage left, and Cheetah, along with a number of other CSI investments, exit stage right.

But why were Cheetah on the hit list? It seems that they hadn't been making any money during the past two years - which isn't altogether surprising, given the current economic climate and the fact that new products from the company were thin on the ground.

The aborted Zeus megasynth, scuppered by problems with the developers, didn't help matters. But other development work was about to come to fruition. The MS6 MkII analogue synth module was set to be a big seller, while the new MS7000 and MS8000 MIDI controller keyboards stood a real chance of taking over the controller keyboard market - and the company were set to break new ground with a competitively priced PC-based hard disk recording system.

So, to any company prepared to take a long-term view, Cheetah's future looked promising. The trouble is, British investment institutions are not known for their ability to take the long-term view - and so Cheetah had the plug pulled on them.

All is not lost, however. Some former Cheetah employees are in the process of setting up a new company which will take over the two MIDI controller keyboards, the Soundscape digital recording system, and possibly the MS6 MkII. The new company may also take on the servicing of existing Cheetah products.

We will of course keep you posted on further developments.

Ensoniq Sophistication

Following the release of the ASR-10 keyboard sampler, Ensoniq are bringing out a 3U 19" rackmount version with the spellbindingly original name of ASR-10R. The new module offers all the sampling features of the keyboard version, but adds a SCSI interface as standard, along with eight assignable polyphonic audio outputs.

Recording quality is 16-bit linear utilising 64x oversampling sigma-delta technology, with a choice of 44.1kHz and 29.76kHz sampling rates. The standard 2Mb of sample RAM can be upgraded to a maximum of 16Mb using standard SIMM chips. Ensoniq have also provided for the addition of a direct digital I/O board (the DI-10) which will allow sampling and recording entirely in the digital domain.

The ASR-10R is compatible with sounds developed for the EPS and EPS-16 Plus. Connected to a CD-ROM player via SCSI, the sampler will be able to read the forthcoming CDR-1 CD ROM disk, which contains 180 floppy disk's worth of sounds drawn from Ensoniq's own extensive sample library.

The ASR-10R is priced at £2345, the CDR-1 at £279 - both prices including VAT. The DI-10's price has yet to be fixed.

For more information, contact UK distributors Sound Technology at (Contact Details).

The Evolving GEM

Owners of Generalmusic's Gem S2 and S3 workstation synths (reviewed in MT October '92) can now get new Sample Translator V1.0 software which allows more use to be made of the onboard sample RAM.

With the software loaded off disk as an Option, samples can be loaded into the instrument's onboard sample RAM via MIDI in Sample Dump Standard format, or from floppy disk in Avalon (Atari), Sound Designer (Atari) and Sample Vision (MS-DOS) formats. Sample waveforms can be displayed graphically in the synth's LCD screen, with edit functions letting you zoom in/out, set loop start and end points, and modify sample intonation and frequency. Up to 16 samples can be assigned to 16 zones on the keyboard. Samples organised in this way can be treated as a source sound for synthesis in the same way as the factory samples stored in ROM.

The Sample Translator V1.0 upgrade costs £79 including VAT and is available from UK distributors Key Audio Systems at (Contact Details).


The ever-prolific Roland are launching a veritable avalanche of new gear this Spring. This includes Mark II versions of some longstanding favourites - the R8 MkII drum machine and the MC50 MkII dedicated sequencer, both £799 and available now - and yet more permutations of the Sound Canvas - the SC7 at £279, available now, and the TAP-10 £tba, due May/June. The SC7 is essentially a module aimed at computer users, modelled along the lines of the CM modules, and as such includes a serial port for direct connection to a computer (SC-7M for the Mac, SC-7P for the PC). The TAP-10 is a sound card designed for use within IBM-AT and compatible computers. Both are angled towards the slowly growing multimedia market.

Also of particular interest to MT readers are two powerful new synths, the flagship JV-1000 Music Workstation (£1859, due in June) and the JD-990 Super JD synth module (£1445, due end of March). The JV-1000 has all the sounds and programming capabilities of the JV-80, and the capacity to use all the ROM cards available for the JV-80/880 and the two SR-JV-series expansion boards. However, it can also be fitted with Roland's new GS voice expander board, the VE-GS-01, which at £259 gives the synth GS Format compatibility and ups its total polyphony to 56 voices.

The flagship's onboard sequencer would appear to be effectively an MC50 MkII. Intriguingly it even has its own LCD screen, so that sequencer and synth functions can be monitored at the same time.

Other features of note on the new synth are a 76-note weighted keyboard and eight front-panel sliders for sound editing, Compu-mixing or real-time control of eight external sound modules.

The JD-990 3U 19" module appears to combine elements of the JD800 and JV80, and can read patches and sample ROM cards from both synths. The full array of sound parameters from the JD800 are provided, and you can remotely edit the module's parameters from the JD800's knobs and sliders. New features include Matrix Modulation, Ring Modulation, FXM (Frequency Cross Modulation, introduced on the JV80) and even that old analogue favourite Oscillator Sync.

Also worth looking out for around April/May time are two new rackmount effects processors, the SRV-330 digital reverb (£699) and the SDE-330 digital delay (£699). What makes these two units especially significant is their use of 3D effects processing (presumably drawing on Roland's RSS technology). For instance, without the use of additional speakers the SDE-330 can generate up to eight tap delays, each of which can be positioned at any location in the three-dimensional soundfield.

For more information, contact Roland (UK) Ltd, at (Contact Details).

The Real Thing?

The Real Drum Company claim they are about to change the sound of electronic percussion forever. With the 600Mb of drum and percussion samples contained on their Masterkit CD-ROM disk, they reckon they have a truly accurate representation of an acoustic drum kit.

Masterkit CD-ROM Volume 1 represents more than two months of recording and editing, and many more months of programming time. The disk comprises three complete drum kits representing more than £20,000 of percussive hardware, including some very rare classic kits.

Recorded in stereo direct to DAT and digitally edited within SoundTools, Masterkit retains full digital audio quality throughout, without the use of EQ or signal processing. Each instrument has been sampled extensively over its playing surface, with as many as eight sampled positions for each instrument and up to five velocity-level samples for each position.

Three kits are provided - power, studio and funk - along with a variety of performance programs including flams, drags, rolls, presses and loops.

You can find a full review of the Masterkit on page 26 of this issue.

For more information, contact RDC's UK and European distributors, DAC Systems, on (Contact Details).

On Holiday With Cubase

Following in the footsteps of Club Cubase organisations in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Germany, an official Cubase users' group is being launched in the UK by Cubase enthusiasts Vic Lennard (who he? - Ed), Ofir Gal and Brian Heywood.

Set up with the blessing of both Steinberg and their UK distributors Harman Audio, Club Cubase UK will offer discounts on many Steinberg products, various lines exclusive to Club Cubase members, special deals on promotional products, and licensed disks containing MIDI Mixer maps and synth sounds in Satellite format.

There will also be a bi-monthly magazine providing advance product news, hints and tips, letters, and advice articles ranging from beginner level to advanced.

Membership costs £16 per year, inclusive of VAT. For more information, contact Club Cubase UK on (Contact Details).

Medium Rare

The result of a merger between the fanzine Bamboo and the Jansen/Barbieri Information Service, Medium is a new information service covering Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn. The musicians themselves will be overseeing the direction and content of the service, as well as regularly making their own contributions to its quarterly newsletter.

Subscribers to Medium will be able to purchase CDs of exclusive material specially recorded by Jansen, Barbieri, Karn and other artists. The CDs will be released regularly on the Medium Productions label, and will only be available by mail order from Medium.

The UK annual subscription rate is £6. Cheques or postal orders made payable to Medium should be sent to Medium, (Contact Details). Alternatively, if you want further details write to Debi Zornes at the same address.

Playing to the Gallery

New Korg gear making its European debut at this year's Frankfurt Music Fair includes the G3 Guitar Processor and the Audio Gallery GM sound module.

The G3 presents compressor, EQ, chorus/flanger/rotary speaker, reverb/delay, noise reduction and overdrive/distortion effects in a compact four-way guitar pedalboard format.

You can select any one of three guitar sounds - clean, crunch and lead - using the pedals, and make quick changes to the effects using five knobs: drive, tone, speed, time and level. The idea is that, instead of you having to fiddle with multiple parameters in order to get the sort of effect you want, the G3 takes care of the detailed editing for you 'behind the scenes' using Korg's new Integrated Parameter Editing System.

The introduction of the Audio Gallery marks a new direction for Korg. As well as coming up with a name rather than a number for one of their instruments, the company are moving into more affordable territory (around the £500 mark) which will see them competing more effectively against Roland and Yamaha in the GM/GS module stakes.

Advance reports suggest the new module is essentially a scaled-down 03R/W, focusing on the GM aspect of that instrument with 128 GM-compatible sounds - but adding an onboard computer interface with selectable baud rate, making it ideal for connection to a PC or Mac (along TG100 lines).

For more information, contact Korg (UK) Ltd at (Contact Details).

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A Cynic Writes...

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Dearly Beloved

Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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Music Technology - Mar 1993

News by Simon Trask

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> A Cynic Writes...

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> Dearly Beloved

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