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Article from The Mix, May 1995

If it's new gear you want, the annual Musikmesse show in Frankfurt is the place to go. This month, we bring you a full report on the latest and greatest music and recording equipment...

It took four automobiles, one Chunnel train, forty transit cafe meals, and two thousand expletives to get there... but it was worth it. Our mission was to bring readers of THE MIX all the latest product info, so here it is...

As well as showing off their range of samplers and hard disk recorders, Akai had their new DJ sampler on display. The Remix 16 marks the company's entry into the expanding DJ Producer market, and features similar sound editing capabilities to the S01, all in a user-friendly package. Special features include crossfader and transform controls, which obviates the need for a separate mixer. Also of interest was the MT8 mixer control surface for the DR8 (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), which can control the mix parameters on the DR8, as well as storing snapshots of mixes. Owners of S3000 series of samplers (S2800/i, S3000/i, S3200, CD3000i) will be interested to know that the Version 2.0 operating system is now available, allowing Roland and E-mu CD-ROMs to be accessed.

Beyerdynamic had a new range of low-cost dynamics, as well as a new condenser mic, and a radio mic system. The M01, M02, M03, M04 and M05 series are extremely rugged dynamics, aimed squarely at gigging bands. Offering excellent off-axis rejection, the range offers suitability for vocals and instruments. The MCE 83 is a studio condenser mic that offers a cardioid capsule, ideal for instrument miking, at a very reasonable price. Finally, the V200 VHF system allows a range of handheld and clip-on mics to be used in a wireless situation

The eagerly-awaited Eurodesk was on display at the Behringer stand, along with a new rack-mount mixer and the Ultracurve, a combined graphic and parametric equaliser/analyser/delay/limiler. Offering a 31-band graphic EQ, six bands of parametric EQ, and 100 presets per channel, the Ultracurve also features S/PDIF digital ins and outs, with an option for AES/EBU interfacing. The Eurodesk is an 8-buss, 24-channel, in-line console, with four band EQ and six aux sends, and comes with the promise of very reasonably-priced meter bridge and automation software.

The big news on the Digidesign stand was their new Session software. Native to the PowerMac, Session 2.0 software provides four tracks of audio, without the need for any additional hardware, or eight tracks with an Audiomedia II card. Featuring parametric EQ, synchronisation with third-party sequencers, synchronisation with QuickTime video and, most importantly, integration with other Digidesign products, Session 2.0 promises to be a hot product in 1995. Digidesign are also intending to get a slice of the PC market, with a Windows version of Session, which will initially come bundled with the Audiomedia II card for Windows. The new Windows card features effects sends/returns, high quality stereo A/D and D/A converters, digital I/O switchable between S/PDIF and AES/EBU formats, and DSP ports for future hardware expansion.

Casio unveiled a whole range of new music products, including new ranges of home keyboards, digital pianos, and some interesting desktop products. The GZ-50M is a tiny General MIDI sound module which features a GM soundset with ten effects, all for under £60. A GM soundset is also included on the GZ-500 keyboard, which features a five-octave keyboard and built-in speakers. The GZ-5 must be the world's smallest MIDI master keyboard, and features a 32-key micro mini-size keyboard, ten tones, and an octave shift facility.

E-mu unveiled yet another new sampler, in the shape of the e-64. Sitting between the ESI-32 and the E-IV in the E-mu range, the e-64 (naturally) features 64 voice polyphony and up to 64 MBytes of sample memory. The e-64 comes with 8 MB of RAM, 8 poly outputs, 64 6th-order filters/EQ, and compatibility with E-IV, Emulator IIIx, Emax II, and Akai S1000/S1100 libraries. Also new was the intriguingly-named Buckeye 8-track digital audio hard disk recorder, a stand-alone unit which will sell in the same price range as an ADAT/DA88. Buckeye offers 8 tracks of random access digital recording/editing, tape machine-style controls, 240 x 64 screen, and S/PDIF digital I/O. Both the ESI-32 and EIV have upgrades for their operating system software, and two new cards allow the EIV 32 channels of multi-timbral operation and gives the ESI digital I/Os. In addition, six new CD-ROMs are available for the current range of samplers.

Hot on the heels of their Oasys open architecture synthesiser, Korg were demonstrating a new solo instrument, the Prophesy. Using a multi-oscillator synthesis system, based on DSP synthesis technology, the Prophesy is a monophonic synth that offers a variety of synthesis techniques from analogue synth emulations to physical modeling of acoustic instruments. Set to retail for under £2000, the Prophesy uses similar technology to the Oasys, which will cost considerably more (£6-8000). For that you get up to 112 voice polyphony, 32-part timbrality, 76-note keyboard and an open-architecture system which promises to take stock of future developments in synthesis technology.

JBL were demonstrating their EON series of PA systems, consisting of two different mixers and five models of speaker. The EON package consists of the MusicMix 10, a 10 channel stereo mixer, coupled with two 15inch powered speakers. The system can be added to with more powered speakers or a powered subwoofer. Alternatively, all EON components can be bought separately, and the range includes the 15 inch powered bass bin, powered and non-powered versions of the 15 inch and 10 inch speakers.

As well as having their PC88 Performance Controller and K2000 samplers on show, Kurzweil also had their new K2500 Production Station on demo. A true production machine, the K2500 offers 48-note polyphony, up to 128Mb of RAM, dual SCSI ports, 32-track sequencer, VAST synthesis, digital effects option, and up to 28Mb of ROM sounds from the Kurzweil sample library. Connectivity with ADAT/DA88 is provided by the optional DMTi interface, and audio outputs consist of eight separate outs and the main stereo outs.

Roland had a plethora of products on display, including the XP-50 workstation (reviewed in this issue), MS-1 and JS-30 samplers and the VG-8 guitar processor. Using the same Composite Object Sound Modelling as the VG-8, the GP-100 can emulate a range of classic amps, as well as providing high quality multi effects. Also for the guitarist was the GI-10 MIDI interface, which provides pitch-to-MIDI and guitar-to-MIDI conversion in a half-rack unit. The DM-800 is a new digital eight-track (hard disk) system that is fully portable, featuring a 12-channel mixer, video display output, optional ADAT communications bus, 300 virtual tracks, full dynamic automation, MIDI integration and time compression. The DM-800 uses a 16-bit linear recording data format, and can sample at either 48kHz, 44.1 KHz or 32kHz. Sure to be a hot product, you can read a review in next month's issue.

Soundscape were showing their new Version 1.16 software on a spanking new exhibition stand that incorporated five separate demo systems. The new software gives 8 track audio scrubbing, 1000 named markers which can be inserted on the fly, real time fades with volume contouring and selectable fade curves, new take directory index, new automated punch in/out mode, and a powerful noise gate. Also on show was the new SSHDRi-R with removeable hard drives, ideal for busy studios, and radio editing suites. Watch out for a full review of the latest Soundscape system in an upcoming issue.

Soundtracs have used the Topaz name to flag a new range of affordable mixers, starting from as little as £275 for the Topaz Mini. The Mini offers four mono and four stereo inputs, a three-band EQ and two stereo effects returns in a compact package. Next up is the Topaz Macro, which has ten mono and two stereo inputs, along with linear faders and full PFL facilities. The Topaz Maxi is a four-bus console, available in 24-4-2 or 32-4-2 configurations, and is suited to either sound reinforcement or 4 and 8-track recording setups. At the head of the range, of course, is the Topaz Project 8, which now offers fader automation for Windows.

Technics have entered the professional synthesiser market, with the Acoustic Modeling Synthesizer SX-WSA1. Using, 'virtual' synthesis techniques, the SX-WSA1 can model the sound of real instruments, using algorithms to re-create the driver (bow or mouthpiece) and resonator (strings or tubing) processes involved in the performance of an instrument. The SX offers a maximum of 64-voice polyphony, a 16-track sequencer, two sets of MIDI connections and an optional expansion board with digital output.

The Spirit by Soundcraft range of products continues to grow, and the latest additions are a new radio mic system and two dynamics. The VM01 and IM01 are rugged, high quality dynamics which can cater for vocals and instruments, both live and in the studio. The wireless system is true diversity, and comes in three different packs — guitarist belt pack, presenter lavalier pack, and vocal hand held. The system is expected to retail for under £300, and has full approval for use in the UK.

MD of Studiomaster, Mr Malik, pictured with new Powerhouse Horizon powered mixer (foreground) and Vision 8 (background)

Studiomaster busy stand was host to their extensive range of mixers, power amps and speakers. New products included the Mixdown Classic 8, KMX Vision PA speaker systems, and Powerhouse horizon powered mixer. The Classic 8 (to be reviewed imminently) is an eight bus desk featuring a full width meter bridge, rackmount power supply and MIDI muting as standard. Three models are available; 16-8-16-2, 24-8-16-2 and 32-8-16-2, and all feature the famous Studiomaster EQ section. The Powerhouse Horizon stands at the peak of the Powerhouse range of powered mixers, with a fully-featured spec, including 8 channels, three band EQ, a massive 1200 Watts output, and a new protection system called Amplifier Management Control System (AMCS). Also new was the KMX Vision series of PA speakers, consisting of two models of main speaker, and one bass bin. Used together with Powerhouse mixers, these can be used in a number of configurations.

Mark of The Unicorn had the integrated d-t-d version of their popular Mac sequencer Performer. Appropriately named Digital Performer, it supports 8, 12, or 16 audio tracks with ProTools systems with Digidesign System Accelerator, has a movie window for Quicklime video, generates MIDI timecode, and has a colour interface.

And that's it. Until next year, that is, when we head once more for the Irish bar in Frankfurt for a nice pint of Kilkenny...

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

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The Mix - May 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Nathan Ramsden

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