SMPTE codes for the home studio and yet more software for the Synclavier, among other things.
The IBM Personal Computer hasn't exactly been blessed with musical goodies in the couple of years since it appeared in the States. Octave-Plateau's IBM PC software for their Voyetra synth is meant to be quite something, but it's also quite expensive and still in the process of debugging from what I hear.
Casheab, the first company to produce a music add-on specifically for the IBM, are also one of the grand-daddies of the music hardware side of things, and their SYN10/CTR10 32-channel Digital Synthesiser boards have been doing the rounds of the S100 bus for almost five years now.
Casheab's product recently made it into the big time, courtesy of Utopia's keyboard player, Roger Powell, who coupled it up with a Z80 micro, some of his own software, and a keyboard, turning it into what he called the 'Databoy'. (Ghastly name - sounds a little too like those Grundig trannies of late sixties vintage.)
Little is known about the IBM PC reincarnation of Casheab's product, but it's expected to have decent size waveform tables (considerably greater than the 256-byte norm) with better than average resolution (12 bits seems likely) and lots of channels to play around with. The synthesiser board is expected to sell for just short of $800 and is likely to appear later this summer. Casheab have moved to San Francisco, but mail should still reach them if you use their old address of (Contact Details).
The latest additions to the growing arsenal of Synclavier software include both Resynthesis software and a Sonograph option. The raison d'etre behind the Resynthesis software (standard with every new Synclavier II) could hardly be more clear-cut. You want to capture the time-varying harmonic spectra of your favourite instruments, but you're not interested in the rather banal approach of using vast amounts of RAM to store all those changes. So, what do you do? Well, the answer is to analyse a sound byte-to-byte and then resynthesise it using the Synclavier's palette of partial timbres. As someone else said, 'no mess, no waste, just honest-to-goodness value for money.' Seems eminently sensible, really.
The other side of Synclavier's latest synthetic coin is their Sonograph option. This works in conjunction with the Sample-to-Disk system (very expensive) and enables the user to examine in minutia all that's going on in a long and/or complex sample. Just what you've always wanted, eh? As New England Digital say with inimitable perception, 'acousticians, ethnomusicologists, speech and perception researchers may now tailor their analysis to achieve individual research goals.'
Right on, NED! Personally, I'm never going to be over-impressed with software that's unlikely to be of much use to the average musician, but no doubt University studios will be queuing up to avail themselves of its printouts.
For more info on NED's products, contact Turnkey, (Contact Details) or NED themselves at (Contact Details).
Just in case you're still under the impression that Commodore's SID is the be all and end all of micro music, have a look at this 'technote' from the UK side of the Commodore empire: 'Because of the variations in SID chips, it is not advisable to include the filter in the sound of commercial software. Doing so may result in sounds that are unexpected or not audible on some 64s. There is, of course, no problem in setting the filter in software one writes to one's own computer.'
Well, isn't it nice of them to let us know... I hope owners rake Commodore over the coals for that. So, bow down, SID - make way for people like Yamaha who really know what they're doing with custom sound chips!
The third American company in this month's line-up, Synchronous Technologies, have just announced what they call the SMPL System, a 'low cost computer-based automation system designed specifically for the smaller recording studio.' What this does is to provide in one package a SMPTE Time Code generator, a SMPTE Time Code reader, an Autolocator, an automatic record in/out insert editing system, a Time Code-derived metronome, a 24 pulse/beat drum and synth sync, and a recorder remote control. Pretty impressive, all in all.
The unit plugs into the normal remote control jack of any reel-to-reel multitrack or Portastudio-type machine, and then does its ingenious thing for your greater temporal edification. From the photo, it's pretty obvious that Synchronous Technologies have taken a VIC 20 as the basis of the unit and then added a new keyboard and escutcheon to customise it. What a dastardly cunning move.
The SMPL System is priced at $995 and is available direct from Synchronous Technologies, (Contact Details).
Come to think of it, Oklahoma City is also the hometown of PAiA Electronics (who seem to have gone to (digital) ground these last few years) and Craig Anderton (he of 'Home Recording for Musicians' fame). Come to think of it a second time, Craig's very much into his 'Synchro-Sonics' binge at the moment, so I wonder whether Synchronous Technologies isn't just PAiA under a different guise with Craig at the helm. Intriguing...
News by David Ellis
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