Shape of Things to Come
Three jampacked pages of new product information.
We all know that the interiors of pro studios these days are either black and chrome hi-tech designer dreamscapes, or a mass of cork, wood and stone facing. I know that, you know that, but someone should tell Pete Waterman that, because the accompanying photo suggests that his idea of the ideal studio resembles the set for a futuristic interpretation of a Shakespearean tragedy.
The site for this unique concept in studio interior design is PWL's tracking studio, which has just been equipped with a new sound system. According to Pete Waterman, "we make dance records, so we want a dance system for PWL". JBL happily obliged, and provided a sound system specially configured to reproduce accurately and dynamically the elements of modern dance music. But enough of the sound, what about the decor? Rumour has it that the curtains were chosen by a group from the University of London conducting research into colour blindness and its relation to musical creativity. Or perhaps they are a cast-off from an old Neighbours set?
Klark-Teknik have just added three dynamic processors to their range of quality audio products. The new units are the DN500 Dual Compressor/Limiter/Expander, the DN510 Advanced Dual Gate, and the DN514 Quad Auto Gate.
The DN500 offers a combination of variable knee compression, independent limiter and clipper, and a variable ratio expander/gate. The DN510 incorporates advanced mask and delay functions, and responds to MIDI note velocity to allow reliable triggering. The DN514 is intended to provide 'quick to set' autogating without any sacrifice in sound quality. One of the unit's features is a sync function, which interlocks all four gate release times, allowing synchronised gating of harmony parts, brass sections, etc.
Klark-Teknik Research Ltd, (Contact Details).
Cable specialists Klotz have branched out by launching a new range of DI (direct injection) boxes. Three versions are available, to cover all occasions when unbalanced signals from instruments need to be connected to balanced mixing equipment. All feature 2-stage attenuator circuitry, to enable compatibility with a wide variety of signal sources.
Beyer Dynamic, (Contact Details).
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that Studer will be launching a new budget 24-track recorder to replace the industry-standard A80VU24, probably in spring of 1989. The bad news is that 'budget' stills means only a little under £25,000.
The new machine incorporates many features from the A820 including its tape transport, and adds many of its own. These include: three tape speeds; optional internal synchroniser/resolver; microprocessor-controlled transport and audio electronics with switchable Dolby HX Pro; phase compensated audio electronics, NAB/CCIR/AES EQ switchable, two alignments per speed; channel and transport remote control; and storage of all alignment data.
FWO Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Dolby Labs have produced their first units with switchable SR/A-type noise reduction. The Model 363 contains two channels in a 1U high frame, and is aimed at those music/film recording, video post-production and broadcast applications where both SR and A-type encoded tracks are to be handled. Both channels are equipped for record/play changeover, switchable from the front panel or a recorder. This enables the unit to be used for stereo or as a single-channel simultaneous record/playback unit.
Dolby Laboratories, (Contact Details).
The latest release from Fostex is the compact R8 8-track with full autolocate facilities (£1499 inc VAT). See review on page 40 for full details.
For the more budget conscious, the Fostex X26 is a new entry level 4-track cassette recorder that aims to give the user far better facilities than 'first multitracks' usually offer. Six input channels are provided, rather than the usual four, enabling the potential of MIDI sequencers and drum machines to be better exploited. There are auxiliary outputs on all channels, and a sub-mix section which can be used for monitoring, track bouncing or as additional inputs.
Also new from Fostex is a mono/stereo ribbon microphone. The M22RP (around £600) uses some techniques in headphone manufacturing to overcome some of the problems with the conventional ribbon mics. By using high impedance printed ribbon elements, the need for an output transformer and the mechanical fragility of conventional elements are both avoided. The Fostex M22RP is believed to be the only professional mono/stereo micto employ printed ribbon diaphragms. The result is full mono/stereo capability combined with the sound quality and smooth overload characteristics of the best ribbon designs. The mic does not require an external power supply, and may therefore be particularly suitable for location recording of TV and radio sound, or with portable DAT players.
Harman Studio Systems, (Contact Details).
From the company whose name is synonymous with PA comes the new TP1 Small Reference Monitor. The 15" tall cabinet incorporates a 6.5" mid/bass driver and a special high frequency unit that has been developed as the result of Tannoy's Different Material Technology research.
The HF unit uses a deep drawn duralumin diaphragm and skirt with a separate polyamide-based suspension (sounds wonderful - but what does it mean - Ed?), which it is claimed gives the piston the rigidity associated with titanium without the high frequency breakup. A potentially important selling point is the TP1's very low stray magnetic field: according to Tannoy this is less than one milliTesla at all points outside the speaker cabinet, making the speaker safe for use in environments such as video editing suites.
FWO Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Several new Alesis products will be on show for the first time in Europe at the forthcoming Frankfurt Music Messe. Particularly mouth-watering is the Quadraverb, a stereo digital effects processor that can produce four effects at the same time. The unit is designed around a huge 24-bit VLSI chip, which it is claimed allows the Quadraverb's reverb programs to cross the boundary where the human ear can distinguish between real and simulated reverberation. Is it live or is it Alesis? There are also two more additions to the Micro Series range, the Micro EQ and Micro Cue Amp.
The company's other major launch, still the subject of a certain amount of speculation, is currently described only as "a mixing console" by Alesis. However, it seems likely that it will be 8 or 12 channels, and feature full MIDI control. More specific information comes from the SOS Soothsayer, who has predicted that the unit will in fact be a rackmount DMP7 clone with a MIDIverb II on each channel, built-in Micro Series compressors and aural exciters on all outputs, internally sequenceable HR16 drum voices, connectors for a VDU screen, and will retail for around £200... Well, it might be true!
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Korg have announced a range of new products to be unveiled at Frankfurt. The A3 (£999 inc VAT) is a 16-bit digital signal processor capable of producing six effects simultaneously out of a selection of 40. Four times oversampling is employed to reduce noise levels, and two footpedals can be assigned for realtime control of effects. A useful addition to the A3 is the FC6 MIDI Foot Controller (£199), which allows independent control over each of the six effects in a chain.
The FC6 can also be used for remote control of Korg's new Z3 Guitar Synthesizer module (£799). The Z3 is compatible with the Roland standard guitar synth pickup, and a Korg pickup will also be available - the ZD3 Guitar Synth Driver Unit (£199). Korg claim that this can be fitted to any guitar without damage or modification.
Still in the area of guitars, the A6 (£299) is a guitar effects processor containing a compressor, distortion, parametric EQ, 16-bit digital flanger/chorus/delay, and 16-bit digital reverb. The user can switch between two effects setups. Also coming very soon is a rackmount version of the successful M1, which will retail for £1299.
Rose Morris, (Contact Details).
The product shown above - no, not the pineapple, the one underneath the pineapple - is the new Steinberg Mimix, which the manufacturers doubtless hope will do for the world of mixing automation what Pro24 did for sequencing. Described as "a Desktop Mixing Concept that promises to change the world of mixing", Mimix is a modular software/hardware system, allowing anything from a single software-controlled VCA module to 64-channel mixing automation with fader reading. The system can be fitted to almost any commercial mixing console.
The components of the system are: an 8-channel VCA module, eight of which can be linked together; the FMC64 Fader-to-MIDI convertor, which allows fader reading; and the MBS8 Bypass Switch Board, which switches automation on or off for each channel. The VCA modules are rackmount, whilst the FMC64 and MBS8 are designed to be fitted under your existing console.
The controlling software, which will run on Atari 1040 and Mega STs, is dedicated to mixing desk fader and switch automation. To make the most of the Atari's capabilities, Steinberg have created a new graphic interface for the program, replacing Atari GEM. Could this be the ultimate power music application for the ST? Prices range from £325 (ex VAT) for the controlling software and £1,104 (ex VAT) for the 8-channel VCA module, up to around £11,000 for a full 64-channel set-up with fader reading.
Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
New from 360 Systems is the Audio Matrix 16, a programmable audio patchbay that provides centralised control and instant selection of audio routing configurations.
The 16 input/output model can be configured in anyway, with each input driving single or multiple outputs. 100 configurations can be stored in the unit's non-volatile memory, and recalled by MIDI Program Change messages.
Clearly, this device could potentially be a big time-saver in almost any recording environment, removing the need for frequent repatching of leads.
Argent's, (Contact Details).
Prompted by the success of their M160 and M240 Line Mixers, Roland have added two further versions - the 6U, rack-mountable, 16-channel M16E (£1299) and the 24-channel console-format M24E (£1599).
All inputs are now balanced, and half the input channels on each mixer utilise XLR connectors.
3-band EQ with a swept mid-range appears on all channels, and five sends and four stereo returns are provided for effects/foldback. Both mixers now incorporate phantom power supplies for use with condensor mics or DI boxes, and if the quality of these units is anything like that of their predecessors, they represent excellent value for money.
Roland (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).
A cheaper and lighter alternative to flightcases for transporting rackmount equipment is provided by the new Rack Bags from MTR. The bags provide portable storage for 19" rackmount equipment, and are made from a plywood shell covered in a layer of foam and tough waterproof nylon.
The cases come in 2U and 4U sizes, 14" deep. Zips at the front and back give access to controls and connectors, a pocket provides space for leads, and a shoulder strap and carrying handles are fitted. The inner lining of the bags is heat resistant, allowing equipment to be operated within the bag. Prices: 2U £71, 4U £79.
MTR Ltd, (Contact Details).
STEINBERG/ATARI DOUBLE ACT
Ask anyone in the know what the industry standard sequencer is, and the answer will probably be "Steinberg Pro24". Ask them what the industry standard music computer is, and if they don't say "Atari ST" you're talking to a dumcluck. Well, these two market leaders have now got together to offer a free Steinberg sequencer program to all purchasers of new Atari 1040 ST computers. The giveaway program is called Steinberg Twelve, which will also be available to existing ST owners at a price of £129 (inc VAT). Twelve is based on Pro24, and song files are compatible between both programs.
Moving on, Synthworks M1 (£150 inc VAT) is the latest addition to Steinberg's growing Synthworks range of programs. A sequencer is included in the program which will load and play Standard Song Files while the M1 sounds are edited. Synthworks M1 requires an Atari ST with at least 1 Mb of RAM, and is compatible with both colour and mono monitors.
Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
ARCHIMEDES SAMPLING SYSTEMS.
Armadillo Systems have announced two new additions to their range of 8-bit Sound Samplers for the Acorn Archimedes computer. The A448b (£140 + VAT) is a stereo version of the original mono sound sampler, and the A448m (£175 + VAT) is the same but with MIDI In, Thru and Out sockets.
If its quality sound you want, a 16-bit Sound Sampler with MIDI is due for release in early 1989, which will offer CD quality stereo sampling at 44.1kHz, with four times oversampling on playback for improved sound clarity. Price is expected to be around £950 + VAT.
Armadillo Systems Limited, (Contact Details).
Hybrid Technology have released details of the Music 5000 Synthesizer Junior package, for the BBC Model B or Master 128 computers. The complete package consists of a 16-channel synthesizer unit, 32K ROM module, a disk and 48-page User Guide, and costs £86.09 + VAT. The software is believed to be the first to provide a WIMP-like interface for the BBC. A Junior Software pack is available to owners of Music 500 or Music 5000 systems, price £60 + VAT.
Hybrid Technology, (Contact Details).
Stiletto Sound Systems are a Dumfries-based company offering voices for a range of synthesizers and in several different formats. Sounds include: Casio CZ (160 sounds, £10), Ensoniq ESQ (160 sounds, £10), Ensoniq Mirage (two volumes of three disks, £10 per volume), Yamaha DX7/TX7 (160 sounds, £10), Yamaha TX81Z (96 sounds, £5), Yamaha DX100/21/27/FB01 (96 sounds, £5). The synth sounds are available in a variety of formats, including files for Dr.T, Passport, Intelligent Music, Hybrid Arts and Soundbits software, printed voice sheets, or good old-fashioned data cassettes.
Stiletto Sound Systems, (Contact Details).
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