Shape of Things to Come
New products from the world of recording and synthesis are unveiled in glorious colour
A powerful computer-based aid to the acoustic designer is now available in the form of NEXOCAAD, which is claimed to be the most powerful computer-aided acoustic design software package yet produced. NEXOCAAD is a PC-based program, which will run on any IBM PC-AT or compatible computer under Microsoft Windows.
With NEXOCAAD the user can construct 3-dimensional models of buildings, in order to assess the acoustic effects of the relative placement of loudspeaker cabinets. Several installation possibilities can be simultaneously compared to help the designer conform to tender specifications, budget constraints and technical performance. The program is the first such design program working under MS-DOS to offer a fully interactive colour graphics environment with windows and mouse control.
Software requirements: Windows 2.0 or above, Windows 386 2.0 or above. Hardware requirements: IBM PC-AT compatible computer, 640K RAM minimum, hard disk, arithmetic coprocessor.
Heather Penn on (Contact Details).
DACS, manufacturers of the MIDI Patchbay reviewed last month, have a whole range of products of interest to the audio professional and enthusiast alike. Their Quad 405 upgrade kit adds rackmount ears, balanced XLR inputs and a volume control to Quad's popular power amp. The upgrade is available as a kit, or for an extra charge DACS will fit and test it.
Coming soon is their own headphone amplification system, which will drive four sets of headphones from a single PCB, two of which can be mounted in a 1U rackmount enclosure. Also available are balanced input and output modules, which can be fitted to almost any audio device, plus active and passive level matching units.
Digital Audio and Computer Systems Ltd, (Contact Details).
Calling all Kurzweil owners! The latest version of the Kurzweil 250 (version 6.0) sampling keyboard is now available, offering RAM cartridge storage of up to 40,000 notes. With the new software and a SCSI interface as standard, the keyboard can be hooked up directly to a hard disk drive - making the K250 faster and easier to use. Version 6.0 is available as an upgrade for all previous versions of the K250. New sound blocks are also available for the 1000PX Professional Expander and K1000 keyboard.
Carl Spencer International Ltd, (Contact Details).
Tascam have announced two new additions to their range of mastering cassette decks. The 102 (£199) and 103 (£249) are aimed at smaller studios or home use. Both feature logic-controlled tape transport, Dolby B and C, Dolby HX Pro, bias fine tuning, hard permalloy heads, real-time tape counters and automatic tape type selection. Whilst the 102 is a two-head recorder, the 103 is a three-head machine, allowing monitoring off-tape whilst recording.
Teac UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Electronic Audio Systems have just introduced a range of multi-channel active DI (direct injection) units designed to eliminate the impedance differences between unbalanced instrument outputs and balanced console inputs. The range consists of the MDI8 (£295 + VAT) and MDI8 2X (£369 + VAT) 8-channel rackmount units, and the free-standing 4-channel MDI4 (£142 + VAT) and single channel D101LN (£55 + VAT) units.
The company are particularly keen to stress the benefits of DI-ing in a hi-tech environment, where keyboards and rack expanders can then be patched directly into balanced mic inputs for better headroom and sonic quality. A recent client is Orinoco studios, whose chief engineer said: "We installed a 20-channel custom EAS DI system, for its excellent sound quality and as a low cost way of DI-ing a large number of keyboard units which previously had to be either gated or run through separate DI boxes. It gives us an improvement in frequency response and a much simpler setup."
Electronic Audio Systems, (Contact Details).
Opus1 MCL is a new music composition language for the Commodore Amiga computer, which allows music structures and tracks to be easily defined with text. This can then be compiled to form a standard Amiga (IFF-SMUS) music file, compatible with all other IFF music programs on the Amiga. Musical elements like a drum pattern or bass line can be defined once and then used over and over again within a composition. The extended IFF format used by Opus even includes looping and random commands, providing room for experimentation on the Amiga. Opus1 MCL costs £99.95 inc VAT.
Ariadne Software Ltd, (Contact Details).
New from Tascam is the GS30D Guitar Amp Simulator, which tackles the problem of how to get a good live guitar sound onto tape. In a small studio with sensitive neighbours, or where there's no guitar amp around, the GS30D can be used in place of an amp to get that much sought-after dirty, overdriven sound down. The unit is styled in a similar manner to Tascam's MTS30 synchroniser, and features variable pre-gain, drive, presence and EQ.
Teac UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Now available from Clarke and Smith is the new Vortexion 3000 series of professional mixer/amplifiers. This series is claimed to be unique in its ability to be expanded with the minimum of cost and inconvenience. The amplifier/mixer can be supplied with the required input/output capacity by the simple addition or omission of input modules. This has the dual benefit that the system does not require the purchaser to pay for excess capacity, and that it will not become outgrown as the user's needs grow.
The mixer section of the Vortexion features up to six slots with built in level controls suitable for balanced microphone or auxiliary inputs, and master volume and tone controls for amplifier output.
Clarke and Smith Manufacturing Company Ltd, (Contact Details).
A new kind of audio patchbay is now available from 360 Systems, makers of the MIDI Bass and other MIDI routing devices. The Audio Matrix 16 (£520 plus VAT) is a programmable audio patchbay with 16 inputs and 16 outputs. Manual patching is replaced by programmable routing: up to 100 patches can be stored and recalled from the unit's non-volatile memory, or switched via MIDI for instant re-routing of all audio signals. Any input can drive single or multiple outputs.
Argent's, (Contact Details).
TDK's popular chrome position SA cassette tapes are now available in a new, longer length of 100 minutes, so you can now record all of those albums that you couldn't quite fit on to one side of a C90! Heaven forbid that you should do it unless you bought the album first, of course.
Cassettes offering playing times longer than 90 minutes are not new, but the 120 minute length acquired a well-deserved reputation for stretching and then carefully wrapping tape around even the gentlest transport mechanisms. Although the thickness of the tape base has been reduced in order to increase the playing time, according to TDK the 100 minute length can be achieved without significantly reducing the mechanical strength of the tape. The alternative to reducing the base thickness would have been to reduce the tape coating thickness, which would have adversely affected sound quality.
TDK UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
New from Mosses and Mitchell is the JF2/1U range of jackfields, which allow the user the facility to have two rows of jacks in the space normally required for only a single row (1U). Available in 20, 24 and 26 jacks per row, the new range will be useful for engineers who prefer ¼" jacks to GPO plugs but have limited space available to them.
By an amazing coincidence, the whole of this month's instalment of our Home Studio series is devoted to wiring up a patchbay, and why it's so useful, so if you still don't know why or whether you should be using one, turn to page 72 and read on...
Plasmec Systems Ltd, (Contact Details).
A new tape formulation produced by That's claims to be able to offer portastudio users even better performance than has previously been possible, and at a reasonable price. The That's EMX and EX tapes can handle very high saturation levels, so that correspondingly high recording levels can be used: the result is a better signal-to noise ratio, without distortion. The tapes are available in packs of three priced at £7.99 (EMX) and £5.99 (EX). Despite That's being a relative newcomer to the tape market, they are the fastest growing brand in the country and are widely acknowledged to be producing some of the highest quality cassette tapes around today.
Harman UK, (Contact Details).
Amek's new Mozart mixing console will incorporate custom Steinberg automation software. Mozart has been designed to incorporate features from the high end APC1000 console, but at a rather lower price. A primary feature of the console is that automation has been incorporated as an important part of the console, rather than something to be bolted on afterwards: up to 15 switches per channel can be controlled either by the console's onboard computer or by an external system.
For fader automation, Amek approached Steinberg to produce a system suitable for the new desk: the software that they developed not only allows elaborate control of faders, mutes, groups, snapshots, VCA fader curves etc, but also provides comprehensive cue list facilities. That cue list can contain not only SMPTE but also audio and MIDI triggered events.
Like the APC, Mozart is an all-input design, in which each input can be configured for line/mic, buss or tape input as required by the user. This reflects the increasingly blurred differences between track-laying and mixing in modern studios. 16 auxiliary send busses are available, addressed from four mono and two stereo knobs, and there are 12 stereo effects returns, four of which can be automated with the four 'wild' VCA faders. The console will be available in 40, 56 and 80-input frames.
Amek, (Contact Details).
Gotham GAC2 is a new professional audio 2-core cable available from FWO Bauch. We could tell you all the wonderful features that are reputedly incorporated into the cable, but rather than do that we'll just say that the manufacturers claim that Gotham cable has been designed to have a lower capacitance, higher flexibility and greater strength. More important than this, however, is the fact that the stuff has been named after the Dynamic Duo's home town, and that it is available in seven tasteful colours. Pow! Zap! Kersplat!
FWO Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Just released from Dr. T are the latest updates (version 1.6) to the three versions of the Copyist music scoring program. The Apprentice version now features GEM support with pull-down menus, an HP DeskJet printer driver, and support for standard MIDI Files. The Professional version adds these same facilities plus user-definable macros and a user-definable clipboard. Finally, the DTP version adds to all of these features support for the Imagen Ultrascript Postscript 'clone'. All new versions of Copyist require 1 Megabyte of RAM. Registered users of Copyist should contact MCMXCIX for details of information on updating to version 1.6.
MCMCXIX, (Contact Details).
Music, film and video production companies often need a controlled recording environment on location, which as a rule is the last place you'll find one. However, a solution to this problem is now being manufactured by a Californian company, Soundforms, in the form of a portable recording booth! The system is being marketed in this country by Radius Marketing and comprises a set of lightweight, portable acoustic panels which can be hung on frames constructed of high-impact 1" tubular plastic. All components are available separately, although they are also brought together in the form of starter packs: Sound Wall, Sound Booth, Double Sound Booth, and Sound Room. To give you some idea of how light the system is, the 3½' x 3½' x 6½' setup shown in the photo weighs only 35lbs. The systems also have obvious applications in home studios, where a controlled environment for dialogue recording, etc, is otherwise out of the question.
Radius Marketing, (Contact Details).
Record company A&R departments are notorious for ignoring unsolicited demo tapes - and who can blame them when they deal with the sheer volume that they do. So, if you plan to send in material on cassette in the hope of getting a deal, anything that makes your material stand out before it's listened to boosts your chances of getting a sympathetic ear enormously. A useful aid in this area could be the coloured cassettes now available from a company called RDM, who offer Memorex chrome tapes, repackaged in red, green, blue, yellow, white or transparent shells. The tapes come in packs of five and in three different lengths: C60 (£7.95 for five), C30 (£6.95) and C15 (£5.95), the latter being a lot less wasteful for short demos than a full hour of tape. Although C15 tapes are easily obtainable in the form of computer tapes, note that these are usually unsuitable for recording music, as the tape will have characteristics optimised for recording computer data. The RDM C15 cassettes are optimised for music recording, and therefore preferable.
RDM (UK), (Contact Details).
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!