Shape of Things to Come
News of some products to be released at the coming APRS exhibition, Acorn's new low-cost Archimedes computer, Akai's digital multitrack, and more.
A new 'BBC Micro' will soon be available from Acorn Computers. The new machine, the A3000 (£649 plus VAT), is based on Acorn's Archimedes 300 and 400 computers, and incorporates the same 32-bit RISC chip and multitasking operating system as those machines, but at a lower cost. One megabyte of RAM and an integral 3.5" floppy disk drive come as standard. For musicians, the A3000 offers built-in stereo sound and has an internal combined MIDI and User Port card. It is completely hardware and software compatible with the A300 and A400 computers, and will therefore have access to a range of expansion boards that include video digitisers, samplers and ROM/RAM cards. However, its case will not accommodate as many extra boards as the A300 and A400 (one external board only). The A3000 has the same graphics capabilities as the rest of the Archimedes range, offering 256 on-screen colours at a resolution of 640x512 pixels. The new machine should be available in June.
Among the existing Archimedes peripherals that the A3000 will be able to use is the Armadillo range of 8-bit and 16-bit samplers. The 16-bit Sound Sampler package includes Armadillo's 'HighNote' software, which makes good use of Acorn's power to provide a multi-tasking facility - calculations started in one window can be left calculating while another window is loading. Spectre SFFT software allows samples to be split into their harmonic components and resynthesized. The 16-bit Sound Sampler and 'HighNote' software costs £1200 plus VAT.
Acorn Computers Ltd, (Contact Details).
Armadillo Systems Ltd, (Contact Details).
A new version of C-Lab's Creator, version 2.1, will soon be available. The update will give access to laser and inkjet printers, a staggering 1/1,536th note internal resolution, and Unitor support features.
Also new from C-Lab is Human Touch, a human tempo interface for the Unitor sync box which allows Creator and Notator to slave off a live performance, such as a drummer or click track; and Combiner, a four-key expansion for the Atari's dongle port. Other new software includes several editor/librarians: Explorer M1 (for the Korg M1), Explorer 32 (for the MT32), and Explorer 1000 (for the Oberheim Matrix range of synthesizers).
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Austrian microphone manufacturer AKG have announced the release of several new products to be seen at the APRS. The C426B Comb is a large diaphragm studio condenser mic, which has been developed from the established AKG C422. It has the same MS and XY stereo recording facility using twin rotating diaphragms, but a miniaturised electronic design provides more operating features within the same physical dimensions. The mic can be connected to the S426 remote control unit so that a choice of polar patterns can be remotely selected for each separate diaphragm system.
Also new is the C525S, a condenser vocal mic that can be powered from a mixer or via a 1.5V AA internal battery, which should give at least six months of use.
A very different new AKG product is the Snakeless digital distribution system, a triaxial cable capable of carrying 32 audio channels including eight channel foldback, designed for PA use.
AKG Acoustics Ltd, (Contact Details).
Kawai have announced the imminent release of an improved version of their K1 synthesizer, which recently came top of the best synth category in the SOS Hi-Tech Awards poll. The K1 II, as it will be known, features the same basic sounds and features as the K1, but adds a dedicated drum track and a digital reverb. Another K1 spin-off is the PHm MIDI sound module, a rather more home keyboardist device. The module offers 200 K1 preset sounds, which can be arranged into 50 programmable multitimbral combinations. A drum track is also featured, which can play 30 preset rhythms.
Also new from Kawai is the MX8SR mixer, which offers eight stereo channels of mixing in a rackmount case. The thinking behind stereo channels is that with so many synths and drum machines offering stereo outputs, most people group the channels on their mixers in stereo pairs anyway - so why not offer stereo inputs instead of mono. Each of the MX8SR's channels has a pair of inputs, a volume fader with an attenuator switch, two stereo echo sends, and a balance control to adjust the relative levels of the two inputs.
Kawai UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
New from Opcode is Vision (£399), which has been hailed as the most professional sequencer package ever for the Mac. The program has been designed to present an integrated system for composing and performing music. Main features include 480ppqn resolution, real-time track shift, extensive quantisation control, SMPTE sync, sequence chaining, and recording and playback of System Exclusive data. Data can be shown in the form of an event list or in graphic form for easy editing. For maximum ease of control, any of Vision's functions can be mapped to keys on your synthesizer.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
Hard disk drives may beat floppies hands down in terms of the amount of data stored and access times, but they do present a problem when you run out of space: you have to buy a whole new drive to add more capacity, and that's expensive. However, with a removable hard disk all you need do is replace a cartridge. The PLI Infinity Turbo 40 is a hard disk drive which accepts 44Mb cartridges - you could use a different cartridge to store data for each of your samplers, for example. Cartridges cost £150, so once you have the drive, extra data storage capacity comes (relatively) cheap.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
Tannoy have announced the introduction of a new 120W near-field monitor, the NFM8(DMT) - great name guys! - incorporating a new 8" dual concentric drive unit. The new drive unit's features include an improved roll surround design to ensure both linearity and robustness, allowing maximum acoustic radiation from the accurate piston action of the cone; and a high frequency unit employing Tannoy's Differential Material Technology. The separate sections of the drive units are designed to produce a true point source, aligned not only in space but also in time. The two sections are tied together by a bi-wired, Pro-Duty crossover network. Frequency response of the monitor is quoted as 48Hz to 25kHz.
Tannoy Ltd, (Contact Details).
Over the last couple of years Akai have made quite a name for themselves by offering outstanding value for money in the field of sampling. They could now be set to make a similar breakthrough in the digital multitrack market. Their 12-track digital tape recorder costs around £15,000.
The system consists of three components: the DR1200 multitrack recorder, the DL1200 programmable autolocator, and the DM1200 meter unit. All units can be rack-mounted. The basic system records 12 digital and two analogue tracks (for timecode or cue signals) on to 8mm video tape cassettes, with a 90 minute tape providing 17 minutes of recording time. A further 24 tracks can be added to the basic system by connecting two more DR1200 recorders in parallel with a single autolocator unit. The data format of the system is 16-bit, with switchable 48/44.1 kHz conversion.
Akai UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
The Home Service have just been appointed exclusive UK distributor for Integrated Media System's Dyaxis digital audio system. This relatively affordable disk-based editing and recording system, which will be on show at the APRS, is designed to work with an Apple Macintosh computer, and allows for up to 2½ hours of sampling at 44.1 kHz, although any one of 200 sample rates up to 48kHz can be used.
102Mb and 320Mb hard disk drives are available, up to five of which can be combined in a single system. MacMix software provides the user interface, and performs as a flexible waveform editor and mixer package that allows slip-sync, editing, re-editing, cut, adjust and triggering off SMPTE, and the addition of EQ and reverb entirely in the digital domain.
The Home Service, (Contact Details).
Amongst the products to be shown by Hill Audio at the APRS will be their new range of LC stereo power amplifiers, which are now in production and will replace the existing '00' series. The range consists of four models, the LC400, 800, 1200 and 1600, which offer between 200 and 800 watts RMS per channel. The amplifiers are all 2U high, and feature 5-way protection circuitry which allows the amps to withstand any fault in auxiliary equipment, as well as providing valuable speaker protection. Remote muting is a standard facility, and options include remote VCA attenuation, plug-in transformer input balancing and crossovers, and plug-in limiter boards.
Hill Audio Ltd, (Contact Details).
Ever wanted to trigger lights, or stage effects, or even your toaster via MIDI? Well now you can with the Peavey EAC 8 MIDI interface. This is an add-on unit for the Peavey MIDI Manager, which allows the MIDI Manager's outputs to trigger eight relay closures or openings. The signals routed through these relays could be almost anything - audio or higher power sources - so the MIDI Manager/EAC 8 combination allows the control of devices that could not be MIDI'd in any other way. Termination for the relay contacts is via eight stereo jack sockets, allowing normally closed or normally open switching action.
Rumour has it that Def Leppard are considering using the system as a drum-to-demolition interface, detonating 5lbs charges of Semtex placed in Cadillacs parked on-stage (what a waste!!).
Also new from Peavey's Audio Media Research (AMR) division, and due to be shown at the APRS, are the SyncController synchroniser, MAP 8x4 MIDI-controlled audio patchbay, the hand-held remote MIDI Director, the AEQ2800 automated 28-band graphic equaliser, and the QFX4. This latter unit is a MIDI-controlled multi-effects processor, which allows its four discrete stereo multi-effects units to be operated independently or in serial/chain mode.
Audio Media Research Division, (Contact Details).
At least in the world of hi-tech music, it seems that size really isn't everything. Four new MIDI data management products from Anatek of Canada squeeze a remarkable amount of power into devices that could give anything larger than a jack plug a run for its money in the 'compact' stakes. The Pocket Products range are all about the size of a packet of cigarettes, and each fulfills a different and equally useful MIDI management function.
The Pocket Merge combines two MIDI signals into one, and can handle all types of data including System Exclusive. The Pocket Pedal can be used with any volume pedal to generate MIDI Volume, Pitch Bend, Modulation, or Portamento time; with a footswitch it can even control Sustain, Sostenuto, Start/Stop or Portamento On/Off. The Pocket Filter can filter out any or all of a range of types of MIDI data from a signal, and the Pocket Sequencer is a basic sequencer, with only Record and Play controls.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Tascam have announced a new half-inch 8-track recorder, the TSR8 (£1999). The new machine offers more advanced features than its popular predecessor, the model 38, and though it will probably still appeal to the same home users that chose the model 38, it has also been designed to meet the demands of video post-production.
The TSR8 runs at 15ips with dbx Type I noise reduction. Other features include: compatibility with the Tascam MIDIizer synchroniser, gapless and noiseless punch in/out, spot erase, microprocessor controlled 3-point autolocator, bargraph level meters with peak hold mode, and full tension servo transport.
Tascam (Teac) UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
The Audio Logic SC 131 single channel Room Equaliser is a new professional signal processor offering 31 bands of cut-only room equalisation at -10dB or -20dB. A passive bypass removes the equaliser from the signal path when the power is switched out, and an active bypass allows comparison of the equalised signal with the original signal while retaining the gain amplifier in the signal path. Other features include 1/3rd octave resolution, accurate frequency centres, selectable attenuation ranges, variable frequency high-pass and low-pass filters with in/out switch, and an input level control. Connectors are XLR, barrier strip, and ¼" jack.
JHS & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).
The J.L Cooper Electronics' Fadermaster MIDI Command Centre is a handy device that will add something very useful to almost any piece of MIDI equipment - a set of faders. The Fadermaster is a small desktop remote unit with eight faders, each of which can be assigned to generate any kind of MIDI data. In recording environments where very few pieces of gear dedicate hardware controls to even quite important parameters, this should add a valuable extra degree of control.
Applications could include live mixing of levels using MIDI volume and recording these changes into a sequencer, varying effects parameters in real time, and synthesizer voice programming. Fadermaster comes complete with a set of 'blanks' that configure the unit to edit parameters on the following equipment: Korg M1, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Kawai K1, Kawai K5, Roland D50/D10/D20, Roland MT32, DX7, Emu Proteus, Kurzweil K1000, Alesis Quadraverb, ART Multiverb, Digitech DSP128+.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Existing users of Hollis Research's Trackman sequencer for the Atari ST have recently received their first free update, to version 1.4, which includes empty/used track indicators, and an Instant Redraw enhancement.
An entirely new program from Hollis Research is the MIDIman Universal Editing Controller (£79). This is a desk accessory for the Atari ST which can be used as a patch editor and MIDI mixer/controller for almost any MIDI synthesizer. Being a 'desk accessory', MIDIman will run concurrently with any GEM-based sequencers (or any other programs for that matter) including Trackman, Creator and Pro24, so patches can be edited without quitting the sequencer. What's more, you can edit all of your synths, thanks to the program's universal nature. When used with Trackman, you can even edit sounds while a sequence is playing.
Synths currently supported include: Yamaha DX5, DX9, DX7, TX7, DX21, DX27, DX100, TX81Z, FB01, Prophet VS, Roland Juno 1/2, Juno 106, 106S, HS60, JX8P, D10, D20, D50, D110, MT32, Korg M1, and general purpose MIDI control. More are being added all the time.
First Rate Ltd, (Contact Details).