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Shape of Things to Come

Read all about the Emu Systems Proteus, the new Alesis MIDI Disk recorder, Yamaha MT3X multitracker, and lots more!


Yamaha have announced the latest in their growing range of home recording products, the MT3X (£619). Following in the footsteps of the MT2X, this 4-track recorder applies even more technology along with a smooth-line design to multitrack cassette recording. The unit offers the same 6-channel mixer and 4-track cassette configuration but includes two separate auxiliary sends (both post-fade) and two stereo aux returns. Gone are the old-style transport controls, replaced by touch button logic switches, and gone is the mechanical tape counter. Yamaha have moved all the signal level and tape counter information up to the top of the unit into one neat housing where you can find a large digit LED for the tape counter, four separate bargraphs for the tape track levels, and overall stereo output levels displayed on VU style meters.

A major enhancement over the MT2X is the provision of an automatic punch in/out facility where you programme your punch in and out points into memory and let the machine handle all the switching of record mode for you.

A major collection of new Yamaha products will be shown at the coming BMF, including the MV1602 (£789) rack-mount mixer (which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Roland M160). Basically, it's a 16 into 2 mixer with channels 1-8 offering additional mic inputs and channels 15 and 16 providing true stereo inputs (left/right jack). Each channel includes three-band EQ and four auxiliary sends returning in stereo.

Still on mixers, the Yamaha AM802 (£339) and AM602 (£189) are a couple of compact mixers that could easily complement the MT3X multitrack cassette, although they are equally usable individually. The AM602 offers a basic 6 into 2 configuration, inputs 1 and 2 having EQ and mic gain control, with a couple of aux sends on all channels returning in stereo. The AM802 is more sophisticated, offering eight inputs, six of which have mic gain control. All inputs have high/low EQ and three aux sends. The audio spec of both units is quoted as 20Hz to 20kHz bandwidth, THD 0.05%, with stereo output noise at a fairly respectable -90dB.

Yamaha-Kemble UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


Interval Music Systems (formerly DrumWare Inc) has announced a new update to its GenWave Waveform Editor for the Atari ST. GenWave/16 (£299.95) allows samples to be edited in both the frequency and time domain where such functions as looping, waveform drawing, mixing, cut and paste, digital equalisation and many other types of editing can be carried out. GenWave supports up to eight loop points and any mono samples can be combined to create one stereo sample. The software supports the following samplers: Akai S1000, S900, S950, Casio FZ series, Ensoniq EPS, Yamaha TX16W, and any other sampler which incorporates the MIDI Sample Dump Standard. Owners of GenWave/12 can upgrade for the difference in cost.

Hybrid Arts (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).


Harold Rhodes, inventor of that classic electric piano, has been working closely with Roland, the new owners of the famous Rhodes name. His work has helped launch two new digital pianos, the MK60 (64-note) and MK80 (88-note).

Both pianos use weighted action keyboards and feature eight preset tones, four of which are derived digitally from the original Rhodes sounds but without any of the traditional tuning problems and mechanical inconsistencies. In addition, you also get acoustic grand piano, clavi and vibes presets which, on the MK80 model, can be edited and stored in any of the 56 memories.

In re-designing the Rhodes pianos, Roland have taken advantage of the fact that they can easily double as a versatile MIDI controller keyboard and have included such features as four MIDI assignable sliders and pitch bend. Both pianos also include a range of on-board effects: the MK60 has tremolo, chorus and two-band EQ, with the MK80 adding phasing and a further parametric control in the EQ section.

Roland (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).


JBL have introduced two new models in their Sound Power range of live sound monitors. Until now the Sound Power models offered two, three and four-way cabinets, now the 4726P Bi-Radial System and the 4728P Bi-Radial Stage Monitor (both £730.25) come equipped with an internal crossover making them ideal for situations where 'bi-amping' is impractical.

Harman UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


Valley International have announced the release of their new digital compressor/expander. On the face of it this might seem an odd idea - compressors were originally developed to cope with certain problems in analogue recording - but people do still want to be able to apply this treatment to sound, and a digital unit avoids the necessity to convert a digitally generated or recorded source to analogue just to compress or expand it. The unit features digital input/output, MIDI remote control, and the facility to store and recall 99 configurations of dynamics settings.

Stirling Audio, (Contact Details).


The Waveframe Corporation have introduced a new disk recording module for their AudioFrame digital audio workstation. The DRM4 is a four-channel module that can be used in multiple configuration to give up to 32-channels of hard disk recording. Recording modes are switchable between 16-bit and 24-bit - the latter to ensure full compatibility with AudioFrame's 24-bit internal architecture. Each disk has one or two hours of track-hours available, with system capability for virtual editing. There is further provision for the use of timecode synchronisation and standard random access editing features. Backup is onto 8mm format tapes.

Syco Systems, (Contact Details).


Atari afficionados will be glad to learn that C-Lab Software will shortly be releasing Soft Link, a new multitasking operating environment for the Atari ST.

Whilst this is not the first multitasking operating system to be produced for the ST, what makes Soft Link a particularly interesting prospect is that it will be compatible with all programs running within GEM (which includes most Atari music software, word processors, databases, etc), not just C-Lab programs.

Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).


Now you, too, can boast the SSL name in your studio equipment list - but unfortunately not on a mixer. SSL have released a range of top quality signal processing devices in their newly introduced, highly affordable, Logic FX series. The range initially includes two units, the G383 Dual Mic Amplifier/Equaliser and the G384 Quad/Stereo Compressor, each designed to offer stand-alone SSL performance for use with other manufacturers' consoles.

Solid State Logic, (Contact Details).


On show at the coming British Music Fair will be several new products from Alesis. DataDisk (£399) is a very simple device that allows you to store your MIDI data on 3.5" floppy disk. Nothing to get over-excited about you may think if you already own a computer system. Well, Alesis have developed the DataDisk as a universal MIDI data storage system that can be utilised for a number of applications and is ideally suited as a replacement for those tedious cassette data dumps and RAM cartridges found on many pieces of gear.

The main difference between this and similar units is the approach to data storage. Most devices of this type work with small blocks of data and limit the types of information you can store. However, the DataDisk allows you to capture blocks up to 800K in size by writing the data directly to disk instead of into a transfer buffer. This means that you can throw a full System Exclusive dump at the machine and not have to worry about buffer memory limitations, making it ideal for dumping the entire internal contents of sequencers, drum machines, samplers onto disk. As such, it is the ideal companion for Alesis' own MMT8 sequencer and HR16 drum machine.

The unit's 32-character LCD window allows the naming of your saved data and also displays the manufacturer, product and file name of the data already stored on disk by reading the manufacturer ID from the MIDI code. This makes identification of files and the equipment it's intended for fast and simple to follow.

On the equaliser front, the MEQ 230 (£199) is a very compact graphic equaliser. Alesis have done the near impossible by packing 60 sliders into one 19" rack unit, offering the user two independent 30-band equalisers each covering a bandwidth of 25Hz to 20kHz at 1/3rd octave intervals. The diminutive stature of this unit makes the MEQ 230 ideally suited to room equalisation and sound reinforcement jobs, where size and weight of equipment play an important role.

Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).


Following on from the Digitech DSP128 Plus is the GSP5 (£549) multi-effects processor. Although aimed at the guitarist who's looking for a wide range of good quality effects all in one rack-mount box, the GSP5 should find favour with many home recordists as well.

The GSP5 allows up to five different effects to be chained together and used simultaneously, from a choice of six reverbs, chorus, flange, delay, multi-tap delay, infinite repeat, graphic/parametric EQ and the special Digitech 'tube' distortion effect. Any combination of effects can be saved in the 99 user memories or you can choose from the 13 pre-programmed effects chains.

John Hornby Skewes & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).


Until the appointment of new UK distributor Michael Stevens & Partners, Nemesis products had temporarily disappeared off the market. Now production has resumed with a product line that includes the Q4 and Q4D 4-band parametric equalisers; the FBS 1000 Studio Foldback system, which drives either four or eight channel feeds in mono or stereo.

Finally, the Nemesis DA12 Line Distribution Amplifier offers a simple solution for tape duplication and other applications where up to 12 identical high quality stereo feeds are required.

Michael Stevens & Partners Ltd, (Contact Details).


First mentioned in our Frankfurt Show report in the March issue, the Emu Systems Proteus will be shipping in the UK by the time you read this news. Although preliminary details were released some months ago, we have only just received a full rundown of the Proteus spec - so here it is!

Priced around £799, this 1U rack-mounting machine offers 16-bit samples with a 39kHz sampling rate, 90dB signal-to-noise, 4Mbyte of memory expandable to 8Mbyte, 20Hz to 18kHz bandwidth, 125 sampled sounds on board and six audio outputs.

Proteus utilises high quality samples from the Emulator III sound library, puts them in a box and allows you to control them through the new Emu 'MIDIPatch' system. This acts much like a digital patchbay, giving you direct realtime access to over 40 of the sound's parameters, either from a keyboard, MIDI controller or from Proteus' own internal LFOs and envelopes. These functions add immense flexibility and scope for re-shaping the samples into new sounds which, when added to the generous 32-voice polyphony, make this an ideal expander for use with sequencers.

In addition, you can stack up to eight samples per key and listen to the results via the six individual polyphonic audio outputs, or configure them as three pairs of stereo outs with fully programmable panning. A neat idea is the inclusion of integral send and return feeds for external signal processing of the samples. Programmable alternate tunings are possible, and a very comprehensive MIDI implementation is provided. Going by the spec (and having heard one first-hand at the APRS show in London), Proteus looks set to become a 'must have' hardware purchase for any studio worth its salt. Watch out for an upcoming review!

Opcode Systems have been working closely with Emu to develop the software editor/librarian for Proteus and this will be made available for both the Atari ST and Apple Mac.

Emu Systems UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


Danish microphone manufacturers Bruel & Kjaer have developed the Type 4012 microphone which is capable of handling sound pressure levels up to 168dB before clipping. This new condenser mic offers a cardioid polar pattern, delivers a frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz with a smooth off-axis characteristic, and utilises the B&K Type 2812 two-channel power supply to generate the 130 volts required by the 4012's preamp.

Bruel & Kjaer (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).


Recording equipment manufacturers MTR have launched a trio of accessories aimed at the cost-conscious home recordist. The PM21 (£54) is a low-cost MIDI patchbay which offers seven groups of MIDI In/Out/Thru sockets mounted on the front panel, giving 21 sockets in all. The Gain Brain (£27) is an ultra quiet signal booster for use with unbalanced or balanced mic inputs, or instrument signals which lack good level and need lifting up to match specific mixer input requirements. Completing the roster is the OR8 (£19), a remarkably useful 19" rack that can house up to 8U of equipment.

MTR Ltd, (Contact Details).


From Roland come a number of new products aimed at the PC compatible computer user.

Roland's MPU401 MIDI interface has dominated the PC computer music scene for well over five years, becoming the de facto standard. Now Roland are hoping to capitalise on this position with the introduction of three sound expander modules designed to work alongside your computer/sequencer setup.

Full details are not available at this time but we can tell you that the CM32L (£369) is an LA-based expander along the lines of an MT32. The CM32P (£445) is a similar unit based on PCM sounds and the CM64 (£789) is a combined LA and PCM module, with both the CM32P and CM64 accepting further sounds via Roland memory cards.

Further products from Roland include the CF10 Digital Fader (£129) and CN20 Music Entry Pad (£129).

Roland (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).

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Steinberg Cubase

Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Sound On Sound - Aug 1989


Previous article in this issue:

> Edits

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> Steinberg Cubase

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