Shape of Things to Come
A colourful bonanza of newly released and forthcoming new products.
Now available in the UK are Dynacord's ADS100 20/16-bit rackmount sampler and its ADS K keyboard version. Features of both machines include: 44.1kHz and 22.05kHz sampling; 2Mb of memory expandable to 8Mb; HD disk drive; the ability to read Akai S900 disks; 16-voice polyphony; 20-bit D-to-A convertors. The point of 20-bit conversion at the output stage, as also used by Roland's forthcoming S770, is that it ensures that the full dynamic range of 16-bit samples can be maintained when several are played back simultaneously. A SCSI port is provided to allow both machines to interface to high capacity hard disk or CD ROM drives, and both support the MIDI sample dump standard.
Voyetra have released Version 3.0 of Sequencer Plus, their popular PC sequencer program. Sequencer Plus is available in three levels of increasing sophistication - Mk1, MkII and MkIII - and the update adds features to all three. The new facilities include: Mk1 and MkII now support up to 500 tracks, MkIII can use over 3000 tracks; a comprehensive MIDI analyser has been added to MkIII; mouse support has been added to all Mks; the Patchmaster Universal Librarian program has been incorporated into both MkII and MkIII, enabling patches from over 100 different instruments from 20 or so manufacturers to be stored on PC disk and auditioned, named, grouped and downloaded from within Sequencer Plus; MIDI File Format can now be used for saving and loading files; the SMPTE calculator from MkIII has been added to MkII; and VGA graphics are now supported, so that many more tracks can be viewed simultaneously.
Voyetra are still offering Mk1 of Sequencer Plus bundled with their V4001 PC MIDI interface as the PC Musicpak (£199.95). The program alone costs £349 for MkIII, £228 for MkII, and £97 for Mk1. The upgrade to Version 3.0 for existing owners will cost around £60.
Computer Music Systems, (Contact Details).
Steinberg have released a new sequencer for the Amiga - Amiga 2400 (f250), which is an Amiga version of the ubiquitous Pro24. This addition undoubtedly extends the range of programs for the machine that would be widely regarded as 'professional', the lack of which, until recently, has held back the Amiga from becoming as popular among musicians as perhaps it has deserved. Amiga 2400 requires at least 512K of RAM, and Kickstart 1.2 or higher.
Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
Following a recent European promotional tour, Trident's new Vector 432 console is now available. Vector is an in-line desk offering four matrixed stereo busses, 32 group outputs, and 16 internally and externally triggerable automute groups. A Broadcast mode allows the use of simultaneous stereo and multitrack feeds, and the Vector's Studio Computer unifies machine control and automation functions in a single unit that locks to SMPTE. Vector is available in configurations from 32 inputs up.
Internal features apart, it is interesting to note the degree of attention that Trident have paid to the frame of the new unit. The side profiles are single castings of powder coated aluminium, eliminating the need for bolt-on cladding and offering improved RF shielding. The inset U-shaped legs are claimed to give the console a remarkable degree of stability, and trunk all external connections to the floor in a protected recessed area. Service access is easy, typified by the piano-hinged meter bridge rear panel which swings down after the release of six half-turn locking screws.
Trident Audio Developments Ltd, (Contact Details).
Amongst the products shown by Hybrid Arts at the recent PC Show was FM Melody Maker, a software and hardware package that effectively turns an Atari ST into a 9/11-voice FM synthesizer and drum machine.
Basic sequencing facilities are included in the package, and Hybrid Arts are hoping that third party companies will develop software which is specifically designed to take advantage of FM Melody Maker's facilities - they suggest that games and educational programs in particular could be enhanced by the improvement to the ST's internal sound capabilities that FM Melody Maker offers. Wildfire are already creating their latest releases with this in mind, and Infomedia will be producing a similarly adapted game called 'Rock Star' later this year.
Hybrid Arts UK, (Contact Details).
In response to feedback from users, Intelligent Music have now made Version 1.1 of 'M' for the Amiga available. In addition to fixing several bugs in the original version, this latest version has new facilities that include: continuous time base denominator values from 1 to 48; the ability to preview timbres on a synth by shift-Commodore-key clicking; 'scroll-preview' of timbres; Commodore-key clicking anywhere in a window will bring that window to the front; double-clicking on the Pattern Group Variable will open the Pattern Editor to the Pattern selected in the Patterns Area.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
The Digital Muse have announced the launch of a new 32-track sequencer called Prodigy (£129.95), which will be a slightly cut-down version of Virtuoso. Prodigy will be upgradable to Virtuoso, with a full refund of Prodigy's cost. The budget program retains many of Virtuoso's facilities, such as multitasking, and the grid edit page. Other features include: 120 ppqn resolution; 1/10 bpm resolution; real-time MIDI volume and pan control; independent track looping; drum machine style loop recording.
The Digital Muse, (Contact Details).
Following Tascam's shake-up of the 24-track market with the launch of their 1" MSR24 recorder, another important development in the field is expected in the form of a new machine from Thompson.
The new Thompson T24 24-track tape recorder is intended to be the cheapest 2" 24-track recorder on the market, although preliminary details of its spec suggest that its performance is anything but that of a 'budget' machine. The T24 is controlled by a computer with monitor and trackball; the computer provides access to, and a means to display, channel status, transport controls, autolocate procedures, metering, gapless pre-programmed counter or SMPTE-locked punch-ins, spot erase, and track sheets.
Options include dbx compatible cards, plug-in SMPTE module with phase-locking between two T24s, and full auto-alignment. Although Tascam's MSR24 will probably remain the cheapest 24-track machine on the market for some time to come, the Thompson T24 offers the advantage of compatibility with the industry standard 2" tape, which will be a very important consideration for many users.
Thompson, (Contact Details).
Audio Kinetics have announced an enhancement to their Reflex console automation system, improving the system's handling of channel mutes. A new eight-channel mute interface board enables existing console channel mute buttons to write to the automation memory, whereas previously channel mutes could only be written via the automation control pad.
Audio Kinetics UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
DOD have introduced three new programmable graphic equalisers, all offering 99 memory locations, an EQ curve comparison function, independent MIDI access to each channel, standard ISO frequency centres, a security lockout system, and 12dB of cut or boost on each band. The three models are; the MEQ28 mono, one third octave equaliser; MEQ14 stereo two-thirds octave equaliser; MEQ7 four channel, one and a third octave equaliser.
John Hornby Skewes & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).
A range of professional audio equipment from Germany, manufactured by Behringer, is now available in the UK. The range includes the Studio Exciter Type F (£229), Studio Denoiser (£219), 8-channel Studio Denoiser (£469), Studio Compressor/Limiter (£320), Sound Machine Exciter/Preamp (£139), and 5-band Parametric Equaliser (£356). The exciter and both denoisers are available in versions with XLR connections. All units come with a five-year guarantee, and seem to be highly recommended by many users in the USA.
Ampsound, (Contact Details).
New from Clares is Armadeus, an 8-bit hardware and software sampling system for the Acorn Archimedes. The software (£79.95) allows you to load samples from disk and edit them, and play them back via the Archimedes' monitor speaker. Features include real-time triggering from the Archimedes keyboard; insert, append and overlay editing; echo, reverse, fade in and fade out; and sample looping.
The Armadeus plug-in board (£149.95, with software) allows user sampling, and also provides a better quality line output for the samples. Sample rates are variable between 4kHz and 76kHz, and real-time FFT or waveform display of input audio signals can be produced. The software is also compatible with several other audio input/output boards for the Archimedes.
Clares Micro Supplies, (Contact Details).
With the aid of a computer and the right software, it's possible to remote control most things musical these days, so why not power amps? Crown's new IQ System 2000 allows you to do just that, and the makers are obviously anticipating some fairly power-hungry users, as the system can in fact control up to 2000 amplifiers simultaneously.
The system will operate with Crown Micro-tech power amplifiers and either a Macintosh or a PC compatible computer. The heart of the system is an IQ interface card (£974) which is fitted to the controlling computer, and each slaved amplifier requires an IQ PIP card (£386). Monitor functions include channel and rail voltage status, plus audio signal at the amplifier stage. Control functions include the ability to turn an amplifier on or off, turn an auxiliary control on or off, and to increase or decrease input attenuation.
Shuttlesound Ltd, (Contact Details).
New from Technics is the SLPC20K (£269.95), a top loading 5-disc carousel CD player, which could be the ideal answer to providing music for parties. With several hours of fully programmable or random playback, you can forget about changing discs and concentrate on the important business of keeping the drinks, twiglets and little cheesy things flowing. A particularly useful feature, whenever continuous playback is important, is the ability to change the other discs in the carousel whilst another is still playing. The SLPC20K also offers 4-times over-sampling, one DAC per channel, and has a 25-key infra-red remote control unit.
Technics/Panasonic Consumer Electronics UK, (Contact Details).
The Sequencer One from Gajits (£79) is a new entry-level sequencer program for the Atari ST. The program's features include; tape recorder style operation; 32 tracks; 192ppqn resolution; Undo facility to reverse last edit; real-time MIDI controller remapping; step and bar editing screens; import and export of Standard MIDI Files.
Gajits will also shortly be releasing a range of desk accessory synth voice editors, which will run concurrently with Sequencer One. Sequencer One will work on all ST models - 520, 1040 and Mega - with either a mono or colour monitor.
Gajits, (Contact Details).
No sooner does the Emu Proteus appear than manufacturers are falling over themselves to produce editors for it. Another now available (joining those from Dr. T, Oview and Opcode) is Steinberg's Proteus Synthworks (£150). Features include: a Neuronic librarian (honest!), with the ability to attach semantic tags to all sounds, and database-like facilities for organising banks of sounds; Pedagogic sound editor [I thought that sort of thing was illegal - Asst Ed]; micro tune and drum tuning editor with original macros; CAS (Computer Aided Sound creation) to assist with creating original sounds; 5,000 note sequencer; direct MROS communication, allowing sounds to be recorded directly from Proteus Synthworks into Cubase. The program requires an Atari ST with 1 Mb of RAM, and is blitter compatible.
Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
The latest classic analogue instrument to be given a new lease of life with a MIDI retrofit and a new case is the EDP Wasp, the revolutionary cheap 'n' cheerful British monosynth. Groove Electronics' new Stinger (£390) combines two Wasps in a 4U rackmount case, featuring the same black and yellow colour scheme that gave the original machine its name. The two machines can be assigned to the same or different MIDI channels (effectively allowing you to choose between configuring the Stinger as one 4-oscillator or two 2-oscillator synths), and will respond to pitch-bend, velocity, aftertouch and mod wheel data. Groove are offering £50 off the full price of Stinger for anyone who trades in a Wasp when they buy.
Groove Electronics, (Contact Details).
Hollis Research have released the latest and probably last free update to Trackman, upgrading the current version to Trackman II. Major changes include the ability to carry out almost any operation whilst a sequence is still running, including disk format and sequence loading. MIDI Standard Files are now supported, and perhaps most importantly, 'fader automation' has been added. Movements of Trackman's on-screen faders and mute and solo switching can all be recorded and played back, and the faders and switches can be assigned to control, and be controlled by, any MIDI Controllers.
First Rate Ltd, (Contact Details).
Enigma is a new lighting control system designed especially for the nightclub and disco market, but with possibilities for MIDI control that could make it a good system for use with touring bands as well.
Enigma can control 512 dimming channels, plus 256 switching channels of lighting. It also acts as a controller for laser systems, spotlights, as well as video and computer-animated graphics. All of this can be automated from the Enigma console itself, or alternatively MIDI can be used to control aspects of the visual effects. Velocity, aftertouch, and MIDI note data can all be used to control the speed and intensity of colours, or crossfade from red to blue, and so on.
Advanced Lighting Systems, (Contact Details).
JBL have extended the capabilities of their smaller Control Series speakers with the addition of dedicated sub-bass units to the range. JBL comment that the bass response of the compact Control 1 and Control 5 has always been 'comparatively mammoth', whilst adding that this still leaves room for improvement, which the sub-bass units provide.
Both the SB1 (intended for use with the Control 1 and ProIII) and SB5 (for the Control 5) units feature JBL's new Triple Chamber Band Pass Technology used in the Sound Power Series, and incorporate four bass drivers each. The SB1 (£179) has a 50-150Hz frequency response, and 2x80W power handling. The SB5 (£239) features 40-120Hz response, and 2x120W power handling.
Harman UK, (Contact Details).