Shape of Things to Come
A plethora of new hi-tech products to whet your appetite.
Sony have taken a major change of direction with their new audiophile hi-fi equipment, introducing the concept of 'creative audio' - allowing the user to manipulate the audio material to a significant degree. Their new TAE1000ES preamplifier offers parametric EQ, dynamic compression and expansion, and a sound field processor which can recreate the characteristics of a wide range of acoustic environments, as well as offering Pro-logic Dolby Surround Sound. Each sound field can be tailored to the user's requirements with programmable main and sub-parameters. All processing takes place entirely in the digital domain, and Sony are confident that the quality of the effects is such that it is fully up to the standard of the top-of-the-range ES equipment.
The DSP circuitry employed in the TAE1000ES is a spin-off from the development of the SDP1000 Digital Effector, a product of Sony's professional division aimed at CD mastering facilities. Sony's UK hi-fi product manager, Tim Mahne, said of the new equipment: "Before the digital era, and more recently Sony Broadcast's introduction of the SDP1000, the idea of the consumer manipulating the original audio signal was as much an abomination to Sony's ES division as it is to most serious hi-fi enthusiasts. However, with the acceptance of the SDP1000... we were encouraged to take a fresh approach to the subject of creative audio. We firmly believe it adds a new dimension to serious hi-fi enjoyment, without compromising the original quality of the audio signal."
Sony Consumer Products UK, (Contact Details).
New from DOD is the 4315 Real-Time Analyser (£399.99), a window-type analyser covering the 20Hz-20kHz range in 31 audio frequency bands. A five LED level meter is provided for each band, and the resolution of the steps on the meters is switchable between 1dB and 3dB. Other features of the 4315 include an input level control, an internal pink noise generator and level control, plus a calibrated audio measurement microphone.
JHS & Co Ltd, (Contact Details).
Sound Solutions, manufacturers of hi-tech flightcases, have announced the availability of The Padded Cell. These heavy duty soft-bags are an economical alternative to traditional flightcases, and are recommended for protecting and transporting hi-tech equipment such as sequencers, computers, monitors or even floppy disks. They are made of durable material, are lightweight, and retail for £49.85 each or £79.65 for two.
Sound Solutions Marketing Ltd, (Contact Details).
Opcode's Vision sequencer for the Apple Mac is now available in a cut-down entry-level version called EZ Vision (£115). Features of EZ Vision include an edit/record window that allows graphic editing of MIDI events on a 'piano-roll', graphic drawing of controller values, a mixing window with user-controlled faders for real-time input of MIDI volume, velocity and pan, and 480 ppqn resolution. Opcode now also offer three Mac MIDI interfaces: Professional Plus (1 In 3 Out, £99), Studio Plus 2 (2 In 6 Out, £249), and Studio 3 (SMPTE, 2 In 6 Out, £399).
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
Dr. T's Music Software has released a new entry-level sequencer, TIGER Cub (£99), based on their TIGER graphic editing program. TIGER Cub inherits full graphic real-time editing facilities from its big brother, enabling notes to be moved and edited whilst a sequence is playing. The sequencer has 12 tracks, records at a resolution of 384 ppqn, and a tempo map allows any time signatures to be used during the course of a song - if you want a bar that's 453 clicks long, you can have it.
MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
Studer Editech, formerly Integrated Media Systems, have made seven new additions to their range of Digital Audio Production Systems products. The most important of these is the Dyaxis 2+2, a multi-channel Dyaxis system aimed at radio, music and postproduction users, which provides two channels of simultaneous hard disk recording or playback, with up to four channels of simultaneous playback and/or overdubbing from two audio processors.
Also new is the System Synchroniser, DAT Backup software, the Dyaxis Excellerator/DSP card (which provides enhanced signal processing capability for the Dyaxis Digital Audio Production System), Time Scaling software, additional storage media (760Mb drives and 1.2Gb 4mm tape backup), and MacMix version 2.3 software.
FWO Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Hybrid Technology have launched a new music package for the BBC Model B micro, aimed at the education market. The Music 500 Universal is an add-on synthesizer module that provides high quality stereo sound for any standard BBC micro music program, replacing the computer's internal sound facilities. Compatibility with existing software offers teachers an expansion route for the BBC micro that preserves their investment in educational music software.
The Universal package now becomes Hybrid's new entry-level system, and users can upgrade to the full Hybrid Music System by adding an AMPLE software pack and a Music 4000 keyboard.
Hybrid Technology Ltd, (Contact Details).
Nautilus is a new underwater speaker from Vitavox which is capable of clearly reproducing music and speech in any shallow water environment - swimming pools, lakes, and so on. Vitavox claim that, operating at 50 watts, the speaker can make speech heard at a range of up to 30 metres, and background music at up to 80 metres. They suggest applications involving participants and instructors in water sports, such as synchronised swimming (MIDI-controlled water nymphs?), and diver communications, but it can't be too long before someone gets experimental and writes music especially to be heard underwater (Brian Eno perhaps?). Nautilus will also operate as a hydrophone.
Vitavox Division, (Contact Details).
Hard disk recording is a computer application more associated with the Mac than with any other personal computer, but the new Desktop Recording Board from Digital Audio Labs allows stereo direct to hard disk sampling and playback on any IBM AT compatible computer. The main attraction of a PC-based system over any other is that hard disks tend to be cheaper than for any other computer, and many desktop recording applications call for a lot of hard disk capacity.
Two A/D convertors are used, running at two times the sampling rate, and output is via two 18-bit D/A convertors and a digital filter. Eight times oversampling is employed at the output stage.
Sampling rates are user selectable from 32kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz, and an external clock input can also be used to allow for other rates, or to synchronise the board to a master system clock. An internal serial bus permits real-time access to audio data for digital signal processing and other applications. The board comes complete with the Desktop Recording Software Toolkit, a collection of functions that provide complete control of the board. Also available is the Library, which is intended for use by application developers. The Desktop Recording Board will cost around £900.
SSE Marketing, (Contact Details).
Steinberg have updated their Cubase MIDI recording system to Version 1.5, adding a total of 39 new features. The update will be available in December. Important additions include new Edit screens, support for the new large screen Atari monitors, drivers for controlling a Fostex R8 tape recorder, and improved scoring facilities. Further updates are expected in the new year.
Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
Motionworks, a new company formed by two ex-SSL engineers, has released its first product: Motionworker, an automation and synchronisation systems interface. Motionworker has several dedicated interfaces enabling it to integrate console automation systems, tape machine synchronisers and MIDI systems. It communicates with a wide variety of proprietary control protocols, including MIDI, Audio Kinetics ESbus, Lynx VSI, Adam Smith 2600 and Zeta 3, SSL 'G' and 'E' Series automation, Amek Mozart and APC automation.
Motionworks, (Contact Details).
The second compact disc in the Sonic Images sound library is now available. 'Percussion Special' (£39.95) contains 290 digitally recorded samples of ethnic percussion instruments from Asia Latin America and Africa, including Waterdrum, Surdo, Bougarabou, Tibetan Crotales, Chinese Opera Gong and many more. To give some idea of how sounds could be used in context, the first track on the CD is 'Earthbeat', a sequenced compilation of the sounds found elsewhere on the disc.
Executive Audio Ltd, (Contact Details).
A new range of high quality studio racks, workstations, tables and chairs is available from AJ Studio Furniture. The furniture comes in a choice of finishes - laminate, grey textured lacquer, or grey pearlescent lacquer - and is supplied partly assembled in flat pack form for easy transportation and assembly.
AJ Studio Furniture, (Contact Details).
Steinberg have announced that their Topaz Computer-Controlled Recording System, a Macintosh-controlled hard disk recorder, will finally be launched in February 1990. The system will use a 360Mb hard disk, which is housed in a 19" rackmount unit along with tape cassette streamer backup and the audio processing circuitry. A modular design is employed to facilitate servicing and hardware expansion. Topaz will operate in either two-channel mono or phase-locked stereo modes, and up to eight units may be connected together to provide a configuration suitable for multitrack recording.
The system is equipped with 16-bit linear A/D and D/A convertors and supports sampling rates of 32kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz; transfer of digital audio data can also be made via an AES/EBU digital interface. The system software includes all of the important features you would expect from a major hard disk system, including non-destructive editing and timestretch. An Apple Macintosh II is used as the system controller, communicating via a high speed RS422 link. The use of a Mac will enable forthcoming Steinberg Mac software to run concurrently with the Topaz controlling software under MROS, Steinberg's own multitasking realtime operating system. A version of Cubase for the Mac will be released at the same time that Topaz appears.
Steinberg Digital Audio, (Contact Details).
Koss have introduced three new high quality headphones, the first ever to employ titanium nitride coated driver elements. Koss claim that the new material allows the diaphragm membrane to be made extremely rigid to provide greater clarity in midrange and upper frequency reproduction, whilst reducing the total weight of the assembly. The top-of-the range closed back TNT88 (£97) has a quoted frequency response of 15Hz-30kHz. The other new models are the closed back TNT66 (£48) and the open backed TNT77 (£76).
HW International, (Contact Details).
The new MP44 MIDI Player from MIDItemp is a multi-function MIDI tool, combining a 4x4 MIDI matrix, a sequencer and a MIDI analyser. The MP44 comes in a 1U rackmount case, and incorporates a 3.5" floppy disk drive which is fully compatible with Atari disk drives. Songs saved in MIDI Standard Format can be loaded into the MP44 and replayed, allowing the unit to be used as a live sequence playback unit for songs created on an Atari sequencer. Internal RAM is expandable to four megabytes. The MP44 can also record MIDI data via four MIDI Ins, and song files saved on the MP44 can be read by Atari STs.
The unit incorporates four MIDI Outs, and can be operated as a 4x4 MIDI matrix. MIDI data passing through can be manipulated to allow a simple synthesizer keyboard to operate as a master keyboard, with keyboard splits etc. Configurations can be stored in 256 user memory locations.
The Distribution Company, (Contact Details).
Gajits Music Software have announced a range of editor programs that will multitask with their recently-launched Sequencer One. The new Sound Development programs (£99 each) will currently run on an Atari ST, either as desk accessories or normal programs, and Amiga versions will be made available soon.
The first two editor programs in the range are CMpanion, for the Roland MT32, CM32L, CM32P and CM64; and 4D Companion, for the D5/10/20/110. The programs include full editing and librarian features, plus randomisation facilities.
Gajits Music Software, (Contact Details).