Shape of Things to Come
A plethora of new hi-tech products to whet your appetite.
The new model 28 is the latest 4-track cassette-based ministudio from Fostex. Offering eight inputs and two auxiliaries, the model 28 runs at high speed (3.75ips) and includes Dolby C noise reduction to ensure optimum quality from the cassete tape format. Along with the added flexibility of the new machine, the 28 can also provide MIDI control via the optional MTC1 interface, together with an improved tape transport and EQ controls. Price: £599 inc VAT.
Also from Fostex comes the 216 rack-mount mixer. This 2U high unit can be configured as either one 16:2 or two 8:2 mixers, with each input channel featuring gain and pan controls, and two auxiliary sends for connection to effects units etc. At £299 inc VAT, the 216 should find favour with many home recordists.
Harman UK, (Contact Details).
The Digital Muse, creators of the Virtuoso sequencer, have introduced VMOS: the Virtuoso Modular Operating System. VMOS is an enhancement of the non-GEM operating system for their Virtuoso and Prodigy ST sequencer programs. The new system allows any number of modules to be installed into an interactive, fully multitasking environment, these modules being the individual pages from the main program itself - the Grid or Event pages, for example.
One of the benefits of VMOS is that it actually frees up memory by allowing you to choose which modules you want to work with; you only load into the computer the necessary parts of the program as and when it is required. Other than the existing pages of the current Virtuoso, future module releases will include: Score, a smooth-scrolling score edit facility; a MIDI Monitor; and a module which will allow you to access GEM desktop accessories from within Virtuoso (being non-GEM, this is not currently possible).
New updates to Virtuoso itself include: an Autosave feature, which automatically saves your work after a predefined time interval; Edit Sliders, for real-time track parameter control; MIDI Remote Control; Gate Time editing; and a Time Signature Map.
The Digital Muse, (Contact Details).
Intelligent Music have released a major upgrade to their UpBeat program for the Apple Macintosh. Originally introduced in 1987, UpBeat has now developed into a sophisticated graphic rhythm sequencer which helps simplify the creation of rhythm generation and 'humanise' rhythm sequences.
Some of the new features include a Device List, which allows naming of drum machine and sampler sounds so that they can be recalled from external MIDI equipment by name, rather than by MIDI program numbers. The real-time editing features let you graphically edit musical material whilst the sequencer is playing. To humanise your music, fills and embellishments can be generated by the new Automatic Variation function.
UpBeat now supports Apple's new MIDI Manager, which will be included in a forthcoming upgrade of Apple's operating system software.
MCMXCIX Distribution, (Contact Details).
Yamaha's 1 range of home recording equipment has been extended with the addition of three new units, the DR1 Digital Reverb, BSP1 Bass Sound Processor, and DP1 Dynamic Processor. The DR1 (£159) is a straightforward digital reverb unit offering four preset reverb programs and basic EQ. The BSP1 (£145) Bass Sound Processor allows direct input from a bass guitar into the 1 system, with a limiter and compressor, 3-band parametric EQ, 5-band graphic EQ (63Hz, 16Hz, 4Hz, 1kHz and 2.5kHz), and an auxiliary send and return loop. The DP1 Dynamic Processor (£145) is a stereo limiting device, designed to help control noise levels within a recording system.
Yamaha-Kemble, (Contact Details).
Alba Computing have introduced a low-cost MIDI interface kit for use with the Commodore Amiga A5, A1, and A2 computers. The kit is simple to build and requires no more than a soldering iron and a couple of hours construction time. It comes complete with all parts and includes MIDI In, Out and Thru sockets and connects to the Amiga's serial port. All this for the princely sum of £23.95 inc VAT.
Alba Computing Ltd, (Contact Details).
Stirling Studio Systems have taken the initiative of importing what is probably the smallest DAT (digital audio tape) recorder on the market.
The remarkable Aiwa HDX1 is not much larger than the DAT cassette itself but still manages to offer superb digital sound quality in a truly portable format. We are also told that through the simple attachment of a special Aiwa A/D convertor, and a video camera, the HDX1 can be used to record still video pictures as well! The basic Aiwa HDX1 system begins at £35.
Stirling Audio Systems, (Contact Details).
Hinton Instruments' MIDI routing matrix, MIDIX, has been updated to Version 2.0. This hardware/software system enables MIDI gear to be patched together via an intelligent controller, which allows you to monitor equipment interconnection and status via a computer program for the Atari ST or PC compatibles.
MIDIX is available in a number of configurations ranging from a 1x1 matrix up to a massive 96x96, all with MIDI Recall, which saves SysEx data from all the devices linked to the matrix for future instant recall.
Features of the system include Preset and Chained Preset Sequences, Definable Illegal Patching, and Definable Solo Grouping for each output. MIDIX systems have been been installed in a number of top class studios, including Peter Gabriel's Real World studios and The Wool Hall. Pictured here is a custom unit built for John Hollis, the creator of the Trackman music sequencer.
Hinton Instruments, (Contact Details).
Revox have introduced a SMPTE version of their C270 series tape recorder, called the C270 2TC. Available in two speeds - either a 3.75/7.5ips or 7.5/15ips machine - the C270 2TC also comes with built-in Dolby HX Pro noise reduction, making it an ideal video post-production machine.
FWO Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Just when you thought you'd seen everything that could ever fit into a 19" rack system, along comes CP Cases with a range of rack-mounting draws!
Available in either 2, 3 or 4U high varieties, the draws are constructed from metal with ballbearing runners and optional locks. So, if you've got a little space left in your rack and you want somewhere handy to store your wire strippers, soldering iron or whatever, this could be the answer.
In addition to 19" draws, CP Cases also manufacture a range of conversion kits to house nonstandard equipment such as CD players in the now ubiquitous 19" rack format.
Whilst we're on the subject of racks, did you know that Canford Audio sell a rack-mountable fridge? Handy for keeping the drummer's lager cool!
CP Cases, (Contact Details).
Digital Audio Concepts are a British company who manufacture a range of mass storage systems specifically designed for use with musical instruments. All drives operate via a SCSI port and are 19" rack-mounting.
The R4000 Removable Hard Disk, at £1250 +VAT, is based around a Syquest drive and comes with a 45 Megabyte cartridge for storing sampler and computer data. Unlike other products, this particular drive can be plugged straight into an Akai S1000, Emulator III, Ensoniq EPS or Roland W3, and does not require an Apple Macintosh computer to format the drive.
If you are looking for greater storage capacity for use with hard disk recording systems such as Digidesign's Sound Tools, DAC also manufacture a whole family of hard disk drives starting at £2200 +VAT for a 256Mb unit and running all the way up to a positively gargantuan 1.2 Gigabyte drive, which gives over two hours of stereo recording time when used with Sound Tools.
DAC also have a range of rewritable optical drives. Their products are retailed by Argents of London and Project Music of Hounslow.
Digital Audio Concepts, (Contact Details).
With the dramatic growth in the home digital piano market, Yamaha have introduced the DOM30 Disk Orchestra Module to supplement the range of sounds and rhythms available to the home player. The DOM30 includes a drum machine, effects processor, sequencer, and tone generator.
Spec-wise, it shapes up with 1 sounds, 44 PCM percussion sounds, 4 modes of reverb, an 11-track (1 music; 1 rhythm) sequencer, 3.5" floppy disk drive, 6 song capacity, and compatibility with the Yamaha Disklavier Orchestra Collection. Price £749. The DRC20 at £375 offers the sequencer section only of its big brother.
Also from Yamaha comes a new digital piano in the shape of the YFP70. It features AWM tone generation, reverb, and auto-accompaniments, rhythm patterns, and an onboard sequencer. Price £1,099.
Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).
It is an unfortunate fact that many old and undoubtedly classic recordings are, in their original form, of pretty lousy quality, often so bad as to be unreleasable. However, at least one means of cleaning up such recordings is now readily available, in the form of Sonic Solutions' new Desktop Audio system, the Sonic System.
The Sonic System consists of a Macintosh II with at least one large hard disk to store digital audio data and a Sonic Signal Processor card. With the addition of optional NoNoise software, unwanted clicks, pops, hums, tape hiss and surface noise can all be removed from recordings ready for release on CD. Sonic Solutions has been offering a NoNoise service for the last 18 months, and in that time has carried out 'sound restoration' on 2 CD projects, and the soundtrack for a Doors live concert video in which a faulty mic lead caused much of Jim Morrison's original vocal performance to be obliterated.
FW Bauch Ltd, (Contact Details).
Hitlist ST (£249) from Musicsoft is a new program for the Atari ST aimed at film and video music composers. The program allows you to enter SMPTE hits and optional hit descriptions, and the desired tempo for the music to be used, and will then calculate the bar and beat positions of all hits. Hits can also be marked live, as a piece of music or video is played, and with the addition of a sync box, Hitlist will function as a SMPTE/MIDI timecode-driven MIDI event transmitter, turning the Atari ST into a Foley system.
Radius International Ltd, (Contact Details).
Designed specifically for bass players, the DOD BHM4 Bass Harmony Machine is the latest and third member of the DOD harmoniser range. Offering a similar audio spec as the IPS33 Pitch Shifter, the BHM4 generates two-note and three-note harmonies to bass guitar input, as well as chorus and flanging effects. The unit can be controlled either manually from the front panel, via a footswitch, or over MIDI.
£649 inc VAT.
JHS & Co. Ltd, (Contact Details).
Hollis Research have released Version 2 of their popular Trackman sequencer. The new version is packed with over 20 extra features that have come about through extensive user feedback from both amateur and professional musicians alike. There are far too many new features to mention in detail, but here are the highlights.
One of the major features of Trackman II is the new Mix Automation section that lets you record fader movements, mutes and solos in real time, and see them played back. Automation controllers are fully assignable so that spare tracks can be used to control external units, such as VCAs.
Trackman is now also multitasking, allowing you to load, save, format disks, perform editing operations, all while a sequence is playing.
MIDI Event Chase allows you to chase all 120 MIDI controllers across all 32 channels of Trackman. Track Sheet provides space to name each track, plus it has a notepad and space for an artist's name and song title. All track sheets are automatically time and date stamped when saved.
Programmable Drum Map allows each drum to be assigned to a MIDI note, as well as real-time remapping of drums. The new version has an improved Graphic Note Editor and a new compact note format, which actually increases the note capacity of Trackman and yields a further 25% of memory space; good news for 520 ST owners.
There are now 32 programmable locate points in the Cue List, and each can be named for instant recall. The real-time repeat feature now has slider controls for aftertouch, decay, and repeat duration, and can be used to produce MIDI echo and syncopated rhythmic effects.
Further new features and improvements include: selective erase; post-quantisation; MIDI channel to track mapping; compression/expansion of velocity; switchable multi or single channel input; plus many more keyboard shortcut commands. Trackman II costs £179.
Hollis Research, (Contact Details).