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Shape Of Things To Come

Our regular round-up of whats new in the world of hi-tech music and recording.


Fostex have launched their first 24-track machine, which is also their first multi-track with new Dolby S-type noise reduction, Dolby Labs' development of the state-of-the-art SR system. The 1" G24S features advanced transport technology, an integrated chase synchroniser, full MIDI implementation, and VTR control. UK price is expected to be just a little under £10,000.

The G24S's MIDI implementation allows MIDI transport control and integral SMPTE-MTC conversion, and enables complete integration with sequencing software. A DA is available to allow the unit to be run in conjunction with any Macintosh sequencer, and Cubase on the ST will also support G24S control facilities (including overlapping punch-in/out points on separate tracks).

The built-in chase synchroniser means that the machine is SMPTE controllable as a slave transport, with all operating controls on the unit's front panel. The panel can be tilted for ease of use, or it can be removed totally to provide full remote control from a different location.

The inclusion of an RS422 serial port on the G24S enables the machine to link directly to VTR equipment, which uses the same Sony 9-pin protocol for control. Since the machine has its own synchroniser, it will also eliminate the need for intricate linking of extra synchronising equipment in complex multi-media environments.

The G24S arrives hot on the heels of Tascam's 1" 24-track Dolby S machine, the MSR24S. One notable result of the adoption of Dolby S on the two units is that it removes a long-standing difference between Tascam and Fostex machines — up to now, Tascam have used dbx noise reduction (which is not, as some people think, a Dolby product) on their multi-tracks and Portastudios, whilst Fostex have used Dolby B and C. Consequently, the choice between otherwise similar Fostex and Tascam machines has often come down to an individual preference for one or other NR system.


  • Programmable meters — permanent peak hold, peak reading, and temporary peak hold all user adjustable.
  • SMPTE/EBU time code generator.
  • Master transport control mode.
  • Programmable auto punch in/out.
  • Second Page mode — multi-function operation of individual command keys, together with programmable system and maintenance functions.
  • Remote control foot switches available as options for punching in/out and for automatic locating.
  • Automation features — up to 10-point memory, preroll, auto locate, auto play auto return, zone limiting, total memory access.


Development stages ot the Dolby S NR circuitry. Right background, early multi-board configuration; left. 2-channel card; centre, newer compact single-channel hybrid circuits.

The Dolby S-type recording system was originally developed to produce the highest possible dynamic range from the standard compact cassette. It offers greatly improved dynamic range, extra headroom at the frequency extremes, and very good tolerance to cassette machine play-back errors (unlike Dolby C, which is rather prone to differences in head alignment between recording and playback machines).

Applied to the more robust open reel format, Dolby S offers 24dB of noise reduction for frequencies above 400Hz and 10dB of noise reduction below 200Hz. Dolby S uses two principles from the professional Dolby Spectral Recording (SR) system. The first, called Action Substitution, uses a combination of fixed and sliding bands to provide a more adaptive response to the signal spectrum. The second, Modulation Control, uses extra control signals to prevent high level signals from reducing the noise reduction effect in other parts of the frequency spectrum.

The current generation S-type circuits require three chips, but a single chip version has now been developed, and will shortly become available. That means that S-type noise reduction will be appearing on professional and consumer cassette decks, and, although neither Fostex nor Tascam have announced plans to do so, no doubt on cassette 4-tracks too.

Fostex UK, (Contact Details).


The Dominator II from Aphex systems is a stereo multi-band peak limiter, designed to fit a wide range of audio applications. The company say that the use of multiband techniques, along with new proprietary circuits, has greatly reduced the audibility of the limiting action. This means that greater limiting depth is possible, resulting in increased loudness whilst maintaining audio quality. "At virtually any limiting depth," according to Aphex, "the Dominator II is free of 'hole punching', 'dullness', and most other effects normally associated with limiters. The desired limiting effects of greater audio density and increased 'punch' are readily available, and as a peak overshoot protection limiter, the Dominator II is undetectable while it absolutely prevents peak levels exceeding a user-definable level."

Sound Technology plc. (Contact Details).


Hill Audio have updated their Multimix 19" rack mount mixer, and added a new small console to the Mix range, in the form of the Minimix. The Multimix (the first mixer to offer 16 inputs in the rack format) has now become the Multimix II. It features 16 input channels, four of which can also act as sub-groups, thereby allowing the same console to be configured as a 16:2:1, 12:4:2 or 16:4:2:1. The first 12 channels have mic and line inputs (1-4 also have RIAA inputs), phantom powering, pad, 3-band EQ, 2 aux sends, full routing to four groups and the master section, muting, pan and pfl. The remaining four inputs/sub-groups are identical, but have no group routing facilities, and a direct out switch is provided.

The Minimix has more limited facilities, but identical audio specifications to the rest of the Mix range. The 16 input channels feature mic and line in, 2-band EQ, four aux sends (two pre and two post), pfl, pan and muting. 100mm faders are used on channels and the stereo master.

Hill Audio. (Contact Details).


Following hot on the heels of the update of Creator and Notator to Version 3.0, C-Lab have announced three new pieces of music software aimed at the education market: Notator Alpha, Midia, and Aura.

Notator Alpha brings MIDI sequencing and notation together in a single program, though at a more affordable level than Notator, providing a cost-effective introduction to composing, editing, arranging and playing music using an ST and any MIDI instrument.

Midia is a program designed to introduce MIDI to the beginner, through displaying the interaction between a MIDI instrument and the computer via screen action and text. Midia's graphic tools include footswitches, pedals and faders, as well as a screen keyboard.

Midia also features a MIDI event list, a byte calculator, input filters, and a Universal Dump Utility Function. Aura is an ear-training and rhythm training system, which features interval listening exercises, scale training, melody dictation and rhythm dictation/training.

Sound Technology plc. (Contact Details).


The C-Mix automation system from Jellinghaus Musik Systeme is now available in the UK. The German system uses control software running on an Atari ST, and hardware CPU and VCA boards. Up to 64 channels (faders and mutes) can be controlled, expandable in blocks of 16. The software allows up to 99 desk settings to be saved and recalled.

The hardware is designed for direct installation in the desk, with the original faders used for control. In the case of desks with a low construction height, the frame can be installed underneath the desk body. Insert points remain vacant. Jellinghaus have paid particular attention to ensuring a high degree of shielding. All connecting cables carry only direct current, and the CPU board has additional shielding. Each channel is provided with a relay, with which the automation can be entirely bypassed, allowing the desk to be used as normal.

DACS. (Contact Details).


3M have announced the arrival of their ProDAT range of cassettes for the expanding DAT market. Available in four lengths, up to a maximum running time of 120 minutes, the cassettes can be supplied either in individual cases or, as suggested by 3M's market research, in larger library boxes. The ABS plastic protective boxes can store up to four cassettes each, and are intended to solve the problem of the diminutive tapes being accidentally mislaid or damaged.

3M Professional Audio/Video Group. (Contact Details).


Symetrix chose the recent AES to launch their new digital recording and editing station, the DPR44. The DPR44 features simultaneous 4-track 18/24-bit record/playback, at 32, 44.1/44.056, 48kHz sampling rates, four layers of object-oriented editing and soundfile manipulation per track, cut and paste editing down to digital sample resolution, crossfade, four channels of real-time EQ, compression, limiting, expansion and gating, and dynamic automation and recall of all level change and system parameters. All record/edit events can be locked to LTC and VITC time codes, video sync and word clock, and there' is provision for machine control of audio and video recorders, DAT recorders etc. The system is completely compatible with CMX and other EDL formats.

The system interface is based on a graphics control tablet and a full colour screen, with Object Oriented Editing Projection, which allows discrete sound segments or tracks to be assigned the attributes of graphic objects. The system's processor is capable of 400MIPS (millions of instructions per second) operation, to allow all editing functions to be performed in real time.


BBE has launched the 882A Sonic Maximiser as part of its professional range of products. The BBE 882A is intended to correct the phase and amplitude distortion inherent in dynamic loudspeakers — by controlling both of these parameters, BBE claim that the device will accurately reproduce the full audio spectrum of an original performance, revealing nuances and subtleties that would otherwise remain inaudible. The processing is single-ended, and can be applied anywhere in a recording, live sound or broadcast audio chain.

The 2-channel unit has two independent controls (Lo Contour and Definition) for each channel, hard-wired bypass, and active balanced outputs.


Harmonic distortion: less than 0.1% @ 1kHz @ +4dBu
Noise level: -85dBu below 0dBu
Nominal input level: -10dBu to +8dBu
Headroom: +23dBu

Trevor Cash International, (Contact Details).


Technics have unveiled their first consumer-oriented DAT recorder. The SV-DA10 (£666.95) features MASH 1-bit A-to-D and D-to-A convertors, and a Learning Search system that operates at 400 times normal speed. Other features include a Shuttle Search Dial, digital fade in and out, and SCMS.

The A-to-D convertors have separate circuitry for the left and right channels, each employing 64x oversampling, three noise-shaping stages, and a 2-stage digital filter. The Search Dial allows cue and review at a variable rate from 1/2 to 15 times normal speed. Digital optical inputs and outputs are provided.

Panasonic Consumer Electronics, (Contact Details).


Peavey's new Unity Series 1000 Mixer comes in 8 and 12-channel versions, and features one monitor send and one effects send. 3-band EQ is provided, and both the channels and master section use 60mm faders. The 2000 Series is a slightly expanded version of the 1000, offered in 12 and 16-channel versions, with two monitor sends, two effects sends and two stereo effects returns. Both 1000 and 2000 Series allow effects returns to be mixed into the monitors via the effects-to-monitor control in the master section

Peavey UK, (Contact Details).


The latest addition to the Symetrix 200 Series of half rack size audio devices is the Symetrix SX208, the worlds first stereo compressor/limiter in this format. The device offers compression ratio and output gain controls, and both peak and RMS level detection for accurate response to any level changes. The SX208 will retail at £199 inc VAT.

Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).


New from the Rolls corporation of Utah are two 6-channel mono mixers, suitable for onstage mic or instrument mixing, or increasing the number of inputs to a larger console. The HR6MX and HR6MQ are identical in all respects except that the MX has individually switchable phantom powering, and XLR inputs and outputs. Both mixers are built to a half rack format, and offer 6-in 1-out mixing with gain control and overload indication on each channel, and master volume and LED bargraph meter. The output level can switch automatically between line and mic level, to optimise the signal-to-noise ratio.

Trevor Cash International, (Contact Details).

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MIDI Medicine

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 - Jan 1991


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