Shape Of Things To Come
Yet another selection of recently announced new products to whet your appetite!
Korg have unveiled two new keyboards to carry the M1 torch into 1991 and beyond. The 01/W FD (£1,795) is a workstation featuring 32-voice polyphony from an AI-Square synthesis section, a 16-track sequencer, and a powerful new effects section. A floppy disk drive has been added, addressing the M1's only real shortcoming, and a version of the keyboard without a drive, the 01/W (£1,645) is also available. The 01/W has a smaller sequencer memory — 7,000 notes as opposed to the 01/W FD's 48,000.
Although the two new instruments are intended to be very much M1s for today, the M1 itself will not be discontinued, and will be available alongside the products it inspired for some time to come.
The new AI-Square synthesis section is based closely on the original AI synthesis, but there is now a waveshaping section that modulates sampled waveforms so as to change the timbre in ways quite impossible with a filter, adding extra harmonics unrelated to the original harmonic content. There are 255 basic sampled sounds, plus 119 drum and percussion sounds.
The unusual level of secrecy preceding the 01/W's launch and shipping means that not only do we have a review in this issue (see centre spread), but the keyboards should be in the shops by the time you read this.
Korg UK, (Contact Details).
Dreamtime Technology is a company manufacturing low cost memory expanders for the original EPS — they expect to extend their range in the near future to cater for EPS 16 Plus owners as well, but at present they can offer some very attractive deals to EPS owners who are running out of memory.
Their 5x expander board costs just £295, and their 2x expander is only £145. Both are fully compatible with Ensoniq's SCSI board. Another advantage of the Dreamtime expanders is their compact size, making flightcasing a good deal easier than with Ensoniq's units. The expanders come with a full 12 month warranty, and are available only via mail order.
Dreamtime Technology, (Contact Details).
The newly-released 3.1 version of Creator/Notator features, amongst other things, support for Fostex's MIDI machine control system. The R8, G16S and G24S can all be controlled via the latest version of the C-Lab software (the R8 requires a separate MTC1 interface, the G16S and G24S use internal interfaces). MIDI commands generated by the sequencer will control the tape transport, and the sequencer can then sync to timecode on the multitrack tape.
Fostex UK, (Contact Details).
The new Amptech range of stereo mixers from Sound Music Products, a Doncaster-based company, offers 8:2, 12:2 and 16:2 configurations, all employing modular construction. The mixers are built into sturdy integral flightcases.
The input section offers line and balanced mic inputs, and 3-band EQ (bass, mid, treble, with 15dB of cut/boost) is featured on each channel. There are pre and post-fade auxs, and channels and master faders are 60mm types.
Prices are: 8:2 £329 inc VAT, 12:2 £399 inc VAT, 16:2 £499 inc VAT.
Sound Music Products, (Contact Details).
Microdeal have announced a new stereo sampler cartridge for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga computers. The Stereo Master cartridge (£39.95 inc VAT) comes with AMAS-style software with a host of tempting features: realtime special effects; sfx include echo, reverb, flanging, chorus, pitch up/down, stereo bounce; 3-D FFT waveform display; built-in twin spectrum analyser; sample sequencer for up to 18 samples; real-time and step-time entry of sequencer score; fully featured sample editor; multiple filters.
Microdeal, (Contact Details).
Mark of the Unicorn have introduced IBM software for the MIDI Mixer 7s to provide complete control from the IBM PC and compatible computers. IBM, Atari and Macintosh control software is bundled together with the MIDI Mixer 7s.
The 7s console software looks and operates like a standard mixing console. Users can access all of the parameters of the MIDI Mixer 7s directly from their computer, and the on-screen faders and knobs animate in response to incoming MIDI data. The IBM 7s Console can automate mixdowns by locking scene changes to SMPTE time code.
The software requires an IBM PC AT, XT, PS/2 or compatible computer with a VGA or EGA video display, a Microsoft or Logitech compatible mouse, and a MIDI interface. The IBM 7s Console software is available free of charge to all registered MIDI Mixer 7s owners.
Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details)
Musitronics, the German specialists in synth data cards and other hi-tech accessories, have announced the imminent arrival of the Sample Card Programmer. The SCP plugs into the Atari's DMA port, and with proprietary software allows the user to create PCM custom cards for the Roland U-series; support for the D70 and R8 will follow shortly. Cards will be available in 1 and 2 megabit capacities. The software that supports the SCP allows samples to be loaded via the MIDI Sample Dump Standard, and it is also compatible with Steinberg's Avalon, so samples that have been saved in he Avalon format can be loaded directly into PCM cards.
Not for the casual user, but it's certain to open the floodgates on a whole new wave of sound cards from third parties. The SCP will cost £279; card prices have not yet been announced.
Also new from Musitronics is the PCM.EX, a PCM expansion for the D50 (£245). It allows you to expand the PCM memory of the D50 with 50 new waveforms, including three complete drum kits, piano, choir etc. It features 64 new patches incorporating these new waveforms. Also, the D50's card slot is modified so that the keyboard can accept cards created by the SCP.
The M.EX multi-timbral expansion for the D50 has now dropped in price. The standard expansion (£199) makes the D50 8-part multi-timbral, and enhances the MIDI spec, and a more advanced modification (£245) adds an extra 128 RAM patches. Finally, Musitronics are now offering a Speed System upgrade for the D50/550, which improves the response time to incoming MIDI data by more than 40%. Speed System costs £45, or £55 with an M.EX Operating System update.
Advanced Media Group, (Contact Details).
LA Audio, manufacturers of the MIDI Gate 16-channel noise gate, have announced a sister product in the form of the MIDI Mute. As the name subtly hints, the unit is a MIDI-controlled muting unit, offering a means of adding MIDI mute capability to a mixer or in a keyboard setup. The 1U rackmount 32-channel unit retails at £581.63 inc VAT — which works out at around £18 per channel. Audio connections are via rear panel stereo jacks, one per channel.
Mutes can be controlled via a sequencer, using MIDI notes, or mute configurations can be stored in 128 internal locations and switched via program changes. There are front panel buttons to toggle mutes from the unit itself, and since these generate note data, you can record mute sequences into a sequencer from the MIDI mute.
LA Distribution, (Contact Details)
New from Frontier Software is Xtra-RAM Deluxe, a RAM upgrade board designed specifically for the older Atari ST family.
The new deluxe RAM board allows ST owners to break the previous 2.5 Mbyte barrier and upgrade their computers to a maximum of 4 Mbytes. By utilising SIMM-style RAM chip technology, as used in the newer Atari STE models, the Xtra-RAM Deluxe offers a straightforward solution to memory expansion.
The Xtra-RAM Deluxe boards come in three sizes: 520K, and 2 or 4 MBytes. You can therefore upgrade a 520ST to 1, 2.5 or 4 Mbytes, and a 1040ST to 2.5 or 4 Mbytes by using an easily installed board that requires no soldering. Once installed, the computer automatically registers the extra RAM and assigns this to your music software programs, giving more space for song data and multi-tasking operations.
Another benefit is that as the SIMMs are socket based, you can add further memory to the 520K and 2MByte boards at any time. Also, because the boards use STE-compatible SIMMs, you can remove the chips from your old ST and re-install them in an Atari STE if you decide to upgrade your computer.
The Xtra-RAM Deluxe is compatible with 520, 1040STFM, Mega 1ST and 2ST models. Prices are: 520K £69, 2Mbyte £120, and 4Mbyte £199.
Multi Point Media, (Contact Details).
Ever wished you could have an extra 16 MIDI channels from C-Lab Creator or Notator without going to the expense of buying ExPort? Or perhaps you're a MIDI software programmer who'd like to offer an extra 16 MIDI channels without having to design and manufacture special hardware.
ModemMIDI, available through the UKMA, is a MIDI port which plugs into the RS232 port on the Atari ST range of computers, providing an additional 16 MIDI channels besides those available on the built-in MIDI port. It is directly compatible with port B of C-Lab's ExPort, and can be addressed by any MIDI program via the system call and programming information which is available on request. ModemMIDI costs £29.95 inc VAT (plus £1 for P+P).
UKMA, (Contact Details).
New from Bournemouth-based Resotek is Virtual Wave (£99.95), a software synthesis program for the ST that, somewhat in the style of Digidesign's Turbosynth and Softsynth, creates data that can be dumped via MIDI to a sampler. The program supports the 12-bit and 16-bit MIDI Sample Dump standards (which most samplers can understand), and also has dedicated support for the S900/950, with more samplers to follow shortly.
Virtual Wave allows you to create your own waveshapes through additive synthesis, and then combine these into complex sounds via Waveform Interpolation. Although the program is mainly aimed at producing 'full-length' sounds, its powerful facilities for creating single waves could be very useful to SY77 and DPM3 owners.
Sample size is not limited by the computer's memory, and sounds much larger than one megabyte can be created on a 520ST — the computer calculates the necessary data as it goes, rather than working everything out before transfer.
Full waveform editing functions are of course available, and effects such as chorus and multiple octave layering can be added to the basic sound.
Resotek, (Contact Details).
The modestly-titled Miracle Piano Teaching System offers a truly arcade-age means of teaching keyboard technique. The system, which consists of a keyboard, and software for a Nintendo Entertainment System, PC-compatible computer, Amiga or Mac (but not ST), allows total newcomers to music to learn at their own pace, through a series of around 360 different lessons inspired by video game styles. Many of the lessons are aimed at teaching different styles of music, from classical and contemporary to rock, jazz and country (though it's doubtful that Miracle can go so far as to teach the Southern drawl, or supply the tragic personal history so essential to the latter).
The keyboard itself offers 49 full size velocity sensitive keys, 128 sampled sounds, on-board speakers, 16-note polyphony and 8-part multi-timbrality. The system has already established itself in the US, and the application of arcade game styles does not seem to have in any way watered down the 'serious' content of the educational package — Miracle has been described by a professor at the prestigious Julliard School of Music as "a delightful and irresistible path into the joys of making music..."
Mindscape International, (Contact Details).
Ever picked up your guitar and tried to play along to a favourite track, only to find that the tape deck runs slightly fast or slow and you're therefore out of tune with the recorded music? You can hardly ask the band to stop playing and give you an 'E' to tune up on, but you can pop a Stable Guitar Tuner cassette in the machine, which does just as well — the cassette contains notes for you to tune to (which, being sharpened or flattened just like your favourite track, will provide an accurate reference), as well as a tutorial on playing 12-bar blues, and an easy-to-use chord chart — all for only £1.99.
Simon Stable Promotions Cassette Duplication, (Contact Details).
The Digitech DMC7 (£129) is a new MIDI footpedal, allowing pedestrian control over patch selection. The unit can operate on all 16 MIDI channels, and covers the full 128 program change range. A large 4-digit LED provides program number and MIDI channel display, and there are seven footswitches: five are dual-numbered for for program changes, and two are used for stepping through channels. The DMC7 is powered by an external PSU.
John Hornby Skewes & Co., (Contact Details).
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