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The Shape Of Things To Come

A chance to do some crystal gazing at product developments in the music/recording/visual fields.

Alesis, one of the more recent names to emerge from America, have already started to carve out a fine reputation for their XT digital reverb units. In December, Britain should see the latest offering from Alesis in the form of the AI Digital Reverb and it promises to be something rather special. The unit comes in two parts, the 19" rackmounting processor and the handheld remote control, from which all programming is carried out. Technically, the AI is a MIDI controllable reverb system featuring the latest high speed digital circuitry and offering some pretty impressive facilities: sampling rate 35.7kHz - 16 bit, frequency response (effect) 30Hz to 20kHz, 90 user programmable memories, 90dB dynamic range and a reverb pre-delay of up to 3 seconds.

Almost every aspect of the reverb's characteristic is programmable including high, mid and low frequency decay time, filters, damping, diffusion, slapback delay and room size to name a few. There's even a multi-tap delay line mode with controllable gain and pan of each delay tap. All data is entered via the remote keypad and parameters may be called up into the alphanumeric display for editing. If you have problems you can even call up a 'Help' page which allows you to scroll through a display of the device's operating instructions. The beauty of the AI system is that you may store all your programs in non-volatile memory within the remote control (similar to an AMS), unplug it from the main processor, take it to another recording session, plug it in and away you go.

On paper the AI seems to be both a comprehensive and exceptionally high quality digital reverb, and at a rumoured selling price of just under £4,000 it's going to present some serious competition to our home grown English reverb units. What's more, additional remote controls are available separately if 90 program memories aren't enough. (Contact Details)

The Yamaha DX100 is the latest and possibly the most amazing in their never ending collection of FM synths. It's only a few months since the introduction of the DX21 brought FM down to a price that everyone could entertain, and now here's the DX100 offering 192 preset ROM voices and the same sound generating facilities as the DX21 (ie. 4 operators, 8 algorithms, envelope shapers, cassette patch dump and the usual host of performance controls) in a portable keyboard version for £349.

The keyboard itself covers a 49 note span and is either battery or mains powered. Having such a small keyboard may be a problem for some people (though it hasn't deterred sales of Casio's CZ-101) but you can control it from a MIDI sequencer if you so wish. (Contact Details)

If you're doing a fair amount of gigging you might be interested in the Studiomaster 12M monitor console. This mixer represents the first of a new range of equipment from Studiomaster with power amplifiers and more coming soon.

The 12M is modular in design and starts with a 24 into 12 standard framework, expandable up to 32 input channels. Price includes a flight case to accommodate the fully expanded frame. (Contact Details)

The first of its kind in Europe is the new DX RAM cartridge exclusively handled by Rock City of Newcastle. These cartridges have been specially designed for use with both the DX and RX range of Yamaha products and offer 64 user programmable memory locations per cartridge. (Contact Details)

The current dilemma faced by many people who still use and love their old trusted synthesizers and drum machines is that their MIDI friends won't talk to them. But now you can raise a smile to the new Vesta Kozo MDI-1.

Hot from the Japanese Audio Fair comes this new low cost MIDI-to-CV interface which solves the problems of pitch control of the older CV/Gate type equipment. So you can now sequence your Roland SH-09 or the like. What is also very interesting is that it offers the facility to trigger a MIDI drum machine from an analogue sequencer at the same time as triggering, say, a sampler like the Vesta Kozo DIG-420, which is only fitted with CV and Gate control inputs. At the unbelievable price of £132 it's affordable enough to solve an awful lot of people's problems. (Contact Details)

With the recent release of the new Sony Video 8 standard, products in both the audio and video aspects of our lives seem poised to change over to the new 8mm tape format. To date 127 manufacturers throughout the world have agreed to adopt the new standard and will be releasing products over the coming months.

In the meantime, those awfully nice Sony people have launched a series of six different audio and video units on to the market to catch some of the Christmas sales and establish the new format very quickly, in much the same way as they did with the Walkman.

Perhaps the most significant product in the range is the EV-S700 Digital Audio Video cassette. At £750 the unit offers high quality video with PCM digital stereo sound, all recorded on the new 8mm tape format which is not much bigger than a normal audio cassette.

However, the really incredible thing about this machine is that you can use it to record audio only. In this mode you have six tracks of stereo digital sound running side by side on one 8mm wide tape giving a total duration of 18 hours of music. Unbelievable isn't it?

Sound quality is stated to be much better than that offered by the best metal audio cassette tapes. The tech spec reveals a 31.25 kHz sampling rate, 8-bit system, 20Hz to 15kHz frequency range and an 88dB dynamic range. Could this mean the end of VHS?

The PCM-EV10 is the stand alone stereo digital audio processor part of the EV-S700 and may be used in conjunction with a separate video recorder, price £199.95. (Contact Details)

When is a stopwatch not a stopwatch?

When the batteries run out! Well that's enough of the jokes. What recently caught our attention was the Seiko Soundproducer. This handheld time piece has been designed to calculate time in Hours, Minutes and Seconds and allows you to add or subtract time, pre-set a countdown, act as a stopwatch or function as a normal watch.

You can, for example, punch in the duration of a length of recording tape or cassette and then activate the Soundproducer when the tape starts, it'll then give you a constant readout of how much time there is left to run. At £44 it will make a good Christmas present for anyone concerned with time or (more accurately) the lack of it! (Contact Details)

It was back at the APRS Trade Show in June of this year that Rebis Audio first unveiled their prototype of the RA226 Digital Sampler. Since then the unit has undergone one or two technical changes and has now appeared in its final form.

Designed to live in the familiar Rebis effects rack, the RA226 offers up to 5.25 seconds of digital delay or sampling at 16kHz bandwidth, variable to a maximum of 21 seconds at 4kHz. Facilities for a further three memory expansion cards are also available allowing the maximum sample time to be increased in 5.25 second (full bandwidth) steps.

Now that's a lot of sampling time and Rebis see the device finding a place in the studio as both a digital delay and sampler where, for example, its ability to capture and transplant complete musical passages can save a lot of tape splicing time. Control-wise you can edit the start and end points of samples, multi-sample, loop, play forwards and backwards and control the pitch of the sample externally via the CV input using any 1 volt per octave keyboard (but no MIDI as yet). (Contact Details)

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Photographing Sound

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 - Dec 1985


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