The Shape of Things to Come
Our regular monthly exploration of upcoming new products.
The smallest MIDI sequencer in the world has been introduced by Korg. Just 19cms long, the SQ-8 features 8 tracks with real-time/step-time recording, a 6,500 note memory, plus memory protect, transpose, aftertouch on/off, 40-192 bpm tempo, metronome, tape recorder-like transport buttons and can be either battery or mains powered.
As a MIDI sequencer it can transmit/send on any of 16 MIDI channels and offers up to 32-note polyphonic MIDI output. All data is very clearly displayed on a large LCD screen, which includes a useful memory usage indicator.
Price £199 inc VAT. Further information from Korg UK, (Contact Details).
Continuing their push into the low-cost timecode applications market, Fostex are soon to release the 4010 Timecode Generator/Reader.
This new unit offers programmable timecode of 24, 25 or 30fps, plus drop-frame, and is capable of reading code between 1/50th to 100 times the normal play speed of the tape machine. The 4010 may be synchronised to external composite video or sync signals and there's a useful facility to connect an optional video character generator.
Price £920 inc VAT. Details from Bandive Ltd, (Contact Details).
A new 1U rack-mounted mixer has been launched by TOA. The D-3 Electronic Music Mixer is designed to provide the maximum flexibility and facilities in a small space, by packing in 4 stereo channels each featuring input gain, effects send, bass and treble EQ plus a pan control. In addition, each channel includes a clip LED and can be used as either a mono or stereo input for line level signals. Channel 4 also offers a microphone input via a rear panel balanced XLR connector with switchable phantom powering.
Additional controls situated on the front panel include: a separate stereo tape input which directly accesses the stereo mix buss; stereo effects return controls; the master stereo level; mono level and headphone volume controls; and a stereo output overload LED.
On the rear panel, channel input is via both standard jack and phono connectors, while four direct channel outputs add further flexibility to the mixer. Finally, there's a stereo record output which runs in parallel with the master outputs and is useful for making a stereo recording of the mix that's feeding some other destination, ie. a PA system.
Performance-wise, the D-3 has a 20Hz to 25kHz frequency response, 77dB S/N, and operates at levels up to +4dB.
Price £237.13 inc VAT. Details from TOA Electronics Ltd, (Contact Details).
Elka continued the development of their pro keyboard range with the release of a rack-mounted version of their EK44 digital synthesizer, named the ER44 (approx £1000 June), and two very powerful mother keyboards - the MK88 (approx £1200 June) and MK55 (approx £600 June) with 88-note wooden and 55-note plastic keyboards, respectively.
As mother keyboards go, these are very comprehensive controllers which feature lots of built-in MIDI facilities such as MIDI programmable delay, a 256-step loop sequencer, MIDI clock output for switching drum machines on and off, 64 internal memories, programmable split points, keyboard mapping, plus lots more...
Details from Elka-Orla UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
From RSF of France comes the new SD140 sampling drum machine, now available in the UK via Capelle Music.
The instrument comes with 14 onboard drum and percussion voices, as well as offering the welcome facility of user-sampling. In this mode a sampling rate between 30kHz and 12kHz may be selected for optimum sound quality prior to sampling your own sounds into memory. Sampling resolution is 12-bit compressed, which results in a respectable 72dB dynamic range, and all samples are retained in battery-backed memory when the machine is switched off. Alternatively, they may be downloaded to tape via the cassette interface.
The SD140 features an extensive MIDI implementation including song position pointers, velocity, MIDI dump of songs, patterns and sounds, plus MIDI note number editing (handy!).
On the performance front, the drum machine has a 4000 event memory, storing 100 patterns and 30 songs. There is a master mix output, plus 10 individual audio outputs and a trigger input for 24/48/96 pulse clock data.
Available now, price £1000 inc VAT. Details from UK distributors: Capelle Music, (Contact Details).
Kawai demonstrated an extensive range of MIDI electric pianos alongside their new K-5 digital synthesizer, whose rich sounds compared favourably with those of the DX7. This is a 16-voice, five octave keyboard featuring 96 internal program memories, with a further 96 available via a memory card. A rack-mount version, the K-5M is also available.
Amongst their many other new products was the M-8000 88-note master keyboard, offering users extensive MIDI control facilities. But the limelight was firmly taken by Kawai's new R-50 drum machine. This is a scaled down version of the R-100, having 24 onboard sampled drum sounds, 100 patterns and 10 songs, a 1,700 note capacity memory, plus a few unique extras like built-in flange, delay and gate effects.
All Kawai products mentioned will be available from July.
Details from Kawai UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
The lack of any new signal processors was notable at Yamaha's Frankfurt new product launch in February. Just a few weeks later, however, at the recent London AES show, Yamaha unveiled an updated version of their immensely successful SPX90 multi-effects unit. The SPX90 II, as it is called, features no real radical changes, but more of a useful expansion of existing facilities.
In freeze mode (sampling), for example, the maximum sample time has been increased to 2 seconds at full bandwidth - a substantial increase over the rather limiting 500ms that the original unit offered. Likewise the reverb delay time increases from 50ms to 1 second maximum, and maximum echo delay time also moves up from 500ms to 2 seconds. The other changes that have been implemented mainly result in increased parameter ranges.
For existing SPX90 owners, Yamaha plan to offer a software upgrade, and for those who don't already own an SPX90 (is there anybody?) you'll be pleased to learn that the retail price remains the same as the original.
Contact your local dealer or Alan Martin, Yamaha-Kemble UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
The next logical step for Aphex has arrived in the form of the 303 Compellor/Aural Exciter.
This unit combines the features of what Aphex call 'invisible control of audio programme dynamics' in the form of the Compellor, with the psychoacoustic enhancement of presence, clarity and loudness provided by the Exciter.
In other words a unit that features automatic gain control with fast compression and instantaneous peak limiting, offering such facilities as a constant output level for variations of up to 27dB in the input level, and all without the loss of sparkle from over-compressed transients.
Price £949 inc VAT. Information from Sound Technology, (Contact Details).
The TC Electronic name has always been associated with quality products, so it's no surprise to see them release two new programmable graphic equalisers that offer exceptional performance.
The TC 1128 (mono version) and TC 2228 (stereo version) are both a 28 band graphic equaliser/spectrum analyser in one package. The beauty of the system is that it is totally programmable from the front panel buttons, allowing up to 100 user EQ presets to be set up, named and stored. The unique equaliser dispenses with physical sliders but offers 12dB or 6dB cut/boost gain control across all 28 ISO bands, and features a 110dB dynamic range with 0.002% THD at 1 kHz (0dB).
In spectrum analyser mode, a room response may be monitored and set flat and then, if desired, combined with the EQ setting of one of the 100 user presets. This enables your instruments to retain their favourite EQ characteristics in almost any acoustic environment, as well as providing information to the unit for automatic feedback suppression in live situations.
In addition to the programmable aspects of the device, the inclusion of MIDI allows external selection of the EQ presets via MIDI program change data transmitted by a keyboard or sequencer, for instance. Program change from SMPTE control is also anticipated as a future option.
Available April. Priced, £1,100 (mono) £1,800 (stereo). Details from Phil Beaumont, State Of The Art Distribution, (Contact Details).
Owners of the Hybrid Technology Music 5000 synthesizer system for the BBC micro will be pleased to hear that the long awaited Music 4000 keyboard is now available.
This is a 4-octave full size keyboard which plugs into the BBC user port. The software required to drive the keyboard is already included in the AMPLE operating system EPROM, so there's no hidden extra cost.
Price £169 inc VAT. Available now from Hybrid Technology Ltd, (Contact Details).
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