The Shape Of Things To Come
Glimpse some of the forthcoming and recently released new products from the hi-tech and recording fields.
Otis Communications are a new British company (not based in Reading!) that have developed what they see as an amplifier that fills a gap in the market. The Otis Power Station is a half-rack width, 100 watt plus, mono power amp suitable for a variety of applications. The input will accept signals directly from tape machines, mixers, effects equipment, instruments and microphones, and the unit can be mounted in a great number of ways including standard rack, cradle mounting for speaker-box fitting, and bracket mounting for wall fixing. The Otis is said to be ideal for a number of applications including powering nearfield monitors, guitar and keyboard amplification, driving foldback systems, audio-visual and PA work.
For those interested in the technical specification, the Power Station delivers 125 watts into 4 ohms, has a 15Hz-20kHz frequency response with a -87dB hum to noise figure.
Price £299 inc VAT.
Contact UK distributors: Emberman Ltd, (Contact Details).
From Studiomaster come two new ranges of mixing desks and a range of effects processors.
The Session Mix is a new console aimed at live performers who want a straightforward and logical mixer. There are two versions: the 8 into 2 (£427) and the 16 into 2 (£855). Both are modular and can be expanded by a further 8 channels at a later date. The 8-2 version is particularly suitable for keyboard mixing as it can be rack-mounted. Facilities include four auxiliary sends configured as two prefade and two postfade, comprehensive EQ, channel clip indicator and bargraph level display.
The Mixdown is the name given by Studiomaster to two new consoles designed specifically for recording work. They are available in either a 16-4-8 or 16-8-16 format and feature electronically balanced inputs, phantom power, six auxiliary sends on the channels and three aux sends on the monitors, EQ on both channels and monitors, solo monitoring, +4dB balanced outputs and a test tone oscillator.
Finally, Studiofex is a series of studio effects units designed to offer a wide range of signal processing possibilities to today's engineer. A total of eleven different modules are available for installation in a 4U high, 19" rack mother unit. The range will include: stereo noise gate, stereo compressor, dynamic noise filter, parametric EQ, fader/panner, modulation oscillator, stereo input interface, stereo output interface, enhancer, dual delay flanger, and de-esser.
Mixdown and Studiofex prices unavailable.
Contact Studiomaster, (Contact Details).
Roland will be unveiling a great number of new products at the Frankfurt Music Fair in March. The D-10 (£850) and D-20 (£1165) multitimbral synthesizers follow in the footsteps of the successful D-50. Both instruments have 61-note velocity sensitive keyboards, a built-in rhythm composer, and digital reverb. As expected, the new instruments utilise LA synthesis and offer 32 partials which can be dynamically allocated to eight individual multitimbral parts. The rhythm composer allows you to play up to 64 sounds. This is totally independent of the synthesizer section, includes an additional 30 PCM sounds and features traditional percussion, ethnic instruments, basses and synths.
The main difference between the two models is that the D-20 features a 16,000 note onboard 9-track sequencer (8 parts + 1 rhythm) and a built-in 3.5" disk drive for data storage. Both machines take IC memory cards and use the optional PG-10 programmer unit.
Continuing with synthesizers, the D-110 (£586) is a 1U rack-mounted multitimbral sound module similar in most respects to the D-10. The most obvious difference, and one which will be quite appealing to sequencer users, is that the D-110 has a stereo output as well as six individual outputs, making this a very versatile multitimbral expander.
On the sampler front, Roland are to release the S-330 (£1335). Again in a 1U format, this 16-voice instrument features all of the programming and performance aspects of the S-50 keyboard sampler and comes with eight separate audio outputs.
In the sequencer department, the new MC-300 (£670) and MC-500 MkII (£1D50) not only look similar to their popular MC-500 predecesor but are also data compatible. More Roland product news next month.
Contact Roland UK. (Contact Details).
Searching for new samples? Then you should be interested in a new sample library on CD from Prosonus. Each compact disc is dedicated to one particular instrument and covers its full musical range, with hundreds of variations per disc. The first three volumes have just been released and cover Orchestral Percussion, Brass, and Electronic (the latter features various synths MIDIed together), though further volumes are to be released on a monthly basis. Each CD comes with comprehensive notes which include details of each sound.
Price £69.95 inc VAT.
Contact your local music shop or UK distributors: (Contact Details).
In line with many of the manufacturers, Kawai will be previewing a number of new products at the coming Frankfurt show. The K1 keyboard, and its K1M modular rack version, are budget priced multitimbral instruments. Similar in concept to the K5 additive synthesizer, they are both 16-voice polyphonic, aftertouch and velocity sensitive, and come with 256 preset sounds.
A new direction for Kawai is the move into hardware sequencers with the launch of their Q80 sequencer. This is a 32-track system offering 15,000 note capacity, 10 songs, 100 patterns, and real or step-time recording. All data may be stored on the integral 3.5" disk drive.
Contact Kawai UK, (Contact Details).
The latest in the ESX range of sound cartridges from PA Decoder is the Double Brain 80/320 RAM/ROM. This unit contains 320 new sounds in ROM for loading into your Ensoniq ESQ-1 or SQ80 synthesizer. In addition to the presets, you can store up to 80 of your own delicious creations in the RAM sector of the same cartridge. This handy feature means you can load a preset sound in from the ROM area, modify it and then save it back into the RAM. The cartridge uses gold-plated contacts for reliable connection and does not require a battery to maintain the sounds in memory.
Price £195 inc VAT.
Contact Executive Audio Ltd, (Contact Details).
From Soundbits comes a new graphic editor in their Voice Master ST range. The Ensoniq ESQ-1 editor (£69.95) will run on both the Atari 520 and 1040 models and offers full librarian facilities for storing sounds on disk. It includes cut-and-paste operation, mouse-controlled editing of all voice parameters, a randomise feature (for helping create new voices) and, importantly, it runs on a monochrome or colour monitor.
Soundbits have also announced the imminent release of the Ensoniq SQ-80 editor/librarian which costs £89.95.
Contact Soundbits Software UK, (Contact Details).
Opcode Systems have just launched their new Timecode Machine. The unit is designed to convert SMPTE code into MIDI Time Code (MTC) and is one of the first products of this type to incorporate the new code. Time Machine allows you to read and write all sorts of SMPTE to and from audio tape, as well as converting the data to MTC. Or at the flick of a switch, it enables you to use the non-standard 'direct time lock' currently employed by Mark Of The Unicorn's Performer sequencing software for the Macintosh.
Other features include a MIDI to MTC merge facility and an ability to work with video equipment. The Time Machine has been designed to work with any computer program which uses MIDI Time Code.
Also from Opcode come two editing programs, one for the Roland D-50 and one for the Roland MT32. Both programs run on the Apple Mac.
Contact Argent's, (Contact Details).
Spirit is a new software sequencer program supplied with the MUART four-port MIDI control system. The package is designed for use with IBM PCs and compatibles and comes in three parts: a half-slot internal card, the external MIDI connection port, and the Spirit software itself.
MUART reportedly differs from other IBM systems in that it will allow you to record up to four independent MIDI devices simultaneously, with a high resolution of 600 pulses per quarter note. The Spirit software offers 48 data tracks, individual MIDI event editing, and real-time interactive controls.
Contact UK distributors: Synchrotech Sales, (Contact Details).