The Shape of Things to Come
A chance to check out some of the forthcoming new products that might force you to dig deeper into your pockets later this year.
Korg will be introducing a new range of integrated instruments later this [year]. The M1 Music Workstation is a synthesizer based on 16-bit PCM sampled sounds. Each sound can be grafted onto another, eg. the attack portion of a violin can be joined onto the decay section of a piano, and so on. The M1 also performs additive harmonic synthesis, the result of which can be shaped by variable digital filters. You can then subject your sound to one or both of the built-in stereo digital effects units, where reverb, chorus, panning and many other effects are available. If all that doesn't impress you, then we also have to mention that the M1 has a built-in 8-track MIDI sequencer. And when using the keyboard's multitimbral mode, you can produce complete arrangements of your songs on the workstation. Both sounds and sequences can be stored on RAM cards.
The S1 is the Production Workstation. This is a powerful 16-bit PCM sampler/drum machine which also includes a 16-track MIDI sequencer. That simple description alone gives you some indications of its power and also its Sequential Studio 440 influences. On the sample side, you can make your own 44.1 kHz/16-bit stereo samples. You can sound 12 polyphonic voices from either the ROM library or your own samples and these may be played via the 16 velocity-sensitive pads or a MIDI keyboard. The S1's 16-track sequencing facility offers 150,000 note storage capacity with 192 ppqn resolution, and you can synchronise to other devices via MIDI, MIDI Time Code and SMPTE. Finally, no unit of this type would be complete without onboard 3.5" disk storage and indeed this is provided for saving both samples and sequencer data.
Next comes the Q1 MIDI Workstation. This is a stand-alone 16-track MIDI sequencer similar to the sequencer section of the S1. It has the same 150,000 note capacity, MIDI and SMPTE synchronisation, two mergeable MIDI Ins and two MIDI Outs, and you can record in real-time and step-time on all 16 MIDI channels on each of the 16 tracks. Onboard note editing is very comprehensive, but for those who prefer to work on a large screen display, you can plug in an optional ASCII keyboard and monitor, thereby turning the Q1 into a typical software-based computer sequencer with onscreen editing etc. As with the S1, the Q1 stores all data on its internal 3.5" disk drive. No prices available as yet.
Another new Korg unit, the P3, is a piano sound module. Its 16-voice polyphonic capability can be programmed for split keyboard or layered keyboard control of the two basic piano sounds, though a further eight sounds are available on ROM card. The P3 also has an 8-voice multitimbral facility when controlled from an external MIDI sequencer.
The Korg SQD8 is a budget 8-track MIDI recorder following in the footsteps of the SQ8 and includes data storage via a built-in 2.8" quick disk. Further new items include a range of rack-mounted processors. The KEC42 EQ/Compander incorporates four independent EQ sections and a 2-channel compander. The DTI Pro is a 4-channel digital tuner which allows you to connect four different instruments at any one time. The KMP68 is a MIDI patchbay, again in a 1U rack. It accepts six MIDI inputs and feeds eight MIDI Thrus. Finally, the KMX122 is Korg's 12-channel line mixer that includes pan and effects send facilities.
Contact Korg UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Most of the forthcoming Yamaha products were mentioned last month, however, they did slip in a few new items recently at the AES show in Paris and the Frankfurt Music Fair. Availability of these products is some way off but here's the information.
A number of new accessories were shown relating to the DMP7 digital mixer, plus the DMP7D - a digital I/O version of this pioneering product. These included the AD808, an 8-channel analogue to digital convertor box; the DA202 digital to analogue convertor box; and the FMC1, which uses the digital cascade in/out of the DMP7 to convert from the Yamaha format to AES/EBU, CD/DAT and Sony formats.
The SPX50D is a re-worked SPX90 offering 50 preset effects in ROM with provision for 49 user programs and 16-bit sound quality at 31.25kHz sampling rate. Hoping to steal some of the Microverb's sales will be the R100, a 16-bit half-rack multi-effects box offering 50 preset effects but with the benefit of parameter change, but no onboard storage. No prices are available.
On the home recording front, the MT100 is a low cost 4-track cassette multitracker. The MS101 and larger MS202 are a couple of self-powered monitors giving 9 and 18 watts output respectively. The PLS1 is a rack-mounted line selector unit which allows you to route any of 8 inputs to any of 4 outputs and store routings in one of the 99 memories for manual or MIDI-controlled recall.
Yamaha's portable keyboards division unveiled a dazzling collection of small but powerful boxes at Frankfurt. The EMT10 is a sound expander containing sampled sounds which use Yamaha's Advanced Wave Memory process. It comes with 12 basic sounds divided into three groups: percussive group (pianos, guitars), sustained group (strings, choirs) and bass group (electric, slap). The EMQ-1 memory box is a tapeless recorder, otherwise known as a real-time sequencer. It has a capacity of 6000 notes and you can store 9 songs in memory or on 2.8" quick disks. It can also be used as a MIDI bulk dump data recorder. Price of both EM units will be £249.
Contact Yamaha-Kemble UK, (Contact Details).
Roland's Frankfurt collection included a great number of instruments which are either refinements of existing equipment or rack-mounted versions. The D10 and D20 LA synths, mentioned the other month, were complemented by the D110 rack-mount with separate outs. Also launched was the P330, a 1U rack-mount piano module offering 16-voice polyphony and 8 different sounds including pianos, harpsichord, electric piano etc.
The S330 rack-mount sampler brings high quality sampling to the user in a compact 1U module. Technically, it's similar to the S50 - 16 voices, 8 individual outputs, a colour RGB monitor and mouse can be connected to aid sample manipulation, all samples are stored on 3.5" disk and are file-compatible with both the S50 and S550.
Roland were also showing their top notch R880 digital reverb, we mentioned some time ago, but now we have the full specification. The R880 is designed for professional use and offers 16-bit sound quality reverb and effects at either a 48 or 44.1 kHz sampling rate. The provision of a digital I/O port means that the R880 can be directly connected to CD and DAT machines for total digital domain signal processing. Up to 100 seconds of reverb time are available, together with digital delay, three-band EQ and compression. Remote control is available via the GC8. This small desktop unit features a large 256x64 dot LCD for the display of parameters and reverb reflection graphics, and an onboard IC memory card is used to store program data.
The E660 digital parametric equaliser is also a full function digital unit aimed at the pro user. As with the R880 reverb, it uses 16-bit signal convertors and can process R880 data via its digital I/O port. The E660 allows 99 different EQ settings to be called up and modified quickly and, due to the power of its digital signal processing ability, a number of effects are possible such as phasing. It can be used as a stereo four-band equaliser or an eight-band mono device.
Of broader interest were the new MC300 and MC500 MkII sequencers, the HD5-IF interface, which allows you to connect a hard disk to Roland's S550 sampler for mass storage, the SYS-553 software which turns an S550 sampler into an MC500 sequencer!, and finally, the ME5 guitar multiple effects processor. This is a floor pedal unit for use by guitarists. 64 user programs can be stored in memory and these may contain any combination of effects selected from the following: compression, overdrive, distortion, chorus, flange, equalisation, digital reverb and digital delay.
Contact Roland UK, (Contact Details).
The S1000 is the big brother of the S900 sampler. It is a 16-voice, 16-bit stereo sampling machine with a 2 Mbyte memory as standard, giving 11.85 secs stereo sampling at 44.1 kHz (23.7 secs in mono). Data is displayed on a large 40x8 character LCD window and stored on 3.5" disks, which are file-compatible with S900 disks. Around the back are 8 individual audio outputs, stereo outs, and an effects send/return loop. Optional extras will include a SCSI interface and Atari hard disk interface. The price is expected to be around £2699 when it is released around August.
Other products shown at Frankfurt include the MWS76 integrated master keyboard and sequencer, the MX76 master keyboard, VX600 6-voice dual VCO programmable matrix synthesizer, the ME35T drum-to-MIDI convertor, XE8 sampled drum expander module, and an interesting product called the U4. This is a small, compact digital recorder that records up to 7 seconds of sound with 8-bit quality. The idea is that guitarists may want to record themselves playing and get instant playback of the music.
The U4 also has a tempo shift control which allows you to vary the tempo from half to twice the original bpm, without changing the pitch of the notes. This may prove invaluable for sampling music off records and slowing it down to hear which notes are being played more easily. Price £179.
Contact Akai UK, (Contact Details).
Adding another reverb unit to their collection, Alesis have introduced the Microverb II. It comes in the now familiar microrack format and offers a number of enhancements over the original Microverb. The reverse reverb effect has been dropped and the new unit features 16 programs, all with a wider 15kHz frequency response, which include: ambience, small plate, small, medium and large rooms, endless space (!), power gate and bright gate settings. Price £199.
Moving into yet another product area, Alesis are releasing a pair of cheap graphic equalisers. The S15Q dual 15-band and S31Q 31-band equalisers are both priced at £179.
Contact Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
The latest expander from Oberheim is the Matrix 1000. This is a preset 6-voice analogue synth module featuring access to no less than 1000 different sounds. The unit comes with 800 sounds in ROM and an additional 200 can be loaded into user RAM via MIDI from a Matrix 6. The sounds include 195 keyboards, 118 strings, 130 woodwind/brass, 239 synths, 119 basses, and plenty more. Price £449.
Contact Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
MUSIC GRAPH is a new program for the Atari ST range. The musical equivalent of the word processor, it allows you to produce music scores ready for printing. The software incorporates a music notation editor, a text editor (for lyrics, etc) and a GEM Paint-like graphics program for creating your own symbols. Users can start from a blank piece of on-screen 'paper' and draw in staves, bars, notes and symbols very quickly, then save these as a style sheet for future recall. The music is either entered via a MIDI keyboard or via an onscreen graphic keyboard. Other features include a guitar tablature grid and an on-screen clock. A wide range of printers is supported. Price £150.
Contact Evenlode Soundworks, (Contact Details).
MAC TIMECODE INTERFACE, from Real Time Logic, claims to be the definitive MIDI interface for the Apple Mac computer. MTI will read and generate all formats of SMPTE, converts between timecode and MIDI Time Code, and has two MIDI Ins, four MIDI Outs and a merge facility. Price £299.
Contact ADT, (Contact Details).
DR. T NEWS. Amiga computer owners will be pleased to hear that Dr.T have now released their KCS sequencer program for the Commodore Amiga. As with the Atari ST version, it features 48 tracks with full editing of note and MIDI data. Price £225. Also from the good doctor comes a new program called SAMPLE MAKER, which runs on the Atari ST. It's a 60 operator FM and AM additive synthesis generator. Features include a facility to swap samples between Akai S900, Emax, Casio FZ1 and Prophet 2000. Price £199. Contact MCMXCIX Distribution.
ALCHEMY, from Blank Software, is the first 16-bit stereo sample editing network for use with a Macintosh computer. It's an harmonic analysis and resynthesis tool with a built-in universal translator that lets you share sampled sounds between different machines. It's also a sample librarian. The power and complexity of the program are too great to mention here, so please contact the distributors for details. Contact MCMXCIX Distribution.
CLICKTRACKS is a new program from Passport for the Apple Mac. It was written by New York composer Bruce Coughlin, who writes music soundtracks and needed a music program that was suitable for video work. The result is Clicktracks and it can be used alone when scoring your music or with a MIDI sequencer. The basic idea behind the program is to catalogue 'visual hits' as SMPTE timecode numbers and allow you to build up a complete list of cue points as an aid to composing the music soundtrack.
Contact MCMXCIX Distribution, (Contact Details).
A re-packaged FZ1 sampler, in the shape of the FZ10M rack-mount module, was perhaps Casio's most predictable new product at the Frankfurt show, and will sell for around £1799. On the pro keyboard side, the new VZ1 synthesizer looks interesting at £1299. It's a 16-note polyphonic, 5-octave instrument with 64 preset voices and 64 programmable voices; sound generation is a variation of Casio's phase distortion synthesis technique.
The best of the rest included their top of the range guitar synthesizer, the PG380. This has a conventional Strat-like guitar body with a built-in synth section giving 64 preset sounds in addition to the natural guitar sound. Further sounds are available by plugging in Casio ROM cards or you can control an external synthesizer via MIDI.
Contact Casio Electronics (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).