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.
From the Digital Music Corporation comes the MX8 MIDI Patchbay. This is a 6 in, 8 out MIDI routing box offering complete flexibility of patching with the added benefit of onboard memory for storing up to 50 different configurations.
In addition, the MX8 allows you to merge data from any two inputs to one output and transmit MIDI program changes to any output on any MIDI channel. There is a programmable MIDI delay unit built-in giving 5 to 3000 milliseconds of delay in 1 ms intervals (or as note and tempo values), with up to 7 repeats and adjustable velocity per repeat for crescendo/decay echo effects.
A MIDI filter allows you to ignore selected MIDI data such as aftertouch, pitch bend etc; a transpose feature lets you shift up or down by 63 semitones; you can map your MIDI keyboard into different zones, compress velocity data to a pre-chosen threshold, programme velocity cross-switching to change MIDI channels when a set velocity threshold is reached; and finally, there's a MIDI channel 'bump' which automatically increments a particular MIDI channel to a reassigned channel number. Everything you do can be stored in memory and saved with a 10 character name for future reference.
Price £395 inc VAT.
Contact UK distributors, (Contact Details)
Beyer Dynamic have recently introduced a set of five microphones specially designed for drum use which are being sold both separately and as a set.
The mics are constructed to stand up to the physical punishment a drum kit absorbs and each mic is tailored to a given performance specification. The M380 is a noise cancelling figure-of-eight bass drum mic, the M422 has a very small diaphragm which produces a crisp response, the M420 is an extremely tight cardioid for use on toms and snare, while the M201 is a dynamic mic and plays the roll of a good all-rounder. Finally, there is the MC713 which is a condenser mic with a light diaphragm and excellent sensitivity. Price f N/A.
Contact Beyer Dynamic, (Contact Details).
Recently launched at Syco Systems' London showroom amidst a collection of music industry stars (Peter Gabriel, Mike Oldfield, Geoff Downes to name but three), was the AudioFrame Digital Audio Workstation from America's WaveFrame Corporation.
This product is aimed firmly at the professional market and will compete with the likes of the Fairlight and Synclavier. Not only can you sample audio into the system but you also gain complete control over the sound in the digital domain. The system has several components each tailored to a specific task. The sampling module is a 16-voice system with 2 megabytes of memory giving 24 seconds of storage at 44.1 kHz sampling rate. The system can be further expanded to 14 megabytes. Once a sound is inside the system, it can be processed by the synthesis software and the 16 voices can be controlled either by MIDI, the computer's QWERTY keyboard, an external sequencer or the AudioFrame's own internal sequencer (an adaptation of Roger Powell's Texture).
Full onboard voice editing software is resident and the sounds can be mixed via the internal all-digital 16/4/2 mixer. Here sounds can be allocated to a channel and the mixer displayed on-screen showing all the familiar controls such as input gain, EQ, effects send, pan and level. A mouse is used to alter the controls and by sending a sound through the effects send buss, you can add reverb, echo etc. All this is kept within the digital domain, and with AudioFrame having 16 inputs you can mix both live instruments or vocals from microphone sources with synthesized and sampled sounds. The final mix can emerge on any of eight individual analogue outputs, a stereo out, or as a digital signal.
The hardware that keeps this show on the road is continuously upgradable and based around existing 'industry standards' such as an IBM OS/2 compatible micro running Microsoft's Windows environment. In keeping with this philosophy, AudioFrame's whole concept is modular, with the system being designed around a digital buss with slot in cards. Plans for the future include a multitrack direct-to-disk recording system.
Price Basic 16/2 system £28,595.
Contact (Contact Details)
HB Music Engraver from HB Imagining Inc, is described as a high quality desktop music publishing program for the Apple Macintosh. It's designed to print sheet music, music books and orchestral scores to the highest standards and output them via a laser printer ready for final publication.
Music files may be created from scratch or converted into HB Engraver format from Mark Of The Unicorn's Professional Composer software. The program's features include unlimited page size, variable stave size and spacing, user definable music and text fonts, page design and layout, MIDI audio proofing, part extraction, angled beaming and much more.
Contact UK distributors, (Contact Details)
From Electro Music Research comes a new program for the BBC computer, Scorewriter. It is capable of accepting music input via either the QWERTY keyboard or MIDI from the EMR Performer program. You can score up to 16 separate polyphonic parts and each part can have one or two staves. Tracks may be printed out individually or as a whole score and there is a facility for text editing and guitar chord symbols. The music can also be auditioned through the BBC computer's built-in speaker for quick audio confirmation of the notation. The program comes supplied on two ROMs with a utilities disk which includes programs for transposition and merging/splitting of scores.
Price £149 inc VAT.
Contact Electro Music Research Ltd, (Contact Details).
Just released for the Roland D50 is Volume Two of the popular PA-Decoder ROMs. The D50 voice card contains 128 sounds with all secondary functions like pitch bend and modulation considered. The sounds are stored as two banks, one on each side of the ROM card, and these sounds have been programmed using PA-Decoder's own editing program which runs on the Atari ST. In keeping with all of their ROM and RAM cards, the connector is gold plated and the package is crush proof.
Contact Executive Audio Ltd, (Contact Details).
New from Britain's most prolific MIDI accessory manufacturer are the W5 Dual Input MIDI Thru unit and the 5S MIDI Selector.
These simple boxes solve many MIDI induced headaches that usually occur when you start to link various pieces of MIDI gear together. The WS is mains powered and accepts two MIDI inputs, both of which can be routed to any of the five MIDI Thru sockets or switched to an off position. The 5S is a useful 'source' selector, allowing you to switch any one of five inputs through to the output.
Alternatively, it can be used in reverse to route a single input to any of the five outputs.
Price £49.95 (W5) and £25.95 (5S).
Contact Philip Rees Modern Music Technology, (Contact Details).
The problem of lugging around your computer and its associated bits and pieces has been neatly solved by a company called Sound Solutions. Based around the idea of a flightcase, Sound Solutions manufacture a system with a pull-out tray that holds your Atari ST keyboard and sufficient space above to house 3U of 19" rack-mounted boxes, such as a MIDI routing system or effects unit. There is even space to the side of this to hold a number of 3.5" disks and your music software. After you have finished a session, you can slide the Atari keyboard back into the flightcase, put the front and back covers on, and off you go!
If you don't own a computer, the same case can be used with a variety of equipment - drum machine, sequencer or portastudio. The company say that they will even quote on custom designed units as well. The system is available in either desktop or flightcased versions.
Price from £165.
Contact Sound Solutions, (Contact Details)
Amstrad have announced that they will enter the Camcorder market at the end of this year with the introduction of their Videomatic camera. It seems that, although the UK can boast one of the world's highest ratios for video recorder sales versus population, video cameras have had little market success. With most current video cameras costing around £1000 and packed with gadgets and buttons, they are too complicated and expensive for the consumer. Amstrad's approach has been to design the video equivalent of the 'Kodak Instamatic'. In the true spirit of such a philosophy, the Videomatic has only one button!
The camera uses VHS C format tape and can be played back on any VHS machine by using a special cassette adaptor. Two speeds are available giving 30 or 60 minutes of recording time and the camera comes compete with internal 1½ hour life batteries and its own battery recharger. Of course, with such a simple design, sacrifices have had to be made and so the Videomatic is a 'record only' camera, ie. no playback via the viewfinder, and it also has a fixed focus.
Finally, Amstrad have decided that every household with a video recorder should really have a Videomatic as well, so the camera will be launched around October in good time for Christmas at only £499 inc VAT. With a £3.6 million advertising campaign behind it, how can they fail?
Price £499 inc VAT.
Contact Amstrad pic, (Contact Details)
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