The Shape of Things to Come
Three pages of forthcoming new products to tempt you to dig deeper into your pockets later on this year.
In audio circles the Lexicon name is synonymous with high quality digital signal processors. Manufacturers of state-of-the-art effects, they have just launched the LXP1, a reverb unit that bridges the gap between their traditional top end of the market and the mass of budget reverbs that have appeared recently.
For £399 (inc VAT), the LXP1 offers a wide variety of high quality reverberation effects through an innovative two-stage programming system. 16 basic effects programs are provided (small, medium and large rooms, hall, plate and gate effects, also reverse, chorus and delay programs), selected by a single rotary switch. Two more rotary switches control pre-delay and decay parameters within each program; these controls are tied to the unit's internal processing in a complex manner that allows multiple aspects of the reverb program to be affected by parameter changes. Consequently, over 4000 distinct treatments are available.
Naturally, the LXP1 features stereo outputs, and any preset can be called up by a MIDI program change command. Taking a leaf out of the PCM70's book, the LXP1 has the facility to dynamically control its two variable parameters via any external MIDI controller (pitch bend, aftertouch, modulation etc). In fact, whilst the LXP1 alone only allows variation of two of the eight parameters of the internal processor, external MIDI controllers can access four of these parameters, whilst Lexicon's new MRC (MIDI Remote Controller) allows remote control of all eight variable parameters in real time. Operating on several MIDI channels at once, the MRC (£368 inclusive) also allows simultaneous control of multiple LXP1 or PCM70 units.
Contact Stirling Audio Systems, (Contact Details).
Rather surprisingly, Yamaha unveiled a prototype of their new computer at last month's APRS recording show in London. The C1 Music Computer, an IBM PC-AT compatible 'laptop' that looks remarkably like a Toshiba portable, is intended for music applications but will run standard PC business software too. The C1 incorporates a fold-down LCD screen, dual 720K 3.5" disk drives, two MIDI Ins, an incredible eight MIDI Outs, and built-in SMPTE tape synchronisation. Hard disk versions are reported to be in the pipeline.
Yamaha hope to ensure widespread software support for the C1 by encouraging third parties to provide suitable programs. Additional music-oriented features on the C1 include two keyboard-mounted sliders for data entry with application software (such as voice editors), and music symbols printed on key-tops. Price will be "under £2000."
Home recording enthusiasts on a tight budget should be interested in several of Yamaha's APRS-debuted products, particularly the MT100 multitrack cassette and R100 reverb.
The R100 is a budget digital reverb costing £199 inc VAT. It offers 60 preset reverb effects, each of which may be tailored to the user's particular requirements through varying the four parameters available on each preset. Any of the 60 effects programs may be recalled via MIDI. A/D and D/A conversion is 16-bit at 31.25kHz, and the frequency response is quoted as 20Hz-12kHz.
The MT100 is a low-cost 4-track cassette recorder featuring switchable normal/double-speed operation, soft touch control tape transport, and dbx noise reduction, giving a quoted S/N ratio of 85dB. Frequency response is 40Hz-18kHz in double-speed operation, with high frequency response dropping to 12.5kHz if tape is run at normal speed.
Contact Yamaha-Kemble (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).
The big news from Tascam at the APRS show was the launch of their MSR16 multitrack recorder (£4999 inc VAT). The MSR16 is a 16-track, ½" recorder incorporating dbx type-1 noise reduction, switchable 15/7½ ips tape speed, auto punch-in/out, and a 3-position autolocator function with repeat. External control of the tape transport is possible, allowing compatibility in a wide range of recording applications. A serial port enables control via computer or Tascam's new MIDiiZER (yep, that's how they spell it - Ed.), and a parallel port permits control by a synchroniser.
The MIDiiZER referred to above is the Tascam MIDiiZER MTS 1000 Multi Synchroniser/Controller (£1299 inc VAT), a versatile timecode-based unit that offers both MIDI-to-timecode and tape transport synchronisation/control capability. It is compatible with a range of MIDI equipment and Tascam's two new recorders - the 238 8-track cassette (see review in this issue) and the MSR16 - as well as future models.
In addition to basic tape transport controls, the MIDiiZER features record function selection, auto punch-in/out and autolocator functions for centralised transport control. The combination of MIDI and timecode means that point location and auto-record control of a tape transport can be referenced to MIDI bar/beat locations, allowing efficient editing and control.
Contact TEAC UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Now available from Korg are the P3 piano and Symphony orchestral expanders, two sampled sound modules offering, respectively, two piano and seven orchestral sounds. Further samples are available on plug-in ROM cards which may be read by either module.
The P3's sounds are (predictably) Piano 1/2, and those of the Symphony module are Strings 1/2, Chorus, Brass, Bass/Guitar/Drums, and Organ 1/2. A maximum of eight sounds may be utilised simultaneously - any combination of onboard and ROM card sounds - with 16-voice polyphony.
Contact Korg UK, (Contact Details).
The ME 16 is MTR's new top of the range mixing console. The 18-18-16-2 mixer is designed for use with 16-track recorders and incorporates 48V phantom powering, phase reverse, 4-band EQ (with swept mid and sharp/wide 'Q'), and four auxiliary send/returns (1 & 2 switchable pre/post).
Price £2200inc VAT.
Contact MTR Ltd, (Contact Details).
Eventide, creators of the original Harmonizer, have brought the design up to date with the launch of their H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer. The H3000 effectively combines two harmonizers with a high quality reverb and effects processor. The stereo input, stereo output H3000 incorporates two complete pitch-change channels, allowing two independent pitch changes, two different pitch shifts on one input, or stereo pitch change on both channels. Using Eventide's Diatonic Shift program, musically correct triad chords may be generated from a single note input. Quantise mode maintains the output pitch at the nearest even-tempered interval, allowing off-key singing to be corrected. A bandwidth of 5Hz-20kHz is quoted.
Contact Marquee Electronics. (Contact Details).
Sufferers of MIDI-induced headaches ought to be interested in the CPM22 from Signex, manufacturers of the Isopatch audio patchbay. The CPM22 offers a single row of 22 MIDI sockets which can be used for MIDI In/Thru/Out connections as required. MIDI splitters, etc, can be wired to the rear of the CPM22 to provide a neater alternative to the oft-seen tangle of boxes and cables. Rear connections are direct solder (CPM22T) or 5-pin DIN sockets (CPM22M).
Also of interest is the CPX16, designed for input/output connection of balanced microphone lines. It is fitted with 16 male or female XLR-type connectors and rear connections are via ¼" stereo jacks or direct solder.
Contact Isotrack, (Contact Details).
This year's British Music Fair sees the world debut of a brand new line-up of Roland products.
Two new MIDI controllers will be featured, the A50 mother keyboard and PAD80 Octapad II. The A50 is a compact 76-note keyboard with a JX10 playing action, featuring velocity and aftertouch sensitivity, 4-zone overlapping splits, 'normal' pitch bend and modulation wheels in addition to Roland's own pitch bend/modulation control, two MIDI Ins, four MIDI Outs and one Thru.
The PAD80 updates the popular Octapad design with 64 patches stored internally (and another 64 on a memory card), eight patch chain tracks, each of which allows 32 patches to be called up in any sequence, and a variety of performance features.
The A880 MIDI Patcher is a 1U rackmount module allowing instant assignment of any of its eight MIDI Inputs to any of the eight MIDI Outs. A Mix function allows any two signals to be merged, and 64 MIDI connection patch memories are provided for storing your setups.
Fans of the legendary RE201 Tape Space Echo will be pleased to hear that it has spawned a digital offspring - the RE3 Digital Space Echo. This is a stereo 1U rackmount unit with a special 'Warmth' control which, according to Roland, "can simulate the normally undesirable wow and flutter of a tape machine." And we thought this was the kind of thing that digital technology was supposed to rid us of!! In addition, the RE3 can store 25 programmable combinations of delay and reverb effects, with remote program change via MIDI.
In the drum machine department, the R8 Human Rhythm Composer is a 16-bit, 48-sound drum machine incorporating a Human Feel function. Using several parameters such as pitch and nuance, drum patterns may be 'humanised'; micro-timing down to 1/384th notes also helps achieve this.
The R8 has eight individual outputs, a 100-pattern memory with up to 99 measures per pattern, and a total memory capacity of 26,000 notes. A very useful feature for jingle or commercial work is the ability to determine tempo by time designation.
Hot on the heels of Roland's successful M160 and M240 line mixers come the new M16E and M24E 16/24-track professional audio mixers. All channels on these units accept both mic and line level inputs and feature 3-band EQ with mid-frequency sweep. Channels 1-8 and 1-12, respectively, incorporate balanced XLR connectors as well as the stereo balanced/unbalanced ¼" jacks provided on all input channels. Both mixers feature five effects send busses and four stereo returns.
Finally, the new T110 Sampling Sound Module is a ROM-only 1U rackmount unit providing 15 high quality preset sampled sounds for those who don't wish to delve into the complexities of sampling and editing their own sounds. 31-voice (??) polyphony is available for the 16-bit sounds, all of which are sampled at 32kHz. Additional sounds are available on plug-in ROM cards, four of which may be inserted into the front panel at the same time.
Prices to be announced.
Contact Roland (UK) Ltd, (Contact Details).
Perhaps it's about time someone thought of a collective noun for Digital Audio Workstations. Another system now up and running is the Dyaxis, from Integrated Media Systems, a hard disk-based recording, editing and post-production tool running in conjunction with an Apple Macintosh computer.
Basing the system around the Mac allows integration of some of the top MIDI software packages with the recording capabilities of the Dyaxis itself. Recording may be carried out at 44.1 or 48kHz, or indeed almost any desired rate. Sampling at the CD-standard 44.1 kHz rate gives 2½ hours of 16-bit stereo sound. Dyaxis is compatible with Blank Software's Alchemy, the first 16-bit stereo sample editing network (see review p48).
Contact Syco, (Contact Details).
Home and semi-professional recordists who are getting fed up with balancing their precious gear on equipment cases or coffee tables, and thinking that there must be a better way, will be pleased to hear that there is. The Dennard SD1 desk and accessories provide an angled desk surface of three interchangable panels for supporting mixers, portastudios, and reel-to-reel recorders (with the horizontal tray panel for equipment that must be mounted upright). A panel is also available for mounting 19" rackmount units flush with the desk surface. Speaker brackets and a crossbar shelf are also available.
At £205.27 (inc VAT) for the basic frame, and panels costing between £17 and £54, the system is not cheap. But having spent all that money on the gear, isn't it worth spending a little extra on some decent furniture to put it on?
Contact Dennard Ltd, (Contact Details).
America's ADA have appointed the Klondyke Trading Company as the UK distributors of their range of digital signal processors. The range of 19" rackmount products consists of the MP1 MIDI programmable tube preamp, MQ1 MIDI stereo graphic equaliser, and Pitchtraq harmoniser, which offers 32 preset effects over a two-octave range. All units cost £695 inc VAT, and the MP1 and MQ1 may both be used with the optional MC1 MIDI foot control unit (£175).
Contact The Klondyke Trading Company, (Contact Details).
From Alesis comes another addition to their successful effects range. The Quadraverb is a 16-bit, fully programmable digital multi-effects processor, featuring reverb, chorus, flange, delay, pitch shift and parametric equalisation.
An interesting programming feature is the provision of touch-sensitive parameter buttons, which change parameter values faster the harder they are pressed. As its name implies, you can use four of the Quadraverb's effects at the same time. 100 programmable memories are provided, with 90 factory programs. Also from Alesis come two new additions to the Micro Series: the Micro EQ and Micro Cue Amp.
More sub-19" effects units distributed by Sound Technology plc are the new SX200 series of products from Symetrix. These halfrack size units, unlike most of their kind, feature balanced inputs and low impedance/high current balanced and unbalanced output line drivers. The first three products in the range are the SX201 Parametric Preamplifier, SX202 Dual Microphone Preamp, and the SX204 Headphone Amplifier.
Contact Sound Technology plc, (Contact Details).
Those whose sound reinforcement needs call for maximum volume without the usual weight penalty incurred may be interested in Rauch Precision's new DVT300S.
The DVT300S is a dual channel amplifier designed for maximum power with minimum weight and size, without sacrificing reliability and sound quality. The 2U high amp weighs only 14kgs, yet is capable of delivering a continuous 600 watts of power into 4 ohms from both channels, and 1,5kW into 4 ohms in bridged mode.
Contact Tim Fowler, Harman UK, (Contact Details).
• DR. T Just out from Dr. T is Keys!, a beginners/educational music composition program running on the Atari ST and using the computer's internal sound chip, although the program also supports MIDI. Dr. T's MIDI Recording Studio is now available for the Commodore Amiga, and their Roland MT32 Editor/Librarian for the IBM PC.
Contact MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
• SOUTHWORTH Apple Mac II owners should be interested in the Max Audio cards from Southworth Music Systems, for which MCMXCIX have secured distribution rights. The three cards are the Analogue Card, performing A/D and D/A conversion using a 20-bit converter; the Quad 56000 DSP card, providing signal processing for applications such as effects, sample playing and additive synthesis; and the dual function Digital Audio/SMPTE card, providing a SMPTE timecode reader/generator as well as being able to send and receive audio data in AES/EBU digital audio format. The cards will be available through MCMXCIX in late August.
Contact MCMXCIX, (Contact Details).
• HYBRID ARTS Now available in the UK is the latest upgrade for the Hybrid Arts EZ Track sequencing software for the Atari ST. EZ Track Plus retails at £59.95 inc VAT, and existing owners of EZ Track may upgrade to EZ Track Plus for the small fee of £12.50.
Also now released in the UK is Hybriswitch, which enables 16 programs to be resident in the ST's memory simultaneously, allowing instant switching between them. Hybriswitch is currently compatible with Hybrid Arts' EZ Track Plus/Edit, Sync/SMPTE Track, EZ Score Plus and GenPatch programs, as well as with all future Hybrid Arts software releases. RRP £24.95 inc VAT.
Contact Syndromic Music, (Contact Details).
• DRUMWARE Syndromic Music will also be launching two new products from Drumware at the British Music Fair. The Drumware Kawai K1 Editor/Librarian for the Atari ST, and the Soundswitcher; a board which fits inside the Kawai R100 and R50 drum machines allowing the Kawai Acoustic, Electronic and Jazz/Fusion sound chips to be resident all the time, with simple switching between them from the drum machine's front panel.
Contact Syndromic Music, (Contact Details).