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Article from Music Technology, September 1992

Newsdesk as was - news as is

A Reptile Is Born

Lizard, the £165 universal editor/librarian program for the ST which is distributed by Music Pro Import (UK), has now spawned Lizard Single, a dedicated editor/bank manager retailing for just £35. As with Lizard, you can add editing support for specific MIDI instruments by buying disk Volumes containing software drivers for several instruments from a particular manufacturer.

The current library of drivers supports most of the E-mu, Ensoniq, Kawai, Korg, Roland, Waldorf and Yamaha ranges. Because the Lizard approach is open-ended, it can incorporate new instruments as and when they appear - recent additions include Roland's JV30 and JV80 and Yamaha's TG100 and SY99. Planned are drivers for all(!) the MIDI-compatible effects processors on the market.

Each Volume costs £35, so you can be up and running with Lizard Single for just £70. Should you subsequently decide that you must have a Lizard in your studio, a £130 upgrade option will ensure that you aren't penalised for starting out with the cheaper program.

Music Pro have joined forces with Heavenly Music (a holy alliance, perhaps?) to create style libraries for another program they distribute, the sophisticated ST arranger program Feeling Partner (reviewed MT April 1992). Five disks are available at £20 per disk, with each disk containing two style libraries. All quoted prices include VAT.

More information from Music Pro Import (UK), (Contact Details). Heavenly Music, (Contact Details).


Every now and then you have to make a stand - or, if you're keyboard stand manufacturer Cambridge Innovation Systems (International) Ltd, quite a few of them. The company are augmenting their existing range of one H-frame, three centrepole stands and microphone boom (reviewed in MT June 1992) with the GT Pro MIDI Workstation stand (£99.95), the GT-KS1 Mini Mixer X-frame stand (£19.95), the GT Bench music bench (£39.95) and the GT-MS1 Music Stand (£24.95), all of which are shown in the accompanying picture.

Also new, but not shown, is the £29.95 GT-X1 'Crocodile' X-frame stand (see advert elsewhere in this issue), which features a newly-developed tooth-locking mechanism for extra stability.

The GT Pro is a combination of H-frame and centre-pole stands. H-frame width and arm-length can be adjusted to accomodate different sizes of keyboard, while the two fixed-width pairs of arms on the centre pole are height-adjustable for optimum positioning. Although designed to take an Atari ST keyboard and monitor, the arms are also suitable for supporting 19" rackmounting units.

More from Cambridge Innovation Systems (International) Ltd, (Contact Details).


PC-based music making takes another step forward with the release of the Ultrasound card from American company Advanced Gravis. For just £149 plus VAT and P&P you get eight-bit stereo sampling into 256K of onboard memory upgradeable to 1Mb, 32 digital audio channels (16 stereo), a 16-bit, 32-voice Ensoniq Digital Wavetable synthesiser, and a built-in MIDI interface offering MIDI In, Out and Thru connections.

Not only that, but the card comes with software which provides sample mixing, merging, dubbing, reverb and echo effects, visual waveform editing, zoom, fade and an unlimited undo function, together with the ability to store samples direct to hard disk and to synchronise recorded sound to SMPTE.

Supported sampling rates range from 1-44.1kHz in both mono and stereo, and an optional upgrade to 16-bit sampling is due at the end of October (price to be announced), along with software which will add 20-track sample playback capability and unlimited soundtrack length.

Ultrasound provides both microphone and line inputs, a line out, and a 2-watt amplified out which supports desktop speakers and headphones. Other features include a joystick port, compatibility with the popular Ad Lib and Sound Blaster soundcards (allowing Ultrasound to be used with existing games that use these cards), support for Microsoft's Windows 3.1 and Windows Multimedia Extensions, and on-card mixing of internal and external audio sources. Due at the end of October is an optional CD ROM interface (price to be announced), available in SCSI, Sony and Philips versions.

For more information contact Optech Ltd, (Contact Details).

LIVE Electronics

Central Hall, Renshaw Street, Liverpool is the venue for a 12-hour electronic music festival being staged by Space Rider Music Promotions on Saturday 12th September. Artists so far confirmed for the festival - which is called UK Synthtasia '92 - are Corporation, VXS, Brian Evans, Dave Thompson, Synthetik, Paul Ward and headline act Ian Boddy. It's also anticipated that there will be about 16 trade stalls selling CDs, vinyl and cassettes.

For more information on the festival, telephone Brian Evans on (Contact Details). Tickets, which cost £14 for the day (11am-11pm) or £7 for the evening (6-11pm), are available from Dave Roberts at (Contact Details) (enclose an SAE when you write).

Manchester HITMAN

The 'Manchester scene' may have come and gone as far as the press are concerned, but it seems that the rainy city still has some allure for the music biz. Pete Waterman's company PWL Ltd, which has a turnover of £50 million a year, is in the process of converting a former Congregational Chapel in the Castlefield area of Manchester into a major, £1.5 million recording studio. Scheduled to open in September, it will also be the base for the music millionaire's new '380' record label (named after the street number of the Chapel) and will feature a wharfside public restaurant giving Mancunians the chance to 'dine with the stars'.

"The North West has oodles of talent," comments Waterman. "I simply want to give it a home. I'm looking forward to seeing the kids beat a path to my door just as they have done at the Vineyard Studios in London."

MIDI goes to school

Culcheth-High School in Warrington has become one of the first schools in the country to create a purpose-built music technology studio. Aimed at ensuring that pupils of mixed ability have the opportunity to create, perform and enjoy music regardless of their differing skills and interests, the studio is also able to deliver elements of the Technology curriculum.

The studio design is based around eight 'workstation bays' designed by Manchester-based company Energy Facilities Management. These are set up around the perimeter of the studio room, leaving a large open space in the centre for group demonstrations, rehearsals and choral work. The bays provide portable keyboard, computer-based and multitrack recording setups wired to a central recording station where the teacher can selectively listen to and record pupils' progress and finished compositions. Software in use consists of commercial programs such as Notator, Notator Alpha and MIDIgrid as well as programs specially developed at the school.

Head of Music and developer of the studio concept Martin Sayer comments, "The studio provides pupils with the standard of technology they are used to seeing and using outside school. The finished effect is a music environment to which pupils respond positively, and which maintains the fine balance between 'new music' and traditional music-making with conventional orchestral instruments."

For more information on EFM's workstation bay designs, contact the company at Labtec Street, (Contact Details).


Just about the only things former Editor Tim Goodyer left us here at MT were a drawer full of reject demo takes, an underwatered pot plant - and a couple of inaccuracies in his review of the Dangerous CD in the August issue. We have been asked to point out that contrary to Tim's assertion that the Danger 1 sample CD contains "some 280 breaks' worth of samples" - the actual figure is 330 breaks with 20 fills. It might also be worth pointing out that unlike many sample CDs currently doing the rounds, Danger 1 is, in fact, individually indexed for each sample and this does make cueing up much easier (...I know, I've tried it).

If you'd like to hear Danger 1 before buying, it is actually available through a number of retail outlets (and that's something else that separates it from most sample CDs) - a quick call to Dangerous on (Contact Details) should put you in touch with your local dealer.

Our apologies to Dangerous for the inaccuracies which crept into the review.

CMS on the move

PC music software and hardware specialists Computer Music Systems have moved offices from Camden to Isleworth in West London. The move coincides with the announcement by CMS-distributed Voyetra Technologies of a series of Windows-based software products to run in parallel with their existing Sequencer Plus range of MIDI sequencers.

The first in the series, AudioView, is due for release in September and will offer comprehensive graphic editing and playback control of audio files recorded on Multimedia PC soundcards. The second program, SoundFactory, will provide a set of software development tools and drivers for both Microsoft Windows and DOS multimedia applications.

CMS can now be contacted at (Contact Details).

Future Age Music

UK Electronics 1992, The 2nd International Future Age Music Festival, is set to take place at the Astoria Theatre in central London on Sunday 25th October.

Artists appearing will include stalwart UK synthesist Ian Boddy and the Brazilian new age composer May East, with French avant-garde electronic band Lightwave headlining. And, in his first live appearance since leaving Tangerine Dream in 1990, Paul Haslinger will be previewing his recent work for fellow ex-TD member Peter Baumann's Private Music label.

To go with the music, the organisers are promising spectacular visuals combining automated lighting, video projection and computer graphics. Tickets for the day are £13.50 each, and can be ordered by sending a cheque or PO with an SAE to (Contact Details).

For general information, ring (Contact Details); alternatively, there's a premium-rate line ((Contact Details)) which plays new music from the artists involved and gives the latest information on timings and running order.

The Italian mix

Audio-Technica Ltd have taken on UK distribution of Italian company FBT Systems' range of mixers, amplifiers and speakers. Apart from their strikingly stylish design, the company's two mixer lines, called Basic and Top, are notable for including mixers with built-in digital effects processing.

The Basic line starts at £288 and consists of seven models offering from 6-12 channels, including two powered versions at 70 and 120 watts per channel respectively. Four of the seven models feature a 40-program digital effects module.

The eight-strong Top line starts at £887 and ranges from 84 to 244 configurations, again with two powered versions, and with five models featuring a 128-program digital effects module. All Top models feature extra parametric EQ and phantom powering, while all mixers in both lines feature shock-mounted pots, precision sliders and rugged cases.

For more information contact Audio-Technica at Technica House, (Contact Details).

The REAL 16-bit DEAL

Truly affordable 16-bit sampling on the Atari ST has just become a reality with the release of Replay 16 from Microdeal. Just £129.95 including VAT buys you a sampling unit, sample editing software, Drumbeat rhythm programming software and MIDIplay keyboard emulator software.

The sampling unit plugs into the ST's cartridge port and provides 16-bit audio input and output via phono connectors together with an input volume control. Replay 16 supports sampling rates up to 48kHz, and provides sample conversion between 8/12/16-bit formats, mono and stereo. The editor software can be used for volume adjustment, digital filtering, 3D frequency analysis and crossfade looping of samples. Then, to make musical use of your samples, you can either organise up to 30 of them into a 'drumkit' and program up to 50 patterns in real-time or step-time using the Drumbeat software. Alternatively, you can map any sample to any note or range of notes in a nine-octave range using the MIDIplay software. Four-voice polyphony is available in both cases, while MIDIplay additionally provides a single-voice mode with three levels of velocity sensitivity.

Replay 16 runs on any ST or STE with 520K RAM (although 1Mb minimum is recommended).

For more information, contact Microdeal Limited at (Contact Details).

A Borderless Land

Californian music software company Passport have been around since the early days of MIDI software - and no doubt they intend to be around for some time to come. But where exactly does the future for music software companies lie? Are they doomed to a life producing software updates to their existing programs for little recompense? Or are there new applications which will earn them money in the coming years?

Passport are a case in point. Their manageable rather than comprehensive software range consists of MIDI sequencing software in the form of Master Tracks Pro, Trax, Turbo Trax, and Audio Trax; notation software in the form of Encore and Music Time; and sound design/sample editing software in the form of the industry-standard Alchemy - all of which are familiar applications, no matter how well presented.

Although traditionally a Mac software developer, Passport have produced PC/Windows versions of several of these programs in order to increase the size of their potential market. At the same time, they've stopped supporting the Atari ST range, citing among other reasons a lack of co-operation from Atari. So what's new?

But it's a new piece of software called Producer which provides perhaps the most important way forward for Passport. Available on the Mac from November, and on the PC from the second quarter of next year, Producer provides a straightforward, intuitive way of integrating MIDI, audio, video, animation and slides into a single presentation which can be run on the Mac or, with the appropriate hardware, recorded onto video cassette. Yes, we're talking the 'M' word here - multimedia.

Passport have perceived that what people want (or will want) is a program which will let them draw together the various strands of the multimedia tapestry in an intuitive, fun sort of way. To this end, the company have adopted a multitrack Visual Cue Sheet approach (see picture) which lets you assign one file type per track. For instance, one track could be assigned a Quick Time movie, another a Standard MIDI File, and a third a digital audio file (eight- or 16-bit, mono or stereo). A further two tracks could contain digital slideshows and animation. As Producer is able to output MTC locked to its SMPTE timebase, you could have a MIDI sequencer running on a second Mac in parallel with Producer if you wanted to do more interactive music/video work.

All tracks show static visual 'cues' which give you some idea of track content, while the actual multimedia presentation is via an onscreen 'stage' display. Producer, then, is 'merely' a means of bringing together files created in other programs and organising them in a multitrack fashion. You don't need the original programs in order to use these files. However, providing your Mac has enough onboard memory you can hold relevant programs in memory along with Producer and flick between them. Any changes you save to a file within one of these programs will automatically update Producer. Of course, you're also going to need enough external digital storage to handle the large amounts of audio and video data you could be pushing through the software.

Supported hardware for digital audio includes Macromedia Mac Recorder, Digidesign Audiomedia, Sound Accelerator and Pro Tools, and Macintosh internal audio. For MIDI, any Mac MIDI interface will do, together of course with any MIDI instrument, while video cards supported include all RasterOps cards, Truevision Nuvista+ and Radius VideoVision.

Supported software includes Alchemy, Macromedia's Sound Edit and Digidesign's Sound Designer for digital audio, Macromind Director and Gold Disk Animation Works for animation, Adobe Premier and DiVa VideoShop for Quicktime movies, Master Tracks Pro, Vision and Performer for MIDI, and Aldus Persuasion, Microsoft PowerPoint and Symantec More for slide presentations. Producer also allows you to incorporate text files from any Mac word processor into your multimedia presentations.

Producer will cost somewhere between £300-400. This isn't vapourware - An alpha copy has been seen up and running (and periodically crashing) on a Quadra at Passport's UK distributors MCM.

Further news from Passport concerns the next upgrade to their Alchemy sound design and sample editing software. Due towards the end of the year, it will include support for Peavey's SMDI protocol, which allows sample data to be transferred via SCSI in MIDI Sample Dump Standard format. In this way, Alchemy will be able to act as a 'bridge' between SMDI-compatible instruments (currently Peavey's SP sample playback unit and Kurzweil's K2000 synth) and other samplers which implement their own form of sample transfer via SCSI.

The New Wave

It's taken them quite some time to do it, but Korg have finally got round to producing a version of the Wavestation which retails for under a grand. At £899 including VAT, the 1U 19" rack-mounting Wavestation SR (yep, that's Single Rack) is the M3R and the 03R/W of the Wavestation world, and like those modules it has substantially the same sonic capabilities as its more expensive relatives, but cuts a few corners here and there. Its 1U height inevitably means a less informative display and a less accessible user interface, and the familiar Wavestation vector joystick has had to go.

In some ways, though, the less expensive instrument actually has more to offer. Specifically, it can access a lot more sounds - in all, there are 600 Performances, 420 Patches, 384 Wave Sequences and 6000 Wave Sequence Steps available. The best sounds from the existing Wavestation card library have been included as standard on the SR - which is a good thing, because the new module isn't compatible with EX and A/D cards. Instead, it uses the higher-density cards which Korg adopted with the 01/W series instruments. In fact, the SR can apparently read 01/W PCM cards, which, ironically, gives it a sonic edge over its more expensive relatives.

Talking of the 01/W series, Korg are giving away free sounds to anyone who buys an 01R/W or 03R/W module during the months of September and October. You just send Korg a registration card which your dealer gives you when you make the purchase, and Korg send you £234 (01R/W) or £135 (03R/W) worth of sounds for free.

Nearing completion is the first issue of a new 80-page free magazine produced by Korg UK, featuring interviews with name Korg users and technical features on Korg instruments. The magazine, which the company plan to produce three times a year, will be circulated through dealers and by direct mail to anyone who requests it.

Last but not least, this year sees Korg appearing at the Scottish Music Show for the first time.

For more information on any of the above, contact Korg UK at (Contact Details). Details of The Scottish Music Show can be found on the inside back cover of this issue.

Making light of MIDI

Following the addition of MIDI Show Control to the official MIDI spec last year, the Musical Instrument Digital Interface has been finding a role in applications other than specifically musical ones. Reflecting this development, the seminar programme for this year's PLASA Light & Sound Show at Earls Court 2, London, from 6 - 9th September includes a session entitled 'MIDI Show Control and Lighting Controllers'.

Aiming to tackle "what MSC means to lighting manufacturers with products including MIDI, and what it all means to the end user", this seminar could prove of interest to performing MIDI musicians - after all, what is a live show without a light show?

The fee of £10 per session includes free entry to the show - your opportunity to soak up all the flashing lights, dry ice and loud music you can take. For more information and bookings (there are only 75 places per seminar) contact Anna Pillow of PLASA on (Contact Details).

E-MU playback

New from E-mu Systems is the Emulator IIIxp sample playback module, a 3U-high rack unit which offers compatibility with the entire 16-Gigabyte Emulator III sample library. The EIIIxp features a constant 44.1kHz sample playback rate, up to 32Mb of RAM, 32 mono voices (16 stereo), AES/EBU digital I/O connections (allowing the unit to accept audio in digital form from, say, a DAT machine), balanced XLR main stereo outputs and three additional pairs of balanced polyphonic outs, advanced SCSI link software coupled with dual 50-pin SCSI connectors, proprietary H-chip resonant filter technology, 18-bit DACS, and support for the EIII Remote Controller/Librarian software for the Mac.

Two models are available: the standard version with 8Mb of RAM and a built-in 3.5" floppy disk drive for loading future software enhancements, and the turbo version with the full 32Mb of RAM and an onboard 105Mb hard drive loaded with a variety of EIII sound banks.

For more information contact E-Mu Systems at (Contact Details).

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Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Music Technology - Sep 1992

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